The #HEFTYHACK Tutorial: How To + Lots of Pictures

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In Early December, I was playing around with blending my Tombow Dual Brush Pens on a plastic baggie, as I had seen others doing on Instagram. Blending is one of my absolute favorite aspects of the Tombow pens, in particular, because it is incredibly easy to do and instantly adds a magical, unique feel to your brush calligraphy. 

So there I am, blend blend blending away, and an idea strikes me. What if I placed the blended ink on the baggie directly onto the paper to create a colorful backdrop?

So, I did that....and TBH it looked pretty icky. (You should try it for yourself)
But then, in a dramatic turn of events, I added water. And BAM, the #heftyhack was born. 

(I REALLY wish I could remember who came up with that name because I need to buy them a puppy. I will go back and include it if I remember!)

As it turns out, I am TERRIBLE at watercolor painting, so this hack is EVERYTHING. For a girl who loves the look of watercolor, but can't achieve it the traditional way to save her life, I am using the #heftyhack left and right.

Obviously, there are lots of ways to spin off of this tutorial and create your own unique process, but here is MY process from start to finish:

These are my materials! From L-R I have: Tombow Dual Brush Pens, a Pentel Aquash Water Brush, a sheet of heavyweight cardstock, a plastic sandwhich baggie, and a paper towel.

Note: For the #heftyhack I always choose colors that are in the same color family, or that will blend well together, like yellow and blue to make green.

DIVE IN! Begin scribbling pigment on the plastic baggie with your pens or markers. I like to do all my scribbling in the center of the baggie--but use as much or as little ink as you want! Remember, the brighter the color, the more it will overpower the others. Place your colors according to how much of each hue you want to be present in the final design.

*Note: a few of the markers I chose are ultra-light, so I over-compensated by adding extra pigment on the baggie. They are so light you can barely tell there's anything there!

*Note Note: Sharpies won't work for this, just FYI. Yes, I am the dum-dum that forgot Sharpies dry instantly and are, like, permanent. 

Once my pigment is laid onto the baggie, I use the Aquash to place water droplets onto my paper. This is not a necessary tool by any means! You can use a medicine dropper, or even dip a paintbrush in water and let the water fall onto the paper. It's truly up to you and what tools you have lying around.

I didn't get an excellent picture of this step, but I like to look at the size and shape of my scribbles on the plastic baggie, then evenly place water droplets in the same general shape.

In the above 3 photos, I placed the plastic baggie, ink side down, onto the water droplets and began moving them around with my finger. There is no real method to the madness...After you experiment a couple of times, you will quickly learn it's hard to control where the ink goes, and it always comes out as a total surprise!

When you're done sloshing the water/pigment mixture around on your paper, gently lift or peel (your preference) the baggie off the paper and see what you got!

I like to immediately pat mine dry with a paper towel, but it isn't necessary if you are willing to let it dry by itself. If there are large pools of water still left on the paper, you will definitely want to soak those up with a towel!

Now, I wasn't quite pleased with how this one came out on my first try, so I'm going back in to spiff it up a bit. First, I'm going to add more orange.

Still not enough color for me, so I'm going back in and adding some purple where I think there could be more, using the same process as before, but in a concentrated spot.

And again! But with pink this time :) 

If you aren't using a really heavy cardstock, Bristol, or watercolor-specific paper, you may notice your paper starts rippling when the water is applied. Mine definitely does--but I'm on a no-art supply ban until I use all my current supply!

No-brainer: Before you begin writing on top of your design, it is REALLY important to make sure your design is dry. If not, you will end up scraping chunks of paper off with the tip of your marker, and your marker tip will be frayed! EW!

When you are sure your design has dried fully, begin writing! It's hard for me plan ahead for the placement of my lettering because I like to follow the natural shape of the design--which is different every time! For this one, I just kind of winged it....wanged it? Wung it? 

I added a few extra gold details to the edges of the design to make it a little more interesting! I am super happy with how this one turned out...what do you think?

As for the rippling of the paper, if I intend on framing it or giving it as a gift, I will lay a book or heavy object on top of the paper to flatten it out. This has worked like a charm for me! You can see an example of the #heftyhack in a frame by clicking here.

Since I first posted this process on Instagram I have seen SO many people in the lettering community try this out. And seriously, I'm not kidding, it looks good EVERY. TIME. FOOL-PROOF MAGIC! I have also seen fellow letterers replace Tombows with Crayolas, the plastic bag with tin foil, the Aquash brush with a spray bottle, or use Bristol Paper instead of Cardstock. Really, it's all up to you and what you find works best. 

If you decide to try this out, please tag #heftyhack so I can see it!

Photos by: January June Photography