ReCover: ELLA ENCHANTED – Block Print

ella first

One of my favorite books growing up was Ella Enchanted. I read this book so much that the spine bent. I will still take an afternoon to breeze through it, smiling the whole time.

The copy of the book I have is the movie cover. It’s not my favorite. Love Anne Hathaway, didn’t care for the adaptation. For years I’ve wanted to upgrade to a new cover. One I wouldn’t mind having on  my shelf.

So I had the idea… what if I made a new cover? And here’s the process of that! (Video process is at the bottom of the page!)

Major supplies: linoleum block, brayer, baren, carving tools, water-soluble ink, printmaking paper, glue stick

Steps:

trace coverTrace Book on Block First things first, I had to cut the linoleum block to the size of the cover. Easy enough: place book on block, trace, cut!

sketch overTransfer Sketch I did my practice sketches, then chose the one I liked the best. I decided on this one because one of my favorite aspects of Ella is her love of languages.

Title Stencil Since a block print is opposite what you put down, there was no way I was going to try to freehand the title. I messed around with a few different ways to format the lettering. The one I chose, I cut out, placed backwards on block, and traced.

carving1Carving! I paid special attention to the direction of my carving tool. The swirls were circular and had a lot of movement. For the background, I kept them all up and down. This is because I know the background will still get ink no matter what, so that would look good in the final product.

  • I realized in the end, I didn’t give myself a lot of room for error when I carved too much before I inked. Normally I’m good about that, but I guess I was too excited for this project to adhere to that rule (measure twice, cut once!)!

Inking Always a fun time. I have a sheet of plastic I place the ink on that I move around with the brayer. The first inked block never holds enough ink, so a few goes at it need to happen before all’s done.

  • inkingA few notes on my mishaps inking this time around. I didn’t clean the block before inking, and that caused a lot of little white speckles until I figured out what the problem was.
  • Also, I was doing this outside, and the ink got really runny, which caused the ink to slosh around on the final product. So it’s not as sharp as it could be.

barenBaren The circular tool I use is a baren, but you can use a wooden spoon for this part, too. I always start circular movements in the middle of a piece before moving outwards.

Ink and Repeat until I got the best one! This took a lot longer than normal due to the problems I listen above.

paper traceBook Cover Template I traced around the entire book as though it lay flat on the paper. Then I cut around that, with 2 inches around each edge. Where the corners were, I cut those out to the tips so the flaps could be folded over later. Hopefully the picture helps illustrate that! If you can’t see it, the video is a good demonstration of it, or I’ll make a template available rather than just a picture.

foldingCover Book I used plain old glue stick for this part. Folding the top and bottom flaps first, I made sure they were secure and no extra paper was in the fold. I folded over the book’s edge flap after that. This was a lot of moving the book around and making sure the folds were creased nicely.

cut and foldPlace Print Self-explanatory. I almost put it on the wrong side, though! So really have to watch out for that!

Details As I looked at the cover, I wondered what it was missing. The entire back of the book was blank, so I googled some quotes and found a very fitting one! After that, I added the title and author to the spine, and the author’s name to the front cover.

And that’s my ReCover of my Ella Enchanted book!! Thank you for reading so far. If you have any questions about my process, or even just your favorite book, please comment below!

cover done

Make sure you watch the video of the process, too! It was good fun trying to edit all that footage.

In the Wind – Linoleum Print Progress

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Video for this piece is here or at the bottom of this post!

I love to paint and draw, but if I could do one thing for the rest of my life, it would be printmaking. Lithography or etching–I’ve spent hours milling over projects in joyous contentment. Block printing is the easiest to do in my home setting, though, and that’s what I’ll be sharing with you today.

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Blocks

I use linoleum sheets or blocks when I block print. The sheets are less expensive than the blocks, but don’t last long after a series of prints. If I’m doing a commission or a series that I haven’t fully figured out in my sketchbook, I may use the sheets as a test-run. It isn’t impossible to use them for final pieces–I think there is a way to attach them to your own blocks, too. That isn’t in my knowledge, though. The blocks are a lot easier to carve into, and they will last passed your initial series of prints. Of course, you’re paying for that stability.

I bought my stash a few years ago from Utrecht. Here’s a recent side-by-side of the two. It refers to the sheets as ‘unmounted’ and the blocks as ‘mounted’. The difference isn’t staggering with the price, and in bulk, the difference only ends up about $3.00.

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Now to the process!!

img_0530I always start with a sketch that I’ve inked in black. With block printing, you have to think backwards. So I try to have all my whites and blacks set-in before I start the permanent process of carving out the linoleum block. It saves a lot of time, money, and your wrist to have a solid sketch before you start. Like with sewing: measure twice, cut once (or in this case, color twice, carve once?).

Even when I sketch my picture onto my linoleum block, I shade in the parts I don’t want to carve. This reminds me not to touch those parts. Every bit helps so you don’t have to start over.

