Photoshop Magic : How to Delete a Scanned Paper Background

Over on Instagram, I was recently asked how I "got the paper to come out so white in this photo". The lady thought that I had posted a picture that I had taken of my sketchbook. I explained to her that I was actaully doing some photoshop magic I had learned via Skillshare

But the conversation got me to thinking about how this is one teeny tiny part of Photoshop that I've learned in the last three months that has helped me tremendously in how I and others see my work. I'd love to be able to share this one "trick" of Photoshop to help you.

1. Scan illustrated image in at 600 DPI. {This is generally way too big for the things I want to do with it but "better safe than sorry" is my general art/technology motto.}

2. Open the scan in Photoshop.

3. Duplicate the background layer. 

4. Name the bottom layer "just in case" and then turn it off, i.e. click the eye icon so it's not visible.
Name the top layer "working" and make sure this layer is selected during the next steps.


5. Select the magic wand tool.
Check that the tolerance is set to 20.

6. Click a portion of the image that is paper. This should cause the paper around your illustration to be selected.

Press the delete button. {If the "just in case" layer is off, this should leave a white and grey background around your illustration.}

7. Create a new layer.

8. With the new layer selected, click the "new layer button".
When given an option, select "solid color".
When asked to choose the color, select "#000000".
Click "ok".

9. Pull this layer below your illustration. This will cause the "galaxy spots" to appear {the white paper texture that the magic wand tool missed}.

10. Select the illustration layer and then use the eraser tool to erase the spots and any other non-illustration part of the scan.

11. Turn off {make invisible} the black fill layer.

12. Use the marquee tool to select the image.

13. Copy and paste the selection to a new file.


14. Do a happy dance. Share on social media / in the mail / at your favorite retail store as your heart desires. 


Paige is an artist who has just recently taken a deep dive into learning Photoshop on Skillshare so that she can become a better illustrator. <<< this link will allow you to do the same on Skillshare for 3 months and 99 cents. 

Check it out.