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“That’s not Mona Lisa. What Mona Lisa are you talking about?”

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For the purposes of this blog, the thought and planning that went into creating the iBook, Cleaning Mona Lisa
written by the noted art historian, Lee Sandstead, is especially important. The story of creating the book describes the elements of the book, how it was organized, and put together is an instructive road map for any author who wants to create an enhanced, interactive e-book.

Todd Olson,Todd Olson of Tapity the publisher of Cleaning Mona Lisa says the process of creating an iBook is like making a movie.

“When we started the project, we created what we called a “script” that took Lee’s text and described how the various interactive elements would interplay with each page of text. But I did not take the script metaphor too seriously at the time. Now that we are done, I realize that the script we made was very much like a screenplay. It is divided into sections and pages (like acts and scenes), and each scene includes descriptions not only of the text (dialog), but also of what images, videos, interactions should be provided to support the text (the set, extras, special effects, etc.). As in a good screenplay, all of the elements should work together to tell the story.”

“So creating a fully interactive iBook is more like making a movie than anything else I can think of. You are telling a story with lots of different kinds of assets at your disposal. With a movie, you have a screenplay, then actors, dialog, sets, props, musical score, special effects—and a movie editor to put it all together. With an iBook, you have a script, then text, fonts, layout elements, videos, images, interactive widgets—and a layout editor to put it all together.”

Described by MacStories — “Cleaning Mona Lisa: Showcasing the Potential for iBooks” Cleaning Mona Lisa

Behind a beautiful portrait of Mona Lisa and a blue ribbon denoting its newness to my iBooks shelf, I discovered a world of rich and vivacious color drowned out by the ill effects of aging varnish, dust, and improper lighting. Restoring the world’s most famous paintings requires not only an understanding of the fine arts, but an even deeper understanding of the tools artists used to create the wildly vivid and awe-inspiring paintings we often observe in museums and art galleries. As you’ll come to learn in Lee Sandstead’s interactive iBook, preserving a painting is an art itself.”

“Sandstead’s 30-page digital iBook is nothing short of an exemplary example of what iBooks Author can produce when great minds meet great developers. The concise text, coupled with interactive images, galleries, and interviews, provides a much more personal platform for learning and engagement than my history textbooks ever could. That’s not to say “Cleaning Mona Lisa” was written for study — it’s an intriguing, personalized story from a passionate and talented art historian.”


As Patrick Jordan states in ipadinsight, “Cleaning Mona Lisa a Great Example of How Good iBooks Author Can Be,”

“Sandstead talks about his feelings of disappointment when he first got to see the Mona Lisa, and how his reaction to the works of other greats at other museums was similar – and how through years of research and understanding he came to learn of that dirty secret. The imagery in the book is striking and perfectly demonstrates how much of the true colors and impact of oil paintings can be lost when they are not properly preserved. The images and accompanying text go into great detail about the factors that affect how images look when displayed in museums, and the methods used to clean and maintain them, both good and bad.”

Cleaning Mona Lisa iBook

There’s an interactive image that lets you tap to see areas of Mona Lisa that have been hurt by improper cleaning – including her eyebrows being removed.”

There are little popover Q&A sessions with a few leading painting conservators who describe their work. It’s fascinating to learn how proper restoration methods can bring back great works to their full original glory.

“The book is also full of excellent examples of images that have been digitally cleaned – the before and after images of these are hugely impressive, like these of John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shallot:”

“Another great interactive element is a page where you can simply rub areas of an image to show the effects of digital cleaning.”

“There’s also a Digital Restoration Gallery at the end – a series of 20 paintings the author has digitally cleaned. Each image is shown initially in its ‘before’ state and a single tap on it reveals its appearance after digital cleaning.”

Vesuvius before

Vesuvius after


As outlined in the Purpose Page of this Blog:

1. Fine Art in the New Media is that it should be accessible, so that, “There’s [virtually] nothing between me and my Leonardos.”

2. Fine Art in the New Media should be interactive.

3. Fine Art in the New Media should be viewer directed. “I want to see what I want to see.”

4. Fine Art in the New Media should be able to be manipulated, which enables the viewer to use their creativity. to examine, adapt, and experiment with the art.

5. Fine Art in the New Media should be comparative, enabling the viewer to array pictures from different museums side by side to study technique, execution, and genre.

6. Lastly, Fine Art in the New Media should be able to be viewed as a continuum of man’s effort at visual expression.

This book accomplishes all of the objectives of Fine Art in the New Media. Its features, artistic, interactive, scholarly, creative, and organization are exemplary, and puts mainstream e-book publishers on notice as to what the standard for interactive e-books should be.

As Brian M. Wolf stated in Appadvice,

“The e-book includes photographs of some of the world’s most recognized paintings, all in high resolution. In addition, “Cleaning Mona Lisa” includes engaging videos, interviews with many of the world’s most prominent museum conservators, and most impressively, interactive paintings.”

Cleaning Mona Lisa, by Lee Sandstead, is available through the Apple iBookstore for $4.99.


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