The thesis is an evaluation of preferred tone reproduction as a function of reproduction size. When photographs are reproduced photomechanically using the halftone process the main limitation in achieving a facsimile reproduction is the density range of the printing process. Because the printing processes normally used cannot achieve the same high density range as a photograph, tonal compression must occur. The manner in which the tonal compression is achieved has an important effect upon the appearance of the reproduction. The tone reproduction curve is a graphic method used to describe the relationship between the density of the original and the density of the reproduction. A variety of tone reproduction curves can be used to describe a variety of prints whose tone reproduction has been varied. Experimental work was conducted to determine if pre ferred tone reproduction is different for reproductions of varying size. Low key, normal key, and high key original photographs were reproduced using the halftone process with five variations of tone reproduction at a small, medium and large size. A group of twenty-one viewers was used to evaluate the reproductions. The results of the tone reproduction evaluation suggest that preferred tone reproduction varies relative to size primarily with low key scenes. To a lesser extent preferred tone reproduction varies relative to size with normal key scenes. There appears to be no difference in preferred tone reproduction relative to size with high key scenes. The results seem to indicate that with low key originals, viewers prefer small size (3" x 2 5/16") repro ductions with "open" or lower density midtones and shadows. At the middle size (8 1/2" x 6 5/8") , viewers prefer darker midtones and shadows, sacrificing some detail. At the largest size, viewers rated the reproduction with "open" shadows very poor while rating a reproduction with darker midtones and shadows as best. The reproduction with the darkest shadows, losing all detail, was rated the poorest. The only difference in preferred reproduction relative to size in normal key subjects was that at the smallest size the preferred reproduction was a curve that accentuates the contrast in the midtones. At the medium and large sizes the preferred curve was the curve that corresponds most closely to equal visual differences in brightness throughout the range of tones. This is similar to results obtained by Yule in previous studies. The preferred reproductions chosen when using a high key subject were very consistent from small to medium to large. The preferred reproductions for this subject were different than that for low and normal key scenes.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Photomechanical processes--Evaluation; Photoengraving--Halftone process--Evaluation; Color printing--Technique--Evaluation

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Print Media (CIAS)


Nelson, C.

Advisor/Committee Member

Noga, Joseph


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: TR975 .B465 1989


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