Chlorophyll Printing with Hand Lettering: an alternative photography mashup | Ben Panter | Skillshare

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Chlorophyll Printing with Hand Lettering: an alternative photography mashup

teacher avatar Ben Panter, Alternative Photography & Game Making

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (20m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Chlorophyll Printing Basics

    • 3. Supplies

    • 4. Assembling Your Materials

    • 5. Exposing Your Print

    • 6. Evaluating Your Print

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About This Class

In this Chlorophyll Printing with Hand Lettering class, you will learn the basics of the most elemental alternative photographic process, Chlorophyll Printing. The project we will be making will mash up this experimental photo technique with text; including hand lettering, tracing, or printed off the computer. The result will be a one of a kind text art printed on a leaf using nothing but the sun.


Meet Your Teacher

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Ben Panter

Alternative Photography & Game Making


My name is Ben Panter and I am an artist, professor and game-maker. My art is photography based and I enjoy experimenting with and combining new and old media. I've been honored to have several artist residencies through the National Park System over the past few years, including Rocky Mountain National Park and Acadia National Park.

I've also been designing board games for about a decade now. Like many in the field, I started out very casually, but have more recently committed to creating a more steady flow of games. I especially believe in helping others enjoy game design as a hobby unto itself, and through my classes on skillshare I hope to make it accessible for more people.

