FAQ | How to show foil and emboss on greeting card mockups

By heather at 9:57 pm on Thursday, July 8, 2010

Further to the question of how to show glitter on greeting card mockups, here is a real example of one of my greeting cards that has a pearly foil pattern in the background, on the text, and embossed flowers. When I created this card, I had four printouts from the layers in my Adobe Illustrator file…

1) The Print Only Layer shows what will be printed in ink on the card. (Click to see full-sized images)
greeting card mockup example

2) The Foil Layer shows where glitter or foil stamping will be used. Note that when you go to send the design to a printer, if there is more than one colour of foil used, you will need to make separate layers in your files for each colour.
greeting card mockup example

3) The Emboss / Cup die Layer shows the outlines of what shape needs to be created with the emboss.

greeting card mockup example

4) The Mockup shows where the foil and emboss layers are meant to line up with the printed image below.

greeting card mockup example

If you are sending a card design to a greeting card publisher and wish to show foil, glitter, or embossing, the simplest way to do it is to show it in black printouts separately from the design itself. You can find more of my greeting card tips here.

Filed under: illustrations, greeting cards, tutorials, FAQS2 Comments »

Tutorial | How to colour an ink drawing in Photoshop

By heather at 1:32 am on Monday, February 15, 2010

heather castles hera baby clothes illustration red polka dot dress

I just finished this illustration for my diary of Hera’s stuff, and thought I’d share the simple technique I use for colouring pen illustrations in Photoshop. Clicking on the images below will bring up a close-up image.
heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 1 | Open the scan of your drawing in Photoshop, and create two new layers below it. One will be your background colour (I’ve used white here), and the other will be for painting in the colours of your drawing.

heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 2 | Adjust the brightness and contrast until the paper is as white as possible.

heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 3 | Select the background of the sketch with the magic wand tool, and delete it. Make sure all little bits of paper speckle are removed so the colour comes out nice and clean.

heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 4 | Set the drawing layer to Multiply. This will allow the colours below to show through your drawing, and make the pen work come out nice and dark as it multiplies over the colours below.

heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 5 | Use the magic wand tool to select the background of the sketch. Then invert the selection so that you have only the drawing selected. Feather the edges of the selection (Menu Bar > Select > Feather.) Click on the blank layer below the sketch (multiply) layer and fill the entire sketch with a predominant colour.

heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 6 | From here in, apply colour to this colouring layer whichever way you feel comfortable. Applying colour on its own layer(s) makes it easy to adjust the colours later while keeping your drawing in its original condition.I use a combination of the paintbrush and the magic wand / lassoo tools to select areas from the sketch and fill with colour. You can experiment and go as elaborate as you want with colour, shade and textures.

Filed under: work in progress, illustrations, tutorials4 Comments »

Painter’s Tip | How to Clean Hardened Paintbrush Bristles

By heather at 12:23 am on Sunday, December 20, 2009

watercolour paintbrush illustration

This week I discovered one of my good acrylic paintbrushes was as hard as a rock… I obviously didn’t clean it properly the last time I used it! Hoping to recover the brush I did a little online search for ways to soften up the bristles. I was pleased to discover that the solution was in my kitchen cupboard… white vinegar.

Here’s the method I used* :

  • • Place the brush’s bristles down into a glass or jar.
  • • Fill with white vinegar just to the metal ferrule.
  • • Let sit for a few hours. At this point the bristles will have softened up considerably.
  • • Pour some white vinegar into a shallow pan on the stove, and place the brush’s bristles into the vinegar until are submerged.
  • • Gently heat the white vinegar (not to boiling!) until paint is loosened from the bristles.
  • • Rinse the brush in water, then use gentle hand soap to suds up the bristles to remove any vinegar.
  • • Rinse well. Condition bristles with a brush cleaner optional.
  • • Make a mental note to wash the brush more carefully next time it’s used!

*Inspired by eHow.com (How to Soften Paint Brushes and How to Clean Paint Brushes That Have Hardened)

Filed under: business of illustration, tutorials1 Comment »

Spotty & Eddie Visit Percé | How to digitally colour a pencil drawing

By heather at 6:07 pm on Friday, November 27, 2009

spotty eddie visit percé rock quebec sketches children's book photoshop tutorial

I’ve done this tutorial before, but wanted to show in a little more detail how easy it is to tint with colour a graphite pencil drawing in Photoshop. This example is from the children’s book I’m currently working on, Spotty & Eddie Visit Percé. (First off though I’ll apologize for my fluctuating spelling of the word “Colour.” Being Canadian that’s how we spell it… but Photoshop uses American spelling, but I just can’t help my English grammar sometimes!)

