Are you still doing and ink drawings at the Museum, Geoff? It is a shame if you aren’t, these are great.


Will Smith

Projet Officer (Botanical Imaging)

Queensland Herbarium

Science Delivery

Department of Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA)


Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha

Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong, Queensland, Australia 4066

Phone: (07) 38969508


From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Geoff Thompson
Sent: Tuesday, 30 July 2013 8:36 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCIART] Processing pen and ink stippled illustrations - whiter substrate


Thanks Bruce,

                            I just wanted to add that using greyish drafting film is part of the problem and put in a plug for clay-coated paper.

This does not seem to be used much in the US but it's good stuff. It can only be bought in quantity from a paper merchant. It's used for printing high-quality magazines and has a thin white clay coating. It's transparent enough to trace outlines on a light box and allows one scrape for easy corrections or even scratchboard style drawing. I did this drawing of the Australian giant cockroach (the heaviest cockroach in the world) on it. 

Mostly I used to use it for simpler drawings like these.

We used to liken it to a poor person's scratchboard. Because it has to be bought in quantity by the time you want to order more the old brand is usually unavailable and you have to ask for samples to try out. Paper merchants will usually send these if you ring and describe the sort of paper you want to try. Lighter weights trace better on the light box. I do my pencil on tracing paper and tape it to the clay-coated paper with removable tape. Use a number 2 scraping tool or a curved scalpel blade to scrape shallowly for corrections.

We used to get the minimum order cut into A4 or A3 size pieces and that would be a few years'supply for less than $200. The prices may have risen since then though.




----- Original Message -----


"SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration-" <[log in to unmask]>



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Mon, 29 Jul 2013 07:03:57 -0400


Re: [SCIART] Processing pen and ink stippled illustrations

For this particular application Levels would be the better adjuster tool, as both Taina and Geoffrey noted.  Levels also has a gamma adjustment (the center button) that controls contrast.  This can also help clean up the gray.  (With applications having a plethora of tone and/or color values, Curves is much better.   And in fact, if you use Curves a lot you can do the same with that tool.  Just slide the end points in or out, which is the same as the black and white sliders on Levels;  for a gamma adjustment, grab the center of the straight line and pull it into a curve one way or the other.)

If your scanner has adjustments, those can help as well.  Set the scan to produce a straight line and move the (very similar) levels adjustments before scanning.

It's a perpetual problem getting a white background to look evenly white in a scanned or photographed image.  I'm sure I'm not alone in having given up in frustration more than once and just used a Magic Wand selection (or Color selection or similar), cleaned up the edges here and there at high magnification, then deleted the selection to white.  It takes time, but does work.



On Sun, Jul 28, 2013 at 10:37 PM, Taina Litwak <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi - I do more or less what Geoff does.  Curves I find a total pain to control.  Never use them.  Once the image is processed, I reduce the dpi and save at 600.  The scientific journals here in the states seem happy with the 600 dpi grayscale TIFF files. They print consistently well in my experience.  Mirka's method sounds good too though.

Taina Litwak
Litwak Illustration Studio
13029 Chestnut Oak Drive
Darnestown, MD  20878

tel: 301-527-0569
mobile: 240-750-9245

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Bruce Bartrug
Nobleboro, Maine, USA
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The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.  - Albert Einstein


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