||I have been asked on
several occasions whether scans of the John Miles album covers are available. I
have now scanned all of these, and they are available for download.
In addition I have scanned all the vinyl album covers, and converted these to the CD jewel case format. Thanks to those people who have worked with me in creating mirror share sites, all these scans are available to share. Go to the mp3 file sharing page for details.
To help those who wish to do their own scanning, this page gives you details of how I do it. It is not the definitive story, but I have found it works for me.
I use an Epson Perfection 1200 scanner. Although the resolution obtainable is higher than needed for this job, it does have the advantage of a fairly large bed size, which is handy for scanning LP covers. If you have an A3 scanner, so much the better. Do not forget to clean the glass well before scanning!
I use an Epson Stylus Color 600 printer. This is quite an old model, but has the advantage that compatible ink cartridges are available which are very cheap compared with originals. The ones I use cost about £20 for a pack of 4 black and 4 colour. Originals can be up to £20 each.
The scanner comes with its own software, but I prefer to scan into the home version of Adobe Photoshop 5.0 LE. This has now been superceded, but I find it more than adequate for the job. There are very many photo packages around, but I have not found any which give me the facilities available in Photoshop. The closest would be Paintshop Pro, available on many magazine cover CDs. In addition to this, since it is necessary to scan LP covers in sections, I have found a very neat package called Photostitch. This came with a Canon digital camera, and gives fully automatic stitching of scans done in several parts.
Initially, I scan CD covers at 300 dpi, as this is quite adequate for final printing. However, when scanning LP covers, I have found that 150 dpi is fine, since they will be reduced in size. If the facilty is available, scan using the Descreening option, as this reduces the dot patterns on the original image. I always scan the complete front and back of the front CD insert as one, and eventually print it as such, folding it in half afterwards. When scanning, test the scanner to see if it will scan right up to the edges of the glass. Mine does not quite, so I have to scan away from the edges. Unfortunately, you then need to be very careful to make sure that the cover is square.
After scanning the preview, make sure that the image is masked to avoid scanning blank space around it. Equally, make sure that none of the image is cropped off. For LP covers, the height of my scanner just cuts off the bottom of the cover. Normally I do not worry about this. For the width, I scan the full width of the scanner first, then scan the remaining quarter or so as a second scan.
Having done a scan, I then save the image, to work on later. It is important to NEVER save an image as a JPEG file until you have totally finished all the work on it. JPEGs are a lossy format, allowing you to choose the quality of the final image. The higher the quality, the larger the file, and vice versa. However, you will lose something each time to open and save the file, so always use a lossless format while you are working on the image. I use the TIFF format.
Initially, always work on the image size you have scanned. Do not reduce or enlarge this until you are nearly finished.
With CD covers, the first job is to crop any unwanted blank parts from around the edge. This is done using the rectangular selection mask. The resulting image may be smaller than you finally want, but this will be fixed later.
For LP covers, there is an intermediate step, that is to combine the two scans to make a single image. Using Photostitch, this is quite automatic. Just import the two images, make sure that the left and right scans are in the right position, press the merge button, and there you are. The combined image can be saved.
Having now got your complete image, it will need correcting for brightness, contrast etc. Photoshop has a level correction facility, which allows you to set the black and white levels first, then adjust the mid tones. This is all done by eye, and, although there is an auto-level option, I find that the manual procedure is far better. Occasionally I find that the hue and saturation needs tweaking, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
Now you can embark on any touching up you need. Photoshop's method is usually the "Rubber Stamp" method, where you can copy a portion of the image to another portion. This can disguise any white spots, or creases on the original. It is something well worth getting to grips with, as quite poor originals can be restored very effectively. I have used this on many of the press cuttings on the web site.
Again, for LP covers only, there is more work to be done. The next step is to convert the cover to something suitable for a jewel case. For the front cover, I usually use both the front and back LP covers. Initially, I will resize the front cover to 12 cm wide by 11.9 cm high. Then I increase the canvas size to 24 cm wide by 11.9 cm high, keeping the image to the right. Next, I resize the back cover image to 12 cm by 11.9 cm, and copy this to the clipboard. Then I return to the first image, and paste the second to the blank canvas portion, to the left.
For the back CD cover, I use the back LP cover image, and resize this to 13.7 cm wide by 11.9 cm high. This actually stretches the image horizontally. The only way of avoiding this is to either crop the image, or add some blank space horizontally. It is a matter of choice. Having got the image to this size, increase the canvas size to 15.1 cm wide by 11.9 cm high, keeping the image central. Choose the canvas colour to be black or white, depending on the colour of the text you will be using. Colours can also be picked from the image if you want, although this is a little more complicated. Text can then be added to the blank edges of the canvas, for title etc. It is usually easiest to rotate the main image so that the text can be added horizontally. Whether the text faces inwards or outwards is a matter of preference. Commercial recordings seem to use either.
Once the picture's appearance is to your liking, if necessary, it should be resized to fit the jewel case. The size for this is 12 cm wide by 11.9 cm high for the front cover, and 15.1 cm by 11.9 cm high for the rear.. When changing the image size, make sure the Retain Aspect Ratio option is turned off. Although you will distort the picture slightly if the resizing is different vertically and horizontally, this is usually not noticeable.
Once the image is to the correct size for printing, it can be sharpened. Most scans benefit from a small degree of sharpening. Photoshop has a procedure known as the Unsharp mask. This is preferable to other sharpening means, but use what you have. Do not go overboard with sharpening, as it can emphasize any imperfections on the original scan.
The final image can now be saved. As I have said above, it is very important to save the image as a lossless file while working on it. If all you are going to do is now print the cover, still save is as a lossless file. If the picture is destined for the web, or to be sent or uploaded, then save it as a JPEG file. You will have to decide on the quality/size ratio depending on your own personal circumstances.
This will be done from Photoshop, or your own image editing program. You may need to rotate the image so that the long side is vertical. Print at the highest resolution you can on your printer. Make sure that you use good paper. Try always to use glossy photo quality paper, as the difference in results is well worth it, although try to get lightweight paper, about 180g if possible, as it will fit into the jewel cases better. Once this is done, trim to size, and you should have a very acceptable CD cover insert.
|Although the above
may sound complicated, it really just needs practise. I did all the John Miles
albums in about 7 hours.
If the above still leaves you with specific questions, please feel free to contact me individually, and I will do my best to help.