Digital Lith Tutorials – Running your first development

Now that you have installed and setup the program it is time to run your first image through Digital Lith. Therefore you first need to load an image into the program. It can be a black and white or a color jpg. Most of the time you might want to use a black and white image as Digital Lith only does a pretty simple black and white conversion. 

Image loaded

This post will show you the possibilities you have to drive the process. On the left you can see an image loaded into the program shown as a small preview image. Below the image you see a row of buttons used to drive the program. To load the image you can use either the Open button, the File Open menu or the cmd-O (ctrl-O on Windows) keyboard shortcut.

Some things to note, I am running on a retina display and have set my preview image area to be 1200×1200. If you are not running on a high resolution display (or maybe on an even bigger display) what you see might be differ. So I recommend to download the test image (see end of page) and do you own test runs. At the moment everything is at the defaults.

Develop preview

Here we are going to use the default settings as you have them present when you run the program the first time. Now let’s go directly to your first development. First you usually want to do a test development, so just press the Test button (or the cmd-T keyboard shortcut) and watch the image getting developed. What you then end up with is something as shown on the right.

It looks somehow already a bit lithy, but there is still the color missing (which we will deal in another episode of this tutorial series). Also since this is a process with some locality this will just give you a rough overview about how the image might turn out. You may want to have a look to a crop to see what is really going on. Just click into the image to get that part of the image enlarged. To get back to the normal view, click into the image area again and the full image will be shown. But now we are going to do a test development of an enlarged area. So enlarge one part of it and then press Test again and you may see something like the image on the left. 

Developed crop

This shows how the image is rendered at the pixel level. And that might be again too detailed. But this is all DigitalLith can offer. It is a program which needs to get used to and where you – as in the real process – need to get some experience. But hang-on, there is at least one feature that might come in helpful here. We can switch from the detailed view to the full view again without loosing the development of the detailed view or of the crop if you like. If you press cmd-I (ctrl-I on Windows) you can see the developed crop right in the full view – as you can see in the next image. And then there is also cmd-J (ctrl-J on Windows) which allows you to switch between original and lithed preview.

Crop embedded in full preview

Now how do you influence how the image is going to be rendered. First of all let’s look at the processing time. That is the parameter right at the top of the parameter panel which you will find on the left. This parameter defines the number of iterations that the process runs. Increase it and you will get a darker image, decrease it and it will turn out lighter. Every time you change a parameter you will have to run the test development again. You can also stay with the crop embedded in the full preview and do a test development. Instead of the full preview being developed you will now see the crop inside the preview developed. You can also switch with cmd-I (ctrl-I on Windows) back and forth while the development is going on.

Development up-to black

OK, setting the development time parameter to some value is one way to stop the development process. But there are two other ways to influence development time. One is by telling the program to stop development once the first pixels just turn not into black. For that you will have to give 0 as development time. To get a step darker, which means that there are pixels which just turned black: use -1, -2 means to go one step further and so on.

On the left you can see the test development run with a 0 as development time which means that the development stopped after 76 iterations and that leads to a much lighter image. Sometimes, if you do not have any idea about how to set the development time, going with a 0 or -1 might turn out to be a good idea. At least until you learn about the third way to control the development time.

And now here is the method you may know from doing real lith prints. Here you start the test development by clicking on the Snatch button (or cmd-S keyboard shortcut). Now the development will run as long as you do not press the snatch button again. Once you stop the development the used process time will show up in the process time input field and you can refine it. 

Snatched too late

On the right you can see the result of a development controlled with the snatch button. It is a development stopped a bit late, the darker parts turned into full black and you also see a bit more of the grain being built up. Probably these blocked blacks are not what you want. So lets go back to the initial values or some other values you found useful.

Then once you have the correct parameters you can decide to compute the image. There are two possibilities, first you can click the Develop button (or cmd-D) and after the dialog to input a name for the processed image, your image will get developed and you can watch it getting developed. In this stage you still are able to stop development using the snatch button. Once the image is developed you can go on with the same or another image.

But processing an image might be a time consuming task and you may not want to wait for an image being developed. In that case you can send it to the batch-queue via the Batch button and have it developed in the background while you work on the next image. If there are images in the batch queue is shown at the top of the preview area. Also there is info about the progress of the current image in the queue.

For each image in the queue an empty file is created once it is sent to the batch queue so that not another development may take the same file name. If you have many images in the queue and want to quit, in order to not get stuck with empty image files please use the Stop Batch button to cleanup those files before you quit the program.

So there, now you have your first image developed. Here is how it might look like

Watch out for the next episode where we deal with image color: Click!