How to turn the grey background white in a phone camera picture of a book?


Here is a picture (of many) that I took from a book with my phone camera.enter image description here

The problem is that the background is too grey. I want it fully white. I have adobe Photoshop CS6. Does anyone know how I can fix this?

Note: I need instructions, as I need to do this to many other pics.


7/25/2014 10:33:00 AM

Accepted Answer

First you'll want to desaturate the image (CMD+SHIFT+U), this removes any color and makes it easier to achieve pure white.

With your file open, choose Image->Adjustments->Levels. You'll get this: enter image description here

Now bring the two outer triangles in like this (you'll need to play around with this until you get something you like):

enter image description here

You should end up with this!

enter image description here

7/25/2014 3:51:00 AM

I came up with a nice method for cleaning up pictures like this, and it works even when the background or lighting is uneven (that is, far worse cases than the example in this question) and it retains the colour.

My instructions are based on the Gimp, but it would be very similar in other programs like Photoshop.

EDIT: Gimp has a filter called "Difference of Gaussians" which implements the process described below in one step.

Firstly, make a duplicate of the layer:

layer dialog

Blur the copied layer with a Gaussian blur. Use a kernel size large enough that you can't make out any detail from the original image. I used 100px for the picture in the original post.

gaussian blur dialog

It will look like this:

blurred fish picture

Then set the "mode" of the blurred layer to "Divide".

layer dialog with mode set to divide

The resulting image should be the line art on a white background.

fish picture with background removed

What you are doing here is essentially a high-pass-filter on the image, removing the low-frequency information (slow changes in the background colour) and keeping the high-frequency information (the line art).