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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coloring a Snow Man with Spectrum Noir Pens

I thought I would take you all along on my process of coloring these snowmen. I got an idea for a Christmas card I want to make for a select handful of friends. One of the elements I want to use is a snowman. 

Completed snowman

My first step was to look through all the digital stamps I have collected recently to locate a snowman. I was lucky in that I had already saved one. I have no idea where I got this little guy (in the future I will try to be make sure I keep that info so I can tell you all where to find them)

In case you aren't familiar with digital stamps (or digi stamps as they are also called) these are line images available both online and on CDs that you can purchase. Online there are many digi stamps available some that are free and some that you pay for. Most of the pay for ones are still really inexpensive. All you have to do is print them off and they you can color them just like an image you stamp with a rubber stamp. The big advantage to most digi stamps is you can re-size them to any size you want (limited only by your printer) For my card project I re-sized the snowman to be about 1 ½” wide and 2” tall but I could have printed him out to the fill my sheet of paper too. I do suggest you print your image in your printer's draft mode- less ink means less chance it will smear with the pens.

I was able to fit a dozen of my snowmen on my piece of paper.For paper you want to use a really nice card stock weight paper that is really smooth.

Next I spent sometime figuring out how I wanted to color him. Since snowmen are white it is actually a bit trickier than you might expect. I wanted to make him look round but not dirty. I tried three combinations of my markers to see which one I liked best.

To do the white I do use the Blender pen a bit differently than I normally would. I use it as my lightest color.

Just a thought maybe I should stop and explain what a blender pen is before we go on. The Blender pen is filled with just the alcohol part of the ink and no color. It is most commonly used to correct mistakes when you are coloring. It can also be used to feather out the lighter colors of ink and to do some really cool special effects. I'll talk about some of those in a future post.

For my first snowman I tried the blender pen along with the two lightest colors from the Ice Grey family (IG1 and IG2) This combination gave a nice effect but I wanted to test a couple more ideas before I decided.

On snowman #2 I went to the Blue Grey family (BGR1 and BGR2) this one was okay but I still liked the first one a bit better. 


Really either of these first two would have been fine.

Then I decided to try the True Blue family (TB1 and TB2) since we usually think of blue as being cold. I think it was just a bit too blue though. 


Now that I decided on what colors to use I will show you step by step on a snowman how I colored mine.
pens for the snowman
Blender added

I work on one snowball at a time so I coated the bottom one on this snowman with the Blender pen, this wets the paper and allows the inks to come to blend easier. Next I used my IG2 to just color those areas that I wanted to recede (the rounded edges) and the area just around the scarf (where there would be a shadow).

IG2 added

Next I came in with IG1 and blended the darker color a bit so it would blend with the non-colored area. 


Finally I came back in with the Blender pen and went over the edge of the IG1 to blend it out a bit so that all the colors became seamless. 


Then proceed to the middle of the snowman and finally the head.

white areas all done
I like to let this part dry before I come back to color the scarf and the hat because ink tends to bleed more if it touches wet ink.

greens used 
Next I tackled the scarves on all the snowmen one at a time. Since this is such a tiny area I just used two colors both from the Jade Green family (JG1 and JG2). First I colored the entire scarf in with the lightest color (JG1) and then used the JG2 just in the areas that I wanted a small shadow- the outside edge of the scarf as it goes around to the back and then on each side of the knot. I followed with just a touch of the JG1 to blend the edges.
first green added

finished scarf- Oops I went out of the lines

reds used
By the time I got all the snowmen done the first was dry so I moved onto the hats. I decided to leave the pompom on the top white (you'll see why in a bit). I wanted my hats to be red so I chose the Dark Red family (DR1, DR4 and DR7) I first covered the entire hat (minus that pompom) with the lightest color (DR1) Next I added the darkest DR7 just above the brim and along the back edge of the hat body of the hat. DR4 was used to both blend the dark areas and to add a shadow to the ends of the brim. The last step was to blend this all out with the DR1.

lightest red

dark shadows in

Hat all blended

For carrot nose I had tried to use the pens when I was working out my colors and found the area was just way too small to stay in the lines. I decided to use an orange colored pencil to color the carrot on the rest of the snowmen and I think looks really nice. I just have some plain old generic colored pencils like the kids use in school right now. I am however really wanting to get the full set of Spectrum Noir pencils one of these days. 

Now since these little snowmen are going on Christmas cards there has to be some kind of sparkle so that is going to be on that pompom. A couple of months ago when all the stores were having their back to school sales I picked up a package of Crayola glitter glue in little tubes. I love this stuff for adding just a bit of sparkle. For the hats I used the white one and just filled in the pompom areas with it. Once dry it looks so pretty!

I know I didn't do a perfect job on coloring all of these little guys but I have more than I need and I am going to be cutting them out. I wasn't too worried about the red going outside of the hat since the background will be cut away. The ones where the green from the scarf went over the line I won't be using though.
finished sheet of snowmen

I will try to remember to post when I make the cards too. I am really excited about them.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I Think I've Become Obsessed!

I seem to have become obsessed with alcohol markers and all they can do. I remember a couple of years ago I noticed a lot of people talking about something called a Copic marker. I didn't pay real close attention and then when I noticed them in the craft store and noticed their price tag I totally put them out of my mind. In case you aren't familiar with Copics they usually run between $5 and $10 per pen and they come in an entire rainbow of colors. (over 300 colors)

Then about a year ago I happened upon the YouTube channel of a very talented lady, The Frugal Crafter. Her channel showed up in the ones suggested by YouTube for me and I decided to take a look at what she had to offer. I was hooked immediately she is personable, fun, chatty and very talented. Among her videos she has some on the topic of alcohol markers such as Copics, Spectrum Noir, Pro Markers and the like. She explained what they are and how they work and then she showed how to use them. Wow! I knew I wanted to try these things. She even explained that the simple Sharpie marker and the Bic Mark-its are also alcohol markers and all the brands can play together.

