Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy in the Moment

Hi - and Happy Memorial Day!

Today is a special day in the United States. This is the day that we honor our fallen men and women in service to our country. When I think about those who have fought for freedom around the globe, particularly those who didn't live to see that freedom for themselves, it reminds me how precious each moment of life truly is. Today I'm reminded that I should lay aside petty problems and just be happy that I can breathe, see, hear, taste, and feel. So, in honor of today, I offer this simple card:

Today's sentiment is from Stampin' Up. The flowers are also from SU!'s Playful Petals set. The oval rings are from an old set of pre-cut, purchased shapes. They are fastened together by a brad at the bottom end and fanned out. I used Versamark ink to stamp the flowers, and then used pastel chalks to color in the detail.

The two flowers are fastened together with a small blue button and white twine. I glued the ovals flat against the background, and popped up the flowers with Stampin' Dimensionals.  Finally, the contrasting paper on the lower half is edged with the Fiskars Sunburst border punch and mounted on brown cardstock.

Please remember to count your blessings today - and thank the families of those who lost someone in service. And even though it's a day for fallen heroes, please thank those who have served and are blessed enough to still be with us.

Thank you for visiting, and may God bless us each and every one.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dancing for 25 Years!

This week is a very special week in our family. My husband's sister is celebrating 25 years of marriage. Now, one might expect a more serious and romantic card, but when I saw this cute "couple" dancing, I knew this was for them! They always have such a fun-loving spirit.

For those familiar with this image, Dance Fever Digi by The Greeting Farm, you may realize that the male mouse doesn't actually have glasses. It was difficult to tell from the image though. The detail lines were just in the right place to put a pair on him, and that just happens to be the perfect look for my sister-in-law's husband.

While I've had the image colored for quite some time, I struggled for a while over the layout. Finally, I ended up chalking in a pastel flourish in the upper right corner to make a circular pattern from the image to the 25. It's just barely visible in the photo, but is a bit brighter on the actual card.

I also used Spellbinders' scalloped rectangles die cut, Heidi Swapp gold Color Shine mist, and a couple of Thickers numbers with silver Stickles on top.

Thanks for visiting, and keep on dancin'!  Please drop by again.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Triple Treat Border Punch

Hi. It's been very rainy here lately, which is really great for growing things of all sorts, but it does tend to dampen the spirit a bit.  Still, instead of letting the blah weather get me down, I decided to turn it to practical use!

Today I turned my Fiskars Sunburst border punch into a triple treat by using it three times to achieve a new look for a card. This whimsical image, titled "Drenched" is once again by From the Heart Stamps. I can't seem to get away from these adorable digitals!

I printed my image on Neenah Classic Crest solar white cardstock and colored it with Copic Sketch markers in primarily purple and yellow shades. I die cut it using Spellbinders Nestabilities Labels Eight. And although it's difficult to tell from this photo, I used Glossy Accents on the raindrops and water puddle for some shine.

On the inside, I repeated the Fiskars sunburst borders twice. I tried lining up the punches exactly, but decided the result was too formal for this image. This offset punch pattern reminded me a bit of a running stream of water between the yellow and white papers.

And that's it! I hope you like the look of my triple treat punch. Thanks for visiting, and please join me again soon. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Using a Digital Stamp for Copic Coloring - Inks and Papers

Hi. Welcome to today's post.

Today I'm wrapping up the project that I previewed last Friday: Humble Anneke. This sweet little girl just melted my heart when I first saw her. Anneke is a digital stamp by From the Heart Stamps.

For those who haven't tried a digital stamp, it's important to remember that the type of printer ink makes a difference in how your colored image turns out. Apparently laser printers are best when printing digital stamps for use with Copic markers - but I have an inkjet. I've successfully printed digital images and avoided any bleed-out of the image, but I've also had a few that weren't so successful. I've been told that either heat-setting the image, or letting it dry for a day or two, may help with this issue. Either way, I recommend giving it a try when you have time to test your papers and inks. (I have printed my images thus far on Neenah Classic Crest solar white card stock. The preferred "Blending Card by X-Press It" used by many Copic artists may work better. I haven't yet tried it for digital images, but can attest to its wondrous results for coloring!) 

