Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tutorial: "Cupcake" Christmas Card

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably left sending out Christmas cards to the last minute.  It’s the same every year, Christmas sneaks up on me and by the time I start thinking about it, there is only a week or so left.  So last night I sat down in my little studio and whipped up some Christmas cupcakes.  Not the delectable edible kind, rather the twinkly visual kind. LuminArte have released some gorgeous new holiday colors in their Twinkling H2O range, so I thought I’d try them out.

These 12 new colors are deep, rich and highly glamorous. Vavoom Red, Sugar Plum, Raspberry Wine, Twilight, Mystique, Harvest Sol, Desert Clay, Spanish Moss, Moon Beams, Emerald, Ice, and Golden Nugget. These are shimmer on steroids and they are perfect for so many holiday projects.

 I thought I share a little of my process. Here’s how I did it: Start with a quick pencil sketch of a cupcake.

Sweep a light wet wash of “Spanish Moss” over the cupcake pan.  Let the pigment and mica play over the paper and encourage it with your brush to settle into what will become the ridges of the pan.

Next, using “Emerald” gently fill in the holly leaves applying the same technique.  Use a little more water if necessary and watch as the mica moves around.  Again, as it’s drying, just encourage the shimmer to settle into the areas that will be ridged or shaded.  Use a paper towel to dab out the excess from the areas that will reflect some light. I used “Hot Cinnamon” for the berries, with a flash of “Vavoom Red” for dimension.  The berries are so small that it’s important NOT to over work them.  One layer of “Hot Cinnamon” for color and one or two light brush strokes of “Vavoom Red” for dimension.

Next, fill your brush with a very wet, but light coating of “Harvest Sol” and run it around the edges of the frosting. “Harvest Sol” has a beautiful strong pigment and you only need a small amount of paint. Only cover the edges at this stage as you’re trying to bring out the shading.  Let it dry before the next coat.  Fill a clean brush with a generous coating of “Ice” and wash it all over the frosting.  “Ice” is colorless, but you’ll definitely see the shimmer take form as you lay it down.

Using another coating of  “Harvest Sol” bring out more of the shaded edges by blending it very softly into the ice.  You’ll be able to see that as the mica builds up around the edges of the frosting, the light plays in a way that it begins to look three-dimensional. That’s the beauty of Twinkling H2O’s. 

Now you have your primary layer on your cupcake, from here on, it's all about subtlety. This is where it is important to use less water on your brush and more paint, but remember a light hand will give the best results, and keep a paper towel close by for dabbing.
Start with “Emerald” and put in darker lines over the case for ridges.  Just work the paint in a way that it ‘looks’ right to you.  Follow any contours of the cupcake and keep the lines parallel and consistent, but not too perfect. Lightly wash a little more of the “Emerald” around the edges of the case adding shadow and form. Dab away the areas that reflect light, giving it the impression of a round case and let it dry between layers.

Apply the same layering principle over the rest of the picture.  Adding a little more paint in areas that are darker or shaded and dabbing away at the lighter areas. If you want to lift away some of the darker paint, just use a wet clean brush, run the water over those areas and dab away with your towel.  The Twinkling H2O’s are remarkably easy to lift in this way.

When you’re happy with the result, let it dry, then pick up a fine black marker or pen and use it to define the cupcake.  Keep the lines small, clean and unobtrusive.  This stage is just for definition; don’t let the black lines overtake the entire picture, but instead use them to help bring out the edges of the cupcake.  

As a final step, I mixed “China Black” and “Siam White” to make a creamy matte gray.  These two colors are the only non-mica colors in the Twinkling H2O range. I use them a lot, especially for background shading.  The matte of these two work in perfect harmony behind a shimmering subject to make the piece “POP” from the page.

Be very careful when using them though, the pigments in these two colors are very rich and even though you can mix them with the mica-based colors, they can easily and quickly over power the mica if you use too much. Lightly wash the gray behind the cupcake, starting your stroke against the edge of the cupcake, pull the color out with you brush and lots of water, dabbing away at the edges to keep it smooth.

As a final tip, scan or copy the finished cupcake and print it out onto card stock. Then, using just the main colors, lightly brush a layer of Twinkling H2O onto the copied version of your cupcake. 

Cut around the edges and stick it onto a blank greeting card. This makes it easy to produce many shimmering glittering copies of the original, and perfect for bulk Christmas Cards for all your family and friends.

And, as a little Christmas gift to you, here is a scanned copy of my finished Christmas cupcake. Please feel free to download it, print it onto card stock and then brush over it with your own Twinkling H2O’s.  It’ll make a fun Christmas card, or gift tags.

Have a yummy, twinkling Christmas, and thanks for checking in. xx