How To Be A Production Artist - Part 1

Original Art - "I Am Here"

I am often asked about my techniques for being a production artist so I thought I'd share some of my strategies here with you.

As an artist who has a full time job too (and a life, occasionally), it's really hard to carve out much time for my art, let alone make that scarce time really efficient and get the most out of it.  Fortunately, many many years ago now, I figured out how I could make the art that I did have time to create (and sell) go further, thus giving me much more satisfaction in what I was able to achieve.  I already resent that I can't spend all day making art, so I am very grateful for discovering this process.  I am sure there are many other production artists out there who have different ways of making their art go further, these are just a couple of examples of what I do.

First, here's a photo of an original piece of art called "I Am Here."  It is 3" X 5" on canvas.

Original Art "I Am Here"

I scan each and every piece of finished art, assuming it will fit on my scanner bed.  Since I usually make pretty small art, it is not a problem.  Scanning gives me excellent quality images, far better than any camera I have ever used.

This piece was scanned three times, each at 300 DPI.  I scan at 100%, then 50%, then 25% and end up with three JPG files.  I then copy the 25% JPG file to create a fourth file onto which I put my copyright watermark.  It is this fourth image that appears in sale listings or here on my blog or on my Facebook pages.  I never put any art online without a copyright/watermark on it because I have had so many of my art images stolen over the years.  At least with a watermark on it, if someone steals it they are going to have to do a bit of work to clean the image up before they can make pirated copies.

Now that the image has been scanned, I can play with it however I like.  I often work in Microsoft Publisher for this step.  It is a super easy program to use and gives me great results.  I use it mostly for final layout and printing.  The other program I use is PhotoShop, but I am not very proficient at it.  I just play around in it once in a while to see what effects I can create.  

In this first example below, I have taken the "I Am Here" image and used some of the tools in PhotoShop to blur the background a bit and move the colors around and play with the brightness.  If you take a close look you can see how it's a bit different from the original.  I saved this JPG as yet another version of the original, so I now have five copies of the image.  Then I imported copy number five JPG into MS Publisher and sized it to print two copies (each 5" X 7") on an 8.5" X 11" piece of paper and printed it on a color copier.

Image Manipulated With Various PhotoShop Tools

After cutting out the two images, I did some journaling around the heart in black permanent marker.  I also did some stacked journaling in white gel pen around the edge of the heart.  The black marker was also used to enhance the sentiment on the image.

Print Of PhotoShopped Image With Journaling And Doodling Added

I'm sure you are beginning to see the possibilities you have with these techniques.  You can continue to take your images as far as you like, while always keeping the integrity of the original image for future use.  This particular piece will probably end up glued into one of my art journals and have some more collaged elements added to it.  Who knows??

I'll post some more examples of this and other production techniques in the coming weeks and months.  I hope this post has given you some food for thought about how you can make your valuable art time go a lot further.

As always, if you have any questions about my processes, I am always happy to help out.

All the best, my friends.



janie said...

Fantastic ideas. Thanks for sharing! I am inspired!

janie said...

Fantastic ideas. Thanks for sharing! I am inspired!

Betty Franks said...

Thank you for sharing Joanna! I need to try scanning my images instead of taking pictures of them. When I used to scan my work I didn't like the quality so I switched to photos. I'll have to re-visit the process. I recently bought Photoshop Elements. Wow, so much to learn! Thank you again!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, Joanna. I hadn't thought of using a finished piece as yet another piece with a few changes.

I love learning new things.

Joanna Banana said...

My pleasure, gals! It's always a good thing when we discover new ways to use old stuff. Cheers! Joanna

Sharon said...

As always, I am in awe of your art! Time is always such an issue...thanks for inspiring me!

Ginny Markley said...

Thanks for sharing Joanna! I am interested in how you do your printing and what printer you use. I have not found a printer geared toward use by mixed media artists. That is, one that is inexpensive (under $300), will print knife edge prints with the black a true black, and ink that will not react to water based mediums. Also, anyone wishing to learn Photoshop Elements. the best teacher that I found is the '" (I am not paid to promote her...I met her at CHA one year and bought her book.) She has online classes and CD's and her book is phenomenal! It is geared toward scrapbooking but it has everything that any digital artist could want.