Joining the Dots

Kristin Ivill HuiaI’ve been involved in printing for a long time so the concept of creating an image from dots is not new to me… but when those dots are created individually by hand, one at a time… that’s a whole new ballgame.  I recently had the enormous pleasure of working with Kristin Ivill who is an artist that creates the most exquisite images using the traditional pointillist style. Kristin brought in five of her recent works for reproduction in our are copy studio. Kristin Ivill-TuiAfter digitising the images and doing the colour matching to the originals, I did a soft proof matching to the final output substrate in preparing the files for print on our Epson Stylus 7900. Kristin chose Breathing Color Optica One for it’s ability to handle both the detail and subtle colours of her beautiful images and for it’s fine cotton feel. The final prints looked stunning and will be part of  a limited edition set.

It brings a whole new meaning to the work painstaking and that’s exactly what she does, painstakingly dots away with a fine tipped pen to create the delicate plumage and colourings of New Zealand’s birds. When I asked Kristin what it’s like dotting away for hours she replied that she enters a trance-like state while working. I can relate to that as I do the same when I’m in the country side taking landscape photographs.

Personally, I can’t wait to see more of Kristin’s work.

All drawings are © Kristin Ivill and may not be reproduced without permission.

Sand Markings with Megan Murphy

Sand MarksI recently had the pleasure of working with Megan Murphy, an Auckland based artist who has spent the past few years gathering photographs of beach goers sand doodles and then painstakingly reproducing them as pencil drawings. Megan has managed to capture the essence of the creators work in fine detail and has even been able to identify a serial sand doodler by the style of their creations.

The drawings were scanned using our Epson V700 scanner and then processed and printed on the Epson Sand MarksStylus 7900 using Breathing Color’s Optica One archival cotton based paper. Megan chose this paper for it’s luxurious feel and also because she wanted a smooth bright substrate to capture the fine detail of the pencil drawings. The first proof had a distinctive greenish ting that definitely did not match the graphite of the original. After some manipulation, I managed to get some decent prints, including a duo tone done with graphite and blue pencil. After doing some more test, I later discovered that the green tinge was due to the preservative spray on the drawings.


Megan runs MEGANZ School of Visual Arts based in the tranquil suburb of Howick in Auckland which is suitable for all ages. Can’t wait to see the next batch of Megan’s beach goers doodle sketches.

All drawings are © Megan Murphy and may not be reproduced without permission.

John Botton PSNZ Honours Submision

After working with Michael Boyd-Clark on his awesome PSNZ submission for Fellowship, I decided to put together my own submission for Associateship. I only had two days to make my selection, prepare, print and mount the images before the portfolio was due in Nelson. I assembled 30 images that I felt would make the high standards set by the Photographic Society of New Zealand and with Michaels guidance we selected twelve that worked well together. I spent long hours on Monday night fine tuning the images and soft proofing each one to my selected paper, Breathing Color Elegance Valvet, a stunning textured cotton based paper perfectly suited to the rich colours and fine detail of my landscape images.

Tuesday was spent printing and matting the set ready to shipping down to Nelson. I say “down” because that’s all the way down south on South Island. After the prints were carefully packaged into box, it was off to the local NZ Post office to send off my APSNZ submission. Holding thumbs.

PSNZ honors portfolio John

PSNZ honors portfolio John Botton

New “Artist” kid on the block

Last week I received an email from Donna Johnstone, a Silverdale based artist whoo needed some artworks reproduced. Unfortunately the attached images of the paintings she sent were not going to reproduce well so I asked her to drop off the originals at the studio. When Donna arrived with the artworks, we got chatting about her work. I was absolutely gobsmacked when she informed me that she had received a set of paints and an airbrush for Christmas, and having never painted before, decided to give it a go. So, she did and produced these two stunning images straight off. The results speak for themselves. This is definitely someone to watch. What do you think?

artwork reproductionartwork-repro1BTW, can you spot which is the original?

All drawings are © Donna Johnstone and may not be reproduced without permission.

Artwork Reproduction Studio

IMG_2573We have recently completed the setup of our new continuous lighting artwork reproduction studio with the addition of 2 540w soft boxes which are daylight balanced at 5500K. The setup includes a tripod mounted Canon 5D mkIII for photographing the artwork. All good to go.

