Thursday, 20 August 2015

Playing with Alcohol Markers ...

I have been speaking to several of you over the last few weeks about different methods of adding colour to your projects.  I promised a few 'mini workshops' on the subject and over the next week or so I will post some different methods here for you to take a look at.

For the first of these 'mini workshops' we'll take a look at alcohol markers by creating this Christmas Poinsettia card.  I warn you now that there are quite a few steps to follow so sorry for the lengthy post today!

I'll list the products as we go and again at the bottom of the post so that you can see exactly what brand of item etc was used to achieve the effect.

To begin, I stamped a Poinsettia Stamp using a Black Staz on ink pad onto a sheet of paper from a Gilded Winter Paper pad from Trimcraft.  

The paper/card you stamp the image onto will certainly affect the overall result of the project as each will have a different surface which will react to the alcohol markers in a different way.   I am a great fan of watercolour paper and will be using this on the next workshop but I do not think that the results are great when using it with alcohol markers.  This is because the alcohol markers 'bleed' into the paper too much and the overall effect becomes 'flat'. Of course there are different brands of watercolour paper and some may work for you but for me a thick card/paper like the paper in the First Edition Gilded Winter pad is great as the ink will 'sit' on top of the paper and will give a nice overall finish.  (We will come back and look at other card/papers in the future).

One other thing to note here is that I stamped the image with a Staz on ink pad which works here but may not be the best for your paper type.  This of course also contains 'alcohol ink' and so the pens will make the outline image 'bleed' if you are not careful.  I have made sure that I try to not let the pens go over the outline too much and not to press hard if I do. If you are worried at all I would suggest that you stamp in Memento or emboss the image first.

 [EDITED: Different brands of pens will react differently to different ink pads and different paper - Here the Staz on ink works with this paper type and and brand of alcohol marker as long as you are not heavy handed with the pens over the outline - see what works for you with your brand of pens and paper.  'Memento ink' is a good general ink to use with the markers and most paper types]

This project was created with the First Edition Alcohol Markers and I used the fine 'bullet' end of the pen at all times for maximum control.

I started by putting a base layer of  No. 37 - Primrose over the top petals of the poinsettia.  I made sure that my brush strokes followed the direction of the leaf i.e. from the veins towards the outside of the petal so that the finished result would look more natural.  I did not want my final image to become flat and so you can see that I left some 'white' areas around the veins and down the stem.    

For the next layer I used No. 15 - Crimson to add red brush strokes to the petals.  You can see the direction of the brush strokes more easily here!

The next stage was to lay down No. 13 - Coral next to the Crimson ink.  Allow the Coral ink to go over the Crimson as this is where the magic happens.  The lighter ink acts as a 'blender pen' and 'blends' the two colours together so that there are no harsh lines between each colour.  Leave some of the original Primrose colour showing at this stage as this will help stop getting too much of the darker colours onto the design which can make the image look 'flat'.

The next step is to go back to the original Primrose colour and add ink to the edges of the petals.  I let the Primrose pen go into the red colours and this helps blend any harsh lines.  

Repeat Step 1 (the Primrose colour) on the next set of petals.  

Before moving onto the red stages on this set of petals I wanted to add a darker colour (as most of this area would be in shadow).  The darker colour will make the top set of petals 'pop out'.  Using No. 53 - Espresso add some dark ink to the base of the next set of petals as shown.

I then added some of the darkest red colour (Crimson) as before.

In this picture there have been a couple of stages ... the lighter red (Coral) has been added as we did with the top layer of petals and the Primrose colour has been used to bring the reds together (remember to leave some white areas to represent light! around the veins.  I have also extended the dark brown (Espresso) around the edge of the top petals to suggest the shadow and make the top petals stand out.  At the moment we have harsh brown edges ...

... I used the Coral pen to blend the brown edge into the reds.  To do this allow the Coral pen to run over the edge of the Espresso and into the red areas.  Again the lighter pen acts as a 'blender pen' and 'blends' the darker colour. 

At this stage I used a No. 41 pen - Satsuma to add a touch of 'gold/orange' on the tips and edges of the petals here and there.

