Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vellum and Coloring Sunsets

Sorry about the lack of posts recently, but I am on a much-needed vacation after a long and busy weekend down in Savannah GA, and teaching the class in Charleston, SC last week. I did so many presentations in Savannah that I lost my voice half-way through Friday and only now am I really getting to feeling like my old self, just in time for flying to Kansas City tonite.

I have been visiting here in South Carolina, the Palmetto State. On their state flag is a Palmetto, and my brother explained to me that a long time ago they were under cannon attack but their fort was made out of Palmetto logs, which were so flexible the cannon balls bounced right off the logs and kept the fort safe.

Since we can't grow palm trees in Oregon, I always like drawing them when I visit warm places- such a change from our evergreens and other trees in the Pacific Northwest. The other night we saw a gorgeous sunset, and I figured you would like to see a fun technique for making your own sunsets with Copic markers on tracing paper or vellum.

What is special about vellum?
Vellum is a coated paper that Copic markers don't get absorbed into. There are different quality vellums, and you'll want to test each one to see what works best. The best vellum will allow you to completely erase your marker work, without leaving any speckling (you'll see what I mean in a bit). Vellum or tracing papers are transparent, giving you two surfaces where your coloring will show up- either the front or the back. You can't layer and blend on vellum in the same way you can on more absorbent papers or cardstocks, but you can still get some really neat effects.

Vellum/tracing paper is used by Architects for their artwork a lot for the reasons I mention. They can photocopy or trace their line work, add color from both sides, and get very painterly effects on it. Papercrafters like to stamp on one side of the vellum and color from the backside, since it won't mess up your stamped lines.

Blending on Vellum
First, I start with a piece of Tracing paper or Vellum (I'm actually using heavyweight tracing vellum for this picture). I add my first color RV19 on the front of the paper, squiggling from the bottom up. See how I leave a little tail of color? This is important for blending.

Next, I come in with my blender marker. Look at the blue arrow- I go as wide as my base color, starting just beyond the tail coloring in horizontal swipes just like the pink. I evenly but quickly work my way down into the colored area and then just as evenly and quickly work my way back out, until all the pink disappears. This will take some practice, but with effort it will look cool. Try not to re-work the same spot too many times or you will add streaks back in.

Now my pink looks nice, let's add the dark blue sky. If I add it straight over the pink, it will mess up my pretty blend from pink to light, so I'm going to add the blues on the reverse. B34 is too light and B39 is too dark, so I put both of them down, again leaving a tail.

Just like before, I come in with my blender, evenly coloring in horizontal swipes from beyond the tail and bouncing back out. Look how my pink and my blue fade into each other from different sides of the paper and they didn't add streaks or mess each other up.

Now it's time to add my palm tree. I drew a palm on another piece of paper and with my black marker I trace the outline onto my vellum. It doesn't really matter which side of the vellum you trace onto, just try to color evenly or you'll see streaks.

My sunset looks really neat, but all my edges are uneven and look bad. If I don't want to trim off the edges or hide them then how can I fix those ugly edges?

This is where the really cool part of vellums and tracing papers come in. Remember how I said that on good vellums you can erase? Now I can come back in with my blender marker and erase the edges until they are clean. I pick up the color with my blender and scribble it off onto clean scratch paper. This step works best with a nice juicy blender marker. I have to clean from both sides to get the blue, pink, and black all nice and square. If I had done my sky on one side and the tree on the other then I could have used the blender to erase any mistakes I made on the tree. As it is, if I try to fix the tree I would mess up the blue layer.

Here is my finished piece. This winter it will help me remember a warm, sunny place as I sit in the rain wishing for sunshine. If you haven't already signed up on Saturday's post for the neat marker prize you should do so now. If you've sent me an e-mail and I haven't got back to you don't worry, I'll be getting caught up on those soon. For those of you meeting me in Kansas City you don't need any additional supplies (I have confirmation that my boxes of markers and goodies arrived safe and sound). You can bring your favorite stamps and a few embellishments to alter if you wish, but otherwise everything is provided. Have a great week!


Maureen said...

This technique is too cool! Thanks so much for sharing it!

Danisha said...

This is a very neat techinque, I am going to have to go and try it out!!!

Unknown said...

SOUNDS easy enough...and you make it look easy...hummm...might have to try this. THANKS!

Rachel said...

Hope you enjoy your stay here in Sunny South Carolina!

Keri Lee Sereika said...

OH yes very cool! Thanks for showing the step by steps!

Lee said...

Oh this is stunning with that silhouette!!! I so appreciate all your wonderful tutorials here!! I need to go back and read them ALL!!! LOL

I have a question.....what brands of vellum work? I colored in some flowers on vellum with my Copics and they all showed up so streaky!! I tried to use the blender to just "swirl" them around, but still streaky?

Debbie said...

What a great technique. I never would've thought to use both sides of the paper. Genius. I love and appreciate all your tips on this site.

marianne walker said...

if you are getting streaks it's not the brand of vellum's fault. If you add too much marker then it turns streaky real quick. It takes a lot of practice to see how much/little ink to add to avoid the streaks. As it is my palm tree could be smoother.

Mrs. Nancy G said...

So cool! I can appreciate such a silhouette. Thanks for the tutorial!


Anonymous said...

Marianne, this is just beautiful!! And, since I'm from SC the palm tree is our state tree, and the Palmetto Moon symbol is so hot right now here!! I love your tree, you know, you should start making your own stamps too!! Thanks for the wonderful class in Charleston, you were awesome!!

mel m. m. mccarthy said...

This is fabulous! You are such a wealth of knowledge! Thanks so much for sharing all your great techniques from a Copic newbie! :O)

liannallama said...

wow--what a beautiful technique and image! Thanks!