Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mixed Media - Copic Markers and Watercolor

Mixing media is all the rage these days, so my topic for today is mixing Copic Sketch markers and watercolor. I started with a lovely image from a practice exercise in the new Copic Coloring Guide: Level 4: Fine Details by Colleen Schaan and Marianne Walker. While I consider coloring the image a fairly advanced process, or at least labor intensive, the mixing of media itself is very simple.

There are a couple of things to know before you get into the video:
(1) I didn't focus on the coloring process today. I colored the main image in advance.
(2) I used X-Press It Blending Card as my paper stock. Blending Card is formulated for use with Copic markers, but doesn't necessarily handle watercolor very well. A nearly-dry aqua (water) pen is key to success.
(3) When mixing media with Copic markers, always do the Copic coloring first. Laying down color on top of another medium is not recommended and may not be successful.
Here's a photo I took in mid-process. Take a look at the differences between the left and right sides of the picture.  On the left side of the screen, the image has been stippled with three different colors of Copic markers.  (Stippling simply indicates random dots applied with the tip of my markers.) Then, I have scribbled a random line of watercolor pencil outside the male gnome's hat and body. Water has not yet been applied to the left side of the image.

Compare the left and right sides of the background image. A watercolor wash has been applied to the right side, providing a smooth, blended look.

On the right side of the screen, stippling has also been done. Watercolor pencil has been applied to the right of the female gnome's hat and body - and water has been applied with an aqua pen to provide a color wash. Notice the much smoother, blended look.

This process is very simple, but to get a better feel for it, here's a short video that shows how it's done:

Now that you've seen the process in action, take a look at my finished image (below). After shooting the video, and completely disregarding guideline #3 at the top of this post, I decided that I wanted more "pop" from the couple. To add dimension, I went back in with a Copic marker and outlined the outer edges of the image with a thin line of marker.  Note how much more dimensional they look with the final outline.

A final Copic marker outline was added to enhance dimension

Don't quite see it?  Squint your eyes and look again. You'll see a lovely, dimensional aspect that places the couple front and center in the image.

Well, that's it for today. I hope you enjoyed today's mixed media demo. Please join me again soon as we explore more artistic techniques. And may God bless!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: Copic Coloring Guide: Level 4: Fine Details

Have you ordered your Level 4 Copic Coloring Guide yet?  If you're serious about becoming a good Copic marker artist, and you don't consider yourself an expert already, then you really should buy this new edition! 

Here's why:

Earlier editions of the Copic Coloring Guide, while very good, were geared more toward the mechanics of using Copic markers for specific applications.  Level 1 focused almost entirely on learning the Copic numbering system, how to blend color, and other basic functions. Level 2 looked at coloring nature, and Level 3 was all about people.  All of them offered marvelous tips for improving an artist's coloring techniques. If you're new to Copic markers, they're a good place to start!

For the more advanced crafter, this 4th edition is taking us to a whole new level, with specific tips on how to reach "artist level" with our coloring. In fact, it goes beyond Copic coloring into how to use Multiliner pens and other mediums (Hmmm...should that be media?  Don't know.) to achieve more advanced results.

Here are some examples of what you'll find in this guide:

There's a huge emphasis on light and light sources. The authors, Colleen Schaan and Marianne Walker, begin with basic terminology you'll see throughout, and then provide tips on how to check images for contrast (the difference between light and dark values).  They offer step-by-step instructions on how to conduct a value study on an image - and provide illustrations of three different studies conducted on a single image, with the light source in a different place for each one. This provides a good visual of how the process works. They carry this idea throughout the book.

Once you have a good idea about how light works and affects your images, then you'll go on a visual journey that explains about shadows, undertones (and underpainting techniques), highlights, textures, surfaces, and more. Each page offers exercises for the artist to experiment with, and a bonus CD provides digital files of all the illustrations.

Once you have these basics in your head, you'll find another section of the book devoted to even more specialized topics.  Want to mix your own Copic colors?  The book will show you how. Want to enhance your stamped images with additional graphics, artistic shading or textures?  No problem. Ever wished you could place an image inside a scenic background on your card?  You can learn how here.

Well...I suppose I'm starting to sound like the book's personal salesperson.  Perhaps I am, but I really do like it that much.  If I can offer one bit of critical feedback, I would wish to know more about using the Copic airbrushing system.  There's a page or two devoted to airbrushing, but it doesn't really get into technique very much.

