Digital Art Restoration

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Many works of art have suffered from the ravages of time. Digital art restoration does not alter the artwork in any way. We simply take high resolution imges of the artwork and work on building a reproduction that may resemble the original condition of the arwork. Digital art restoration is a lot of fun because it's hard to tell what hides behind the aging process. An example is below.

In the spring of 2003 I was shown three photographs from the center of a painting called ‘Colorful Lanterns at Shangyuan’ - a Ming dynasty scroll painting owned by an art collector in Taibei. The photographs were average in quality and small in size. Many of the details and colors in the scroll painting are now lost to the unaided eye, so I scanned the photographs to test if I could “clean off” some of the very dark brown color seen on the original painting in order to recapture the lost detail.

I used many of the available correction tools in Adobe Photoshop in such a way as to lessen the dark brown color while retaining the rest of the colors. Since the more intense colors used in the painting are pigments made from minerals, which is the same process they still use today, I had a baseline “color chart” from which to operate.

After I had successfully developed my processes for “digitally cleaning” this painting, Mr. Jeff Hsu, the owner of the painting, was kind enough to supply us with films of the painting.

My next task was to apply the digital wash process I had created to each of the 10 scans. Unfortunately, each photograph was taken with slightly different lighting and camera position, which prevented applying the exact same process to each scan. The process for each digital wash took many, many different standard steps to complete, and much of the color correction process was completed by eye.

After each scan had been digitally washed, I began the laborious task of digitally stitching the entire scanned scroll's 12 foot length back together again. The process of digitally washing and reconstructing the scroll by stitching the scans together took approximately two months to complete.

After the digital wash process was complete we began our original goal of creating an interactive CD of the scroll and the history surrounding it.

Click here for a link to the Colorful Lanterns at Shangyuan Interactive CD project.