As avid crafters will have noticed, digi stamps have exploded in popularity, so Alice Lipscombe-Southwell shares her top tips on how to get the best from them...
A digi stamp is an image you can buy (or occasionally download for free) from craft websites. They may also be called digital stamps, or more affectionately ‘digis’. Once you’ve bought your stamp, you can simply print it off and colour it in as you would with a traditional stamped image.
There’s a great range of digi stamps at www.cardmakingandpapercraft.com Simply click on ‘Cardmaking’ then ‘Digital downloads’ and take your pick.
Although elements of digi stamps are similar to Clip Art, there is a big difference. Most digi stamps have been designed by crafters, for crafters – so they understand what stampers like! Digi stamps are designed to be fun to colour or to create stunning effects. There are even renowned artists (such as children’s book illustrator Mo Manning) who design them.
The second point of difference is that digi stamps are higher quality to give you sharper outlines and to allow you to resize without a loss in resolution (print quality). Sometimes you’ll find the file name of a digi stamp ends in .png which means the background is ‘transparent’. Look out for these if you want to print images onto coloured or patterned paper. This image below was printed onto textured card and coloured with brush markers for a watercoloured effect.
Die-hard fans of stamping may struggle to see how using digi stamps can really be classed as ‘proper’ stamping, but there is definitely room for both traditional and digi stamps in the modern craft room.
A huge benefit of digi stamps is their cost. Most retail at only a couple of pounds making them substantially cheaper than wood-mounted, rubber or clear stamps. And you can get them straight away, making them ideal if you need to make a card in a hurry.
Depending on what software you have, it is also possible to resize and even flip (create a mirror image of) the digital images to make them appropriate for cards of any shape or size. You can do this on Paint (which should already be installed if you have Windows) or Photoshop. Picasa and Gimp are image manipulation programmes you can download for free. It is easy to resize images in Word too and many computers will have this programme ready-installed.
Then of course there’s the fact that with digis you’re guaranteed a perfect image every time. You won’t need to worry about over- or under-inking a stamp or getting shaky hands ever again! Digi stamps are really quick to use, too. Use the Copy and Paste function to fill a page with lots of digi stamps and print them off in a matter of minutes.
And finally, no storage problems! If you’re anything like me your craft room is over-flowing with rubber stamps, whereas digi stamps can be stored on your computer or on CD. If you do a lot of travelling, pop them onto a USB stick and you can take them with you!
No, any type of printer can do the job, however, the type of printer that you use can make a big difference to the quality of your printed image.
Depending on your printer, you may find that colouring your image with watercolours or alcohol markers (such as Copics or ProMarkers) can cause the outlines to smudge. If this happens, don’t worry as there are a number of solutions. It’s best to experiment and see which one you prefer.
Firstly, you can try blasting the image with a heat gun to set the ink. Alternatively, drawing over the image with an embossing pen and heat embossing with clear powder will do the job if the image isn’t too fiddly – but intricate images take forever to treat in this way! A simpler solution is to use Ghiant Inkjet Fixative in Matt finish (£7.40, available from www.greatart.co.uk). A quick spritz of this after printing should stop any bleed. For a budget option, one of our designers Dawn Phillips uses cheap hairspray as a fixative instead! The fairy below was sprayed with fixative and coloured with ProMarkers.
If you try all these methods and still have no success, try colouring your image using ‘dry’ colouring mediums such as chalks and coloured pencils, which are available in a variety of pastel and bold shades and won’t make the image bleed. Try highlighting images with glitter for a pretty effect.
After extensive testing, I’ve found that you get the best results printing onto card or paper of at least 120gsm (this refers to the weight of the paper). This will ensure that your image looks professional and any colour you add will really ‘pop’! Just double-check that your printer can take thicker paper and card before trying to print. Most can, but you may have to adjust your settings. I recommend Neenah Classic Crest card, £3.99, or Smooth White Digital Cardstock, £9.95.
You can be just as inventive with digi stamps as you can with rubber stamps, you don’t have to stick to white card or paper. Try printing onto patterned paper for paper piecing projects and discover the stylish effects you can get by printing digis onto printable acetate and vellum (set your printer to the fast or draft setting for this to prevent ink overload). You can even layer images to create gorgeous scenes!
When you’re buying digi stamps you’ll notice that most websites list an Angel Policy. It is essential that you read this thoroughly to ensure you don’t infringe copyright laws. Generally, you can print off the stamps to colour in by hand to make your cards, which can then be sold for profit. Usually you are not allowed to print off and sell, share or swap the digi stamps without first making them into a card.
A further benefit of digi stamps is you can buy from sites around the world and not have to wait ages for delivery or pay hefty shipping prices. Visit a currency converter site (we like www.xe.com) for an estimate of how much your digi costs.