Digital Alchemy: Printmaking Techniques for Fine Art, Photography, and Mixed Media

9780132562928: Digital Alchemy: Printmaking Techniques for Fine Art, Photography, and Mixed Media

In Digital Alchemy, acclaimed printmaker Bonny Pierce Lhotka shows how to turn your standard inkjet printer into a seemingly magical instrument capable of transforming your printed images into true works of art. Using plenty of visuals and straightforward terms, Lhotka walks you step-by-step through over a dozen projects. Forget printing on boring old paper, in Digital Alchemy, you’ll learn how to transfer and print images to a variety of surfaces including metal, wood, fabric, stone, and plastic using the techniques Lhotka’s spent years developing.

If you’re a photographer looking for new ways to personalize your work or a digital artist who’s ready to take your work to the next level, you’ll find all of the tools, techniques, and inspiration you need in this book. Lhotka’s enthusiasm for experimenting with unusual printing materials and processes has led her to create new and amazing transfer techniques, including one that resembles a Polaroid™ transfer on steroids. She also shows you how to make prints using unexpected, everyday materials such as hand sanitizer and gelatin. You’ll even learn direct printing, the technique for sending your custom substrate through your printer almost as if it were paper.

In Digital Alchemy, you’ll learn how to:

  • Transfer images to metal, wood, plastic, and other materials that will not feed through an inkjet printer
  • Print directly on metal for a fraction of the cost of using a print service
  • Simulate a print from an expensive UV flatbed printer using an inexpensive desktop printer
  • Use carrier sheets and paintable precoats to print on almost any surface
  • Achieve near-lithographic quality digital prints with transfer processes to uncoated fine art paper
In addition to the tutorials in the book, you can watch Lhotka in action on the included DVD-ROM, which has over 60 minutes of video footage where you’ll learn how to perform an alcohol gel transfer, transfer an image to a wooden surface, use your inkjet printer to achieve remarkable prints, and more. Simply insert the DVD-ROM into your computer's DVD drive. Note, this DVD-ROM will not work in TV DVD players.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

From the Author:


This is Bonny Lhotka, I wrote Digital Alchemy.  I'd like to take a moment and respond to some of the questions that have been posted here about the book.Digital Alchemy is the product of almost 20 years of research, experimentation, and investigation into hundreds of different processes and products. I've ruined blenders, printers, and more prints than I can count, but along the way I discovered techniques for creating truly original, one-of-a-kind prints. I wrote Digital Alchemy to share these techniques with you.  

First, let me acknowledge that I do have access to high-end equipment, but in writing the book I wanted to share these processes with all of you who are interested in exploring new ways to be creative with your art. So, I made sure that each of the processes in the main section can be completed on relatively inexpensive desktop printers (even some multi-function office printers work). There are exceptions--like the advanced techniques using industrial lasers and UV printers--but these are exceptions. You will not need high-end equipment to use the majority of the techniques that I outline in my book. However, if you dowant to try out the advanced techniques, you can often get access to the necessary high-end equipment at print shops in major cities (there's one in Denver that I use for my own work).

As I began experimenting with my art and trying out different products and pre-coats (many not readily available to the public), mixing them together and seeing what they would do--or laughing at the pile of nasty goo that I created--I discovered that no single pre-coat did everything that I wanted it to do. With that realization, I spent years, literally years, creating one that would. Are there alternatives? Sure. And I talk about a couple of them--like Rabbit Skin Glue--in the book. Rabbit Skin Glue works for some processes, but not others, and has serious limitations. Inkaid, which I also helped to develop, and Golden Digital Grounds also work for some, although not all, of the techniques in the book.  

Given the limited space in the book, I focused on teaching the techniques, rather than discussing all of the different products (which may disappear or get reformulated at any moment), and explaining which ones work for which processes and with what limitations (I think I'd have needed a pull-out wall chart for that). It was much simpler to talk about one product that did everything (and I'd rather have one bottle in my studio than a half-dozen anyway). For some processes though, like SuperSauce transfers, the product is the process. I could have kept that secret to myself and my art, but I decided that I'd rather share it with all of you for use in your own creative work--and there are some amazing things being done with it.

More importantly, though, when I co-authored my first book, that work included a number of product references that quickly became outdated either because a product was reformulated or discontinued. That not only caused a lot of challenges for readers (and a lot of email ), it also prevented me from delivering on my own commissions because I couldn't get the products either! I wanted to make sure that artists wouldn't suffer that confusion and pain--that's what DASS is for, so that artists will have a reliable long-term supply of products that just work. With DASS, I wanted to get the materials out of the way so that artists could focus on their art.

And that's what it's all about anyway--the creative process, not the products. I invite everyone to read Digital Alchemy and, as I say in the book, by all means, please try other products if you'd like. Tweak the techniques, play around, explore, experiment, and have fun! Find a creative process that works for you. Just don't blame me if you destroy a blender or two in the process.
 Best, Bonny

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