When Size Does Matter â

Some images just need to be printed large.
Whilst most of us stick with small prints, 4″ x 5″ up to 8″ x 10″, we
are really missing out on things. Photographs, like all other forms of
visual art, have a natural size. Highly detailed, intricate works
perform very well in the smaller sizes, such as 8″ x 10″ or 11″ x 14″,
because they invite the viewer to move in close and become absorbed in
the detail. Other images work much better in a larger size. In
this article we will examine all the issues around how and why to print
in poster size or larger.

How To Print Large

Step 1 – Assess the image

Have a good look at the image in whatever form you have it, whether it
is a normal print from the drug store or a digital file from your
camera. Assess things like its sharpness, level of detail and subject
matter. Subject matter is a highly important issue to how large you
should print. Shocking or confrontational images may be better small.
At a recent exhibition I saw some wonderful photographic images of
Auschwitz that were printed small, around the 8″ x 10″ size. They
worked well in this size because their level of detail invited you in
close. But by being small the subject matter did not push you away.
However such images could also have been printed large. In this case
the emotional response of the viewer would have been very different
because of the impact the larger size would make. Thus you also need to
evaluate what impact you want your image to have on the viewer, what
statement are you trying to make. This is the big difference between a
fine art photographer and a snap shooter. The fine art photographer
will have a clear intent and message that guides how they present their
images. Now this could be as simple as “the beauty of nature” or as
complex and confrontational as “man’s inhumanity to man”, but it will
still be there.

Step 2 – Size and resolution

From the above work out what size you wish to print at and with what
technology. The type of printing you will use determines the resolution
in dots per inch that you must supply to the printer. (see the endbar
Resolution Issues) Continuous tone devices like the digital
photographic printers available at professional bureaus will need
higher resolution input than your ink jet printer may, but they will
produce a smoother result. Tied into these considerations are the
surfaces you will print on. Glossy photographic type paper will need
more resolution than printing on canvas or watercolor paper. This is
because the texture of the material hides many inadequacies in the
image data and adds apparent detail. Plus when you print on artists
materials, like uncoated watercolor paper, the ink dots will spread more, making
the image smoother.

Take your chosen size and multiply it by the dpi rating you need to use
to get the absolute size of the image you require in pixels. For
example a 24″ x 36″ print at 100 dpi requires a 2400 x 3600 pixel
image, or an eight and a half mega pixel image.

Step 3 – Input Options

If you work with a digital camera you simply need to transfer your
images to the computer. With digital cameras I always shoot at the
highest resolution the camera is really capable of, unless I know I
will only ever use the image for a low-res task, like a web site.
Shooting at the highest resolution gives you the most options.

Those of us who still shoot on film and then scan have more to think
about. You can either scan the film or a print. It is always better to
scan the film if possible. A print is a second-generation version of
what is on the film. It will be slightly softer than the original on
film plus there is always some texture to the paper it is printed on
that will also scan in. This said, I have achieved wonderful results
scanning prints on a cheap flatbed scanner. Just make sure that the
scanner is clean and dust-free, and that the print is also clean and
free of fingerprints, etc. Scanning the film will offer the best
results and more potential resolution. 35mm film scanners are
relatively inexpensive and produce lots of resolution. Remember that you can also get
scans done at a bureau at reasonable price with as much resolution as
you need. This is a cost-effective choice if you only need high-res
scans occasionally.

When scanning photos I recommend using the maximum optical resolution
of your scanner. A 1200 x 2400 dpi flatbed scanner has a real optical resolution of 1200 dpi even though
you can set the resolution as high as 9600 dpi. I find it is better to
interpolate up in PhotoShop if necessary. Also if your scanner can
provide more than 24 bits of color data per pixel over to PhotoShop (or
whichever imaging program you use) do so. This gives you more data to
work with. If this is not possible, so as much of the color correction
and contrast adjustment within the scanner software as possible. This
ensures that you will have the most useable color information available
in PhotoShop.

Step 4 – Removing information

There may be some information in the image that you need to remove. At
this stage you should generally cleanup the image by using the clone
tool to remove all dust and hair marks or scratch marks. Another thing
to examine is noise in the image. This may be digital noise in a
digital camera image or film grain in a scanned image. Especially if
you have to enlarge the image substantially this may be very
noticeable, so it is better removed now. One solution is to apply a
Gausian Blur filter, the other being the Speckle filter. Note though
that you have to be careful not to soften the image too much. Since
noise is most noticeable in areas with little detail you could mask
areas and only blur those.

Step 5 – Adjusting resolution

If your input medium provides enough or more resolution than you
require there is not much to do at this stage. Use the Image ->
Image Size dialog in PhotoShop to set the size and resolution you
require, making sure that you select the Resample Image checkbox.
Images of the right resolution will still normally go though this to
adjust the dimensions and dpi rating but without changing the file
size. Say you have scanned a 4″ x 5″ photo at 1200 dpi and you are
printing it at 40″ x 50″ at 120 dpi. The number of pixels won’t change
but you will still need to tell PhotoShop the correct dimensions and
resolution so it can print correctly.

What do you do if you have to increase the
size of the image? Simply
use the Image -> Image Size dialog as above to increase the
resolution with the interpolation method set to Bicubic, which
generally offers the best results. For larger size increases (more than
2x) also do this but it is sometimes better to perform this in a number
of smaller steps (say 1.5x to 2.0x) with some sharpening applied inbetween rather than in one big jump. Try both ways and come the result.

Step 6 – Sharpen the image

All scans and digital camera shots usually benefit from some amount of
sharpening with PhotoShop’s Unsharp Mask filter. This is especially
true if you have increased the resolution of the image. The danger here
is that as well as sharpening detail you want additional detail, like
noise and film grain, will be sharpened. If you got step 4 right this
should not happen. Remember that the dialog box allows you to adjust
the threshold of color difference below which no sharpening occurs. The
radius of the sharpening should vary depending on the size of your
image and beware of going above 150% sharpening. Adjust the settings
until you get the effect you want. Then examine carefully various parts
of the image. If you are not happy with the result use Undo or the
History list to go back and try again. Remember that you can also
sharpen only selected parts of the image.

Step 7 – Adding information

If you have done a major resolution increase you may need to add
information to the image. This all depends on the intended use of the
image. If you are a dab hand with the mouse or graphics tablet you can
draw in fine detail, like small branches in the trees, etc. You may
also be able to clone parts of the image. When doing all this work
first duplicate your image layer, then create a new layer above this
and draw on that. By working with separate layers you can ensure that
you can easily change your mind or even create different images from
the same photo by selectively turning layers on and off.

Resolution Issues (as opposed to issue resolution, which is a job for a psychologist or guru☺)

There is a lot of confusion about resolutions, mainly caused from the
fact that there are two ways to specify it. You can express image
resolution in absolute numbers of pixel terms. This is the best and
least confusing way as you can easily convert to the other form from
here. We know that a 1280 x 1024 pixel image contains 1,310,720 pixels,
and with three bytes or 24 bits of color information per pixel this
will occupy around 3.9Mbytes without compression. The second expression
of resolution is as measurement dimensions and the number of pixels or
dots per unit of measurement. Thus it could be an 8″ x 10″ image at 300
dpi. This in itself is not confusing but its usage can be.

Printers and scanners often express their resolution in dpi. For
scanners this is a reasonable approach. An older Nikon film scanner has a
resolution of 2,700 dpi. Thus a full frame 35mm negative has a size of
24mm x 36mm, or 0.945″ x 1.417″. It thus produces a scan of 2700 x
0.945 by 2700 x 1.417 or 2551 by 3825 pixels. Within PhotoShop, by using
the Image -> Image Size dialog, we can change the dimensions or the
dpi resolution to any setting we like without changing the numbers of
pixels by un-checking the Resample Image checkbox. Thus we can make
this roughly 1″ x 1.4″, 2700dpi image a 8.5″ x 12.7″, 300dpi image
without the need to change anything except how PhotoShop sizes the
image. The important thing is the number of pixels you have. You can
spread these thinly over a large area or pack them tightly into a small
one, but the number can stay the same.

The problems with dpi resolution expressions come with printers. When a
printer says it has a resolution of 1,440dpi all this means is that it
can place 1,440 dots per inch of cyan, magenta, yellow or black ink. It
can not put 1,440 dots of pink, purple or skin tone per inch. Note that
I am not talking here of continuous tone printers, like dye sublimation
printers, only of inkjets and color laser printers. To get colors other
than the actual ink color, numbers of dots need to be laid down close
together in a process called dithering (not the sort a Libra does when
confronted with having to make a decision). If the size and closeness
of the dots is good enough and your eyes are far enough away you see
this as smooth, continuous color. This means that such a 1,440dpi
printer may not be able to print photographic images at much better
than 300dpi. So you don’t need to make your images 1,440dpi resolution
to print them on such a printer. You can easily determine what
resolution you really need by testing. Take an image with lots of
detail at various scales. Change its resolution to that of the
printer’s dpi rating. For example we’ll do this for the author’s 300dpi
large format printer. Then generate additional image files by
resampling this original down to, say, 150, 100 and 50dpi. Print all
the versions and compare. You will notice that, at some point, you
really stop getting more detail even though the resolution sent to the
printer was higher. You can do more at in-between resolutions to
fine-tune this. For my printer it is around 80dpi. This means I gain
nothing by preparing files of higher resolution for printing. They are
just bigger to store, slower to work on and take longer to send to the
printer. Whilst 80dpi might seem very low to you it is important to
remember that most of us never view a huge print up close. So an 80dpi
36″ x 48″ print at a normal viewing distance can look as sharp or
sharper than a 400dpi 8″ x 10″ print in your lap.

Photoflex MultiDisc 5 â

Light reflectors are a great tool for good lighting.

Digital cameras have not removed the need for careful lighting. In fact
they have made life a lot easier by allowing you to check exactly how
the lighting is going to be seen by the camera.

One essential piece of lighting equipment is the reflector. Used to
bounce light into shadow areas to reduce contrast, they are ideal in
the field where using additional lights to achieve the same effect is
not possible. Photoflex make some great products, and the MultiDisc
5’n1 is definitely one of them.

The MultiDisc is a spring steel circular frame that comes with five
different covering surfaces: gold, soft gold, silver, white and
translucent. The MultiDisc folds up by twisting and then is zipped into
a small cover, making for a nice, compact item to carry and store. To
use, remove its cover, let it spring open and then choose the cover you

The gold and soft gold offer an effective warming fill light. Silver
gives a stronger, more directional fill. White is a good, general fill
and translucent can be ideal for things like macro photography or
turning a harsh, point light source into a wide area one. They are
available in three sizes: 22″, 32″ and 42″. I’ve found the 32″ an ideal

There is also a MultiDisc Kit, which features a 42″ (107 mm) MultiDisc
5’n1 reflector, LiteDisc Holder, and LiteStand, and Carry Bag. The only
reflector system with five reflective surfaces, MultiDisc uses
Photoflex’s proprietary double-laminated fabric. Fabrics included are
gold, soft gold, white, silver and translucent surfaces, and are housed
in an easy-to-use, zippered and handled Carry Bag.  The LiteDisc
Holder holds and positions the MultiDisc, rotating and swiveling for
precise positioning. Extending to 10’8″ (325 cm), the four-section
LiteStand 2218 offers maximum stability and security, with widened
footprint, reinforced brace supports, and thicker aluminum tubing than
its competitors.

The MultiDisc is a great product, well made and it goes its job well. Very highly recommended.


Images for a Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet Images is a right’s preserved photo stock library.
Stock agencies, as opposed to royalty free CD companies, sell
individual images. The price often depends on end use. Most provide
both on-line image search facilities and the ability to phone someone,
describe the sort of shot you are after and have them do the searching
for you.

Lonely Planet Images

Anyone who travels knows of Lonely Planet, the company that makes some
of the best travel information guides around.  Lonely Planet
itself, in its publications, uses about 10,000 images a year. Initially
serving in-house use predominantly, Lonely Planet Images is a full
service stock photography agency with 23 employees and offices in three
countries: Melbourne, London and San Francisco.

LPI is what is often called a niche or boutique stock agency. It only
covers travel images, though naturally these end up including a fair
bit of lifestyle content as well. LPI currently has over 150,000 images
available for on-line ordering and download. It is adding around 600 to
800 images a week and represents over 400 photographers, the largest
group of which is Americans. Interestingly, only 25% of these
photographers work full time on travel. For the rest it is only part of
what they do.

LPI is fairly typical of most stock agencies in what photographers must
do to be represented. An initial contact has a set of guidelines sent
to the photographer who must them submit 500 original slides, with a
minimum of 50 from any country. If 10% or more of the images are
accepted, the photographer will then be offered a five-year contract.
LPI only requires image exclusivity, meaning the particular images they
accept can’t be used elsewhere. Most photographers will have other work
with one or more other stock agencies. LPI is usually approached by one
new photographer a week, with only about one in twenty being accepted
now. This is because they have so many good images now that the quality
bar is constantly rising. LPI pays a flat 50% commission on sales,
irrespective of which sales office makes the sale. This is better than
many of the bigger players.

works hard with its photographers to help them supply the sorts of
images that will sell. Regular newsletters to the photographers inform
them of the currently heavily needed topics and shot lists of exactly
what sorts of shots to supply. Being a small stock library it still has
the personal touch with its photographers, something that many stock
photographers complain is missing from the larger agencies. Because LPI
mainly supplies images for editorial use, where model releases of
people in the images is not required, LPI do not insist that all images
be model released. However, they do encourage it where possible,
because of growing advertising use of their library.

Clients can order images off the web site that has full e-commerce
facilities. It has good on-line search facilities and LPI puts a lot of
effort into noting keywords for images to make them easy to find.
Interestingly around 50% of clients still prefer to ring and speak to a
person. This seems to be partly because people are so busy these days
and partly so they can negotiate on price.

Lonely Planet Images is an excellent stock library, both for the photographers and for the image users. It can be found at www.lonelyplanetimages.com.

Images in this article kindly supplied by LPI to the author for use in this article. All rights reserved by LPI.

Profile â

Chris Barnaby does abstract digital art with a definite spiritual aspect.

Chris Barnaby first came to my attention through the International
Digital Art Awards. Since then we have been communicating and
discovered a lot in common. Chris is one of those really nice guys that
you sometimes luckily come across. Very serious about his art, he is a
deep thinker, which is reflected in his work.

Chris has been an artist during entire life. He started exploring
digital art back in the dim, dark days of the beginning of the home
computer age with many systems, a favorite being the commodore 64 and
Amiga computer. He created a computer artwork for his higher school
certificate in 1986. He completed an associate diploma in fine arts at
TAFE whilst exploring the possibilities of the video medium. He then
went on to art school at university but dropped out after one year due
to a stifling educational system. Chris found it was based around the
intellectualization of art rather than the practical creation of art
and enhancement of self-understanding through expression. Whilst a
tertiary education in art suits and helps some people, there are
certainly others, like Chris, that find it the totally wrong
environment to help their creativity. It is summed up in Chris’ saying,
“I want to create art history rather than theorize about it!”. So he
set about a process of self exploration and self learning.

In between the art, Chris was a programmer/analyst that worked in the
creation of artificially intelligent databases. He is currently the
curator for Erowid.org/art. He uses most standard software packages. He
became a Master in Neuro Linguistic Programming and enjoys using his
hypnosis skills in the creation of his art through trancework. He
creates his art for the purpose of self pleasure and to explore the
technological medium in the rendering of experience/s of ‘the other’.
He is inspired by his experiences of ‘the other’ and the subsoncsious
mind through transcendent states of consciousness accessed via the use
of psychedelics, trance work, self-hypnosis, trance dance, meditation,
sleep deprivation, dreamwork, fasting, and overall… his intimate and
almost personal belief in his connection with spiritual aspects of

Chris defines his beliefs as: “I have a sincere belief in the
connectedness of everything. I believe that we are all part of the
creation of ‘God/dess’ and that this creation speaks to its people
through events, through art of all forms and personal experience. If
you look back on your life you will see that it has been a path that is
quite obvious. If you think also of all the small things that made you
make the choices you made to get to where you are now you will clearly
see that you have been guided. Guided by what? I personally believe
that the guide is God/dess or Spirit and this being has a hand in every
event no matter how small. I also believe that this being will
represent itself in any way that it can in this dimension and will
appear in many forms. The most unusual that has been in the past was
the Christian form of Jesus… the most modern form of this ‘other’ is
the U.F.O. and extraterrestrials. Whilst humanity further allows itself
to believe in a separation of itself from Spirit, the ‘alien other’
will appear in whatever form is necessary to ‘shake up’ our
sensibilities and allow for an experience or understanding that has to
include this Spiritual part of ourselves. We are at a time in history
where we are about to be born as a new form of consciousness. What form
this consciousness will take I have no idea of except that it will
include all being and all beings everywhere in all dimensions. My art
is a reflection of these beliefs… an honest approach at allowing the
opening of a dialogue between our selves and what we believe to be the
alien other. I believe in time we will clearly see that this “alien
other” is nothing but another aspect of our all powerful and
multidimensional selves and that we are fundamentally a creation of

Chris’ Creative Process

All of my current works start from what I call a ‘primitive’ that I
generate using a 3d program. My favorite program, at the moment for
this, is ZBrush as it is quick and fast. I have toyed with the idea of
the creation of these works in an animated and also 3dVR space. The
technology at the moment seems a little limited in what I am able to

present and express. I use a Pentium 4 – 1.6Ghz with 500MB of memory, a
Wacom tablet and output via Kodak Lambda printer at a pro photo lab on
metallic gloss paper.

My creative process is closely related to my philosophy of life which
has been with me in a kernal form from birth and then strengthened from
the experiences I have gained confirming this understanding as I live.
I firmly believe that we are all equal; ‘as above so below’ and in this
belief I form my art. My experiences throughout life have not only
confirmed this identity forming understanding, but also inform my
creative process in many ways.

I know that when I start a work it will have only the essence of the
original idea that spawned it. I prefer to keep with going with the
flow of the universe and the artwork as it happens. I know when I
create a work that my creativity will be influenced by ‘errors’ and
‘serendipity’ and I allow for this to be able to discover new ways of
representing the ideas that seem to have a need to be expressed through
my self. If I come across a new way of doing my work by accident I
always save the work at this point to be able to explore that idea
fully in other works. I sometimes develop the ‘accidental’ work to see
where it leads.

Sometimes just play with digital images and something appears other
times I start with an idea. In this instance I start with an idea that
is niggling at me to be expressed. In this instance I have been
regularly harassed by the ‘other’ to express my dreams in which the
‘other’ side of reality appears as UFO’s, UFO like objects and
extraterrestrial forms. If you look at my artworks carefully this
‘alien other’ theme has quite a strong and familiar presence to them…
this time I will be playing with the idea of a craft that represented
themselves in in one of my recent dreams

Audacity was a spin off for an album
cover that I did for a local band. The requirements for a front cover
image was that it encompass the ideas of the artist which included
their belief in magic in the city. I created this from those ideas and
the album cover features a similar ‘early’ version of this same work.
This is the completed work.

This work is designed to evoke and
emotional response with its flowing forms and colour and I believe it
does so quite successfully when seen printed full size.

This was one of my earliest works
that I did that I started to show people. I had in mind the bubbling
forms of the psychedelic waterworld when I created this. This work wa
also featured on the cover of the Heffter Review of Pyschedelic
Research journal.

I am quite obsessed with the cross
image and this work is again something I have seen inside of me whilst
I have been doing deep inner work and meditation. This is again looking
at the base  side of the generator for all of this dimension. It
appears in many forms and colours although always like a cross.

This world is reminiscent of the
experiences to be had by psychonauts when under the influence of
psilcybian mushrooms. I have personally experienced places and beings
like these and was amazed the day that I was able to finally capture
some of them for exhibit.

Thought Patterns is more of a dream
related work as I sometimes dream in colours and shapes. This work
reflects this dreaming and allows you to view it intimately and dream
along with it.

