How it all begins…

By May 18, 2008General

One of the questions I get asked often is what kind of process takes place when designing stamps.  For me, it starts with pen, paper & a sketch.  Different things spur me to sketch.  It could be a dress I saw in a store window that day or an ad I saw in a magazine.  And I almost always have a *concept* to go along with it, a unique way that the stamps can be used or how they fit together.  Anyone who has purchased Papertrey images before knows that we pride ourselves on versatility and customization possibilities.  After all, isn’t that the fun part of stamping?  And in the end, that means an even bigger value for you, the consumer.  This particular page is the original sketch that inspired Beautiful Blooms.  I remember coming up with my ideas while I was on an airplane flying back from CHA Winter 2007.  My idea all started with wanting three separate pieces to a flower and coordination with the Flower 1 Cuttlebug Dies.  There’s almost always more notes jotted down in the margins than actual sketches.  I like to write down all of my thoughts so that when I sit down to the computer to start the actual design work, I’m able to get into the same *zone* and mentality that I was in when I was originally inspired.  I also almost always make a word association list to help me name the set.  The list usually is made up of descriptive words that have to do with the subject, style & use of the set.  I then just try to pair a few words from the list together to create the name of the set.  Names are so important because they give you the first impression of a set!

After my sketching, I get to work on the actual computer.  This is when I create all of the image in pixel form.  I usually use a combination of basic shapes to recreate my sketches or draw with my pen & Wacom Tablet.  In order to create image that coordinate with something, like a die or punch, I print the image from the computer repeatedly and try it out.  It usually takes a lot of tweaking to finally get an image to be a *perfect* fit.

After all of the images are completed, the third step is to arrange them on the sheet within the specific size boundaries established by our manufacturer.  An established *margin* area needs to be left around each of the images to insure that they do not meld together during the manufacturing process.

As a final step, *base files* need to be created.  These base files are what create the *puddle* of photopolymer underneath the the image.  Perfect alignment with the images within the sheet layout is essential for a good quality stamp.

After all of this is done, it’s off to the manufacturer the files go!  It is always so rewarding to get new stamps back fresh from the presses.  It’s funny how they look the same as they did on the computer screen, but in a way different.  Over the last year I’ve learned a lot about what translates well in a stamp and what doesn’t.  The whole precess has such a learning curve!  But in the end, it is such a sense of creative fulfillment  to be able create art that is used by so many people int heir own personal creative endeavors.  I don’t think there’s a better job out there that could possibly be a better fit for me!

Nichole Heady

Author Nichole Heady

More posts by Nichole Heady

Join the discussion 39 Comments

  • 1
    2stampis2b says:

    What a cool post! Thanks for giving us some insight into the process! As an engineer, I find details like this fascinating!

  • 2
    Stefanie says:

    Thanks so much for this information. It sure helps put the whole process into prospective for us “wanna be’s”! Your products are amazing and it is so obvious that you put a great deal of thought and effort into each set. It is also a plus to see your creations with each set. I will be a Nicole/Papertrey groupie for many years to come !! 🙂

  • 3
    Marcie S. says:

    This is a fascinating post. I realize it must be a LOT of work designing stamp sets- but holy moly! It’s really neat to know more about your “process”!

  • 4
    Alli Miles says:

    Perfectly explained! I LOVED seeing your original sketch.

  • 5
    Melanie Muenchinger says:

    that’s pretty much how I do it, too 😉

  • 6
    Emilia says:

    I love this post… and I LOVE my PTI stamps!!!! Thanks Nichole!!!

  • 7
    Sandy Kay says:

    That was so interesting – thanks for sharing that part of your world with us! Do I see June 15th colors on your blog????!!!

  • 8

    How cool! Thanks for showing us your process! I love PTI!

  • 9
    Sara in WI says:

    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • 10

    That and Buttefly Kisses are my top faves to date! LOVE it. Its so cool to see your creative process as well.

  • 11
    Niki Estes says:

    What an interesting process. Thanks for giving us another peek into the stamp creation process!

