« [Forest in Autumn - 2] : first steps | Main | [Forest in Autumn - 4] : Colour Your Own! »

[Forest in Autumn - 3] : Colour Separations

Posted by Dave Bull at 11:41 PM, July 31, 2007

Continued from [Forest in Autumn - 2] | Starting point of the thread is [Forest in Autumn - 1]

I'm really not sure just how much detail of the process I should be showing for each of these prints. There are going to be 12 prints in the set, but surely, watchers are not particularly interested in seeing every stage of every print?

Or assuming that these postings are for the purpose of helping people understand how multi-coloured prints of this tradition are made, surely that doesn't mean that every step needs to be explained 12 times?

Anyway, we'll see what people seem to want, and see what kind of time I can spend on this. This next step involves some differences with the previous print, so let's look at these colour separations ...

Here - laid out on my carving bench - are 12 of the kyogo-zuri (colour separation sheets). (These images are clickable for enlargements).

There will be more than 12 needed for this print. Not shown here are the 'beta-ban' (blank block with no carving, for a base tone), the key block (already done), and the 'nezumi' block (which I won't be able to work out until some test printing has been done ...).

12+ colour impressions is really overkill for this print, no doubt about it. There certainly aren't going to be 12 colours, and in fact, I'm going to start my first test printing, when it's time, with only grey and blue. But I do want to have many layers and levels in the print, so a lot of the components have to be on different blocks, of course. Even so, this is clearly too many.

The problem is, because of my inexperience with this sort of work, I want to leave myself as much flexibility as possible for the printing process. I am sure that it would be possible to combine many of these items into a smaller number of blocks, but 1) 'combined' items have to print with the same colour, and 2) when altering the colour of something on a block, other things on the same block also get altered. Combining items can save a great deal of time ... if you know what you are doing. If!

Let's look at a run-down of those 12 blocks. I have broken the design into 'planes'. Blocks 1~4 are the frontmost plane - the largest trees. These are to be carved with quite a lot of detail, and they should come out looking quite realistic in shape. If this were a photo, these items would be in sharp focus at the 'front' of the picture, and the other objects would be somewhat 'fuzzier' ...

Block 1 is a base tone, block 2 overlays this in places, block 3 builds on this still more, and adds more bark texture, and block 4 will be used for the darkest areas of the trunks. You can see on sheet 3 where I have pasted on an overlay sheet containing bark patterns, printed out from my Photoshop master.

(By the way, these numbers are just to refer to the photos above; they have no relevance to the printing order we will see later ...)

Blocks 7 and 8 will make up the most distant plane of the image - a forested hillside in the far distance. This is not intended to be realistic at all, and will consist of vague tree-shape forms, perhaps rather like a backdrop on a stage ... There are two blocks shown here, but I think a third one may be necessary; I'll find out at test printing time. Number 8 looks a bit of a mess in this photo, but I think it will make sense when it is in its proper place later. (Remember - the blacks, yellows and reds being used for these sheets have nothing at all to do with the colour tones that will be used in the print itself ...)

Falling between those two extremes of 'front' and 'back' is the mid-plane of the image:

- blocks 5 and 6 will be used for base tone/deeper tone, on the tent and the hiker.
- 9 and 10 are self evident; these are two tone levels on the patches of leaves and bushes.
- 11 and 12 are the two blocks for the ground cover; one for a base tone, and one for texture. I'm still not quite sure what I'll be doing here, and it's possible I may not actually make block 12; I prepared this so that I could sit and look at it for a while, imagining how it would be printed. But it should be possible to print block 11 in a couple of 'layers', using varied baren techniques to produce texture ... we'll see.
- the 'nezumi' block (not shown here) will be printed over the top of all blocks in this group, and will strongly darken the entire area, with holes chopped in it that will - hopefully - leave a dappled moonlight effect.

I think that if the men who worked on the shin-hanga prints back in the last century could see this block breakdown, they would shake their heads ... "This isn't how it's done ..."

There is no way that they would have separated all the planes so strictly, but as I said, I want to leave myself with as much flexibility as possible, and I'm willing to put up with the negatives in order to get that. And there are quite a few negatives with doing it this way.

First, of course is the fact that it takes more blocks, which means more expense for wood (these blocks are around 3200 yen each), more carving time, and then of course, much more printing time later.

But more of a problem is the fact that because all the zones are isolated from each other, it is going to be quite difficult to get the print to look 'unified' across the entire image. I do want different planes to be visible, but not at the price of having the print look like it was pasted together from different pieces!

Anyway, we'll wrestle with all that stuff later; for now, I have a good week's carving work clearly set out in front of me!

The thread continues in [Forest in Autumn - 4] ...


Following comment posted by: tim on August 1, 2007 10:30 AM

Please tell me the tent is'nt staying in all the prints. I might stop being a fan! outside its inclusion, a wider view may open. That sounded really critical, sorry....you must be navigating shifting waters, carver/publisher + Artist, and that must be hard! But remember the artist bit is dependant on vision, otherwise what do we have? Good luck and onwards....

Following comment posted by: Dave on August 1, 2007 10:52 AM

Please tell me the tent isn't staying in all the prints. I might stop being a fan! outside its inclusion, a wider view may open.

It will definitely not be there for most of them. Current thinking is that it should be there at least once for each of the three locations - to sort of 'place' me in the environment. Once that has sort of been established ... I'll be more free to 'look around'.

Following comment posted by: Carol Lyons on August 1, 2007 8:53 PM

What I can say is "Cool!" Your skill, patience and imagination are over the top.

And, you are a leftie -"Lefties Can Carve!"
Thank you for sharing.

Add Your Input

Remember Me? (with a cookie ...)

(you may use HTML tags for style)

Back to the Main Page