Anyway back to topic, I decided that I wanted to give these markers a try. So on my next trip to Joann Fabric I noticed that my store carried the Spectrum Noir brand of markers. The regular price was $15 per package of 6 pens and I just happened to have a 40% off coupon in my hand. Well, I couldn't walk away from that one now could I?

I decided to go with the package that was labeled as the Essential Set because it included the Blender Pen along with 5 other markers- a couple that are pale brown (Earth Brown family) a couple in the Blue Grey family and also a True Black. I figured that since I could use my Sharpies and Bic Mark-its this would allow me to try some of the things I had seen on the videos. Kind of get my feet wet. I also knew from what I had seen that I really wanted a Blender pen to see how it worked.

I got those pens home and was hooked immediately! They are so fun to play with and for me any way they really get the creative juices flowing. The next several of my Joann's coupons went toward the purchase of more sets of these markers.

Let's take a moment and talk about how the markers come. You can buy 12 different sets of 6 pens each and these are available in craft stores and online in many places. Most of the sets are color family based- Blues, Browns, Cool Greys, Greens, Pinks, Purples, Reds, Turquoises, Yellows, and Warm Greys. In addition there are the Essentials set that I first bought and also the Pales set which has a lot of the skin tone colors in it. There are no repeats of pen colors between any of the sets so you won't end up with a lot of one color. In each of the color sets you get 3 warm tones and 3 cool tones in a range of light, medium and dark to give you a lot of blending options.

These 12 sets are the core of the system but if you want to round out your set you can also get 4 sets of 24 pens each: lights, pastels, brights, and darks. These are a little harder to find, I had to order mine online. After I had purchased most of the 12 packs locally I bit the bullet and bought the rest of the markers for an early birthday present to myself!

In all there are 168 wonderful, beautiful colors to play with.

These markers have a chisel end and a bullet end to make coloring easier and they are all refillable with ink that can be purchased online. If you have the newer line of pens you can also exchange one of the chisel nib for a brush nib if that is your preference.

The beauty of an alcohol marker is how the colors blend along with the vibrancy and translucent quality of the colors. Since they are alcohol based they can go over many surfaces too not just paper.

I have been busy learning to use my markers and all the things they can do. Hopefully in the future I can put some tutorials on this blog of some of the things I am learning.

One of the first things I purchased to go with my markers in addition to paper was a storage box. How you store these markers is really important. You really want to store them so that they lay horizontally so that neither end dries out. I knew I wanted mine to be easy to move around with so I could work with them in any room of the house or to take them out with me. I found a pretty cool box for them that has room for more stuff in it and has plenty of room for my paper that I use with them too. It has flat sides so I can lay it down to properly store my pens, it has a handle on the lid for easy carrying, a locking lid so it stays on. I can set the box up nearby to where I am working with the lid off and access all my pens from the top and when do I can put it away easily on its side.

Now off to learn more about these wonderful markers and the cool things they can do!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Just a few of the cards I have been making

I thought I would post some pictures of some of the cards I have been making lately.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Just a little bit about me

I thought I would start this blog off by telling you all a bit about me. If you have followed any of my other blogs you know I love to create, to make things. I always have loved creating things both useful and just to look at. It really doesn't matter to me what I am creating I just have a need to create.

I figured out a long time ago that if for whatever reason I don't get to be creative I start to not feel like myself. There was a time in my life that I had people in my life that belittled my need to create. I was told that it was nonsense and too frivolous. That I had other things and responsibilities that had to come first. During this time in my life I tried to turn off my creative side and put aside that part of me. I found that this made me very unhappy, I discovered that in order for me to be happy and to actually feel like “me” I need to do 2 things every day. I need to learn something new (hence my love of reading and learning) and I need to exercise my creative side. This creative exercise can be something really small like a doodle or a working on a craft project for a few minutes or it can be huge and take all day (sometimes several days or months) It just has to happen!

I decided to start this blog so I could share some of those projects that just don't fit into my other blogs. Some of you may already read my minis blog (if not you can find it here) and/or my 18” doll blog (you can find that one here) and you may even know about my cooking blog (that one is here) I really need to be better at posting on the cooking blog though (it's right here but I tend to get lazy on that one and forget to post) This blog is for those crafting and sewing projects that aren't doll or miniature related. You see I have been sewing and crafting long before I found dollhouses or 18” dolls. I actually started sewing before I was old enough to start school and crafting about the same time. When I was growing up my mom did a lot of different crafts and she also sewed almost everything that she and I wore. I started by watching her and then with her guidance I learned to do a lot of different crafts on my own. She was always open to us trying new projects. That was so much a part of who I was and who I am today.

So if you can think of a craft I have probably at least tried it. My interests tend to be all over the place. I will get really immersed in a craft, make lots of stuff and then get bored and move to the next thing. I usually come back around to everything again though.

Right now I am really into card making. I'm not even sure how I got started on this path but it is consuming me at the moment. I can't seem to get enough so I have dug out all my rubber stamps that I have collected for years for different projects, I dusted off my old scrap-booking gear and I have been making cards. Since I love color and how colors work together and I love playing with paper it is a current perfect fit.

I do find that no matter what type of craft is my current favorite I can pretty much use the same tools and supplies I use for all my other projects. I also love taking the tools from one medium and using them to make new things in a totally new area. So keep an eye on this blog page you never know where I may take you. Maybe we will do some stamping, or card making, or sewing , or jewelry making, or, or, or, or.................