Sunday, June 24, 2012

Scenic Stamping Tutorial: Train Ride

After having promised to do a tutorial on scenic stamping for a while, I finally remembered to take all the step-by-step photos of the colouring process (I usually forget many of them). I didn’t photograph the stamping process, because it is more dependent on the stamps that you have. You can use the colouring process for almost any kind of scene. You can find many more tutorials for similar colouring at the Stampscapes site.

This is a full sheet scene (8.5x11), but the colouring can be used for any size scene. I added a cut-out photo of my son to the finished scene. It is part of a series of full-sheet scenes I am making for him where he is placed into the scene. The scene is inspired by CSI challenge #25, you can find the info in this post. Here's the finished scene:

And this is how I did this:
The scene is done on glossy cardstock, and coloured with dye inks. For the stamping, I started out with the train, stamping it with Jet Black ink. I didn’t ink the smoke coming from the train on the stamp, since I didn’t want my son to be sitting in a cloud of smoke. The castle was stamped with the same ink. Next step was to build up the series of hills and for this I used Stampscapes Soft Hill 278F, Oak Row 223F, and Oaks and mist 224F. They were inked with three shades of green ink (Memento Pear Tart, Bamboo Leaves, Cottage Ivy), for variation. I added some brown to the trunks of the trees with a marker. The far off hills were made lighter. The areas in between the hills were filled in with the Sedge Filler 251C, perhaps my most used scenic stamp.

Then I started adding trees here and there, using the same green inks and the brown marker, but also stamping some with Archival Ink Olive. When stamping trees into grass, it looks better if you wipe off some of the ink from the base of the trunk before stamping, then it looks like they are coming out of the grass. I forgot this on a bunch of the small trees, but will fix that later on. Many mistakes in scenic stamping can be fixed, or won't show once the scene is finished.

The Cloud Cumulus stamp was stamped 5 times in the sky with Adirondack Stonewashed ink and wiping off parts of the stamp for variation.

I use a Colorbox Stylus Tool when colouring. I love the control you get with this tool and the sponges are awesome. One of the most important things to do when colouring a scene like this, is to start with the lightest shade of ink and then build up colour on top of it. Don't try to put a dark ink as the first layer, not only will it usually not go on smoothly, but there is also very little you can do to make it lighter. You can always add colour, but not remove it. Since dye inks are transparent, the layers underneath show through, so if you ink a light colour on top of a dark one, it will usually not show much. A first layer of light coloured ink also lubricates the paper and makes it easier to apply the darker ink smoothly. I like to start with Adirondack Willow for green areas, making sure to leave some areas the white of the paper.

You can use the tool in a tapping or dragging motion, and turn it on its side for narrow places.

Next I added some Bundled Sage here and there.

Next Bamboo Leaves, don't cover all the previous ink. I added almost no ink to the areas just beyond the hills, to increase the sense of a hilly landscape. I didn't add any of the darker greens to the far off hills, if they are lighter, it looks like they are further away. It is important not to colour the scene in the same shade all over, but to have different values of each colour.

I added some Peeled Paint to the darker areas of the grass.

And finally I added Adirondack Oregano and Pesto for the dark areas of the grass. If the foreground is made darker, it jumps forward in the scene, adding perspective. Dark areas are also found around the edges of the scene, behind the castle, and underneath some of the trees. These inks are a brown-green shade and grass usually looks better if you add some brown to it.

Next, Antique Linen Distress Ink was used as the first layer of ink on the train and on the castle, it is so light that you hardly see it, but still important to add.

Adirondack Mushroom was used as the next layer ink on the train and castle, leaving quite large areas uncovered. I use a Ranger craft nib for the narrow places when colouring. There is a handle available now, but I couldn't find mine when doing this scene, so I only used the nibs. Before colouring, decide where the light is coming from, so that you know where to place shadows and highlights.

Finally, Adirondack Espresso was added to the shadow areas of the train and the castle. It is a dark brown ink.

