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Hi, I'm Cyndi, and I've been writing and updating  Mixed Media Artist since 2005.  If you're a new visitor, welcome! Come tr...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Polymer medium transfer film technique


There are so many ways to transfer images to your collages, altered books, and other mixed media projects. Every artist has favorites, and I thought that I would do a series of tutorials for you on the 7 methods that I like the best. I invite your input and comments during this short series: please share any additional tips that you can think of, your favorite products, your successes and failures. Or send me pictures of your work using transfers!

Polymer medium transfer films are fun to use in your work. Since they need to dry overnight, it’s a method that you can’t use when you’re in a hurry. But it’s a great method for preparing batches of images to store for later use. Magazine images and fully saturated printouts work well, and the process will not reverse the image, so writing can be included. Store them between sheets of parchment, freezer, or waxed paper.


1. Liquid polymer medium (the gloss style) works best for this technique. Use a sponge brush and apply 5 thin coats of medium, alternating directions of application and letting each coat dry thoroughly. Be very careful not to bubble the medium if you use a heat gun to speed the drying time. Personally, I don’t recommend it.


2. Let the image dry overnight. This part of the process really can’t be rushed. The medium needs time to absorb the inks and dyes.

3. Soak the image in water. If you’ve used a glossy magazine image, let it soak a good long time. Turn the image over and gently begin to rub away the paper from the back. Hot water will help the paper break down more quickly, but it also softens the image, leading to distortion if you are not careful. (You can use distortion to your advantage if you want though!) Cold water stiffens the polymer film back up. I find that alternating hot and cold works best for me. It will probably take several passes before all the paper has been removed. Once the film dries, you can see where more paper is still clinging. During this part of the process, the image turns milky. Don’t be concerned; it will dry clear again.

4. Use hot water to soften your image if you want to deliberately stretch and distort it now. Let the image dry thoroughly before using it in your work. You can store images for future use as mentioned above.


5. Apply a layer of polymer medium where you wish to position your image, and place the image with the ink side down. Since the image itself is also polymer medium, this creates a complete bond. Work out any trapped air bubbles. You can always stick them with a pin later, but it’s usually easier to deal with it now. If the image is too shiny for your liking, top it with a thin layer of matte medium and let it dry.

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, February 20, 2007

Adding an embossed layer to your photos



Here are two of my photos that show ice just in the beginning phases of crystallizing on a local pond. Since the patterns the ice was forming were so subtle, I decided to add an embossed layer to each photo with Photoshop to enhance that effect.


1. Here’s a close-up shot of some of the detail from one photo. The resolution of our computer screens is very low, so you’ll have to take my word for it that the photo is much clearer and sharper in person!


2. Use the layer palette in Photoshop to add an embossed layer. Copy your image and desaturate it. Go to filter>stylize>emboss, and choose your settings. I usually use a couple of pixels for height at 500%.


3. Change the blending mode to “overlay” and play with the opacity slider until you like the effect. I’ve used approximately 40% opacity here. I don’t know that you can really see the difference in these low-resolution photos or not. But play with it in Photoshop or your favorite imaging software and I promise you will see a big difference!


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, February 13, 2007

Multiply your color options


With Photoshop or other image-altering software, you can easily change the color of a background piece that you’ve made. This raises all kinds of interesting possibilities for digital mixed media work. One of my favorite techniques, which you’ve seen many times now, is to collage or paint a background, scan it, and then add digital elements to it. Even when I end up using the actual background piece in a physical art project, I’ve still got the scan to use as many times as I wish.

There are many ways to achieve the same effect in Photoshop, so I’ll explain one easy method for altering the color of your scanned background. I'm going to use Francis, Walter, and Grace, shown above, as an example.



1. This is a piece of Lutradur which I painted with acrylics, stenciled, and stamped with black ink. Lutradur is a non-woven polyester fabric used in the automotive industry. It’s incredibly tough and stiff but has a soft surface. It can be melted to create wonderful organic shapes or to have uneven edges.


2. I scanned a vintage cabinet card of three children that I wanted to use with the lutradur background. Using the “color pick” tool, I chose a medium-light sepia from the card.


3. Create an empty layer in the layers palette above your scanned background. Use the fill tool to color it with the hue that you picked from the cabinet card. The new layer will obscure your background completely, but when you reset the blending mode to “color”, the original background shows through in its new color pattern. Another easy way to alter the color is through the “colorize” option in the “hue/saturation” box, but I prefer this extra layer so that adjustments may be made directly to the color without affecting the image beneath.


4. Make an oval vignette from the cabinet card image and desaturate it. Resize it as needed, and drag it to the scanned background.


5. Experiment with blending modes to get the look you want. Most of the time I use either the “overlay” or “hard light” mode. For this piece, I made a double layer of the children, reducing the opacity of the top layer to 30%. I also filled the top layer with the same color picked in step 2.
6. Tweak the image as needed, blending edges between the images. Use layer masks as needed. For a final step, I used the “eraser” tool around the edges and placed the image on a white canvas background.

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, February 06, 2007

An encased collage


Have you ever had the experience of getting your collage papers laid out just the way you want, and then when you have to lift them to apply the glue, you just can’t seem to get them to go back the same way? I hate it when that happens! Casting about for a solution, I came across Jonathan Talbot’s collage method. I highly recommend buying his collage book: Jonathan is a tremendously talented and generous man, and he has packed this small instructional manual with years worth of his own experience.

I have borrowed from Jonathan’s method to create this encased collage. It’s also a very handy method to have in your repertoire when you want to deal with delicate, old, or crumbly papers. It seems at first like you are spending forever on the prep work. Well, it takes about the same amount of time as a traditional collage, except that the major time is spent on the front end instead of in the adhering process. Try this method and see if you like it! You may never go back to traditional collaging again!


1. Use thin polymer medium to coat the substrate and each of your papers on both sides. Don’t worry about curling…the papers will flatten out when you coat the second side. I used heavy watercolor paper as a substrate.

2. Arrange. Here’s the good part: they stick to each other and to the substrate, but can be carefully peeled up and rearranged as many times as you wish.


3. Iron, using parchment paper. Here’s the next good part: you don’t have to lift and glue pieces in place, guaranteeing that once you’ve got them placed, they’ll stay there!

4. Even now, if you’re not 100% happy with your arrangement, you can iron and peel while the piece is still warm.


5. Add color glazes if desired.


6. Cover the entire piece with matte medium to seal all the pieces in.


I used this background collage to create this finished piece, Dreaming of June.

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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