I’ve been having a lot of fun this weekend trying my hand at some creative string art. String art has definitely made a resurgence in the craft scene recently, so after creating a comic book inspired piece I wanted to show you how I did it.
String art is super cool, loads of fun, and always looks amazing as long as it’s executed properly. Read on because I’m going to show you some new techniques and best practices while we make an awesome marvel character inspired design.
Step 01: – Prepare Your Base
I had a piece of MDF cut at our local hardware store for this project. The size didn’t matter, however with string art bigger bits of wood are much easier to work with, once you get stringin’. I knew that I wanted to do an Iron Man portrait so a rectangular piece was perfect. MDF is particularly good because nails are easy to hammer in. The wood also holds them well. I wanted to cover the wood with printed comic pages for a cool background.
Step 02: – Applying The Background
A great way to find backgrounds for many craft projects is to search your local hardware stores wallpaper section. There’s hundreds of interesting designs and textures available and most places will let you take a sample big enough for your craft project! For this particular project I printed these comic book scenes from the internet. Using PVA glue, spread this onto your MDF and apply your background. I would suggest a couple of hours drying time just to make sure nothing slips or slides around.
Step 03: – Print Your Guide
The next thing to do would be to find a picture of your desired subject. Ideally you want a head on portrait head to toe of your subject. Print it out and lightly tape them over our background (which should now be dry and stuck down properly). I had to print Iron Man over two sheets of A4 paper, however, this will depend on how big your creation is going to be. Now, using the printout as a guide, hammer in your panel pins (available in all good hardware shops). Try to place your panel pins strategically. The more the better! You want to be able to have a near perfect outline (and inline) of your character once the guide printout has been removed.
Step 04: – Final Checks
Next you’ll need to remove the guide which now has panel pins through it. This is the last opportunity to check you’ve got enough pins in to create your chosen character with string! Once the guide is removed it’s very hard to add additional pins, as you’ll have no reference to where they need to go, so double check! As I said before the more pins the better.
Step 05: – Get Stringin’
About String: Make sure you buy your string beforehand. You may already have some in your craft supply stash! There’s no hard and fast rule as to what string or wool you should use. For this Iron Man piece I used crochet cotton. You can buy this from Hobbycraft, however if you live in the US or Canada, Michaels stores will also do this.
Peppers Top Tip: Crochet cotton works really well because it doesn’t fray like some wools can. It’s also nice and easy to pull tight.
For this type of design where your subject matter is filled ( as opposed to negative space ) I would suggest starting your string with the outline as I’ve shown here. It seems obvious but when you do this you’ll need to loop around the pins so it will hold nice and tight.
Step 06: – Filling The Space
Once your outline is complete begin to fill the inside of your design. With simpler designs and shapes it’s much easier to get a pattern going so the finished look is consistent and not messy. Depending on what you’re given shape is, I would highly recommend taking the time to string between pins in a consistent manner as opposed to stringing between random pins and hoping for the best.
The big secret to awesome string art is consistency.
Step 07: – Multiple Colours
This tutorial is different to other string art tutes you might see out there. Here we are dealing with multiple colours and string changes. The majority of other string art tutorials you see online are single colour single string. While there’s nothing wrong with that, we’re taking it to another level. Using our reference image we can clearly see which sections need which colours. The strategic placement of your pins will really help you with doing this.
It sounds obvious but complete one colour in it’s entirety at a time, don’t change back and forth between strings.
For this particular design, I did all the red areas first since that was the main bulk of the design.
Step 08: – ‘Layering’ Your String
With this particular design I had to layer my string, and generally if you’re using multiple colours and string changes you will need to do this as well. I found it helpful to think in terms of what would be the main base colour (in this case the red), what would be on the middle layer (the yellow areas) and what would be on top (the black and blue detailing). This particular design was quite involved and used a lot of string. It’s worth thinking ahead when doing this type of string art and choosing the right length pins for your design.
Think of your design as if it we’re an ‘exploded’ diagram – this will help you with layering.
Step 09: – The Finished Article
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and reading about our experiences with string art. If you need more string art inspiration, check out my Pinterest board! We’ll definitely be doing more of this craft so please stay tuned. Have you been doing your own string art? Did you find this helpful?
Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you.