Weekly Sketch – Daffodils – 07/02/2016

It’s that time of year, daffodil time! I can’t resist these cheerful flowers, bright promises of spring bobbing their heads in the grey days of winter. Here are a couple of sketches interested in ‘line’ and limited to four colours. I like setting limits on how I draw as it forces you to try something new, to think creatively, and not ‘do what you usually do’. For sketch 2 I didn’t take my pen off the page when drawing the daffodil blooms, they are drawn in one continuous line.




My daffodils were bright yellow; in the above sketches I like the balance of the colours and line – adding yellow I think would have disrupted that balance. So I thought I’d play around in Photoshop and see if I could add yellow to the blooms and make it work. I did at first try adding yellow just to the blooms but it looked a bit rubbish, it flattened/contained the energy expressed by the line work. So I tried some gradient backgrounds which I think work great. I definitely want to take these images into print.




(© Catherine Cronin)

Weekly Sketch – Seeing the Sights – 21/01/2016

I thought I’d challenge myself to do some magazine/newspaper collage; not something I usually do. It’s fun, it challenges image making creativity and narrative, loosens you up and stops you getting precious about what you are making. I cut some images I liked from a free magazine I picked up in the week and played around with them until I came up with an idea; a few extra decorative paper cuts, a bit of drawing, and a Photoshop background later and here we are – ‘Seeing the Sights’.  Now I never would have invented this image without the collage play. Silly isn’t it!


(© Catherine Cronin)

Monoprint Experiments – Imagined Spaces

Recently whilst printing the edition for ‘Alhambra Arches’ linocut, I made various rough monoprints to use up the leftover ink on the plate. The monoprints are quite rough and ready so I scanned them and combined them in Photoshop to make new images. These are images of imagined spaces in a style very different to what I normally produce, so I am not sure how I feel about them yet, I’ll have to live with them awhile to find out. The prints were telling me their own story to do with secrets, anticipation and expectation. So what do you think?




(© Catherine Cronin)



Weekly Sketch – Alhambra Arches 4 – 25/01/2014

So far so good with posting a weekly sketch. Here is my fourth exploration in drawing for a print idea; the image of the Alhambra Palace in Granada. Other drawings can be seen here https://catamongthepigeonspress.wordpress.com/sketchbook-photos-2014/

This image is in response to Hundertwasser’s original prints, which are full of strong lines and bold colours.  I drew in black pen and then scanned the image into Photoshop; using multiple layers I added colour. This is quite a good way for me to test out colour combinations. Which colour palette do you like best?

Alhambra-Arches4web AlhambraArches4Colourweb AlhambraArches4Colour2web Alhambra-Arches4-Colour3 Alhambra-Arches4-Colour4

(© Catherine Cronin)

Photography into Etching Day 3

I have finished a 3 day course on photo etching at City Lit taken over 3 weekends.

It was a fantastic course; a great group to work within and an excellent teacher Anne-Marie Foster.

On Day 1 we were introduced to the principles of photo etching; the three different techniques to get source material onto transparent acetate in readiness to expose to a prepared photopolymer plate. We produced a test plate and printed it to understand the process and how to get tones to print successfully. You can read about Day 1 here.

On Day 2 I prepared one of my own artworks in Photoshop for tonal photo etching; and printed test plates. You can read about Day 2 here.

Photo into Etching Day 3: The Final Prints


Alhambra Courtyard Final Plate

On Day 3 I wanted to try different ink colours, different paper, chine-collé, and maybe colour rolls. I didn’t have enough time to get to try all I wanted. Below are the various experiments and results. I intend to work further on some of the prints with inks; so more to come on that.


Alhambra Courtyard Red


Alhambra Courtyard Red; Yellow Chine-collé


Alhambra Courtyard Red; Orange Chine-collé


Alhambra Courtyard Red; Blue & Green Chine-collé


Alhambra Courtyard Blue


Alhambra Courtyard Blue; Orange Chine-collé


Alhambra Courtyard Blue; Orange Chine-collé

(© Catherine Cronin)

Photography into Etching Day 2

I am attending a 3 day course on photo etching at City Lit over 3 weekends.

On Day 1 we were introduced to the principles of photo etching; the three different techniques to get source material onto transparent acetate in readiness to expose to a prepared photopolymer plate. We produced a test plate and printed it to understand the process and how to get tones to print successfully. You can read about Day 1 here.

To photo-etch and print a tonal image successfully from my source photographs or original artwork, I have to introduce digitally texture, like ‘dots’ to the image (like a newspaper image is made up of dots), so that the image photo-exposes and acid etches these ‘dots’ as ‘pits’ to hold ink and so print a tonal image.

Photo into Etching Day 2: Source Image

First of all I wanted to find a really good tonal image so that I could fully get to grips with the Photoshop techniques required for adding texture to the different areas of tone. I found a tonal colour image that worked well in grayscale, but I felt it was a little boring, so I combined it with a line drawing I made of the same subject. Combined in Photoshop using ‘clone stamp’ tool, and ‘multiply’ option on new layers.

Alhambra Courtyard Colour

Alhambra Courtyard Graysacle © Catherine Cronin

Alhambra Courtyard Grayscale

Black pen sketch of Alhambra inner courtyard.

Alhambra Courtyard Line Drawing

Alhambra Courtyard Grayscale & Line Drawing Combined

Adding Texture to Tones in Source Image

The next step was to separate onto different layers the dark tones, midtones, light tones and white areas of my source image. Using the ‘magic wand’ tool I could make these specific selections of tonal values and copy to a new layer. To add texture to the tonal areas we would simply be applying the filter ‘noise’ to each tonal layer; the darker tones would require a higher value of ‘noise’ than the lighter tones. As I wanted areas to remain as white paper, I did not apply the ‘noise’ filter to my ‘white areas’ layer. See below for a close up of a section of my image for before and after ‘noise’ filter is added. It is a bit difficult to see the ‘texture’ below; in Photoshop when you view ‘actual pixels’ you can really see a difference.

Alhambra Courtyard Detail

Alhambra Courtyard Detail

Alhambra Courtyard Detail With ‘Noise’ Filter

Once I was happy with my filter application I printed out the source image onto acetate and printed a test plate to see how the tones would print.

Alhambra Courtyard Acetate Test 1


Alhambra Courtyard Test Plate 1

It is hard to see in the images below but after my first print I felt I could add more ‘noise’ to the darker tones in my image and lessen the amount of ‘noise’ on the midtones i.e to make dark areas darker and midtones area lighter.


Alhambra Courtyard Test Print 1

I adjusted my image; printed onto acetate and printed a second test plate; which I think printed better than the first – though admittedly hard to see the difference on here.


Alhambra Courtyard Test Print 2

Anyway I managed to prepare a final printing plate from the 2nd acetate I prepared, so Day 3 will be spent in final proofing of the image; trying different ink colours, trying different paper, trying areas of chine-collé, and maybe trying colour rolls.


Alhambra Courtyard Final Plate


Alhambra Courtyard Final Plate Detail

(© Catherine Cronin)