1) Scan the pencil drawing at 300dpi 100%. Then open in Photoshop, and resave as a PSD file.

spotty eddie visit percé rock quebec sketches children's book photoshop tutorial

2) In this sketch I want a pure white background. Instead of erasing the background, I used the magic wand to select the background, feathered the edges, and then on a new layer filled the selection with white. This leaves me the option to later change the white to a coloured background. (Read on …)

Filed under: work in progress, illustrations, childrens books, tutorials, Spotty and Eddie1 Comment »

Step-by-Step How to Colour a pencil sketch / drawing in Photoshop

By heather at 4:09 pm on Saturday, May 26, 2007

monkey photoshop

This illustration technique me feels like I’m a little kid again and colouring in the lines! I really enjoy this style, as I can take my time with my B-pencil & smudge stick rendering an illustration… and then hop on the computer and create the final black & white and colour print-ready files respectively in a matter of minutes. It is an ideal style for creating a lot of illustrations in a short amount of time, as it achieves a traditional feel without the time involved in creating watercolour paintings.

The step-by-step process I follow to colour my illustrations in Photoshop is :

• Illustrate the character with a graphite pencil on bond paper (I like printer paper as it’s smooth and fits on the scanning bed!)
• Scan each illustrations at high resolution
• Create a Photoshop file for the character illustration
• Remove the character from the background and place it on its own layer, carefully removing the whitespace with a soft edged eraser tool or feathered magic wand selection (see below)
monkey photoshop

• Adjust the contrast
• Save out a flattened, grayscale version as a TIFF (I’ve set up an action to do this in Photoshop automatically for me)
(Read on …)

Filed under: work in progress, illustrations, business of illustration, tutorials, Little Land Adventures8 Comments »

Creating Seashell Mosaics

By heather at 10:30 pm on Friday, February 23, 2007

I’m just getting started on a few more shell mosaics. Went to IKEA and they were sold out of the large frames! So I’m doing four little guys. And I’m gettin’ smart after a couple of these… (Read on …)

Filed under: work in progress, tutorials Leave A Comment »

Goodbye, Baby Max | First Watercolour Wash

By heather at 11:21 am on Tuesday, December 5, 2006

I am working on Diane Cantrell’s children’s book “Good-bye, Baby Max”, and she has kindly let me post the progress of her story as I’m illustrating it! This is a warm story about a kindergarten class who learn to deal with grief in different ways, when one of their baby chicks doesn’t hatch. Written in prose, this story was a challenge to illustrate just because it is dealing with an entire class with several characters. Materials to be used : watercolour & coloured pencil on cold-press illustration board.

Technique : Because I couldn’t use a light table to transfer the sketch to the final paper from behind (the illustration board is too thick), I purchased an artograph Tracer and found that very helpful to transfer & scale up to the correct size from my small sketches. I’m laying down the warmest colours first, as working with skin tones can be tricky to keep warm & clean and I find this has been the easiest way to do both. The colours will be much warmer & friendly on the pages where the kids are happy, and cool colours to give things a more serious tone on the pages where the kids are dealing with grief. Lighting will be in most cases from behind or from a bright side source to give some interesting shadows. The next step will be to go over with one more wash before using pencil, as these will be very tonal illustrations and I want to make sure all the bodies & structure are just right by shading with pencil first and layering the watercolour on after.

Filed under: work in progress, childrens books, tutorials, Good-bye Baby Max2 Comments »

Makeshift Light Tracing Table

By heather at 7:46 am on Thursday, November 2, 2006

Glass tabletops, when lit from underneath, make excellent tracing tables. Simply situate a lamp underneath the glass surface, place your sketch on top of the table (tape it down if need be), and place your blank paper on top. With adequate lighting, you should have an easily visible sketch to work on top of.
I like to use this method when transferring to-scale sketches to Arches Watercolor Paper. Note to self : change that lightbulb to an energy efficient one!
Note : Be careful of overheating, as a hot glass surface can be dangerous / crack.

Filed under: business of illustration, tutorials1 Comment »