To really draw your eye into the center of a main image panel, I like to sponge a little glow around it. Well actually, you don’t sponge the glow. You darken the area on the outside of the image to give the illusion that the center glows. Let’s get started and you’ll see what I mean.
A cute image already colored - I used this fabulous bird from A Bird’s Song
Ink – a lighter and darker version of the same color
Sponges – my favorite are cosmetic sponges. I write the name of the color on them so I can use them over and over.
A large scrap of paper
Place the image in the center of the scrap paper. I have several pictures and tips on sponging below so be sure to read thru them all before you get started on your project! I’ll tell you when to “go”, ok?
I find that I only sponge well going in one direction so I simply turn my piece so that I am always sponging in that good direction. Beginning with the lighter color of ink, I dab my sponge onto the ink pad a couple times. Then starting COMPLETELY ON SCRAP OF PAPER (not on your piece) I place the sponge down and swirl it in circles as I move towards the piece (more on this below). I do not sponge all the way to the main image (more on this below too). By always starting completely on the scrap, you prevent any dark blobs of color or leaving the shape of your sponge on your piece. I will have more ink on my scrap than on my piece!
Here’s the path I take with my sponge. By always swirling towards the center you get that nice fade of ink as your sponge begins to run out of ink as you get closer to the main image (but don’t go all the way to the main image, see below). Re-ink your sponge and repeat this motion as you gradually spin your piece clockwise
This is what my piece looks like when I’m done with the lighter color. Notice that I DID NOT sponge all the way to the main image. You want to leave a white border at least ¼” around the outer edge of your image. It’s that white border around your image creates that glow. Get to close and you'll loose the glow.
I don’t worry about having a perfect border. Look at the area right under the bird. I didn’t try to get into those little spaces between the branches. Because I never touch the main image, I save time by not having to mask it off. (ok, you can really start now!)
Next I move to the darker color of ink. I repeat the same steps except that I start a little further out on my scrap and lift my sponge way before I get to my image. I want to keep the darker ink close to the edge and not cover up all of my lighter ink.
Finally, I hold the sponge right up against the cut edge of the cardstock and run the sponge loaded with the darker ink around the very edge of the piece re-inking as needed. This picture shows the finished main image panel. Be sure to notice the white border around the image, how far I took the light ink in, and how far I took the dark ink in.
And here is my finished piece on my project. See how that center glows and draws your eye right into the center! Consider using yellow inks to simulate light or blue inks for sky or water. Also try using 3 versions of the same color (light, medium, and dark) and take the light color almost to the image, the medium color about half way in, and keep the darker color close to the edge. Enjoy!