Friday, July 24, 2009

Back to Basics: Masking

Most of us have run into masking somewhere in our stamping life. The technique is fairly simple - stamp, cover, stamp again, repeat as desired. What you cover that first image with can vary from masking solution to masking tape to a self-adhesive sticky note to clear embossing powder but the principle is still the same - stamp, cover, stamp again.

Sometimes we move away from these basics but, like old friends, they keep on helping us in our art as we find new ways to use these simple ideas. When I first started using masking, I only used to repeat the same image varying its location. Now, I pull together tons of images to produce themed backgrounds.

To begin, you need to select you focal image. This will be stamped first and will seem to be "on top" of all the other images. Additional layers will appear to recede so choose wisely. I used this fabulous set from Invoke Arts that I got at the West Springfield Rubber Stamp and Papercrafts Festival to put together my creation.

I picked out the "Play/Art" combo for my central image. I used sticky notes for most of my masks this time, taking advantage of the strip of adhesive at the top of the note. I made sure to cut out my masks on the inside of their outlines to try to avoid what I affectionately call "masking halos" or reverse shadows around your images.

I decided to make this project colorful so I switched colors and stamped two more images. I made two more masks and added them on top of the images.

I kept switching inks and adding masks until my creation looked like a complete jumble.

Before I removed all the masks, I sponged in some game table green to fill in the white spots. I then used some copics to color in my Play/Art focal image and to add some dimension.

As a final touch, I used distress ink to take down the white a bit and to blend the inks. My red did smear more than anticipated but I really liked the slightly smudged effect I got. This step also covered the occasional "halo".

Here's the final result all set for either the Chestnut Fun & Games Challenge or the Spicy Supply Ribbon Challenge!

Once I refreshed myself on standard masking, I decided to do another quick project using a technique I first saw Michelle Zindorf use - embossing as a mask. Her fabulous tutorials also introduced me to one of my favorite tools - the Versamark Pen - which I have been happily using ever since.

For this quick project, I used both embossing powder masking and reverse masking. I started out by coloring my image (Alpha Stamps) with copic markers. I then used my Versamark Pen to go over the entire surface of the image. I love that the pen has a brush tip and a detail tip. I used that detail tip for the ax and the rose!

After coloring the image, I made my reverse mask by simply using a favorite punch and a scrap piece of paper. To get it to stick to my base panel, I used repositional Tombo adhesive.

Next, I used a sponge dauber to add blue to the exposed part of the image. The beauty of using embossing powder as your masking agent is that you can get very close to the image thus avoiding halos altogether. Any ink that gets on the image can be wiped away with a soft cloth. I always sponge from the edge to the center so as not to have any unwanted "bleed" under the paper.

When I was finished, the image looked like this:

To finish up, I used a Technique Junkies technique called Cuttlebug Highlights to create a complimentary background and put it all together!

I love the sentiment on this one as it SOO suits me and my life!

Try and reconnect with those stamping basics and see how all the newer techniques in your repertoire influence your old standards! My masking certainly has come a long way beyond layering daisies!


  1. Wow! You've taken a basic technique to a whole new level - these look amazing!

  2. Great tutorial on masking. Something I havent done for awhile. Thanks for the refresher course!

  3. I have forwarded my circle of friends logo on to you as you always leave such encouraging comments and take time to visit and see what I am up to. Always appreciated. Please visit my blog and accept my friendship.

  4. Great tut...and the outcomes are FAB. Don't you just love Invoke stuff...I haven't seen that one before...hmmm, you are such an enabeler! hugz

  5. Wow, Shar, these projects are absolutely stunning!!! Thanks for showing everything step-by-step... when you haven't done it for a while, it's so nice for a refresher course. AND, of course, the inspiration to do it again.


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