From platinum to silver gelation, cyanotype to gum bichromate; from making photographic prints with leaves or with oil paints; this is our series to introduce you to a wide range of photographs made by hand.

The Anatomy of a Tri-Color Hybrid Print

How do we get a full color print from multiple layers of Platinum, Cyanotype and Gum Bichromate?

Step One: Platinotype

In Photoshop, the darker and midtones are separated out and a digital negative for the platinotype is created.

Each digital negative layer must be the exact same size and the size of the resulting print.  Each layer, therefore, needs to be aligned/registerd some way to keep the layers exactly in alignment.

This layer was a lightened version of the “black” channel of an image made from the CYMK model.  It was printed in Na2 Platinum/Palladium on Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag mounted on thin aluminum sheeting.

Original Platinum Layer

Step Two: Cyanotype

Next up, the cyan tones are laid down using the cyanotype process. There are other ways of doing this, like using gum bichromate like the next layers, but cyanotype is straight-forward and sits well over Platinum/Palladium.

A second negative for the cyan channel was used.

2nd Pass with Cyanotype

Step Three: Yellow Gum Bichromate

On this layer, a third negative is used for the yellow tones.  The yellow is provided by watercolor paint (Mayan Yellow) mixed with gum arabic and potassium dichromate. gum arabic hardens, but washes away, so the potassium dichromate is a light sensitive chemical that hardens where the light hits the pigmented gum arabic, allowing it to selectively wash away depending on how much light gets through different sections of the negative.

Of course, yellow and cyan make green.

3rd Pass with Yellow Gum Bichromate

Step Four: Magenta Gum Bichromate

The final layer is the same approach as the yellow, but this time using a different magenta negative and “Opera” magenta paint.  Of course magenta and blue make purple and magenta and yellow make orange.

Potassium dichromate is a serious chemical, handle with care and proper protective gear and ventilation.

Final Pass with Magenta Gum Bichromate
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