ILLUSTRATING KNOWHOW Mixing Tools and Styles Part 1


In the first of a series of Know-How articles on mixing techniques, picture book writer and illustrator Layn Marlow reveals her method for combining different tools and styles.
Part 1 – Inkjet Printer and Mixed Media





Producing final picture book artwork by traditional methods can be scary! The fear of making a mistake and having to start all over again sometimes causes my work to become very tight, but I find that using a mash-up of media can help.



I know many people feel that their first, sketchy attempt at a drawing – perhaps when they’re really focusing on the emotions of the characters – often turns out to be the best. I used to try tracing my early sketches into my final artwork, but that way, characters could end up looking wooden. Nowadays, to keep that early looseness, I often scan and resize my original sketch, (sometimes even from a thumbnail), then clean it up slightly in Photoshop, before printing it onto the paper I’ll use for my final artwork.



I use Arches hot-pressed watercolour paper, 185gsm. I like its smoothness and although my printer has a manual rear feed, this paper is even thin enough to go through the normal feeder if necessary. (I recently discovered that A3+ inkjet scanner/printers seem to have come down massively in price - this Epson WF-7610 cost about £150.)



After printing, I just soak the paper in water for about 5 minutes and stretch it with gum tape onto one of my home-made boards. (MDF treated with a mixture of 3 parts French polish to 7 parts methylated spirit.) The printer ink doesn’t seem to run.



Once the paper’s smooth and dry, it’s ready for me to throw anything at it; watercolour, inks, pencil, gouache, acrylic, whatever I fancy. I often use collage now too, but more of that another time. For me, the liberating factor is the knowledge that if it goes wrong, I can just print off another and don’t have to draw the whole thing out again!


 Part two of Layn's techniques will be posted next month!

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Layn Marlow’s picture books have sold over a million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 20 languages. www.laynmarlow.co.uk

7 comments:

  1. I love seeing processes, thanks for sharing yours with us Layn :)

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    1. Thanks Katherine - I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series and hoping to get some useful tips by seeing the processes of others.

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  2. Thank you Layn, looking forward to the next instalment :) I have the same printer - what's the heaviest paper you've been able to print on?

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    1. Hi Patrick - Ah, well this printer's quite new to me, so afraid I haven't tried anything heavier than 185g so far.

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    2. Thanks Layn! I'll see what breaks it ;)

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  3. Layn, this is so useful! I never would have considered printing on art paper and then colouring over the top. And the printer tip is brilliant - my wife has been looking for an A3 scanner for a while, but they cost £500. I just ordered the Epson printer for £130 delivered with £30 cashback!

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    1. Thanks Nick - really glad it was useful. Was that the deal from Printerland? Bridget Marzo put me on to it too and I'm really happy with the printer. I confess I'm still using my old scanner though (which cost about £500 about 8 years ago!), so I hope the scanner on this also works out for your wife.

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