Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
This page documents one technique for scanning game manuals. It is intended to provide acceptable quality while minimising the effort required. You are welcome to scan any way you like, of course!
In Irfanview, select File -> Select TWAIN source.... You might have a few options in there - my scanner showed up twice, for example. Choose one that seems to match, and change it if it causes problems. One of the ones I had was a Windows XP wrapper for the scanning process, I want the other one (the native TWAIN dialog one).
Now go to File -> Acquire/Batch scanning... and choose the configuration as below:
I've chosen the batch option, given it a helpful filename, chosen an empty directory as the target, and the PNG format (with the PNGOUT plugin off, for what it's worth - it saves a little time).
The numbering options were a mistake, but didn't break anything; leave them at the defaults.
TODO - make a better screenshot then!
Press OK and your scanner's dialog will appear. Most seem to look similar to mine:
Notice the tasteful default image in there and the completely inappropriate settings. I put the manual in, opened out to scan 2 pages at once, and pushed into the corner of the glass:
Then I close the lid and push down a bit to flatten out the spine. I click on Preview and the scanner does a fast low-res scan and fills the preview window with that. I can then click on there to crop the scanned area down to just the manual area.
I also change the settings to 300dpi greyscale. In the advanced options I've turned off every automatic "feature" since they almost always screw things up. I'll discuss the reasons for these settings later.
Now, thanks to Irfanview, every time I click on Scan, a numbered file is created in the folder I specified above, containing a scan of just the manual (2 pages in 1 scan). Because each set of 2 pages is the same size, so long as I line it up in the corner, I can change the page and scan with the same settings and the results should be acceptable. That's the gist of this method.
Depending on how new and/or expensive your scanner is, each scan will take a fair amount of time. With my old and cheap scanner, it's around 30 seconds. Here are a few tips for reducing both the time and the boredom:
Now you can just listen to the scanner's sound to tell when to open/turn page/align/close/push on lid/click mouse/repeat. I scanned Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, a 48-page manual, using this technique and it took 16 minutes, that's 40s per scan including messing about checking what was on TV at the same time. At the end I have a folder with 24 double-page scans in it.
OK, so now we have a bunch of images that we need to rotate, split, save as JPG files and rename properly so they don't get mixed up. Luckily, Irfanview can do all this for us.
First, make a backup of all your original images. I make a directory called "originals" and copy them into there. If something goes wrong, at least we won't have to scan again.
Now, drag and drop one of your scans onto Irfanview, then press B to open the Batch conversion window. Here's where the magic happens.
First, we'll rotate them all. Choose Add all to select all images for processing, and then Use this directory as output and Work as: Batch conversion. Output format is PNG. Check Use advanced options and click the Set advanced options button. Uncheck everything except Rotate right (assuming that's the way it needs to rotate, use your intelligence) and Overwrite existing files. (We made a backup, remember?)
Then click OK, Start and it should do its magic and replace all the scans with rotated versions.
[Note: when I did it, I rotated the original scans; that was a bit silly, but it worked out OK. After that, I copied them to the working directory and kept the backups.]
TODO - make a better screenshot to avoid this note?
The fun part here is that each file needs to split into 2 parts, but we want to keep the ordering. The first scan contains the front and back covers so that's pages 1 and 48. The second scan contains pages 2 and 3, the third is pages 4 and 5, and so on. We'll process the files in a way that won't screw this up.
First, make two new folders called "left" (for the left half of each image) and "right" (the right half).
Now press B again.
Start and see what happens - you get all the left halves in that folder.
Now repeat it for the right halves. You need to change:
Don't forget to check the files are in order. Start and check you got all the right halves.
Now you can delete all the files in the working directory and copy the contents of "left" and "right" in there. Because of the numbering settings we used, they should all come out in the right order according to the filenames - check it now. The only problem is that the back cover is number 00 - so rename that file, in my case it became "meanbeanmachine-48.png".
The last step is to convert from our nice quality, but large, PNG files to lower-quality, but small, JPG files. Press B again and select all the single-page images. Click Use this directory as output, and Work as: Batch conversion. Set the output format to JPG and click on Options.
I've chosen grayscale (it saves a few bytes) and a quality of 80 (more is bigger files/better quality). Start and see what the result is - all your files are saved as JPG files in the same directory as the PNGs.
Open a few up and check the quality and the filesize. I tend to prefer a bit worse quality for manuals since they just need to be readable, and too much filesize makes them annoying. I aim for an average of about 100-140KB per file. These 48 JPG files are 5.5MB, so that's good enough.
If the quality or size is bad, delete the JPG files (not the PNGs!) and re-do the last step with a different quality setting.
The crop/convert process took me 15 minutes.
Here's a few things I compromise on to allow scans to be done quickly:
All of these could be altered if you prefer to do things differently, particularly the greyscale option which is more flexible. For some manuals or books I might also resize the images to be smaller - so long as they're readable, the smaller images might end up looking better than larger images with more compression artefacts for the same size. For certain material - particularly dithered images - I find you get the best quality by scanning at a high resolution (300dpi) and resizing down. I recommend you do this for magazine scans, for example.