How to get your WHITES really WHITE (Graphic Art Tutorial Needed)

Messing around a little bit with the Microsoft Paint which came free installed on my PC.
I am messing around only for my own amusement. I don’t intend to spend any money to upgrade to better software. Therefore, I am entirely prepared to get a bunch of responses of “If you’re working with crappy software you’re going to get crappy results. That’s all there is to it.”

So, on to what I’m trying to do and the problem I’m having with it:

I want to play around with drawing some images by hand, on paper, scanning it then coloring it in with the paint program. The scanned picture is just black Sharpie on white paper, no shading at all.

The problem comes when I want to fill an area with color.
The open white fields are not purely completely white. Instead, there are blotches of “Not Quite White”. So, I fill an area with Blue but it doesn’t fill the entire area- there’s messy bits of white. It’s easy to fill the blotches within the field, but it’s very tedious filling in the bits adjacent to the black lines of the drawn image.

What I want is for the original image to be treated as ONLY Black and White.
Anything that’s closer to White than Black should be treated like White so that there aren’t blotches of “Not Quite White”.
On a typical GOOD graphic art program, is there a function that will just remove all the “Not Quite White” blotches for me?

If so, what would be some common names for this function so that I can try to figure out if it’s a function that is available to me?

Better yet: if anyone happens to be familiar with Microsoft Paint- do you know if the cheapo freebe version allows this and I’m somehow just not seeing how to do it?


The issue isn’t with MSPaint, per se; you need to change your scanner settings to black and white instead of color or grayscale.

You can also play with the tolerance of the paint bucket tool, it’d seem, so that it considers gray to be white. Check out this tutorial.

Oh, also! There are some pretty great image edit/manip programs that have more than MS Paint but are still free!

I’d recommend trying “GIMP” and “Paint .NET”.

Thanks, zweisamkeit!
Thanks, ZipperJJ!

I’m done tinkering for the day, but will try your suggestions!

Typically, the way to do this is to scan in greyscale, then set the contrast to 100%, and fool with the brightness to get the image to look the way you want. Then, convert to Black and White, and then back into color if need be for your color fill manipulations.

This worked!
Although I couldn’t figure it out at first. I was looking on the scanner for a functions menu that would allow me to scan black and white. I was thinking it just wasn’t going to work for me (I had been scanning to my computer THEN opening the image with Paint).

Then I figured out to just put the drawing on the scanner, then open Paint, then in Paint choose scan image.

Knowing how to do this takes the tediousness out of it, so I think I’ll do much more of this now- it’s fun!

This is my first attempt (Photobucket Link)

This is my second attempt (Photobucket Link)

Here is my third attempt (Photobucket Link)

This is the first one I did after following zweisamkeit’s advice about scanning as a black and white image. I completed it SO MUCH FASTER.

Thanks again, zweisamkeit!

For simple line drawings, my go-to method in photoshop or gimp is to use the magic wand tool to select all the drawn lines, with a tolerance of about 30%. Depending on the contrast and the lines, you may have to play with the tolerance level a little, but it’s easy and quick.

Then, once all the lines are selected, I click on select -> inverse. This will switch the selection to everything OPPOSITE of the lines, which will be all the blank areas of the paper. then simply hit delete. Bam, instant pure white nothingness around your drawn lines.

making a good dense lined image (felt tip or liquid ink) helps in making good areas for fills.

i recall trying to do the same thing in JASC PaintShop Pro and scanning two color resulted in the least cleanup. if i didn’t make dense enough lines then the fills would leak and i’d have to undo and magnify and fill in pixels.

Okay, since this is IMHO, I offer the opinion that speed and ease are not high on some artists lists of priorities.

But, yeah, converting to B&W and back or starting in B&W then converting to color are among the many ways to do what you’re looking to do.

In PhotoShop you can erase the background like Dorjän suggests on a transparent layer and paint in your colors behind the line drawing.

I’m glad to see you’re really drawing with pen on paper and then scanning. More of “you” ends up in the art that way.

Pulling just this one, and assuming you need to scan in color, the function name you’re looking for is called “posterization.” It basically means "pick a much smaller set of colors, and map each color in the image to the closest one in the smaller set. This is, conceptually, “rounding” for color values.

Slightly more interactively, a Photoshop-level app will also allow color selections with a tolerance, either globally or via a “magic wand.” This gives you the ability to remove the “almost whites” along with the whites, but leave the “almost blacks” and “almost reds” alone.