Monday, December 3, 2012

The Big ATC Tutorial - part one - the background

It's been a long time since I did a tutorial so I'm making it up to you by making it a five parter! Yes, I know I said last week it would 'only' be four parts, but I somehow managed to make it five. ;-) And it's all going to be about atc's.

This tutorial was made because of this:

 
You may remember that at the beginning of the year I started my Stolen Ideas Project, where I randomly (through a little personal lottery system) pick an artsy book and let myself be inspired by it for a project or some experimenting. I have done three stolen ideas so far. Two I have shared on this blog and can be found here and here. The third one was a writing exercise that was a litle too personal to share from a book by Julia Cameron. And a while ago I picked the above book by Bernie Berlin about atc's. I hadn't done atc's in ages, so I pretty much just let that be the only inspiration for this project: make some atc's. I did not actually use any ideas from the book, the sole thing I 'stole' was the concept of making atc's again.  ;-)

For those of you who don't know what atc's are: they are Artist Trading Cards and they are for trading with other artists. The most important thing you need to know about them right now is that you do not sell them and that they always measure 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches (or 6,4 by 8,9 cm). I will talk a little more about the trading in part five of the tutorial. And for finding out more about their history and general background I gladly refer you to wikipedia.

So here's how this five part tutorial will go: I will be posting every day this week, well Monday to Friday that is, and the five parts will cover the following subjects:
  • in part one (today, Monday) will cover the making of an interesting background from which we will be cutting twelve atc's
  • in part two (Tuesday) we will make our first set of four atc's using mostly paint markers and a glaze pen
  • in part three (Wednesday) we will make a second set of four atc's doing collage with book paper and some shiny trinkets
  • in part four (Thursday) we will do the third and last set of four atc's using watercolor and watersoluble crayons and also some collage
  • in part five (Friday) we will finish up by talking about backing our atc's and what to do with them now they are finished

I hope you will enjoy this week of posts. Now...let's get started!

The Big ATC Tutorial - part one - the background

Materials used:
  • a big sheet of sturdy paper that can take wet media (I used heavyweight paper intended for acrylic paint)
  • watersoluble crayons (I used Caran d' Ache Neocolor II)
  • gesso
  • a tear off paper palette (or anything flat you can spread paint or gesso out on)
  • at least one reasonable size brush for spreading out gesso and paint
  • something to make patterns with (I used a pattern roller, foam stamps and bubble wrap)
  • decorative paper
  • a good glue (I used acrylic gel medium by Talens Amsterdam which I personally like better than Golden)
  • a cheap or old brush you don't mind getting glue on
  • a circle template (or any other shape you like, I just happen to be a circle freak)
  • acrylic paint (I used Talens Amsterdam, but any old craft paint will do)
  • paint markers or any other (opaque) markers or gel pens (I used UniPosca acrylic paint markers)
  • a pen or pencil to line out your cards
  • some left over sturdy paper for making a template
  • a ruler (for measuring your template)
  • a pair of scissors to cut your cards from the sheet

Important note: 
Please use what you have, there's usually an alternative in your stash or a way around spending unnecessary  cash. I hate for people to have the feeling they need something before they can join in. Be creative and inventive in your material choices. Remember it took me over twenty years to accumulate all the stuff I have, you don't need to do it in one splurge. I'll try to give alternatives where I can. 

I took a big sheet of heavyweight paper intended for acrylic paint. This sheet is a little over A3 size. I started by covering is with random markes of several colors of Neocolor II's , which is a brand of watersoluble crayons that I'm absolutely in love with.

Instead of diluting the crayons with water, I diluted them with gesso. This gives a wonderful chalky and soft effect. If you don't have watersoluble crayons, you can also mix your acrylic or craft paint with gesso for a similar result.

I got out my first pattern maker.  I have a couple of these pattern rollers, but you can use anything you like that leaves a more or less steady pattern. Think stamps or even just the lids of jars or different kinds of bubble wrap. Or maybe you have stencils you can use and some spray paint.

I used gesso to make a first pattern and covered my entire sheet with it. I usually put a blob of gesso on a tear off palet and spread it out with a brush. Then I can roll the pattern roller through the gesso and apply it to the background paper.

I got out some cute decorative papers and tore pieces from them. I then glued them to the background with acrylic gel medium. If you don't have gel medium just use any good glue that is water resistant (a glue stick will probably not do). I apply the medium with a brush and also go over what I glue down, so the paper is sealed in.

Now with the help of a circle template I cut circles from more decorative papers. It's nice if you have some different size circles. If you don't have decorative papers, you could think about making your own by putting marks and patterns on loose sheets of paper with watercolor, paints, pens and markers. Or use similar colors from magazine cut outs. The sky's the limit. If you don't have a circle template you can use glasses, lids, caps or anything else that is circular.

I spread the circles out over the background paper and glued them down, again with gel medium.

Now I got out my paint markers and started drawing around the circles. I made some flowers, see? If you don't have paint markers you can use gel pens or permanent markers. Paint markers are more opaque which is why I love them.