You can view more of my photography work on my website,, and follow me on Instagr... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Ben Painter and welcome to this course hand lettering and chlorophyll printing. In this process, we're going to be combining together a really interesting alternative photographic process called chlorophyll, printing together with hand lettering techniques. And so let's take a look at what I was able to create through this process and you can see we have the leaf, and this is the kind of the foundation of the chlorophyll process on and then combined with the text that I was able to overlay. The chlorophyll printing process is one of the most kind of elemental of the alternative photographic processes. Because it is so simple, there's barely any materials required. It's just a leaf and some type of negative or object you wanna print and the sun and a frame toe push it all together into a contact print. And so in the future, videos were going to be figuring out how that works. Step by step. Is this really awesome experimental process and the results you get at the end or really unique? And I think you'll be able to make something really interesting, especially combining it with some hand lettering and some text that you really like So come back to the next video. We're going to talk about how this process works. Go into the specifics of the materials you'll need on. Then we'll get right into making your own chlorophyll print with some handling test. I'll see you there. 2. Chlorophyll Printing Basics: Hi and welcome to the second video in the hand lettering and chlorophyll print courts. In this video, we're gonna talk more about the chlorophyll print process as well as a few things to consider about the hand lettering portion of this project. One thing I want you to know right from the get go is that this chlorophyll print process is extremely experimental, meaning that there are a lot of variables that are simply too hard to account for. You can try to control lots of things tryto keep things consistent from one print to the next, but you're probably gonna end up with some prints that don't work. I'll show you an example. This is the one that I'm using as an example for the course, and I really like how it turned out. The leaf got this nice, pretty even light color, and the text is a lot darker, makes it pretty easy to read. But at the same time that I printed that one, I also printed another on. I didn't bother framing it because it didn't turn out nearly as well. The word grow, which you can probably barely make out, doesn't stand that enough because the leaf turned multiple colors of brown instead of that uniform light tan. It also dried out a lot differently, and I tried to be as consistent as possible from one to the next, but they didn't turn out exactly the same. And so that's not to discourage you. That's just to say, Expect some things to be a little bit beyond your understanding. But that's also some of the beauty of the experiment. You can just be trying things, and you're gonna find some things that are really beautiful and other things that just don't work. How you wanted him to on That's personally the way I like working with photography. I enjoy that process. So what is this process about? It's really about controlled decay. The colorful process will work with any leaf for plant matter, for that matter. And it's really all about taking that natural process of something falling off and starting to die and shriveling up in turning brown and trying to hold it back from certain areas of that leaf. And so really, all that's happening is that we're making this ah, negative of sorts, right? One area that's clear above and below the text and then one area that's dark in the area that the dark is going to be holding back or rejecting the light from hitting the leaf itself on. So that means that area that's immediately underneath the text that's going to decay at a slower rate. And so that's what we end up with, right? The leaf itself has basically fully dried up, but the area that's left with the text that area stayed green. That area stayed fresh the longest, because that is where the lettering the black of our negative waas. Now, you could also invert that, right? If you wanted to print something, um, that left the lettering clear and the rest of it was covered in black, you would get the reverse effect, which would be really interesting. And that brings us to the hand lettering portion of this video. So for hand lettering, we're not going to cover the foundations, the techniques or any of that. What I want to do is what you are most comfortable with. Eso. If you feel like you already have some of the hand lettering techniques down, you can go ahead and do that on a clear piece of transparency or acetate or something like that. If you need to trace letters, that would be great. That's actually what I did on iPad. I traced over the letters and it worked out great. An alternative option is you could actually just print out some text onto a transparency from either an inkjet or laser printer on, and that will work just as well. So you really have those three options and whatever you're comfortable with you can do in the next video, we're gonna be looking at the specific materials we need in order to do this project. And from there we'll start putting it together and make a chlorophyll print using the text of your choice, so I'll see you. 3. Supplies: Hello and welcome back in this video, we're gonna talk about the supplies that are needed in order to make chlorophyll print first and, most important, our beliefs. So any leaf can really work for a chlorophyll print. But typically larger, flatter leaves are what people go forward because they're easier to work with. You can have a larger image at the end there easier to flatten those types of things. So I managed to find these nice large leaves. I actually have no idea what kind of plant they came from. They were just kind of in some weeds, but they had this nice, really vibrant green color and, ah, pretty large for the area. So I'm going to use that. You just want to find leaves and kind of pick through for ones that are in good condition. I found ones that didn't have any holes or any brown spots. So that's first, and probably most important, the actual leaves. Next, you're going to need some type of clear plastic, and you probably can't even really see this except for the reflection. The technical name for this is acetate or transparency, and you can buy this from a store, but really, you can use anything that's fairly thin and transparent. In fact, I have some that I'm gonna try. That's just made from kind of that protective folder that you can put in a binder. I just cut in half. So it's it's really, really thin sheet of plastic, but I'm gonna give it a shot. Eso Anything you have around that is thin and plastic, um should be able to work. And we're going, Teoh, put our design or our word on there. Next. Of course, you're gonna need some type of writing Implement. This is how you're going to write on that transparency. Now, something like a Sharpie can work, but you're probably gonna want to do a few layers or maybe do your design or text in the front and then also color in the back. But something like a Sharpie will work. You can also use other things depending on what material you end up using. You could use paint you could cut paper cut paper would make for a great transparency that you could use in order. Make your chlorophyll print. Um, something else you might have around would be like nail polish nail polish you could paint onto a surface, and that would be really, really opaque. That would make for a nice print. But some type of marker that's going to make very dark lines is necessary. And then last we have a frame. Okay, this is just a standard eight by 10 frame, very cheap from a craft store. Um, and the only thing you want to make sure here is that you actually aren't using. Ah, higher end one. Something higher end could potentially have UV resistant glass. And that's gonna mess with the whole process. Eso You just want very, very cheap glass frames, something that you can take apart and ah, get at all the pieces relatively easily. So those are the necessary materials. And in her next video, we're going to actually see how we assemble our chlorophyll print. We'll see you there 4. Assembling Your Materials: away, right? Welcome back in this video, we're going to actually assemble our chlorophyll print and get it ready to take out into the sun. Hopefully already have your materials together and so we can get started right away. Now, the first thing is, you're going to need to add your designed to your transparency. For this example, I just found a fund that I liked and got a word grow that I thought would go nice with a leaf. And so this is what I'm going to be used. This is what I will be printing eso. We'll see how this turns out. So that's the first piece you really need to get done. The next thing you're gonna need is your