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Tag Archives | card making

First Look: Niji Splash Ink by Karen Thomas

If you are not already familiar with this product, then you are going to love the Niji Splash Ink line of paints developed by artist Karen Elaine Thomas for Yasutomo.

Karen Elaine Thomas

Karen Thomas of Splash Inks

Karen has developed a system for mixing vibrant colors that are versatile and permanent. I love painting products that can be used in a variety of ways and this product is so versatile that it actually is a great basic investment for my many crafting needs. Continue Reading →

Review | Ranger Foil Cardstock

Foil-CardstockI love working with Ranger products, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this product. Ranger Silver Foil Cardstock has a shiny, mirror-like quality, and it’s sturdy enough to run through an embossing machine (such as the Big Shot).  You can use mediums like alcohol inks and acrylic paints to embellish its surface.

I decided  to go ahead and bring out my Big Shot – along with some dies, embossing folders, and some Prima chalk inks – to see how well they worked with the foil cardstock. You can see the results in the photos that follow. Continue Reading →

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: American Crafts Zing! Embossing Powder

Reported by Morgan Novak

While visiting a local small toy store for my allowance-fueled Hello Kitty & Keroppi fix when I was in 5th grade, my mother and I happened upon a demonstration of embossing powder in a part of the store we had never really noticed before: the rubber stamp wall. One of the store’s owners drew us right in with the heat tool and magical powder; my mother and I were both enthralled. We left with stamps, (leaves, if I remember correctly), and some Autumn-colored embossing powders.  We were totally hooked! We didn’t even have a heat gun at first, we would heat the paper over the toaster (I don’t recommend it, haha!).
So, I guess you could say that embossing powder and I have a long relationship. It’s one of those techniques that phases in and out of my crafting repertoire, so you can imagine how the Zing! Embossing Powder line from American Crafts definitely piqued my interest! American Crafts has released 34 Zing! Embossing Powders in Opaque, Glitter and Metallic finishes, in those American Crafts signature colors that we all love like Cricket, Chestnut, Grapefruit, Mustard and even Clear. Sometimes the shades of embossing powders out there can be a little lacking, so I was really excited to get my hands on these awesome American Crafts shades.


American Crafts was nice enough to send me a bunch of fun goodies like papers, embellishments & stamps to use while testing out Zing!, as well as a few of their Pigment Ink Pads. I know that I’m here to review Zing!, but I have to talk a little about their ink pads because I was really impressed. The ink pads are pigment ink, really rich and beautiful when stamped. The design of the ink pads themselves is very smart; American Crafts has designed their ink pad cases so that the case looks like it’s right side up, while the ink pad itself is actually being stored suspended from the top in the upside-down position! Storing the pad upside down keeps the ink at the top of the pad. Simple, silly and brilliant.

Anyway, enough back story, on to the embossing! The first thing that I wanted to test was how well the Zing! works with different types of images and fonts. For these tests I used the Black Zing! Embossing Powder and I found it to be in line with most of the embossing powders that are out there. On smaller, or more detailed images, I did have a little bit of trouble getting a clean image, but I kind of expected that since these are a regular grade embossing powder, rather than a super fine or detail powder. As you can see, the thinner and more detailed images like the lantern and “celebrate sunshine” sentiment are still totally recognizable and usable, it just took a little practice to get the right amount of inking, sprinkling and tapping figured out.

Next up, I wanted to test just how opaque the Opaque Zing! colors are, and the Zing! passed with flying colors. I stamped the lantern on dark colored solid cardstock, both textured and flat, with the Mustard Pigment Ink and then applied the Mustard Opaque Finish Zing!. I have to admit that I was doubting its ability to cover the dark paper at first, but as soon as the ink and Zing! heated through completely, I couldn’t believe how awesome the color looked! The Opaque powders are very rich and the embossed texture is beautifully even.

