Monday, April 6, 2020

Artist's Notebook: Are You Stamp-Blind? 4 Tips to Open Your Eyes & Improve Your Coloring

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

I love to color Power Poppy digital stamps with Copic Markers and colored pencils. But I’m a coloring instructor so I draw and color daily. Your hobby is my day job.

My hobby? I l bake bread. I’m nerdy, so when I bake bread, I geek-out. Old recipes, odd ingredients... I’ve even cultured my own yeast. I enjoy baking the same way you enjoy coloring. It’s relaxing fun.

But here’s the difference: when I make bread, I don’t staple the recipe to every single slice. I don’t announce with a bullhorn “Hey everybody, before you take a bite of my bread, please note that I used Gold Medal Flour and Morton's Salt!”

But in coloring? You advertise your supplies all the time.

And you don’t even realize it.

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

Hello, my name is Amy Shulke. I’m the illustrator and art instructor over at Today, let's talk about Stamp Blindness and how to cure it.

Over the past several months here at Power Poppy, we’ve explored how Artistic Coloring differs from traditional coloring, how to take the first step to adding artistry to your projects, and even why you should try coloring as big as your printer will allow.

But there’s one little thing that most colorers never think about when they switch to realistic coloring.

And yet it’s incredibly important to artistry.

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

You are blind and you don’t even realize it

Whether you use physical stamps or digitals, the stamping process is the first step of every project. It’s like breathing or blinking, you don’t even think about stamping.

Ahhhh… You are the fish who doesn’t realize he’s wet.

You’ve handled stamps so much that you’re blind to them.

You spend 100% of your time thinking about the space inside the lines. What color should I use? Where does the shade go?

You look at other people’s coloring projects and you focus 100% on what they did inside the lines. How many markers did they use? Where did they put the shade?

But the rest of the world doesn’t stamp.

It doesn’t matter how pretty you color. All we see are your big fat honkin’ stamp lines.

We see the stamp lines you don’t even notice.

And I hate to break it to you, those big black stamp lines are the difference between:

My mom colors some stuff.


My mom is an amazing artist!

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

I’m not saying all stamp lines are bad

There is a time and place for effective black stamp lines. Good line art is beautiful. Bold outlines can make a strong artistic statement.

But black ink should not be your automatic reflex.

Black lines overwhelm most coloring projects. My Sunburst project here wouldn’t be nearly as delicate or feminine if everything were outlined in thick black ink.

No-Line, Invisible Line, Barely-There, or Naked As a Jaybird Stamping… whatever you want to call it…

Every day should be a no line day.

Here are four tips for making the transition to No-Line as easy as possible.

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

1. Gradually Go Lighter

I recommend printing in a gray or pink ink. Stamp or print as soft and pale as possible...

But don’t go cold turkey all at once!

For ink pads, gradually work your way from black, to gray, to a paler gray. For digital stamps, use your opacity slider. Incrementally move the percentage lower. Give yourself several projects to make the transition.

Don’t jump from black to barely-there in one project.

Black outlines are like training wheels. It takes time to get used to the feeling of less linework. You
don’t know how much you’ve been relying on black lines to carry the image until they’re gone. So don’t shock yourself, fade them out slowly.

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

2. Edges Require More Thought

Black lines encourage sloppy coloring. Sometimes you color just up to the line, sometimes you color up onto the line. You only care if you go beyond the lines, right? Because that's the only time your edges really show.

That security blanket is gone with no line coloring.

Not only will you have to color neatly now, you also have some decisions to make.

When a stamp has very thick lines, you must decide where one object stops and the other starts.

In Tree Peony, every petal forces me to decide where to stop one petal and where to start the next— should I color just up to the line or should I color over it?

There is no right or wrong answer, it’s all up to your taste. But now for the first time, you’re forced to think about it.

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

3. Don’t Leave Ghost Lines

This doesn’t happen with everyone but let me point it out, just in case.

Some black-line colorers are very neat and tidy. They’ve spent years coloring right up to the edge of the black line and they never, never, never go over it.

Then they switch to gray lines and do the same thing. It doesn’t look good.

In No-Line coloring, if you don’t hide the lines with color, then it’s not really No-Line coloring, is it?

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

4. Print a reference stamp

Many people are afraid of No-Line coloring because the color usually hides the original stamp lines.

Then you get lost.