APC Power Protection

Uninterruptable power supplies are essential for anyone doing essential work on their computers.
In far northern Queensland, in Australia, power problems are a regular
part of life. The region’s tropical weather patterns, including heavy
rainfalls, lightening strikes and cyclonic winds wreak havoc on
overhead power lines, causing numerous blackouts and surges. That’s why
Cairns-based freelance photographer, John Bujack, relies on a 500VA APC
Back-UPS to keep his home computer system protected against unreliable

A qualified communications technician (Royal Australian Air Force
trained) for 30 years, John has been a photographer for the past 22
years. His photographs have been published in a range of well-known
Australian and overseas publications. Since photographic negatives and
transparencies deteriorate over time, especially in high humidity, he
acquired his computer system three years ago to ensure the longevity of
his work. John is currently converting his collection of photographs
into digital form and storing them onto CD-ROM disks. To undertake this
process, he uses a high-speed home-built computer with four hard
drives, a 21″ monitor, a 17″ monitor, plus the latest, top-of-the-line
Epson scanner and an Epson A3 size photo printer.

“I can’t afford to have a power interruption. Even a momentary rise or
fall in the voltage will corrupt my photographs when I am saving them.
In addition, my equipment is so valuable. I simply can’t afford to have
it destroyed by a surge,” explains John.

John first learned about the importance of power protection through the
unfortunate experience of a friend, who lost all his equipment to a
power surge.

“A friend of mine was doing a lot of consulting work on his computer
when a strong wind storm bought down one of those higher voltage power
lines onto a 240V power line. This not only burnt out the nearby
transformer block, but also sent a 1200V surge through all the local AC
power lines. My friend had a whole heap of material on his hard drive
and he lost the lot. The surge destroyed all his equipment – not just
the data but also the hardware itself.”

When it came time to acquire a computer for his photography business,
John made sure that he invested in a UPS. To select the right UPS for
his needs, John researched all the possible alternatives. Due to his
lifelong involvement in electronics, John first heard of APC through
advertisements in magazines like PC World and Australian Computer
Magazine. After carefully reviewing APC product brochures as well as
other brands, he made the decision to go with APC.

“I’m one of those people who doesn’t buy until I have read and read
everything I can about the product. APC just stood out as the best.
Everything else looked like a Mickey Mouse Meccano set,” laughs John.
The well-designed form factor of the Back-UPS, which has enough outlets
to protect all his equipment, was a particularly impressive feature.
Adds John, “Unlike other brands, APC Back-UPS just looked like it could
do its job.” Since all different kinds of power problems occur in
Cairns, John was also impressed by the ability of the Back-UPS to
provide battery back up as well as surge suppression. The Back-UPS
includes “surge only” outlets that offer protection for non-data
sensitive equipment like scanners and printers without reducing the
unit’s available power or battery capacity. This helps to maximize
battery power for equipment that needs it most like a computer and

For John, having an APC Back-UPS connected to his computer provides
peace of mind, as it ensures he will never lose all his expensive
equipment to a power surge like his friend did. His Back-UPS unit also
allows him to study, and experiment with, the workings of Linux without
any disruptions from unexpected blackouts. Back-UPS is compatible with
and endorsed by all leading operating systems, allowing users to freely
employ the system of their choice. This feature helps John stay
protected as he moves from a Windows to Linux system.

John firmly believes that an APC Back-UPS is an integral component of any PC system.

“Anybody who has a computer needs an APC Back-UPS. A UPS is an
essential part of a computer. It’s not an option or simply a bit of
insurance or something to consider. People should see a Back-UPS in the
same light as a PC itself. If you are going to buy a computer you need
to buy a Back-UPS as well. This point cannot be stressed enough.”

As his home PC system grows, John is contemplating upgrading to a 650VA
UPS. He has been so happy with his Back-UPS he is considering using
APC’s Trade-UPS program. This will allow him to trade in his old unit
for a new unit of his choice, while receiving an important rebate.

Your editor also uses an APC Back-UPS Pro. The lights can flicker or
even go out and you never loose any critical work. There are many good
uninterruptible power supplies around, though like John, I spent my
money on an APC model. It has worked flawlessly for one and a half
years now. If you do serious computer work, they are worth the money.
Models are available for every need and to suit all the world’s power

Checkout www.apc.com

Profile – Joel Seah – â

Joel Seah is a printmaker who is making full use of the potentials offered by the digital domain.

Growing up in a Chinese family in Singapore, where emphasis was placed
on occidental thought, Joel’s work has evolved as: “the ideal process
through which he can interrogate the dichotomies of Eastern and Western
that have shaped my outlook, both personally and artistically”.

Maiden Voyage

His knowledge of Chinese culture comes from research rather than first hand experience,

“I identify with the Chinese-American playwright David Henry Huang’s
observation that the paradox of being Chinese today means rediscovering
what it means to be Chinese today”, said Seah. However, it can also be
observed that the ethnicity in this statement may be substituted for
any other. The continuous displacement from and reconnection to the
sense of belonging is a journey that most people undergo, in one form
or another, in an increasingly globalized society. He realized it is
certainly not unique to being ethnically Chinese.


Joel is building a vocabulary of images and symbols that will allow him
to reconstruct this universal experience from what is particular and
specific to his own experience in “discovering what it means to be
Chinese today”. His studio practice has involved collecting found,
video taped and photographed images relating to the idea of Diaspora
from widely disparate sources, and then juxtaposing these images in
different contexts. By manipulating the images in this manner, Joel
reassesses through visual dialogue and interaction, their associated
meanings and their relation to the reconstructions of place and space.
The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze states: “only that which is alike
differs and only differences are alike”. Joel’s work attempts to
redefine, rather than resolve, the disparities of identity difference.

Terra Firma

Formal training as a printmaker has influenced his exploration into
digital technologies including high resolution scanning, video capture,
digital image manipulation, as well as a variety of print output and
transfer methods. He explores ways in which these can be used to
reconstruct the process of documentation and memory as it pertains to
the ideas of immigration and dislocation. Translating and transforming
imagery through different media over a period of time conceptually
mimics the physical process of migration. Transporting imagery between
virtual and physical states, graphically and metaphorically maps the
changes that occur.

To this end, Joel has been particularly drawn to an Encad gelatin-coated paper
on which archival pigment dyes or vegetable dyes can be printed using
ink jet printers. The printed images on this paper are transient and
upon placing a receiving damp sheet of paper over the image on the
gelatin-coated paper, and running them through a printing press to
exert pressure, the image re-hydrates and transfers to the receiving
sheet. This monotype process allows the perceived sterile aesthetic of
digitally produced work to obtain a surface that is organic, tactile
and marked by human touch and accident. This allows Joel to print on
various fine art and specialty papers, like rice paper, that might not
directly go through the printer. It also introduces the chance
happenings that are so important in fine art printmaking, and also
makes each print individual.

“Still Waters” – Top is the original
digital file and below it the printed work.By using a transfer process
Joel creates a digital print will all the individuality and physicality
of any traditional fine art print. By working this way Joel can use
truly wonderful papers and away from the ‘clinical’ perfection of the
conventional digital print.

“In continuing to reconsider and confront my own perceptions towards
methodologies and attitudes in creating, I wish to pursue the ideas and
processes outlined in this statement as well as other questions that
emerge as I develop as an artist both critically and professionally”,
says Seah.

True North


Terra Nova

Introduction to 3D Modelling and Rendering, Part 2 â

An introduction to 3D for those new to it.
3D software offers many options in how we represent, and thus create,
the objects that go into our scenes.  In this part of the course
we examine basic object representations.

What Sorts of Objects

In most real scenes, the objects that we might want to
incorporate will be complex.  Unfortunately most 3D modellers and
renderers don’t support basic object types like ‘tree’, ‘car’, ‘person’
or ‘house’.  Such complex objects have to be created out of the
actual object types that the renderer supports.  The usual basic
objects types are flat objects, like planes and polygons, and 3D
objects like spheres, cylinders, cones, etc. Of course, you can also
obtain libraries of already created objects. Some 3D programs come with
lots of these, others few. There are web sites where people place free
‘models’ that you can download. There are also companies that
specialise in creating ‘models’ that you can buy.

Polygons, for reasons that will become clearer later in this series,
are the mainstay of most 3D modellers and renderers.  A polygon is
simply a shape made up of a number of straight lines, joined together
to define a closed shape.  The points that define the end of each
line are called a vertex.  Different programs allow variations on
the basic polygon.  Some programs require that polygons be totally
flat, that all the vertices lie in a flat plane.  Others allow
curved polygons.  Some require all polygons to have either three
or four sides.  Others allow you to construct polygons with
greater numbers of sides.  Many of these latter ones will actually
subdivide the polygon into three or four sided ones before rendering,
though this is usually hidden from the user.  One major advantage
of three sided polygons, triangles, is that they have to be flat. 
Only four sided or higher polygons can have some vertices not in the
same plane as the others.  A variation on the polygon that you
find in most 3D software is the infinite plane.  As its name
implies this plane is a flat surface that stretches off into
infinity.  Infinite planes are useful for things like water
levels, cloud layers, etc.

Polygons are defined by the x,y,z coordinates of their vertices. 
It is not unusual to be required to define the vertices of a polygon in
a particular order, such as clockwise or anticlockwise when looking at
the front face of the polygon.  Some software requires this to be
able to calculate the surface normal.  Surface normals are
incredibly important in 3D work as they are used to work out how much
light is hitting a surface, and thus it’s colour.  The surface
normal points up from the surface of the polygon.  Some software
treats polygons as single sided, other software as double sided. 
3D software that has single sided polygons will not display them if you
are looking at their back surface.  With such software if you want
a bowl, for example, you have to define polygons forming both the
inside and outside surfaces.  Software that uses double sided
polygons does not have this requirement, one layer of polygons can
represent both the inside, and outside surfaces, though this is not
natural, since the bowl walls would have no thickness.

Basic 3D objects, like spheres, cylinders, boxes and cones are also
incredibly useful.  We can construct planets from spheres and tree
trunks from cylinders, for instance.  Since these are the basic
forms used in the construction of most man-made, and many natural,
objects, they are indispensable.  Many programs, when you use one
of these, create the basic object at a standard size.  You can
then usually modify the object by stretching it into the form you
want.  Other programs allow you to stretch out the shape when you
insert it into the scene.  This stretching process allows you to
create oval footballs from a sphere, a rectangular building from a
square cube and a long spear from a squat cylinder.  Most software
gives you the choice of doing this either by typing in numbers or by
clicking and dragging.  This stage of modifying the shape of your
objects is usually much easy if you can easily switch between different
views of the object, like front, side and top, either through having
multiple views open at once or by switching views in the one window.

Boxes, spheres, cylinders, cones, polygons and text objects are the
basic construction components available in most 3D software, as shown
in this render done with Newtek’s Inspire 3D.  In some programs all
these objects are constructed out of polygons, in others they are
primitive objects that are rendered directly.  If you examine the edges
of the sphere and cone you can see that they are constructed out of

Creating Composite Objects

If all objects are treated as individual ones, you end up with a
heap of them to try to manage.  Since most basic objects will
actually be used to construct more complex objects it is useful to be
able to group objects together that form parts of a whole.  Thus
we might create an object ‘person’ with parts ‘head’, ‘body’, ‘arm1’,
‘arm2’, ‘leg1’ and ‘leg2’.  Then ‘leg1’ consists of ‘upper’,
‘lower’ and ‘foot’.  And so on.  Building up complex objects
out of hierarchies of other parts makes life a lot easier.  If you
want to move a whole object you can simply select the top level and
move it, knowing that all the component parts will move too. 
Otherwise you would have to separately select every component and move
them, and hope you didn’t forget some small parts.

Object hierarchies are most flexible when you can give names to each
component part.  Such hierarchies are also essential to making
character animation easier, as we will see later in the series. 
Some programs allow you to readily display object hierarchies in a
diagram form that shows the relationships between parts, similar to the
folder hierarchy views that most operating systems allow you to see for
navigation purposes.  Software that doesn’t do this is certainly
harder to use for some things.

This screen grab, from Ray Dream Studio, shows a cartoon bird and it’s
hierarchical construction.  Unfortunately too few programs provide this
sort of display.

Another type of object related to the above is a polygon mesh.  A
mesh is a set of polygons which are joined together to represent a
surface of some complexity.  A good example of this is the polygon
mesh that Bryce 3D uses to represent the shape of the landscape. 
The process of creating a polygon mesh usually does not require that
the user manually position each vertex of each polygon in t
mesh.  Various other convenient methods are available.  We’ll
examine these in later parts of the course.

This close-up of part of a bird model in Ray Dream Studio shows how this program tessellates spheres into polygonal meshes.

Why Are There Differences of Approach?

There are two choices the software developers have to make: what
primitive objects are to be supported; and what rendering method is to
be used?  These two questions are interrelated, as we shall see in
Part3 of the course.  The rendering method determines what actual
primitive objects the software works with to create images.  How
we want the user interface to be will determine what primitive objects
are available to the user.  For a number of reasons that we will
examine in the next part of the course, certain rendering techniques
can only actually support polygons, whilst others can actually handle
spheres, cylinders, etc.  So a program that has to use polygons
for rendering will convert a sphere into a polygonal approximation, in
a process called tessellation, before actually rendering an
image.  This creates more primitive objects to render but allows
the renderer to be highly optimised for the handling of polygons. 
A program which can directly support spheres, say, does not have to do
this conversion and thus renders fewer objects in your scene but
requires specialised program code for each object type it supports.

These internal differences in approach are what make some 3D packages
good for some types of work and others more suitable for others. 
Some will handle transparent objects superbly, other handle interior
lighting well, for example.  Some will make dealing with certain
types of objects easy, whereas others make those objects hard but
others easy.  It is for these reasons that many people working
with 3D software will use a number of packages for different parts of
the process.  Whilst this is certainly not necessary, it can be a
useful approach.  It’s the same as people using Painter for some
things and Photoshop for others, sometimes switching backwards and
forwards between the two.

The designers of 3D software have to make a complex set of choices
based on their priorities.  These choices lead to the differences
in single or double sided polygons, whether tessellation is done and
what types of rendering options are available, to pick just
three.  Some choices will speed up the execution of the program
whilst others will slow it down.  These tradeoffs account for the
huge variety that we encounter in 3D programs.

Another use for polygon meshes is to represent irregular objects, like this landscape in Bryce 3D.

The result of rendering after texture
and colour is applied looks so much more detailed and more natural than
the polygon mesh it is based on.  We’ll look at why this is so in
later parts of this course.

Photoshop Plug-ins – Part 3

Adobe’s Photoshop is great but it doesn’t include every option you could want. Plug-ins can meet that need. This time, Corel and Extensis.

Corel www.corel.com

Corel has a major presence in the plug-in market and I feel they are a
company to watch in the future as I feel we have yet seen only a small
part of what this company is capable of. They have been very active
picking up promising products from other developers. They have done
good things with Painter and Bryce and have been very early supporters
of Mac OS X in terms of well done shipping product. They have two
plug-in products we have examined here.

KPT Effects

KPT is a suite of nine plug-ins that are fully Photoshop 7 compatible under OS X compatible.

Channel surfing interf and channel surfing – Channel Surfing allows you
to apply blur, contrast and sharpen effects to any or all of the RGB,
Luminance, Hue or Saturation channels.