Now I got a foam stamp with a circle pattern and started stamping with a contrasting color of acrylic paint. I love foam stamps. They work really well with acrylic paint. I used the same technique as with the pattern roller and the gesso, meaning I spread out some paint on a paper palette and then stamped into that with the foam stamp so it would be covered at once. No ado with brushing the paint on the stamp or anything like that.  Did you know that the left over paint on the palette (with the pattern of the stamp still left in) makes a wonderful print on a clean (or not so clean) piece of paper? You can start a whole new background just by doing that!

Time to get my hands dirty with some more acrylic paint. I chose two bright colors. I always grab the pinks and purples!

With my fingers I made these stripes with the paint. It's nice to work with your fingers!  Of course there's no need to make stripes, you can fingerpaint any shape and size you want. ;-)

You don't need fancy stamps or pattern rollers for mark making. How about some bubble wrap? I stamped these dots with gesso and some left over bubble wrap, because I wanted to unify the background a little more.

I got out another paint marker and started drawing swirls around the green stamped circles from a few layers before. I didn't do this with all the circles, just a lot of them. This gave a nice random pattern. Again you can use gel pens or any kind of maker that is waterproof. After this I considered the background finished. Now the fun really begins!

 I took a small piece of sturdy paper and made a template the size of an atc. I turned my background paper and traced around that template on the back and tried to get as many atc's out of it as I could.  The point however is not to do it nice and neatly. Lay down your template sideways and diagonally at different angles. The reason for this is that you will get to see your background in a whole new way when you turn them around. Let it happen on its own. Don't plan it out.

Now I cut out the shapes I just traced and there you go! A whole bunch of atc backgrounds! I managed to get twelve out of an A3 sheet of paper. That is not the most economical amount, but it does give me the most variation from one background and that's what matters more to me than the quantity of cards.

And with that we end this first part of our series of atc tutorials. If you have any questions you would like to ask please feel free and I hope you will do it in the comment section (instead of the mail), so other people can profit from them as well. It also helps me to see if something is not explained clearly enough, so don't hesitate to speak up if something is unclear.

The coming three days I will show you how I made three different kinds of atc's from this one background. Hope you come and see how they unfold!

Wishing you a wonderful and artsy day!



26 comments:

  1. What a lovely tutorial, I've never gotten into ATC's but I might give this a try.

    Brigitta

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    1. Thanks Brigitta, I hope you try them, they are fun.

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  2. Wat een geweldige tutorial, dank je wel!

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  3. Beautiful backgrounds! ATCs are my preferred medium, so this is very interesting to me. Wanna do a trade? lol

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    1. Melody, if you really want to trade please mail me. My address is on my profile on the sidebar. I would love to trade the cards I made for this tutorial.

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  4. I love ATCs and am always looking for a reason to do them. I will be here all week!

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    1. Cool Leida! Hope I live up to your expectations.

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  5. Spannend zo'n week voltutorials! Ik ga de hele week met je meedoen, in ieder geval ga ik elke tutorial meedoen. Geweldig dat je dit voor ons wilt doen. Ik hoop er veel van te leren en mee te spelen en experimenteren. Leuk!
    Groet, Wanda

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    1. Leuk dat je meedoet Wanda! Veel plezier!

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  6. These turned out REALLY awesome. Thanks for sharing your process!

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    1. You're welcome Annie, it was fun putting it together.

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  7. Very inspiring! Love the layering and great inspiration. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you Denise, glad you like it.

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  8. Great way to make backgrounds. I've been off making ATC's for a while but maybe I will give this a try and it will get me going again. Thanks

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    1. I hadn't made atc's in quite a while myself, it was fun doing some again.

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  9. How exciting, Caatje! I have lots of catching up to do to read through your whole tutorial. I love the idea of creating so many backgrounds at the same time. (I usually make each ATC individually, which can be more time-intensive, I think.) I really like how you set your ATC template at different angles on the back, so your patterns were varied and also a surprise to you when you turned them over!

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    1. Thanks Andria, I hope I give you some ideas for some new atc's of your own. I am an impatient art maker, so making one background for several atc's is like a shortcut for me. ;-)

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  10. Caatje these are wonderful tutorials! I love them. Thanks so much for sharing the basics. I've seen some beautiful ATCs, but always thought they were just too hard for me (I'm very much a novice in the art space)....I'm rethinking that now. You've really inspired me to have a go. Thank you!

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    1. I think atc's are just like any piece of art or craft, only...well...smaller. ;-)
      I hope you give them a try, Kate!

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  11. Dank je wel, Caatje. I participate in a bi-monthly ATC exchange. I'm always open to ideas. I'll look forward to following your series.

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  12. Absolutely wonderful! thanks so much.

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    1. You're more than welcome Gisele. :-)

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  13. Een dezer dagen begeef ik mij op het pad der ATC's en ik ben zooo dankbaar voor je tutorial! Alleen al de afmetingen van een ATC in cm's... ;)

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    1. Zeker doen! Het is een uitdaging op zich. Fijn dat je het leuk vind. ;-)

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