At a Glance:
Unlike photographs set in silver, like in black and white photography, cyanotypes use a solution of iron compounds. This process invented by Sir John Herschel has changed little since his discovery was unveiled in 1842.
The beauty of cyanotype is its versatility: There’s a limitless number of materials an artist can use to make a personalized cyanotype.
Don’t have film? Place a physical object over your coated paper like Anna Atkins, the first female photographer. This technique produces a photogram, a photographic image made without a camera. Film negatives can also be used.
Want to try an advanced method? Print a high-resolution image on Pictorico and place it directly on top of your paper. You have now blended a 175-year-old alternative photo process with modern digital technology. This is our preferred method — Using ink jet “film” provides the greatest control over the process outcome.
1.) Pick a base formula.
3.) Mix distilled water with ferric ammonium citrate (green) in a light-safe bottle.
4.) Label one bottle “Solution A” and the other “Solution B.”
5.) In a darkroom, the two solutions are blended together in equal parts.
Preparing the Material
1.) In a darkroom, coat a cyanotype-safe material with the mixed solution (A + B).
2.) Allow the surface to dry in a dark place — the material is now light-sensitive.
3.) Once dried, you’re ready to create a print.
Printing the Cyanotype
1.) Objects or film are placed on the coated surface.
2.) Place glass or acrylic over the surface
3.) It’s preferable to lock down your print so as not to disturb it during exposure.
4.) Expose the paper to UV light: the sun, a light box, or a UV lamp.
Processing and Drying
1.) Use toning formulas to enhance your print, if desired.
2.) Finish the process by rinsing it in water.
3.) Allow the final product to dry.