Monday, November 16, 2015

Card tricks

I field questions almost daily about my greeting cards, most of which re-use antique and vintage images. It's fun to talk about where material is found (flea markets, book sales, auctions, etc.), the process of scanning and manipulation, which can be extensive.

Images from my archive are the only ones used. This way, I know exactly where they came from (which is explained on the back of each card) and there's no worry about permissions, etc. Respecting copyright is a concern of mine, so copyright-free images are all I use. (Copyright is complicated; find out more at the U.S. copyright office web site.)

Some images are works-in-progress; tweaked before their next printing (oh, the printing? done by me). Complicated, antique engravings are the most difficult to reproduce clearly, and often require a pixel-by-pixel facelift. But the best way to explain the process may be via the evolution of a recent card …

The girl illustrating a story in the Dec. 1873 issue
of  St. Nicholas magazine catches my eye.
She seems perfect for a book plate
So, the image is scanned, duplicated,
then, the copy* is cropped
and lightened. *I always leave the
original image intact in case I need
to go back to it later,

She is removed from the background,
and cleaned up a bit by erasing lines,
which will make a crisper image.
Then, she is flipped to face right
(because at this point, I decide to
make her into a card and want her
to face the side that opens).

Next, she and the books are colorized
using Photoshop, and more books are
added to the bottom right since she
is looking in that direction.
The card looks a little bare, so a gradient
background is added, and a thin border.
The background color is altered during
printing to add more variety.

She is put into a card template I developed, then the information
is added to the back of the card, and she's ready for printing!