The next step in familiarizing myself with Zing! was to get a closer look at the different finishes of Zing! and how well they behaved. I started with the Clear Zing! with a clear watermark pad and then sprinkled over an image stamped with color ink. It did an awesome job with both types of inks. Using Clear Zing! with colored Pigment Ink is a really great way to emboss something in a color that isn’t necessarily available in an embossing powder. It will not cover on darker paper the way an opaque embossing powder would, but still works great on a lighter colored base!
The Metallic Zing! has an amazing brushed metallic finish and I was impressed with the sheen!
The Glitter Zing! is true to it’s name and is truly a simple glitter embossing powder. You will not get the same consistent coverage with this as you would with any of the other Zing! finishes, but it still has plenty of uses. Also, if a more consistent coverage is what you are aiming for, try stamping your image in an ink color that matches your glitter color to help bridge the gaps in the glitter.
Last up was the Opaque, which I’ve already gushed about a bunch, but I do want to share a few quick tips for easy embossing with powder.

1.) To cut down on the excess powder clinging to your paper and making speckles in your background try running a dryer sheet lightly over your paper first. It reduces the static cling just like with your clothes!

2.) I like to heat my embossed images from underneath while moving the heat tool slowly back and forth. It allows me to really keep an eye on the image so that I can see when it’s “cooked” and don’t risk singing my paper!

3.) Be sure to let your Zing! “cook” completely through. If you move your heat tool away too quickly you may end up with a spotty, splotchy kind of finish.


While I was testing out the different Zing! finishes I started wondering about how mixing the different colors and finishes would work, so I put on my imaginary mad scientist lab coat and got to concocting! I just mixed the Zing! powders in little dishes so that they would be ready when I started stamping. My first mixture was 2 Opaque colors, Aqua and Cricket. I think this speckled affect turned out pretty cool.

Aqua Opaque and Copper Metallic make a really cool patina finish when mixed, and the Copper easily maintained its metallic finish. This is my favorite result!

Mixing the Black Opaque with the Red Glitter did make a cool distressed sort of finish, but it did lose a lot of it’s glitter. I could totally envision using this combination on hockey game layouts next season. I think it maintained just enough glitter to still be hockey tough!

The next combination didn’t go so well. I combined Clear with Red Glitter, but the color of the glitter just sort of melted and bled into the clear. It’s not what I was expecting it to do, but I still see some possibilities here!

Last up was mixing the Red and Green Glitters together. Just like with a single glitter color, the finished product is spotty, but might be remedied with a colored ink underneath if you are looking for a more solid finish.
Last up, real world testing! I made a few cards using a couple different Zing! types and, of course, those American Crafts Goodies that I’ve been dying to dig into!

For my first card I used a whole bunch of “Campy Trails” Paper, Bits, Stamps and a Just Write Journaling Card.

I used a clear watermark ink pad and the Clear Zing! Embossing Powder on Kraft Paper to create a tag similar to the Bits tags with the sweet little dear to go along with my, “Just A Note To Say I Miss You Dearly” sentiment.

Then I used one of the Journaling Cards from the Campy Trails Just Write set to give the interior of my card a little love.

For my “Celebrate Sunshine” card I clearly had to use the “Hello Sunshine” collection! For this one I decided to try out a different technique. I stamped my flowers in Chestnut Pigment Ink and then embossed them with Clear Zing!, which effectively sealed in the pigment. This allowed me to use my alcohol based markers, namely Copics, with Pigment Ink colors without the color running! (If you use alcohol-based markers with straight Pigment Ink or colored embossing powders, the colors will run.) This method of sealing the pigment ink in is one that I’m sure I’ll be using quite a bit, a happy discovery!

