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What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

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  • What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

    Greetings all,

    I am looking to jumpstart a project that I've been thinking about for several years now: namely the digital restoration and archival of roughly 30 years of my high school's yearbooks. I did find one semi-related thread on the boards [here|], but my situation is slightly different.

    I do not have any halftone film. In talking with several of the men who were involved in the journalism program, it seems that there is pretty much no original content has been archived, so I am forced to work from the prints themselves.

    The prints are nearly entirely black and white halftone prints. I am unsure of the DPI but that may, in fact, change between volumes. I have begun work scanning the earlier volumes several times in the past few years with disappointing results. As I'm sure you are all aware, scanning documents from decades ago results in plenty of 'noise' in the form of paper pulp, dust, creases, original printing errors, etc that are fairly difficult to remove without blurring or otherwise destroying the original detail.

    I began to dream of software that understood the basic pattern of halftone grids, analyzed a raster scan, and created individual vector rectangles or ellipses for each dot of ink based on their position within the grid combined with their diameter or radius. I was also hoping for the ability to edit each individual dot as necessary until a pure copy of each photo could be realized.

    In my search for this dream software I finally stumbled upon the term copydot and was momentarily ecstatic, thinking that I had at last found what I was looking for. I had the suspicion that it resulted in raster files, but I thought that that might even be acceptable, so long as the software resulted in pristine pure black squares for the corresponding dots of ink.

    The more I have looked into it, the more it seems to me that copydot scans are nothing more than 1-bit scans of a halftone film or print. Is that really all there is to it? I mean... I can make high resolution 1-bit scans on my measly little Epson Perfection 4490 at home, but the resulting image is constructed of nothing even remotely resembling pure and perfect squares. In snooping around looking for software solutions after realizing that buying an actual copydot scanner was out of my league, I ran across a few promising looking things such as [RepliDot|] and Kodak's acquired [Creo Copydot Toolkit|].

    These seem promising. What can you all tell me? In the case of RepliDot, I do not have a Mac or a Photoshop liscense, and in Kodak/Creo's case I have not been able to run their demo version on Vista as of yet. I am more than ready to hire professional help, but I would like the inside scoop on the absolute best method for restoring these types of old halftone prints.

    To sum up, my goals are thus:

    *1. Create an absolutely pure digital master of the page as it is printed now - down to the individual dot of ink.*
    All artifacts should be removed at this point and any discrepancies caused by uneven paper surface corrected.
    Mint copies of the yearbook should be able to be printed from this master for those that wish to add a fresh copy to their library.

    *2. Descreen each photo based on the purified master halftone image.* Absolutely do not descreen the photos from an artifact filled scan.
    This will allow me to put the yearbook archive online for the benefit of our alumni body.
    My design philosophy for the website is that it ought to look good enough to display on an HD monitor in an art gallery so, yes, I need the absolute maximum quality that is possible to be salvaged from these prints.

    Here, then, are my questions:

    *1. Are all files resulting from copydot scans raster images?*
    *2. What is the copydot scanner (and any software directly involved in the scanning process) doing that my weak little toy Epson Perfection 4490 + Paint Shop Pro can't do?* (In essence - what makes it a copydot scan?)
    *3. What is your preferred tool for editing artifacts out of a copydot file and correcting any alignment problems?*
    *4. Is there a better option for restoring this sort of old print to a pure digital master? If so, what might that be?*
    *5. If copydot scanning is my best option, what sort of specific things should I ask potential print firms about? (Technical specs, etc.)*

    If you made it this far, my hat goes off to you. I hope somebody out there is up to the challenge.

  • #2
    Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

    Whether or not you use "Copy dot", you will still require a complete version of Photoshop to achieve some of the gaols you have set for your project, and when you have mastered that, your Epson scanner may then be up to the task.


    • #3
      Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

      Right, mate. I know that Photoshop is the pro's program of choice, but being that it costs ten times more than Paint Shop Pro, it's just not in the budget for me at the moment. I have watched video tutorials of Photoshop and not seen anything whatsoever that would apply to this project that PSP cannot achieve.

      I suppose *my primary question is whether copydot scans carry any data specific to themselves that would work with a program or plugin that is specifically crafted for restoring halftone patterns*. The alternative is that they are just plain old bitmaps, whether they're showing up in a TIFF, EPS, or a proprietary format. Basically copydot scanners cost thousands of dollars more than other scanners and I assume that there is a justifiable reason for this. I am wondering what they are doing that makes them better at their task than your run of the mill scanner. That is to say, there must be some software at work that is there specifically to look for a halftone pattern to ensure the cleanest dot for dot scan possible being that that is their express purpose.

