Using Gold Leaf in your Artwork | Sandra Mejia | Skillshare

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Using Gold Leaf in your Artwork

teacher avatar Sandra Mejia, Illustrator + Pattern Designer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (14m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project and Supplies

    • 3. Basic Technique

    • 4. The Adhesive Size

    • 5. Leafing the Artwork

    • 6. Touch ups

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About This Class


In this class I will show you how to add gold leaf to your existing paintings and illustrations to give them that special shiny touch that will make them pop. 



Meet Your Teacher

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Sandra Mejia

Illustrator + Pattern Designer

Top Teacher

Hello! I'm a Freelance Illustrator. I was born in Medellín, Colombia (puedes escribirme en Español!). I create detailed, stylized, playful illustrations, patterns and characters from my studio in Ottawa, Canada.

I have very big eyes and I love animals. Most of my inspiration comes from nature and animals.

I love mixing traditional and digital media to create illustrations and patterns for a number of corporate clients around the world to use in home decor products, stationery, fabrics, kids products and greeting cards.

“I’m very passionate about what I do and believe that through my art I can impact the world in a positive manner.  This is why I teach online and why I create fun, colourful and happy world... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello, I'm Sandra Bowers. I'm an illustrator and surface pattern designer. In this class, I will show you how to add gold leaf to your existing paintings and illustrations, to give them that special shiny touch that will make them pop. Join me and let's start leafing. 2. Class Project and Supplies: For this class, you will need adhesive size, you can get it at a craft store, gold leaf, a brush that is not so fancy that you will just use for applying the adhesive, a nib pen, your artwork or illustration that you want to apply gold leaf to, a big soft brush, water and soap to wash your brush and nib, paper to put under your artwork, and cotton gloves. You could do it without them, but the gold leaf sticks to your finger so it makes it harder to manage. For our class project, we will enhance an existing illustration with gold leaf to make a beautiful painting. 3. Basic Technique: First, I'm going to show you how to use the adhesive with a brush. You can use any size brush according to the area you want to cover, you might need a bigger brush. You just have to deep it in the adhesive and start painting over the areas you want the gold leaf to cover. Make sure it's all covered but don't let it [inaudible] too much. Follow the warnings on the adhesive label. Don't get it on your skin and use it in a well ventilated area because it has a strong smell. The adhesive is transparent, but if you look at it from the side, you can see where it has been applied. I'm doing this on water color paper. If the paper is too thin it might buckle. I'm going to use a brush to add the thin detail so you can see how that looks. We'll let that one dry while we use the knead pen. I'll dip it in the adhesive and use it as if it were ink. Don't fill it too much. Just a bit plus the whole in the middle. I'll start drawing over my sketch. If you have never used any of them before, I recommend practicing with ink on paper first, and you can also watch my ink and florals class to see how I use it. Don't press too hard so that it doesn't puddle. While that dries, I'll show you on a black piece of paper how to know when it's dry. Here you can see how it looks like a milky white when it's wet, and how it's totally transparent when it's dry. On my label it says 30 minutes approximately, but mine is ready in about two minutes. I'm going to put on my glove and put a big piece of paper underneath so that you can pick up the leftover gold leaf later. The glove makes a gold leaf easier to work with because sometimes it starts sticking to your fingers and it gets very hard to use. Gold leaf comes in different ways. This is how mine is packaged. I'll open one side of the package. Gold leaf is very delicate. Here you can seen how thin it is, so it must be handled with care. Now I'm going to apply it to the heart. Mine has a side that's shinier than the other one so I'll choose the shinier side to be on the top. You just have to lay it down softly and gently press it on there. Let me take this out of the way and then I'll start tapping on it with the big brush so that it sticks to the adhesive. Pressing on it, not rubbing it yet. Once everything is well pressed, I can start brushing it off gently so that the remainders get loose. I can also reuse those pieces that come off to cover areas that were left uncovered. This area didn't get enough adhesive, so it didn't work there. You can see how pretty it shines. I'm going to go over the areas that were uncovered by adding more adhesive to them. Remember to wash your brush really well after using it. Even if you wash it really well, it might end up being sticky afterwards. That's why I have a specific brush to use with this. Once the glue is dry it must feel tacky when you touch it. See? Now I'm going to show you how to use flakes or scraps that are left over from other projects. I'm just borrowing small pieces that were left over and placing them all on top of my adhesive until I get it all covered. Then I'll brush it off. Here it is. This technique looks amazing on dark backgrounds. Now, I'll cover the one I made with the knead pen. I'll do exactly the same as with the other ones. Hear you can see how pretty it looks with the light and how it really gets all the details. Make sure to brush all the little corners off so that there are no loose pieces on there. There we have it. I'm going to finish this one quickly so that you can compare the results. I like how the knead pen handles the details more than the brush, so I'd usually use the brush for bigger areas and the knead pen to make details. 4. The Adhesive Size: I have this water color painting that I want to spruce up. So I'm going to make a solid gold circle behind it and then add some little binds with leaves in some places. I make the sketch in light pencil so I know what I'm doing. I'll use my brush to paint over the solid circle in the back. Now I'll use the nip pen to make the small details. I also want to add some details on these leaves because since they're dark, it will look really nice. Be careful not to smudge the outer areas with your hand. I'll add some dots on the feathers to make them pop. 5. Leafing the Artwork: Now that the adhesive is dry, I'm going to apply a big piece of leaf over to painting. I'll do the same process as I showed you before. I'll use a leaf to cover every part of the adhesive. You can tear leftover pieces from any area that has them. I usually save these crops in a little jar so that I can use them on another project. I make sure to getting those little details so that they really show. I'll keep brushing away until there are no loose pieces left. 6. Touch ups: You can seen here how there are areas that didn't get covered completely, so we need to get back in there and fix them. Remember to brush out tiny details that didn't brush out well. So I'll apply adhesive with a brush. Usually, the nib pen areas never need retouching because they get more coverage. If your nib pen areas need a lot of retouching, you probably need a nib that lets flow more adhesive, so get a more flexible nib. Here's where the jar of flakes comes in handy. Now it's ready. You can see how amazing it looks. Now I'm going to cut the excess paper and frame this. I hope you had fun. Follow me on Instagram and remember to check out all my other classes on my website. Bye.