Hand Embellishing Fine Art Prints

*Links contained in this post are affiliate links for Amazon and/or Dick Blick and I will earn a commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. These commissions help fund more content like this, so thank you!

I get a lot of questions about how I make prints, and I have posted a blog about the topic before, but I haven’t touched on the materials I use to hand embellish my prints (I don’t think…). I’m sure there are multiple ways you can embellish prints, but I’m just going to share what I personally do to add the delicious little shimmering gold accents like the example below on my latest rainbow print run.

Why would you want to hand embellish prints? Well, for one, it looks cool. Two, it increases the value of your prints by adding the personal touch to each print. Three, it allows you to give customers a sense of “original” work without them having to commit to the price of a fully original piece.

(You can buy this print through my store while in stock! Rainbow Coiling I or Rainbow Coiling II)

Printing Fine Art Prints Yourself:

I make all of my art prints at home. I do this because:

1) I like to control the process as much as possible. I spend a lot of time editing photos and tweaking colors so I can get them just right. Sending images to a printer gives me anxiety, because images from screen to paper can vary greatly. Proofs cost money, edits take time, and I don’t want to get surprised when I receive a batch of prints that aren’t to my liking.

2) It’s cheaper in the long run. The initial investment is much more expensive, and learning how to use the equipment can be frustrating, but if you’re a control freak like me then I highly recommend it.

3) I can do smaller print runs whenever I feel like it. I’m not a patient person. When I have an idea, I like to make it happen as soon as possible. Yesterday, I photographed, edited, printed, and embellished my prints all in the same day. You can’t do that when you depend on a third party.

Equipment and materials I use to print from home:

Canon Pixma Pro 10 Printer (Amazon)- This is a pigment ink printer and the only printer I use at the moment to make prints. You can try the Pro-100, but that uses dye based inks. Pigment inks will last much longer when exposed to air and sunlight.

Canon PGI-72 Lucia Inks (Amazon) – I buy Canon inks, because I trust their quality. Sure, you could try the off brand inks to save a little money, but I stick with the tried and true.

Canon Matte Photo Paper (Amazon)- You can try a variety of different papers, but this is the product I’ve enjoyed for my embellished prints. In order to embellish prints, you are going to need a paper that will accept whatever embellishment you are adding. A glossy photo paper will not work–unless you are using Sharpies or something permanent. Whatever paper you get, try a test swatch with the material you want to apply.

Products I usE to Embellish my Prints:

Adding metallic elements to my work is my favorite. Nothing makes my art pop like gold and silver shimmering awesomeness. For this latest batch of rainbow prints, I used a nib pen and watercolor ink to add my embellishments.

Tachikawa Comic Pen (Amazon)- I love using nib pens to apply inks to my paper pieces. Make sure to prep the nibs by running a lighter flame over it and wiping off the coating applied during manufacturing. If your ink won’t gather on the nib, then there is probably residual coating still left on the metal.

Finetec Pearlescent Colours (Blick)- I can’t get over these pearlescent watercolors. Get all the colors! All I do is spray a little water on the pan, swirl the surface with a brush until it melts into a smooth consistency, and then apply it to the pen nib with the brush. For these prints, I used the “Arabic Gold” color. These inks dry quickly and look gorgeous in the light.

Look how buttery smooth this pen applies the ink:

And just in case you’re wondering how I package and ship my prints:

5×7 Crystal Clear Sleeves (Amazon)– I keep my work protected with clear sleeves when shipping, storing, or selling at local events.

5×7 Backing Board (Amazon)- Backing board keeps my work from bending when shipping, storing, or selling.

Rigid Mailers (Amazon)- And lastly, these are the mailers I use for shipping my work.

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There you have it! My method for hand embellishing prints!

If you enjoy learning about the supplies I use in the studio and want to know more, let me know through Instagram or Email, or consider becoming a Patron of mine to support more content like this. Now go get messy and share your creation on Instagram using #messyeverafter!

-Kelly

SUPPORT MESSY EVER AFTER ON PATREON:

A lot of artists don’t like to share their secrets, but I’m an open book. If you enjoy the content I create and the advice I give to other creators, please consider becoming Patron of mine on Patreon. Pledging as little as $1 a month supports this content and my career as an artist.