As I colored the leaves on Tree Peony, I lost the veins. I could see a few of them but most were gone. Marcella's veins are a beautiful detail, I really didn't want to lose them!

I always keep a copy of the uncolored original stamp by my side.

When I feel like I’ve lost the shape or a detail, I can easily refer back to Marcella’s original drawing. I may not add it back exactly the way Marcella drew it, but I can restore the general feeling.

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

So here’s my Artist’s Notebook challenge for you this month...

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | | #realistic #howtocolor #copic
Dig out that soft gray ink pad that scares you. Find the Opacity settings on your computer and turn it down a notch or two.

Make your next Power Poppy impression paler than usual.

Start learning to color with neat, crisp edges that you make yourself rather than letting the stamp lines hide your oopsies.

Start thinking about the shape of the object. Understand the petals, stamens, and stem of the a flower instead of relying on Power Poppy to tell people which parts are what.

Start interpreting your stamps as art. You be the artist, you be the story teller!

Want to improve your Copic Marker or colored pencil coloring? Power Poppy’s guest author Amy Shulke from offers artistic coloring tips for Copic Markers or colored pencil. | | #realistic #howtocolor #copic

Want to color Power Poppy’s Tree Peony with me?

My Sunburst class is part of the Vanilla Livestream series for intermediate to advanced Copic colorers. This lesson covers how to add warmth and radiance to your flowers using a yellow underpainting technique. We’re using Copic Markers and colored pencils but I’ve stolen this technique from watercolorists and it’s so much fun! We’re painting with Copics!

You can find out more about Vanilla Livestream classes here.

And I’ll see you back here next month for another glance into my Artist’s Notebook!

Previous Artist's Notebook articles:

What is Artistic Coloring?
Add Realistic Texture
Don't Be Afraid of Large Projects!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Friday FunDay is Bursting with Color

Hi everybody! As I write this note, my garden is bursting in to bloom in nearly every corner — the fruits of planting hundreds and hundreds of daffodils, tulips, fritillaries, and more the last few falls. Amidst this season of uncertainty, I am finding such peace, hope, and joy in the unfurling of life in the natural — albeit cultivated — world. A reminder to keep your heart abloom! Our hearts (in essence, our spirits, our attitudes, our way of being) are so precious, we must protect them fiercely and feed them joyful, loving messages. Off to sew masks for the family today, AND what I’m really looking forward to: working on more drawings of positivity to be soon available as digital downloads. xoxo 

Speaking of keeping your Heart Abloom, here are some exuberant cards our team has been working on this week.... get ready to be dazzled! 

Barbara Walker | Heart Abloom digital

Barbara Campbell | Bees in Foxglove digital, Small But Mighty Affirmations

Lisa Johansen | Follow Your Heart digital

Stacy Morgan | Loving Tulips 

Christine Okken | Time to Fly digital

Julie Koerber | Sweet Peas digital, M-Powering Words 

Leslie Miller | Let It Be free digital

Broni Holcombe | Sassy Succulents

I appreciate you stopping by today! If you are waiting on an order from Power Poppy, rest assured that orders will be shipped out today — I ran out of envelopes after the big sale, but more arrived yesterday afternoon. :) So grateful for those still able to work to deliver needed goods. 

Be well, friends. XOXO

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Creative Confetti: Let's Go DIgital!

Hello all! Who's ready for a new challenge? For some, this challenge might fire off different parts of their brain and get them learning a new skill! I have seen so many people during these times vow to try something and learn something new. My daughter's taking online guitar lessons through Fender. I am taking up sewing again. I just made THIS little caddy for my knitting and it turned out so cute!

So, if you haven't tried digital stamps yet and using them in different ways, now is your challenge and chance! A long while back I did THIS tutorial on getting used to manipulating digis. It's a great starting point. And, if you need a little ammunition to get started, Marcella has plenty HERE in the digital section of the Power Poppy Shop! 

So, without further ado -- this week's challenge! 

HOW TO PLAY: It's just as simple as the graphic suggests! Simply use a digital stamp for this week's creation! Want to learn something new or try something you haven't before using digital stamps? Keep reading! I am about to show you one way you can stretch your digis in new and different ways!

I've been really jonesing for some new images to color and I thought -- WAIT -- I can CREATE a new image just by digging into my digital stash! So, here we go!

I started by coming up with a concept in my head -- I wanted a frame for an uplifting sentiment so that I can spread some joy thanks to an envelope and a stamp. I know there are so many people right now that I can't see, can't hug and can't share time with. Our craft, dear friends, is the next best thing! It's a handmade creation, just from YOU made especially for that beloved friend!

