Friday, June 24, 2011

Harry Clarke - Project Progress

Books digitized to archive text often fail to capture the color and intensity of images. Not having seen them, I can only guess at the true originals, but I have seen enough of Harry Clarke's work accurately reproduced for the printed page, that I feel I have a sense of his color range, and the optimal level of contrast in black and white.

When the project is done I will have every color image and page decoration from a major work, featured here in its entirety. I am starting with washed out, dulled versions of each illustration; and bringing out the playfulness in Harry Clarke's approach, highly stylized and carefully executed, so the figures and the objects dance on the page.

Soon, soon... Right now, I am cropping, resizing, and lightening, among other enhancements; keeping the illustrations in their original order, and labeling with the captions.


  1. It's time-consuming and eye-wearying work isn't it? Though of course it's also fun and aesthetically rewarding, bringing masterpieces back to life. Looking forward to your results.

  2. Hi Thom,

    Yes, and yes, and yes. I have spent countless hours already, because I keep finding better ways to improve the quality of the digital copies. I was going to say in the post that it was worth my effort, and worthwhile for the viewer.

    This particular project is taking me much longer than I expected, and for some crazy reason, I want to have it ready to go all at once.

    There are 12 full page color illustrations, 12 full page black and white, and approximately 20 pages with decorations to be both cropped and featured on their original page.

    The originals have all the necessary digital information to make good images, but it's taking time to bring out the details and to be true to the probable color.

    Yes, I could make them bright and garish, but that is not the answer, so the changes I'm affecting are subtle and in stages so not to result in that. I wish I had a better program! But I think both you and I and other viewers will be pleased with the results.

    I wish I had an actual copy to work from. I'll be linking to my source, so everyone can see the images in their original context, and work with the images themselves, if they'd like.

    Over time, I'll be going back and posting series of images I've worked with before and posted at The Art of Narrative on tumblr, to gather them all in one place for both viewing and commenting.

    It is fun, seeing the images "come to life." I have noticed details and artistic effects I would have missed, without working with the illustrations.

  3. Glad to hear about this project! Are you tackling the Poe? I still haven't seen good quality scans of the color images from his Faust. I'm always frustrated when I buy a Clarke reprint -- the colors are always off. Same with books by Bosschere. I never feel quite confident enough in my ability to "fix" them, but they certainly need fixing.

    Someone needs to buy you Photoshop if you're going to be spending so much time on this :>

    Cheers, Will @ 50 Watts

  4. Hi Will,

    Thank you for the encouragement! I went back to work full-time, and that simple fact has slowed work on my other interests, including writing and art appreciation. Check back within maybe another month, and I hope to get the images up. I thought I'd finished them, when I decided to work with them some more, and I never finished the process with every image. Thom, also, has suggested Photoshop to me!


Please add your thoughts.