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Retrieving the ancient colours: Artistic practice as a tool for heritage reconstruction

Vazquez, Abigail Trujillo; Klein, Susanne; Calvet, Xavi Aure; Parraman, Carinna

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Abigail Trujillo Vazquez

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Dr Susanne Klein
Associate Professor in EPSRC Manufacturing Fellow

Xavi Aure Calvet


The frieze of the Palace of the stuccoes, dated between the 5 th and 6 th century BC, was a polychrome Maya relief discovered in the 1907 in Yucatán, Mexico. It was documented in watercolours and hand tinted photographs by Adela Breton. After years of exposure to the harsh environmental conditions of the Maya area, the colours and the stucco relief disappeared. The aim of the project is to develop a hybrid digital-analogue printing method for reconstructing the appearance of the original polychrome relief based on digitised handmade records. A description of the process to produce full colour images combining digital and photomechanical printing is provided. Using photopolymer plates, an intaglio printing process has been used to produce colour images, whilst inverse relief plates have been created based on height maps to transfer a positive embossing on paper when applying pressure on a printing press. The influence of physical parameters related to the appearance is studied. Reflectance Transformation Imaging was carried out to record the colour and surface shape of the prints. Measurements of gloss were made on relief inkjet prints and intaglio prints on paper to compare the outcomes of commercial 2.5D print and the method proposed here. By modifying an analogue process with digital technology, it is possible to incorporate ancient materials to the printmaking process and therefore approach naturally the appearance of the original. On the other hand, incorporating imaging techniques and quality measurements enables to improve the quality in analogue printing techniques.


Vazquez, A. T., Klein, S., Calvet, X. A., & Parraman, C. (2020). Retrieving the ancient colours: Artistic practice as a tool for heritage reconstruction. Color and Imaging Conference, 2020(28), 282-287.

Journal Article Type Conference Paper
Conference Name Color and imaging conference
Acceptance Date Sep 28, 2020
Publication Date Nov 1, 2020
Deposit Date Sep 29, 2020
Publicly Available Date Apr 15, 2021
Journal Color and Imaging Conference
Print ISSN 2166-9635
Electronic ISSN 2169-2629
Volume 2020
Issue 28
Pages 282-287
ISBN 9781713826972
Public URL


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