      I am simply asking if there is a tool with the express purpose of recognizing and recreating a halftone pattern automatically that allows manual editing of the output in case of errors. It is the most basic concept to me to look at a scan and say, "Yes, but all the rows of dots should be perfectly horizontal, all the columns perfectly vertical, and all the dots perfectly square or circular". (I grant that the grid/screen may not occur at increments of 90 degrees, but they should all still be straight.) The problem is that because of imperfections in the paper, no matter whether you use the straighten tool to great effect on one row and it brings all the others into a close proximity of being level, they really aren't perfectly straight. Perspective correction does not help this either. I need what amounts to perspective correction per row/column. It is obvious upon examination of the prints that I am working with that the original ink dots are square. I assume that the smaller dots center in their alloted cell, rather than being weighted to the top, right, bottom, or left. It should be the simplest thing in the world for a program to look at a high res scan, analyze the grid/screen, then recreate a pure vector version from scratch with the percentage that each dot fills its cell being a perfectly accurate guide for the pristine new digital file.

      Look, I do drone on, but it should be like this. Suppose you are scanning text and your scanner is recognizing the text and saving it as text in the output file rather than a raster image. Let us say for the sake of the example that you are scanning a document that contains a font selection that you know for certain that your computer contains and the text recognition algorithms have been made specifically to not only recognize the characters but the specific font, point size, and spacing that they are represented at. in the printed document. +Well, that is precisely what I want for halftone prints of photos. It is really as simple as all that.+ My question is: "*Does something like this exist or are we simply creating shoddy little bitmaps with crooked rows and columns and dots that are nothing more than irregular blobs?*". I find it nearly impossible to believe that neither the print nor the archival industries have anything like what I have described above. Where is the quality control?


      • #4
        Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

        If you want to capture the actual bitmaps - then you need very heavy duty -expensive - scanning technology.
        However, IMHO, you'd be better off - given your application - to scan in grayscale and then descreen.
        I've used the Epson Stylus CX4600 (now discontinued) to do exactly that and it works great in combination with Photoshop (and knowing how to use the application). I don't know about Paint Shop Pro, however, it costs nothing to try that route and if PSP is not up to the descreening task then invest in PShop and some education on how to use it.



        • #5
          Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

          Best copydot I ever saw was from a scanner called the TECSA, made in England. Not sure if they still make them. The Eskoscan was also very good and I saw some excellent work off the Screen Cezanne scanner with Copydot software, AI and, for books, the book adapter that lets you scan books without ruining the binding.

          The Epson 4990 is great - I have one but although you have de-screen/de-moire in the Silverfast software, not sure if it's up to the quality of the thoroughbred copydot scanners.

          Hope this helps.


          • #6
            Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

            I've used copydot scanners and software (Eskofot) and I don't think you want to take that route. When scanning screened films or printed halftone, we would always scan at the final output resolution. So if the output was 2400 dpi plates, we would scan at 2400 dpi. Not doing so would result in moiré pattern in the halftone area (as I experienced). So it makes it a device-dependent solution, so you can't expect to get great result on different types of output devices. Also, we would almost always need to clean-up the file (using copydot-dedicated software that had more powerful filters than Photoshop) due to the high resolution needed to capture halftone dots that would also capture every piece of dust, scratches and so on. The way I think I would do it is, for each page, one 300 dpi 8 bits scan for the images (halftone or CMYK) and one 1200 dpi 1 bit scan for the black type. Combine the two in position in a page-layout software and make a PDF out of it. And yes, you definetly need Photoshop to clean, remove moiré patterns, enhance sharpness with filters if you want to do a nice job. Good luck with your project.

            Edited by: Colorblind on May 5, 2008 10:10 AM

            Edited by: Colorblind on May 5, 2008 10:13 AM
            Better train people and risk they leave - than do nothing and risk they stay.


            • #7
              Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

              If you don't have the budget for Photoshop you surely are not going to have the budget for the scanner, software, and expertise needed to achieve your lofty goals. You are either going to need to greatly increase your budget or greatly reduce your expectations.