  • 12
    Jen says:

    Thanks for explaining this…it’s always nice to see where someone’s ideas and creativity start and end.

  • 13
    Michelle says:

    WOW Nicole, That was fascinating. I never knew the labor instensive steps that go into creating my stamps. Rest assured though that your hard work is loved and appreciated.. Thanks for making such amazing stamps and putting the care into them that you do.


  • 14
    Granna on the Go says:

    Thanks for the view into your stamp designing process. I truly appreciate all that you do to get just the right image! I am sure that you are thrilled to see what others create with your sets! Do I see a hint for a new color? Inquiring minds!

  • 15
    Heather J. says:

    Nichole, thank you for sharing what you do. You indicated that you have learned what translates into a stamp and what doesn’t…have you received a sample set from the manufacturer and subsequently changed your mind about a stamp? Heather

  • 16
    Kym says:

    hey nichole- i love the new look~ 🙂 kym

  • 17
    Marcia says:

    Love the new banner and a glimpse inside your design process. Thanks for sharing. (are the colors a June sneak peak?)

  • 18
    RUTH ALLMART says:

    Nichole – thank you for the insight on how the whole design process takes place. It sounds really cool, I’d love to see it first hand :o) You are truly amazing at what you do. Keep up the awesome work! By the way, I love the new look of your blog.

  • 19
    Becca says:

    Wow, I’m simply blown away. I know you are so meticulous in the design process; thanks so much for sharing what you go through and making it real for us. Your stamps rock!!

  • 20

    How cool! I love seeing the nuts and bolts. Thanks for sharing.

  • 21
    Katie says:

    Wow!! This is so interesting, Nichole! Thanks so much for sharing your creative process with us.

  • 22

    WOW! Thanks for giving us an insider’s peek into how things work.

  • 23

    So cool Nichole! Thanks for sharing! I love learning the behind the scenes stuff!

  • 24
    CherylQuilts at SCS says:

    Awesome! This is one of the coolest posts! I so enjoyed reading it and enjoy understanding what a truly amazing job you do! It’s so great to get to know you more too! Thank you for sharing this. Your work is totally amazing, and I love PTI!

  • 25
    Tonya says:

    fascinating! I’ve always wondered how such beautiful stamps are designed! thanks for sharing!!

  • 26
    Robyn says:

    Excellent…thanks for sharing!

  • 27

    What a treat to get to see the process! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • 28
    Jana says:

    So interesting, Nicole. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • 29
    Becky says:

    That was so fascinating. Loved it.

  • 30
    Granna on the Go says:

    Nichole, I love the new layout on this blog! I truly love these colors going into spring and summer! Possibly a hint of something to come? Thanks again for all of your fun creations!

  • 31

    What fun to learn of your process!
    I love your new blog banner too!

  • 32
    Sandy Dawes says:

    Nichole, Thanks for that fascinating bit of infomation. I am one of those people who is always wondering about the “how ‘d they do that?”
    You have a wonderful product and a very loyal following. I like how you have stayed true to yourself on your product line and provided the rest of us with a fun and creative outlet as a result. Blessings to you for all that you do to inspire us.

  • 33

    You are amazing! Thanks for sharing this…I found it very interesting. You are one creative talent! Hope you are doing well! 🙂

  • 34

    I had to tell you how much I love the new banner and colors. Just beautiful.

  • 35
    Sara says:

    Beautiful Blooms is one of my FAVE sets I love everything about the design. Thanks for showing us how this is done.

  • 36

    Such a cool process! Thanks for sharing…. so interesting!!!

  • 37
    LeAnne says:

    Thanks so much for sharing a behind-the-scenes look at how your stamps are born! It gives us all a fresh insight as to how much work goes into those little pieces of fun!

  • 38

    Wow! this is SO interesting! thanks so much for this ‘insider’ information!

  • 39
    Gay Ferland says:

    Thank you so much for this information. I always wondered how stamps were made that are clear. I went to graphic arts school and learned the same process with prints. You do such a beautiful job!! Again, thank you so much for sharing!!

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