Material exploration: Intron Press

This afternoon, Emma and I had an induction with the old intron press, which turned out to be a long-winded but interesting process of trial and error. Jill was very kind and spent a good few hours with us; from 2pm to 4.30pm, teaching us the safety protocols of the press as well as how to use the machine. In terms of health and safety, we had to make sure not to close the door on our arms, hands or fingers and to avoid burning them on the hotplate. The process was very straightforward; the press must be turned on 40mins prior to heat up and there are specific dials for adjusting the time, temperature and pressure. Once the bar indicates two green lights, then the temperature has set and the press is ready for use.

Our material exploration with the intron press was due to an idea that Anthony had for Emma and I to imprint screenshot images sourced from the internet onto paper. In turn, this would incorporate turning digital media into a hand-made process. Anthony wants us to explore using mixed media on top of the pressed images to see whether we could bring this type of illustration in our our projects.

After sourcing some screenshots from a video on the BBC webpage and Google images, the process we went through was as follows: Firstly, using Photoshop, Emma and I placed our images together into a working document of A3 size. Using the ‘transform – flip horizontal’ tool, we inverted all images ready for printing onto special ‘transfer paper’.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 12.16.57 PM.png

The transfer paper is necessary to correctly mirror our images onto the final fabriano and wet strength papers through the intron press. We then cropped our images and placed them face down on top of our chosen paper.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 12.19.51 PM

From here we experimented with two different types of paper; some beautiful Fabriano watercolour paper and wet strength cardstock. Unfortunately, we did not have very much success with the Fabriano. Out of my seven attempts, I had five successes and only two failures all-round. I recorded the intron settings on the back of all of my pieces of paper as reference for my blog.

Attempt 1: Wet strength cardstock

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 12.36.01 PM


  • Time in press: 1.2 + 1.2 + 1.2 and moving the paper about the hotplate each time.
  • Pressure: 1
  • Temperature: 135˚C

Result: The peeling off the transfer paper onto the cardstock was quite tricky, resulting in the image having a few times in the press. Each time did make the transfer paper easier to peel, however, some scuffing occurred on the finished image which lost some of the pigmentation on the image.

Attempt 2: Wet strength cardstock

test 2

  • Time in press: 4.0 +2.0
  • Pressure: 1
  • Temperature: 135˚C

Result: Here we adjusted the time on the Intron press. Having the image in the press for a longer time resulted in a hotter press. This did make the image a bit easier to peel the transfer paper off. The image result was still a little bit grainy in appearance.

Attempt 3: Wet strength cardstock

test 3

  • Time in press: 2.0
  • Pressure: 1
  • Temperature: 145˚C

Result: For this attempt, we decided to half the time from 4.0 to 2.0 as well as to increase the tempertature to 145˚C. This resulted in the image having just the right amount of heat for the transfer paper to peel away easily. This was our best result for the wet strength cardstock.

Attempt 4: Fabriano watercolour

test 4

  • Time in press: 2.0 + 3.0
  • Pressure: 1
  • Temperature: 145 ˚C

Result: We then tried to use the same settings as the previous successful trial for the Fabriano paper. It did not work very well as the transfer paper held fast to the fibers of the water colour paper. We increased the time but our peeling resulted in tearing and the image was destroyed.

Attempt 5: Fabriano watercolour

test 5

  • Time in press: 2.0
  • Pressure: 1
  • Temperature: 145 ˚C

Result: Tearing continued to occurr even with the Fabriano paper, despite being careful when pulling the transfer paper away. This was my most successful result with the Fabriano paper. Some large tears occurred and you can see the white grainy result where small tears have also lifted the image away.

Attempt 6: Wet strength cardstock

test 6

  • Time in press: 2.0
  • Pressure: 1
  • Temperature: 145˚C

Result: This was the same settings as the successful attempt 3 and so the same results occurred.

Attempt 7: my own paper watercolour

test 7

  • Time in press: 2.0 + 2.0 + 1.0
  • Pressure: 1
  • Temperature: 145˚C

Result: I then decided to use a piece of my own water colour paper, which was A5 in size. Unfortunately, the smaller size of paper did not affect the result of the image transfer. Once again, tearing occurred.

In the end, we concluded that our settings were not correct for imprinting onto water colour paper. Perhaps we could have changed the pressure as well. The next step in my exploration was to overlay my pressed images with different drawing and collage techniques to make mixed media compositions. Using my five successful prints, I decided to use mixed media to come up with various collaged compositions. First I had a look on the internet for a bit of inspiration to help me get started and came across some very useful examples of artworks:

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For my first image, I used blue acrylic paints and sponged this onto the background of the water. For the dark blue waves, I used a palette knife and made what looks like ripples of waves. Then using ‘posca paint markers’, I added dots and lines of colour to create movement and pattern into my work. I left the diver and the cloud of rubbish above untouched so as to keep an aspect of photography and the original image. Last of all, I used some of my marbled papers to cut out some of my plastic fantastic creatures: the hammerhead, seahorse and dolphin.


For the second image, I focused on using only the posca paint markers to draw in a child-like manner over the top of the photograph. At first, I wanted to use smashed pieces of plastic to stick on top of the rubbish in the sea, however the plastic proved difficult to destroy. I tried using a hammer to break up plastic bottle tops I had collected, but most of them just twisted and remained intact. Therefore, I decided to keep the emphasis of the photography shown and used the pens to make a silly sun, clouds, mountains and waves on the sea. Using photoshop, I made a quick speech bubble and stuck this by the boat. I wanted to do this to further emphasize a cartoony, childish irony with the seriousness of the image.



In the third image, I decided to steer away from using wet media (the paints and markers) to take on a more cut and paste approach. I sourced a few household junk mail brochures and scoured them for anything relating to plastic packaging or being made from plastic. I then started tearing off bottle tops, bits of packing from food, bathroom products and more. some had advertising on them that I found ironic such as ‘smoked salmon’, ‘ocean blue’  and ‘fresh’. I also stuck down some of my plastic bottle tops that did smash up. Using the cut and paste method, I made a composition containing various bright colours of varying shapes and sizes. I placed a plastic fantastic turtle into the image, making it look as though the diver is following the turtle through a sea of plastic shards.



I wanted to be more painterly with my only piece of fabriano paper. The only media I used here was to use acrylic to paint a blue, ocean background. Once again, I used a palette knife to make the harsher, rippled waves and to give texture. Once this had dried, I used the posca paint markers to again make dots and lines of colour. I think that this represents ocean plastic floating about in an abstract manner. I made the diver look murky, as though he is swimming through a vast, plastic-ridden ocean.


The last image contains a mixture of all the techniques and media I had previously used (except for acrylic paint). Using the posca pens, I drew in a child-like manner over the waves and seal. I kept parts of the photography visible and using  whole cut out items, I pasted them down to look as though they were floating and caught in the netting around the seal. I placed a bucket on the seal’s head to add to the childlike style to my work. I decided the image looked a bit too flat so I found some string and used this on top of the photographs netting to make it look more messy and dynamic.


The process of making collages out of these images was rewarding the sense that it got me to think of various ways that I could explore  mixed media and image-making processes. I learnt that using real plastic can be quite tricky, as most of my collected plastics were not breakable with a hammer and so I only managed to get a few shards to work with in one image.  Otherwise, I quite enjoyed using the acrylic paint and posca pens to make quirky, bright and fast compositions.

At this stage, I’m not so sure that I would use this type of illustrative style for my campaign as the intron press process is rather hit and miss; very time-consuming too. My next steps are to explore using digital media to create my characters with my marbled textures as well as see what they look like using flat colours.


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