So, I started by creating a 2" by 2" canvas in Photoshop Elements. This helped me to create just the right size circle. I used the Marquee tool, clicked on circle and then drug my cursor over the square to create this image. After I made my circle, I outlined it using the "Stroke" effect, adding a thin black line around my circle. (You can see the stroke tool off to the right of my image)

Then, I created a second file to measure the size of a card front - 4-1/4 by 5-1/2 and I centered my circle on top.

I knew I wanted my frame to be surrounded by loose florals and after scrolling through the digital section of the Power Poppy Shop, I knew this image below, Sweet Pea Show would be perfect! After opening it up, I used the eraser tool (you can see I clicked it off to the left of my image in the tool bar) and I removed my background.

From there, I erased everything but sections of the image, using each piece to create my floral frame.

Sometimes, this is how small my piece was!

And after I moved an manipulated all of the pieces, this is what my frame looked like!

After printing and using a stitched rectangle die to cut out my image, I set my digi in my MISTI stamping tool.

Here's another trick that I want to show you today! I set the "Radiate Joy" sentiment from Power Poppy's M-Powering Words stamp set to the left-center of my circle. (Can I just say that this stamp set is PERFECT for the times we are living in right now -- so much encouragement!) There's a reason for this! I knew by using the MISTI, I could create a shadow effect with my sentiment and I thought that would be a fun effect!  

I stamped it with Tea Rose Vivid! ink -- funny, I have had this stamp pad for probably more than 15 years and it is still going strong. They don't even make this ink any longer. My reinker will probably keep it alive for another 15 years! ;-) 

Now, here's the fun part. I cleaned off my stamp and as you can see, I offset the stamp, placing it down and to the right of the original image. You can tell when you see the "white space" around the stamp. Can you see it? I closed the door of my MISTI, setting that stamp in place and then set the MISTI aside for now. When the time comes, I will be ready for this knowing my next stamp layer will provide the perfect shadow effect! 

Then, I went to town coloring! I used my Copic markers and used R81, R83, RVOO and R00 to color up my petals and G21, G24, G20 to color up my leaves. I highlighted around my sentiment using BG0000 and BG10. When you see my finished card, you'll see I added these highlights around the outside of my main panel as well. 

Once I was finished coloring, I pulled out my Versamark ink pad and my silver detail embossing powder and using my MISTI, I stamped and heat embossed! Isn't that fun?

And here's a peek at my finished card! It is a super simple design -- decorative paper background, silver cording, pink button. That's it! 

Now all I have to do is pop a stamp on an envelope to get this in the mail! I have a few people who could really use a note. I think my next challenge will be to make a list and take an afternoon or two to get those notes in the mail!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

So, since a new month is upon us, it's time to see who won our March challenge! put all the numbers in its virtual hat, drawing this lucky number!

Which means, our lucky stamper is......

* * * * MARIA RODRIGUEZ! * * * * 

Maria crafted this beautiful creation above and on the inside it says, "Be the Rainbow to someone else's cloud." Love that. Maria uses Power Poppy's Poppies stamp set which is on sale as we speak! I love this image done up in soft pinks -- so pretty and just as the icon suggests -- springlike!

Thanks for stopping by folks! I hope you play along with me this week and for the rest of the month! We'll have some guest hostesses joining me in the coming weeks, so that will be fun! Since we are using digis this week, I can't tell you to get those fingers inky but I hope you join me! Remember, each entry is one shot at winning a $25 gift code to the Power Poppy Shop. You just need to link up your creation below to enter! Just that simple!

Happy Creating & Stay Well My Friends!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Monday, March 30, 2020

Inspire Me Monday - Do something new!

Hey everyone! Jessie here long time no see! I missed you all so much on the Power Poppy Blog. Today I am using the Bubbles and Fizz digital stamp, and a completely new technique to me! Of course, I have a process video for you!

This one was super fun, it def did not turn out how I expected it to. But it was great fun to step outside of my comfort zone, especially with the way the world is now, and me using lots of lost or forgotten things from my stash.

So remember to reach into those things, that have been in your stash for a long time that you haven't gotten around to using for quite some time. Have some fun and try something new!

Stay safe and have fun

Friday, March 27, 2020

Happy Friday StayHomeDay!!

