Monthly Archives: April 2014

Cleaning Up

My work doesn’t end when I drop my pen at the end of a day of graphic recording, as I did recently at the Groundbreaking Journalism conference. After I’m done, I take high-resolution photographs of the drawings, which is not always easy, considering that many conference rooms have bad lighting, walls aren’t always plane surfaces, and holding a camera still is difficult with GR adrenaline pumping in your veins. However, even under perfect circumstances, images need post-production. So after getting a good night’s sleep, I fire up photoshop and start the tedious, yet rewarding task of stitching the photos together, straightening the edges, removing stray pieces of masking tape and smudges, fixing errors, increasing the contrast, and most importantly, getting a nice, clean background. Here’s a time-lapse video I made, which shows some of the work required (although the result is still far from perfect): Thankfully, there are some really good tutorials for cleaning graphic recordings, such as this one by Rachel S. Smith (The Grove Consultants). If you don’t have Photoshop or don’t want to pay for it, there’s also a tutorial for doing the same thing with some free apps on an iPad. Of course, you could also use the open-source graphics suite GIMP. And if you don’t like Rachel’s method of adjusting levels incrementally, you could also try experimenting with the High Pass filter, and the dodge and burn tools (as I did in the video above). Eventually, your cleaning process will end up being as idiosyncratic as your drawings, and you will probably add methods of your own. For example, in processing the image below, I used Rachel’s tutorial as a starting point, but I copied and pasted some of the blue elements from the original image to preserve the color. I also used Hue/Saturation on the yellows, because it gives me more fine grained control than Levels. The important thing is to keep experimenting and don’t forget to have fun!

Before
Before
After
After

In case you are looking for the full set of graphic recordings from Groundbreaking Journalism, they’re on my flickr page.

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