I have been doing the Watercolor for Card Markers course from Online Card Classes. I particularly enjoyed the videos on using watercolor markers to colour in stamped images, a technique called no-line stamping. Whilst I have painted stamped images, using permanent ink for the outlines, the no-line technique uses water based ink for the stamping too. Ideally the lines are supposed to blend into the painting so you end up with a nice lineless, watercoloured effect. In other words the finished result doesn’t look so much like a stamped image as usual.

When I first tried this technique on some 160gsm hot pressed (smooth) watercolour card, but I like to use quite a lot of water when painting and the card was not really taking it well.

I abandoned that card and swapped to my trusty 300gsm Bockingford NOT card.

I used the bear (and a random lion) from the adorable Carnival Cupcakes set by Mama Elephant. I used Pumice Stone and Antique Linen Distress Inks for the actual stamping as these the two lightest ones I have (and were recommended in the course).

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For the actual painting of the images, I scribbled different colours of Distress Markers and Letraset Aqua Markers onto my acrylic stamping block, then picked the colour up with my brush, exactly as if it were watercolour paint in a paint box. I very much enjoy painting like this.

First I just stamped the image on to the card using the two light coloured Distress Inks. This is called a First Generation stamping (just normal stamping). I painted them with pink and purple Aqua Markers, then added their eyes and nose with the Black Soot Distress Marker once they were dry. I did not have a permanent black pen with me, or I would have used that instead, luckily they were definitely dry and the marker didn’t run.

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The outlines were quite strong, which meant I could easily see where I was colouring. But they were still very visible at the end of the painting stage. The results are not too bad, but look messy to me.

Next I tried stamping the image first onto a scrap of paper, then on to the watercolor card, without reinking in between. This is called a Second Generation stamping.

I painted the image of the bear, but felt that the outlines were still too prominent. They bled out a bit too this time, making them even more noticeable.

The upper image, using the Antique Linen, is the lion from the stamp set (I am sure you noticed this was not a bear). I didn’t bother painting him as I doubted it would be any more successful than the bear had been.

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So then I tried a different approach. What if I just stamped with the same colour (or a close colour) to the one I was going to use to paint the image?

I stamped the little bear using Peacock Feathers Distress Ink. The first generation stamp is very strong. I went to a third generation stamp this time, but decided to try painting the second generation one first. I used my Peacock Feathers Distress Marker for the main bear, and Victorian Velvet for his nose, ears and paw pads.

And I really like the results! The lines are visible, but because they are the same colour as the pen I used to paint the bear, they just match. For me, this is the best result by far.

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Whilst it would be harder to match the outline for a more complex stamp, for simple images like these this will be the technique I use in future.

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No-line watercolour stamps – an experiment

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