Watercolor Woodblock Printing with Image Analysis

Eurographics 2018 (to appear)
Athina Panotopoulou, Sylvain Paris, Emily Whiting

Watercolor paintings have a unique look that mixes subtle color gradients and sophisticated diffusion patterns. This makes them immediately recognizable and gives them a unique appeal. Creating such paintings requires advanced skills that are beyond the reach of most people. Even for trained artists, producing several copies of a painting is a tedious task. One can resort to scanning an existing painting and printing replicas, but these are all identical and have lost an essential characteristic of a painting, its uniqueness. We address these two issues with a technique to fabricate woodblocks that we later use to create watercolor prints. The woodblocks can be reused to produce multiple copies but each print is unique due to the physical process that we introduce. We also design an image processing pipeline that helps users to create the woodblocks and describe a protocol that produces prints by carefully controlling the interplay between the paper, ink pigments, and water so that the final piece depicts the desired scene while exhibiting the distinctive features of watercolor.  Our technique enables anyone with the resources to produce watercolor prints.