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The Image Science Retouching Kit is designed to be used with inkjet prints made with pigment inks. It will probably work ok with dye based prints as well, but the best match will be with pigment inks of course.
The main use of the kit is to retouch small spots on prints. Generally white dots that occur because dust or fibres was on the paper when printed and once this dust was printed over, it falls off the print, leaving behind a white dot of unprinted area within your image.
Note: This usually occurs quite soon after the print is made, but occasionally occurs long after the actual printing.
It is needlessly wasteful, both from a cost and environmental
perspective, to abandon a large print due one tiny imperfection and
retouching ('spotting') has a very long history in the image making
world - anyone who has spent and time at all in a darkroom, for example,
would have encountered spotting inks on a regular basis!
The inks in this kit are genuine Epson inks, recovered from cartridges destined for landfill or recycling (where the waste ink is removed and disposed of before the plastic is recycled). So this kit is a great way to use what would otherwise just be wasted materials. One kit will last a very long time if used only for retouching small spots - with ink, it's very important to remember that a little goes a long way. If you choose to handle the actual ink itself, do remember to use gloves as the glycol base might irritate your skin.
We use the latest Epson UltraChrome HDR inks which have the widest mixable gamut of any inkjet printer inkset - you can use these inks on any pigment ink print though,not just ones made on Epson printers.
In general, you will want to mix a lighter tone than the tones surrounding your dot. You can always darken your tone if you need to, but if you start too dark you can never make it lighter!
First, shake up your inks thoroughly - they may have settled in the tubes. The lids are a good tight fit so you can be quite vigorous about this.
The easiest way to get a rough idea of what colours to mix is to open your image in Photoshop (or similar) and directly sample the tone you are trying to mimic. Use the info palette and set one of the displays to CMYK (using the palette options accessible via the control to the right of little double arrow in the top right hand corner).
In general terms, this shows you the CMYK mix you are going to need. In this case, roughly 6 parts Cyan to 5 Magenta. Not far off 50/50 really. Given this is a relatively light tone, I would actually use my Light Cyan and Light Magenta as a starting point and mix a drop of each. I would test this on a piece of blank paper - only a very small amount on the brush tip is required. If the tone is too light, I would either add a little black as a base, or use the normal Cyan and Magenta to move it in the right direction. It usually doesn't take too long to find a convincing tone. Once I think I have the correct tone, I cut down my test sheet to a little painted swatch that I can lay right over my dot to see if it seems to blend well before painting onto the print.
The basic approach once you have mixed your colour is fairly simple.
Lay your print on a flat, firm surface. Over the print, lay a sheet of protective material that won't mark the print - we recommend polypropylene plastic for this. You can get rolls of this from packaging suppliers - it's very useful in general for print packaging, and a 500m roll is only about $60. We get ours from Byars. Polypropylene is an inert plastic - it does not leech any print damaging chemicals. It is also crystal clear, so you can see what you're working on really well, and it is simple to work with. You can also just use a piece of basic acid free paper/tissue or similar - you just want something inexpensive and non damaging (either physically or chemically) to the print.
The covering sheet should have a small working hole cut in it - about 2cm in diameter. You will be able to rest your hand/arm on the covering sheet and spot through this hole, so there is no risk of damage to the rest of your print.
Simply lay your sheet over the print and position the hole over the area you will be retouching. Gently rest your arm/hand on the protective sheet, and retouch through the hole with a steady hand. Usually just a tiny fill in jab with the brush is all that is needed.
Retouching spots is not about perfection - it is near impossible to mix the exact colour you need and place it perfectly into the dot.
Instead it is about simply covering the dot in a way that the eye doesn't see it as a problem. You need to be convincing, rather than accurate, in this task.
Spots in lighter areas are harder than those in darker areas. In dark areas, you can usually just fill the hole with black or near black and it disappears nicely. With dots in lighter areas, you have to be more careful. The trick is to use a slightly lighter tone than you think you need, and to fill the hole without going over the edges to any great degree (which can create a sort of 'donut' effect).
Practise on blank pages and test prints first. If you need a paper cut off, ask us, we usually have some scraps about the place that are perfect for this sort of thing.
Remember, in this situation, less is more. Use only a tiny amount of ink on your brush, and keep the brush scrupulously clean.
- Alison Bennett -
I got 2nd prize at the Julie Milliwick Photography Prize!
I wanted to thank you for doing such a fabulous job on the print. It was wonderful to see the exhibition print on the wall.
I am particularly delighted that we were able to hold so much detail in the shadows and I like the matt powdery finish. I had lots of questions about the paper.