For my last card I used the “Peachy Keen” collection and the Silver Metallic Zing! to combine a retro color palette, saying and image…

… with a little bit of a more modern twist inside the card! I definitely enjoyed the Zing! Embossing Powders and Pigment Inks and had a lot of fun creating with them. As with every product I had a couple little issues, but they were pretty minor. It’s all just a matter of knowing the right product for your project and learning the tricks, right? Zing! has a nice, easy learning curve. I was pleased with them, and will be adding them to my go-to crafting arsenal for sure!
Pros:
  • When you combine pigment ink and the Clear Zing! you can emboss in any color.
  • Full and even coverage with all finishes, other than the Glitter, which I don’t think was intended to have a solid finish.
  • Plays well with others! Have fun creating your own mixes by combining colors.
  • Reasonable price ($4.99 for Opaque & Metallic and $5.99 for Glitter)
  • Lots of choices with a great combination of both trendy and classic colors.
Cons:
  • Glitter Zing! does shed its glitter a little bit.
  • Zing! can be a little blotchy with more detailed images, but it’s not advertised as an ultra fine or detail powder.
Zing! has brought the magic of embossing back into my life in exciting, modern colors! I’m sure I’ll be embossing on cards, layouts and more. I would love to see a clear watermark pad from American Crafts and maybe some matte embossing powders.

edited to add:
GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at American Crafts have provided a prize pack for one of our lucky readers! Just leave a comment on this post answering the following questions to be entered:

What are you adding texture to with Zing! ? What would you love to see American Crafts come out with next?


One comment per person, per American Crafts’ article, please. Drawing will take place on Saturday, August 13, 2011.

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CHA Summer 2011 | ProvoCraft Cricut Mini and More

The newest member of the Cricut family is the Cricut Mini. Provocraft’s Cricut Mini is a small, lightweight, ultra-portable way to make almost anything you want – out of many different types of materials, including thick and thin paper, fabric, vinyl, magnetic material, craft foil, and lots more. With Cricut Mini, it’s easier than ever to make projects and be more creative!

This small, portable, and lightweight machine is a great space saver. It works with any computer PC or Mac with a standard wireless or wired Internet connection. Simply plug it in, turn it on, connect to Cricut Craft Room – the online design tool where you can see and design with every Cricut cartridge – and start making projects. It cuts up to 8.5” x 12” paper and other materials. Cut small shapes and fonts from ¼” to larger cuts up to 11½”.
Here’s a little video walk through of this hot new little machine…

Also in the Provocraft booth at the show was Jinger leading attendees through Cricut classes right on the showroom floor.

There are also plenty of new cartridges for your Cricut machines, like these boxes. Extremely cute!

Plus, there are cupcake inserts. Anything that is cupcake compatible is good in my book.

Plus cool new flower cartridges.

And a really cute new cartridge for the Cricut Imagine that will please your little pirates:

And if you are a fan of space (and who isn’t?!), you’re in luck with robots, space ships, and planets in this new cartridge.

And a gorgeous frame cartridge that is sophisticated and delicate.

So, what do you think of what ProvoCraft has in store for you? What do you think of the new Cricut Mini? What cartridges do you hope they come out with next?

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Vendor Spotlight: Letraset Safmat

Reported by Anam Stubbington

When I was asked to try the SafMat inkjet printable film from Letraset, I was intrigued, as I am well used to printing on stickers and transparencies. I wanted to see how it fared in relation to those.

According to the Letraset website, SafMat is…

“Ideal for use on paper and card – just print, cut out and stick Safmat is a highly transparent, self-adhesive film for use with your printer. It enables you to create your own unique text and graphics for applying onto almost any smooth surface.
Ideal for scrapbook pages, homemade greetings cards, wedding invites, technical drawings, packaging mockups… Safmat is the perfect solution for applying printed designs onto materials that wouldn’t normally go through a desktop printer. eg heavyweight card, acetate, large 3D objects…
Commercial designers and students use Safmat for creating realistic product and packaging mockups. It’s also popular in many crafts and creative leisure pastimes. No other product gives the same result – it’s like creating a unique, fully personalised transfer.
Safmat is acid free for archival longevity. It’s an excellent versatile solution for Scrap Booking, Card Making and many other craft activities. Anywhere it’s useful to apply personalised printed phrases and images.”

