Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Spring Kit: Part 3

Floral Collections

Many of our Floral clip art collections are comprised of sets of bitmap and vector images. As I mentioned in a previous post, this kind of imagery is conducive to vectorization because it tends to be more graphical–more stylized and flatter-looking.

Vectors, in their raw form appear like simple black & white clip art images. Don't let this first impression fool you! The expressive qualities that can be extracted from these simple-appearing images is truly only limited to your imagination and skills. When we first started publishing our vector collections we knew that we wanted to address issues of inspiration and instruction, so we added two new sections to this series of publications—a 'gallery' section which showed the images in play, and an 'instructional' section which gave step-by-step directions on how to create various effects using the clip art images. When you purchase and download a collection from the Vector Designs series you'll receive an easily viewable pdf of the original book that includes digital versions of these two sections.

Typical Vector Designs Gallery Section page

Typical Vector Designs Instructional Section page

Probably the best aspect of vector images is their scalability. You can enlarge them quite a bit without incurring nasty pixelation (which is typically what happens to bitmap images). In the past you'd have to use a a vector-editing or illustration software program to use vectors—something like Macromedia Freehand, Corel Suite or Adobe Illustrator; these would allow you to use the full functionality of the vector. Today, thanks to the folks at Adobe, you can open them in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. When you open a vector with one of these programs it converts it into a bitmap. The great feature is that you get to indicate just how big you want the image to be; when it opens the edges are crisp-just like a vector.

As I mentioned above, if you want the full functionality of vectors then you'll need a program like Adobe Illustrator. A great free alternative is the open-source vector editor –Inkscape. It can do many of the things that Illustrator does, but for free! Check this link out to download a copy:

Below are some great Floral design Collections to add to your Spring Kit.

Floral Vector Designs (0486990443)

Floral Vector Motifs (0486991083)

Art Nouveau Floral Designs (0486996913)

Art Nouveau Flowers and Floral Ornament (0486998398)

Coming Next: Fauna

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Spring Kit: Part 2

The Main Components: Flowers and Florals

Well, if there's two clip art & graphics categories for which we are best known, they would have to be Floral and Flowers. You might argue that Art Nouveau was perhaps our strongest suit, but Art Nouveau is so floral that it's tempting to call it a subset of Floral & Flowers. There are so many collections to cover that I'll probably extend A Spring Kit to 3 or more blog posts.

Generally, they way we parse the difference between Flowers and Floral at DoverPictura is realism vs. stylization, respectively. Our Flower collections usually represent the subject matter in a natural, illustrative manner, with varying degrees of shading and sculpting.

Typical "Flower" image

Floral collections typically depict flowers as decorative motifs with which the designer or artist has taken certain artistic liberties to enhance the graphic qualities of the subject matter.

Typical "Floral" image

Two of my favorite Flower collections are:

Redouté Flowers and Fruits (0486996069), which is a superb collection of flower and fruit illustrations by Marie Antoinette's official court artist, the Belgian painter and botanist, Pierre-Joseph Redouté; noteworthy within this collection are the roses. These images are particularly adaptable for collage work and card-making.

Flowers Vector Designs (0486991245),  is another favorite (and not because I am the author..) because of the combination of the beauty of the line art drawings, and the usefulness of the vector file format images. In assembling this collection we drew upon some of Dover's best black & white clip art, which we then vectorized. Vector images give the artist and crafter the ability to create large-scale illustrations in programs like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape, and are great for creating special effects.  When you purchase the whole collection you get a pdf document of the entire publication that includes tutorials for creating some of the effects shown in the included gallery of sample images.

Next time: Floral Collections

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Spring Kit: Part 1

Seeds, Sprouts and Bugs

For me Spring is all about laying the groundwork for all of those things that one wants for Summer. It embodies ideas like planning, foresight, latency—envisioning. The planting of seeds. This week's blog is about helping you put together a kit of useful materials as you craft your way towards the perfect Summer... Let's start beneath the ground and work our way up.

First, you're going to need some seeds. Check out Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Seed Packets (0486997367): 210 vintage seed packet labels, with that distinctive, enticing style of drawing.

Another great seed source is Trees and Leaves (0486996115)
A stylistic departure from the seed packet art, in this collection you'll find botanical renderings of seeds, acorns & pine cones—as well as beautiful line drawings of deciduous and coniferous trees. 

Next, for some sprouty-looking plant graphics you might want to add Medieval Herb, Plant and Flower Illustrations (0486996344) to your kit. The 294 illustrations are black & white, but they are eminently colorable:

A nice transition from sprouty, low-lying plants to bugs and insects is Merian's Antique Botanical Prints (0486996646).

Coming up next: Something for all the bugs to perch upon—Flowers!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ok, so what do Shirley MacLaine, Jackie Gleason, Philip Glass, Brooke Shields and the Queen of Spain have to do with DoverPictura, this blog or each other?

One can only speculate as to what may have gone on in private between the five of them, but according to John Riess, a good friend and one of Dover's acquisitions editors, they were all regulars at Samuel Weiser's Occult Books– the now defunct Manhattan bookseller of esoterica.

John was in a position to know this because he used to work at Weiser's, and he has some great stories—like... there was this time that the street in front of the store had to be shut down so that Sophia Margarita Victoria Frederika (the Queen of Spain) could shop. John actually got to show her a selection of some of the rarer antiquarian materials, and while he was doing so all of the Queen's security guards headed over to...

I'm sorry, but I've just realized that it would be indiscrete to continue, after all, they were the Queen's men...

Anyway, the real point is that his time at Weiser's brought John into contact with a lot of amazing esoteric and occult materials, and it was there that the DoverPictura collection Esoteric & Occult Art had its genesis.

John amassed an enormous selection of arcana—from alchemy and mysticism, to tantra, astrology and freemasonry—for this collection. A favorite for me was The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall; the illustrations were by J. Augustus Knapp. The image below, Mithra in the form of the Leontocephalic Kronos, is from that work. In it, "...the figure symbolizes the inevitable victory of boundless Time (Eternity) over every creature and condition. The resurrection of the figure from the darkness of the tomb reveals the ascension of boundless duration from the narrow limitations of man-conceived time. The three kneeling figures are the limitations of the three-dimensional world—length, breadth, thickness—which bow before the limitless Æon..."

Also springing from this same fount is the soon-to-be-released collection The Art of Tarot. It comprises images of 794 tarot cards from famous and infamous decks (there are nine complete decks within this collection). I'll post a notice here when it appears on