Adjusting a hand-drawn psychedelic poster to riso printing – Part 1

Well, it’s been a good while since the last riso experiment blog post and hence high time to do something about it. And this was simple enough – as I’m organizing open live drawing sessions, I also make a new poster every Sunday to advertise it on Facebook. (Still not sure how well it works, but never mind that right now.)

Anyhow, with the last one I decided to ditch the ‘modern’ poster aesthetic and go with the style I actually love and make it look like the flat colorful psychedelic 60’s posters that couldn’t care less whether the viewers can read them or not.

So, first I made a sketch, inked the lines, scanned it and colored it in Photoshop and was done with the poster for original purpose. Fine, fine. However, the original line drawing was still there, so I figured there can be no harm in coloring it a bit. Besides the super-multi-color psychedelic style, I’m a great fan of its Art Deco predecessor – mono- and duo-chromatic images, that are colored only with different tones of the same color or different tones of two different colors that form a mosaic instead of mixing or overlapping. Having in the back of my mind that this technique is in many way perfect for riso printing AND that my only usable drum at this moment is fluo orange, I went ahead and colored the poster with three different orange markers (and black, which I intended to add to riso print later with stencil).

Here they are – the original, the colorful and the monochrome version.

triple1

*The monochrome one is on peach-colored paper.

Now, the question arose – how to turn the monochrome version into a riso-printable one. Just converting the scanned image into grayscale is simple but does not print well, because the marker-colored parts are not evenly filled. Quality-wise it made better sense to use the monochrome version as a guide and color the ‘clean’ version again digitally for better quality. My original idea was to go for the Art-Deco style duo-chrome and print it on blue paper (as I had some). This way blue would act as the darker contrast to the fluo orange, lighter tones of fluo orange would overlap blue and soften the contrast. At least that was the idea.

In order to make the process easier, I started by filling in the original clean background areas with blue. The rest are different tones of the original “Live Drawing” text orange. (I use the super-handy site 0to255 for finding tone gradations.). I replaced all black parts with white (in my CS2 – Image -> Adjustments -> Replace color), as those I wanted to add with stencil later. Next step, I replaced the blue parts with white as well, because that was to be the color of paper and finally converted the image to grayscale.

triple

And made a couple of test prints on different papers.

Test prints revealed a lot – mostly design mistakes. The blue paper was way too intense – I had underestimated the natural semi-transparency of riso ink. (After all it’s not acrylic or tempera.) All the softer tones were completely overpowered and even full coverage looked rather weak. Yellow and peach-colored papers produced delightful surprises. Yellow, that I had not even considered as viable option and only tried because it happened to be at hand, produced the best contrast and color combination of all. The scan unfortunately doesn’t do it justice. Peach-toned paper came in second, although the background tone blended at bit too well with the softer tones of fluo orange and hence the contrast was not the best.

triple_final

The last test print was on white paper to allow for corrections. So, here’s what I’m going to change in round 2 (left is test print and right one with corrections) – get rid of most soft tones and go for maximum contrast (and fix the “shift to the right” that my printer tends to do…)

double_final

To be continued…

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