Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research

An Exploration of Low Relief Structure Printing Through the Development a Novel Digital Colour Plastographic Printing Method

NAME OF CONFERENCE: Rethinking Early Photography
DATE: 16-17 JUNE 2015

In the mid 19th century two photographic printing methods were developed to address the problem of photographic fading. These processes were the carbon process and a variation of it, the Woodburytype. The carbon process was strictly a photographic process however the Woodburytype was a photomechanical process where an initial photographic exposure was used to generate metal printing plates. These two imaging processes fell into a category known as “continuous tone” (contone) processes. They did not contain the dot structure synonymous with the halftone screen prints nor the reticulation often associated other contone prints such as Photogravure.

The carbon process and the Woodburytype fall into a sub-genre known as Photoplastography. These images are created as a physical image relief rendered by UV light and photosensitive gelatine. The prints were often of such high fidelity they were considered by print and photography historians alike to be as close as possible to a photograph without it being one.

Whilst it was possible to develop the carbon process as a full polychromatic 4 colour print which is still in use today, the Woodburytype was unable to make this transition and remained monochromatic, this was one of the reasons for its rapid obsolescence.

In the context of digital technologies, my research into low relief structure printmaking has asked the question “What if the Woodburytype was able to become fully polychromatic?” This paper considers and explores digital methods to create mechanically printed continuous tone photographic images through digital polychromatic plastography.



Generation of Texture in Continuous Tone Digital Images

Author: Mccallion, P.
Name of conference: Institute of Physics IOP Printing and Graphics Science Group Annual Student Conference
Place: Institute of Physics, 6 Portland Place, London,
Date: Thursday, 6 December 2012
Poster Presented by: Mccallion, P.
URL Links: https://www.eventsforce.net


In a digital age where artists and printers are required to learn a wide range of skills, from graphic design to colour science, is it possible to return to a more artistic application of colour, tone and texture with a mechanically printed image using CAD software?

The reproduction of digitally generated works is divided between the onscreen (RGB) representation of colour and a colorimetric translation through an imaging pipeline to a printing device (CMYK). The developers’ goal of inkjet hardware and software is to match printed colour and texture as close as possible to its on screen representation.

The texture in this case is a simulation though contrast, tone and through the illusional properties of halftoning. So far inkjet has not fully addressed the three dimensional rendering of texture. As touch-screen devices develop and evolve to replicate the creative methods of the artist, can an onscreen difference in appearance between a thickly applied paint or watercolour, be replicated in the same way through the printing hardware?

Drawing tablets have made digital imput devices closer to how an artist would intuitively generate the image, so now is it the turn of the digital printer to bring the prints closer to how artists would apply the colour?

The research includes a survey of 19th Century photomechanical methods of low relief continuous tone images, these methods translated a two-dimensional tonal gradation present in the image to a three dimensional model in gelatine. The research moves into the 21st century investigating alternative methods that incorporates vector based software and 3D printing technologies.
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