Sunday, February 12, 2006

Fabric Printing Tips Part 2: Digital Manipulation

This is a hard post for me to write, because so much of what I do is experimentation, pure and simple. There have been many nights when, too tired to quilt, I sat down at the computer and just fooled around with Corel PhotoPaint and/or Adobe PhotoShop. Sometimes I ended up with something I felt was worthy of being printed on fabric.

That said, here are some general things that I do. Almost as soon as I open an image, whether it is a photograph or a scanned object, I adjust the color and contrast. This alone makes a huge difference. Usually I over saturate the image, as when printed on fabric it will not look as saturated. I crop a lot, and zoom in to look at small portions of the image that intrigue me. If I'm going for something abstract, I literally play around with almost every filter the program I'm using has. It costs me nothing but time to try them out, and I can always save incremental versions of an image. In other words, just play! See what happens and have fun!

Mary was wondering how I made the butterfly image I posted the other day. I started with three not so great photographs.

A blurred picture of some lichen. Should have used macro.

A butterfly or moth that was resting on some leaves. Notice that the butterfly is not perfect, but in the end result it's not very noticeable.

An aster on a rock.

All of these pictures were taken on a family camping trip to Skyline Drive in early October, 2004. At the time I was using a borrowed 4 megapixel camera.

I miswrote that I created this collage in the fall of 2005 - I'm pretty sure it was in 2005, but I think it was earlier than the fall. Prior to that time I didn't know how to use layers in Photoshop - I just fooled around with my programs, sometimes using both Corel and Photoshop on the same image. For this image I followed the directions for layer masking for collaging in the book The Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby.

First I enhanced the color and contrast of the blurry lichen. I might have also used one of the artistic filters on it, and used it as the bottom layer.

I upped the saturation and contrast on the butterfly picture, then used artistic filters (I think maybe crosshatch and posterize edges?). I made this middle layer have a gradient.
The topmost layer is the aster. You can see that I only used a small portion of this photograph. It looks like I also used some filters on this one, maybe paint daubs.

When all three layers were combined I flattened them. I'm not sure, but I probably upped the saturation and contrast a little bit more before printing the image.

So there you have it.(This is a close facsimile of what I printed out. I don't know where the file is, as we had two computer crashes last year.)

When thinking about writing this post I realized that now I take two kinds of pictures. The first kind is to capture a moment, or memory. Typically this is a photograph of people, and of course I am concerned with both capturing the moment and composing a good picture. The second kind of photograph I take is to capture an image. In this case I don't always worry about making the picture perfect - I know I can use Photoshop to sharpen it, up the contrast, etc. Sometimes I take photographs of things just to capture their colors, and it doesn't matter if the picture is super sharp or even underexposed. My current camera has 8 megapixels, so I can crop to my heart's desire.

I hope this helps answer some of the questions folks have been asking. I encourage all of you to lose your inhibitions and play with abandon using whatever photo editing software you have!


mary m. said...

Thanks Diane! The results of your experimentation are beautiful....this looks like a winner to me. How large is your final piece?

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT! I also enjoy Photo Shop magic. I really admire how you put 3 photo's together!

carolyn said...

Hi, could you tell me where/how you get your images on to fabric?.
thanks Carolyn

Unknown said...

Fantastic blog, Thanks for sharing. Keep posting like this.
Digital Printing on Fabric NYC
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