Thursday, August 30, 2012

Playing with colors on the drunken bee print

After the key block is pasted and the design cut (which it isn't!), I transfer the cut design with registration marks included to the color blocks. Again, I don't always work this way and often times prefer to work with a registration jig.
Search for registration jig on this blog or my website to see how to make one.
or check my website's Studio Notes section for two notes on registration at the bottom of the page:

But the traditional Japanese method "calls" for carving the registration kento right on the block. My preference is to carve the marks first and then transfer key block, kento and all, to the color blocks. I will post later on how to carve a perfect kento every time!

Back to the color decisions, I tend to print too "primary" most of the time and envy off-color combinations of other artists. To a point, moku-hanga takes care of the too-primary issue due to the delicacy of the resulting color applications.
But it doesn't hurt to "play" first, again in Photoshop, and see the mood change as I darken, lighten, raise or lower color channels, desaturate...

One filter that I have found invaluable in converting a retouched photograph into something "woodcut-able" is the Artistic>Poster Edges filter. Play with it!

In that composite of four versions, from RIGHT to left:

-After cutting out one flower from the original photo, enhancing the main flower with brushes and eliminating most of the background noise. I enhanced the contrast and ran through a magenta photo filter.

-A desaturated, sharpened and lightened version, probably the one that will be closer to the final version.

-Blue and cyan enhanced, brilliance and contrast enhanced. Selected flowers and gave them a magenta filter without including the background.

-Yellow variation, green enhanced, lighter.

How about that, something for every taste? I suppose if I was making an oil based print or a painting I would choose the bluer version, maybe! Now, back to the studio to put my hands to "real" work carving the cherrywood.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cooking up a new print

High time for something new!
Seems the routine is always the same: first an idea "gels" after much mulling and thinking, sometimes the perfect image just pops up but sometimes they hide until seemingly all of a sudden, there it was the entire time, hidden behind the that pollen-drunken bee inside the top cactus flower.

I've done a print called Me in a Tree but now I want to be that bee and do me as a drunken bee...except I like willow blooms so if I were to be a drunken bee, I'd get drunk on the delicate pollen inside a willow bloom. So that's the plan, my next print, In a Willow Bloom.

Routines are perfect for getting going and, after the blocks are cut and the references are chosen, I have come to play with my buddy Photoshop quite a bit. I find it immensely liberating to just play (remember to save often) with imagery and cut and paste, put that petal over there, change the color scheme, darken, distort, transform, lighten, enlarge, miniaturize (a great tool for examining composition without interference) and pretty much sit on my arse for a day or two wielding my graphic tablet pen and making a mess...a virtual mess. Simplifying the image is a must and I do that by discarding much of the photo's information and drawing on top of the photograph with the brush tool.
Those there are perfect willow blooms and I'm going to get drunk inside them.

Since this is for a print exchange ( there is a pre-determined paper size so this image will be long and skinny.
Carving guide on left and outline drawing printed on tracing paper,
 on right, ready to be pasted on the block
Finalizing the composition, I simply discard all color information and apply a couple of filters to make the outline sketch that will be pasted on the first block. I also like to print a reference "carving guide" already reversed as it will be on the block.

I will add me as a bee inside the welcoming "cave" of the top bloom, the old fashioned way: with a pencil.
Usually, after pasting, I reinforce the outlines for carving with a permanent marker, which also serves to make the drawing a bit more loose and closer to what I would have drawn by hand. By the time I get done with the virtual brush tracing, re-drawing and carving, the design becomes more and more "mine".
I don't usually do all this planning for many of my prints and often prefer to draw straight on the block with sumi ink and a brush. But this is a moku-hanga, Japanese style print, and they require more careful planning.
Next I will need a color guide to determine how many color blocks I will need to complete the image. Next post!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Updated Website Pages

Here is my very latest, Tahoe Sketch, a little tiny print for another exchange.
For those that like woodcuts and woodblock prints, there is no place like our Baren. Here is the link if you wish to join us
But the title of this blog is updated website pages, so here is the link to the latest in the 1000 Woodcuts Project.

Life has slowed down since I started but I remain completely convinced that I will one day print the 1000th woodcut.

Meantime, plans for a website streamlining are finalized and I'm beginning to move some things, transfer some things, eliminate some things...
-The website is just too big so I will be axing some areas
-Galleries will move exclusively to my online shops, where detailed views and print details are easier to upload and prints can be purchased.
-The Printmaking Studio and the Studio Notes will move slowly but surely to this blog, easier to search that way. I'm also upgrading photos as I go along and hope to add some videos.

For now that's about it. Studio notes will begin appearing here and the domain will get redirected here. Back to work...