Learning how to deboss a Rufous Bettong with Helen Grey

Yesterday I introduced you to the wonderful wildlife works being created by self-taught Australian artist Helen Grey. You might also have watched the video of Helen at work as she created "Zander" an Asian water monitor.

Today Helen is going to demonstrate how to use debossing to create a picture of a Rufous Bettong -

A rufous bettong is a rabbit-sized marsupial in the potoroo and kangaroo family. It has also been known as the rat-kangaroo despite no relation to rodents and rats. Their young develop in pouches just like other marsupials like kangaroos. They are found in coastal, and subcoastal habitat regions of north and eastern Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. 2

The technique used by Helen in the videos (below) is called debossing. Embossing and debossing are techniques used in printing to create a distinctive three dimensional image imprinted into the paper or stock by a metal die plate. Below is an image showing the two effects when used by a professional printer.

Embossing involves applying pressure and heat from underneath to raise elements of the design, such as logos and other graphic elements. In the below example of embossing, the raised elements can clearly be seen against the background. Colour is used to add impact. 3

Debossing is the opposite. An imprint of the selected area is pushed inwards from the top and sunken or recessed into the material. In the below example of debossing, the words and line beneath are all debossed while the use of colour 3

Example of Embossed and Debossed Printing (3)

Helen has devised her own form of debossing to create the effect of fur. There is a special debossing tool for this but she uses a sewing tool for undoing stitches! Ingenious. Here is the link for the materials you will need if you are tempted to give this a try. The debossing she does is done on Art Spectrum cotton rag, but she goes into detail about the different types of paper you can use.

For a list of materials click here.

Video One: Rufous Bettong Prep Work Part 1 (Time: 6.12m)

Video Two: Rufous Bettong Adding Colour Part 2 (2hrs)

Tomorrow we are going to continue the Animal Theme and return to look at some paintings by British born, San Francisco and London-based artist Robert Bissell who uses animal narratives in his paintings to explore what it means to be part of the natural world.

1. en.wikipedia.org
2. helengreyartandscience.com.au
3. expressprintandmail.com.au