The final bit of good news is that the authors used a lot of familiar artists in the Copic world to create special projects for the book. You'll find projects from great Copic artists like Cindy Lawrence (whose card is on the front cover), Michele Boyer, Lori Craig, Melanie Holtz, Jennifer Dove (who made the card on the back cover), Jane Allen, Kathy Jones, Sharon Harnist, Debbie Olson, and of course, the authors themselves.

Each coloring project features a photo, step-by-step instructions, list of materials, and best of all, the maker and name of each stamped image. That's great, as I am particularly fond of a few of these stamps!

As you can see, I love the new Copic Coloring Guide, Level 4, Fine Details. In fairness, I should tell you that I was a blog hop winner for a free, autographed copy of this guide. One copy was given from each person writing for the hop, and I won the copy from Lori Craig at Split Coast Stampers. Thanks, Lori! Nevertheless, I can also say that I had the book on pre-order before winning a free copy, and my "win" did not affect my review of the book.

You can find this book at online shops like Annie's Attic (the publisher), Amazon, etc. For a quick find, look for ISBN 978-1-59635-575-0. Hope you enjoy it as much as I am!

Thanks for visiting.  Please stop by again soon! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Brayering - Quick and Beautiful


Today I have something new for my technique toolbox: brayering. When my friend Lisa came to visit, she brought her brayer, along with some lovely ink pads - and access to a YouTube video tutorial on how to make this gorgeous card.

Now, I was completely new to this technique, and I found it quite fast for the effect it achieved. The first task was to punch a circle mask and adhere it to the card stock where we wanted our sun.

Next, we cleared the table top to avoid ink splattering on any other papers, and then rolled the brayer over the first ink pad. We started with the lightest color first (Crushed Curry) and rolled the entire surface of the card stock (white). Then we cleaned the brayer and applied a second ink color (Dusty Durango), rolling horizontally to leave some of the light color at the bottom; we took the darker color (Bravo Burgundy) all the way to the top in successive rolls.  A few horizontal striations just above the mountains give you a sense that all was not perfectly blended. Still, the effect is not distracting.

The next step was to tear some scrap paper to form the mountains. This was placed on the image above the area to be rolled, and the bottom area was brayered in a brown color (Close to Cocoa) to form a mountain. We then moved the torn paper and slanted it a different direction to form a mountain range - and brayered once again.  I was really excited at this point, as this technique was pretty close to idiot proof! 

Once the ink had dried to a large degree, the sun mask was removed and a bit of additional color was sponged on the sun to match it to the rest of the card. Then, the reeds were stamped using Stampin' Up's Inspired by Nature stamp set. We used simple black ink (Tuxedo Black Memento), although we might also have used Versamark and then black embossing powder.

Finally, a number of birds were drawn in with a black Sharpie pen. This was a fun finishing touch, as we were both able to decide for ourselves where our birds wanted to fly! The whole image was layered with a light-colored mat (More Mustard) card stock, and then taped to Bravo Burgundy.

It seems to me that it took longer to type this post than to make this card! So, never believe that beautiful has to mean complicated or lengthy. I'm very pleased with my result, and I will surely use this technique again.

Please also drop by my friend Lisa's blog to see her matching card. Lisa loves to scrapbook and has become a real YouTube sensation!

Thanks for stopping by today.  I hope you'll join me again.  Blessings to you and yours!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Postage Tips for Non-Standard Cards

Hi. One of my first posts for this blog was called Card Shape Matters - A Brief Postal Primer. In that post, I talked about card size and how the U.S. post office determines the postal rate. I also talked about the aspect ratio formula to figure out whether a card needs extra postage.

Today, I visited the post office and received additional information.  The card I mailed today is from yesterday's post. It is 6x6 in size and features a paper flower with an inflexible center. The postal rate was 86 cents; here's why.  First, the card weighed 1.1 ounces, which exceeded the 1 ounce limit for regular postage; that cost an extra 20 cents.

Second, the card was non-machinable for two reasons: (1) It didn't meet the aspect ratio of 1.3 to 2.5 (length divided by height); and (2) the inflexible element of the flower would have created an issue if it went through the postal machines.  Although there were two issues here, non-machinable was non-machinable, so there was a single extra charge of 20 more cents.  Total?  First class postage of 46 cents, plus 20 cents for over 1 ounce, plus 20 more cents for non-machinable. Total postage was 86 cents.

