Spotting of black&white prints : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

Recently I bought some Spotone inks to remove spots from my b&w prints. Can somebody give me some hints&trics to start with spotting since I have never done it.

-- Patrick Landstra (, July 23, 2001


First, visit your local art-supply shop and get a little watercolor tray or some such thing with a series of depressions or big dimples in it. Youl'll use one of these dimples to hold a drop of Spotone and another some water. Also buy a few of the smallest (not necessarily the most expensive) camel's-hair brushes the store has. Taper one of them by trimming away the outside bristles until you have a very pointed little brush. Put a drop of Spotone in a dimple and some water in another. Moisten the brush in the water and pick up a little Spotone on it, too. (Spotone is usually diluted a good deal, unless it's to go on a very dark area of your print.) Smear this mixture around in one of the dry dimples until the brush is almost dry. You can use a piece of paper for this, too. Do this in a way that draws the brush to a point. Now tap the tip of the brush on the light spot on your print. Just keep tapping till the spot greys down and blends into the surrounding print. If the dye is too dark, immediately wipe it away with a damp tissue. Once it dries, it's not going away, so work quick. Obviously it's better to use a dilution that's lighter than the print and build up your color. It's usually a good idea to try your dilution on a scrap of discarded print before attacking the actual spot. The sign of a successful job is that you can look away from the print and then have to search for the spot a bit when you look back. Also, you may screw up trimming the first brush by leaving too few bristles to hold enough dye. So take a second brush and trim it better. Once you get a brush that really works, keep it in the safe where no one else can get at it.

-- Keith Nichols (, July 23, 2001.

The brush you want is a 000. I prefer to mix the spotone to match the paper color and then let it dry. I use the dryed spotone like a water color, wet the brush, pick up a little dry spotone, work it on a piece of paper and then apply. If you get too heavy handed, a brush with water will remove just enough to make it blend in. It takes a bit of practice, so start out with reject prints. I've found the technique of doing it just a bit too much and them blending it back down to get an exact match works well. Much more control.

-- Gene Crumpler (, July 23, 2001.

Most prints have a bit of grain and you want to make little dots that blend in with the grain pattern. It's hardest to apply a smooth tone that blends in with the surrounding tone without overrunning the spot and creating a dark edge. I always prefer a spotting job that isn't quite enough, rather than the dark edged donut effect often seen. Small spots in relatively dark areas are probably easiest and can be done rapidly with a single dot. Using the speckle technique on lighter areas, you may not be able to find the spot even if you know exactly where it was!

-- Conrad Hoffman (, July 23, 2001.

I've put all my spotting tips into my article "Tips on Printing" at:

-- Ed Buffaloe (, July 23, 2001.

One last spotting tip. Once you have finsished all the spots and let them dry, give the print a quick check over. This is not as silly as it sounds. What I mean is don't search for the places where you have spotted. Look over the print as a whole. If the re-touching isn't obvious to you then it won't be obvious to anyone else. If you look too closely you may be tempted to apply more spotting dye and then overdo it.


-- Adrian Twiss (, July 23, 2001.

I just read an old article in a Darkroom magazine & this is one suggestion. Use a toothpick for spotting!! Use photoflow or other wetting agent to dilute the inks. Photoflow was suggested particularly when spotting RC prints.

-- Melvin Bramley (, July 23, 2001.

A very fine (0.1mm) Rotring draughtman's pen is better for the speckle technique, which I've found works very well. If you use a brush, it tends to get bristly after a while. Here's a tip to keep it in shape, rather than keep giving it a 'haircut': Wet the brush, and pull it to a point. If there are a few errant bristles sticking out of the side, pass the brush quickly through a match or lighter flame, while it's still wet. The extraneous bristles will get singed away, leaving a perfectly shaped tip.

-- Pete Andrews (, July 24, 2001.

Patience is the best device you can use for spotting. Don't try to hurry. Don't try to do it in one or two big drops of spotone. And I prefer marshall oils and their spotting dyes. They are much better. James

-- james (, July 24, 2001.

I didn't see one thing mentioned above: spot with the image upside down. You will see the spots more easily. njb

-- Nacio Jan Brown (, August 03, 2001.

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