Tech Corner-Photocopies part 1

From the executive suite to the designer's studio, copy machine technology has advanced to perform almost any task an artist requires. Airbrush Action explores copier features from zoom to full-color and provides a sampling of models from all major manufacturers.

Gussied up with a host of features, copy machines, once merely stalwart pieces of office equipment are making the move into artist's studios.

With technology advancing at a breakneck pace, the selection and capabilities of photocopiers change almost daily, with more than a dozen major companies in the face for the most advanced machine on the market, or at least racing to produce the one that will lead the pack for a while.

Photocopiers, which replaced the messy, often balky mimeograph machines, at first were like creatures at the bottom of the evolutionary ladder. All they could do was reproduce. Then the evolution began-only much more rapidly than at any Darwinian pace. They began to use differing sizes of paper, collate the copies, and sheet- feed. They gained the capability to enlarge and reduce from the original.

The copies were clearer, the reproduction better. Each month seemed to produce a new generation a little more advanced from the last. But it wasn't until copiers gained the ability to reproduce on nearly any surface – mylar to illustration board – and gained the ability to do it in color that the machines began to move from the business district to the art studios.

As the office worker learned years ago, the artist too has discovered that the copier's main contribution is saving time. It also ensures that a design can be repeated again and again, enlarged or reduced without even minor variations. Artists have found that a copier saves steps in enlarging or reducing sketches. By copying a drawing onto acetate, an artist can flop an image.

No longer limited to the types of surfaces copiers can handle, artists use the machines to reproduce images on drawing paper, watercolor paper, colored papers, acetate, two-ply board, and friskets. The copiers are also useful for producing repeated images across the boards.

Copiers have proved to be valuable for artists doing storyboards and comps. Several frames can be done from one image, without redrawing. The originals can be drawn larger than needed and then reduced. If a sketch is approved, another copy can be made and colored for a comp.

Airbrush artist Jim Effler of A.I.R. Studio runs sheets of mylar through the copier-transfemng a photographic reference onto it-and then cuts a template with a Stencil Burner. "I've done that with an illustration of a glacier, and it is also good for trees," says Effler, who uses a Mita copier. The artist says that using mylar through a copier is also useful for flopping images. Effler also uses the copier to reduce and enlarge drawings.

Illustrator Lou Brooks uses his Minolta 450 for enlarging and reducing. He has also run Strathmore and Canson colored papers through the copier. The Minolta, which reduces to 65 percent and enlarges to 146 percent, is the second copier the artist has used in his work. He used a Canon Personal Copier 20 before the Minolta.

John Nixon runs colored paper through his company's Minolta EP 4102 to make copies of line art used for medical illustrations. Nixon, the assistant director of the Medical Illustration Department at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, says that he uses transparencies and all weights of paper to make slides for lectures or line art for journals and books. "It saves me a lot of redrawing," says Nixon. He says occasionally he will run transparency film through the copier and paint with gouache on the other side.

Illustrator Michael Cacy uses a Panasonic FP- 1530 in his Oregon studio. He has run colored and watercolor papers through it for special projects. "I use all kinds of paper, although if it is too heavy, the machine rejects it," Cacy says.

Creative people discovered that they were bound only by their imaginations when using the copiers. As artists began experimenting, they discovered a whole new art form. In addition to copying two-dimensional designs, artists began adding three-dimensional objects and copying them.

Another technique involves running either Canson or Strathmore colored papers through the copier to transfer a design, then bleaching out parts of it.

Different elements of a number of sketches can be combined and photo-copied. A graphic artist can make a photocopy of an illustration on a key line to show an art director or printer the correct position of the piece.

Although the average artist cannot afford a color copier, advances in technology are making these machines more affordable to larger studios, advertising agencies, and corporate art departments. Instead of using the money for color stats, the larger firms are using color copiers for layouts, comps, storyboards, packaging, and sometimes original illustrations. Color copiers can save money and time. Some of the new color copiers also have 35-mm slide attachments. These allow the artist to copy a 35-mm slide directly to whatever size paper is needed.

The color copiers range from machines that can print one color at a time to those that print full color.

For four-color work, Cacy uses a Canon laser copier. Cacy says he has found it useful for duplicating story-boards. The original boards, done with markers, are copied for the advertising agency, for the account executive to pre-sent to the client, and sometimes for the artist's files. "We send a laser copy to the film production companies for bidding," he explains.

Cacy says the Canon laser copier is also useful for making prints from slides. "We work from slides when we want exceptional detail," says Cacy.

When illustrator Jeny Lofaro needs color copies, he says that he uses a service located near his SoHo studio. As useful as copiers can be, artists may be put off by prices when they consider buying their first copying machine. If so, a reconditioned machine may be the answer. Many dealers will offer reconditioned machines at a fraction of the price of a new machine. Companies that lease business machines are also a good source for used copiers.

Rusty Harris, a sales representative for Lanier Worldwide, Inc., says he could sell a reconditioned 570 model, which reduces and enlarges, takes paper up to 11" x 1 7 , and has a fuced platen, for less than $1,000. This can be financed over 24 months with monthly payments around $55 and minimal down payment.

Artists also have the option of leasing or buying a machine. The decision to lease or to buy depends on the volume of work. Most small studios do not make as many copies as a normal business ofice. By leasing a machine with an option to buy, an artist can upgrade the machine and negotiate a new lease if new features are added to a copier. By leasing, an artist can usually take advantage of an existing maintenance agreement rather than having to purchase one.

