Dover CD-ROM and Book

Text Box with description of Book

This has got to be one of the most interesting and beautiful clip-art CD-ROM collections I own. The entire original title is Fishes, Crayfishes and Crabs: Louis Renard's Natural History of the Rarest Curiosities of the Seas of the Indies. I haven't been able to find much on him personally, at least not in English, but apparently this was originally published in two volumes in 1719. However, most of these are decidedly unnatural ! "Fanciful" truly fits the bill. While the shapes are recognizable for many of these creatures, the colors and other details are whimsical, even comical. Google Books says it was dismissed in the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries "because of its apparent embellishment, exaggeration, and even falsification." Well, yes, I can understand that if one is seeking to use these illustrations scientifically. But artistically—Oh my!—they are simply gorgeous decorations. I bought the volume specifically for my Cross-Reference/Resource Index Page on Aquatic Plants and Animals, but I'm sure I will use it for many other projects.

The acquisition of this collection also triggered another milestone for my website. Because most Dover clip-art is surrounded by a white box, one needs a tool to remove it. As far as I can figure out, there is nothing on Dover's image software program, the Dover Design Manager that enables one to extract an image from the white background. I have struggled with this for two years, but these fish were the final straw. Fish do not swim in little white boxes, so I finally broke down and downloaded GIMP onto my computer. I've had their website on my favorites bar for two years, but I also knew that it would become a project of the same magnitude as learning code, because in order to master it, one must devote time and energy. The first thing I learned to do was to remove the white background from images. It took me two days to figure it out. You can read about it here.

Renard's original collection contains 460 images. 261 are included here. This is a smattering of what you will find. Incidentally, the images on this CD-ROM are in TIFF format only, so they are huge. I have reduced these to 16% except for the last one which was reduced to 8%. Also, they are all facing left. The ones in the second row, plus the first and third in the bottom row, have been flipped horizontally. Except for the removal of the white background, the other modifications may be done directly on the Dover program.

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Aren't they adorable? Enjoy!

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