Inking TT65 facsimiles in 1:1 using Rapidograph pens

Jun 26, 2020

I’m sitting in my studio, inking on my beautiful iPad Pro. I’m working on a 10-meter-long, high-resolution fresco detail, using desktop Photoshop, wirelessly tethered to my Mac Mini server. Looking at this photo, it is hard to remember how my drawings had to be finalized 20 years ago.

The process developed for copying the enormous festival scenes in Theban Tomb 65 required inking my facsimile pencil drawings in 1:1. First, every sheet of transparent paper had to be taped to the floor of a room large enough to accommodate an ancient Egyptian painting that averaged to 10-12 meters in length with a typical height of 3.5 meters. Finding the exact alignment between sheets was still utterly tricky, despite a few centimeters of overlap drawn between the adjoining pieces.

A typical wall painting had to be “built up” in long horizontal segments stretching along the entire length of the wall but occupying only a precise 90 centimeters of its height at a time. This rule was set based on the maximum paper width scanners could take in 20 years ago. Taping the facsimile pencil drawings to the floor was followed by covering them with a long stripe of blank transparent paper, 90 centimeters in width, also enrolled along the entire length of the decorative surface.

Retracing each and every pencil line by Rapidograph ink pens started at the upper left corner of the wall, slowly proceeding towards the bottom, attaching yet another stripe (with a little bit of overlap) for each segment. During this process, various line widths represented the many different layers of information, deliberately introducing dashed and dotted variations to distinguish between preliminary sketches, damaged areas, graffiti, and final paintings.

Oh, how I miss the good old days...

This post was originally released as part of digitalEPIGRAPHY's growing Instagram collection. If you'd like to see our latest photos as soon as we post them, please follow us on Instagram.

Back to Gallery

What to see next