Now, don't get me wrong; I didn't mind the extra postage. The important thing here is that if I hadn't gone to the post office, my recipient may not have received my card at all - or might have received it postage due.  I most definitely would have been short by at least 20 cents. Either way, that would have been bad.

Today's experience simply reinforces the fact that it's best to know the regulations. It also says that if you're interested in only regular first-class postage for your cards, stick with standard size envelopes and flat, flexible cards that can go through the post office's automated sorters.

So, how do YOU spell "dimensional"?  Ha-ha! Give me layers or just forget it!

Thanks for stopping by, and join me again for more card making and scrapbooking creations. May God bless!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Colorful Day

From the Heart's July stamp and sketch of the week challenge are so much fun that I just sailed right through getting them done. Now, for anyone who knows me, you know that's extremely unusual! In fact, I've already completed two cards with this adorable digital stamp. My first card is for weekly sketch challenge 025. It's a 6" x 6" card.

FTH Sketch025 Challenge
For those who'd like to play along with the sketch challenge, here's the link. You can also find the painting ladybug digital stamp here. Projects for the stamp of the month challenge must be uploaded by the end of July.
Here's the second card project, which is a traditional sized 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" card. I've included a close-up of my coloring with Copic Sketch markers.
Ladybug is about to add red to her flowers

A "colorful" card for a colorful friend
For those interested in the mechanics of the coloring for this card, I used the following colors: R29, R39, C5, and C9 for the ladybug. For the flowers, Y0000, Y11, and Y13. The painted dots are V000, V01, and V05 (violet); B11 and B15 (aqua); and RV02 and RV04 (pink). The paint brush is E31, Y28, and W1. Grass and leaves are YG00, YG17, and YG25.  Finally, the sky is B21 and B24.
My base card stock for the challenge (6x6) card is Bazzill Sunbeam, and the smaller card is American Crafts Sunflower. Both use X-Press It blending card for the colored image. The die cut circle is picot edge circles from Spellbinders.
The "Life is Fun..." sentiment is Simple Thoughts - Laughter from Cloud9 Design. The "wishing you a colorful day" sentiment comes with the ladybug image from From the Heart stamps.
I hope you like this whimsical image and my use of it here. Thanks for stopping by, and please join me again.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Scrapbooking Life in Greenville

Scrapbooking became a major hobby for me many years ago, but in the last couple of years I took a break from it and started making cards. This weekend, the pendulum swung once again! My dear friend Lisa came to stay with us, and she helped me enter into the more modern age of building pages of memories.

Today's offering isn't earth-shattering, as its construction is quite simple, but it makes me very happy. My subject matter for today is my dear hubby, James.


Scrapbook pages don't have to be extraordinary or unusual. Those that capture everyday life "just because" can become some of the dearest ones of all.  Here I've depicted James engaged in some of his normal activities. He loves to read the morning comics and enjoy a good cup of decaf, shop the local farmer's market, play baritone in the local community band when he can, and he sometimes picks me up from work (along with our sweet little wiener dog).  Not all of these things happen every day, but they are all a part of his life and keep him occupied while I'm at work. Naturally, there's much more to learn about James that is quite extraordinary (Really!), but it will keep for another day.
This page works very well compositionally. What does that mean?  I have two pictures with my husband facing right, and two pictures with him facing left. By placing the photos so that my husband's face is always looking "into" the page, viewers are directed to do the same. If I had placed the photos on the opposite sides of the page, Jim would have been looking "out and away," and this would have been very distracting to anyone viewing the page.
Finally, my page construction is quite simple. It was constructed on plain white 12x12 card stock, and has four 4x6 photos, two vertical and two horizontal, that form a perfect square. Each photo is matted on a piece of colored card stock, and the page title takes center stage. I used an assortment of different letters (whatever was available), and the word "life" is prominent in red Thickers. I've handwritten captions around the edges of the photos and added a die-cut flower embellishment between each one.
Well...thanks for stopping by. It's an honor to have you here, and please do come again. Coming review of the new Copic Coloring Guide Level 4: Fine Details.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Crafting Pair

How fortunate I have been this past week to have my dearest friend with me to celebrate Independence Day - and crafting. We had three full days to complete both scrapbooking and card making projects. We might have done more, but we also went craft shopping and enjoyed my husband's 4th of July band concert in the park!

