Monday, January 15, 1973

Tools I Like

Updated October 3, 2009. This post includes my info on scanning, image splicing, paper trimming, light box, and manikins.

Scanning my Drawings - I don't photograph my drawings. Instead I scan them (.jpg format) and import into IPhoto (the photo software that came with my Mac). I don't retouch them; the scanner does a great job and, at least on my computer, the colors look very much like the original. (The only exception is, when I want to print a scanned line drawing in order to color the printout, I edit it to B&W with high contrast. Otherwise, the printer tries to tint the blank paper areas.) My new scanner (Oct. 2009) is an HP Officejet Pro 8500 All-in-One printer-copier-fax-scanner that can scan up to 11.5x14 on its flatbed surface. (Before that, I used a similar 2005 HP model.) Even the small objects like the tea strainer or the baby booties were scanned, not photographed.

Splicing or Stitching Images - DoubleTake Shareware for the Mac ($25.95) - Some of my drawings are 14x17, and I have to scan in sections (see above), but DoubleTake makes it easy to reconnect the pieces. If I scan it in 3 sections, then before I try to join them in DoubleTake, I can crop out (in IPhoto) the blurred sections where the paper bends at the edge of the glass (only a problem when the paper is larger than 8.5x14). Maybe I could do better with PhotoShop, but for the price, I'm happy. I've read that there is similar, free or inexpensive software for Windows, but I can't comment on it because I'm a Mac user.

Paper Trimming - I have a small (5.5" x 8.5") guillotine Fiskar trimmer that works well. For larger paper, my Marshall Personal Paper Trimmer is really good for the price. It's not a guillotine style - you lift up the arm, lower it in place over the paper, and then slide the small box (which fully encloses the blade when not cutting) along the arm. It uses inexpensive single-edge razor blades. It has a 14" cut, and it's open on the end, so larger paper can be cut partway. Mine was $20.99 from Dick Blick on-line.

Light Box - Mine is a Gagne Porta-Trace, stainless steel frame, 10x12 with 2 bulbs. I find it is bright enough to use through 2 heavy (80 lb cover weight) sheets of paper, or even through 2 Crane's cards, which are even heavier. For this 10x12 size, they also make a zippered carrying bag, which is nice for storage.

Manikin - For my Mary series, I bought a pair of male and female Art S Buck gray plastic manikins at my local art supply store. They helped me a lot with proportions, though certainly not a miracle cure! They are available at Dick Blick on-line for about $18 each.

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