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January Guest Artist – Kevin Nakagawa of Stampscapes

Our featured guest artist this month is the master of scenic stamping - Kevin Nakagawa of Stampscapes Rubber Stamps. We are so excited to present his article written just for the readers of Stamper's Quest. Kevin introduces us to the world of light in preparing scenes. Follow his simple tutorial, and soon you will be creating your own beautiful rubber stamped scenery.

Make sure you visit Stampscapes for more wonderful tutorials, not just by Kevin, but several various artists, each with their own different style. And check out those rubber stamps! They are a must-have for any scenic stamping.

Scene Lighting

There are a lot of different components that a stamper can introduce into scenic stamping from different media and techniques, compositions, subject matter, etc.  They're all equally important and lend to the diversity of the genre which is what makes stamping scenes so much fun.  For me, though, much about the theme of a scene is about value --relative dark and light-- and how it's used throughout a scene.

I like my scenes to appear as if the light is coming from within a scene.  Since we're not dealing with actual light, the depiction of it has to be achieved with shadow.  A very simple way to do this is with a "color glow."  In the scene below, using four values of blue and a black dye based ink, I've created a transition of blue tones starting from the white of my glossy card stock to black.  

Starting with the lightest value, sequentially apply layers of ink to the paper in incrementally darker tones.   Apply the lightest value of blue from the edge of the card all the way to, or close to, the center of the card.  By the time you add black, it's primarily been applied in the four corners.

In this next scan, the "Twisting Leaves" has been stamped in two different values.  I've done two impressions in one of the blue hues that were used in the "color glow", and another four impressions of leaves in black.  The lighter impressions represent slightly more distant leaves.  Images in multiple values can be very effective in creating an emotional quality to the scene as we become aware of the space between the objects.  In this case it would be suspended moisture in the air diffusing the imagery like looking at some distant trees on a foggy morning.

In this final scan, I added opaque embellishments in the form of white pigment ink and white gel pen dots.  On the sides of the leaves and branches that face the central light, I added a few dots.  This represents illuminated dew, ice, or simply highlights on the imagery.  These dots can add "sparkle" to a scene by stretching the value scale wherever they're placed.  In photography they call these little twinkles "specular light" --light that's brighter than white.  These can bring areas and the whole of a scene to life.  While these white dots provide a sharp point of light, white pigment ink applied to the scene creates a soft application of representational light.  On some of the leaves, closest to the light/center of the scene, I applied a very thin soft layer of pigment ink on some of the leaves.  This reiterated the direction of light and gave the lighting a soft quality.


"Early Morning Mist"
Twisting Leaves 274G.  Dye based inks on Glossy Card Stock.




In this next scene, I've kept the color scheme the same to show how to tweak the simple value scheme in the first scene slightly to create a slightly more sophisticated lighting scheme.  Lighter values in the first scene represented objects farther away and I took this idea one step further in this scene.  The moon was stamped in a light blue; the Lakeside Cove was stamped in a dark blue; and the foreground rocks and branch in black.

In the first leaf scene there was just a central glow so it was fine to stamp the imagery after laying down all the color.  In this scene, however, I have objects and areas that I wanted to strategically illuminate. In order to do that, I had to know where these areas would be by first stamping the scene.  I planned to keep the moon light and have reflected light on the water's surface as well as the foreground rocks. Starting with a light blue tone, I applied ink to the scene with a sponging method.  You'll notice areas on the background and foreground rocks, a couple of areas on the lake's surface, and the moon have kept the white of the paper.

In the next scan, I've taken my value scheme into the medium and dark tone blues and black.  It's easier to see the value/lighting scheme of the scene.  Now, how do I know where to add colors to the scene?  This is the question I always get and it's understandable and I have a really simple solution to this.  In the first leaf scene I just have a simple color glow --light in the middle progressing to dark on the scene edges.  In this scene, all I've done is to extend the dark edges into the center of the scene in two areas --at the base of the distant rocks and in the water just over the foreground rocks.  What this did was to create a shadow under the distant rocks and the darker values in the foreground water illuminated the foreground rock --made it stand out.  I've also done some shading within the rocks. If you look at the original stamped design, you'll see that clues on where to add shading are already in the design.  Shadows are already worked into most of the designs and I've just applied the darker tones of my blue inks into these areas and left the lighter areas either the white of the paper or the lighter values of blue ink.  By simply extending the dark border across the scene in one or more areas, I break up that one central glow, as in the leaf scene.  In this scene it creates a cast light and reflected light dynamic.  Instead of a central glow we have a moon with reflected moonlight shining off the lake and rocks. 