Lisa and I completed these scrapbooking and card making projects in just three days!

Lisa brought these beautiful red, white, and blue flowers from her garden at home

Tar River Community Band performed at the Farmville Town Commons in an evening concert on the 4th of July

Lisa and I have been great enablers over time. I got her into scrapbooking many years ago when I was a Creative Memories consultant.  Then, she became a Stampin' Up demonstrator and got me into card making.  Somewhere along the way, we switched!  This weekend reminded me, though, how much I love to put scrapbook pages together and capture slices of everyday life.  Over the next week or so, I'll be highlighting some of these projects in more detail.

For now, though, I'd like to talk about what makes these crafting events so special. First, I get to spend quality, one-on-one time with my best friend of many years. We talk and catch up on what's going on in our lives while we work. Sometimes we say nothing at all, and that's just as relaxing.

Second, we use each other's tools and supplies. Lisa brings new papers and inks, as well as stamps and tools I may not have. Then she checks out what I have that she hasn't used before. She also makes good use of my Big Shot and dies. Each of us stamps or cuts a supply for later use.

Next, we try out new techniques together. We either try something totally new for both of us, or one teaches the other how to do something specific. This week, I showed Lisa how to make an easy easel card, she showed me how to lay out some scrapbook pages, and we learned the brayer together. We both walked away with some new skills in our toolbox.

Meanwhile, my wonderful husband supported our fun by cooking for us and taking a few photographs here and there. God bless him!  We were able to leave our work in a dedicated crafting space, so no worries there either.

Crafting together this way is always a really enjoyable experience. We set aside time for it - and then follow through. It's a stress-free experience, and we both end up with lots of finished (or well underway) projects in a short amount of time. What could be better?

If you haven't tried crafting with someone dear to you, I highly recommend it. I'm already looking forward to the next time we get together.

Thanks for dropping by today, and I hope to see you again soon with some new scrapbook and card projects. May God bless and keep you!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Rose Blooms in Summer

One of my favorite stamp sets is Fifth Avenue Floral from Stampin' Up. My favorite stamp from the set is a beautiful rose. It's taken me quite some time to figure out how to color it with Copic markers, but I'm getting better now, I think.

I thought it might be interesting to see the progression of how I colored the rose to make this colorful birthday card. I hope you enjoy seeing it come together.

Here is the uncolored stamped image:
The uncolored image provides very little dimension. If we've seen a rose, we know of course that it has a number of layers and delicate textures. In order to start providing some of that dimension, I began the coloring process by underpainting the image with a neutral gray color (Copic N2).
Already, it seems the rose has become multi-layered. The underpainting provides just enough contrast to start showing layers - and also serves to provide some guidance about where shadows will fall in the finished image. In this case, the light source is assumed to be coming from the front right of the image. All shadowing should be consistent with that light source.
Now the rose is a beautiful pink (R81 and R85). Areas that were previously underpainted in gray have now been accented in a dark pink color. Some blending of color has been done, but dark areas continue to be dark. The rose continues to have dimension, but it is once again unclear where the light source is. Additional work is needed to restore a sense of light.

The final bit of "coloring" is shown in the image above. Actually, this effect was achieved by using the colorless blender marker (0) to move color around on the rose petals. Some people erroneously believe that the colorless blender marker removes color from an image; this is not true. The colorless blender simply moves color away from the marker tip to surrounding bits of the image. It is then important to do further blending to avoid dark lines where the ink has moved.

Finally, one last technique was used to bring dimension to the rose. The final image is actually two roses that were colored identically and then cut apart. The center and outer edges of the rose were cut from image 1, and then the middle section of the rose is from image 2. The pieces were then re-assembled using foam dimensionals to pop each piece up from the surface of the card.
The card uses Bazzill cardstock, Spellbinders ticket die-cut in two sizes, Mister Huey honeydew misting spray, and Heidi Swapp's 6x6 lattice spray stencil. Finally, the birthday greeting is from SU!'s Itty Bitty Banners. 
I hope you enjoyed this brief explanation of how this lovely rose bloomed this summer. Thanks for stopping by, and stay tuned for some scrapbooking fun!