Each month Hannah Kirkbride at Patternmash puts together a creative challenge to respond to a specific theme and collection of images within a specific color palette. February's theme was "Marbelous Malfunction". I came up with five print designs that explored the intersection of historical marbled paper and modern computer technology. While the methodology used to create marbled paper varies in East Asia, Central Asia and Europe it ends up being very similar aesthetically throughout history. I was intrigued by this cultural similarity and wanted to explore how this could be modified using contemporary computer techniques. I approached the process in much the same way as paper makers do, beginning by making dots in Photoshop instead of using paint on water. Then, instead of using the rakes that traditionally disperse the ink, I made eight displacement maps and applied them to the dot patterns. Finally, I used Photoshop layers and filters to further develop abstracted patterns that look traditional, but modern.
I've made marbled paper the traditional way, beginning with drops of oil paint on thickened water. On the computer I began with a simpler layout of dots.
Then, instead of the usual rakes, I created 8 displacement map files and used the Displace filter in Photoshop to digitally swirl the patterns, and finally did a bit of manual filtering with the Liquify filter. So from the dot's pictured on the right, this pattern appeared:
The other four patterns came from starting with different dot patterns, a photograph of tree branches and a stripe pattern and applying different stages of the displacement maps, Liquify filter and then manipulating the layers and filters in Photoshop. In the end, it's a much cleaner, less toxic method of marbling paper.