Leave a Comment · Posted on May 29, 2018
When I start an illustration project I begin with one or perhaps several sketches. Sometimes I illustrate completely analogue, but then the question arises about producing a print-ready file for it.
From my experience as a design teacher, I know that many students shy away from scanning. Their scans often have a color cast or they don't know how to scan the whole image because "the picture was too big for the scanner". This does't have to be; if you know the correct settings and take a moment to get to know certain functions of the scanner, you can learn Scanning 101.
That is what we going to talk about today. I am going to show you how to convert an analogue image that does not fit on the scanner into an editable file. For my experienced clients and colleagues who are read my blog, today is really for beginners, but I'd be happy if you continue to read anyway.
Those who tend to be part of Team Chaos must pull themselves together. You need to clean up now – but only the scanner's glass surface. (Don't worry, everyone else has to do that, too)
Even though the lid of the scanner is usually closed, tiny dust particles can find their way onto the glass. In addition, you can inadvertently leave fingerprints on the surface even if your hands are clean.
During your scanning session you will have to repeat the cleaning process before every scan. Without exception. The cleaning helps avoid later work in Photoshop because you won't be scanning dust particles and fingerprints in with your image. I speak from experience, this extra effort in Photoshop is preventable and these small particles can cause extra unpaid work.
Please don't use a window cleaning fluid, it can leave streaks. It is best to use a lint-free cleaning cloth with a few drops of isopropyl alcohol. Eyeglass cleaning towlettes can do in a pinch, but in the long run they are more expensive and worse for the environment.
Of course, a scanner built for documents in the size of 21 x 29.7 cm (8 1/4″ x 11 3/4″) does not provide enough surface to scan a larger image in a single operation. But it is possible to scan several sections of the image and put them together in Photoshop. You have to plan a little in advance.
I calculate an imaginary frame around the glass surface of the scanner. Everything I scan in this frame area is actually scanned twice to give Photoshop a way to detect the image. The frame is used as an overlapping area when put back together.
In this photo you can see that my sketch was drawn on transparent paper, it is easier for me to see the glass surface and the overlap area. This allows me to see how straight my image is lying on the scanner.
But even if you scan a finished illustration, you can use a few hacks to help you scan. Sometimes I tape some masking tape to the scanner at the level of the edges that have to overlap. Then I make a pencil mark on the back of my picture where the glass and where the overlap area is. I can erase these marks later. I put large washers (you can get them from the hardware store) on the back of the image as a weight so that the paper does not slip or curl and remains flat. I wouldn't use them when I scan in a sketch on tracing paper, because the washers would show in the scan.
Just close the lid, because now it's time to scan.
For this illustration I made six (6) scans. Each scan takes about 5 minutes, sometimes longer if the paper is really big and being stubborn. Seldom less.
As a basis for this post, I used my sketch for "Wimmel mit! The Online Wimmelpicture Project", which is 35 x 49 cm (WxH)(13 3/4" x 19 1/3") big - too big for my A4 scanner to digitize it with a single scan.
What many beginners-and non-beginners do not know is that most scanners not only have an automatic mode, but a professional mode, too. My first scanner from Epson, which was an inexpensive model, and my new Epson Perfection V600 photo both have professional modes.
Since I want to create a high resolution editable file, I choose the professional mode. In the professional mode you have more possibilities of determining the settings for your scan.
For this scan, which is a sketch I'll illustrate in Photoshop, I choose the bit color depth '24 bit color' and a resolution of 300 dpi. I'd like to mention: If I had to digitize an analogue illustration, such as a watercolor, for a larger print format than the original, I might scan it with 600 dpi. But this is not the case, because the sketch is larger than the size of my print product. And a larger bit depth is not necessary for any print product.
I choose the 'unsharp mask' option to sharpen the sketch. Yes. I know. The term sounds confusing and contradictory, this process makes the image more clear by increasing the contrast in certain areas of the image. A rasterization of an original illustration or drawing is not necessary. We aren't scanning a finished print product. This setting minimizes the raster and moiré effect of printed images that are being scanned.
