Miken: Since I’ve been so late recently…I’ve decided to detail the activity that killing my schedule other than the whole procrastination thing and Tales of Hearts *points to the above art of the gracious Lady Richia*. Also, it’s nice to add some posts that aren’t on new episodes, right?
Let’s start with the definition — Scanlations are those things you find on OneManga/Mangafox or uploaded to Mediafire…and then you go bitch about the link not working and they get uploaded to MegaUpload. Or, if the scanlator is lucky, the group has its own server to dish out the downloads. Anyways, they’re the fan-translated form of the many manga series out there with translations entered in the place of the Japanese text on the art.
Disclaimer: I am most definitely probably not 100% right on the process. There are obviously multiple ways and orders to reach the same conclusion. Please also remember that this is a basic rundown of the process and not a full-on tutorial — go to Mangahelpers for that. I’m sure other bloggers out there who know the insides and outsides of this process probably know more than me too. XD;;
I also know that PNG is not the only format used in scanlations and that JPG is popular too.
Pristine scans at a respectable size (1750x1250 for both pages together... Though a higher dpi would've helped loads too...)
We start with the ever important step that gives the end product the name of “scanlation”. The scanner buys his/her own book and scans it. However, it’s not that simple — this is the step that defines how the end product appears. If the scanner does something here to lessen the quality of the images, then the other processes may be affected. A couple general points are:
1 – The Quality of the Scans: If the scanner scans and resizes them to something like a 600xWhatever size image, the text will be hard to read later on. In addition, for the cleaner to be able to properly redraw and join pages, the scans will usually have to be larger than the actual end-product image size. One of my acquaintances has possibly the best scans I’ve ever seen with the largest image size I’ve ever seen too…even though the file size is atrocious.
2 - The Quality of the Original Material: Ever wonder why the weekly manga scanlations are more likely to look like absolute crap compared to series scanned from tankouban or a higher-end magazine? The problem lies directly in the paper that the art is printed on. Weekly magazines often have the art printed on low quality (and sometimes colored) newsprint-level paper or something like that.
3 – Did the scanner debind?: I know what you’re thinking — why would you purposefully kill your own precious manga in order to scan it? Well, there’s a pesky thing called a gutter shadow that I’ll explain later on that make the debinding step here important. Sure, debinding isn’t necessary, but to prevent said gutter shadows and icky blurs on the image, this step makes the cleaner’s life a thousand times easier.
4 – Is the scanner using a piece of junk?: On top of all of that, there’s also the question of what kind of scanner you’re using. For the most part, all of them can get the job done, but in terms of image size and quality, a nicer one always works better.
No real picture I can think of…so here’s some pretty fanart? — I give Ric 3 guesses as to who this is.
Then, we tackle the other half of the word “scanlation“. Quite simply, the head of the group or whoever has the reigns over the project hands over the scans (hopefully resized to a more acceptable file size) and gives a nice rundown on how the honorifics, certain terms and the template for the translation should be handled. A short process of proofreading here may also be needed, but is not always implemented. Depending on the quality of the translator’s English skills, the skipping of the proofreading process can become apparent.
*Note: Not all translators translate alike — some are more prone to taking liberties to make things sound “natural” while others like to go with by-the-book translations.
*Note#2: Translations for speed-releases are usually done first by a translator unaffiliated with a group working on the manga and posted for free use for any group [usually on Mangahelpers]
Without cleaning and redrawing, you'd still be at point A.
At approximately the same time as the translation is being worked on, the editor (title applicable is he/she cleans and typesets) or cleaner will clean up the scans for use in the scanlation. This step gets increasingly difficult for weekly/monthly publications in magazines.
For the most part, it’s leveling, cleaning up leftover specks of dust, and getting rid of the the text in the bubbles, but there are certain processes that usually get on cleaner’s nerves depending on what they have to tackle
It can range from anything with text overlaying it, and depending on the art that needs to be redrawn, this can take a helluva long time. For the most part, the cleaner uses the pen tool, a selection tool of his/her choice and the clone stamp tool to get it to look like the art was never even covered by text at all. If it’s something simple like part of the trunk of a tree, it’s bearable, but hair and hands are a big personal no-no.
One of the few two-page spreads I've tackled myself...I actually had to redraw half the staff... -_-;;
This is basically redrawing taken to a larger scale — and depending on the publication, the spread may also be missing art in addition to the gap already there. The cleaner has to guesstimate what the missing art is and where to get it to join together. The redrawing can be simple or just simply godawful depending on what’s missing. If it’s a bunch of lines detailing action, then the redrawing can be handled relatively simply…but if it’s a character beating up another? Ugh… You can also tell that a number of speed groups don’t even attempt to join the pages since they can take quite some time. I think the most I’ve spent so far on a 2-page spread is 4-5 hours.
I have met my maker...and he is very very blurry.
The other bane of my existence. Not only is it hard to completely get rid of, but it’s usually accompanied by a blur to a corner/side of the page and the lines may also curve around the shadow. Other than the unfortunate mix of complications, though, this is also just redrawing.
What, you thought they spoke English right off the bat?
Once everything else is all said and done, the editor continues his/her job or the cleaner hands over the work to the typesetter. For the most part, the typesetter copy-pastes the text from the translation into text boxes placed neatly over text bubbles and boxes. There is usually a preferred choice of fonts per group or project…because no one really likes to read Arial or Times New Roman when other fonts could help get the mood of the words across much better.
Some groups may also choose to also translate SFX. This calls for a ton of redrawing in the cleaning step…but I digress. Here, that means the typesetter must use more fonts and place them creatively to give the general sense of action given by the original SFX.
Quality Checking (QC)
This is a mostly optional process — since pretty much all speed groups skip this step in order to release the chapter faster than their competition. The QCer can be anyone from anywhere in the above process or a completely different person pulled in to check the work. He/She will scan through all the pages, checking the quality of the redrawing, text placement, any wording problems that are still there, improperly cleaned areas, etc…
Afterwards, the images are all bunched together nicely in a RAR or ZIP file along with a credits page, since the group obviously wants readers to know who did the work and return to the site for further releases. Then, after waiting for the file to load onto the free hosts and/or the group’s private FTP server they can spread it throughout the world!!!!
Well, not really, since scanlations are supposed to be for free.
Well…back to procrastinating~<3
[All fanart used is from Side-A]