My biggest complaint about other films is that they often looked washed out, don’t dry quick enough and with transparencies nearly impossible to adhere but by the end of my packet of the SafMat film, I was hooked by its versatility and the brightness of the printed colors.

I used Adobe Photoshop to create pages of images that I wanted to print, but any programme that allows you to place images or text will be perfect.

As you can see, with good placement you can get a lot out of a single sheet, which makes it a really useable product.

I went about trying to use it on a variety of different items from paper to glass. With glass products like mirrors and windows, you will see the edges as it’s not 100% transparent, but it did not distract for me. With the paper products, the edges were hardly noticeable.

I made this layout to hang in our new home. The SafMat worked really well on the doily; it is really hard to see the cut edges. Given that there is no way I could print on the doily directly (and even if I could, it would bleed), so the SafMat made it all possible as you can still see the texture of the doily under the poem.

Here are two cards I made using SafMat as I used the SafMat for printing off my own sentiments and just having them to hand when I need them is an added bonus without having to resort to stamps and ink.

For scrapbooking and cardmaking, the possibilites are endless, and the self-adhesive properties make it far more usable than transparencies. The lovely Satin finish makes the finished product non-reflective which is good for photographing.

When printing, it needed no special settings and dried quickly. Try not to touch it with wet hands as it will smudge a little. It cut easily and if you cut close the printed image, the result is as if it was a rub-on. It adhered nicely – bubbles were easily rubbed out, and if it went down in the wrong place, with care it was easy to remove and replace .

I punched out some images (it is super easy to punch) and used them as stickers on some candy for my kids – a extra sweet touch to personalize any event – perfect for parties, weddings or even just for school lunches! I used some of the punches images as letter seals for that extra touch.


I loved how easily it went on walls, and can see myself putting my own favourite quotes on the walls in our new home. If you wanted sayings larger than what would fit on an A4 sheet, you could easily split it up over several sheets and it would still cost less than buying a custom decal.


My all time favourite fun thing was to make my own window decals. I printed them in reverse (see top picture) so they could be stuck on the inside of a window – like inside a car – and seen from the outside yet protected from the elements. And becuase they are easy to remove you could have different ones every week or for the seasons. (hint: Star Trek Spock Hand Print)


I loved working with the Safmat and can see it being part of my toolbox when it comes to projects. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to personalize their projects, especially if there are no stamps in a language you want such as Italian, Greek or Japanese.

Pros:

  • Fast drying time
  • Crisp, bright printed colors
  • Inkjet printable
  • Acid-free

Cons:

  • Not waterproof (although that can be said of all inkjet printable products)
  • It was not as transparent as I would have liked, but made up for that with being non-reflective
  • $10 for a pack of 10 but to be honest to get so much to a page that that works out as good value

Have you used the Letraset SafMat product yet? What do you like about the product? What would you use it on? Leave a comment and let us know!


Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Silhouette SD

Reported by Jessica Ripley

Of all the craft products that are on the market today, it seems to me the most difficult one to reach a decision on when it comes to what to purchase is a die cutting machine. Not only does there seem to be a version of every shape and size from capability to budget, choosing a die cutting machine is not really a “this one is the best” type of purchase. When reviewing all that is out there, we also have to take into account our personal feelings and needs, because in truth all those machines are “good,” it is just a matter of which one is “best” for us.

We are faced with questions such as:

  • Do we want excellent portability, or will the machine stay in one place on our craft rooms never to move?
  • Do we want the capability to cut our own designs or are we okay with strictly pre-made ones?
  • How computer-savvy do we need to be to use the thing?
  • At what point does the price (and future costs associated with) no longer equal a good investment?

I have asked myself all of these questions before, and that led me to originally choose a different die cutting machine for my needs. I won’t be comparing the two in this article, as again which machine we prefer can be just as much of a personal choice as anything, however I do feel like I should mention testing out and playing with the Silhouette SD has probably changed my mind on which machine I would recommend to a friend if they were faced with those same questions above. Here’s the lowdown that I’d share with them, which I hope you find helpful in your pursuit of the perfect machine for you too.

What you get

Out of the box the Silhouette SD comes complete with just about everything to get you up and running.

  • The Silhouette SD machine, which is lightweight and not overly bulky (a must for precious craft space).
  • An electrical cord and USB cord for computer connection.
  • 2 cutting mats (one for thick media, one for thin media).
  • 3 blade caps (you replace a cap on the blade for different cuts when it comes to the Silhouette SD rather than the blade itself, which I did like).
  • 1 installation CD (complete with 50 preloaded designs) and 1 detailed tutorial CD (Software for Windows XP/Vista/7 and Mac OS X 10.5.8 and higher).
  • A basic manual.
  • $10 download card for the Silhouette Online Store.

What else you need (or might need)

  • A computer, Mac or PC.
  • A longer USB cord. I found the cord which came with the machine too short for my particular set up, however an existing (much longer) cord from another machine I had on hand worked great.
  • Material to cut of course (paper from your stash, or anything from Silhouette’s line of other materials including heat transfers, temporary tattoo paper, vinyl, etc).
  • Basic computer skills.
  • An SD card to make the most of the Silhouette SD’s capability (it seems to me like they could have tossed one in the box, but most of us probably have one on hand).
  • Patience and time for the learning curve.

Set up

Initial set up of the Silhouette SD was quick and easy. The software installed on my Windows 7 PC in minutes (though do make sure all Windows updates have been applied to your computer first, as this did add to the total time for install on my end).

As far as physical space, the machine does not take up a lot of room. You do need space in front and behind it for the material to move while being cut. The machine cuts 8 1/2″ x 12″ size or smaller using a mat.

The technical side (software and online)

The paper manual which comes in the box is enough to get you up and cutting quickly, however the array of tools and options in the software does require you take some time to watch the tutorial CD and learn the basics. The tutorials are very well put together and easy to understand, especially if you are a visual learner like I am.


I liked the look of the software; it is slightly customizable in appearance (color and button size), and pretty easy to navigate. Here’s an image of the basic desktop you start off with for each new design.


I especially appreciated that hovering with the pointer over a particular tool brought up its name until I got the hang of what they all were. If you are familiar with photo editing or drawing programs, the software will seem very intuitive to you. If not, the tutorials (which are very specific) will give you a great handle on it quickly.

You are able to cut just about any design (pre-made, your own, or a traced scan) with the Silhouette SD. All True Type fonts installed on your computer can be cut, which opens up the flood gates for font possibilities in projects.

As mentioned above, the Silhouette SD software comes pre-loaded with 50 extremely usable designs:


Right at your finger tips is also a link to the online store with thousands of options to choose from (most are 99 cents each, though subscription programs are available which reduce the cost greatly), including designs from well-known companies like Hero Arts and Donna Downey. I quickly spent the $10 download card that comes with the machine while looking at all the great options!

Of course, possibilities are endless when you take into account designing your own images as well. Here’s a simple project made by creating my own design using standards fonts (Impact and Lucida Handwriting). The weld tool makes easy work of combining letters.

My design in the software:


And the finished project:

Performance

Though I only had opportunity to test the Silhouette SD on regular cardstock and paper for this review, it worked absolutely great. The machine is noisy when cutting, but does the job. I appreciate the 2 different cutting mats for different thicknesses of media, between which the only difference is the amount of adhesive (the lesser amount of adhesive meant for thinner materials).

As far as actual cutting, the Silhouette SD has more than just one option too. It also perforates. I love this option which makes super quick work of folded projects such as this pillow box (this template comes with the software).