Further Reading:

Replacement Paint Pen Applicator Tips

*Links contained in this post are affiliate links for Amazon and/or Dick Blick and I will earn a commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. These commissions help fund more content like this, so thank you!

Have you tried the Fineline Precision Applicator?

This paint pen is the product I recommend most, and I always get questions about it. I’ve written about it too many times to count, and I’ve seen so many of you give it a try (yay!!), but you’ve run into an issue. I get this comment a lot:

“Why are your tips shorter than mine?”

I don’t know why the bottles that I got had shorter tips. Maybe it was an early run and the company decided to switch to the longer tips later. But I hear you, the shorter tips seem easier to use.

I explained it in this Instagram post a few months ago:

View this post on Instagram

Answer to your common question: "why are your fineliner tips shorter than the ones I ordered?" • • If you follow the links in my FAQs page and buy the fineline precision applicators I recommend, you likely will get bottles with 1" tips. But when I got these new slim fineline applicators, they came with 1/2" tips. They don't appear to give a choice when ordering or show any sort of differentiation in packaging. BUT, fear not! I use both and both work great with practice. I mainly use my original 1/2" tipped bottle, but the first fineline applicators I ever used had the 1" tip and I used those for months before switching to the slim bottle. • • The last video I posted shows me using the 1/2" tip, and for kicks I grabbed my 1" tip to see if I lost dexterity. As you can see, I did not. I have experimented with cutting my longer tips down by putting a wire in the tip for stability and snipping with a wire cutters, but since the tip can collapse, I would recommend not doing that unless you don't mind the possibility of ruining a tip for good. I've had one successful trim and one failed trim. Haha so I don't like those odds. • Moral of the story: these bottles take time to adjust to if you are switching from paint markers or pens. Whether it's a 1/2" tip or a 1" tip, your line work will not look perfect right away. Be patient, and be cautious with the wire cutters! • • Any questions? 😁 #messyeverafter

A post shared by Mea • Kelly Marie (@messyeverafter) on

I would still encourage you to use the 1″ tips if you have them, but I don’t know why I hadn’t researched this much earlier. Why not try to find replacement 1/2″ tips instead of cutting tips myself or suffering through the longer 1″ tips? Silly me.

Finally, I did some hunting on Amazon a few weeks ago, and I added a couple of items to my cart, but I never got around to actually clicking buy.

After yet another “Why is your tip shorter than mine?” comment, I finally clicked buy. This morning, I eagerly waited for the mail to arrive so I could test out my new purchase. Seconds after confirming the tips fit my bottles perfectly, I started this post. You all must know about these!

Products I use:

First of all, you’ll need a Fineline Applicator. The tips used are “Luer Lock” tips that can be removed, cleaned, and replaced. I usually get the 20 gauge, but the gauge doesn’t matter anymore now that I found replacement tips.

  • Fineline Applicators 1 oz 20 Gauge (3 Per Pack) (Amazon)
  • Fineline Applicators 1 oz 18 Gauge (3 Per Pack) (Amazon)

I found two products that looked like they would work, but I couldn’t be sure until I had them in my hands. The applicator pens don’t say “Luer Lock Cap”, so I was staring at my applicator tips and comparing it to different luer lock needles and giving a big ole shrug when I clicked buy. “Maybe it will work! Maybe I’m about to waste $12.”

This is the product I bought, and the tips 100% work on these bottles:

  • Brostown 120Pcs 1/2″ Industrial Liquid Dispenser Needle -Luer Lock (Amazon)

This product contains 10 different tip sizes from 14 gauge to 30 gauge, with 12 pieces per size. All contained in a cute little plastic case! Heck yes!

And I didn’t try these tips, but they were the other option on my list of potential products. I went with the other pack because of quantity:

  • 0.5 inch Unsterilized Synthetical Dispensing Needle with Blunt Tip Luer Lock – 10 Different Sizes,50 PCS (Amazon)

Should you buy a pack of replacement tips?

Again, I still think the 1″ tips work great, but I understand the desire to experiment with the shorter ones. If I were given a choice, I’d pick the 1/2″ tips. But, what else should you consider before buying seperate tips?

