You can take your stamped art to a new level by learning
to create scenery with your stamp designs. Scenery design
will soon become one of your favorite ways to stamp, once
you learn a few basics that we will be covering in this
Are you interested
in creating an indoor or outdoor scene, combining images
into pleasing designs or patterns, or simply placing two
or more images so that they look like they are inside or
behind each other? If so, we can help you get started. Our
scenery element stamps are designed to coordinate with each
other in size, weight of lines, content, and style.
For example, shown to the right is our catalog #13 cover.
The cover was designed using the techniques we will discuss
in this article. It was stamped on 11 x 17" paper;
and none of the images' sizes were altered. This shows how
well our images fit with one another, allowing perspective
and depth with the larger images in the foreground and the
smaller images in the background.
Stamping indoor or outdoor scenes is a very creative way
to combine many of your stamp images, including some that
you never thought could be used together. A scenery design
can communicate a mood or tell a story. Let your creativity
and imagination go wild!
Some basic steps toward better scenery stamping:
PLAN YOUR SCENE
Choose an image that will be used as the focal point
or theme of your scene.
Add other stamps as fillers or accents that will
develop and enhance your theme.
Divide your scene into three major parts.
Larger images (masked when needed - we'll discuss that further
into this article) should be in the front, which is depicted
by using the lower portion of the paper. The trick to creating
realism in your stamp art is to blend the images of your
scene so that they don't stand alone. Sometimes you will
need to fill in some of the space between your stamped images
to join them together. A key to good scenery stamping is
to "ground" or connect images to the rest of the scene by
laying in background elements such as grass, flowers or
water. Without this grounding, an image will look as though
it is floating in the air. The elements in the foreground
should appear larger and also be "anchored" at the bottom
of the page. Framing the scene with large trees, rocks,
etc. placed at the bottom corners will give the illusion
of viewing the scene through a break in the trees.
Working from front to back, add interest with medium sized
trees, people, animals, windows, furniture, etc.
Continuing to work your way backward, add mountains, skyline,
clouds, windows, wallpaper, etc. When showing a horizon,
place it either above or below the center to avoid "chopping
your scene in half."
Viewpoint: Stress certain elements of your design
by cropping, or by choosing either a horizontal or vertical
view to bring out the best in your theme. Something in the
sky, such as a flock of geese, can be made the focal point
by lowering the horizon line. Something on the land, such
as a bridge, cabin, boat, etc. can be made the focal point
by raising the horizon line, showing more land than sky.
For example, in the lake scene on our catalog cover, the
cabin and foreground animals are the focal point. The horizon
is very high, de-emphasizing the skyline and guiding the
eye to the foreground elements.
On scrap paper, begin to play with your stamps. Stamp
out your idea without coloring or masking, just to plan
placement of each element. You will be able to see which
images will require masking on your final scene. For complicated,
multi-image scenes, it helps to number your "practice run"
according to which images must be stamped first and masked.
Keep in mind that the construction of a stamped scene is
done exactly the opposite of a painted scene. In a painting,
the first thing to be completed is the background. Other
elements are added over it, working from back to front.
When stamping, you begin at the forefront and build your
way backward, adding background last, and masking as you
STAMP YOUR SCENE
Working from front to back, stamp your images in
place, using your "practice run" as a guide if necessary.
The use of an image positioner may be of help to you as
you stamp all of your elements in place. Drying the newly
stamped images before moving the positioner onto them will
help prevent smearing. Just aim your heat tool or a hair
dryer at the stamped image for a few seconds.
USING AN IMAGE POSITIONER
Using the L-square of the image positioner and the
clear acrylic plate, place the plate precisely in the joint
of the tool. Line your stamp up exactly in the joint, and
stamp it on the plate. Then move the plate around on your
card until you like the location. Again place the joint
of the positioner precisely against the corner of the plate.
Remove the plate, and apply your stamp in the joint, just
as you did to make the first image on the plate - but this
time you will be stamping directly onto your card. Using
a positioner eliminates guesswork when creating a scene.
Practice using your image positioner on scrap paper a few
times until you get the feel of it. Once you have mastered
the use of this tool, you will wonder how you ever stamped
If needed, use a fine tipped marker to connect lines
from one image to another. Use masking where necessary.
Some of your stamps can be colored with markers directly
on the rubber die to add color as you stamp. For example,
solid pine trees look more natural when they are stamped
in pine green rather than black.
ADD COLOR TO YOUR SCENE
Allow the stamped scene to dry completely before
Use color to reflect the season to be portrayed in
your scene. For wintry looking cards, cool shades of pale
blue, green, pine green, black and white, or intense cool
colors like red or purple are best. Spring requires light
and pale shades of warm colors, such as mint green, yellow,
peach, or aqua, with vividly colored florals. Summer is
portrayed best with soft to medium shades of cool colors,
such as rose, lemon yellow, sky blue or grass green, blended
with browns and greens. Autumn needs intense shades of warm
colors such as gold, orange and brown.
Remember that nature has no solid colors. Blend and
shade two or more colors for the most realism.
Water, sky and grass: Combine stamped images with
sponging techniques. For example, stamp a grass image using
green ink from a pad or marker. Stamp two or three random
images before re-inking to achieve light and dark areas;
and then sponge more ink or blend in some green and yellow
chalk or watercolor pencil to fill in the grassy area. Remember
that the nearest grass, sky or water will be the most distinct;
so stamp from the bottom of the page and work upwards with
Watercolor pencil or chalk techniques are ideal for
blending colors in scenery because they produce softer effects
that will not overwhelm the stamped outlines of the design.
MASKING: THE STAMPER'S SECRET
Masking is one of the most impressive rubber stamping techniques
around. It is used to get the effect of stamped images behind,
coming out of, or going into each other. The technique of
masking is simple, but it will give you a "professional"
edge and add life to your scenes. You will soon be busy
stamping armies of frogs, making animals peer around corners,
filling baskets, jars and other containers with flowers,
candy, or critters -- or concocting zany combinations of
all of the above!
"What is masking?" you ask.
Masking is the technique of covering a stamped image so
that another image can be placed partly over it without
the overlapped area being visible. It is a simple procedure,
but it requires patience and careful cutting.
BASIC MASKING TECHNIQUE
Stamp the foreground (front) image on
your card. Allow the ink to dry completely. (see Figure
Stamp the image again onto a piece of thin (text
weight) paper. Post-it notes are ideal for masks if you
stamp close to the top so that the sticky part can be used
to adhere the mask temporarily to your card.
Carefully cut out the image from the masking paper,
staying just inside the stamped outline (to avoid creating
a "halo" effect around the masked image where the ink doesn't
Attach the mask to the original stamped image, lining
it up just inside the outer edge. Use temporary glue if
you have not used a post-it note.
Now you are ready to stamp the image in place that
you wish to place "behind" the first image. The mask will
keep it from overlapping the original stamped image. (see
When you peel off the mask, the new image will "disappear"
behind the original one.
If desired, another mask can be applied to add further
perspective to your scene. Always start from the front.
(see Figure 3-4)
STRAIGHT OR TORN LINE MASKING
When just a small area will overlap, or the point of overlapping
is straight, a piece of plain paper can be used without
cutting out a shape. (Fig. 5)
Trees, people (or anything else you can dream up)
can be made to appear behind a sloping hill. Cut or tear
a hilly shape from thin scrap paper. Stamp over this mask
with the top of the image above the mask. When you peel
off the mask, the image(s) will disappear behind the edge
of the slope.
Sky and clouds are fun to sponge using a torn or
cut cloud shape mask. Lightly apply ink with a sponge along
the edge of the mask, repeatedly moving the mask and re-applying
ink of the same or a different color. (see Figure 6)
Fig. 6: Cut a mask for the hillside. Apply to card. Stamp
trees and bear. Mask.
Tear a mask for clouds. Apply ink with a sponge, moving
torn mask as you go.
Left is finished card, right are the masks used for this
PARTIAL IMAGE STAMPING
Stamp the design on lightweight scrap paper. Cut
out the part of the image you wish to eliminate.
Ink the stamp again. Turn over the mask portion you
cut out, and stick it to the wet ink on the appropriate
portion of the rubber stamp die.
Stamp the image. The wet ink will hold your mask
TRACING PAPER AS A MASK
When you are masking a complex scene to add background,
such as sky and mountains behind a detailed nature scene,
it is easier to lay a piece of tracing paper over the scene.
Trace and cut the upper edge of the scenery, and attach
as one mask for the whole area
much easier than cutting
out masks for each little element you stamped!
This technique is used to stamp an image into the open,
inside area of a shape, such as adding jelly beans to the
inside of a jar, etc.
Stamp the jar or other image onto your card.
Stamp the same image onto a mask paper (see Basic
Carefully cut away the inner shape of the image on
the mask, cutting just
outside the outline, leaving a wide margin of extra
Attach the mask to the image on your card.
Now you are ready to stamp the desired image(s) into
exposed center area. If necessary, use basic masks
create dimension in these images also. When you peel
the mortise mask, your new image(s) will appear to
the first one.
Let your imagination be your guide in creating unusual
compositions. Do something fun with the sun.
(see Figure 8)
FRAMING YOUR SCENE
After spending so much time on a special scenery creation,
it is important that you give attention to how it is mounted
on your card. Layering contrasting or coordinating shades
of cardstock and mounting your scene with a margin or mat
will add even more depth. Use of window cards, open die
cut cards or simple ruled lines around the edges will also
set off your work in a striking way. Of course, scenery
stamping is not limited to greeting cards! Stamp a large
scene (such as our catalog cover lake scene) and frame it
with a mat.
Don't be intimidated by how complicated scenery stamping
appears to be! It is not difficult, but it does take more
time and planning. Start with simple combinations of elements
and work your way up to the more detailed pieces. The important
thing is to have fun! And just as almost anything in life,
the more practice you have, the better your finished results
Scenery Rubber Art-Stamp Designs