Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Art of self Reproduction

And no, I do not mean duplicating ourselves! 1 of me is plenty. I'm talking about being an artist self-producing my reproductions (instead of farming it out). And really, I'm only talking about the 1st step in this process - capturing a digital image. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I am often asked how I get so much detail and apparent texture into my reproductions (digital prints). There are three components to the reproduction process - A good digital image, quality paper, and a professional level printer using quality inks. Before you can create a quality print, the first step is the most important.

The Digital Image

There are 2 options for getting a digital image: with a photograph, or with a scanner. I prefer the latter whenever possible. I find, even when professionally photographed, it's hard to get as much detail and accuracy as with a scanner. However, I do paint on canvases which outsize my scanner's capacity, at which point I call up a professional photographer.

So, what is my scanner's capacity? I have a 9 x 12 inch Epson scanner. It has served me very well these last 6 years, and I am looking for an upgrade in a larger size, but at the moment it's all I need. So, is 9 x 12 the largest painting for which I can capture on image? The answer is NO.

Using the photomerge process in Photoshop I can stitch together several scans to build the larger sized canvas. Using this method, I can capture images as large as 30 inches, and often scan my 30 x 40 inch canvases using this method. The BIG downside - how long it takes. It can often take me several hours to run through this process (including the minor adjustments and touch-ups I complete in Photoshop afterward).

Here are some of the raw scans (24 in all) from my latest merging project, followed by a few tips on this process...

Scanning Tips

  • After scanning a section, trim off about 1/2 inch from any edges other than the actual artwork edges (to remove any color variations from the edges to be stitched together)
  • Plan you scans to overlap at least 3-4 inches (although, overlapping 1/3 of your image or more is closer to factory recommendations)
  • Stitch the scans together with the "photomerge" feature in Photoshop (or other similar graphics program).
  • If images aren't lining up properly, scan again. It's most likely a matter of making sure your painting is straight when you scan.
  • Still not merging correctly? If your graphic design program allows it, take apart the auto merged scans and manually place them together.
  • Once merged, use the clone stamp tool to make minor corrections to color where stitching occurred
If you want to learn more about printers and papers, try checking out these blog posts:

Bamboo Paper (note, I now also use the Sugar Cane paper when I want a whiter more textured paper)

1 comment:

CVOChristi said...

Thanks for the info Jennifer. It's nice that you can share your learning points and save the rest of us some headaches!!

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