Pencil texturing on photo enlargement documenting late-Roman murals at Luxor Temple

Jul 6, 2020

Texturing by pencil on photo enlargement documenting a roman fresco imitation of marble inlay at Luxor Temple

The Survey always wanted the epigraphic process of the Roman murals to be a case study for their experimentations in digital documentation. However, when the project began in 2013, tablet computers were neither portable nor powerful enough to be used at the monuments.

For this very reason, in-situ documentation started out in the Survey’s traditional fashion. Inventing a hybrid method that starts in a familiar way by penciling on enlargements allowed us to focus on the task by keeping the process simple. Black and white photo enlargements were developed in 1:4 by Survey photographer, Yarko Kobilecky, in order to receive the mechanical pencil texture to be applied by the artist.

A crosshatched texturing technique was chosen to represent the graphical impression of the scenes – a radical step away from the traditional outline drawing representation applied to pharaonic relief. Instead, the artist reinforced every little pigment spot over the photo by adding a pencil texture with variable strength, slowly forming a textural impression of the paintings on paper.

Although very effective and well manageable over small areas, applying this technique over larger painted surfaces became rather time-consuming therefore problematic in the long term. Furthermore, providing extensive photo enlargement coverage over such large wall sections (with the largest surfaces being about 60 square meters) put a lot of pressure on the photo department.

Once finished, each penciled enlargement had to be immersed in an iodine bath that dissolved the photographic image, leaving just the pencil drawing of the pigment texture on the white photographic paper. These bleached drawings had to be scanned in high resolution before receiving their final treatment in the studio.

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