TUTORIAL: How to Make Cheap Homemade Picture Frames

October 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

Have a bunch of poster prints or pieces of art packed away in storage because you can’t afford to get them framed? I feel your pain, and figured out how to fix the problem. In this post I will show you how to make cheap homemade picture frames for your home!

I had seven pictures I wanted to frame. The largest was nearly 40 inches long and would have cost me, at the cheapest, $60 for a thin 1″ metal frame plus glass and shipping costs from a “cheap” online custom frame shop. Ridiculous, right? So, here we go.

There’s two options here for your frames.
1) Thrift stores
2) Home Improvement stores

The custom frame idea started a few weeks ago when I headed to my local Goodwill to look for some shirts. I came across this awesome Gustav Klimt print in a really ugly gold frame but just had to get it.

gustav klimt

My husband had some black spray paint lying around so I figured I’d just change the color. Easy peasy.

valspar black spray paint

I put down some large roll kraft paper I found on Amazon Prime. You can get it in stores like Lowes and Home Depot as well. I tucked it underneath the frame so I wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of taking out the print and glass.

kraft paperspray paint frame
Voila. Finished frame up on the wall. finished homemade frames
The two small ones on the right are homemade. I show you how to do these in the next section!


The second option is making a frame totally from scratch. You’ll need wood pieces, a miter box and hand saw, nails and a hammer, wood joiners, D hooks, frame wire, flat push-pins, wire nails (skinny nails about 1-1.5″ long), and matte board. It’s a little bit of an investment, but it will save you HUGE in the long run if you have more than one frame to do.

I went to Lowe’s and came across these crown molding strips. They were fairly cheap, averaging $4-5 dollars for a 92″ piece.

crown molding
Here’s your miter box. You’re going to cut your wood pieces at 45 degree angles so they fit together in a square.
miter box
Here’s where I ran into a problem. When trying to get the pieces to stick together I tried Liquid Nail (a heavy caulk) and super glue. Both fell apart. You’re going to want to hold two pieces together and hammer a wire nail from the outside side of the frame into both pieces. The spray paint will cover up the nail, so don’t worry about the way it looks.

On the back you’re going to hammer in the wood joiners on the corners of the frame to hold the pieces together even better. You can find them at some Home Depots. Screw in two D hooks and loop the wire through. Spray paint the frame. Then cut your matte board down to size. You may need to tape your print to it to keep it flat. Put the picture in the frame and nail some flat push-pins into the wood. I found those at a Binders Artist Supply store. They’re bendable so that you can get the picture out if you need to.frame back
In process!
homemade frames
homemade framehomemade framehomemade frame
And that was it. Pretty simple, really.


Hope this helps all you thrifty crafters out there!

Fair Rabbit


TUTORIAL: How to paint with liquid acrylic and color pencil

May 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hey guys! :)

I’m going to take you through my new process, showing you what tools I use and how I utilize them. Remember this is the first time using the liquid acrylic so the end result is a bit bolder looking than some of my earlier stuff.

Ok let’s get started.

Step 1

Get your studio clean and comfortable. You’re going to need space.


Step 2

Gather your tools.

Here is my Epson GT-20000 Document Scanner. It has a scannable area of 11.7 x 17 inches. I found mine refurbished on Amazon for around $1,000. Best investment in my studio hands down. Look around for really good deals, and if you’re going to be working on small pieces you can get a smaller scanner which will save you a LOT of money.

I got the black stand at OfficeMax for $7. I think it was meant for laptops, but, it works.

And there you can see my supply of wood plaques. You can find these sizes at Hobby Lobby for pretty cheap. Most of them are in the $2-4 price range.

If you’re going to be working at night, I recommend getting a lamp that imitates sunlight. I got my OttLite at Michaels. Original price was about $100 but they always have 40%-off-one-item coupons. There’s also smaller versions which come with a smaller price tag.

This is an Artograph art projector. I found mine at Michaels and again used a 40% off coupon to help in the costs. This version didn’t come with a stand that could point it towards the ground, so I made my own using foam board, an x-acto, and tape. You’ll see it later in the tutorial.

You’ll need a printer. A cheap-0 one is fine. Just don’t get this one (Epson xp-600). Seriously, it’s a piece of crap. It will cost more than your rent in ink…hence it’s going to meet the trash very soon.

