Wednesday, 24 July 2013

iPad to Press - Sexy Peat - Photo Polymer Photogravure

After having had a few days to reflect on my time in Scotland as part of the Sexy Peat project, I can now reveal that it was a truly amazing experience. The two weeks on Lewis exploring the Peatlands and producing a healthy body of work on paper, followed by a week working at the Highland Print Studio were invigorating and have reignited my interest in the printmaking process.

But for now, I want to share the process of liberating an iPad painting from the digital format to a rich paper print using a combination of age old and modern approaches in the form of a photo polymer photogravure plate process.

Moorland Discussions - Procreate
This image was fingerpainted on the iPad in the Procreate app using a range of grey-scale tones.
The digital file was then sent to Photoshop via Dropbox, and then processed through the Nik Silver effects plugin to enhance the contrast within the image. The image was then printed onto a transparency sheet with the aid of some clever under-lighting that tricked the printer into thinking the milky transparent film was more opaque than it actually was.

Printing a transparency on a large format Epson Printer
 This transparency was then used to expose the light sensitive coating on the test plate.

 Followed by the developing of the plate in water.

 The test plate was then inked and printed

The image on the iPad screen alongside the test print
The test print looked fantastic and held an amazing amount of detail, whilst adding a rich organic feel and a certain softness to some of the tones. Following this initial success a larger plate was prepared, exposed, developed and left for several hours in daylight in order for the plate to 'bake'.

The following day the plate was inked and printed using a wonderful traditional press.

The inked plate

Looking pretty pleased and chipmunk-like, printing the first full image proof

Print and Plate

This was a wonderful process, taking a screen based digital image back into the traditional realm and liberating it from its locked in format. As John at the studio commented, Apple are set on producing devices that are virtually obsolete within two years of purchase, whereas this printing press is likely to be still printing in another 200 years time. Thoughts?

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