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Hi gang, here we go again.


I drew this when I was 10.

A year before my 1979 Kmart Christmas illustration, recently posted here, I created this similar scene for the cover of my school’s Holiday Activity booklet. Again, among my sketches & drawings was an old printout. Recoloring my Kmart illustration motivated me to retouch this for one reason: the faded booklet contains puzzles, poems, essays and drawings from my old classmates, some of whom are Facebook friends. My plan is to mildly retouch all 12 pages and PDF it as a gift to my grade school buddies. I think they’ll get a kick outa this blast from the past with their 5th grade contributions.


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Like the Kmart drawing, the original is long gone, but I have this very faded yellow reproduction. Raise your hands if you remember the pungent purple dye schools used for printing. My aim was to bring that classic color on stark white back to life. Who among us didn’t sniff a freshly printed cool-to-the-touch moistened sheet? Whiff, Ahhhhhhh… pink elephants on parade.


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I scanned it in, this time without descreening, and attempted to find the best contrast with which to work. Grayscale didn’t have enough range, so I used RGB. I tried LAB color space to separate luminance from color, but the results were less than ideal. Then I tried CMYK, it too wasn’t helpful. In the end, the Green Channel offered the best I could hope for.


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The Green Channel was not a panacea; the source is too faded and yellow. No amount of adjustments or filter magic would work to my satisfaction—at least not with my skills, and not without complicated masking which proved ineffective. One part of the image would invariably be satisfactory while a different section was either blown out or crushed. So, I abandoned those efforts, rolled up my sleeves and painted out the yellow stains (well, the “yellow” portion of the Green Channel). Doing it this way retained all the faded line work in its original scanned values, perfect for subsequent darkening with a Levels Adjustment. Finally, a simple Recolor Adjustment was applied to reintroduce that purple dye—the same coloring technique used for the Kmart image linked above.




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