ArtisanJS Versus The Printer

An article by David Brooks on October 9, 2012


I was so proud, I finished up a piece of art in ArtisanJS that I really loved and wanted to print. So, I found a printer and started thinking about what I’d need to give them to make something better than a digital print. After a minute of thinking about it, the reality of the situation started to hit me, I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to do what it was that I wanted to do. Rather than send a volley of 30 emails back and forth to clarify something as crazy as “I have this piece of art that I’ve created in HTML and I need it printed”, I decided to call.

I’m glad I did, because the printer and I went over the process and thought through all the options. In the end, it became obvious that it just wasn’t going to happen. Why? You might askā€¦ Well, even if I could convert all of my ArtisanJS work to a vectorized format (something I’ve been working on), there’s still the underlying factor that some of my work relies on images, flattened pieces that will never be vectors.

Why are vectors a big deal?

When you send files to be screen printed, they separate out the layers based on color and print them in a series, one on top of the next. With vectors, you have a nice, clean line around each shape. With an image it’s not quite that way. An image will alias around the edges, and even if it’s at half-tones, it’s still not as clean as a vector, which means you won’t get great results from your print.

So where does that leave me? Well, I built ArtisanJS as a way to do art, and I think it does that well. It’s just not high quality, printable art. It can still be high quality digital art. This website is built using ArtisanJS, and I think a lot more could be done with it. But is it worth converting it to vectors like I had been thinking? Maybe not. I think the history and layering features I have built into ArtisanJS are enough like vectors to do what most people will need on the web.

Am I upset? Not so much. Everything has its ups, its downs, and its possibilities. But it is a bit frustrating when you’ve spent so much time aiming for a goal that, as it turns out, would never have panned out, and you just didn’t think far enough down the line to see it.

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About David Brooks

David Brooks is the owner of the small creative studio, Northward Compass, based out of Orlando, Florida. He writes electronic and ambient music as Light The Deep, and fantasy stories about a place called Elerien.

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