Wednesday, September 21, 2011

San Diego Zoo Elephant in Black and White

This illustration of an African elephant started with a photograph we snapped at the San Diego Zoo several years back.  The original photo was not that great and, in fact, there was a cable running horizontally through the middle.  In pen and ink, I was able to clean up the composition substantially and come out with something that looked interesting and pleasing to me.  This illustration was done with the stipple technique and probably took more than 30 hours.  Stippling is good for capturing subtle variations of tone but bad on the hand.  There could possibly be more than a million individual ink dots on this drawing.

I have been learning a lot about scanning and photographing artwork allowing me to put these images on line.  At first glance, it would seem that scanning pen and ink drawings would be very straightforward; just black and white, right?  However, I have found that my ink is never perfectly black and when scanning I must scan in gray scale, not pure black and white.  Then, the paper is never perfectly white and the surface texture will show up if I am not careful. After doing some on-line research I found some relatively simple techniques utilizing the advanced scanner software capability (adjusting the light curve and histogram).  Then it is a question of further adjustments, matching what you see on the original illustration against what you see on screen and what the printout looks like.

You can click on this image to see a larger view.