Many small studios may not need a maintenance agreement, which is necessary if high-volume work is done (2,000 to 3,000 copies per month).

Lofaro says that the service contract for the first year was included in the price of his Mita copier. When he renewed it for the second year, the cost was $250. Because he is the only user of the copier, it does not get the workout of an office copier, so Lofaro did not renew the contract. The only service call it required cost less than the maintenance contract, according to Lofaro.

There are many types of copiers to choose from. These range from personal copiers designed for low-volume use at home or in a one-person office to laser copiers that rival offset presses.

The following features are some that artists should consider.

Reduction and enlargement capabilities

Artwork can be scaled according to need, often in 1 percent increments from 50 percent reduction to 200 percent enlargement. Zoom copiers have this flexible enlargement or reduction capacity. Other copiers can enlarge or reduce only at preset ratios.

Stationary or moving platens

The platen is the glass or copyboard where the original to be copied is placed. Copies with a stationary planet can copy larger originals than machine with movable planets that slide back and forth, carrying the original.

Oversized copies

Many machines can reproduce on paper as large as 18” x 24” or even 24” x 36”. Some use roll paper, vellum, and lightweight card stock.


Only the top end of the copier Ems pro-duce full-color copies. Most other copiers with color capability produce colors other than black when optional cartridges are put in the machine. Some can produce two-color copies, usually black with an additional hue.

Other Features

A growing line of machines can edit copy-changing the color of specific parts of the original or deleting them.

To follow is a sampling of copiers that may be useful to artists and agencies, Many of the prices quoted are the estimated base prices, without accessories. In this highly competitive market, prices may change suddenly, but all efforts have been made to provide accurate quotes at press time. Copier technology is rapidly advancing, and today's leader may be a standard model in a few months. If you are interested in a specific model, please check with your local sales representative.

Bruning A Division of AM Internat ional (407) 855-7121 7151 Lok. Elknor hive, Orlando, R 32809

The maker of the Bruning model 905 recommends it for technical illustration departments and advertising agencies. It reduces to 50 percent and enlarges to 200 percent in 1 percent increments. One unique feature is that it makes copies as large as 18" x 24" on bond, vellum, and polyester film. It also copies edge to edge. It retails for $9,950.

Canon USA, Inc. (516) 488-6700 One Canon Plaza, Lake Success, NY 11040


Canon's PC-7, a personal zoom copier, is run by a minicartridge that is good for about 3,009 copies with the black cartridge. The cartridges come in five colors: Mack, brown, blue, red, and green.

The copier enlarges up to 122 percent and reduces to 70 percent. It also has several preset ratios in between. It makes copies from originals up to 10" x 14", It has a stationary platen and copies onto any type of paper, including labels, transparencies, and colored stock. It costs around $2,095.


The Canon Color Laser Copier gives high-reso1ution reproduction of printed color materials, photos, 35-mm slides, or three-dimensional objects. It has over 611 color tone gradations and can make clear single-color copies in red, green, or blue, and in process colors magenta, cyan, yellow, or black. It reduces to 50 percent and enlarges to 400 percent in 1 percent increments. This copier is sold for $39,000.

Earstman Kodak Company (716) 238-0400 343 State Scmt, Rochoskr, NY 14650


The Kodak Ektaprint 90 copier handles paper up to 11" x 17". It reduces to 50 percent and enlarges up to 200 percent. It has a color accent option and can copy photographs. It sells for around $16,800.

The Color Edge copier gives full-caloz copies. It can turn black-and-white originals into color. It can create crisp, clear color transparencies and can enlarge 35-mm slides for full-color copies. It sells for $59,500.

The ColorEdge AC copier reproduces photographs beautifully, wing a built-in halftone screen. It prints with red, blue, yellow, green, brown, cyan, magenta, and black. It gives excellent color transparencies. It sells for around $54,000.

Konica Business Machine USA, Inc. (203) 683-2222 500 Day Hill Road, Windsor, CT 06095

Konica's 90 series copiers were named the "Line of the Yearn for 1988 by Buyer's Laboratory, Inc., the nation's largest office product testing laboratory.

The Konica 1503 ZMR Copier is a compact machine that can copy in red, blue, or green in addition to black. It reduces to 65 percent and enlarges to 155 percent in 1 percent increments. It has a mask-and-trim feature that ends cutting and pasting. It can copy onto mylar, transparencies, and labels in addition to regular bond up to 1 1" X 17". It costs $3,195.

Konica" 2290 Copier will print red, blue, or green on the same copy. It will copy in black with either red, blue, or green on the same side to highlight charts, graphs, and documents. It reduces to 50 percent and enlarges up to 200 percent in 1 percent increments. It includes mask-and-trim and dual-imaging features. This allows image from two different originals to be put into a single copy in one or two colors. The copy image can be shifted either right or left for bound or three-hole punched copies. Border areas and the center-fold mark can be eliminated when a bound volume is copied. This model, called an "out-standing performed' in Buyer's Laboratory's tests, sells for $5,095. Konica recently introduced the 8010 three color copier, which combines digital and laser technologies. 'The 8010's state-of-the-art digital and laser technology transforms copying into true-image-processing-in effect, creating new origi-nals," says Robert A. Radie, executive vice president for sales.


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