Michael Boyd-Clark PSNZ Honors portfolio

I received a call on Saturday 21st Feb from a fellow North Shore Photographic Society member, Michael Boyd-Clark about printing his PSNZ honours submission for fellowship. As entries closed on 28th Feb and had to arrive in Nelson before the close, time was a bit tight. I printed a set of A5 images on the Saturday for Michael to use to fine tune his layout.

On Monday morning, Michael arrived at the studio early to get started on the final printing of the 18 images. He selected Vibrance Photo Matte paper to match the colour and detail and the printing started. Every image had to be meticulously prepared and soft proofed  before being sent to the printer. Each print were inspected by Michael and given the nod of approval. A couple didn’t quite make the grade and some additional editing was needed before being re-printed

Once all the prints were completed, each was mounted an matted ready for presentation. The matting process completed by the end of Monday and Michael managed to get his portfolio safely off the the PSNZ office in Nelson by Wednesday afternoon. Good luck Michael.


Are you a paper snob?

all papersIn this modern digital age of fine art geclée inkjet printing, there is a lot of hype around paper. This is a much-debated subject that probably goes back to ancient Egypt and the production of the first papyrus writing materials. Need I say more 😉 But it’s a discussion that’s been around a long time and is still worth having in my opinion.

Like most folks involved in digital printing I have been exposed to this Ivory Tower like subject involving stuff like Blue Wool scale, colour gamut, Dmax, OBAs, cotton weave, archive standards, acid and lignin free and the beat goes on and on… Unless you have been bottle fed on a strict diet of art world jargon from an early age, like me, you would need to look up most of these terms to really get a full understanding of what they all mean.

Just imagine when you’re faced with the product range from 20-30 manufacturers all singing from a different hymn sheet and all claiming superior print quality as per the check list above. Mind-boggling to say the least.

So, bearing all this in mind, I recently decided to purchase a test pack of fine art papers from Breathing Color and do a digital print test just to see for myself. BC alone make several fine art papers with exotic names like Elegance Velvet, Optica One and 600MT etc., they all have long technical descriptions and lots of statistics backing up the claims for each one, not to mention the fact that the price range varies drastically by as much as 50%. WOW.

This is how I went about my test. I unpacked the pack of letter sized paper, two of each kind, onto my worktable. First I examined all the papers, grouping the smooth and the textured papers together in separate piles.

At first glance the papers in each group appeared very similar. It was only after careful examination that I noticed some were definitely whiter/brighter than others. OK, that must be the OBA or artificial brighteners at work, but that was the only discernable difference I could spot with the naked eye.

Now for the printing. As I had two sheets of each, I wanted to test both colour and B&W printing, so I started by preparing a test image for both. Each image was separately soft proofed using Image Print’s ICC profile (except for the 600MT which was missing from their library) and printed. When I was finished I again spent a long time examining each print and comparing the two groups of images, smooth and textured under the same lighting conditions. What I found was quite amazing.

Smooth Fine Art Papers:

Pura Smooth

Pura Smooth

Optica One

Optica One



Textured Fine Art Papers:

Elegance velvet

Elegance velvet

Pura velvet

Pura velvet








In conclusion. Besides the obvious difference in whiteness, I could find little difference between the prints. Each paper produced a good colour gamut, Dmax appearance and loads of detail. I often had to flip the prints over to check the identifying sticker on the back as I couldn’t really tell the difference. So, if you’re a purist, opt for the most expensive OBA free Pura papers at the sacrifice of some whiteness/brightness, but you’ll be saving the planet. If you reckon you’re prints are going to be around for hundreds of years, go for the archival quality of Optica One of Elegance Velvet or if you’re budget conscious, go for the 600MT. In each case your prints will look awesome on any wall. But most importantly, print your images because the only way to enjoy them is up on the wall.

PS. This test was done purely on a visual basis and did not involve the use of any optical calibration instruments. Besides, I have yet to see anyone walking around a photographic gallery with a whopping great spectrometer around their necks. They just use the ones they were born with.