ATC Background Techniques – Part 1

31 May

Thanks to a recent swap in one of my groups, I have been forced to research  the different ways you can produce interesting and pleasing ATC backgrounds.

Previously I have been using scrapbooking paper or using the printed or coloured cards I have as background.  Since I have tried the following techniques I can honestly say I will not be going back.  Using the following techniques you can tailor the colours and effect to compliment the final ATC.

Let’s get started shall we.

First up is Shaving Foam Marbling.

You will need:



  • Cheap Shaving foam (not a good idea to pinch your other half’s as you go through a bit)
  • Water based paints or tempera paints or food colouring.
  • Ordinary printer paper

  • A shallow dish or tray

  • An old pencil or paintbrush

  • A bit of flexible plastic (you can use card but I found it got soggy)

em>Mess: A little, make sure you protect clothes

Difficulty: Easy peasy, good for kids



Take your bowl (I used a baking sheet as I found that it was shallow enough to mean less wasted foam, but it also gave a larger surface are for the final print.  If you do use a baking sheet, make sure you cover in foil as the foam may leave a residue.) and fill with foam.

Use the end of a pencil or the reverse end of a paintbrush to make the surface of the form flat.

Drop small blobs of paint in lines on the foam surface.  I used pearlised water-based paint from my local supermarket kids craft section but you could try other paints and dyes.


Paint alignment

Using the pencil/paintbrush, swirl patterns in the surface of the foam.  The key here is to start in one of the paint blobs and not to go too deep into the foam.  I found figure of 8 motions the best.



Place a sheet of paper onto the surface of the paint and lightly smooth your hand over the back of the paper, ensuring that the whole of the paper has come into contact with the foam.  You will know when it has because you will see the paint as it dampens the paper where as the shaving foam doesn’t.



Carefully lift off the paper and transfer it to a sheet of newspaper.  This is the point where it is too easy to rip the paper if you are not careful.  At this point you will probably be thinking ‘Oh my what a mess!’.  But don’t be tempted just to throw it away. 


Take your bit of plastic/card and ‘scrape’ off the foam.  The lovely marble pattern is left on the paper.



The paper dries quickly enough and if it goes crinkly, it can be pressed under a heavy book. 

You may like to experiment with more than one colour paint.  I found pink and purple to be a good combination.


Pink and Purple

Upon clearing away you find it hard to disperse the foam, a bit of hot water and washing up liquid should do the trick!

Here is the technique in action on ATC’s:



Stay tuned for further techniques in future posts.


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