 

sketch to sketch lino
From sketch-to-block

 

img_0516My carving tool of choice is this Speedball carver. It comes with 5 different tips, but I mostly use the three pictured here. It’s very easy to change out the tips, and you don’t have to have several tools lying about. They all fit into the hollow handle–so it’s easy storage, and super light! I bought mine at an art store up north, but I know Michael’s Craft Store and Hobby Lobby have some in stock, too. It’s fairly standard for art supplies stores, so I’m sure you can find one!

When I start to carve, I start with my thinner tips to outline details I want to keep, such as the mouth and eyes on the face.

Continue that until everything is carved!

skirt carve

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Baren – Brayer

For inking you’ll need a roller (or brayer), baren (or wooden spoon), and some ~fancy~ paper. I have two brayers: one hard and one soft. I prefer the way the soft brayer puts the ink on the block–you can mess around and see which fits your needs better. I did go and buy a real baren for my printmaking kit, but the back of a wooden spoon does the job just right, too. I like how I’m able to exert pressure with this tool rather than a spoon.

paper
Not ‘printing’ paper, but it does the job right!

Now, there’s a lot of printmaking paper out there. Many textures and colors. Depending on your project or personal preferences will decide on what paper you choose. After a lot of messing around, I found this rice paper very cheap at Hobby Lobby. One side it slick, the other is heavily textured. I use the slick side for my prints. I really like how the ink settles on top of this paper and doesn’t move around.

img_0517For ink, I use Speedball’s water soluble block printing ink. I wouldn’t use this near food, but it’s definitely safer to use than an oil-based ink. Since my studio at the moment is the kitchen table, this is a must-have. Also, it’s super easy to clean up! Dish soap and water.

 

First thing to do when getting ready to ink a block print is to make sure the block and your area is clear. I have a sheet of plastic to set my ink on and use a flat drawing board to minimize the space I need to clean up. And my mom appreciates me not getting ink on her table.

workspace

error

Try as you might, you may still end up like me and have something on your print that messes up a clean finish. I have a plastic palette knife I use to clean off stuff such as this.

For a full step-by-step of the process, please check out the video I did for this project!

Something I’d do differently the next time I do a block print is not have a large area to be inked–it was very difficult keep enough ink on the linoleum for a completely black space in front of the woman. Adding some texture to the black area would probably help the ink hold onto the medium better.

And that’s that! Thank you for reading my blog post, and if you have any questions about the materials or the process, please comment below! I’d love to help!

Love and hugs!

Reading on a Sofa Illustration Progress

I love to read, and recently all I’ve wanted to draw is people relaxing and reading a good book (maybe because I don’t have time to do it myself!). So brings us to this illustration!

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SCN_0008A few weeks ago I drafted out some ideas for an illustration series. Essentially, I wrote down a lot of things I enjoy, and somethings I wished for. As you can see, the brainstorm revolved around music, books and traveling.

 

In the end, the books won out!

 

So went through my SenshiStock Stock To Go! book and practiced drawing different relaxed positions and placing books in them. Going off of reference always turns out better than my memory–this was a fun exercise I should do more often!

reading sketch
This one made it onto Instagram!

 

The reference I really like my sketch for was this lounging one. –>

What stuck with me was the perspective. For the final sketch, I changed up the legs and, of course, added a book. In the spirit of the sofa I spend a lot of my time on, I sketched the character onto a love seat.

Onwards! (Start video!)

Since I don’t have a lightbox, I redid the sketch onto Canson Illustration paper freehand. Never as good as the original, but meh. With my handy dandy Pentel brush pen, I got to work!

I’m not as good at using a brush pen as I’d like to be–so you’ll notice in the video I go back and and thicken certain areas a few times. This allows me to have more control over which areas I thicken, but it does take up more time. More practice, and I’m sure I’ll be able to be confident in one-stroke variation!

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Adding the blush directly after skin layer down for blending fuzzies.

Coloring with Copic markers are super fun because you can blend them. I try to keep a consistent stroke as I apply the ink, and when I add a different color quick enough, that color soaks into the first creating a fuzzy effect at the edges (like wet-on-wet in watercolors).

 

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Brown first, red second! Then brown again to mute it more.

Mixing colors with Copics is kind of hit and miss for me (I’m an acrylic girl who loves to mix on the canvas!). I don’t have a good color for red hair in my collection, so I put down a light brown before adding a red. It is less harsh than just having the red, but it isn’t exactly what I was going for.

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Sofa colors first, hair mixing, then clothing matching. Final strokes of purple and red are for the cushion!

Against proper coloring procedures, I decided what colors to use in the pictures as I went along. This picture shows my ‘palette’ of colors I set next to each other to figure out which ones to use. Normally I have a better idea of what I’m getting myself into!

 

In the end, I really like how it turned out! Copics make everything you do look so professional.

Are you trying out some new mediums? How are you navigating it? I’d love to know!

Hugs!