So with a little bit of work with the Dodge tool, I've eliminated a lot of the border schmutz, but there's still some work to do. I think it's time, finally to switch to the tool I've been avoiding.
Cleanup Method E: the Brush tool
Yes, the humble Brush tool (hit B for the shortcut). It's the most basic cleanup method available to you. For our purposes, we want pretty specific settings:
Round brush--no fancy pants shapes or blending modes etc.
100 Percent opacity
Hardness at 100 percent
Size controlled by pressure of pen on tablet (buy a tablet!)
Color at either 100 percent black or 100 percent white (X shifts between them)
Size-- As big a brush as you can get away with using (hold [ or ] to change brush size)
Select your Cleanup layer, and then go to town!
So, why have I avoided talking about this so far?
It's simple—I think that the less cleanup you do with the Brush tool, the more efficient you'll work.
It feels good to fill something in all the way black. It feels good to get all of the little dots of noise out of the white. Satisfying, like you're really ACCOMPLISHING something.
But, more often than not, those same things can be accomplished more efficiently with one of the other tools I've discussed so far.
Moreover, you don't actually need to eliminate every speck of white from your black areas! The real problems you need to look for are systemic ones—an entire area of your page with broken up black. The white lines unintentionally in the black, like you see above. Noise that is in a particular shape, or, say, cut lines around an object that was pasted on. Those are the kinds of things that will likely be visible in print, not that little grain of white that will soon be swallowed by the black ink surrounding it.
Lastly, make sure to click your Threshold adjustment layer on and off as you work, to preview what your image will look like as a bitmap. Often times things that you think might be problems will disappear completely after the Threshold adjustment.
(We'll return to all of these issues in greater detail when discussing restoring comics from newsprint...)