Last I choose the file format. I'll be editing the sketch in Photoshop, but the scanner cannot save the image as a psd file. I choose TIFF because this format provides a better result than JPEG.
Before I click and scan and save, I create a pre-scan that shows me what I'll see in this section of my sketch. In this example, I not only have two edges that will overlap the other scans later, but I also make sure that the borders of the scanned image are wide enough. You'll see why in a moment.
When I am satisfied with the result of the pre-scan, I scan to file.
From an oversized image I made six scans that have overlapping areas and wide borders. To create a work file, I drag all my scans directly into Photoshop. Warning: Your computer must have enough memory to do this, otherwise it could crash. There's a second method that I'm going to explain to you in a moment.
This warning can unsettle a beginner. Don't let yourself get confused. It provides information about the current color gamut of the document and the color gamut that is set for the Adobe programs.
Nod and Click OK.
You can change the color gamut later. In fact, it's better that way. In a later blogpost I'll show you how.
The Adobe sRGB can display more colors than the Epson sRGB or the normal sRGB color gamut. Not all output devices can represent nor reproduce the Adobe sRGB color gamut.
As in the previous picture, just click on 'OK'. We'll take care of the color gamut in a later blog post. Repeat this step for all scans.
When I first started out, I had to put my scans together in Photoshop manually. That was a very elaborate work. Today, this is much easier and more convenient with the automation function in Photoshop.
Select File > Automate > Photomerge. A new window will open.
Since all of my scans are already open in Photoshop, I just have to click on 'Add open files'. Be sure to put a tick on 'blend images together'. Leave the radio button in the layout at 'auto.'
If your files aren't already open in Photoshop, you only need to click ‚browse‘ to add them to the list. I'd recommend this if your computer is a little older or does not have as much working memory (RAM) as you would like. However, the scans must all be facing in one direction to successfully stitch the image together. If not, you should set them up in advance.
While Photoshop stitches the picture together, you can go ahead make me some coffee. Actually, Photoshop is pretty fast, so there won't be time to brew any coffee.
Do you see how the edges look a little crooked and unclean? This is the reason I leave a wide border when scanning. It is easier to remove something afterwards, but what is not there cannot be added or added only with difficulty. We'll turn the sketch in the next steps.
Before the image is rotated for further editing, it should be saved as a Photoshop file. Remember: Save it often using COMMAND + S. If the program crashes, then the work won't be completely lost.
Everyone knows how to use hashtags in social media. You can do something similar with your own files on a Mac. This is easy with the 'tags' tab. The advantage is that if you are looking for a specific illustration or sketch at a later time, you can enter a keyword in the Finder and speed up your search.
Since this picture is wimmelpicture for Wimmel mit! The Online Wimmelpicture Project, I use related tags like wimmelpicture, wimmelbook, Wimmel mit!, sketch, illustration, etc.
My picture is sideways. To use it for a print file, I need to upright it. To rotate the file, I use this path: Image > Image Rotation > 90° counterclockwise.
Of course you can enter a different rotation angle. If you chose the wrong angle you can always use command + Z to undo the rotation. You can also use the protocoll window: Just drag the command into the bin.
Hurrah! You did it! And the image is standing upright like a soldier. Now look at the layers window. Here you can see that Photoshop has masked parts of the individual scans. To reduce the file size somewhat and to create a clear structure, I recommend merging these layers together.
There are a few ways to do this, either
The advantage of the merge to background level is that the layer is automatically locked and therefore cannot be edited accidentally. ‚Merge visible' allows immediate editing.
I usually choose the second option and create a background layer and fill it with white. I create an empty transparent layer above my sketch and lock my sketch.
And now the image can be edited in Photoshop. Join me in my next posts to see how I create a wimmelpicture.
Leave a Comment · Posted on April 13, 2018
Ooooh, aaahhh, huhhh? Many people who watch an artist at work expect to immediately recognize what the illustrator is drawing.
This often happens to me when I go to town to sketch. I’m drawing to gather information, not to paint a beautiful Sunday picture. Many do not understand that.