Other features

The Silhouette has a Print and Cut feature which for me was the tipping point on why I’d now lean towards recommending this machine to a friend. I am a very big fan of cutting elements out of patterned paper for projects, and this option is quick, easy, and works great.

As an example, these 3D flowers were available in the online store.


First I printed them with the necessary registration marks so the Silhouette knows where to cut (this is covered in the tutorials) and then simply loaded into the machine for cutting. Here’s a peek of the Silhouette SD in action with the lid raised.


And the result:


Here’s a card using the finished flowers (which would have been about $2.99 in a pre-made pack).


The card template and sentiment also come preloaded with the software, and the dress form is from the online store.

To make the Print and Cut feature even more appealing, the software also includes a trace tool for tracing scanned images you wish to cut out. The trace tool takes a little getting used to, but once I practiced a bit I was able to make a near perfect replica of this vintage doily in a few easy steps. First I scanned the doily into Photoshop Elements and saved the image as a bitmap, then opened the bitmap image in Silhouette SD Studio and followed the steps to trace it, and finally proceeded just like I would with a print and cut image:



Finally, the Silhouette SD has portability thanks to the SD card slot located on the machine.


Designs are able to be loaded onto an SD card and then retrieved by the machine for cutting while not connected to a computer.

To sum up, let’s revisit those primary questions above when purchasing a die cutting machine.

  • Do we want excellent portability or will the machine stay in one place on our craft rooms never to move?

You don’t have to necessarily choose with the Silhouette SD. Thanks to the SD card slot, you are able to pre-load designs to be cut onto an SD card (not included), unplug the machine from your computer, and take it with you to a crop or anywhere else. You must, of course, take the time to load up the SD card with images first, however if you do so with ones you use often that can become very handy. I myself don’t crop out of the home much, but traveling from my craft area (where my husband is playing a loud video game) to the dining room table (where I don’t have to hear “watch your back!” every few minutes) is a nice option.

  • Do we want the capability to cut our own designs or are we OK with strictly pre-made ones?

Again no choice necessary here. Countless designs are available online, many great ones come with the machine preloaded in the software, and designing our own is a piece of cake once you get the hang of the software. And, no need to buy many designs we don’t care for either just to get a few that we do.

  • How computer savvy do we need to be to use the thing?

Basics are definitely needed, and knowledge of working with other drawing type programs would put you that much further ahead of the learning curve, however the tutorials are very good at explaining each and every tool. So there should not be any intimidation about the computer needs as long as you are willing to take the time to learn.

  • And of course at what point does the price (and future costs associated with) no longer equal a good investment?

There is certainly more freedom in how we can answer this question with the Silhouette SD versus other machines currently on the market. For one, designs can be purchased separately for 99 cents, however if you become good at it you can also design your own for free (or download the weekly freebies from the online store to build your collection also). If you find you are constantly wanting to use new images, you can choose one of the subscription plans available which roll over from month to month if you do not use them up. Also there is no third party software to purchase in order to increase the capability of the machine, it simply comes with the flexibility we wish they all had.

Pros:

  • The Silhouette SD can cut just about any image, increasing its value potential over other machines.
  • The software and online store are user friendly and fairly easy to navigate after a bit of learning time.
  • Many options are available from cutting style (straight line or perforated), cutting mat (thin or thicker media), to material which can be cut (Silhouette also offers vinyl, heat transfer material, flocked paper, and even temporary tattoo paper).

Cons:

  • Initial purchase price of around $200 is expensive and may not fit your budget, no matter what the possibilities for use could be.
  • The Silhouette cuts a smaller size overall than other die cutting machines (8 1/2″ x 12″ vs 12″ x 12″ or larger), and if you have large 12″ x 12″ stash you will be trimming a lot before cutting is possible.
  • Like other machines, eventually the blade and mats will need to be replaced which will be an added cost.

