Well this week is Technique week...ALCOHOL WATER COLOR. This first one is from SPLITCOAST STAMPERS and it involves using the COPIC MARKERS.. I do have a few of them and I also have the ones called PROMARKERS from Letraset.  I have these because I also have a small LETRAJET AIR MARKER that connects to a canned air system that allows me to blow thru the marker and make backgrounds with alcohol inks. To use this you must use the PROMARKERS BY LETRASET.  No others will fit the nozzle. I have loved this little mini air brush thingie for several years however, while you can get the markers at amazon you can only get the LETRAJET AIR MARKER at JERRY’S ARTARAMA. ( I gave you the link in blue above)  I am going to show you some samples of those as well.   In addition I am going to show you some samples of doing basically the same thing with simple watercolors like a PRANG watercolor set which is a lot cheaper than the COPIC OR PROMARKES.  But there are some differences.


The advantage to these markers are that the ink is alcohol based therefore you can stamp or write, right over the top of it and your stamp images will not bleed into background.  If you already have alcohol markers or some of the refill ink for the stamp pads that are alcohol based then this technique allows you some new ways to use the markers. I prefer to use them just for the air brushing backgrounds.  However, if you like to color your images with inks the advantage is that the alcohol markers will blend together without leaving lines like a regular waterbased marker.  Like I said if you have or if you really want to color your images without any lines then alcohol markers are for you.  Also this technique might really appeal to you.  The above sample is from SCS and it was done using the inks from COPIC.   BUT there are other options to creating backgrounds…


Using the alcohol markers (COPIC) I tried a DIRECT TO PAPER using watercolor paper and that is the first image above and frankly I don’t like it.  Its too dark and I don’t have a blender pen so it wouldn’t blend at all then the second image is using the COPIC AIR BRUSH system and COPIC PENS.. the same three colors* ( more about that later) and you can see that it is much more pleasing then the first one..its softer and can easily be stamped on or written on and it will show up nicely also it blends better.  Now I have both the copic system and few of their pens because my Letraset my hose for the air brush broke and I thought I would have to throw it away….but I found that JERRY’S ARTARAMA  carried the hose adapter for the canned air (Michaels) as well as the pens (also available at AMAZON) so I was back in business with my original set.  I am not as fond of the COPIC because a) the canned air and system is more expensive , b) the pens are also more expensive …that said the pens are more available locally and especially at HOBBY LOBBY.  So try whatever you like…While both of the above samples were done with COPIC the air brush one would look exactly the same wether you were using COPIC or LETRASET PRO MARKERS.  I am really unsure what the blender would add but if anyone wants to send me a sample I’ll be glad to post on the blog.  THE MAIN reason for using ALCOHOL inks for background is that it won’t bleed when you either stamp or write on them…. that said..You can buy a can of SPRAY FIXATIVE and if you spray your water color backgrounds using either paints or colored pencils it won’t bleed either.


I do love the air brush effect for background but otherwise I usually use water colors because you can get different effects with one produce. See my water color samples below.

With regular watercolors you can use watercolor paper as well as some other card stocks.  Watercolor paper will allow the colors to blend but they will blend easier if you work on wet paper.  With the cardstock no two will probably work the same way you will really need to just test each piece to see how it blends and how it works with the watercolor.  For the cardstock you probably might want to try to see if it works better on dry or wet paper.  Most likely each technique is going to look differently.  So this is your chance to play but at least if you invest in a simple box of watercolors like Prang you only have a small amount of money invested.  In addition to a box of watercolors for a bit more money you can also purchase a brand of watercolor pencils…you can work with them two ways one is to color with them first then use your water brush and blend with them…the other way is to use your water brush and wet it right on point of the pencil.  INKTENSE  watercolor pencils by Derwent is my current favorite.  My usual method for them is to work on dry paper or only spray it lightly and then lightly ad pencil by coloring then go back and blend it together with a wet brush….the above piece you can see were I was pressing too hard with the dark blue and it left lines … mostly because blue is more permanent and therefore sinks into the paper faster and doesn’t move around as well…

Now two of the other techniques that I like best with the water color backgrounds are SALT AND SARAN WRAP AND PLAIN W/C WITH STAMP..




With both of these they work best with wet paper and wet paint rather than the colored pencil.


The salt technique needs lots of pigment and then while wet sprinkle some salt on top of the paper and let it dry… when dry brush off the salt ( trash) and once you have it all off you can spray with fixative….if you spray before you get all the salt off the will be there permanently but you might want that effect also. Fixative is FIXATIVE if you have pencil lines on there and you spray then they are there to stay. Anything on there before you spray is gonna stay.


The second one is again working with wet paint on wet paper and if its larger you will need to work quickly have a sheet of saran wrap ready and as soon as you are done painting lay the saran on top of the wet and using your finger squish it around a little you will see some interesting shapes appearing…don’t overwork it or you will not have anything.  Also the amount of pigment ( ie dark lots of paint ) that you have down on the paper is going to make for more contrast when you remove the saran…DON’T take the saran off until it is dry which could take a while maybe even over night if its too wet when you start to remove the saran you will see the paint beeding together and not leaving the white lines…once its is mostly dry you can remove the saran and allow the paper to dry fully before spraying it .


I owe this technique to my friend RANDI KANDER…she showed me how to tape off a large sheet of w/c paper with masking tape and then usually I wet the areas then dab my paints on … let them dry and remove masking tape and cut up mini w/c backgrounds…


When you are mixing colors be sure that you use only 3….more than that and you will end up with mud.  Have fun go play and make something.


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