At home with Tibbs, a surprise gift of Hellebore seedlings dropped off by a friend, my daughter in her room, doing class work  remotely, and an experimental dragon fruit — it was pretty but rather bland. :)

Hello there, my friends around the world. I hope this note finds you in your safe, cozy sanctuary — and remember, we can ALWAYS go to this place of sanctuary in our minds. It is always available to us, a thought away. 

That said, suffering is real, and it is an acute part of life for many, many people right now. We are frightened about the future, we are worried about family, friends, our healthcare workers and first responders, those still working to supply us the goods that allow us to continue our daily lives our world — we in fact fear for our very livelihoods. But to this I want to add: Without suffering, there cannot be happiness. As zen master Thich Naht Hanh reminds us, out of suffering, a lotus flower of happiness can open.

Take a Deep Breath card by Elizabeth Zaffarano
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

I’m currently working on shipping out the last few orders from our big sale — WHICH IS STILL HAPPENING — and which I’ve been happily, safely packing up from my home office, which is corona-free and kept sanitized frequently! Thank you so much to everyone who has placed an order for digital or clear stamps and dies. I hope you enjoy coloring in your safe space.


I am working on new, downloadable images for coloring at home — positive, uplifting, encouraging images with messages of hope to keep and to share. I anticipate that they will be in the shop early next week. Some of our new images are going to directed towards our healthcare workers specifically, as we are deeply indebted to them. I am going to donate the proceeds of the healthcare-specific images to supplying gift cards to healthcare workers — one of my best friends is a nurse and is overseeing this effort. I will report back when I have more information!

And now.... speaking of messages of hope, let’s see what our designers have been working on this week. They always succeed at adding great joy to our hearts and a feast for our eyes....

Stacy Morgan | Orchids Rock 

Leslie Miller | Perched in the Orchids digital

Barbara Walker | Orchid Cascade digital

Gloria Stengel | Loving Tulips

Christine Okken | Wild Ruffled Orchids digital

Broni Holcombe | Wash Your Hands digital

Ahhhhh — bask in the beauty!! Thank you, thank you to our powerhouse of designers, each one a beautiful soul helping to spread positivity and beauty and kindness.

Be well, friends. XOXO

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Creative Confetti: Find your inner HAPPY!

Hello all! Today's Creative Confetti is all about tapping into that inner joy and finding a way to express it in our artistic endeavors. That's what we do best, right? So, that's what it is all about!

HOW TO PLAY: Simply create using an image, a technique or a message that makes your heart happy! It's just that simple! And, if you feel inspired, slip that creation in the mail to someone who would love to be on the receiving end of that "happiness!" When you share the link on our linky below, please share in your post why this creation makes you happy. We would LOVE to read those words! You might spark a huge wave of smiles and that would be great thing, right?

On to my Creation! 

I am not sure if you've taken a hop over to the Power Poppy Shop but there is one heck of a sale going on! Did you see this?

In light of that sale, I thought I'd dig into the sale bin and see what I could create with one of the sets that are being offered at a discount. I mean, don't sales make YOU happy? ;-)

So, this is the stamp set I chose! It's called Always Here.  Can you believe this beauty is on sale right now for just $9? What? Yes! That's unbelievable!

Look at those sentiments! Aren't they perfect for right here, right now? 

Here's how I chose to use this set. Instead of using the full image in this beautiful heart-shaped orientation, I decided to use bits and pieces to create a bit of a frame. There was one part of the image where I had a little bit of a vacant spot and I thought it needed a little something so... I added that darling little snail to fill in some of the space!

I colored up the image using Copic markers and just went around using a mix of bright colors to add even more "happy!" Last week, I used the die called Hemstitched Square by Spellbinder for one of my cards and since it was still on my desk, I decided to reach for it once again to add a little bit of flair to my card layout. I added black cardstock behind the die-cut border to help bring a little pop to the colored up design.

Here's a closeup! Don't you just love that little snail? I do! He's adorable. He makes me happy too!

And now, my friends, it's your turn to bring on the happy! Share your creations by linking them up below. Every single entry will be in the running for a $25 gift card to the Power Poppy Shop! And don't forget about the amazing sale going on right now! There are some great deals! There are clear and digital sets that are being sold right now at prices 20% to 50% off! Woot woot! That's fun stuff folks!

So, join me this week! Get those fingers inky and link up your cards below! We can't wait to see what you create!

Until next week,

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Click here to enter