Flatbed printing, Colour matching

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Factum Arte has designed and built a flatbed printer that can overprint the same surface many times keeping perfect registration.

After six years of continual work the flatbed printer was completely rebuilt by Dwight Perry in 2013. It was originally built around an Epson 9600 Pro. This printer is now totally obsolete and spare parts no longer exist. We looked for any existing printers that we could find in good condition which we could strip down for spares. While this was going on Dwight was building the new flatbed which would be larger (150 x 400cm), higher resolution and with a number of modifications that would significantly improve the quality of our prints onto gesso and other surfaces.

First conceptual ideas for moving bridge on the flatbed printer

Finished flatbed printer

Final system diagram for the moving bridge.

A crank allows lifting the brigde for different surface heights.

The technique of overprinting the same area several times helps control the intensity of the drawing and depth of the layers and shadows.

This test printed on alluminium overprinted the dark area up to seven times.

See more: research with artist Jeff Wall.

Colour Corrections

Colour printing is difficult using only one data set but when more than one is used the problems increase exponentially. Factum Arte works with the Russian photographer Boris Savelev on all issues relating to the accurate printing of colour and tone. The solutions that were worked out to manage the colour printing of Veronese's masterpiece for example are the result of a twelve year collaboration between Adam Lowe and Boris Savelev and required both lateral thinking and extensive testing.

The aim of the colour adjustments is to match the colours of an image printed using Factum Arte's flatbed printer to the colour sticks recorded.

During the color recording extensive colour notes are made using a series of colour sticks made on site and matched to specific points on the surface of the painting. These are fixed into a book containing a 1:1 scale line drawing of the original. A bit of the colour stick is cut off and fixed into the book at the corresponding point on the painting.

Colour is one of the least understood and most complex subjects. In the production of a facsimile you are seldom dealing with a standard flat colour. Most coloured materials age in complex ways - some of the most important are the changes in transparency revealing or obscuring the layered nature of the paint. Complex changes in texture result in an irregular surface complete with shadows and highlights and an uneven surface reflectivity.

Factum Arte´s Naoko Fukumaru making colour samples for the production of three facsimiles of Caravaggio´s paintings of St. Matthew.

Rafa Rachewsky and Boris Savelev making colour corrections with the scanned data and print tests.

Colour sample comparison after printing. Rafa Rachewsky and Naoko Fukumaru checking the proofs.

Go to Caravaggio Research Centre project.

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