I’ve been fascinated watching people on YouTube create Art Journals. Inspired by their creations, I thought I’d try my hand on a mixed media look using digital files. This is what I came up with as an eCard for my step-fathers birthday (I left off the last piece with his name). Follow along as I show you step-by-step how I created this image.
Who this is for:
Beginners or anyone who is interested in how I created this digital mixed media artwork
What you’ll need:
- Software that lets you work with layers – I used Affinity Photo and Affinity Photo for iPad
- Textures – I used “9 Free Watercolor Backgrounds” from The Hungry JPEG
- Digital Stencils (you can download the two I used here from my Dropbox account)
- Whatever fonts you want to use. I used Mark My Words and Impact Label alternate is Dymo
- Sentiment, quote, or…
Preparing the Background
I started working on this project using Affinity Photo for iPad. I got the first 4 textures blended to use for the background, saved to my iCloud Drive, then continued working/tweaking on my computer. Here are 3 of the textures I used…
The blue-green texture was my bottom layer, the second layer was then placed and I started playing with blending modes and opacity. I finally chose Soft Light with 100% Opacity for this look.
I wasn’t sure where I was headed, but I knew this was not finished. I placed the yellow-orange texture on top of the previous layers and, again I went through the blend modes and opacity. I ended up using Soft Light at 90% for this look.
I had added another layer, a purple watercolor texture, while still on the iPad version. The rest of this project was done on my computer. I turned off the purple layer, merged the three layers from above into 1 layer, and then looked through my photos for another texture. I found a photo of clouds that I thought I’d try, then it was again playing with blending modes and opacity. I used Soft Light at 100%.
I liked the look, but thought it needed some visual interest. I went through my photos again and decided on a mirrored rose image that I had created in the Mirror app. I moved it into position, masked out the background, and then played with the Opacity. I ended up using 65%.
I was now ready to try the purple texture. I turned the layer back on and using one of the many cool brushes that comes with Affinity Photo, I masked out the middle. I thought the dark purple was too much so I played around with the opacity and blending mode. I ended up using Hard Light at 50%.
The background “felt” complete, it was now time to move on to adding visual texture.
Creating Visual Texture
In mixed media they use modeling paste or texture paste and a stencil to add a raised texture to the paper. Since this is digital I had to create the effect. I created two “stencils” in Affinity Designer and saved them out as high resolution JPGs. I decided to try the circle stencil first.
I positioned the stencil to align with the top and left edge of the image, then, using the “Flood select tool” I selected the white dots to form a random pattern. Almost forgot, make sure that you select “add” or you will only get 1 circle at a time, now you can click on additional circles.
Here’s where it gets tricky so I’ll do my best to walk you through this part.
With the dots still selected, I turned off the stencil layer. Next I added a new layer above the stencil, I changed the color to white, then Edit>Fill checked the appropriate radial button, and then Apply. (See second image)
Now to add the raised look…I clicked on the fx icon, checked the box next to Bevel/Emboss, then actually clicked on the area to the right to bring up its dialog box. In the 4th photo you can see the settings I used. In hindsight, I wished I would have played a little more with the Type and Radius.
The white pattern was too “in your face” so I played around with the Blending mode and Opacity and ended up using Soft Light at 60%.
Now it was just a matter of repeating the above step. I turned the stencil layer back on and selected a pattern in the upper right area.
For the middle area I again repeated the steps above, this time I used the color picker to get a shade of green from the background first. Like the white, the result was too much. Back to playing with the blending mode and opacity. I used Soft Light at 60%.
In mixed media they use distress oxide and other medium and stencils to add color interest to the page. To achieve this, I reduced the size of the stencil to the height of my image, then used the steps above to select my pattern. I also used the color picker to select a pink color from the flower. On a new layer, I filled the circles, then played around with the blending mode and Opacity. I ended up using Overlay at 55%. I then moved the layer below all the raised items (it was now just above the background I created)
Note: when I did the screenshots for this part, I forgot that I did this after all the raised layers…which is why they’re not showing up in these images, but the pink pattern shows up in the images above. Doh!
Since I had gone through the trouble of making a triangle stencil, I figured I had better try it out. Like the circle stencil, I aligned it with the top and left edges of the artwork. I also decided to see what it looked like filled with black…wasn’t too crazy about it, so I adjusted the Blending Mode and Opacity. I finally chose Overlay at 50%.
I then repeated the process adding another triangle pattern in the lower right part of the image.
I was now done with the raised textures and ready to move on to adding Happy Birthday and a sentiment.
Happy Birthday Tiles and Sentiment
Here are the steps I used to create 3D looking tiles. I used the Rectangle Tool to draw out the shape for the tile. At this point I was just guessing at how long it needed to be. I then clicked on the fx icon and tried out the Bevel/Emboss settings first, I played around a bit to see what I liked. (See the 4th photo for the settings I ended up using).
I then decided to try the 3D Effect, that was when it got more of the look I was wanting. (See the 5th photo for the settings)
Now it was time to add the text. I went through my fonts a few times trying to decide what to use for Happy Birthday; I finally ended up using Mark My Words. With the tile being a fixed height, I wanted to use all caps. I typed HAPPY then, using the color picker, I selected a yellowish-greenish-gold color from the background to use on the text. I clicked on the fx icon and added a Bevel/Emboss effect.
I then repeated the same steps for Birthday and my Step-fathers name. I also played around with placing the tiles before stopping at the staggered look.
Coming down the home stretch now…the hardest part was finding a sentiment. I found it, finally, on holidappy.com. Using the Impact Label font, I typed in the sentiment. I wanted it to look more 3D and “pop”, like what we used to get from the old Dymo letter tape. I had to play around with the fx quite a bit to get the look I wanted, I used Inner Glow, Outline and Bevel/Emboss. (See images for settings)
The last step was duplicating the sentiment layer. On the original layer, I clicked on the fx icon and made adjustments adding an Outline and a Bevel/Emboss to the entire shape.
All in all, this was a fun experiment, if I were to do it over again there are a few things I’d change, BUT since this was my first attempt I will try them on my next piece.
As for you, you don’t have to follow every step I used. So don’t be afraid to play around to see what kind of look/effects you can get. Have any questions? Ask below.
To save you some searching time, here is a list of websites I came across for a heartfelt sentiment:
If you know of any others, please share by leaving a comment below.
Have any questions? Ask below. Want to share your creation? Link back to this post.