Sugar Maple Production

Forest Margin Canopy

Forest Margin Canopy

Progress report:

Nicole and I successfully pulled a couple of branches out of the diorama by un-wiring them from the scaffolding of the diorama. By carefully snaking them out, we were able to limit damage. When we got them to my lab, we clipped off the leaves that were drooping or damaged, repaired the damage (white glue) or reheated them to reduce the droopiness. We stripped back the plastic insulation to expose the wires and reattached each of them to the branch by drilling new holes and epoxying them into place.

Leaves Forest Margin

Leaves Forest Margin

This appeared to be a hopeful method to redo the entire canopy until we reinstalled the branches. Re-installation turned out to be almost impossible to accomplish without damaging the fragile wax/paper leaves. If it were only a few leaves, it would be OK, but it was more than I was comfortable with, so we will leave the other branches in place without restoration. We will make a number of aluminum branches with the new epoxy leaves to put in under the old branches. These will serve as braces to support the older branches and the new leaves will provide a more pristine lower level of the understory most visible to the visitor.

In the mean time, Nicole is patiently teaching me how to find my way around Photoshop. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? But, they never said how long it might take to teach them (or if they will remember once they’ve learned it!)! Anyway, Nicole discovered a low-tech way to morph the flat photographs of the leaves into the undulating molds. This is something 3D scanning will, no doubt, solve in the future, but we don’t have the capacity to do it now at the Peabody Museum. Actually everything I have developed with the leafmaking will almost surely become a simple process when 3D scanning and printing develops more in the future. I’m looking forward to it!

My Photoshop Work (my notes-not necessarily the best way):

Nicole’s process is to wet a piece of the fabric we use to print the backs of the leaves (Jacquard Habotai 12mm) and place it wet over the mold of the leaf. She gets it to adhere to the surface of the mold and traces the contours of the leaf with a wax pencil onto the fabric. This is a simple way to get the contours needed to stretch/morph the print so it will match the mold. That contour drawing is photographed and opened in photoshop. The photograph of the leaf is also added as a layer to the canvas so the contour drawing and photograph are both seen on the screen of the computer. The images both have to be the size of the actual leaf. I measure the central vein from the bottom point where all the veins come together to the intersection of one of the more prominent, laterally branching veins further up the central vein. I measure the mold with vernier calipers to get the actual measurement and then resize both images so they are the same (Edit-Transform-Scale hold the shift key and drag up or down from the corner). I also had to rotate the images so the central vein is as vertical as possible (Edit-Transform-Rotate)

Some other minor adjustments had to be made (which took me an afternoon to figure out). The contour drawing had to be lightened and made translucent enough to drag over the photo so the veins can be seen on both. To lighten the contour drawing (Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Selective Color) I chose Black as the color and clicked the Absolute button to get the drawing to stand out on a white background. In the Layers box I adjusted the opacity to get some translucency. I also added contrast and lowered the brightness a bit so I could see the drawing better (Image-Adjustments-Brightness/Contrast) Then by dragging the contour drawing layer over the photo layer on the right side of the screen, I can superimpose the contour drawing over the photo and see both images at the same time.

I used “Puppet Warp” (Edit-Puppet Warp) to morph the photo to fit the contour drawing. To adjust the photo more accurately, I add “More Points” in the Density box at the top of the screen. You start by pinning the image where you don’t want it to move. I pin the central vein and sometimes ancillary veins coming off the central vein so they don’t move. You will have to play with how many pins are needed to keep areas unaffected by the warping. To warp the image, click and drag the point. This is how I warp the lateral veins to match the contour drawing. Once the vein matches, I leave the pin to hold it in place and move up the vein to the next point and do it again until I have the vein matched all the way.

Finally, I use the “clone stamp” tool located on the left of the screen. I adjust the size at the top of the screen. By holding down the Option key and clicking, the color is chosen. By clicking the cursor, the color is laid down over existing colors. I add color to any areas of the photo that don’t fill in the contour drawing.

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