Layered Autumn Trees

by Cindy Gilfillan

Sponge and stamp layers of ink to create a beautiful autumn scene.


  • Watercolor paper or heavy cardstock
  • Stamps (Stampendous Winter Trees, Stampscapes Tall Grass Sm. and Stamps by Judith Dots Stubbie used here)
  • Inks (Ranger Distress Inks & Markers (Shabby Shutters, Mowed Lawn, Tumbled Glass, Shaded Lilac, Squeezed Lemonade, Mustard Seed, Dried Marigold, Spiced Marmalade, Fired Brick) and Archival Black Ink used here)
  • Sponges (wedges & daubers)
  • Baby wipe
  • Sticky notes for masking
  • Other supplies as needed to complete the card (black & denim blue cardstock, Technique Tuesday Wildflowers Butterfly; Flourishes Tag Lines ‘Thank You’ stamps used here)


  1. Step 1

    Lightly sponge light green ink along the bottom of a watercolor panel to create land for the tree to stand on. Sponge light blue and light purple ink in the sky area, avoiding the top left-middle area where the tree foliage will be.

    Sponge colors sparingly in this step, as you will layer and intensify the colors later.

  2. Step 2

    Ink a tree stamp with black ink, and using a baby wipe, dab off the harsh outline edges of the branches and two small spots in the middle of the branches. Stamp the tree on the left side of the panel.

  3. Step 3

    Using a sponge dauber, apply yellow ink to the tree foliage area.

  4. Repeat this step with a light orange and then a darker orange ink, ensuring the yellow is still visible around the edges and all three colors are visible in varying degrees.

  5. Step 4

    Stamp dots onto the sponged tree foliage area in yellow ink. (A marker can be used if a dot stamp is not available.)

    Repeat this step with the orange inks, building up each color. Allow some of the dots to go outside the sponged area onto the blue sky.

  6. Finally, use a dauber to sponge in red ink sparingly, and stamp the dots in red ink into the foliage.

  7. Step 5

    Re-sponge the light blue in the sky to intensify the color, if necessary.

  8. Step 6

    Mask a small area around the tree base and sponge in yellow ink to create a yellow shrub. Sponge in a darker yellow ink at the base. Stamp the dots in both ink colors, allowing some dots to creep beyond the sponged area and onto the blue sky.

  9. Move the mask over to the right side and repeat the above step with orange inks to create a second shrub, this time in orange.

  10. Step 7

    Re-sponge the grassy area in light green ink to intensify the color. Sponge medium green ink sparingly in, concentrating along the bottom.

    To add more texture, stamp grass in medium green ink over the green area.

  11. Step 8

    Create shadows for the tree and shrubs with a light green marker, then deepen the shadow color with medium green marker.

  12. Step 9

    Repeatedly stamp the dots at the base of the tree in orange and red inks, to create fallen leaves. Darken the tree trunk with a black marker, if necessary.

  13. Step 10

    Deepen the color at the base of the shrubs with markers, using quick, short flicking motions.

  14. Step 11

    Use the panel to complete a card or other project.


Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Layered Autumn Trees. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

Wow this is absolutely amazing Cindy.
Lisa Lara  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 3:34 AM

Kim Marie  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 4:03 AM
Fabulous tutorial.
Dawn Haylock  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 4:14 AM
Thank you so much Cindy for the terrific tutorial. I love your 'signature' tree scene cards, you are very generous to share it with us. Now I am on a mission to find a dot stamp.
Susie Williams  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 4:23 AM
Absolutely stunning card, Cindy but I couldn't hear the video :( Is it my computer?
Joanne  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 4:50 AM
Absolutely beautiful. Loved your tutorial- thank you!!!
Kim  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 5:22 AM
This is a fabulous card and tutorial! Thanks for sharing.
Julie Heyer  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 6:33 AM
Worthwhile, Love the level of exspertise, you are good.
It would be nice if you would do more tutorials.
Alene (Lynn) Lopau  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 7:13 AM
One word: "WOW"!
Susanne Gleason  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 8:11 AM
Joanne - have you tried updating your Flash Player and/or your browser version? The sound is fine on the video so it's probably just outdated flash on your computer.
lydia  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 8:22 AM
This is the most beautiful card ever!! It looks like a painting, a painting I would be proud to have in my home. It's just stunning!! Thank you so very much for sharing your tutorial so we can try to re-create this work of art!
Lorraine Castellon-Rowe  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 8:26 AM
Very well done tutorial and your work is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
Meg LaRue  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 9:57 AM
Great technique and looks like so much fun! I can't wait to give it a try! TFS!!
Anne H.  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 10:09 AM
I never would have thought that the dots would add so much texture. TNX
Martha Miller  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 10:15 AM
Gorgeous work! Makes me want to go to my work room and get started. However, I don't have the dot stamp and my attempts to do it by hand do not achieve the look. So, where can it be purchased? Thanks so much for sharing your expertise!
Ruth Hussong  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 10:37 AM
Your tutorial was fabulous!! Beautiful technique.
I can't wait to give it a go.
StampDuJour  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 12:15 PM
Ruth, I purchased my dots stamp years ago from a store, but it is available online from Stamps by Judith (although it doesnt seem to have as many dots these days!).
Also I noticed Impression Obsession has one amongst their clear set "branches of the tree' that looks really good, plus you get a tree with it! If I was starting out, this is what I'd go for.
Happy Stamping.
Cindy Gilfillan  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 3:47 PM
Thank You everyone for your very kind comments, I'm so glad you like it. I apologise the video is so long, I should have spoken louder - my first time, it's all new to me!
Cindy Gilfillan  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 3:50 PM
I am amazed! Such a beautiful card. Thanks for sharing with us. Where can I buy the stubby?
Much appreciated.
Sharon  |  Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 6:35 PM
Cindy, your scenic are always jaw dropping gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this! What a fabulous technique!
Nancy Stislow  |  Thu Oct 23, 2014 at 12:48 AM

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