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Multi Colour Drawing with the ScanNCut

Multi Colour Drawing with the ScanNCut main article image
Posted on May 23, 2021 by Natalie Ballard
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This project is all about creating a design with multiple pens in your ScanNCut. We then take this process a step further by using a water brush to create a softer watercolour inspired effect.

You will need:

  • Water reactive pens (see Testing your Pens below)
  • A water brush (or a nylon paintbrush with water)
  • Watercolour card (I used All Media Paper from Papermill Direct)
  • Your cutting machine, pen holder and mat

Testing your Pens

Firstly, we recommend testing your pens and chosen paper by hand first to see if you get the amount of blend you like. I did a patch test (mimicking filling a shape), a line test (to see how much the line would move) and a reference for the pen so we could use the swatch test for future projects.

You can see in the image above, some of the pens I tested blended very little. While others lifted pigment but the lines were still clearly visible, the Inkonic and Inkjoy Liquid (by Arteza and PaperMate respectively) lifted and blended the most. Inkonics have fibre tips (and if you have seen my last blog piece I said about the pros and cons of using these in your ScanNCut) whereas the InkJoy Liquid has a needle-point metal tip which is much more ScanNCut friendly.

So for my project I’m going to play with the Inkjoy Liquid pens and with the Doodlerz Fashion which continued to blend after the photograph taken above.

Creating your design

So, there are a few methods of using multiple pens for a single design. For this project you can focus on either a sentiment or a design panel. For my example, I focused on the sentiment as a focal point using a design from Paige Evans USB by We R Memory Keepers.

Using Layers

You can divide your design up to use layers, where a single file has multiple elements that you can send one piece at a time; drawing each shape before moving onto the next. This is much easier an option but it can be time consuming in complex files.

If you are using layers, your file might look something like this:

Layered design

So, you would hide all your layers and reveal them one at a time and transfer to your machine.

Once done, you will need to create an offset cut line to cut out your design.

Drawing one shape at a time

Instead of using layers in your design software, you could work directly on your machine. 

To work with different shapes use this method. Draw a shape, add the next one, remove the last, reposition and/or resize as needed, draw, background scan, add the next etc. 

For a built-in design with multiple elements, replace the add the next design with pressing Select the next part. Choose the next element you want to draw, you can then background scan and position the next element accordingly.

To help you later, make a note of every shape or design your use, its size (and its rotation if you use it). As the design won’t exist as a whole at any point during this drawing process, you will need to rebuild it later. This is the most important step in this process.

Once your design is complete, do a background scan and reposition the design elements. If they overlap, weld them; this will help in the next step.

Offset your shape(s) to create a cut line and delete the original shapes. Cut out your design(s) and blend with your water brush.

This is great when you want colours to distinct sections of a design. If ombre is more your thing however…

Using FOIL (Glue) Setting

When we draw our designs using the foil setting, your machine divides up your design into rows. Now, with patience and practice, you can see a pen for each of these rows to create an ombre effect. It works best with intricate and medium to large designs so it is easier to see when the machine changes rows. It is also easier to use a CM as you get a much clearer view of what your machine is doing.

Completing the Project

Once your design is done, you want to then use your water brush to soften and blend your design. Allow your design to dry thoroughly, especially if your pens take quite a bit of water to blend. Wet paper doesn’t cut well, let alone adding electronics into the mix. You can use a heat gun if you are impatient (like me) but your colours will be more vibrant and better blended if you leave them to dry naturally.

Once dry, you can cut out your design using Direct Cut on your ScanNCut, or rebuild your design, add an offset, weld if needed and then cut this new line.

Create a funky blended background using watercolour, sprays or gel printing. Alternatively, you could create your own watercolored background using the same process like I have in my example.

Finished Project


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Multi Colour Drawing with the ScanNCut
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