Good DEALS…
Our friends at Silhouette are providing our readers with some fabulous offers… from now until June 29, 2011, you can get…

1 Silhouette SD 
2 Packages Temporary Tattoo Paper 
for $199 (U.S. only) (that’s a $120 savings!)

Also, (wait for it…)

25% off all other products in the Silhouette shop (excluding gift cards and download codes). So if you already own the machine but want to get some of that cool Tattoo Paper or Heat Transfer material, now is the time.

To partake in this amazing offer, head on over to Silhouette and use Promo Code CRITIQUE. Offer ends June 29, 2011.
 
AND A GIVEAWAY!

They’ve also given us a Silhouette SD and two packages of their Tattoo Paper to give away to one of our very lucky readers. First enter by leaving a comment below answering the following question(s):

Do you own a Silhouette SD or are you considering purchasing one? What are your thoughts on how this machine can do versus other machines you know of? 

We can’t wait to hear from you on this one! This will give you one entry but wait, there’s more…

Optional Bonus Entries
Earn additional entry for each of the following:

■ Tweet about the giveaway! (example): WIN a Free Silhouette on @CraftCritique from @silhouetteam and read the Reviews. http://is.gd/QxOcYB

Like Silhouette America on Facebook and let them know you saw them on Craft Critique!

■ Link to the giveaway on Facebook!

Please enter one comment per entry. So, once you have done any of the additional entries remember to come back and comment to let us know. Contest closes at midnight. Good Luck!

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight: Letraset ProMarker Blending Sets

Reported by Maria Del Pinto

The Letraset ProMarker Blending Sets come in Pastel, Muted, and Vivid color sets.  Each set comes with 12 Markers, a Blender Pen, and a Blending Chart.  You can also find a color chart available for free download on the Letraset website, which is helpful in planning your projects and keeping track of what marker colors you currently own.  ProMarkers are alcohol based inks which are popular with Manga artists.  They are permanent on paper, so plan accordingly.  The ProMarkers are non-toxic markers.  The side of each marker is labeled with the ink color and corresponding color number which makes it extra easy to refer to the color charts.

I am new to working with alcohol based markers, so I played with them a bit to see how versatile they really are.  I found that the ProMarkers are fairly fast drying.  This means you do have to prepare your supplies ahead and work quickly to achieve maximum results in using them to color your projects.

The ProMarkers are double ended and equipped with  dual nibs.  One is fine nib and the other is a chisel nib.
Thus, you can get achieve variety of color lines, depending on how you hold the nibs.  The fine nib was designed for detail work.  It is great for drawing Manga art, drawing fine lines, and filling in small areas. Also, if you hold the fine tip on its side, you can achieve a broader looking line that is good for filing in a larger area.

The chisel nib also offers some versatility.  You can achieve a wider line by holding the marker on its side.  The width will vary in accordance with how you hold the pen to the paper.  Also the chisel nib is great for color blending and filling in larger areas with color.  Then to achieve a thinner line with the chisel tip, you just need to hold it on its tip.  I was able to get a few different widths just by adjusting how I held the marker.

Each set comes with a dual nib blender pen that can be used to pick up unwanted color on certain surfaces, as well as be used to blend colors on various surfaces.
The ProMarker blender pens was very useful in creating a softer texture on the colored images.  Color in the image first, then go over it with the blender with dots, lines, circles, etc. to create texture or to soften the color.  The blender pens are easy to use.  For a quick demonstration, just view the video below to see how to use the blender pens to remove color from a paper flower.

For my first project, I decided to take a wood block, paint it, then accent it with assorted papers and die cuts to create a temporary book end. I then used the paper flower from the demo video as a center accent on the paper flower die cuts.  
Since it will remove excess ink from the image, the ProMarker blender pens are great to fix mistakes on your colored image. Depending on the surface, it can help smooth out lines on your colored image and lighten the color a bit.

