1. Light: too much will wash out the details of your card and too little will darken your card and hide details. Getting the right amount is the tricky part. A small amount of shadow is a good thing. Trial and error.
The best tip I can give: PicMonkey.com
It is a free (although I use the upgraded "Royale" version that costs next to nothing), online software. I have been using it for years now.
This is basically what I do with every photo:
2. Exposure (I play around with both Brightness and Highlights). I like to get them as bright as possible with out an "over exposed" look.
3. Sharpen (I usually do around 30% clarity and 30-40% Sharpness)
The above is all in the free addition.
Sometimes I add a Burst of colour which is in the Royale version.
Have fun with it!
Watercolour Tips: I like to use heavy watercolour paper (140+ lbs) as it buckles less. I keep an old hairspray bottle filled with water handy so I can spritz my watercolour paper first before adding the paint (pink in this example) as it keeps the paint very loose. I love how it bleeds into each layer of pink colour. After finishing the one pink flower, I would then let it completely dry. Next I will spritz the next flower (purple in this example) with my water bottle and start the process all over again and let that flower dry and so on. If you don't let the flowers dry separately then the pink flower would bleed into the purple (see photo below).
Watercolour Paper Warping Tips: After the WHOLE painting is dry I then will turn it over and spritz the BACK of the paper, making sure I get the whole back quite wet. Next I grab an open phone book, then place a piece of paper towel, next my watercolour painting face down, then a piece of wax paper, lastly another piece of paper towel, and then close up the book to press the paper flat. I then waited overnight to take it out but essentially it could have been taken out after 3+ hours. Voila! You have a FLAT piece of watercolour paper! Nothing bother me more than trying work with wonky paper! I have heard of people doing a low set iron but I have not tried that one yet (see photo below).
Vellum Heat Embossing Tips: Once you have your stamped image with embossing powder on the vellum, take your heat embossing tool and wave quickly (keep it moving!) back and forth underneath the vellum. There will be far less buckling if you keep your heat tool moving. If you do get a warp then heat from the top on the one spot. I then adhere my vellum piece to my card with a Martha Stewart glue pen as it dries completely transparent (see photo below).
About Ink Pads:
I have found a couple of helpful sites with hints, tips, and tricks:
Click here or here to learn the difference between pigment inks, dye based inks, and etc.
When using archival inks, do remember that they can stain your stamps. You can buy solvent based cleaner or use rubbing alcohol to clean your stamps. Do remember alcohol will dry your rubber stamps (which you don't want) so I do recommend wiping your stamp with water after to clean off any trace of solvent or alcohol.
I can never remember what ink is for what!!!
From Cardmaker's Guide to Ink:
Dye-based ink is quick-drying and excellent for basic stamping. It’s sold on a hard felt pad, which means it’s difficult to over-ink your stamp, so it gives clean, crisp images – perfect for stamping outlines and ideal for those new to stamping.
However, it’s useful to note that dye-based ink soaks into the fibres of the paper rather than sitting on top, so you will get the brightest effect if you use them on pale or white card, rather than dark coloured card where the colour will blend in. Some dye-based inks are waterproof when dry, some are not. If you want to watercolour over your stamped images, you’ll need to use an ink labelled as ‘waterproof’ or ‘permanent’. Alternatively, non-waterproof inks can be used as a colouring medium themselves – simply dab some ink onto a tile, or similar surface, and apply the colour with a paintbrush.
Also worth noting is that dye-based ink tends to fade over time. To avoid this, look for ink pads labelled as ‘archival’ or ‘fade-resistant’.
Pigment inks are slow-drying and ideal for heat embossing, as they allow enough time for the embossing powder to stick to the inked area.
Unlike dye-based ink, pigment ink dries on the surface of the card rather than soaking into the fibres, so the colours often look more vibrant than dye-based inks. However, this means that they are not suitable for basic stamping on coated or glossy card as the ink won’t dry. Only use them to stamp on these surfaces if you heat emboss them afterwards.
Pigment inks are generally sold on a spongy pad so beware of over-inking your stamps with them. There are also lots of exciting variations of pigment inks available, such as shimmery and chalk finishes, which are fantastic for stamping colour on your cards.
Solvent-based inks are quick-drying, permanent inks. As they can be used on any surface they are ideal for stamping on all kinds of card, acetate, glass and even metal. Some manufacturers of clear stamps advise against using solvent-based ink with their products, as the solvent can attack the clear polymer over a period of time.
StazOn is a popular brand of solvent-based ink, as it has a mild smell and is available in many colours.
Some special inks have been developed that deserve a mention for their unique mix of qualities.
VersaMark ink is a very sticky, clear pigment ink. It’s ideal for heat embossing and other effects because embossing powder will stick to it and as it is clear you can add any colour of powder to it.
Chalk inks are a pigment ink which have a powdery, matte finish once dry. They have the vibrance of a pigment ink but can be blended like a dye-based ink, making them a popular choice with cardmakers.
These are dye-based inks with a higher concentration of colour and a longer drying time than normal. They are designed to flow when sprayed with water, and to be blended and worked into your project. They are ideal for altered art and distress effects.
Alcohol inksThese are special dye-based inks designed to give a pretty, polished-stone effect. They are quick-drying and permanent, and can be used on lots of surfaces including glossy paper, acetate, shrink plastic, foil and metal.
About Die Cuts:
When using intricate detailed die cuts, use a piece of wax paper between the die and your paper. Makes a world of difference! Try it, you won't regret it!!