This breaking up of the basic central glow can be seen as "checker-boarding" the scene.  It's a dark-light-dark-light-etc. theme and lends itself to a rich surface.


In this final scan, as with the first scene, a white gel pen added highlights and white pigment ink creates a misty texture to the water's surface in areas.


"Blue Moon"
Lakeside Cove Lg.- 049G, Boating Fishermen-093B, Boulders with Lichen-205F, and Spooky Branch- 273G.  Dye based inks on Glossy Card Stock.

Kevin Nakagawa/Stampscapes Inc.®
10820 Beverly Blvd. A5 PMB 342
Whittier CA 90601

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23 Responses »

  1. This has always been one of my favorite techniques. I learned it from Rhonda at Angel Art in Lawrenceville Georgia. Angel Art is no longer there but I am so glad I was able to learned the techniques. The scenes are gorgeous.

  2. Your work is always so inspiring, but this article is simply HEAVENLY! Your step outs and explanations of WHY you put which color where...I've learned so much from you by just seeing your work, this is like icing on the cake. Now I know the why's and wherefore's! I'm off to create! THANKS!

  3. Amazing - thanks time to give it a try. Even if it looks muddy it is a start I guess. How many pages do we have to go through to get one to look OK? we shall see...

  4. as always I LOVE your creations

  5. Great tutorial. Thanks for letting us play with all of your creations. I had the honor of Estrella Biannchi teach a class. Beautiful work with such an easy assortment of inks and stamps. Just beautiful!!


  6. Totally awesome! like always from the master of scenic stamping

  7. Kevin, Congratulations on being selected as the Featured Guest Artist. I personally cannot think of anyone more deserving. You've given so much to so many, bringing so much pleasure and delight to people's lives with your art and stamps. Thank you so very much.
    The article is just another example of your unending way of giving instruction to us as if we were there with you. Well written and great detail with the scans. You are truly The Master.

  8. As always, Kevin's explanations are most helpful! I have most of the Stampscapes line, but I've always envied the scenes on his Web site. Now I feel as if I can do it too! Thanks, Kevin, for a great tutorial.

  9. Thank you Kevin, I have been having trouble with lighting for sometime now. What a huge help this was for me. Thanks for the tutorial.
    I love your stamps. Your artwork is absolutely beautiful, I get tons of compliments on the cards I give out for birthdays, etc. They will be even better now.

  10. Great article, Kevin, and wonderful scenes. Thanks for the lesson in lighting; it's one of the hardest things to achieve.

  11. This article is fantastic, I love Kevin's simple explanation along with the diagrams. Sometimes it is difficult to actually see all the different values of the color being used. Kevin really makes it look so easy that everyone can create great art! Thanks!!!

  12. Your work is spectacular, Kevin. Enjoyed the tutorial.

  13. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I love myh stampscapes and use them often. I always receive wonderful comments on the work due to the quality of the stamps. Wonderful.

  14. Just beautiful. Nice to read the explanation on the lighting. Will be a great help to me and newbies to scenic staming.

  15. Kevin,
    I love your stamps and your art... so beautiful!!! Your tutorials are so user friendly, thanks for always sharing!
    🙂 Rose

  16. Wonderful article, wonderful scenes......Colleen

  17. True art by Kevin, the master of scenic art......Joe

  18. How great to see words from the king of Stampscapes. As always, Kevin, your work is spectacular and how wonderful to see you explain the light and dark aspect. Fabulous scenes.

  19. Gorgeous work! Thanks for the tutorial.

  20. Fantastic scenes from a Master! We can learn so much from Kevin.

  21. How stunning.
    The scenescapes are glowing.
    Thank you for this article!!!

  22. The scene scapes are absolutely beautiful!


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