Find a paint palette you feel comfortable with. If using liquid acrylic stick with non-porous surfaces like plastic, metal, or glass to hold the paint.

You’ll need very fine grit sandpaper to sand the bumps out of your wood plaques. I use #320 size which makes the wood super soft and smooth to the touch.

Get a sealer for your work for when it’s finished. I use polyurethane since I’m working with wood. I found it at the Home Depot near their paint section. Use a foam brush to apply it. It’s easier than worrying about hairs falling out of a brush and getting stuck in the painting.

You’ll also need a cup for water, any paint brushes you’re comfortable with, paper towels, a pencil sharpener, a graphite pencil, erasers, and a sketchbook.

Here are the color pencils. I only use Prismacolor brand because they can retain a great sharp point, are super smooth, and have a lot of pigment. Make sure to get a good pencil sharpener or the lead will tend to break a lot. I actually ended up throwing the sharpener away that’s in the previous image because it did just that. Also, don’t worry about having a lot of colors. Pick a few that you like to start out with because these can get expensive and the pencils are just an accent for the paint. The paint will be your main attraction.

And lastly, you will need some paint. I picked these up at Michael’s craft store as well. They are Americana Acrylic Paint and they come in a TON of colors. They’ll only set you back about $1.30 each so it’s easy to get a good amount on your first trip to the store. There are a few other brands for around the same price, but I haven’t tried them.

Step 3

Make a sketch.


Step 4

Scan it in.


Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 3.30.16 PM
You’re going to want to use a high dpi (dots per inch). 300 dpi is considered minimum for print quality. This will retain the details in your sketch.

Step 5

Get it lookin’ good…and all set up and stuff.

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 3.34.01 PM
Take it into Photoshop to darken the lines. This will make it far easier to see when it’s being projected onto your wood. If you don’t own Photoshop you can use a free online version at https://pixlr.com/editor/

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 3.36.59 PM
Print different sizes of your image for the projector. The projector can make the image only so big or small before it blurs. I’ve noticed around the 3 inch size works best for my wood plaques (that’s the smallest one on the sheet above). Also, don’t worry about the green color. Black works best, my (piece ‘o crap) printer was just acting up.

Step 6

Projection time.

Here is my home-made projector stand. The top is only connected on one side so it can swing down and the whole thing can collapse flat. It’s pretty genius if I do say so…

A hole is cut out of the top, just big enough for the lense of the projector to fit through.

Load the image into the lid of the projector.

Turn off the lights and cover any windows. Place the projector through the stand’s hole and turn it on. Position your wood plaque (or whatever surface you’re using) under it and move it so the image sits where you want it to.

You should see a pretty dark image like this. Get it as crisp and unblurry as possible.

Step 7

Sketch the projection on to your surface. Be very careful you don’t bump your desk or the projector stand. You don’t want the image moving around.

Step 8

Start by putting down heavy flat layers of color.

When using liquid acrylic use water VERY SPARINGLY. Really the only part I added a lot of water for was the “ghosting” fade in the eye color. It’s very easy to create gradients by having similar colors next to each other on your palette and dabbing a little into each other. You don’t really have to mix them. Just dab a bit more of the more dominant color onto your brush as you go.

Step 9

Add color pencil.

I didn’t realize I didn’t have any tans or light fleshy colors so I had to use gray for the shadows. It ended up giving the face a very cold temperature. It wasn’t what I was originally going for but I think it made for an interesting juxtaposition with the warmer colors of the rose and lips and really made them pop. You can also start adding highlights and outlines to your edges.

I added more color and shadow to the face, cheeks and nose especially.

And to finish it off I added a light pink overall to the face to lighten the weight of the gray. Some details were added into the irises and I gave the inside edges of her eyes some color and definition to help it look more realistic. Some pink was also added to highlight the horns to help tie it into the rest of the piece. And voila, it’s done!

I hope this was helpful. I always enjoy seeing the process other artists have and what they use to make their artwork, so I thought it’d be neat to make another one of these. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comment area below. Thanks!

