Richard Manning

Dye Transfer Colour Prints

 The prints I worked on were dye transfers, and in fact nearly all the sleeve artwork I worked on were dye transfers. The normal colour print was light sensitive photographic paper exposed to a colour negative or transparency to print the image.

 The dye transfer process used non light sensitive paper. Three matts or seperations were made to the finished size of the print needed from the colour negative or transparency. The matts were similar looking to a black and white negative, one each for yellow, cyan and magenta. Each matt was soaked in the appropriate tray of photographic dye for approximately five minutes, then with the dye paper positioned the yellow matt was taken from the tray, excess dye wiped off and then laid directly onto the dye paper , rolled to allow the dye from the matt to transfer onto the paper, the same process for the cyan soaked matt and then the magenta, hence the name given to the prints, Dye Transfer. The quality was tremendous with a vibrancy and depth of colour.

 To retouch these prints was exacting work and sometimes extremely tedious. Water was never used on the dyes (as they were referred to), diluted acetic acid (white vinegar) was used to clean the dye before commencing work. To reduce or lessen the amount of magenta in particular areas, Photoflo (a clear liquid similar to washing up liquid) was applied to the surface and then blotted and wiped away with acetic acid. To lessen cyan, a weak solution of Potassium Permanganate applied to the surface, which turned brown and then Sodium Metabisulphate was used to neutralize the brown, the liquid then blotted and acetic acid used to clean. To reduce yellow, Milton (used for sterilizing babies feeding bottles) applied to the surface, blotted and cleaned with acetic acid. To bleach all colour away to leave a white area, a mixture of three parts Potassium Permanganate solution to one part dilute Sulphuric Acid applied to the surface, neutralized with Sodium Metabisulphate, blotted and cleaned with acetic acid. There were other things that had varying affects but these were the most commonly used and were reliable.

 To add colour, various photo dyes were used but primarily I used the three dyes used in the making of the Dye Transfer prints. Five days was the normal service for dye making, but as most things were needed in a rush, three days was the norm. A bit different to today working on the Apple Mac. I would most probably be arrested today if I tried to buy all the chemicals needed, especially Sulphuric Acid!

All works © Richard Manning 2000 - 2024