Wednesday, June 10, 2015

New Bokeh Technique


I learned this gorgeous technique following a Close to My Heart board for consultants. YouTube has several tutorials but here are the steps it takes to make these wonderfully beautiful backgrounds. It isn't difficult, and it doesn't have to be perfect! I had a TON of fun making these backgrounds, and was giddy each time I finished one! I think I may have actually squealed with delight a couple of times!

Bokeh is a term used in photography. It describes the way the camera lens captures out of focus points of light. Boke means blur, or haze in Japanese.

The goal for our card backgrounds is to create an illusion of depth by making faint circles at first and layering on brighter and brighter circles.


The first part is creating a template for the circles. Many people are using acetate to create their templates. I did not have any on hand so I used a piece of slick, glossy cardboard which was actually the folded label in a new set of Cricut mats.  By using glossy cardstock, the excess ink won't soak into it and you can continue to reuse it over and over. I used my Cricut to cut circles from .25 to 1.5 inches around the paper.  I have an Expression2, so it took quite a combination of playing around with spaces and returns to achieve the effect I wanted. Some of the videos I viewed show that many people are using the template as it is cut. I found that I was turning the template and using it in random fashion to place circles where I thought they looked good. It makes each card a unique piece of art. Because my original template did not have large circles, I used a few scraps of the glossy cardboard and punched a larger circle and used it independently. The point is - don't feel you need to use the circles exactly as you have them arranged in your template. You could cut or punch different circle templates and use them over and over again in random patterns. The only caution is laying the template over wet ink and smearing it.

Ink & Sponges

Once the template is made,  you will need some sponges or daubers. These will need to be dedicated to the inks you are using to prevent ink contamination. For the large background  piece, I used a cut up a sponge and pinched it to round the dabbing surface. We will work with a full 4.25x5 folded card.

I chose 3 CTMH inks for this blog post, Hollyhock, Cotton Candy, and Ruby. 


Make sponged/dabbed areas across the entire surface. Start with the darkest ink and end by filling in with the lightest. I covered my work surface with a scrap piece of paper because the background bleeds off the edge. Blend the inked areas well to create the blurred effect. 

It's okay if you don't like the blurry background and it looks uneven - it gets partially covered, so don't stress over it.


Now we are ready to start laying in the circles. Lay the template over the background. Using a white craft ink  (pigment) and a dauber, lightly dab white ink into the template circles. Swirl them around to blend the ink with the background. 

For larger circles, you may need to get more white ink on your dauber.  Go ahead and place some of the circles off the edges for a better effect. It is supposed to look random.
After blending your first layer, move the circle template to make some overlapping circles one or two times. Vary the amount of white to make the top circles (those that are nearest the top) the whitest. Blending the first circles will make them a bit hazy, and dabbing the top circles rather than blending them in will make them whiter. The whiter circles on top will produce the depth you are trying to achieve for a true Bokeh look.

Some cardmakers have used other shapes besides circles, such as hearts.  The effect is still fabulous! Just have fun like I did and get creative with this gorgeous technique!

Let it dry a bit and embellish and stamp away!

On my first attempt, I made several card backgrounds at once in blues and in peaches, and a large strip of 12x7 in greens to cut as I would patterned paper. It came in very handy when I needed to make some quick cards.

The video I watched recommended only using one small area of the white ink pad to prevent contamination. You will pull up some of the background inks. I also have one dauber dedicated to peachy bokeh, and one dauber dedicated to blue bokeh and so on for the other colors. And I will probably end up buying a second white pigment ink pad - simply because it bothers me to have the pad "contaminated" with other inks.

Thank you for stopping by to see this wonderful new technique!
If you'd like to see the video I watched, it's here on YouTube. (the demonstrator is a Stampin'Up demonstrator, but her demo is excellent).

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