Also, when planning your project, you may want to consider using bleed proof paper.  Below is an example of how the ink reacts with inexpensive regular printer paper. This is the back of the colored 
Ink Bleeds through Regular Copy Paper 
image and it did have some major bleeding.  You can see that it does not have the same crisp lines that you would get using bleed-proof paper.   You can avoid this problem by using your favorite brand of bleed-proof papers. I did notice that Letraset does offer their own line of papers on their website for Manga and other specific applications.

Personally, I had really good results with the Canson Watercolor 140lb cold press papers and some heavy cardstock (which I bought at a local stamp show).  I would recommend pre-testing a small piece of the paper you are planning to use and see how the ink reacts with your own papers.  On my second project, I used a black water-based ink pad to stamp a couple of butterfly images onto the heavy cardstock.

Once the images dried, I colored them in with ProMarkers from the muted collection and cut one of them out.


I found that if you coat the heavy card stock with the blender medium as a base, it will give you more time to achieve better color blending results.  I was trying for a slightly faded denim look at the top of the butterfly.  I found by laying the blender medium then the color, it was easier to blend the color and then remove color from some areas of the card.  This allowed me to achieve that slightly faded look in specific areas.

The Letraset ProMarkers also works really well with the Memento inks. This is because the Memento ink is dye-based and does not smear as easily as other inks might.  
For my third project, I decided to test the ProMarkers on a variety of surfaces to see how they would perform.  So I decided to use them on the embellishments that I was going to put in the mini album that I am working on for my daughter.  I started with the chipboard cover pieces and covered them with a variety of papers and embellishments.


Then I used one of the coordinating muted markers to line the outer edge of my page.


I used “Pale Pink” and “Pastel Blue” to outline the cloth flowers with a little touch of color. The mini frame was white, so I used the same two ink colors to make it coordinate with the paper and flowers. After the ink dried, I added some glitter, a charm, and rhinestones to the frame.


On the page below, I used the ProMarker to outline the lace so it would coordinate with the other elements on the page.


Then I used the ProMarkers to outline the vellum envelope and the green corners.

Tips:
Start with the lightest color and color image in.  Then apply the other colors in a similar order (light to dark)
Use the blender pen according to manufactures directions to get the best results.
Use the blender pen as a base coat then quickly apply the ProMarker colors you are trying to blend, before it dries to maximize use of the blending medium.

Try shade apply the color onto paper surfaces by layering the color on until you get the desired result.
The blender pen allows for versatility with the color applications and is a must have if you want to be able to do more shading in your color application
Pros:
  • The pens are good for multi-surface applications.  You can use them on paper, card stock, vellum, acetate, glass, wood, metal and some plastics.
  • The pens are very affordable and are available in about 145 different colors to suit a variety of projects. 
  • The pens are also sold in color coordinated sets which are more cost effective.  The sets are well labeled to the type of media or art they are best suited for.
  • The dual tips are very versatile and allow for a variety of lines for use for both crafting and manga drawing.
  • The blenders are great for using to blend colors, remove color, and for achieving different types of shading techniques (depending on the type of project you are using the ProMarkers for).
Cons:
  • These are alcohol inks so they will bleed through some papers and there is some distortion on the less expensive copy paper.
  • The colors are translucent, so they will not show up well on clear plastic or clear glass.  Opaque plastic or glass would work better.
  • These are alcohol inks and will dry quickly.  So you have to work quickly to achieve smooth strokes.
  • The markers are not permanent on every single surface.  I would test them the intended surface to make sure the ink will be permanent.  Different surfaces can have hidden chemicals and/or oils that keep inks from adhering to them.

Giveaway

The great folks over at Letraset are giving one lucky reader a set of markers. To enter this contest, simply answer any of the questions below or on the other Letraset review in the comments section of this article on our website.

Have you tried Letraset Pro Markers yet? What alcohol ink markers do you use? Have you found something fun to do that is outside of the box? Please share!

One entry per person please. Contest will close Monday, May 16th at 6pm CST.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!