I started the coloring process on Anneke with her hair. As you can see, her hair is long and wavy. Wavy hair is a bit more complex than straight hair – and requires a different technique. Each strand of hair should be colored separately. Strands that appear to be part of an outer layer will catch light and should be highlighted. Likewise, hair that curves outward will catch light. Artists typically use Copic marker numbers ending in 0-3 for highlights.  For this image, my highlight (base, or undertone) color is E31. The midtone is E35, and the darkest color is E37. This is a natural blending family.

After laying down a base of E31, I used a flicking method (from the crown down and from the tips up) to establish the dark colors with E37. Finally, I did minimal blending with the E35 midtone.

For Anneke’s skin, I chose E000, E21, E04, and BV000.  Yes, that’s right, there’s a blue-violet in there!  Why?  Because blue and violet are complementary colors to yellow and orange, the tone of most people's skin. The blue-violet helps to calm down the stark contrast in the shading.

Now, you may be thinking at this point that her skin still has some really serious contrast happening. That's true, and this is one of the scariest things about coloring with Copic markers until you get used to the idea of it. Most beginning artists over-blend and really tone down a lot of contrast. (And by the way, I definitely consider myself a beginning artist.) The hope, though, is that the greater contrast will add depth and beauty to the image.

The final steps were to finish Anneke's clothing and accessories. I chose two complementary colors: blue-violet and yellow. At long last, she became the focal point of this lovely card. I used Bazzill card stock, Spellbinders Nestabilities picot edge circles for the white background, Simon Says Stamps "You" set for the sentiment, and Mark Richards Crystal Stickers colored with Copic BV13 for embellishment. I hope you like my final result.

Thanks for visiting, and please stop by again for a brand new topic.  Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Using Masks to Test Color Options

Hi. Today's tip is really simple - but ultimately very useful.

Last Friday, I introduced you to Humble Anneke. As I worked to complete my project with Anneke, I had to make some decisions. One of them was about color.

I started with Anneke's hair and skin, and then progressed to her clothing. I knew I wanted a blue-violet "apron," as well as a contrasting yellow color. But when it came time to decide whether to use white for the main color and add yellow polka dots, or use a yellow base with white dots, or some other combination, I just couldn't decide.

Now, after you've spent a tremendous amount of time coloring, you don't want to mess something up and be unsatisfied with it! After a few minutes, the perfect solution came to me: test out the combinations before adding them to the actual image!

So, I pulled out my brand new, unopened Copic bleedproof marker pad and used a multiliner pen to trace the appropriate part of the image. I repeated this a couple of times. I colored the images with different color combinations and then fussy-cut them out. I placed the pieces on the image one at a time and chose my favorite one. Then I colored the actual image with my choice.

Testing color options using masks

Final color choice after testing

If you don't happen to have a Copic bleedproof marker pad, don't worry. You could just as easily use vellum to trace or stamp your image, then color and cut it out. Take care though; vellum may have some bleed through, and if you're tracing on your original image, you could ruin it.

My final color choice was slightly different from both masks. I ended up using a very pale yellow (Yellow Fluorite, Y0000) base, with darker yellow polka dots, sash, and bows (Y23, Y32, and Y35).

I also attempted to draw in a cast shadow to ground Anneke on the card stock, but had a bit of a mishap there. So, I ended up fussy-cutting her, too. As you might imagine, cutting out Anneke changed my idea for the card, so please be patient with me as I move toward a completed card. I'll post it just as soon as it's complete.

Thanks for visiting. I hope you find today's tip helpful, and I hope you'll join me again soon to wrap up this project. Peace!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Hello. Mother's Day has arrived once again, and I continue to be blessed to have my dear Mom in my life on this very special day. Mom, if you're reading, Happy Mother's Day, and I pray you have many more!

I also wish all other mothers a blessed day, as well.  I can't think of a more important job in this world than the one you have. You all are to be commended for pouring your heart and hands into your children's future. May they honor you in return now and in the years to come.

Finally, for those women who nurture their spouses, their pets, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, friends, or anyone else, your role is important, too! Please continue to offer your special brand of love, and you will surely be blessed.

Today I offer this card featuring a digital stamp called "Gathering Hearts." It's offered for download by From the Heart Stamps. It's a wonderful image to use with Copic markers. I promise to offer a coloring video in the near future, but for today I'll simply tell you the Copic colors I used for the various elements.