If you want to see my oil paint tutorial, click here:

And here:

Fair Rabbit

Black Ink digital painting software

September 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

For artists looking for endless brush customization, say hello to Black Ink. It’s a fairly new digital painting program that is still in it’s Beta stage. It’s on sale for half price. If you buy it you get the final version free when it comes out.


Take a look at the vid. I was pretty impressed.

Fair Rabbit

How to Oil Paint (The Illustrator’s Way) – Part 2

May 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

Part 1

In the second part of How to Oil Paint (The Illustrator’s Way), I’ll show you the actual stages of the art. Like I said in the first part, I do a wet-on-dry method, meaning I wait for each layer of paint to dry before moving on to the next. Depending on the thickness of the paint and the humidity/heat of the place your painting is stored, it could be anywhere from two days to a few weeks for a layer to dry. Mine usually take around three to four days to fully dry. It’s a good idea to work on more than one painting at a time. :) It’s also a good idea to take a picture of your sketch and use Photoshop to find out what colors will work on it.

1) Gesso

Gesso your board like we talked about in Part 1. Make it as smooth or clumpy as you like.

2) Draw Your Image

I use a mechanical pencil because it constantly has a sharp point. Try not pressing too hard or you’ll have a lot of leftover graphite that will mix into your paint and it will muddle the color.

3) Add First Background Color

Remember to use small dabs of linseed oil to make your paint spreadable. Water won’t work.

I usually do the sky or largest background area first. This is so that if I paint outside the lines I can easily correct it with objects that will go in front of the sky (ie: the clouds).

4) Add Background Shadows

This can be done while the first layer is still wet if you want. It makes it easier to blend the colors. Sorry for the image quality. The paint was still wet and made reflections.

5) Add Color to other Front Items
For my style, the paint doesn’t have to stay perfectly in the lines. This is because I later add outlines to everything. If you don’t want outlines, keep your painting clean and shapely!

6) Add Shadows and any Remaining Items
I also added small white highlights to the clouds, which were dry at this time. You really just want to get all the canvas covered at this point.
7) The Outlines
This is the final touch. It emphasizes the shapes and makes the color pop even more.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Thanks for reading!
Much Love,
Fair Rabbit

3D Sculpture and a Munny Contest

April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been in love with vinyl toys since 2004 when I first saw one in a library book. I did a lot of maquette sculpture (small sculptures for game and animation) when I was studying Game Art and Design at the Art Institute of Washington (which, btw…DO NOT GO THERE if you’re thinking about art as a career. No college with tv commercials is in it for your education, just your check book). *grumbles*

Anyway, so I did a lot of sculpture and absolutely loved it. It was a close call from choosing that or illustration for my new major when I transferred to SCAD. Sculpture just seemed to be an even harder thing to make money off than making pictures. While taking a 3D class, my professor had us create something in the style of a famous artist. I chose Elizabeth McGrath for her horrifyingly beautiful characters. The end result was “Periwinkle and Von Claudia”, a two headed deer/llama conglomeration that held a lock in it’s belly (which was cute but wasn’t very good haha). That was my last sculpture back in 2009!

Long story short I had a serious jonesing the other day to get back into making 3D art, and to motivate myself into completing it, looked into contests online. I came across the Munny World Mega Contest on KidRobot.com, a great site for designer and blank vinyl toys, posters, magazines, etc.

I feel so bad about this….but I went out and spent about $100 on supplies to make this one sculpture. Gah!

This is what I got:

Mini FOOMI figure from Urban Outfitters  $10

1lb of Super Sculpey from Michael’s Craft Store   $13

Embossing heat tool, also from Michael’s   $25

Dremel and tool set (not pictured) from Walmart   $40

I did a pretty cool sketch of a woman/fantasy animal hybrid and began working on it last night. I don’t want to upload anything until it’s done for the off chance someone might use my idea and do it better and before me. Haha. More updates later. It’s due in two weeks so *fingers crossed* I needs ta get on the wagon and do this quick!

If anyone else decides to enter send me a link to your submission so I can see. :)

Much love,
Fair Rabit

How to Oil Paint (The Illustrator’s Way) – Part 1

February 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

Hey everyone. So, like I said in my first post, I studied as an illustrator and not as a painter, so I had to teach myself how to use oils. How I do it is probably different than they teach in fine art studios, but hey, it’s okay!

