Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Noise, Cleanup, and a Second Helping of Pumpkin Pie

Mara Sedlins:
Production for the Graphic Designer, 1974

Although I missed the trip to Bang Printing (stuck at home with a cold), I got to see the test prints yesterday and they look fantastic! Adjusting the water levels allowed for very fine-grained variations in the quality of the ink, several of which looked like excellent candidates to me. At one point, Sean used the word "classy" to describe the aesthetic effect we're going for in the choice of paper and ink settings, and that struck me as just right. And a side-by-side comparison with the original print editions is like watching something come into focus. Magic. Classy magic :)

But, like many endeavors that give the impression of being almost magically effortless, the sheer amount of time that goes into cleaning up the pages (especially those sourced from newsprint) still catches me by surprise. Over the weekend I combed through the 11 x 17 printouts, following up on any remaining issues that Sean had flagged or that I'd caught during my read-through. Even though the amount of work left on any given page was minimal (erase two dots of noise here, fix a little bit of tone there), there are five hundred and freaking four pages! No matter how enjoyable and satisfying it can be to "perfect" a given page, going through the whole thing adds up to a lot of man hours… errr.. woman hours… umm.. doctor hours. This is why it will be so helpful to get some volunteers on board to do the rounds.

This week I'll be putting together a brief how-to manual for our Cerebus Cleanup Campaign members, and then get them (you, perhaps?) working on a few pages. I sincerely hope it ends up being as fun for them as it has been for me. But even if it does cause you break a bit of a sweat, how cool will it be to know that page X was your baby? That’s the kind of stuff you tell your grandkids right after your second helping of pumpkin pie.

In my curiosity about why this tedious work seems satisfying and beneficial, I came across this New Yorker article about the benefits of daydreaming (original research here). It turns out that doing a task that allows your mind wander leads to improved creative problem solving afterwards. So: sign up to help and not only will you be providing much-needed assistance with the Cerebus restoration project, but your own creative work may benefit as well!


Paul Slade said...

"Happiness is a by-product of absorption." - TE Lawrence (of Arabia).

Jeff Seiler said...

Hi, Mara--I am not clear on what u need people to do help with cleanup, but would like to help, if I could. I assume a PC is needed, but I don't have one at home. I assume a smartphone won't do the trick, but could a tablet work?

Please let me know.

BTW, you're a pretty good writer! I enjoy your too-frequent screenside chats here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cerebus Restoration said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for your willingness to help! Here are some more details about the cleanup campaign.

We need people who:

a) have regular access to a computer and tablet (I've been using a Wacom Intuos)


b) have enough Photoshop experience that the training period for the work can be relatively brief.

For the pages sourced from newsprint, you would be helping us "black out" noise (white dots in the black areas that should be solid) created by sharpening the flawed ink coverage. We have a few tricks to make this easier, but it mostly involves using the brush tool to "paint" over the noise in a new Photoshop layer.

If this sounds fun and doable, please contact us at cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com, and we'll get you started!


Jeff Seiler said...

Wow, I just now caught my unintentional insult above. I meant to write "too-infrequent".

Sorry, bout that, Mara. And thanks for the info.

Cerebus Restoration said...

That's okay - I figured it was a typo :)