Editing – Getting Started


Step 1 — Leveling

This is the second step after you’ve received the raw. The first one is to set the document to greyscale if it isn’t yet. The concept behind leveling is that when a raw is first scanned, it looks greyish and bright, which has to be taken care of if the person scanning it didn’t fix it themselves.

To fix this, we want to follow a simple r rule that states that “There must be pure black zones and pure white zones visible”, if the zones that are supposed to be pure black are actually still greyish, it’s not properly leveled, same for the white zones.

So how do we know when we have pure black and white zones? Using the leveling tool: By going to Adjustments and choosing Levels in Photoshop, we can see the page’s current darkest and lightest zones through a graphic.

Alternatively, you can just press CTRL + L to change the page’s leveling directly, but these changes are permanent, so I usually don’t recommend this.

This graphic here is what we’re interested about. Notice the three arrows below it? They represent the Black, Gray, and White tones. What we want is to fiddle with the black and white tones which are the arrows on both edges.

Usually, when you see a mole at the edges of the graphic, then the pic is not yet properly leveled.

By carefully sliding the arrows just over the moles, we’re ensuring that the black zones remain pure blacks as well as the white ones. Just be careful of overdoing it, because this is essentially removing excess of tones that we don’t want, but going overboard may unintentionally remove details of the drawings that we want to keep. This is usually the case with gradient textures.

Afterwards, your page should look much darker and well defined, as seen in the sample atop.


Step 2 — Cleaning

Once you got the leveling done, you want to remove al the text that’s going to be translated.

Always double check that there are no missing lines in the script the translator sent you or if there are certain unnoticed pieces of text somewhere that were also translated and thus need to be removed.

This is what we refer to as cleaning, and it can go from very straightforward to one of the most time-consuming tasks in the editing process, since it depends mostly on the complexity of the cleaning, whether there is text outside bubbles that cover part of the drawing, and thus would need to be redrawn.

For the sake of simplicity, I won’t cover that level of cleaning here, I’ll save that part for the more advanced tutorial.

There are different ways to get rid of the text, you could brush it away using a hard brush of the color of the background behind it (Usually white or black) or make a selection covering the whole text and delete it.

It is usually in this part where you can notice whether you had correctly leveled up the page or not.

This is what a bubble would look like after cleaning it with a hard brush, unleveled or underleveled.

At first glance it may not be very visible, but if I fiddle with the level slider just a little…

This is what it actually looks like, we want to avoid this at all costs.

This is what a bubble would look like after cleaning it with a hard brush, properly leveled.

Now let’s test again and see if we did it this time…

This was after sliding the gray tone all the way to the right, as you can see, it’s actually white this time.

There are some dust specs around but it varies from scan to scan.


Step 3 — Typesetting

The final step, and the most anticipated one, typing out the text from the script the translator sent you.

Sometimes typesetting can be even more tedious than cleaning, depending again on the complexity of the original font style, the way the text looks, and how hard it would be to mimic that style as faithfully possible.

When we try to fit in text into a buble, we want to take two things in mind:

  1. The alignment, the text needs to be centered around the bubble as visually possible, this also implies that if the bubble is shaped verticaly, our text needs to fit in overall a simliar shape as well.
  2. The margin between the bubble’s corners and the text, space is our friend, and a bit of empty space surrounding the bubble is necessary for a more pleasant reading experience. (This rule might not apply for sfx texts where the original already sometimes breaks through the bubble’s limits.

In this example, the blue outlines represent the margin of empty space we want to preserve, while the text remains tightly within those margins.

This bubble is also much more vertically shaped, so we want to split our text in the same manner as evenly as possible.

This is a case where we ignore the margin rule because the original text is a sfx that already breaks this rule.

So we try to mimic this style as much as possible, you can apply strokes to your text by looking into the text’s Blending Options.

Finally, as a general rule, try to use different fonts for different actors talking to make your typesetting a little less monotone and bland. Since there are way too many fonts to recommend for each case, I’ll list them elsewhere.