October 2nd, 2010
I've used a number of terms over the last few years to try and describe my digital painting technique. Graphic Interpretations, Algorithmically Synthesized Micro-Paintings, Grain Paintings, but I think Digitally Screened Print Master is the most descriptive of my intention. I began this journey with the paint program searching for a way to add greater texture and depth to my images, both digital photographs and virtual photographs. The raw photos and renders looked too "flat", too orderly, I guess too digital!
My first experiments with the paint program I lost more of the detail than I wanted and ended up too much like a simulated painting. I wanted to retain the crispness of my images but infuse them with a bit more of an analog feel. Growing up wanting to be a painter, I always admired Andrew Wyeth's work, especially the crisp almost photographic look of his dry brush works. So in part, the process allows me to express a bit of the painter in me.
The "PRINT" IS THE THING! and I guess I wanted some control over how the ink is applied to the paper. Not in the mechanical sense but in the dot distribution or screening of the image. This allows me to put emphasis on the details I choose in addition to the usual photographic controls. Utilizing the synthesizer I create around 5 or 6 layers or "screens" of the image. The first layer puts down the color dots and fills the page with color. I can vary the size of the dots and the softness with which they blend. The next several layers are created with tiny brush strokes that highlight certain areas. One adds detail to shadows another adds strokes around edges and mid tones to increase detail in those areas. The white areas of the canvas in these screens becomes transparent as they are overlaid on top of the color layer adding increasing amounts of dot detail to the whole image. The overall effect is sort of like film grain in that it seems to increase apparent sharpness of the print. The process gives me infinitely fine control over every area of the final print.
After trying thousands of paint patches I finally created a small palette that generates a series of screens that compliment one another and add just a touch of a graphic quality to my images or more if I wish. More than that I feel a distant connection to my first paint program MacPaint in that it taught me how far a few dots can go.
The image above shows a small 300 x 300 area of an image and how the various screened layers look before combining them together in Photoshop. All my new images are being re-rendered to a long side pixel resolution of 10,000 pixels. This results in files that are nearly 200 Megapixels and chock full of tonal detail as a result of the hi res screening technique. These images are designed to be printed large 4-6 feet or more on canvas or watercolor paper preferably. I will be offering a personally printed edition of 10 of all my images at 18" x 12" (or near equivalent) on 17" x 22" Watercolor paper. Prints are pulled from original Photoshop layered file (without jpeg compression in AdobeRGB space), individually signed and numbered by the artist and a certificate of authenticity is included. Prints start at $250, contact me for more info.
July 23rd, 2010
Over the last few years I've been experimenting with a program called Studio Artist, a digital paint synthesizer, using it to digitally paint my photos, virtual and otherwise. At first I really didn't know what I wanted to do with it. Did I want to make photos that looked like paintings? Or create paintings that look like photos?
Thanks to some recent inspiration from scientist Russell Kirsch however, I found out what I was trying to achieve and how to achieve it.
In an article, Russell Kirsch had said he had made a mistake. Mr. Kirsch is a scientist with the National Bureau of Standards and is credited with creating the first digital image, and considered the father of digital imaging. Now he says, he made a mistake in making pixels square and he'd like to make them more flexible. This way they may better fit the image.
It suddenly dawned on me, that what he is really trying to do is to imitate some of the characteristics of film grain. Film grain, IMO, WAS one of the more important factors in the apparent sharpness of an image.
Then it also occurred to me that my graphic interpretations of my photos done with the Studio Artist paint program not only let me create a higher resolution image, it also had the appearance of film grain at a certain distance. This resulted from the pattern of dots that are created by overlaying of several layers of rendered paint strokes. These strokes range from several pixels wide to maybe 10 or 20 pixels long and several may represent one pixel from the original image. The resulting dot patterns from blending are approximately the size grain would be in a photographic image. By carefully selecting and tweaking about four different paint algorithms I have found a process of up scaling my photos and enhancing them and thereby creating a sharper appearing image than the original.
In effect, "micro-painting" as I originally dubbed it, is painting at the grain level. I have begun rendering my entire library using this method at a resolution of 10,000 pixels in the long dimension. This resolution provides exceptional results on prints up to 6' x 4'. My personal recommendation is to have it printed on canvas or a watercolor paper for an exquisitely rich print.
July 17th, 2010
Recently FAA changed how the zoom feature works on images. It's great that they now let you select any region of the image to zoom into. However, they also changed how they handle very large images. If any image has a resolution greater than a 1:1 pixel match to the selected region they shrink the image area to fit the square. In other words, if you have a very high resolution image they will down sample the image so that it matches the standard pop-up. Your nice sharp image becomes blurry, even though they have a message in the box telling people that it is a "full resolution preview" while it is obvious it is not.
The old method allowed people to compare the resolution of an image by viewing an un-manipulated 1:1 pixel preview. Now if you have high resolution images they subsample your image to fit their box. It bothers me that they still insist on labeling it a "full resolution preview".
August 11th, 2009
Welcome to the first issue of the Digital Workshop Newsletter!
My intent is to sporadically bring you the latest news relating to my second career as a digital artist. If you do not wish to receive these mailings in the future just reply with unsubscribe in the subject field and I will remove you from the list.
Click the following link to read this issue of the Digital Workshop Newsletter 2009 .
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Peter J. Sucy's Digital Workshop
Photography - Digital Art - 3D Visualization