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:

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…

Blue-Green Watercolor Texture - Step 1
Blue-Green watercolor texture
Green-Yellow Watercolor Texture - Step 2
Yellow-Green watercolor texture
Yellow-Orange Watercolor Texture - Step 3
Yellow-Orange watercolor texture

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.

Step 2 Blending first 2 textures
After blending the 2 textures/layers

Step 3 Blending the 3 textures
After blending the 3 textures/layers

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%.

Added cloud texture - step 4
Cloud photo I decided to use
Step4 Blending the 4 textures
After blending the 4 layers

Step 5 placing the flower on its own layer
Placing the flower on its own layer
Step 6 Masked the flower - Changed opacity
After masking out the background – Changed opacity

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%.

Step 7 Turned on purple texture layer
Purple watercolor texture
Step 7 Created a mask with a textured brush
After selecting a textured brush and masked out the center
Step 7 Changed blending mode and opacity
After changing the blending mode and opacity

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%.

Step 9 Circle stencil at full size
Circle stencil at full size
Step 9 Bevel Settings
Bevel Settings
Step 9 First circle pattern
This is the first pattern I did
Step 9 After adjusting Blend mode and Opacity
After adjusting Blend mode and Opacity
Step 9 After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx

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.

Step 10 Second circle pattern
Second circle pattern
Step 10 After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
Step 10 After adjusting Blend mode and Opacity
After adjusting Blend mode and Opacity

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%.

Step 11 Third circle pattern
Third circle pattern
Step 11 After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
Step 11 After adjusting Blend mode and Opacity
After adjusting Blend mode and Opacity

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!

Step 8 Trying out the circle stencil
Trying out the circle stencil
Step 8 Pink Circles
The circle pattern I used
Step 8 Blending mode and opacity
After adjusting the blending mode and opacity

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%.

Step 12Trying out the triangle stencil
Trying out the triangle stencil, the selection is in gray
Step 12 1st triangle pattern
1st triangle pattern
Step 12 After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
Step 12 After adjusting Blend mode and Opacity
After adjusting Blend mode and Opacity

I then repeated the process adding another triangle pattern in the lower right part of the image.

Step 13 2nd triangle pattern
After adding the 2nd set of triangles
Step 13 After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
Step 13 After adjusting Blend mode and Opacity
After adjusting Blend mode and Opacity

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)

Step 14 Creating the 1st tile
Creating the 1st tile
Step 14 Bevel/Emboss settings
Bevel/Emboss settings
After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
Step 14 3D Effect settings
3D Effect settings
Step 14 After adding a 3D Effect
After adding a 3D Effect

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.

Step 15 Adding the text HAPPY
Adding the text HAPPY
Step 15 After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
After adding a Bevel/Emboss fx
Step15 Bevel/Emboss Settings
Bevel/Emboss Settings

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.

Step 16 Creating the 2nd tile
Creating the 2nd tile
Step 16 After adding a Bevel/Emboss and 3D Effects
After adding a Bevel/Emboss and 3D Effects
Step 16 Completed Birthday Tile
Completed Birthday Tile

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)

Step 17 Adding the sentiment
Adding the sentiment
Step 17 Outline Settings
Outline Settings
Step 17 After adding the FX
After adding the FX
Step 17 Bevel/Emboss settings
Bevel/Emboss settings
Step 17 Inner Glow Settings
Inner Glow 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.

Step 18 Duplicate Sentiment with Effects
Duplicate Sentiment with Effects
Step 18 Outline settings
Outline settings
Step 18 Bevel/Emboss settings
Bevel/Emboss settings

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.

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