For the inexperienced eye, my sketch might just look like messy strokes – in school you had to learn to paint neatly within the lines of an object. The sketch that looks like a bit of scribbling actually contains a wealth of information.
For me the rough sketch is the backbone of my illustrations and it serves many purposes. First of all, it’s about that tingling sensation that I’ve talked about before. It’s something that wants out, an idea that wants to take shape. Sometimes it prances around a bit until its form surfaces.
This is the exciting phase of creating – recording the essence and facets of an idea as quickly as possible before the idea vanishes as quickly as it appeared.
I could describe it as a bit like hunting and catching something – when I was a kid, there were hundreds of fireflies in our garden whose lights flashed in the darkness. We chased after these little lightning bugs; sometimes we, my siblings, my friends and I, were lucky enough to catch and observe these magical creatures before we let them go again. But sometimes we went home empty-handed.
Drawing is similar. You try to capture as many aspects of an idea as possible so it does not disappear like the fireflies in the night. So today I open my studio to let you get you get real close to the paper and show you how I create my first rough drafts.
The good thing about the rough sketch is very simple: it is early in the development phase of an illustration and thus easy to change direction if the idea isn’t working.
When I started thinking about drawing my Wimmel mit! illustration, I wanted to develop it in a standard poster format. As I thought more about it, I came to the conclusion that the illustration should rather have a book cover format.
When I started sketching the illustration, the picture went on strike. For example, I wanted to portray the bus-pulling at the city market, but I also wanted to have lots of interesting stories for children, for example the Knights’ Festival in the castle courtyard. I made several small sketches that were no bigger than a matchbox and realized that I really only wanted to draw the castle as a backdrop.
I believe many people underestimate the value of failure and are really afraid of failing.
In the first photo below you can see that the motif originally shows the castle drawn diagonally from the front … but the image did not want to be as my thoughts originally imagined it. I had wanted to draw the place on the moat where the horses were given water AND the bridge over the moat AND illustrate a painter painting the ‘fake’ trompe l’oeil windows. However, the picture did not want that.
I had to take a step back and look at the rough draft from a distance. It was then I realized that my wimmelpicture would hardly wimmel – or teem with people and objects, if I draw the castle only from the outside. I also realized that the title was a bit big.
If I had sketched my picture on a ‘good’ piece of paper, I would have been annoyed with myself, because I probably could not erase all traces of the pencil that I had already put down. That’s why I generally use a thick, brown, wrapping paper for the rough design, which allows me to take a ‘who cares?’ attitude.
You have to know, that as an artist it is important to me not to fear falling on my nose now and then. When I draw something that is being difficult, I can stop and view or create it from a different perspective.
I believe many people underestimate the value of failure and are really afraid of failing. (I like to point to Elon Musk. He fails again and again and he is successful, just because failure leads to learning and to success – it is like what water means to Life)
For Wimmel mit! a rough draft means the possibility of telling many little stories without commiting to them and carving them in stone. The stories are in my head, I have to let them out. When I look at my sketch, I hear the music that accompanies the dance around the maypole. I hear the clinking sounds of the wooden swords of the little children dressed up as knights. I see that the jester is a bit too far offsides in the picture, that he needs a drummer by his side. And then come other little gems, like the Rabenritter Festival – the ravens on the castle roof top celebrating their own Festival of Knights, or the bread baker, the bakery stand (the very small circles are bread) and the visitors sitting at a long table in front of it.
That’s a legitimate question: Why not draw very neatly the first time around? An advantage of the rough design is the speed. I can present many ideas that serve as notes. It does not matter if anyone else can decipher them. That’s something I teach my students when I teach them drawing and illustration. The rough draft is like the note you write in school to catch the idea on paper as quickly as possible while the teacher continues to talk.
To fully paint a A4 (letter sized) sheet of paper, you need about 6 hours using pencil or colored pencil. Even with the computer, it’s really hardly any faster if I want to simulate a hand drawn illustration, except if I use tricks, because my hand is guiding the stylus, not some miracle program.
