Visible transmission imaging of watermarks by suppression of occluding text or drawings

Pablo Ruiz*, Olivia Dill, Goutam Raju, Oliver Strides Cossairt, Marc Sebastian Walton, Aggelos K Katsaggelos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Historical paper often contains features embedded in its structure that are invisible under standard viewing conditions. These features (watermarks, laid lines, and chain lines) can provide valuable information about a sheet's provenance. Standard methods of reproducing watermarks, such as beta-radiography and low-voltage x-rays, are costly and time intensive, and therefore inaccessible to many institutions or individuals. In this work we introduce an inexpensive prototype whose elements are a light table and a consumer-grade photographic camera. For a given document we acquire an image with light emitted by a light table passing through the document and two images of the front and the back side with ambient light. The images are then processed to suppress the printed elements and isolate the watermark. The proposed method is capable of recovering images of watermarks similar to the ones obtained with standard methods while being a non-destructive, rapid, easy to operate, and inexpensive method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00121
JournalDigital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Image processing
  • Registration
  • Scattering
  • Visible light
  • Watermark extraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Computer Science Applications

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Visible transmission imaging of watermarks by suppression of occluding text or drawings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this