I absolutely love getting out my crafty stash and having a play – just like you I bet! And I especially enjoy making something when I don’t really know where I will end up, when I can just go with the flow and see what comes out. But it can be hard to know when to stop – when is a piece finished? How to tell if it needs a little bit more work or if you will spoil it by adding too much?
I have found the following ideas helpful when trying to answer the question ‘is my design finished?’.
1) Hold it up to a mirror – this is great for checking whether your design is balanced. It gives you a new perspective so you can see if anything is out of place.
2) Make a black & white copy – to check that you have a variety of tones from light to dark, and that they are well-distributed across the page. Either take a photo with your phone and run it through a B+W filter, or simply make a B+W photocopy of your piece.
3) Get some distance – prop up your piece then back away a few paces. This gives a different viewpoint and will help you to see which are the most dominant elements and if anything is out of balance.
4) Squint – simply screwing up your eyes can help you to see which areas need more and which are busy enough already.
5) If all else fails, sleep on it. You will approach your work with a fresh eye in the morning, and often the solution will jump out at you. It’s better to wait until the next day than to risk ruining your piece while your judgement is clouded.
A couple of extra tips:
  • When you are arranging various elements on your page or substrate, take photos of different compositions on your phone before you stamp or stick anything down. That way you will be able to choose which one you think is best, and you’ll have a handy reference so that you can reassemble the final piece in the same way.
  • Use a colour chart – make a colour chart for your various inks, paints, and any other coloured mediums. This will be a handy reference in itself, and if you make a B+W copy of your charts (see #2 above) you will have a tonal reference too!



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