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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gesso resist papers

I really like the look of the background papers you can get using this simple technique. This is the same paper that I used for the background of the digital collage In the Shadow that I showed you in the last post. Depending upon how many layers you build up, the texture can end up being extremely complex for such an easy method! So put down some waxed paper, grab some white card stock, white gesso, large stamps and a few acrylic paints, and let’s go!

Here’s what the technique looks like close up. It’s hard to see in the following step-by-step pictures I took, so I wanted to make sure you could get a good look at the craggy surface you end up with. It’s great!


1. Draw lines, patterns, or use large stamps with white gesso on a piece of white card stock. Let it dry completely.


2. Paint the entire surface with a light colored acrylic glaze. I used Lumiere’s citrine. Before the glaze dries, wipe it off lightly with paper towels. See how the gesso acts as a resist, but not completely! That’s what you want…don’t scrub it all off.


3. Sponge on additional acrylic glazes (don’t apply solidly), and wipe off the excess of each one. I used Lumiere’s olive green.

4. If you want even more texture, you can allow the piece to dry thoroughly and then apply more gesso stamps to the surface. Repeat the painting process again…as many times as you wish!

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.



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Digital collage using scanned background papers

Today I want to look at how you can use the background papers we've been making for digital art. If you scan them before you cut them up for other projects, you can use them over and over. And you can modify them considerably too by using Photoshop or some other image editing software. Photoshop is the one I use, so the steps that I list below use its terminology. I’m sure you can make the adjustments for a different program if you fool around with it a bit!





These two digital collages were both made with the same basic steps. Even so, I have to warn you that there’s nothing mechanical about this process. Each digital collage presents its own unique set of challenges, and so there’s no way that I can tell you the exact values and settings I used and have them work out well for you. You’ll have to just take these steps and tweak them for each new piece that you work with.

1. Scan the background paper at 300 dpi and tweak it for color and value.

2. Open your collage images and make sure that they are also 300 dpi. Desaturate them. Using the marquee select tool, select and feather the objects you want to use and paste them onto the background paper.

3. Change the blending mode to overlay. Make a second copy on a new layer if needed, and choose overlay again. The second copy, if you use one will usually need to be at less than 100% opacity.

4. Add a layer mask to all layers that need one. Working mostly with a grey brush, blend the images together. Try for a misty, mysterious look.

5. Change the color saturation or work with a curves adjustment layer if desired.

6. Add any opaque images to the top of the layer stack to look like physically collaged on bits. Add a drop shadow.



In this piece, I ended up using the “hard light” blending mode instead of overlay. Like I said, you just have to tweak it a bit. Photoshop is a wonderful tool, and could easily take a lifetime to master!

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Making leaf silhouette paper, part 2

Just like last Technique Tuesday, I’m going to share the actual paints that I used to make this background paper, but please feel free to substitute as you wish!

1. Wet a heavy piece of watercolor paper. Again, I used 140 pound cold pressed paper.

2. Apply a thin glaze of Quinacridone burnt orange acrylic paint. Before it dries, apply a double layer of wrinkled white tissue paper all over the top. Wet it a bit in order to thoroughly attach the tissue to the base.

3. Spread thin polymer medium all over the top by hand. Let it all dry completely.

4. Sponge some Raw sienna around the piece.

5. Hold down leaves and sponge around them with full strength Quinacridone burnt orange. Dry thoroughly.

6. Wipe the top lightly with Quinacridone gold glaze.

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Making leaf silhouette paper, part 1

I want to show you the super-easy steps to making this stenciled paper. You can certainly use different colors than I did, but I’ve included them here for those who care :-)


1. Wet a sheet of heavy watercolor paper. I used 140 pound cold pressed.

2. Paint the entire sheet with a thin glaze of a medium color acrylic paint. I used Quinacridone burnt orange.

3. Before the glaze is completely dry, sponge with some darker colors. I used Permanent violet dark and Dioxazine purple.

4. Let the paper dry thoroughly.

5. Hold down leaves and sponge around them with Jenkins green acrylic. Let it dry completely again.

6. Wipe lightly with Quinacridone gold to pull all the colors together.


Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.



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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mixed paper collage backgrounds


Today, I want to take you through the simple steps involved in creating a multi-layered paper background like the one used in Margaret, shown above.



1. Choose a heavy substrate like watercolor paper, canvas, or matte board. Using gel medium, glue down many different types of paper, tearing and overlapping them. Do not wipe up excess gel medium that leaks out from beneath the papers. Let it dry thoroughly.

2. Using ink pads or a cosmetic sponge and thick acrylics, wipe colors over the tops of the papers. Use a fairly dry application so that the paint does not go on evenly. The excess gel medium will also act as a resist and give you more variation. Let the paints or inks dry.

3. Mix up a thin glaze color and apply it fairly evenly over the entire piece to pull all the papers together.

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Easy batik-style papers



I love the look of batik, especially the crinkley style where cracks in the wax allowed black dye to create a spiderweb pattern all over the cloth. Well, I’ve learned an easy way to simulate this look on paper. It’s messy, but not nearly as messy as doing real batik, with its multiple dye-baths.

1. Start by heating up some wax or paraffin until it’s completely melted. Heat at a low temperature since these materials have a low flash-point. I’d suggest keeping a fire extinguisher handy just in case. You can use craft wax if you want, but I just melted about 6 white tea candles.


2. While the wax is melting, paint your paper. Chose paper with long soft fibers, and avoid anything with a hard shiny finish. Dampen the paper with a spray bottle and paint as you desire. I used walnut inks, and then sponged on opaque yellow acrylic paint. Let it dry or speed dry with a heat gun. In the figure above, you can see that I added a few swooshes of wax before I remembered to stop and take a picture!


3. Dribble and brush the wax on both sides of the paper. Try to cover everything. The wax coating doesn’t have to be thick, but it does need to be thorough.
4. Crumble the paper to crack the wax once it’s dry. Warning: lots of wax flakes off, so do it over a trash basket, not over the sink like I did! I don’t think wax flakes are very good for the plumbing…


5. Sponge on thinned black acrylic paint. You can also use black ink or dye if you prefer, but I like the easy clean-up with acrylics. Blot up the excess paint with paper towels.


6. Iron out the wax by sandwiching the paper between layers of newspaper. Change the newpaper frequently until all the wax has been absorbed out of your piece.

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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