Altering decorative letters for iBook manuscript

09 Oct

Ranulf Higden’s Polychronicon
England: c.1470

In the recently released iBook, The Thirteenth Labor, each chapter began with ornate lettering in the fashion of old illuminated texts. I adapted lettering from  Mara Pratt’s The Fairyland of Flowers, published in 1890 and also used this as the basis for decorative borders. The benefit of this was that at 120 years old, this text and it’s patterning have come into the public domain and can now be used freely. The downside was that this text contained only a few letters in the same style, and because the source I found had scanned them from the original, they still contained the background color that I would have to remove to match my own. Since I was doing this, I also decided to fill the letters with the same gold coloring that the border had. 


+ preserves sections in the image, – removes sections

So, how do you do this? Normally, you would use a graphics program like photoshop – but that’s a bit out of my price range, so I was stuck using powerpoint. Here’s a snapshot of my work identifying background for removal (the pink will be removed). I did this two times for each letter – once to remove the background to fill with gold using layer images. Then a second time to remove all the background so my ‘paper’ color would show through.

I recommend blowing up the image as large as possible and then trying to remove the background with as few +/- points as possible. The longer I worked on each letter, the more bogged down my processor got making a tedious task even more frustrating and time consuming.


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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


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