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Feeling festive

I’m getting ready for Christmas with some customised Christmas cards….

Christmas card 2013

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How to hand tint photographs

My greatest pleasure is to collage images of my family. However, this also poses a great challenge. My natural style is definitely vintage, with Victorian style imagery and plenty of lace, and bold-coloured, modern photographs don’t usually go well with that. Over time, I have developed a number of solutions to make the two mesh, rather than clash and, one day, if I ever have time, I hope to share them here.
The starting point of virtually every antiquing step is to remove colour from your image. This works great most of the times, but occasionally I do feel I would like to bring colour back into my pictures to highlight a detail or accent a colour I am using in the overall composition—which is why I have recently turned to hand tinting.
Hand tinting images is an art, and I have by no means mastered it. But I have now experimented enough to glean some understanding of how it works.

Hand tinted portrait

First of all, a word of caution—don’t hand tint original photographs unless you really know what you are doing, as mistakes happen. I usually start off by desaturating my images in Photoshop, then printing them either on my inkjet printer or on my laser one. The printer (and the paper support I choose) crucially depend on which medium I am planning to use for tinting, and whether it is wet or dry. Home-printed inkjet images usually look better than laser ones, but will not take water well. You can either protect them with artist spray or you can use a laser printer. The very best option of course is to leg it to a copier shop and make a really good quality laser print, but I don’t really have one nearby. If you are planning to use a wet medium, also make sure that the paper you print on can take water.
Once you have got your image nice and printed, study it carefully and decide what you want to highlight. It is a trite concept, but less really is more here. You want to highlight a few select details, not look like you have a bad colour photograph. I usually like to work on eyes, lips, cheeks and hair, but have soon learned that colouring eyes and hair only works well if you are tinting them a fair colour—for example, I tried tinting my daughter’s hair and eyes in her natural dark brown and it didn’t really add anything to the image as these areas printed very dark.

Hand tinted portrait

Then it is time to put pencil, or brush, to print. Now, I usually have a clear idea of which medium I want to use before I even print the image, but you may want to do some experimenting first. You can use virtually anything that has colour to hand tint an image, from acrylic paints to soft pastels and graphic pens, but I prefer coloured pencils, watercolours or water soluble crayons. I find that they give subtle, soft colour that works well and are relatively forgiving with my less than steady hand.

Hand tinted portrait

The one trick with pencils is to keep a light hand—the last thing you want is pencil marks or, worse, a scratch on your picture. Keep your grip relaxed, colour lightly and, if needs, be add another layer. Little by little, your colour will build so step back and examine the image critically every now and again until you achieve the look you are after.
Happy hand tinting!

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On my moodboard

Gracing my mood board is this French hand tinted postcard from the Edwardian era. Isn’t it lovely? May you all have un bon jour!

Vintage postcard

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Paper design frenzy

I have a chronic need to start from scratch. I try to fight it, but inevitably end up succumbing to the urge. Take the twelve weeks holiday art making journey, which I embarked upon earlier in the month. I started making a Halloween banner, but couldn’t possibly use anything ready made—oh no. Instead, I had to design all my papers from scratch, then rip them to pieces to make the banner and coasters. And obviously, to design the papers from scratch, I had to get some new, suitable ephemera.
The end result is that I went on a double spree—ephemera shopping, and paper designing. I now have probably more autumnal ephemera than I will ever use, and a large number of autumn papers of which I will probably use some bits and pieces between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Of course, the Halloween banner is still not finished (though the watercolour is drying as I write).
But at least the papers look pretty….

Thanksgiving collaged paper

Cream and white collaged paper

Autumn collaged paper

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Free autumn background paper

It’s raining outside and, for the first time in weeks, it feels really autumnal. If truth be told, I fancy some pear and chocolate crumble, and damn the diet I always want to go on (but never really do).
Perhaps this is why I felt compelled to put some pears in this paper?

Free collaged background paper autumn theme

I just couldn’t prevent myself even though it initially wasn’t working from a composition viewpoint. I like it now though, especially the lovely russet and rust colours. Am going to use it in my Halloween decorations which I am working on now. The plan is to make a banner, a couple of wall hangings and some coasters, to complement what I already have, and whatever treasures Heidi will be sending me in her package.
Anyway, I figured you may like playing with a bit of autumn paper, so, if you do, here is a copy for you to download and print in letter size or A4 (warning, the files are big and may take a while to download).

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