Friday, April 14, 2017

Die Cut Brush Calligraphy Canvas Art



I am currently obsessed with two things: brush calligraphy and my digital die cutting machine. Brush calligraphy has been a long-standing obsession and since I got the Silhouette Portrait around Christmas I've been really putting it through its paces. I decided to incorporate both things when setting out to design a piece of encouraging/inspirational wall art.

With paper and a pen, I started writing the phrase "you are worthy" over and over. I use a Pentel water brush (small) filled with black sumi ink, which acts as a makeshift real-brush pen similar to the Pentel pocket brush.

To see me writing in-action (along with a full step-by-step tutorial of this wall art craft) be sure to check out the video I have uploaded to my Youtube channel!



I often prefer using brushes with actual fibers to tools like the Tombow dual brush pens which have felt-tip nibs and come in lots of water-based colors. All brush pens have their advantages and disadvantages; some make it easier to achieve certain styles or techniques. All I know is that I tend to return to my real-brush options most often.

Once I got to an iteration of the phrase that I found most visually pleasing, I tweaked the layout as much as I could by hand before scanning it.

I've been using Photoshop for about 16 years (I honestly can't believe I can say that) but what I did was quite simple and I think can be done at a beginner level. 

Once the image is scanned in at a high resolution, open it up. Crop in so that all that's on your canvas is the quote. Make the image Grayscale or turn down the Saturation until it is black and white. Adjust Levels (Image > Adjustments > Levels) so that your ink/lettering is true black and your paper is true white without blowing out the contrast too much. Clean up around the letters with the brush tool, take away or add more details if needed.

I chose to keep the brush-like quality of the letters but did a bit of clean up and rearranging. Here is the scanned-in version compared to the cleaned-up version - you can see I added an arrow as a graphic element as well.



Now the artwork is ready for Silhouette Studio, to be traced and made into a cut file. Just save as a .jpg (keep as high resolution as possible in order to preserve detail) and import the artwork into your Silhouette Library.

Once you have it sized and placed on the cut area properly (I have it sized to fit my canvas and to cut from a sheet of Gold Glitter Card Stock) continue to the Trace Window > Select Trace Area > Trace. You may have to do some fiddling with the cut lines to make sure everything will work properly. I have found the website silhouetteschoolblog.com to be super helpful as I am learning to navigate this new world of digital die cutting - there are so many tutorials out there for anything you might need!



Before hitting "send" and feeding the glitter card stock through to cut, I tested the settings to make sure everything would cut clean. I'd never used this card stock before and just a little test in a corner can save a whole lot of hassle down the road.

The settings for "Glitter Card Stock" suggested to set the blade at 6, but I know from using my machine that I often have to set it a couple notches higher, and 8 did the trick very well.

The 8x10 inch canvas I planned to add my lettering to needed some love, so I put down a layer of gesso and went to town with some Faber Castell Gelatos in bright pink and purple colors. I wanted it to be so bright, cheerful, and feminine that it could basically knock you over the head with how sweet it looked.



I used a baby wipe to smear the pigment around, fingers to smudge. More white gesso as needed for highlights. Color around the sides of the canvas as well.

Once the letters were glued on with Aleene's Tacky Glue, I realized I had a butterfly from the dollar store that would be a perfect embellishment. So I grunged it up with some black ink, splattered it with Winsor and Newton gold gouache, and fixed it on with E-6000.



This glitter card stock was a dream to work with and it was especially nice not to get glitter all over the place while still getting such a shiny result.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow CutCardStock on Instagram and Facebook!

And don't forget that I'm doing video of all these tutorials on my Youtube as well!

- Haley
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