Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Duct Tape - Even Useful for Cardmaking

I ran out of plastic store brought metallic looking squares while make the last few copies of this card I previously posted. The craft store that sells them is 20 miles away and they aren't open late at night when I usually make stuff, so I made my own from foil duct tape. Here's the duct tape version.

I stuck the duct tape onto a thin sheet of paper to stabilize it first. It is too flexible and gets wrinkles in it too easily otherwise. Then I punched the remaining squares I needed with a 1/4 inch square punch and put some dimensional foam on the back. They don't have the domed look of the plastic but they get the job done.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Can colored pencils really look this good?

After having done all three coloring techniques I went back and revisted the color pencil and Gamsol technique to see if I could get something closer to the Copic image that had color everywhere instead just a fade to white coloring pattern. I had high hopes for it as cheap way to nicely color stuff for some other ideas I want to explore later.

I changed two things though this time. First, I used different colored pencils. I used Crayola Twistables I brought as a travel pencils a long time ago. These are basically durable plastic mechanical colored pencils for kids don't need a sharpener. The lead in them is softer or different somehow from the other ones I used because I get less pencil marks when coloring with them. The second thing I did was I remembered seeing something on the web in an art homework assignment that students where supposed to do blending without mineral spirits. So, armed with those thoughts, this was my attempt at getting a full color pencil/Gamsol image:

I used the 2 browns, red and a gray out of the Crayola set. There are only 24 colors so picking colors was easy. In order to get different shades of the same color, I put different amounts of pencil down. I only used the dark brown near the edges. I used a dry blending stump to blend and remove the pencil lines as much as possible. Dry blending alone will not get the look you see. Once I was done dry blending, I went back with a little bit of Gamsol on the blending stump and dissolved the dark brown line into the light brown, finished off the removal any more stubborn pencil lines and picked up a little bit of red from the tongue to use on the cat as pink.

I will say, like I said before, blending it takes a bit of work and finger pressure and learning so the technique may not be for everyone. The best way to explain this is I could sit there and color 30 images with Copic markers and not feel anything. This technique requires you to apply at least light pressure on the stump so I wouldn't do a lot of them at once.

I think the end result was worth it though.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wet Puppy Love or Color Techniques III

Here's puppy love done with watercolor pencils and a Dove blender pen on the same white paper as the colored pencil and Copic marker images. I don't have the exact same shades of brown to use, but you can see the effect. Click on the image if you want the colors or a larger picture.

Using the watercolor pencils and blender pen is all about laying down the colors with the pencils correctly. For this image, the shading on the cat mostly comes from a thin line of black I placed on the edges after I colored the main parts of the cat in gray. The shading on the dog was done by coloring the main parts of the dog in light brown and adding an edge of a darker brown and then an even darker brown near the border. Much like you would do with any other technique.

The upside to the technique is the colors blend fast and your pencil strokes disappear once you apply the blender pen and starting moving. Another plus is the blender pen only wets the top layer of paper so you don't get wrinkled paper. The downside is it didn't take too many strokes from the blender pen before the top layer of paper was coming up even with the lightest of strokes from the pen because it was wet. I was using 110 lb white paper not watercolor paper, but that was the point because watercolor paper is even heaver and has a distinct texture. This was unexpected because the paper doesn't come up usually if you use a brush.

I eventually figured out how much blending I could do with the pen before paper started collecting on it and learned to let the top dry and go back later if I missed a spot. It also took a bit of trial and error to figure out exactly much color to put down because that determines how dark or light your final image ends up being. My first attempt ended up being so dark in the one area I didn't bother finishing it. The cat is a good example area. Put a very light line of black around the cat and you can drag it to be nice shadowing. Put too much and you get a dark gray cat. With the Copic markers and colored pencils, you blend but you can't move the color nearly as far as you can with watercolors so overcoloring doesn't have as much of an effect.

I think you can see in the final image there was nice color blending but it ended up drying a little bit splotchy. Overall the technique is quick but it takes some practice to get proficient in putting down the right amount of color. I only got one shot at blending it before I was risking damaging the paper.

Up next, once I get a card design I like for it, will be take two of the Gamsol technique. I think I figured out how to a get a Copic like image out of it instead of just coloring the edges and blending to white.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Copic Puppy Love or Coloring Techniques II

Continuing the thread I started in the last blog post, here's the same stamp set colored with Copic markers on a new original card right next to the Gamsol coloring technique I did previously so you can see the difference in the results. I was inspired by the folding mechanics on the other card so the new one is a gatefold card that opens in the center but stays closed when the image is tucked behind the words. I also liked with the idea of making the card male friendly so I went with a male friendly blue base and some metal embelishments. Click on the card image to go to the website if you want details or bigger pictures.


