The role and significance of a designer in postage stamp design with Infrared Graphics

Maja Matas, Anayath Rajendrakumar, Jana Žiljak Vujić, Ana Hoić


The representative graphic product „Postage Stamp“ is based on a new design and manner of printing. The designer includes the InfraReDesign® method based on visualization in two specters: the visual and the infrared. The second image provides additional information in respect to the picture we observe with the naked eye. The designer has the possibility to draw the attention of the public and point out how everything has double a meaning, to make one think and observe that there is another story behind the set one. And the designer can do this in his own manner. A new technology is set before those involved in graphics: to develop printing methods for IRD reproduction of multilayer, double and hidden pictures on postage stamps.
Key words: design, double graphics Infrared technology, postage stamp, CMYKIR separation

1. Introduction

When defining design there is a accent put on the elements of choice and organization according to the aesthetic principles and with the goal of achieving a unique entirety for a certain purpose. The graphic industry has been undergoing changes throughout history, largely since the time computer technology was introduced, but the designer has always tried to carry out graphic tasks in such a manner that he would improve a product, and not only the product's visual quality. A designer consciously and appropriately determines an overall quality and the relation between the product and his user and his environment. He always has to meet the set parameters but he also has the need to add his signature, hidden elements that set him out in comparison to others. There are many such examples in history; one example is the banknote where it is often the case that by folding  it in a certain manner an image is obtained that is not obvious in its ordinary use. Contemporary IRD technology makes it possible for print-makers to follow designs and place a hidden image inside a visible image; one that can be observed in other wavelengths. One of the images is in the 400 to 700 nanometer spectrum visible to the naked eye, and the other is in the 800 to 1200 nm infrared spectrum (Žiljak V., 2010). The possibility of double visualization today makes way for better graphic designs, and the designer has an elegant option for designing multy-layered information presented then to the public (Pap K. & all, 2010). Aesthetic sensibility is an important requirement that a good design needs to meet. A designer can design a product on basis of his acquired and subjective experience in such a way as to meet the set parameters as well as to make it be in accordance with his personal vision.
2. Infrared Dual Graphics on a postage stamp

Postage stamps are small in size but it is desirable that they contain lots of information. Therefore, it is interesting to design them with the help of infrared printing offset technology that allows several pieces of information to be in the same spot, but independent as to their visual side and linked as to contents. The same postage stamp can contain cultural information, characteristics of sovereignty and information on the event from the time period the stamp is dedicated to. It is planned for graphics in the infrared spectrum to be such that could irritate the user. It should also be stressed that the designer is given a tool for protecting his author's rights in a completely new manner. A very complex task has been left for the printers and that is to include new knowledge into infrared technology because this will be required by the publishers, collectors and the designers themselves.
The postage stamp in picture 1. contains a photograph of the church in the state of Kerala, India. The conventional separation of the RGB image with the church using the GCR method (7. Kiphmann, 1997.) is shown in picture 2.

Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:original CMYK separacija:IRCMYK Katedrala Anayat.tif       Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:rgb:red.jpg        Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:rgb:green.jpg        Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:rgb:blue.jpg

                                                          R                                G                               B                           

Picture 1. Kerala church photograph contained in the postage stamp and the RGB separation of the photo

Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:rgb nazad u cmyk:cyan_rgb.jpg     Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:rgb nazad u cmyk:Magenta_rgb.jpg     Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:rgb nazad u cmyk:yellow_rgb.jpg   Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:rgb nazad u cmyk:black_rgb.jpg

C                                M                                 Y                            K

Picture 2. Photograph of te church in the conventional GCR separation

The CMYKIR (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, InfraRed) separation algorithm is set  (Žiljak V., Pap K., Žiljak I. 2010). Each color tone is joined with a CMYKIR space for CMY exchange. Channel K is set in advance as a portrait. Subtracting CMY is subject to the requirement that the new CMYK states must carry information on two images. The first piece of information is that the church is ready for being observed with the naked eye and the second one will be seen with a tool that can observe the black channel separately. Neither image obstructs the other one. They go well together and are decomposed in any spectrum, especially in the VS and the IR. The black channel has a response in the near infrared spectrum. The image is a portrait. Two pieces of information are merged as two independent pictures created on the basis of a computer graphic algorithm. The infrared message is not observed by the conventional scanner. When the picture with the hidden message is scanned it is converted into the RGB system. The information created through CMYKIR separation disappears, because the RGB system does not recognize a multiple record for the infrared spectrum.

Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:original CMYK separacija:Cijan kanal kao jednotonski Gray.jpg     Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:original CMYK separacija:magenta_gray.jpg    Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:original CMYK separacija:yellow_gray.jpg­   Macintosh HD:Users:majamatas:Desktop:Tiskarstvo2013:original CMYK separacija:black_gray.jpg

               C                                  M                              Y                                K

Picture 3. The infrared CMYKIR separation method where the exterior portrait picture has been inserted

The portrait in the reproduction is not directly linked to the church. However, the stamp's designer has merged those two photographs into a whole because he connects the idea of India with his personal experience : the church he had observed there and his friend from India. By merging the CMYK channels from Picture 3 only the visualization of the church is visible, as if there is no portrait anywhere at all. On the contrary, the infrared camera at 1,000 nanometers observes only channel K, the carbon black colorant.

3. Display of the historical and cultural contents with the help of the infrared spectrum

The designer's role is huge because he is the carrier of the task and has the power to make a design on the visual level that meets the set parameters, and on the hidden level he can make his personal contribution. The task is often such as to display something inappropriate for showing in the street, or is not suitable for children to see. In such a case it is possible to design multilayer information and use it as an excellent way of communicating. The hidden layer is visible only with an infrared camera, and such cameras are all around us, especially with the growing surveillance taking place in the very streets of our towns. There are cameras in nearly all public places, such as hotels, shops, hospitals, schools, private firms even in homes, and this is not necessarily in urban areas only. The double graphic may be used in different ways, the second picture that can explain the first one in a better the way, i.e. as an additional explanation. For instance, the first picture is a work of art and the second picture – the portrait of the first picture's author. The second picture additionally explains the first picture in the historical and cultural sense, and so this kind of design may find wide application for tourism purposes. For instance, if the hidden picture shows a photograph of a certain building, it can describe what has been in that certain spot previously, i.e. using double information to show how things were if we went back in time.
More than ever before in history we are surrounded by information on a daily basis. We could say that we are bombarded with visual information, and each individual person owns a personal gadget making one even more available and present. The Internet that has made all of this possible and provides such accessibility has also changed the way we function in everyday life. Man has acquired a new need to access this information base and this need is growing. Information available to the public is often manipulated in order to provoke certain reaction. For instance, the situations that have been shown to us by the media in one way are certainly different if told by the witnesses observing the actual events and experiencing them personally, or telling about their feelings and memories. However, the world we live in is not a simple one, and nothing is ever only black or only white; there are always several sides of one and the same story. A designer not only has the freedom, but also the duty to use the available technology in order to critically observe the world surrounding him. For instance, when the public is shown pictures of wars going on in faraway countries, soldiers are shown that perish in the struggle for a better life of the inhabitants there. It may be said that the visible picture has been chosen to make the atrocities appear less ugly, to give them a new meaning, but the hidden picture is a much uglier one and more brutal. On the other hand, some things are shown as catastrophes and they may not be as bad as they seem, and in such proportion as they appear to be.

4. Conclusion

The growing number of urban area street riots are the reflection of today’s disturbed values, and there is a desire arising from this to form the environment surrounding us in such a way as to make each single individual aware about the problems encircling us. Double infrared graphics can be a very strong tool in encouraging the mass public's conscience and provoking critical observing. It is often the case that people do not have the skill to observe situations in a critical manner by themselves, but are stunned when something is revealed to them directly. A designer can draw the attention of the public by pointing out the double meaning of everything that surrounds us, by making people think and consider that there are different sides of a story and that it is not necessary to blindly believe in the information that are provided. Infraredesign opens a new way of handling hidden information where there is effort to speak about the same problem but in different languages. There is also a new task set before printers and that is to master Infraredesign technology as a new security method for postage stamp production.


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3. Žiljak, V., Pap, K., Žiljak, I. (2010) , “Infrared hidden CMYK graphics”, // Imaging science journal, 58(1); pp. 20-27
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