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Magic on a Plane: Lenticulars

Not Just for Crackerjacks Anymore

Those little stamp-sized cards in a box of Crackerjacks introduced this technology to many of us. The card bore a surface of fine parallel plastic ridges on the front; a cartoon would move when the card was tilted at varying angles.

The technology of lenticular printing like this has become more sophisticated over the years. There are a variety of visual effects that one can achieve, from 3D to morphing to animation. These effects are set up using image-editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, that allows for layered files. The resulting product can be a great attention-grabbing device for delivering a science message or for inspiring the imagination of a young scientist.

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Painting with Gouache

Editor’s note: The 2010 reissue of this article is a modification of the original. Two of the illustrations are replaced with different subject matter for purposes of better color reproduction. All illustrations in the original print edition are in black and white.

The field of Scientific Illustration often demands the production of highly detailed, accurate renderings that must survive the less-than-perfect world of photographic reproduction. The collaborative efforts between artist and researcher/author require the illustrator to adopt a most flexible approach so as to accommodate the likely revisions that are inherent in such arrangements. Additionally, it is the nature of the illustration field to impose deadlines that preclude the use of time-consuming approaches and techniques, favoring instead those media that can be handled with relative speed. Gouache is a medium that addresses these concerns and is an excellent choice for scientific illustrators finding themselves challenged by these considerations. Gouache is perfectly suited for precise, detail-oriented paintings in both full color and black and white. Its predictable tonal quality, vibrant hues, and fast drying time combine to make it a popular choice among designers and commercial illustrators. Opaque qualities allow for the layering of details that permits multiple revisions, and because of the picture's flat surface it is easily reproduced photo-mechanically.

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Scanning, scanning, scanning

This installment of Ripped from the List reviews three recent listserv threads that dealt with techniques for converting traditional art to digital media, preliminary considerations, and subsequent manipulations of the scanned images.

Scanning Large Artwork

Rick L. Simonson: Does anyone have a good method for getting large (maybe 24” x 36”) traditional artwork into the computer? Scanning seems like a good idea, unfortunately, large format scanners are quite expensive. I suppose I could scan it multiple times and stitch it together in Photoshop. Or send it to a large format scanning service?

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Sharpening Colored Pencils

This installment of Ripped from the List reviews a recent listserv thread that dealt with techniques for sharpening colored pencils.

Question from Bruce: Glendon, have you ever had someone burst into the store you manage announcing loudly, “I found it!” A way to sharpen color pencils without the leads breaking!” If so, would you kindly pass along the specifics of this person’s discovery? Many of us, I suspect, are not amused by this constant annoyance. It appears that a bump forms somewhere along the sharpening line that causes the pencil to wiggle. I should probably note that I use the little red General sharpeners. Does anyone have any experience with the Dahle pencil sharpener? If it works as stated it might be worth the $50.

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Cleaning Clayboard

This installment of Ripped from the List reviews one recent listserv thread that dealt with techniques for cleaning clayboard.

Question from Jeff: Does anyone have experience cleaning smudges off of clayboard? Specifically, I put a thumb print of newspaper ink into one of my projects.

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Shipping Artwork

Artists love to show their work: it’s an artist’s stage and performance. Transporting artwork to a local gallery is comparatively simple, usually involving only the time to carry the pieces to an exhibition. Shipping to a distant location, however, can be more difficult. And more disappointing if the artwork is returned damaged. Or not returned at all. A modicum of planning should make this process more successful, and relatively anxiety-free. However, one should remember Murphy’s Fourth Law: Mother Nature always sides with the hidden flaw in the system. Since the “system” includes a huge transportation network, one should be prepared for the occasional, often incongruous, surprise.

Timing

Whenever possible, give the preparation, packaging, and shipping of artwork the time it deserves. And well before the deadline so you won’t be hurrying. Uh-huh. And the rest of us humans should seriously consider shipping to an exhibit at least a month before the opening. Imagine a gallery operator receiving a hundred pieces of artwork the same week as an exhibit opening, and I’m certain you can also imagine that some of the artwork won’t receive the care and attention it deserves.

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