You can see the colors in the Copic image are much richer and darker since you apply marker ink to the whole image. The coloring technique I am about to describe is not the official Copic technique, but it works very well for me. First I put down the darkest brown against the edges. Then I took a medium brown and colored/blended over the darker brown and extended the coloring into uncolored area some more. Finally I took the lightest brown I was using and colored over the entire area, both the previously colored areas and the white areas, pulling the colors over further but leaving part of the image with just the top coat on it. You need to do this while the other browns are wet to get the colors to blend together well. The one key thing I didn't do that you are supposed to do in the official technique is to color the entire brown area in the lightest color first and then add the other colors and finish with a top coat of the lightest color. This is supposed to help keep the area wetter longer but it also means you end up putting down two coats of the lightest color, which gives you a darker final color than you get if you just put down the top coat to get everything to the same tonal value. A lot of times, I want the lighter color because it offers more contrast and I can't get that if I follow the official method. I repeated the same three color process for the gray. The pink and red are just simply one coat coloring. The pink was applied over the gray.

How does this compare time wise? I think its fairly quick if you have good hand eye coordination and can move the marker around accurately because the ink flows very freely from a Copic marker. In fact, you need to be fairly quick about it because you want to apply the next lighter color while the other one is wet. Other than that you mainly lay the colors down over each other with a circular blending motion and then let it dry and the blending solution in the markers does the rest of the magic. It's hard to gauge when its wet because the colors will look darker wet than they end up when it dries.

How about physical effort? You sort of do the same circle blending techniques with the blending stumps in the Gamsol method but you have to put more physical pressure and effort in to get the blending effect with Gamsol where the ink flows from the Copic marker to the paper with slightest of contact pressure. After a while with the Gamsol technique, my hand needed a break from coloring but I could sit all day and color with Copics if I had enough things stamped out.

How does this compare cost wise? At a suggested retail price of $6.50 per marker, eight Copic Sketch markers cost more than the box of 24 colored pencils and a bottle of Gamsol and a pack of blending stumps and the stamp did combined.

As always, you can click on the card image to see the instructions for making it, including exactly which Copic marker colors I used. I haven't uploaded a new index yet so both of these remain exclusively accessible to blog readers right now.

Up next (week?), I'll do a watercolor pencil/Dove blender pen version of the puppy love image.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Consider Yourself Hugged or Coloring Techniques Part I

I didn't manage to get any new cards made this weekend but I did finish the web entries for one I made about two weeks ago. The layout and stamps are based on a card Inky Antics was doing for a make and take at a stamping convention this summer. They had one of the better make and takes that showcased a lot of the products they were selling. One of those was Gamsol, which allows you to color with colored pencils and then blend the colors together. You didn't get to do the actual coloring (time was limited) but you got a precolored dog image. It's a fairly inexpensive technique since you can get the big 132 color sets of colored pencils for just over $100 with a 50% off coupon so I wanted to try it.

I, of course, did not have any of the paper they used - just the stamps, blending stumps, the Gamsol and my completed sample so I went through the 12" x 12" stacks I had and found two papers that would coordinate well. Next I picked a base color and scallop color and got busy. It's not totally obvious from the pictures but the dog lifts up and the words go under him. It's really two cards that fold into each other. The bottom part folds down and you place it inside the dog card while slipping the dog under the scallop tag to close it. There is a picture of the open card on the website if that didn't make sense, just click on the card image to get the full directions. The directions are available exclusively from this blog entry for the next couple of days. Here are the two new cards:


Prior to blending I basically colored next to the black lines in the areas I wanted to be darkest. I used the blending stump, damp with Gamsol, to blend the color out into the white area. As you can see it does do a fairly good job of breaking down the colored pencil and allowing you to move it across the page and get a blended look. It didn't cause any visible paper damage either on the 110 pound Georgia Pacific white cardstock I used. The only real trick is I got the pink by blending the red tongue and using the residual color on the stump. Inky Antics' PDF explains Gamsol blending so much better with step by step pictures so click on the card image and go to the card instructions and then follow the link there if you want to read more about how to do it.