I learned what I could from snippets off the internet and with a lot of trial and error. However, all of the articles I read online assumed the reader already knew how to use oils and just talked about doing different techniques. This was frustrating for a complete beginner. I might as well have been an alien trying to understand Earth speak.

And so, here I am going to teach you everything you need to get started, down to the very basics. Part 1 will focus on what you will need materials-wise.

1) Liquids

These are SO important for oil painting. If you don’t already know, oil paints are not soluble with water, meaning they don’t mix and painting won’t work. What I use  to make the paint thin and spreadable is linseed oil. It’s like water for these paints…just don’t drink it. (A guy in my class once mixed up his soda cup and his painting cup and…well, he left class real fast). But anyways, linseed oil makes the paint spread like butter. The texture has a great consistency.

Next, I rarely use this, but it’s nice if you’re pressed for time, is Japan Dryer. It’s made by Weber brand and it can speed up a thin coat of paint that would take 3 or 4 days to dry down to only half a day if lucky. It’s crazy stuff. The downside is, I find it’s harder to get vibrant colors with this as it spreads the paint very thin and adds a slight brown color to it.

And lastly is turpentine or paint thinner. Same thing. I use Mona Lisa brand just because it’s cheap and you get a lot for the price. This I use only to clean my brushes. I used to use it as paint thinner like the linseed oil, but again, it makes the paint thin and takes forever to dry. Both Mona Lisa bottles are the same thing. The one in the back with the black background is the newer label and I thought I’d show both just in case you find the older one on a shelf.

2) Oil Paints

You don’t need a ton of colors. Just a little time learning how a few can be mixed into an infinite array of shades and tones. It’s a total money saver.

You want a large tube of white, firstly for mixing. You will use a lot of it. Also a small black tube, and the primary colors (blue, red, yellow) are the most important. It’s a good idea to have two kinds: a primary that is warm (closer to red on the color wheel) and primary that is cool (closer to blue on the color wheel).

Then I have a green, a purple, a pink (I make a lot of pinks in my paintings), an orange, a tan, and a brown (burnt umber is great).

With these tubes you can create almost any color.

3) Brushes and other Accessories

The top, shiny metal, cake serving looking device is your palette knife. This thing must have been created by God because it makes mixing paint a dream.
The large cup is what I put the paint thinner in. It’s a good idea to use a cup of this size because when you’re trying to clean you’re brushes, a lot of swirling and dabbing will be going on, and you don’t want to splash or spill that stuff on you.
The small dixie cup is where I put a miniscule amount of linseed oil.
And of course you need a paper towel for cleaning.
The large gray mat thing on the bottom is a paper palette where you can mix your paints. You can use anything: plexiglass, an actual metal or plastic palette, paper plate. Whatever. I just like the paper pads so much because they’re disposable and cheap. No clean up involved! :D
As for brushes I use 3 mainly. I don’t paint on very large canvases so the biggest brush I have is a size 4 and use it from everything from the background to large sections. The middle size is a 2 and I use this for filling in small spaces. And I have a tiny brush that’s only for outlining and very very small details. It has a 10/0 on it. Not sure if that’s a size or not. But you can see how small it is in the picture. Just use your judgement. The really big round brush I use for mixing background colors and the fan shaped brush is used for mixing smaller spaces.
4) Canvas

This is the back of a plastic wrapped canvas board or panel. Most oil painters use canvases stretched over wood frames so that there is more give (it wiggles more when you paint on it). But for my illustration painting ways, I like to get right up in there and do tiny little details. So for this, I use a canvas panel. It’s a piece of canvas stretched and glued to a board. This makes it feel like you’re painting on a hard surface, just like you’re drawing on paper. However, it’s not as professional looking but that’s what frames are for!
Some canvases don’t come gessoed (a white substance that looks like paint). Gesso protects your surface, can give it texture if you want it, and gives the paint something to grip to. If your canvas is not gessoed, buy a bottle of it and use a palette knife to “paint” it on as thin or thick, smooth or textured, as you want. Wait for it to dry before using oils.
I buy my panels at Utrecht because they offer a huge selection of sizes.
And that’s about it for materials. If you have any questions or anything to add please feel free to comment.
Next part will be a step by step on my process of using these materials to make painting.
Much Love,
Fair Rabbit

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