Now, to the sky. I often colour the sky first, but this time I started with the grass, since there was so much of it. For blue areas (sky and water), Adirondack Aqua works great as a first layer. It is a very light shade of blue, you hardly see it in the photo. I left large areas of the sky the white of the paper.

The next blue added to the sky was Adirondack Stonewashed, one of my favorite shades of blue. The ink was applied in a streaky fashion, starting from the edges of the paper. This adds movement to the sky. I also added some of the ink to the shadow parts of the clouds.

A bit of Adirondack Denim was applied to the corners of the sky. I used a black pen and brown ink to extend the track of the train. It looked strange when it just disappeared into the grass.

When dye inks dry, they become lighter, much like watercolour paint. I often leave my scenes to dry overnight, and then add some more ink to them the next day, starting with a layer of the lightest ink and then adding some dark ink.

After the scene is coloured, I often add some more stamping. The Migrating Birds were stamped with Denim ink. I usually stamp birds to the sky after colouring it, because they can be used to cover up little mistakes if necessary. I wanted to add some more life in the scene and the horses and buck were stamped with Archival Ink Coffee. I use a stamp positioner for a lot of the last step stamping, because I don't want to mess up a scene that I have already coloured with crocked stamping. It is also helpful to test the placement of things by stamping them on the transparent sheet of the stamp positioner, and then moving it around, especially to check that they are not out of proportion, too large or too small relative to the other items in the scene.

The Sedge Filler stamped was stamped with a dark green ink here and there on the grassy areas, to add more texture. Trees were stamped in the foreground with Jet Black ink to frame the scene and to make the foreground darker.

Highlights were added with a white gel pen. I also used the pen to add little white flowers to the grass here and there. 

Here's a close-up of the highlights. I added extra flowers under the trees where I had forgotten to wipe of the ink at the base before stamping. The flowers made the trees look more anchored to the grass.

The final step is to add mist and some 'shine' with white pigment ink. Dry-brush the ink on to the scene, making sure not to add too much ink at a time. I placed the white ink in between the hills to increase a sense of distance, as well as in the sky and on the clouds.

Here's a close-up.

The finished scene. I sprayed it with a light coat of gloss fixative at the end.

Thank you so much for looking at this long tutorial. Let me know if you have any questions.


Supplies: Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz On the Railroad, District Warehouse; Beeswax castle; Stampscapes: Buck 008A, Cloud Cumulus 018E, Foliage 035A, Migrating Birds 152D, Spotted Horse 155A, Horse 171A, Oak Tree Sm. 177B, Oak Branch 203G, Oak Row 223F, Oaks and mist 224F, Maple Pair 239D, Maple Trio 240B, Shagbark Hickory Sm. 241E, Shagbark Hickory 242G, Tree Cluster 244E, Sedge Filler 251C, Tal Grass Sm. 254B, Prickly Branches 272G, Soft Hill 278F.

Inks: Adirondack: Willow, Aqua, Stonewashed, Oregano, Pesto, Espresso, Mushroom, Denim; Distress Ink: Bundled Sage, Frayed Burlap, Peeled Paint, Antique Linen; Memento: Bamboo Leaves, Cottage Ivy, Pear Tart, Rich Cocoa (ink and markers); Archival Ink Jet Black and Coffee; Colorbox Frost White.

Other: white gel pen: Kromekote glossy cardstock; Colorbox Stylus Tool, Ranger craft nibs.


  1. An amazing amount of effort and talent has gone into this layout. I would have assumed it to be a digi if it weren't for your tutorial. Thank you Anna for the wonderful tips.

  2. wow....I am speachless :)
    So fantastic !!! Your work is amazing :)

  3. This is amazing. What a wonderful detailed tutorial
    I'm a very novice stamper, but I can certainly never get my stamping to come out so neatly or precise.
    You are a true artist x

  4. Congrats on being picked for the Simon Says DT! This is absolutely fabulous. A true artist indeed =)

  5. Wow! You are amazing - thinks for sharing your process!

  6. This is fantastic, I need to add for more stamps to my collection before I give it a go but I defo want the sedge filler.


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