When I started making ATCs, my sister lent me a tub of gesso and I used it to coat some cards. When it ran out, she told me that she found out that the inexpensive wall putty available in construction supply or hardware stores can give you the same texture at a much lower cost. I am all for lower costs! In fact, when I was looking for materials to make my ATCs, I found a pile of my wedding invitations (the printer printed too many), so now, many of my cards are drawn on these.
1. Gesso or Wall PuttyBrush on some gesso or the more inexpensive wall putty onto the card. You can use whatever stroke you want to get the texture you want. Since I will be making a portrait, I don't want to have too rough a texture. So, I just brushed on a thin layer with circular strokes. If I were just making a background for a collage or a landscape maybe, I can use a thicker layer to give a rougher look. I really think the texture that the gesso/ wall putty gives adds a lot to the finished card. That's why I use this technique a lot. Wait for the putty to dry and then...
2. Measure to sizeSince I am recycling my extra wedding invitations, I measure out 4 cards at 2.5 by 3.5 inches, which is the standard ATC size. You can use any medium to make an ATC but, they must be that particular standard size.
3. Cut to sizeI use a steel ruler and a cutter to cut my cards. I find it easier to get a straight cut with the blade rather than a pair of scissors.
4. Pencil Sketch
This is the tricky part if you aren't confident in your drawing skills. I have been drawing women since I was a young girl (I made a lot of paperdolls!) so I can either make a pencil sketch freehand from my imagination or have a magazine photo as a guide.
Another option would be to trace a magazine photo (choose one with sharp contrasts) and rub a soft pencil on the back of your tracing. Put the pencil side of your tracing on the card and trace over with a ballpen to leave the pencil markings on the card. Hmmm, I wonder if those instructions were clear enough. (Edit: Tutorial about drawing a face using the tracing technique here.)
5. Final Pen Sketch
Trace over your sketch with your final pen (use a waterproof pen if you will be using watercolor). Sometimes, I use a well sharpened dark brown colored pencil and skip the pen outline. For this portrait, I used a black ballpen which I find is more "forgiving" if I make a line I don't like, since it is so fine.
6. Erase the Pencil lines
I use a kneaded eraser to clean up the sketch and erase any pencil lines that are too noticeable.
7. Colored Pencils
The next step is to color in the sketch with colored pencils. So far, all the materials I've used are very inexpensive and although you can use inexpensive colored pencils, mine are Berol Prismacolor pencils. They are expensive if you buy them in the regular stores, but this year, I was able to get a bargain on eBay for a new set.
I start out with the lightest flesh colors and if I'm making the portrait from my imagination (just like this card), I imagine where the light is coming from so that there will be a darker side and a lighter side. The darker the shade, the more the texture of the gesso or wall putty shows.8. Darken the Edges
I like to darken the edges of the card to frame the card and I also sometimes finish it off with running a stamp pad along the edge. If I'm not satisfied with the card yet, I can also add a bit of watercolor or watercolor pencils.
9. Watercolor pencil / Watercolor
For this card, I used a dark brown watercolor pencil on the hair. I brushed a little water on those parts I wanted to darken. The order of the steps are not that important. I just keep layering on the colors until I'm happy with the card. Sometimes I start with a light wash of watercolor and build up the color with pencils. Sometimes the watercolor goes on last.
Here is the card, almost finished, with the colored pencils I used on it. I used a variety of colors in shades of flesh, browns, orange to give depth and volume (so that it will look like more than a coloring book image).10. Finish
I like to spray a fixative on the finished card. It think it gives a nice sheen and makes it look more professional (at least to me).
11. Information on the Back
Artist trading cards should have the artist's information on the back of the card. I usually glue a blank card back (hides the wedding invitation and any mess on the back of the card) with my username in ATCs for All, my email address, city and country, blog address and I fill in the blanks with the title of the card, my signature, and the date the card was made. If the card needs flattening, put it under some heavy books.13. Plastic Sleeve
Put your finished ATC in a plastic sleeve to protect it (make sure it is all dry). Scan it, post it in the ATCs for All gallery and it's all set to be traded!
If you found this helpful and if you would like to have the chance to receive this ATC, please post me a comment.
Congratulations to NancyJB for winning this card!