frame. So let's take our frame and open it up so we can get the inside, okay. And the first thing we're going to lay down is our word. Or if you did a design, your design, make sure there's no extra dust or dirt inside here. But again, this is not going to be a pristine print. Eso little bits of dirt and things like that are probably fine. Um, so I'm gonna lay that down Now, the next thing I'm gonna do is lay down my leaf. And so if I just wanted to lay it down anywhere, I would lay down like this, kind of reposition it to make sure the whole leaf would get hit by the sun. The stem I'm not really that concerned with. So, Aiken, bend it out of the way and something like that would work well, but if there's a specific way, I want the word tow line up on the leaf. I could go about this another way. Okay? So I could take my leaf, take my word and see how they're gonna line up. So in this case, I think I want to try it, actually, to make it kind of look like the word was written right on that line. So I'm gonna light it up something like this on then. If I just pinched these together the whole time, they shouldn't really move. Not very much. Ah, And so now I can place this in there, and it should be lined up with that word right in the right place. And again depends how precise you're trying to be if you need to do that, Um next I'm gonna put in this phone. This just came with my frame, but it's gonna hold everything really firmly in place, and then I want to put the backing on. You'll see the whole time I'm holding this down because I really want to make sure my text is in the right spot and carefully things for him not jostling things too much putting this piece in. Okay. And I'm just going to put these in, and now I can check. Is everything at the right spot. All right. It looks like everything is pretty much good to G o eso. I'll just tighten these last two tabs. Make sure nothing's going anywhere. And one last check. Yep. I'm all set so you can see, you know, the whole leaf is gonna get hit by sun. Really? Really. Well, I have my text right on the line where I want it to be. And so now this frame is ready to go out into the sun 5. Exposing Your Print: wait. Just finished the video where we put all the pieces together and we're ready to go out in print. And it turns out that it's Ah, it's not a good day to go out and do this. It's not sunny out for me, and so I'm gonna have to wait. But I wanted to make this video anyway. And to be honest, the next video would have just been an image of my frame and contact prints sitting out in the sun. Not really very interesting visually. So instead, I'm just gonna talk you through a few of the things that you need to consider as you are printing your chlorophyll print Number one is time. Okay? Time is a huge variable. It's going to depend where you are in the country, in the world, what time of year it is ambient weather conditions. All this type of stuff. All I can say, it can take anywhere from one full day in the sun, too. I've heard examples of three weeks in the sun on and obviously those air hopefully at opposite ends of the spectrum on. So you're just gonna have toe watch your print, uh, and kind of be a judge. This is gonna be something that is going to take a little experimentation. Perhaps, uh, my print personally was able to be done in two days in the sun on I'm located in New Jersey and it is the debt of the summer. So that's really a best case scenario for me on a couple of days. It was kind of overcast for part of the day, but it was pretty bright sun. For the most part, number two is location. Ah, this is really simple. You just want it to be in the sun, okay? You don't want shadow over it. You don't want moisture. It also if it looks like it's gonna rain, you don't want to know the sprinklers or anything like that. Obviously, you just want it to be able to be in direct sunlight for as long as possible. So the third thing I wanted to talk about was, How will you know when your exposure is done on? Really, it's all about contrast. You want to make sure the contrast is at the highest point possible. That means you want it to be exposed for a short of time. It's possible. While the exposed area has gotten as light as possible. That's kind of a difficult equation to wrap your mind around something. So let's look at this print. Really. What I was looking for is when this area out here, which was not covered by any of the negative it was just completely clear when that got light enough that I felt like the area that was covered, the text would be pretty high. Contrast, pretty dark in comparison. Eso After one day, there was still some areas of this that we're kind of like a medium brown. I didn't think there would be light enough. And so after a second day, it got to this really nice pale tan that I thought seemed like it would. It was a pleasing color and also would be enough of a contrast between the dark area of the text. So, again, this is something that is not an exact science, something going to have to play by ear now, depending on your frame set up, you might be able to open up your frame and kind of take a peek underneath your negative, um, to see part way through whether or not. You want to stop it or not, But that can be tricky to get everything lined up exactly again, since the leaf might not be exactly flat. Eso That's something you can try if you want to. Otherwise, you know it's just gonna take some experimentation. Plan on doing five or 10 of these prints until you can kind of walk through a solid process and you can figure it out for yourself. So now you need to take your print and take it out to the sun. Find a good spot to leave it, um, and plan on leaving there a day or several days and keep an eye on it. Make sure that it seems like it's exposing. Well, once it's done, come back to the final video and we're gonna talk about the results who are able to get CEO 6. Evaluating Your Print: hi and welcome to this final video in the hand lettering and chlorophyll print class. This is where I really like to kind of break down what I was able to accomplish in the project and think about what I would do differently next time. How could improve it? Eso that the next time I do it I can go. I can do it better. Eso Let's look again at the prince I was able to make Here's one. This is the one that I'm really pretty happy with, How it turned out. There's pretty good contrast from the lettering to the texture of the leaf Feels pretty legible. And ah, the leaf shape is nice. All that is good. The other one, obviously not as good. Leaf got a lot Blackshear and ah, the text is not nearly as legible on, so we'll start with this one. What can I do differently next time? It's really hard to say if yours came out something like this or was kind of unclear, you just got to think about changing some variables. But you also might just think about, uh, trying again because it could be something in the leaf itself. it could have been some type of weather condition that you're not aware of, right? A little bit more or less humidity, whether it was slightly overcast or a little Sonnier things like that. So don't get discouraged. You should just try again. Now with this one, What would I improve the next time? I think one thing I would do is to spend a little bit more time on the lettering itself and make it even more opaque. I double or triple layered up with a Sharpie. It felt pretty opaque. But when I hold it up, I can still see through some areas. And you can tell that lightness just made it so that this text area is not as dark as it could be on. So I think that would make it more striking. And so next time, I would definitely go ahead and do that. I might even use a different material. I recommended maybe nail polish or something like that that you'd have on hand on, so I would probably use something like that. But other than that, I'm really, really happy with this. I like the scale. I was able to go with this is a large leaf I was able to find, and I like kind of the the white space I have between the size of the text. Just with the open area of the leaf itself, I think would be easy to fill it in too much, and then you kind of lose the texture of the leaf. But this feels nice and open, and I'm kind of evenly focusing between the two eso. Hopefully, you had some success with your chlorophyll print using hand lettering and just keep in mind that this is a process that can get pushed farther. There's lots of artists out there that are using it using actual images, and they end up with an image on the leaf. Again. It's It's a process that takes a lot of experimentation to get right, but you can end up with some very stunning results. That's all I have for this class. Please make sure that you post an image of your finished project. I really want to see what you have. I'd love to get feedback. If you have any questions as you're going, you can leave that in the discussion as well, and I'll get back Teoh with some input on what I would do. Thanks for joining me and I'll see you next time