4.2 The Cricklade drawings

As the publication was to serve as an example of new forms of media publication, funding was secured from English Heritage to help defray the costs of digitising the images (Haslam 2003). Guy Hopkinson prepared the drawings for publication, and his brief was to determine a way to scan the large permatrace drawings, and clean the resulting images in a raster-editing program like Adobe Photoshop. The original ink drawings were monochrome, so colour was added to take advantage of the digital medium and to facilitate better interpretation. Three of the section drawings were to be digitised in AutoCAD and saved in .dwf format for use with Volo View Express (Hopkinson and Winters 2003).

Judith Winters with large permatrace drawing.
Figure 4: Judith Winters, Editor of Internet Archaeology, with one of the original large-format permatrace drawings from the 1975 Cricklade excavation.

To prepare these large drawings, Hopkinson tried several scanning solutions, but found that using a sheet-feed scanner was the simplest, and resulted in the least amount of image distortion. The initial plan was to use Photoshop to create raster-based images in .gif file format, but Hopkinson realised that the amount of time spent digitising the images from scratch in AutoCAD was potentially less than the time spent in cleaning up the raster images. By using the scanned image as a background layer, the process of 'heads up' digitising can be used, where once the image is properly scaled and oriented, it can be traced (Eiteljorg et al. 2002). Several of the more intricate drawings were digitised in AutoCAD to create a clean version and then brought into Illustrator to add colour fills. The images were then saved in .gif file format for publication as a raster image. Hopkinson's brief changed somewhat during the course of the project, but in addition to the many traditional .gif images yielded by the permatrace drawings, three plan and three section drawings were published in 'interactive' .dwf format (Judith Winters pers. comm. July 2003).

As this publication was meant to be an experiment in new forms of media publication, Hopkinson spent time exploring the best ways to approach the problem. Some of the lessons learned revealed the lack of flexibility in raster images. The publication went through an approval process with both an editor and an author, and changes were requested at several stages during image production. In particular, requests for size increases of the raster images after clean-up work had already been completed required a new scan at a higher resolution, and the work would have to be repeated. In retrospect, Hopkinson felt that a better solution would have been to digitise all of the drawings into vector format from the start, making changes easy to accommodate and saving time in the long run (Hopkinson and Winters 2003).

While not part of the final project, Hopkinson also felt that use of vector drawings could be further enhanced by other functions allowed by Volo View Express. This included embedding hyperlinks into an image to attach further visual information. This could potentially create an interface for the publication of an entire visual archive. He cites the main drawback as lack of support for other operating systems besides Windows (Hopkinson and Winters 2003). All of these things, and much more, can be accomplished using SVG, in a format that is not limited to a single operating system.


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Last updated: Tue Jul 18 2006