I like the technique's results but I did feel like it took a little more blending effort than other techniques. The technique is really set up to blend and create a gradient from dark to light like you see in the samples. I tried to color in some larger areas from another image but didn't have much luck in getting it to blend out the pencil marks. Part of the problem is the lead in the colored pencils I was using was very hard and it was difficult to get it to get this brand to go down evenly so I was hoping I could solve that with this technique but the color mostly stays where you put it in the first place.

Next up will one be of the following:
  • A Copic version of the same puppy love stamp on an original card layout, or...
  • A watercolor version of the same puppy love stamp and the Dove blender pen from another Make and Take, or...
  • A non blended colored pencil card puppy love?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Some simpler cards

Here's a new glitter butterfly design based on the gemstone stamp set that I used before. All you need is the stamp set, some paper, a good bottle of glue and some fine glitter.
From the days before I had copic markers and not quite as many stamps as I do today, here are two simplier cards that show what you can do with ribbon and the right peice of cardstock.
Here's another take on the idea but rotated 90 degrees and with a stamp added in the room that created.
Click on any of the images for more details.

Friday, July 9, 2010


There are lots of unfinished or sparsely populated areas on the website. One of those is the contest area. I had a bunch of great ideas and started building the section as challenges but that hasn't gotten very far because I don't get to stay at home all day and can't seem to get the winning lottery ticket I need.

So I have come up with a far less ambitious plan for 2010 called Christmas in July. The idea is simple - register as a public follower. The sooner you register the better your chance. Read the blog posts as they come out. I'll throw followers names in a post on occasion and if you notice your name shout out in a comment before the deadline and you can win one of the cards I've made and posted. At Christmas time there will be bigger collections of cards and maybe some other stuff. The sooner you sign up, the better your chance of winning and again, you will have to actually be reading the blog and shout out in a comment to win.

The RSS feeds are enabled so after you follow publicly you can subscribe to a feed and your browser will tell you when there is new stuff to read if you add the feed to your favorites bar. You need to follow publicly though (separate from the RSS feed) so you will be on a list I can use. If you follow privately or just get the RSS feed you aren't on a list the blog will manage for me.

All the details are on the new blog page you can get from the link at the top of every blog page and the follow and RSS links are over there on the right hand side if you want to participate.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Now serving gypsies!

I added the .gypsy file I made while creating this card
to the directions for the card. Each cut I did is on a different layer so if you have the Wild Cards cartridge and a Gypsy all you have to do is download it and part of the layout work is done for you.

I also added a .gypsy file to the Father's day card but after going back and looking at it there is only one layer in it so I guess I frog-got to save the others.

The band-aid card was just done with the keypad and auto-fill.

If you make a bunch of any particular card, one tip I have is to vary the starting position when you make the cuts. Instead of always following directions and putting the paper in the corner, if it's smaller than the mayt, start it an inch from the corner and then move the starting position of the blade before you cut. This way you don't start getting image ruts in your mat from cutting the same thing there over and over and you get to use more of the mat's adhesive.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Rubber!

I have been to two rubber stamping/paper crafting shows so far this summer and have picked up a ton of new stamps and a lot of unmounted rubber images that I had to stick on cling foam and cut out but got for about a third of what I would have had to pay if they were on wood. Ok maybe its gonna end being more like half by time I get more binders and add in the cling sheets for the binders but I could have never afforded this many images if they had been premounted on wood and its going to save me a lot space and they are real rubber. I love the acrylics for the same reason but rubber just seems to work well with any ink and the clear stamps are hit or miss sometimes.
I mainly got stuff that fit three main categories:
  • Really cool words
  • Images that can be colored
  • Images suitable for Flowersoft, usually in combination with coloring.
I'm not expecting to get a lot of cards done this month but using the new stuff is going to be the theme so it will be lots of coloring - Copic mostly but maybe I'll throw in new colored pencil and watercolor pencil techniques I learned at the shows.
I also have 24 older cards I scanned to finish putting online as well. Those might actually get some time this month. We'll have to see what I really feel like doing after putting in long days at work.
Here's a quick index view of the uploads since my last post if you haven't found them on the website already. Click on them to get the directions and larger views:

This butterfly escaped the last posting and was found in hiding.

He was not alone either.

Mostly Stampin' Up!, except the paper

New rubber and Copics!

Even the Cricut machine wanted to play with the new rubber!

More new rubber, sayings and Copics

New and old rubber, Copics and distressing for an any occasion male card.

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