Playing card art by Wylie Beckert - ©2015 Wylie Beckert

WICKED KINGDOM

illustrated playing cards

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Playing card art by Wylie Beckert - ©2015 Wylie Beckert

These process tutorials are made possible by my Patreon supporters.
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DIY PAPER STRETCHER

TUTORIAL

One of the tricks that's helped me get the most out of my materials is paper stretching. I like to use tinted pastel paper as a base for my oil paintings, but it's too thin to handle water media without buckling. In the past, I've mounted the paper on board, but this method has its own host of problems (lots of tedious prep work, the risk of warping) - not to mention storing and transporting panels (even relatively light illustration board) can be a hassle. Paper stretching is a much quicker process that's thriftier with materials and (in my experience) less likely to result in disaster.

There are a few paper stretching methods commonly used by watercolor artists - tape, staples, glue - but I've had pretty poor results with all of them (possibly because the paper I'm using is thinner than those traditionally used for watercolor). I recently built a paper stretcher (inspired by this post on Wetcanvas) - it cost me about $50 to assemble, but it's sturdy, infinitely reusable, and beats ever other method I've tried.


PLANNING & SUPPLIES

For the purposes of this tutorial, I'll be providing measurements for a stretcher that produces an 11x17 image - but you can use the sizing info to plan your own in any size.



ASSEMBLY

Once you have the materials in hand, assembly is pretty simple: measure (twice!) and mark the gatorboard, plexi, and aluminum; cut to size. You can use a box cutter for the gatorboard, a score-and-snap plexi knife for the plexiglass, and a hacksaw for the aluminum.

Mark 1/2" from the edges of the gatorboard to accurately position the plexiglass; you can glue the plexi to the gatorboard for a more permanent solution, but I just use double-sided tape to secure the layers.


PREPARING YOUR ARTWORK

Original pencil drawing (left) and print (right)

While it's possible to stretch an original pencil drawing, I prefer to work with a print. It makes success on the first try less critical, and lets me paint on a different kind of paper than I use for my drawings. To prepare your file for printing:


SOAKING THE PAPER

Soaking the paper before stretching allows it to expand fully, preventing the uneven buckling you get when painting on unstretched paper. To prepare the paper:



USING THE STRETCHER





Playing card art by Wylie Beckert - ©2015 Wylie Beckert

OTHER PROJECTS: PORTFOLIO www.wyliebeckert.com | REIGN OF SIN ILLUSTRATED PLAYING CARDS www.reignofsin.com