Fluid allows you to readily move the image around and as you do
so it flows as if sitting on the surface of a fluid. It creates images
or animations.

FlaxFlame II creates certain types of fractal images.
These are potentially very useful as textures and in funky web site

Gradient Lab makes it easy to create very
complex gradients and colour blends. You have a huge amount of control.

Hyper Tiling makes it easy to create interesting tiling
effects from your images. Again very useful for generating textures for
arty images.

Ink Dropper creates the effect of liquid inks dropped onto glass or oil paints dropped into a pan of water.

Lightening generates quite realistic bolts of lighting.
This is probably best used to create material for you to layer up and
manipulate in Photoshop.

Pyramid Paint turns your images into paintings. Just please don’t call it fine art.

Knockout 2

KnockOut 2 is Corel’s selective masking tool. You trace around the
inside and outside areas of the object(s) you wish to separate from
their background. It works very well once you get used to the required
way of working.

Extensis www.extensis.com

Extensis is another big player in the plug-in stakes. Probably more
famous for their excellent Portfolio and Suitcase products, they have
had a long-term presence in the plug-in market.

Intellihance Pro

Intellihance Pro makes it easy to
simultaneously compare a number of adjustments to an image before
committing to any of them. You control how many variations you see and
you can individually set each variation. A very useful tool whether
going for a natural or stylised look.

Photoshop Plug-ins – Part 2

Adobe’s Photoshop is great but it doesn’t include every option you could want. Plug-ins can meet that need. This time, Alien Skin.

Alien Skin Software – www.alienskin.com

Alien Skin Software do filter sets.

Eye Candy 4000

Eye Candy 4000  consists of 23 filters. Some will work on a whole
image, other only on a selection or partly transparent layer.

Corona puts a glow like the Sun’s Corona around a selection in your image. You have lots of control.

Chrome allows you to put a bevel on a selection and chrome it.

Fire does what you would think, it generates flames around a
selection. You have a lot of control here and you can generate some
good effects.

BevelBoss allows you to create bevels.

Marble generates good marble textures but since you have
control over colours you can actually generate any vaguely similar

Weave is really neat. It creates those woven photography looks.
By itself could be a bit cheesy but with addition work this could be
very effective.

Smoke is like Fire but creates smoke rising from a selection.

Xenoflex 1.0

Xenoflex contains 16 plug-ins for purely special effects purposes.

Shards is a potentially very useful filter that breaks an image up in a broken mirror type effect.

Crumple gives a squished up but then straightened out look to you images.

The Television filter adds scan lines, distortion and ghosting to
your image. You can control all these things and is just the filter to
help you incorporate fake TV images in your work.


Splat! is different from other Alien Skin products in that it applied
images stored in container files on your disk to your images. Splat!
already works in Photoshop 7 and Photo-PAINT 10 under Mac OS X. It
works very well.

 Border Stamp places images around the border of an image to form a sort of frame.

Edges places a variety of edge effects, from torn paper to process dots, around the edge of your image.

Frames puts a variety of picture frames around your image.

Patchwork examines your image and places a variety of
mosaics. You can choose from ASCII art, Cross-stitch, Light peg, Mod
and Tiles effects. Resurface gives you a huge variety of surface effects to apply to your images.

Photoshop Plug-ins – Part 1

Adobe’s Photoshop is great but it doesn’t include every option you could want. Plug-ins can meet that need. This time, Andromeda.
In this series of articles we are going to look at a number of plug-ins that work
in Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo-PAINT, Corel Painter, etc. Note that
all these plug-ins work on Windows and on Mac OS up to 9.2 or Classic.
Most also work on Mac OS X. In the case of plug-in sets, we are
going to show examples of selected filters from each set of what we
considered the most interesting ones.

One problem for plug-in writers is that the software makers, like Corel
and Adobe, keep rolling a lot of functionality into new releases of the
software. This is great for us but frequently means that some filters
have a limited life. If you work with older versions of the main
programs look around for people with older filter sets they are willing
to sell as you can still get good use out of them.

Andromeda – www.andromeda.com

Andromeda produce a large number of filters designed for photographers
or to simulate photographic effects. Their filters seems to all be
focused on allowing the digital photographer to shoot and then later
apply effects as if they had shot through some photographic filter or
used some photographic technique, like selective focus. These work very
well. As to which ones you will find useful will depend on your
shooting habits.


The interface is pretty simple. You choose from a good
selection of effects and then can finetune each of these to suit

This before and after shows one of many results.

This shots shows a coloured star-burst like effect.


Perspective – As the name suggests this provides a very quick and easy
way to put your images at interesting angles and exaggerated
perspective. Of course you could do this in Photoshop with the free
transform option but not as quickly and easily.

So if you need to do a lot of this sort of manipulation this could be ideal.


As its name implies this filter helps you apply various
filters to the current layer. A wealth of pre-defined textures are
available and these can all be modified.

A techture applied to an image. The plug-in is a good way
to quickly generate texture to apply to all or part of an image.


For images that are too sharp overall the VariFocus
filter allows you to draw the viewer’s attention to just part of the
image by progressively blurring other parts.

VariFocus produces its most realistic effect on images
that contain objects at progressively greater distances from the
camera. However you can use it creatively in many ways.