Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sweet Sugar Skulls and Texture Tutorial

Recently I made some delightful replicas of sugar skulls.  The base of  these pieces has a really nice crackle texture, which was achieved with a fantastic product called Kroma Crackle. It is a product that is hard to find, but Alpha Stamps was able to source it.

In this post, I will break out each step to achieve the texture, once I have covered that, the decorating is on you.  Yes, I know it is hard to see the crackle effect, but with so much good stuff from Alpha Stamps, I could not help decking these gals out!  You will see some testure close ups later in the post.  There are lots of great supplies from this tutorial for your very own projects here.

And here are a few more cuties!

To start off, I gave my pieces a good thick coat of gesso.  This helped to give each piece a bit of tooth and made for a good white base to work off off.  Tip:  Use a good artist quality gesso.  There are some really affordable ones out there, but I would pass them by, because you just don't get good coverage with the cheap stuff.

Once you have your gesso down and it has dried, it is time to paint.  Choose the color you want to show through the crackle.  Again, here, white was the best choice for me.  Now the manufacture label advises to use high quality acrylic paint.  I followed suite and used Golden Titanium White, but I have to say I have used this stuff with cheap acrylics and it worked just fine.  

Of course I did not realize I missed painting a few spots on the teeth until I wrote this...  That is a good artistic tip by the way, if your wondering how composition is going on a project, take a picture and look at it.  You will be able to see right away if there are areas that need to be edited or spots that need a bit more embellishment. I can't tell you how many times I need to re-shoot images for my blog because the photos revealed scale issues, glue blobs and all kinds of errors. 

Now it is time to get crackling.  Add a layer of Kroma Crackle to your dry pieces.  The thicker you apply, the larger your cracks will be. You will notice in the picture above that the smaller skulls appear to have color changes.  I think that the product reacted with Masonite in some way.  I did not mind because I was going to be getting them all grungy anyway. 

Please note, this product does take a long time to dry.  There is an "instant" way to crackle that has been made famous my Michael deMeng as outlined here.  I have yet to try it out for a silly reason, I always forget to buy Elmer's school glue...

Here is a close up of the crackle texture on a different project I am working on.  This is a book and the only base I have on this is gesso, I totally forgot to put the acrylic paint on it...but it still worked!  You will notice in some areas, where it was perhaps too thick, the crackle is curling.  It is possible that some of the texture could come off, therefore no matter what, you need to use some sort of sealant at this point.  Use dry brushing with layers of paint to add color.  Or on the book below, I used spray inks.  Again, you would not want to use too much of anything thick as you would lose that yummy crackle.  

The next step is to seal with something pretty fluid as you don't want to lose all of your hard work.  The manufacturer advises to use acrylic fluid medium.  I watered down regular gel medium and it worked just fine.  I also got creative with sealing on the book pictured above as you will see below.   

It occurred to me that there had to be another way to seal the crackle.  I have been on such an UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel) kick, that I thought this may be the answer and indeed it was!  I added lots of layers of clear embossing powder with a bit of gold embossing powder sprinkled in as well.  Now I wonder what this little book is going to turn into...stay tuned in to find out.

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial on texture.  My intent is to always inspire and share my love of good fun products with you.  I hope I achieved that goal today!




  1. Your skulls are incredible (even more wonderful in real life than in blog). You are a texture queen!

  2. Oh my! I LOVE these! I have a dia de los muertos post scheduled for tomorrow, tried my hand on some small chipboard winged ok try but now I HAVE to do these! TFS Sandi

  3. The textures are very cool. Love all the colorful details.

  4. Rally love these Rhea!!! Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. Gorgeous skulls Rhea! Great tute.

  6. That is awesome texture and design.

  7. It is beautiful and artistic, dear Rhea! Standing ovation from me.

  8. Awesome Skulls Rhea and let me just say this works way better than elmers glue. Great crackle effect. Love how you decorated them too.

    Thanks for entering my giveaway and best of luck!
    hugs Lynn


All the comments and feedback you leave affirms my creative spirit on a very deep level. I am grateful for your time and readership!