Saturday, May 28, 2011

Amy Kinsch: Scene Stamping

Scenic stamping can be intimidating your first few times trying it. There’s nothing like staring at that blank, white sheet of paper thinking that you’ll make one wrong move and mess the whole thing up. I have a few tricks that should help make scenic stamping a bit easier.

White paper or cardstock
High quality black ink such as Marvy or Vivid.
Fine tip black marker
Acrylic blocks
Post-it notes or other masking paper
Pastel chalks
Paper towel
Colored pencils
Beeswax stamps: Chief 962J, Log Ride 162F, Joshua Trail 236K, Joshua Scene 239K, Desert Mountains 1350K, Sloped Hill 1361K, Left Lake Bank 1366J, Cactus Hill 828H, Rock and Tall Grass 1375I and Water Ripples 1119J

I stamped all of the images I thought I might use on a piece of scratch paper and cut each one out. This way I can place the images together and move them around until I’m happy with the outcome and I’ve decided which stamps will get used in my scene.

When stamping a scene you need to stamp your foreground first and in this scene that’s the Chief. One of my tricks for scenic stamping is to stamp the same scene five or six times in assembly line fashion. That way if I blur an image or drop a stamp in the middle and ruin it I have back ups. I’ve stamped the Chief on six different sheets of paper.

Next, I stamp the Chief on a post-it note making sure that I’m up against the sticky edge. Always over cut your mask by just a bit. This helps eliminate the “halo” effect. The mask is placed right on the Chief and the Sloped Hill is stamped over him. Remember also that I’m still stamping on all six sheets of paper and I eliminate any that I make a mistake on as I go.

Next is to continue the overlook by stamping the Cactus Hill so that it matches right up to the end of the Sloped Hill. Here’s where another one of my tricks comes in handy. I mark the edge of the stamp with my fine tip black sharpie so I can see how to line it up when stamping. You can also do this trick on a wood mount stamp but using acrylic blocks makes it that much easier to position. You can see that I have stamped a seamless line.
I’ve used the same marking trick to match up the Rock and Tall Grass to complete the overlook. The foreground is complete.

Now that the entire foreground is stamped, I’m moving into the middle of the scene. I’ve cut masks for all the foreground stamps making sure to over cut them. With the masks in place I stamp the Left Lake Bank. Next, I stamp the Log Ride.

Now, it’s time to check the placement of my last stamps. I use those images I originally cut out so that I can move them around on my stamped artwork to figure out the best positioning. Once I’ve done that, I take a green colored pencil and mark each side (shown with the arrows) which will help me position my stamps. I remove the stamped paper of the Joshua Trail on the left and use my green mark and the stamped paper (left in place) of the Joshua Scene to help me position my stamped image. Once I’ve done that I can remove the stamped Joshua Scene paper and stamp the actual image using my guides again.

Masks are cut of the Joshua Trail and Joshua Scene, put in place and the Desert Mountain is stamped.

At this point, I can start filling in the larger areas with pastel chalk. I take a piece of paper towel, fold it up into a square, rub it on the chalk and use that to rub the chalk onto the paper. By applying it this way you are really getting the chalk into the grain of the paper. This is a really quick and easy way to color the majority of your scene quickly. The other advantages are that pastel chalk blends well and can even be erased if you get color where you don’t want it. Start with your lighter colors first and graduate to the darker colors.

I’ve colored in the foreground ground and the desert floor and mountains with pastel chalk but I decided to add some texture into the river. Everything is masked again and I only inked up the bottom portion of the Water Ripples stamp and I only stamped it a few times here and there. To complete the backside of the river bank I took a dark brown pencil and drew it in using a heavy hand.

I filled in the river with pastel chalks. At this point all the large areas are colored in and it’s time to move on to colored pencils for the smaller areas. Use a few shades for each image you are coloring in such as the grass or rocks. This helps to make it all look more natural. I also did shading and added texture with the pencils in the large areas already colored in with pastel chalks.

Additional Tips:
Stamp on a large sheet of paper keeping your scene in the middle as I’ve done here. That way you have the edges to touch and if you transfer ink from your fingers onto the paper it won’t matter.

Use one of your discarded scenes to try different colors on before actually coloring in your scene. I used one of mine to practice drawing in the back side of the river bank.

Use an eraser or a piece of rubber to erase any pastel chalk in unwanted areas.

Marvy or Vivid are nice high quality inks and won’t bleed. Some inks have a high water content and detailed images can appear mottled and messy instead of crisp.

Go over your black stamped lines with colored pencils to help blend everything in and make it look more natural.

You can use a fixative if you like on your finished scene to “set” your pastel chalk.

Try and imagine how the sun and shadows affect lighting and colors when coloring in your scene.


  1. Shar, this was a wonderful tutorial, and very timely for me, too. I'm just starting on the scenic stamping path (though I've been stamping for years) and have been slightly intimidated by it. These are some great tips that should take some of the "where do I start?" out of the whole process.

  2. Fantastic scene and brilliant tutorial, Thank you. XOXO Zoe

  3. Wow, great tutorial. Thanks, with your help I might venture into this more. You make it look doable.

  4. An awesome scene stamping tutorial, thank you so much for showing us this technique in such great detail.

  5. What an incredible tut. I learned so much. Beautiful scene too! thanks

  6. Wow! What a gorgeous scene, so intricate and detailed. I love your tips, especially the one about making several scenes, assembly-line style, in case you mess one up. I can speak from experience about how frustrating it is to get four stamps perfectly positioned and then *drop* the fifth and final stamp (ink side down, of course) right in the middle. Great tutorial!

  7. great scene!! I'm going shopping right now. :o)

    Take care and STAY POSITIVE!


Thanks for your wonderful words!

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