How I pre-colour paper for my sketchbook

Today’s vlog is a little bit different. I had a query about the coloured paper I use for my pattern explorations sketchbook. When I said I coloured it myself with Distress Inks, I was asked if I’d make a video of the process, so I did today.

Here’s a list of the materials I use:
* Distress Inks, though you could use any other ink pads
* Cut ‘n’ Dry foam and blending/make-up brushes
* Stencils
* Paper – today I used Canson Imagine mixed media paper, A5 in size
* A spray bottle of water if you want to create a bleached, grungy kind of finish.

The video shows, far better than I could put into words, how to colour the paper. And the techniques I show are but a start!

Why do I colour the paper?

White paper is just fine for drawing on, but it can be a tad stark, clinical. I think having a background colour, with some texture to it either from the unevenness of colour or stencils, gives some life to the drawing right from the off. I find it a more visually appealing way to start drawing.

It’s also a fun and fascinating thing to do. You never quite know how it’s going to turn out. Each colour combination gives a different ‘feel’ to the background, as do the stencil patterns that are used, or stamps, or methods to further distress or increase the texture.

The colour from Distress Ink can be subtle or more intense. I prefer the more subtle, mostly. What tool you use to apply the ink can help with this, but it’s all still a bit random, and I like that! Mind you, that randomness may be my way of applying the inks; I’m not interested in a perfectly even application – I want the variation!

I do find it easier to get a more subtle effect with the blending brushes. They pick up less ink than the cut ‘n’ dry foam. The cut ‘n’ dry foam is useful for adding ink around the paper edges to create a darker border.

Do I have to use Distress Inks? What about other media?

No, of course not! There are many other ink pads available. I personally prefer the dye-based inks for paper I’m going to draw on.

The only pigment inks I’ve used are Distress Oxides and the powdery nature of the pigment particles clogs my pens up quite quickly. I’ve not used other pigment inks to know whether this happens with them. I know pigment inks can take a goodly while to dry, though you can speed this up using a heat tool specifically for craft work, though the heat can warp the paper.

Other media? Of course! You can colour the paper with whatever media you have in your stash or that appeal to you. Watercolours or watercolour pencils would work brilliantly! I would, however, consider the paper you use for this. You’d need one that wouldn’t be damaged by the quantity of water you’re planning on using.

There’s many other media that could be used, I’m sure. The supplies available to both mixed media artists, card makers, paper crafters as well as artists are multitudinous!

I stick to Distress Ink, with the occasional very controlled spritz of water, because I don’t like working messily. I like the color palette available and the more grungy, aged, vintage, distressed effects that can be achieved with them.

Does it affect other media used later?

Yes, and no. It all depends on the coloured media you’re using and also how much ink you’ve used to colour the paper.

If you use watersoluble media, the Distress Ink is likely to dissolve in the water. That means you may get a blended colour, particularly if there’s a lot of Distress Ink on the paper or it’s one of the darker colours. This isn’t a problem for me, generally.

If you’re using dry media or alcohol markers then the Distress Ink isn’t affected. However, as alcohol markers are transparent, there will be some visual colour mixing.

Are Distress Inks Archival?

Distress Inks are acid-free, so they don’t affect the paper. However, they are not light fast and will fade/discolour in time when left in bright light. This doesn’t worry me as this is for sketchbook work, kept out of the light in book form. Even when I use this kind of paper for other artwork it’s fine as I tend to scan the artwork to use in a digital format.

Here’s the video:

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