This picture is approximately 4 x 4 A4 or letter sized sheets large. And a rough draft is just that: A draft. I can add an image like the drummer next to the jester or remove a figure, like a princess who just did not fit into the picture. I don’t waste time doing that. For this sketch I needed about 2 ½ hours. Is that long? Now compared to 24+ hours I would have needed for a ‘neatly’ drawn picture in this size, no.
Because I’ve decided to show the inside-outs of drawing and developing a wimmelpicture story, I’m offering my readers the chance to become part of “Wimmel mit! The Online Wimmelpicture Project”. You can be part of the big Wimmelpicture! Just click over to this form and fill it out. Don’t worry so much about the formality of it. Your personal data privacy is important to me (and I try to uphold the most stringent rulings about data privacy) I will not share your email address.
Once you sign up, you will receive a download link from me. You only have to send back the form, which explains some legal stuff and where you have room to tell me about yourself, and your photos (so I know what you look like) There are no costs for participating – I draw you for free! and you always have control over your own data. I only show what you want me to show. That’s it. It’s that simple. Be Part of Wimmel mit! The Online Wimmelpicture Project! See you next week!
Leave a Comment · Posted on March 19, 2018
Some look in amazement at pictures and say, "Wow! I wish I could also do that." I wonder why they write off their own skills so quickly.
One of the goals I'm pursuing with Wimmel mit! is to encourage others to take the pen into their own hands, while I demonstrate the inner life and design of an illustration.
It would be fantastic – and very lucrative – if I could pull my illustrations already finished out of my sleeve – but I can't. No one can. Sometimes I compare creating illustrations to being a parent and having kids: some births run easily and others need a bit more attention. And when the picture is finally finished, it's like your own child, part of you - but it's a completely different being.
I have no control over whether someone likes my illustration, whether my illustrations are easy to be around, or whether they may have their own personal quirks. Once they're born, I have to let go of them. For every picture I draw, I take the risk that no one will like it. But the same goes for taking the risk that others will love it. And when in doubt, I always choose love.
In my video clips, I show you some technical steps and my own personal thoughts. When I sit down and feel an unpleasant tingling sensation as if there were a monster under the bed, and then, as a child would grab its pacifier, I feel as if I'd rather escape to the candy-colored world of social media. You don't want to look under the bed and risk letting that tingling sensation out. But I get to work and shield myself with the Pomodoro method; however, in my case, it is the Howler timer from Stephan Lind from the App Store instead of an ordinary kitchen timer. (You need a little humor in your life – and no, I don't make money with the link. The timer is just cool and a lot of fun to use)
I sit down and start to sketch and scribble. These are not pictures for Grandma's fireplace mantel (and not even for Instagram). These are the rawest drawings ever. Think of them as quick notes. They don't have to mean anything to anyone else – the main thing is they show you the way.
On an adventure playground, you can slip, knock your head against the next tree and maybe dislocate an arm. But you have to admit... it's a lot of fun to take that risk, be it a playground that you visited as a child or one of those popular climbing and zip-lining parks.
This is how our Wimmel mit! journey begins. Today I will show you how I go up against my imaginary monsters and also in a later video (to be announced) what you have to do to get an illustration to be ready for print.
Subscribe to my new YouTube channel, the more followers I have, the more options I have for a better, even more exciting platform. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Thank you! Sign up for Wimmel mit! The Online Wimmelpicture Project today!
Because I've decided to show the inside-outs of drawing and developing a wimmelpicture story, I'm offering my readers the chance to become part of Wimmel mit! The Online Wimmelpicture Project. You can be part of the big Wimmelpicture! Just click over to this form and fill it out.
Don't worry so much about the formality of it. Your personal data privacy is important to me (and I try to uphold the most stringent rulings about data privacy) I won't share or sell your e-mail address.
Once you sign up, you will receive a download link from me. You only have to send back the form, which explains some legal stuff and where you have room to tell me about yourself, and your photos (so I know what you look like) There are no costs for participating - I draw you for free! and you always have control over your own data. I only show what you want me to show. That's it. Pretty simple.
Be Part of Wimmel mit! The Online Wimmelpicture Project! See you next week!