Hair:  E11, E18, E19
Skin:  E00, E11, BV00
Flower in Hair: Y11, Y19
Hearts: R29, R39, 0 Colorless Blender (careful: Reds bleed very easily!)
Dress: BG11, BG15
Pail: C1, C5
Shoes: C1 (shading only)
Grass: YG17, YG25

For anyone who wants a closer look:

This image is colored on Neenah Classic Crest solar white cardstock and mounted on American Crafts woven cardstock in robin's egg blue. The die cut is Spellbinders Nestabilities Decorative Labels Eight.

Thanks for visiting. Have a wonderful day - and may God bless!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Copic Coloring Guide: Level 3: People

Happy Friday! Thanks for joining me.

Today I want to share a Friday favorite! Several weeks ago, I purchased the Copic Coloring Guide: Level 3: People by Colleen Schaan and Marianne Walker. (I also own Level 1, but I'll save that for another time.) I must say that Colleen and Marianne have really outdone themselves with this book.

I am truly astounded at how much I've learned - and so quickly, too. With a focus on "people" one might expect to learn about skin, hair, and faces - and not much else. Not so! Those topics are covered in great detail, but there are so many additional helpful hints along the way that I will keep the book handy at all times as a reference.

I won't give away too much content here, as that would be unfair to the authors, but I can share a few favorite tidbits such as:

  • Always "light" a featured image from the face to give it importance; i.e. the face should be highlighted and the back in shadow - unless there is a specific artistic reason to do otherwise.
  • Skin tones change as people age. Babies and toddlers are the purest and have a pinker tone. Older people are more "pasty."  Oh my!  Sounds terrible, doesn't it? Well, don't worry. We older folks are still beautiful!
  • Don't use a colorless blender on a face; it can leave the image looking splotchy.
  • Most people color clothing/fabric in solid colors. Much clothing is patterned. Use advanced techniques to add patterns to clothing. (I'll feature this in a coming post.)

Finally, the Copic Coloring Guide has numerous colored card samples. All materials are listed. I have already discovered a number of new sources for digital stamps, which I find fascinating - and less expensive than other types of stamps.

Today's image is a work in progress. This is "Humble Anneke" by From the Heart Stamps. (See link at right.) I'm using stepped images, and today I have the hair complete. Here's a little preview of an upcoming post.
Thanks for visiting. Please join me again to see how Humble Anneke turns out.  May God bless!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Card Shape Matters - A Brief Postal Primer

Sometimes it seems that making a card is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out how much postage to use. Fortunately, the post office offers a lot of online help; all you have to do is decipher it!

I recently had a conversation with my local U.S. Postal Service mail design analyst, a gentleman I've worked with before. He was kind enough to help me through some of the basics that are everyday concerns for card makers.

Perhaps one of the most important things to learn is that card shape plays a major role in how much postage is needed. Mail pieces of one ounce or less that have the proper aspect ratio are machinable and the least expensive; i.e. they require a single first-class stamp. So, what's an aspect ratio?

An aspect ratio is a calculation to determine whether a mail piece fits size requirements. The aspect ratio is met if length divided by height is at least 1.3, but no more than 2.5.  (An envelope's length is considered the side that is parallel to the delivery address.)  For example, a 6" x 6" card does not meet the aspect ratio; 6" length divided by 6" height = 1.  A 6" x 6" card fails the aspect ratio and requires postage at the non-letter rate. (Because the rate may change from time to time, it is best to check the amount with your post office before mailing.)

A common finish size for card makers is 5.5" x 4.25", or half of an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of (folded) card stock. A standard A2 envelope for a card of this size measures 5.75" long by 4.375" high.  The calculation is 5.75" length divided by 4.375" height and the aspect ratio is 1.31.  Perfect!  (See example A below.)

But not so fast!  Take a look at what happens to the aspect ratio if the envelope is turned on its end. (See example B.)  A machinable (one-stamp) card suddenly fails the test (0.76) and requires extra postage.

The second consideration for postage is thickness. We card makers love to pop up our designs with dimensionals, but we need to be careful to stay below 1/4" thick. Anything more also requires additional postage.

Finally, our card thickness shouldn't vary more than 1/4" at any point. Designs that rise and fall more than that across the entire surface are not "flat" and therefore not machinable. They, too, require additional postage.

Here are a couple of helpful web links to the U.S. Postal Service:
A Customer's Guide to Mailing
Letter Pop-Up

Questions? Leave a comment and I'll try to find an answer for you. Meanwhile, happy mailing.

Thanks for visiting, and I'll see you again soon. Peace!