              First off, the software needed for doing copydot software has to be on a scanner that can use the software. It's not cheap for either. Certainly more than the cost of Photoshop. Secondly, to do true copydot scanning it has to be calibrated for the output device as someone mentioned above. It needs to be linear throughout the scale, ie a 5% = 5%, 10% = 10%, etc on output. If you are planning on outputting this via a laser or inkjet printer you will be disappointed as they will re-screen the screen and you'll surely get a moire. You can scan on it on your el cheapo scanner as a bitmap at 2400 dpi but it will not be linear to any device but you can control the hilight end somewhat with the threshold control in your scanning software to give you a start.

              The best way to do this project would be to scan the pages as high resolution bitmaps for the text and get the photos scanned on a scanner that has high end software for descreening the images. The software for descreening that comes with most desktop scanners will not do an acceptable job for your expectations. If you can find someone with a Linotype-Hell Topaz scanner with descreening it would work. I used to use it for this a few years ago and it gives GREAT results.

              But it all depends on what you are willing to spend. To get the results you are asking for is going to cost you some big bucks. You can get the job done for what you have now but you are not going to get the pristine files you are hoping for.
              OS: Mac OS X 10.10.2 - RIP: Prinergy Connect 6.1 - CTP: Luscher XPose! 160 (2)


              • #8
                Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

                You might consider posting this question on the Paint Shop Pro forums... they're Usenet newsgroups (you have to use Outlook Express or Thunderbird to get to 'em). I've had very good luck getting questions answered there. Here's a link to the newsgroup for the current release:


                Mike Starr WriteStarr Information Services
                Technical Writer - Online Help Developer - Technical Illustrator
                Graphic Designer - Desktop Publisher - MS Office Expert
                (262) 694-1028 - -


                • #9
                  Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

                  You won't be able to achieve excellent quality without the original unscreened artwork. Most 30 year old yearbook printing I've seen was far from pristine; maybe you went to better schools.

                  I agree with Gordo - skip the copy dot - go the descreen route for the photos. Infinitely easier to retouch out the inevitable artifacts in a grayscale image. I use Silverfast and a UMAX Astra 6540 Scanner (now discontiuned) and get commercially acceptable results for customers who have lost their artwork & files. The descreen feature in Silverfast is superior and certainly faster than PS's blur and sharpen filters.

                  30 years x ~40 pages = A LOT of WORK!


                  • #10
                    Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

                    please understand that images attained through de-screening halftone interpretations of a great photo are not great photos, but slightly blurred estimations of the halftone image, consider that your yearbook was probably printed economically with little color-correction or image manipulation of the photos which, aside from the portraits, were taken by amateur teenagers

                    IMHO a great scan of the page will look nice when cleanly presented, no need to de-screen, you cannot re-invent your wheel, but you can get a darned good picture of it


                    • #11
                      Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

                      Hello again, chaps,

                      Many thanks to those of you who have taken the time to offer advice!

                      I should have made it clear at the outset that in asking my above questions I am really looking for advice as to what I should be looking for in a print shop. Certainly I cannot afford equipment such as a copydot scanner and the affiliated software myself... I mainly wanted to get technical feedback from you who are professionals as to what the optimum restoration process should be so that I can shop around intelligently and mention specifics when asked about what I am looking for.

                      Thank you for the brand names you've brought up and specifics about the process. It has all been invaluable. Also, many thanks to those of you who offered specific advice as to how best to go about my project using tools currently at my disposal. Believe it or not, in testing things out at home I actually scanned details at 9600 dpi in my sheer ignorance.

                      As to what drove me to conclude that I needed professional help (take that as you will) it is certainly the photos. All of the text is to be replaced with actual text wherever I can locate the original font/typeface. Believe it or not I was actually descreening the photos manually in the photo editor before I had ever heard the term ''descreen'. It is really only the artifact removal that is the bane of my existence. I do understand that even copydot scans need to be cleaned but it is the dedicated software that I obviously lack.

                      In all honesty I was hoping that if I could locate a shop that handled copydot scanning, I could get the raw scans from them at a reasonable price and handle the cleanup myself, as I assumed that their charge would be substantially more for the man hours necessary to clean up the scans than for the service of scanning alone with no follow up retouching. I get the feeling, though, that dedicated copydot software is pretty tightly coupled to a specific scanner. Is that accurate or are there dedicated copydot editors available that will work with the files I get from whoever I can find to scan the images? If a stand alone piece of software does exist (thinking of Kodak/Creo's Copydot Toolkit and its ilk) is it usually quite expensive? Just wondering.

                      This whole copydot fixation is born out of sheer frustration with trying to get a greyscale scan to convert *cleanly* to a 1 bit version of itself with correct distinction between ink and empty space.

