New Methods in Digital Printing

Adapted from The Last Layer: New methods in digital printing for photography, fine art, and mixed media (New Riders)

By Bonny Pierce Lhotka

Read an extract from the author's first book, Digital Alchemy: Printmaking techniques for fine art, photography, and mixed media.

Forest Floor
40" × 60". UV-cured Pigment on Dibond. I took a few leaves and enlarged them in Photoshop to the size of the entire canvas, and then combined them with an underlayer of abstract color. The two together create an organic composition both simple and rich.

Garden Glass
40" × 60". UV-cured Pigment on Dibond. I took the original image for this piece as the sun came out after a light rain. The stones and pebbles at the edge of a pond sparkled in the fresh sunlight. After creating the image in Photoshop, I deconstructed it to dark and light layers. I then added a layer to create a mist of white ink over the entire image.

Fiber Doll
8" × 10". Fiber Laser Engraving on an Aged Aluminum Plate. I love photographing at antique malls and flea markets—they’re ideal places to find heaps of junk with rich textures, perfect for the fiber laser.

Ice Storm
40" × 60". UV-cured Pigment on Dibond. I printed this image on aluminum using thick and thin layers of ink to create the feel of small bits of paper glued to the metal surface. This ink collage is an area of work I’m really enjoying as I explore it.

36" × 36". Laser Engraving on Birch Box. I created a modular image from five birch boxes to which I’d transferred the green and black leaves. I then painted the entire image with white paint, and converted the original file to a bitmap image that I sent through the laser. The engraving through the paint went just deep enough to reveal portions of the pigment transfer.

Ocean Kale
40" × 60". UV-cured Pigment on Dibond. I love travelling to the beach, and often capture the essence of water washing over the sand in my work. I used multiple layers of white UV ink to make the white flowers protrude above the lower layers of ink, giving a three-dimensional quality to the digital image.

Moon Rose
36" × 36". UV-cured Pigment on Dibond. I made this image from several photos I took of roses that were frozen at the end of autumn. The moonlit night made the colors particularly intense, so I used the UV ink to print thick layers of color to create a surface like enamel. The layers are so thick that they cast their own shadow, adding to the ink collage illusion.

Exponential Growth

54" × 54". Laser Engraved Paint on Baltic Birch by Karin Schminke. In this work, Karin captured the excitement of discovery and sense of vibrancy she experiences when in her garden. She etched the surface of painted Baltic birch panels using a laser, and also used the laser to cut out sections of the panel completely. She mounted the etched and cut panels on 25 of her hand-made wooden frames, whose box-joint patterns echo those in the image itself.

72" × 72". UV-cured Pigment on Laser-Cut Acrylic. I grew up in a house that had one of these bean trees, and it was my job to pick them up off the sidewalk—I made a penny a piece! When I found a similar scene, it brought back memories, so I took a photograph of them, and made this piece from three layers of stacked laser-cut acrylic, imaged on a UV printer and mounted on Dibond. My mom had a good laugh when she saw it.

Street Fair
18" × 27". Metallic Solvent Ink on Photo Paper. I took this infrared photo at the state fair. By printing silver metallic under the images as a screened bitmap layer, I achieved a sparkling gold effect. I love the illusion of creating an orotype, based on early 20th century orotones, with its luminous golden glow.

Adapted from The Last Layer: New methods in digital printing for photography, fine art, and mixed media by Bonny Pierce Lhotka. Copyright © 2013. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders.