Monday, December 31, 2018

New Watercolor Paper at Archival Arts

     With the new year, Archival Arts is introducing a new watercolor paper that will be used as our standard textured watercolor paper. This change has been years in the making, starting when Hahnumuhle discontinued offering the 200ft rolls of William Turner paper we have been using for over 16 years.

We have had a great run with Hahnemuhle papers. They are very high quality and consistently reproduce better than most other papers in the fine art reproduction market.
The one complaint we and some of our customers have with the William Turner paper in particular is the flaking that occurs in the ink layer. For most prints, it is not apparent, however if there is great deal of solid, dark coverage, it is almost impossible to prevent the print from getting small specks of white due to the paper flaking. This is not really a defect of the paper as much as it is a result of the paper being 100% cotton and having a texture that lends itself to this flaking.
Over the years, we didn't address this problem because it was so rare, however when Hahnemuhle stopped allowing our supplier to provide us with 200ft rolls of the paper, this caused a great deal of problems that prompted us to find a better solution.

The biggest problem we ran into was we could only print on 40ft rolls, which have a 3" core. The smaller core causes the paper to come off the printer with a curl. This curl has to be manually fixed by back-rolling the paper. It is time consuming and also causes the flaking of the William Turner to happen much more..not to mention the shorter rolls cost a great deal more in shipping fees.

Fortunately, our supplier asked if we would be willing to help test a new paper he was developing.
The idea was to replace the William Turner paper with a new paper that doesn't flake and has the same printing quality. The 100% cotton base of the paper is sourced from a supplier in Europe that has been around for hundreds of years and the inkjet coating is applied here in the United States by our supplier. After over a year of testing, and a great deal of work on my suppliers part to perfect the binding and ink adhesion, we finally have a paper that is far better than Hahnemule William Turner in my opinion. We have already tested the paper with a few of our customers and the response has been very positive!

There are a few things about the Qua Forte paper that we are very happy about as we use it more.
1. It has the same thickness as the William Turner paper but it is much more dense, giving the paper a much heavier feel.
2. The color reproduction is identical to William Turner and has a very similar white point.
This was very important to us because we didn't want to have to re-proof the colors of all the files we have printed over the years on the William Turner paper.
3. The new paper deckles beautifully and gives a much wider tear than the William Turner.
4. Due to the denser quality, the paper is much harder to crease when coming off the printer. This makes us waste less paper due to damage and makes trimming easier.
5. Best of all, our new Qua Forte paper has a nice modest texture that has a smoother feel and does not chip or flake.  It really has a very high quality feel.

As with any fine art giclee print on watercolor paper, prints still need to be handled delicately. We also highly recommend framing prints under glass with an acid free mat to ensure the print will last a lifetime without fading or weathering. As always, framed prints and originals should be displayed in an area that will not get direct sunlight.

One last point. We are still stocking the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper we use as our smooth watercolor paper and do not plan to change this paper unless we find a slightly thicker and equal quality paper for the same price.

I hope you agree we have made a wise decision to switch to the new Qua Forte paper.
Please feel free to give us some feedback on the change!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Create Actions in Photoshop

Many of our clients are at least dangerous in Photoshop and I get almost weekly requests to teach a Photoshop class.  As flattering as that is, the truth is, anyone can learn how to use photoshops tools just by picking something you want to do and reading the topic in Photoshop help.  That will get you started but once you learn the basic tools it really takes a great deal of time, dedication and daily use to become proficient and efficient with the tools.  It took me 3 years using it 30-40 hours per week to become an expert.  I would recommend learning the tools you need to get minor things done first.

One of the tools that is not well known but can be very useful is the actions palette. This tool is most useful for processing a large number of images without doing the same process on each individual image.  Let's say you have a folder of 100 images you photographed with your digital camera and you want to re-size them down to put them on your website.  You can record an action that you can save, name and use in the future.

The first thing you want to do is make sure all of the images you want to change are located in their own folder. Then you want to create a new folder where the new processed images will be saved.  I do not recommend saving the processed files over the original files because I guarantee you will want the larger images in the future!  

Next open one of the images in photoshop.  Find your actions palette under windows in the menu bar at the top of your screen.  This will open the actions palette.  Next click on the tiny arrow at the top right of the palette and choose "new action".

In this new window you can name your action and assign an F key to play the action.  Keep in mind that you can create this action and then choose other folders to apply this action to in the future, hence the F key designation if you want to use it.
Click ok. This should begin recording your action.  If you look at the bottom of the actions palette you will see a red circle.  This means you are recording.
If the circle is grey, click on it and it will begin recording. Now keep in mind photoshop is going to record every thing you do in photoshop until you stop recording.

To re-size your photo, go to image/image size and change the settings to the size you want for your website. (Ie. 6" largest dimension at 72dpi.  There are other ways to do this, but this will get the job done. If you are lost by now, you may want to google photoshop resize action.
If you don't know how to do that, give up, you are in over your head!
Click ok to save your size. Your photo should shrink. Now save your image as a jpeg in the new folder you made and close the file.

Now click on the square button next to the record button in the actions palette and you are now finished recording your action.

The next thing you want to do is run your action on the folder that contains your original images.  Go under file/batch and you should see the batch process window open. Choose your original folder then your named action then choose your destination folder. Avoid using the save and close option, this will save over your original files.

If you chose everything correctly, when you click ok, photoshop should begin working on the images.  If you have any trouble, review the settings you chose in the batch process window.  You can also look at your action in the actions palette and make sure you didn't accidentally record a step you didn't want. ( click the arrow next to your action to see your recorded steps.)

There is also a new image processor in the newer cs versions of photoshop that you can use instead of creating an action. Check your help in PS to learn how to use it!

Hope that helps!