Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Service manual illustrator?

This past weekend, Kyle and I put some handlebar risers on my bike. Since it involved taking some stuff apart, I decided I had better take some pictures so I would be able to put it back together. I like the way some of the pictures turned out, except I wish I had dusted the bike off before taking them.

This picture shows where the front brake line that comes down from the handlebar gets split to go to the two front disk brakes.

I got to wondering, "Could I make money taking pictures as illustrations for service manuals?" So I looked at some service manuals. The first thing I noticed is that my pictures would have to be black and white. I can do that.

Converting to B&W is easy enough.

Even in B&W, though, my picture didn't match the quality of those in the typical manual. So next I tried reducing the contrast and compensating for that by making the picture too bright.

A little less contrast, a little more brightness.

That still didn't do enough, though, so I threw in a little graininess.

The graininess is subtle, but it has a noticeable effect on the amount of eye strain felt when trying to pick out details in the photo.

I had come a long way, but it seemed that I still had a long way to go. I wracked my brain trying to figure out what I was missing. Then, in a forehead smacking moment of insight, I realized what I was doing wrong. My picture was much too big. So I tried scaling it down to a better size, then threw in another dose of graininess (you can never have too much graininess in a service manual illustration), and voila.

Now we're talkin'!

I think I'm ready.


P.S. This post is not intended to poke fun at Kawasaki service manuals. I don't think I've ever even seen a Kawasaki service manual. It's just about service manuals in general, which seem to be designed to frustrate rather than assist.

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