The last layer of leaves will be green rather than red (and yes I did make a mistake and colour one of the bottom set of leaves red instead of green in error - I did not even notice until I had finished the card!).  

Add the Primrose base to the leaves as in previous layers.  Blank areas have been left around the stems and veins again.

No. 25 - Pistachio was added next.

Instead of the Espresso colour for the dark shadows, this time I used No. 30 - Pine.

After adding the dark Pine, I used the Pistachio to blend the edges by running the lighter ink over the edges of the darker colour. I then went back to the Primrose pen for the edges.

 {Tip:  If you are having difficulty blending colours together and can see a harsh line between the edge even after you have 'worked it', it may be that your card/paper is not the most suitable for alcohol markers.  Try another type of paper and you may achieve a better result.  Ideally for best results when you add the lighter colour to the darker edge you will see the darker colour start to 'loosen' from the paper and begin to move around the page a little, this is how it blends}.

The middle of the flower was created by adding spots of Pistachio and then adding a little Primrose over the top to blend the area.  You can see here that as I was working on the middle I also gently ran the Pistachio pen down the vein of the petal to make each petal a little more realistic.

To add colour to the berries start with the darker area of the berry (the shadowed areas).  I added Crimson here as the darkest colour.  Be careful not to add too much dark colour or the berries will become flat, just a little 'c' on each will suffice!

Next I used the Coral to add another 'c' on top of and next to the first layer.  Make sure that you leave approx 1/3 of the berry clear at this point so that you can create the 3d effect.

This is where the Colourless Blender Pen comes into use.  Where a lighter coloured pen will act as a blender for a darker colour on a project.  The Blender Pen will blend and get rid of harsh lines on your lightest colour (it blends the line out to your white paper etc).  use the Blender pen and gently brush it over the Coral edge, brushing it out to the top of the berry.  Be careful not to let the blender pen brush over too much of the darker red here as you may lift all of the red colour out!

After finishing the berries, I took one last look at the overall image and 'blended' any lines etc that I had missed before or added a little extra dark shadow if needed.  I also used the Espresso to add a line of shadow around some of the outside edges of the design.  This brown line was then blended with the Primrose ink and that in turn was blended with the colourless Blender pen to create a shadow on the design.

I trimmed the design to fit on my base card.  Here you can see how the pens have bled through the paper on the reverse side.  

As I stuck my design onto Glitter Cardstock I used Super Sticky tape {I find that unless I use this to stick the card it does not adhere particularly well to the glitter}.

After sticking the image to the glitter card I trimmed again, added to the base card and added a sentiment from the same set of stamps as the Poinsettia.   I added a 'distressed' effect to the edges in exactly the same way as the shadow was created around the flower (i.e. with the Espresso and Primrose inks and the Blender pen). 

Finally I added some ivory organza ribbon (doubled up) down the spine of the card (tied in a bow) and attached three jingle bells around the bow with Bakers Twine.  I also added some Icicle Glitter Glue to the edges of each petal, leaf, berry and swirl.  I am not sure that the photography does the glitter glue justice but it creates a 3d effect on the final card and makes the design 'pop out' beautifully.  The trick with Glitter glue is to push and hold the glitter into the nozzle of the pot and then use the glitter glue like a pen instead of like a 'glue applicator'.  This will give you a neat finish without flooding the glitter glue over the project.

And there here is the final card ...

I hope that this has given you a few suggestions for using your alcohol markers.  If you have any specific questions or other suggestions as to how you use your pens please do let us know.  We'd love to hear from you.

Happy Crafting!

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  1. This looks absolutely delightful and I was so pleased with your detailed instructions on how to use the alcohol markers to colour in the design which simply pops right off the page. I did wonder why you used Stazon Ink to stamp with though as I have always been told to use Memento with alcohol markers and Stazon with watercolouring. Is there any reason that you didn't use Memento such as the paper wouldn't have been suitable for that type of ink? Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Suzybee, Yes Memento would also work very well and would be my first choice for most projects. I used Staz on as I wanted the lines to 'soften' a little as the project came together. The Staz on ink may not be the best for everyone to use as it will 'bleed' and move around if the pens are pressed too hard on the lines or held for too long over the Staz on ink. Thanks for the comment!