                      My assumption has been that a descreened version of a photo based on data as close as possible to the pure ink would be superior to a descreening of a raw greyscale image with only marginal artifact removal accomplished. *In essence, I am simply looking for the most accurate and hopefully automated way to get as close as possible to that pure black ink.*

                      Once I have my hands on the highest quality possible descreened image I'll be like a fish in water as far as photo manipulation. It's only that initial acquisition of a clean halftone that is proving to be such a thorn in my side. I do understand that there is only so much detail to work with and I'm not expecting miracles. I'm just looking to get this thing right the first time around... or at least get the master scans right the first time around.

                      As has been pointed out, this is definitely a large project and I anticipate having to accept progress piecemeal as I most certainly do not currently have the cash to pay for the 3172 or so pages that I have in my +incomplete archive+ (missing five volumes) to be copydot scanned.

                      Maximum respect to those of you who recommended just descreening the straight greyscale scan. I may have no choice but to choke down my aspirations to purity and go that route based on sheer economics.


                      • #12
                        Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

                        A picture is worth a thousand words...
                        on the left is a grayscale scan from a 1900s school annual and on the right the same original scanned in grayscale with the "descreen" option of my scanner:


                        The scanner is the Epson V200 Perfection which sells for about $80 and comes with excellent OCR software to turn scanned text into editable text. Other scanners may work as well - this is just the one that I use at home.

                        You can download the image to look at it in more detail. Keep in mind that I had to jpg the image which has softened the visibility of the halftone on the left image side. I will email you the original.
                        I didn't do any retouching - scans are straight from the computer.

                        best, gordo
                        Last edited by gordo; 11-10-2009, 05:28 PM.


                        • #13
                          Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

                          thanks for the thousand words


                          • #14
                            Re: What can I expect from copydot scans? Is there a better method?

                            @ Nathanael Lawrence

                            Book scanning - done by the pros - and (perhaps) with the assumption that you might actually 'reprint' this book - that is, most likely reprinted digitally on some digital press from Kodak, HP or Xerox - normally goes something like this.

                            *Book is delivered to a book scanning service provider*
                            example -
                            another example -
                            another example -

                            *Customer tells the service provider what they want at the end of the day*
                            (sometimes just cleaned up JPEG or TIFF image files, sometime page segmented PDF files, sometime full text conversions for eBooks)

                            *Scans are normally 8 bit JPEG files at 600 ppi*
                            I use the Fujitsu 5750c scanner for scanning book pages - while I get 112 scans per minute (52 pages duplex per min) - this required removing the book from its binding - otherwise, we use the Atiz BookSnap


                            Once the images are scanned, they can be processed (Batch process where the scan of the page is deskewed, pages segmented (broken into 'elements' like images and text) text is thresholded (converted to 1 bit (black OR white only) and images are descreened) as Gordo says - then the pages are back to fount aligned, often 'moved' to a new 'canvas' - that is, the content of the page is re-positioned - then the whole thing is either written to an image or the page segmentation is retained and written to a PDF (PDF is required to 'contain' a single page that is now made up of several 1 bit and 8 bit images)

                            5 MBs PDF example (2 pages, before and after) -

                            This is accomplished using several popular applications, but I sure as heck would never ever using Adobe Photoshop if I would be faced with doing the 20 books a day we are faced with !

                            In high volume high quality production facilities that perfom books scanning for the Amazon, Thompson West and Harper Collins types, they use ELAN Proofer Suite or IoFlex.



                            I would be happy to talk with you, show you share before and after samples and discuss options - example, should you have this converted by a service, should you buy some software, should you go low tech and use Snapter -

                            feel free to contact me, no charge !

                            Michael Jahn
                            Jahn & Associates
                            Michael Jahn - Slightly used PDF Evangelist
                            Simi Valley California


                            • #15
                              Copydot and descreen

                              My company, Eprep located in Provo Utah, can scan and digitize films up to 36" x 48". We have the Eskofot 3648 scanner and can do films even larger than our scanner.
                              We Specialize in converting films on an as needed or ongoing process to many companies in the industry.
                              We will work with you to make sure the file type we provide will work with your individual workflow and needs.
                              I feel that a combination of descreening and copydot scanning is the answer for you.
                              We have developed some methods of using the film and scanning to generate a resolution independent file.
                              Please feel free to contact me if you need any further assistance. Jeff Guevara 801-787-7364


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