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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...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Making a layered digital collage

I truly hope that no one finds this offensive! Around Christmas this past year, I was really missing my son. He was my first born, and his birthday is December 29. Now that he’s a married man, we can’t expect to see him every Christmas anymore, but this was our first time without him.

As I was reading some of the traditional scripture passages for Christmas, I came across Isaiah 9:6. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…” It struck a chord with me in a new way this year, as it most likely did the year he was born. Maybe not, maybe I was too busy at that time!

Anyway, I decided to make a simple layered digital collage using a picture of my newborn in my arms. It helped :-)

I’ve previously shared my technique for creating digital collage using scanned background papers. For this specific collage, I used four layers:

1. The background layer is a piece of watercolor paper textured with gel medium and cheesecloth that I painted and scanned. I altered the colors in Photoshop to suit this particular piece.

2. The middle two layers are the same shot of the Rocky Mountains, applied in overlay mode and merged into a single layer. I erased and faded the edges to merge the image into the background.

3. The top layer is a very faded oval selection with feathered edges from a photo of me holding my newborn son. When I placed it on top of the layer stack in Photoshop, there was too much light under some spots on our faces. So I went back into the middle layer, darkening and blurring those spots.

Copyright 2008 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, March 18, 2008

Making an organic collage

Last week I showed you the first half of my experiment with the heavily textured collage papers that I made, which was a geometric collage. This week, it’s an organic collage, which emerged when I tore up the papers that were left. This one is called I Sing for Joy:


Just like last week, I started with a masonite board as my substrate.

1. Paint the edges and top of the masonite with black acrylic.

2. Tear up some large and some small pieces of textured collage papers and foil. The tutorials to make the ones shown in this piece are here and here.

3. Mix your torn pieces with some that are cut straight if you’d like.

4. Arrange and rearrange until you’ve got a composition that you like with the papers. Use polymer medium to adhere them to the masonite and to each other. Cover the piece, weight it, and let it dry.

5. I added a piece of cork lightly painted with the same citrine color as I used on the ripped edges. I also added a silk leaf that was enhanced with the same colors of acrylics.

Copyright 2008 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, March 11, 2008

Making a geometric collage

Back in January, I shared a batch of collage papers with you that I made which stressed the textures. They used a limited number of colors so that they’d all work together well in future projects. Well, the time has come! I decided that I wanted to do a bit of an experiment and do two projects: one very geometric and one very organic. I like both ways of working, so it seemed most sensible to do the geometric one first. That way, I could just tear into my papers afterwards and not have to worry about whether I’d left enough to make the shapes I needed.

Here’s the first result, called God’s Gifts


To prepare, gather up the collage papers you have on hand, or make some. There are tutorials for my papers here and here, among other places on this blog! I used a piece of masonite board as the substrate for this collage. I love how strong it is, preventing warping when you’re using heavily manipulated papers like these.

1. Paint the sides of the board with black acrylic or black gesso.

2. Choose one of your papers for the background. Cut it to size and adhere it to the masonite with polymer medium. Cover with waxed paper, weight it, and let it dry well enough to stay flat while you continue working. You can find tutorials for making these specific papers here and here.

3. Choose which papers you are going to add, and cut them into geometric shapes. Look for ways to add repetition, rhythm, balance, contrast, or unity to your piece. What element or principle of design you choose to emphasize is up to you.

4. The additional elements that I added are three squares of cork, which I painted lightly with bronze metallic acrylic. There is also a large piece of adhesive-backed metallic vinyl, which I used a weathering technique on.

5. The quote was written on using a Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen with a brush point.

Copyright 2008 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, March 04, 2008

Infrared with Photoshop

I’ve been quite intrigued with the look of infrared photography for some time. Since I don’t consider myself to be any kind of photography pro, I’ve hesitated to invest in a camera that can do that sort of thing…but along to the rescue rides my faithful Photoshop CS3! Now that, I’m willing to spend money on!

I’m sure that an infrared expert can easily tell the difference between the real thing and my PS manipulation, but I’m still pretty happy with it:



I can’t give you exact settings to use, because each image is different. Also, there are many different ways to get the same effect with Photoshop, so use the tools with which you are already the most familiar. This really isn’t a beginner project, but anyone willing to spend the time can probably come up with something pretty nice!

1. Super-saturate all your blues and greens.

2. Select the foliage and other green areas. With the "marching ants" visible, add an adjustment layer for the Channel Mixer. Check the monochrome box, and increase the green channel to the maximum, sliding the other sliders to the left so that the total is still around 100%. This will brighten up the foliage.

3. Add another adjustment layer for the Channel Mixer, and this time lowering the blue and upping the red to make the sky turn dark.

4. To create the foliage glow, use the same layer mask as in the green Channel Mixer step. Add that mask to a duplicate of your background layer, using the Lighten blending mode and a small Gaussian blur on the duplicate image.

5. Add a layer of film grain or noise to the top of the stack, using the Overlay blending mode.

Copyright 2008 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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