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  • Weiqi Xing


"It's blue today"

An introduction to the cyanotype process and a primer on its use

About Cyanotype

The classical process of photography offers a creative creative process and unexpected artistic results that are full of wonder and opportunity. Each image produced by the Cyanotype method is unique and the next one will never be the same as the last. Because the medium used to apply the solution, the strength of the application, the exposure time and the development time all vary during the process, each time the result will be unexpected.

Cyanotype photogram made by Atkins which was part of her 1843 book, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions

The same traditional printing process that is commonly used for photography can also be utilised for illustration, and I will use my work 'Danger' as an example here to demonstrate the process's use by a beginner.

You can view the full video by clicking on the link:!AqlJroxbdvCJjQfelcBINyDyR30G?e=ZSEpbv

Preparation materials

Medicine (sensitizer): titanium ammonium citrate, potassium ferricyanide (you can also buy a special sensitizer for blue tanning directly from the internet, it's good for beginners)

Paper: you can try different papers (raw rice, coral paper, watercolour paper from Conson, cardboard) I found that watercolour paper worked best after testing

Others: scales, measuring cups, measuring cylinders, glass rods, art knives, paper tape, glass or acrylic plates, cardboard, brushes, clips


1. Dispensing

Preparation Liquid

A: 400ml of water, 100g of ferric ammonium citrate, dissolved and diluted to 500ml with water

B: 400ml of water, 40g of potassium ferricyanide, dissolve and dilute to 500ml with water.

(or you can buy the prepared solution directly)

2. Painting (photopolymer)

Here I experimented with a lot of papers, some rice paper but it was not recommended as it broke when washed at a later stage, and cardboard was very difficult to apply the drug evenly. After testing, I think watercolour paper is better, and 200g or more will give better results.

Mix 1:1 liquid A and liquid B when applying photopolymer. When applying, it is best to dab a little on the paper and apply it slowly and evenly, then apply it horizontally and vertically, then find a place out of the light to dry.

3. Printing Plate Preparation

First, prepare the film. I discovered an internet company that prints film, but you can also choose a local shop that can print. To learn more about how to modify the image, convert it to black and white in Photoshop and change the contrast in moderation. Finally, reverse the image and you're done.

I started with a white cardboard pad, then the paper after the photopolymer was placed, then the film sheet, and finally the glass on top.

The film sheet and paper are fastened with paper tape, then the glass and cardboard at the bottom are clamped in place, and the simple sunset is complete.

4. Tanning

It is best to dry under a sunny day. Usually 15-20 minutes on a sunny day, 30 minutes if it is cloudy, or a little longer if it is winter.

5. Cleaning with water (developing)

Rinse with running water; the water will be considerably yellow at first; wait a little longer for the picture and water to clear.

6. Drying

Drying in a cool, ventilated area to allow the paper to oxidise fully will make the blue colour a little darker again.

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