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Review – Basic Guide To Print Embellishment

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Old 01-29-2008, 10:42 AM
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DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
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Review – Basic Guide To Print Embellishment


Anne Carter-Hargrove
September 2007
90 minutes

For screenshots go to:


Not long ago I spent quite a bit of time at a museum in the Seattle area where I live admiring artwork painted on traditional media using traditional methods. Once again I was struck by the tremendous differences between the look (and feel) of thick, rich acrylics and oils applied with brushes and palette knives compared to the flatness of pseudo brush strokes and simulated texture effects rendered with Photoshop or Corel Painter and presented on inkjet printed canvas. There’s just no comparison.

I’ll admit it: It’s times like this where deep down inside a part of me wishes I had the ability to create paintings with texture and depth like the “real painters” do. Then reality sets in.

I’m an impatient (some would argue lazy), certified Type-A, gotta-have-it-now, nearing-retirement-ago type of guy, so the likelihood of me taking years to “really learn” to “really paint” from scratch is somewhere between slim and none. But that doesn’t mean the embers don’t still glow on occasion.


I’m happy to report there’s good news for those like me who aspire to take the leap from average, flat inkjet canvas prints to artwork with considerably more depth, texture and character, but don’t have the time or inclination to start from the beginning with oils or acrylics and/or don’t know the difference between a palette knife and a butter knife …

FINISHINGS – A Basic Guide To Digital Print Embellishment by Anne Carter-Hargrove provides well thought out instruction on how to transform inkjet paintings on canvas to exceptional works of art by a process Anne terms as embellishment, “The act of decorating something in the hope of making it more attractive.” Conceptually it’s like taking a baked cake (the inkjet print) and applying frosting and other decorations to give it more appeal in terms of flavor and appearance.

The training content is broken down into two general parts: I – basic skills and preparation and II – the actual embellishment method, a process that is fairly straight forward. Topics covered are:
  • Preparing and sealing your inkjet print
  • Selecting and loading brushes
  • Mixing colors and setting up your palette
  • Using gel mediums to add texture
  • Painting with acrylics for color, depth and impasto effects
  • Drying and sealing your final piece

The content of this DVD is a consolidation of years – and I do mean years – of Anne’s training, experience and lessons-learned-as-a-“real artist” rolled into an easy to watch 90-minute presentation. This brings me to the two primary benefits of this DVD: saving time and saving money.

If you’re like many who have invested in various forms of training to further develop Photoshop and/or Painter knowledge and skills, you probably already understand the advantages of DVD training over books or online tutorials: watching and listening to an expert can be much more effective than reading for visually oriented topics.

If compressing the “how to embellish paintings” learning curve is your goal, like being able to offer embellished prints in time for NEXT Christmas, then this DVD is a slam dunk. For someone with no experience at this sort of thing it would take MONTHS, if not years, to get to where Anne takes you.

Have you noticed how expensive it is to print a piece of art on a 30” x 40” canvas? Can you imagine the frustration of ruining artwork of this size due to a catastrophic and avoidable rookie mistake? That leads me to another significant benefit: return on investment.

The cost of this DVD will be made up many, many times over by enabling one to considerably reduce “the expenses of learning,” like do-overs due to a hopelessly messed up painting and avoiding the costs of trial and error experimenting to find sealing and finishing products that actually work (Anne makes specific recommendations).


It becomes obvious within the first couple minutes that Anne is an experienced and exceptionally talented artist who really knows her stuff. However unlike college art courses I have taken that were presented by stuffy, know-it-all art professors, not once did I feel “stupid” because Anne knows so much more than me about practically every dimension of art. Her presentation style comes across as helpful, not at all condescending and takes into account that most purchasers of this DVD will have little-to-no formal art background or training.

Think about it: Art instruction with the holier than thou attitude. What a concept.


Make no mistake: There is no free lunch here.

Watching a great chef carry out a recipe or listening to one discuss cooking techniques does not magically turn a student into a great chef. Likewise, Anne presents the meat and potatoes of inkjet print embellishment and numerous tricks of the trade.

That’s no substitute, however, for hands on experience to develop skills or perform tasks such as brush and paint selection, deciding which type of gel to use in a given situation, using color charts to mix paints, loading paint onto a palette knife or the right type of brush to get the desired effect, verifying color is right before painting, paint application techniques, correcting mistakes, applying sealant (Did you know there’s a right and wrong way for spraying, too?), etc. Although the aforementioned tasks and techniques – as well as many more – are presented, it’s up to the viewer to actually learn them BY DOING. This will take time and practice.

Fair warning II: Startup costs for embellishment are not trivial. If digital art is a hobby, I highly recommend doing research on potential startup expenses before taking the leap. If you envision getting into embellishment to add to existing commercial product offerings, don’t forget to factor in additional time per piece to apply the embellishments (several hours, most likely) as well as the ramp-up time for practice until you reach a point where quality is suitable.

As Anne mentions, “This is just a jumping off point,” a beginning if you will. But like taking the shortcut through the neighbor’s backyard, getting to the candy store will take a lot less time than building a new road yourself.

In the mean time check out the images at

Thank you, Anne, for the opportunity to review your very informative DVD.

Last edited by DannyRaphael; 01-29-2008 at 12:06 PM. Reason: fix typos
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