Replacement Tip Pros
  • You can try different sizes and experiment with different mediums. I tried the 30 gauge tip with India ink and it has potential. (But read this post for a better ink option.)
  • If your tips clog, dry, and become unusable, you can just swap out for a new one!
  • You can have the shorter tips without having to cut them.
  • The price isn’t crazy. You can spend $9-$13 on a pack of new tips that will last for a long time.
Replacement Tip Cons
  • The wire cap won’t fit into all of the different gauges. You may need to remove tips for storage or replace it with the original gauged tip. You can also find different gauged wires and make your own improvised cap. (Moral of the story, keep a wire in the tip or clean it out after each use. Don’t let paint sit in the tips.)
  • Maybe the price? It’s under $20, but it’s still money that could be spent on something else.

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There you have it! A new solution to a problem I should have researched long ago! Sorry about that…haha! Let me know if you give these replacement tips a try! I’m excited to play with the rest of the sizes.

If you enjoy learning about the supplies I use in the studio and want to know more, let me know through Instagram or Email, or consider becoming a Patron of mine to support more content like this. Now go get messy and share your creation on Instagram using #messyeverafter!

-Kelly

SUPPORT MESSY EVER AFTER ON PATREON:

A lot of artists don’t like to share their secrets, but I’m an open book. If you enjoy the content I create and the advice I give to other creators, please consider becoming Patron of mine on Patreon. Pledging as little as $1 a month supports this content and my career as an artist.

Further Reading:

The Last Drawing Pen You’ll Ever Need

*Links contained in this post are affiliate links for Amazon and/or Dick Blick and I will earn a commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. These commissions help fund more content like this, so thank you!

Fine Line Pens for Illustrating and Doodling

Let’s talk about pens. It is a sad moment when you are mid-doodle and your $3 Micron Pen starts to run out of juice. I can’t tell you how many pens I have gone through over the years, but it starts to add up quickly even if you are just a hobby artist.

As a frugal artist, I have never been satisfied with single use paint pens/markers or drawing pens. I like products that last forever, and I am super excited that I found this product. Just like the paint pen I frequently recommend, I found a drawing pen that is refillable, precise, and versatile.

I can’t see myself buying any other pen for a long time. Well–except for all the other sizes of this particular pen…

Rotring Isograph Technical Drawing Pen

This isn’t a new product. Rotring has been around for decades, but I only discovered these pens in 2019. I believe these have been marketed mostly to architects and technical drafters, but I think more artists would love them.

I bought the .25mm Rotring Isograph pen and filled the reservoir with some India ink I already had in my studio, and my goodness is this pen amazing. I used to buy Micron .005 pens (Amazon), but I felt like the ink was a precious resource and my pens would dry up too quickly from all of my doodling. They are great pens, but when I’m afraid of running out of ink, I feel like it gets in the way of my creative process.

Enter the Rotring Isograph Pen, and my fears disappeared. When ink starts to run low, you just open the pen, fill the reservoir, and go back to drawing. Sweet, sweet creative freedom. Now I won’t be chucking single use pens in the garbage can after a few drawings.

Products I use:

Pen Pros
  • Very precise
  • Pen reservoir is refillable
  • Pen is easy to dismantle, clean, and refill
  • You can customize the colors and inks used
  • Comes in a variety of sizes
  • So far I haven’t encountered any ink burps or pen explosions.
Pen Cons
  • Not cheap. These pens are a bit expensive initially. The .25mm pen I bought was around $25, but it pays for itself after a few refills if you factor in how many single use pens you’d go through over a few months.
See how I use it here:

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Let me know if you give this pen a try! It has become one of my new studio favorites!

If you enjoy learning about the supplies I use in the studio and want to know more, let me know through Instagram or Email, or consider becoming a Patron of mine to support more content like this. Now go get messy and share your creation on Instagram using #messyeverafter!

-Kelly

SUPPORT MESSY EVER AFTER ON PATREON:

A lot of artists don’t like to share their secrets, but I’m an open book. If you enjoy the content I create and the advice I give to other creators, please consider becoming Patron of mine on Patreon. Pledging as little as $1 a month supports this content and my career as an artist.

Further Reading: