HINT.FM’s The Art of Reproduction

Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg of the information visualization duo HINT.FM have looked at the problems of inconsistency in digital reproductions of fine art images.  Noticing how multiple reproductions of the same work of art could vary wildly in terms of quality, color, texture, and cropping, they started their project “The Art of Reproduction“:

For a set of famous artworks, we downloaded all the plausible copies we could find. Then we wrote software to reconstruct each artwork as a mosaic, a patchwork quilt where each patch comes from an individual copy.

The resulting compositions (which explore paintings, photographs, drawings, and detailed sections) visually demonstrate the discontinuities of the individual files, creating what HINT.FM calls “a tapestry of beautiful half-truths”. To view all the reproduction-compositions they created, click here.

And don’t forget—if you ever have any trouble finding, creating, or displaying the most accurate images possible, don’t hesitate to contact the VRC!


10 Alternatives to Instagram

You may have heard a lot lately about Instagram, but it’s not the only photo manipulation application out there. PCMag.com recently wrote about 10 Awesome Alternatives to Instagram:

Instagram isn’t the only app out there that can rewind your photos 40 years; there’s a slew of apps for both iPhone and Android that can do the same things—and, in some cases, even more. Many of the apps even work in tandem with Instagram, offering an arsenal of filters and effects for your photo-editing pleasure, and then allow you to export your photo to share on Instagram. Though not all of the apps are free, they’re definitely worth the price of your morning coffee.

Via iLibrarian.

Sharpening an Image in Photoshop

Do you have an image that is out-of-focus? The Sharpen tool in Photoshop can help!

Open the image in Photoshop. Zoom in (Select View from the menu and go to Actual Pixels for best results).

The image, at 100% zoom, looks blurry. The letters appear fuzzy.

To sharpen, go to Filter > Sharpen, and select Sharpen or Sharpen More.

As you can see, the edges are crisper and the legend is easier to read after sharpening. You can sharpen as many times as is necessary, but make sure that the image doesn’t begin to look pixelated. This is a sign of over-sharpening.


VRC Workshop at the CTL – Register Now!

Reminder! The Visual Resources Center has partnered with the Center for Teaching and Learning to offer the following workshop:

Visual Literacy in the Classroom: How to Find, Create, and Display Images

Friday, November 18, 10:30AM – 12:00 PM

Gates-Blake 133

Images in the classroom go beyond Google and PowerPoint: students are expected to be visually literate (according to the Association of College and Research Libraries, “able to find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media”). This 90-minute session offers an introduction to the Visual Resources Center and a starting place for instructors seeking quality images for teaching in a visually literate classroom. The session will also cover techniques to engage students with image resources. Graduate instructors and Post-Docs are encouraged to attend.

Registration is Required. Please Register in advance for the session by clicking here.

High Quality Images for Academic Publishing

Are you hungry for high quality, publishable images to use in your dissertation or manuscript? Trying to avoid expensive licensing fees? Not sure what images are in the public domain?

If so, consider the following resources for copyright-free or copyright-lenient images. Most image sites include both high and low resolution images, with high quality TIFFs available upon request. Please note that each resource/institution may have specific requirements for attribution or limits on print runs. When in doubt, contact the institution before using the images in your publication.

Do you know of additional resources that we should add? Contact us!

General Resources and Guides

Museum Image Resources

Image Resources by Subject




  • Index of Christian Art: Romanesque
  • Index of Christian Art: Lois Drewer Database
  • International Society for the Study of Pilgrimage Art: Peregrinations Photo-bank


Royalty-Free Images (One-time Fee)

  • Archivision Stock Photos

Send Image Updates to VRC Staff

VRC staff members know that our faculty and students have subject expertise and can provide excellent additions to our image data. We want your contributions, and it’s easy to notify us! You can automatically generate a link to individual images or entire search results in LUNA. This function may be used to share images with VRC staff when corrections or updates are needed. Find the image or images you would like to share with VRC staff, click on the “Share This” tab, and copy the link into an email.

Please direct all image updates to visualresources@uchicago.edu.


Optimal Mac Settings for Projection in CWAC

Have you had trouble getting presentations to look good in CWAC classrooms? Are images too dark, or the wrong size? The following tips will solve most projection problems and work best for MacBook Pros. Knowing how to adjust your resolution, mirroring and color profile will help you when presenting outside of CWAC, too, since every projector is a little different.

Please Note: In CWAC, we recommend turning off at least the first two rows of lights closest to the screen for maximum color accuracy and brightness.

We now have VGA and HDMI connections (with adapters for Mac!) You might consider trying HDMI for the best color and clarity.

First, select System Preferences from the Apple menu at the top left of your Finder toolbar. Then click on Displays.

When this window opens, you can check “Show displays in menu bar” if you would like a shortcut to Displays in your Finder menu. Next, adjust your ExtronScalerA (Projector) resolution. We recommend 1900 x 1080 (or as high as your monitor will allow) at 60 Hz.

Now adjust your Color LCD (Laptop) resolution to 1440 x 900.

Go back to the VGA Display window and select the Arrangement tab. Check or uncheck the box as you prefer (if you would like to project exactly what is on your laptop screen, check Mirror Displays. If you would like to show a Powerpoint presentation with presenter notes, or drag only one window to the projector screen at a time, uncheck this box).

Finally, click on the Color tab. Switch profile to sRGB IEC61966-2.1. This should correct images that are appearing dark or muddled. If sRGB IEC61966-2.1 is not showing up on your list, be sure that the box “Show profiles for this display only” is NOT checked.

For a MacBook, settings are the same as above except the Color LCD (Laptop) resolution should be set at 1280 x 800.

Click here to read more about this topic. If you have trouble setting up a different kind of laptop, or if you have any questions, please contact the VRC or AV Services.

Quality Control Improvements

The VRC has instituted new quality control measures for digitization. We now perform flatbed book scanning with the gretagmacbeth ColorChecker(TM) Color Rendition Chart. The color chart especially improves the color contrast of manuscripts and black and white line drawings.