Thursday, 23 April 2009

Scanning scanning scanning


I have been spending the last couple of weeks scanning my archive of wood engravings. The first task was to assemble as many good proof-prints I could lay my hands on, as well as liberate the boxes of blocks that had been 'carefully' - ahem - archived. 

We kept the majority in one of our sheds - and fortunately they all seemed to be in excellent condition. There are boxes and boxes and boxes of them - I haven't actually counted them all, and many of the blocks have more than one image on them (we wood engravers are very economical - and often squeeze more than one image onto a block - because for most purposes we just need one good proof to send to clients).

I also have several volumes of proof books, but there are major gaps, and eventually I hope to proof up images that are missing from the proof books.

The actually process of scanning is time consuming and - well lets face it - boring. I scanned each proof at a variety of high resolutions, checked them, re-touched them in Photoshop (just to take out any spots or paper edges that have been picked up in the scanning process). I scanned everything in 1 bit Tiff, mostly at 4800 dpi - which should give plenty of headroom for printing fidelity - and then checked again before recording the details in a database.

The first successful batch of scanned images is around 250 images, I have another hundred or two that are good quality proofs and need scanning (but I need a rest from the tedium!), and then there are all the blocks to go through - not sure how many, but maybe a thousand or so - maybe more!

The next step is getting all the details onto the new website - which is scoped and designed in principle, just need to actually do it! It's a bit of a leap of faith, but the intention is to offer the archive for sale and download as a royalty free resource. I won't make everything available to start with, just test the water, and we shall be holding back most of the repeat patterns for future projects - and maybe rights managed in certain circumstances - it's all a bit of an experiment at this stage.

I am also just giving some TLC to our mighty Albion, 150 years young but not showing her age too much (better nick than me) - and I have a slightly longer term project to get our Adana into shape (it's been in a shed for 20 years and is definitely not feeling well).

So much to do - so little time......