I don’t know many people who don’t love seeing their initial embellished with eye-catching flourishes. For that reason, I often make illuminated letters to give as gifts or send as greeting cards! Today, I’ll walk you through how to make an illuminated letter that features a clean botanical motif.
1. Trace Over Your Letter of Choice
First, download the Botanical Illuminated Letter Templates PDF (it’s free). Print off the page that contains the letter you want. Then, place a piece of 5″x7″ (12.7 cm x 17.75 cm) watercolor paper over the letter. Hold the template and the paper against a bright window or a light box, then use a pencil to trace around the letter.
Once you’re finished, your letter should look something like the one below:
2. Add Ink
Now, use waterproof ink and a dip pen to trace over your pencil draft. Textured surfaces (like watercolor paper and handmade paper) can be toothy, so it’s good to use a fairly blunt nib like the Blue Pumpkin for this step.
Continue to trace over the pencil draft with ink until you’ve covered the entire letter.
3. Add Metallic Watercolor
Once your ink has dried, moisten a pan of Arabic gold watercolor. Then, use a teeny-tiny paintbrush (size 000) to fill in any small elements like loops or bells with gold.
Next, moisten some red and green watercolor from the Finetec Pearl Colors palette. Use that same tiny paintbrush to fill in any floral elements with red.
Now, it’s time to fill in the letter! The color you choose to use is up to you. I ultimately decided on red because I thought my mother-in-law would like that best. (For my own mom, who prefers a more subtle look, I probably would use gold or green.)
Finally, add some metallic green watercolor to the little leaves. Then, you’re finished!
Appreciating Metallic Watercolors
I love using metallic watercolors for projects, but they never look as pretty in photos as they do in real life! There’s a real appeal to the way that metallics dance in the light. To give you an ideal of what this piece truly looks like, I made this (super short) video:
If you don’t have the Pearl Colors palette, consider filling out this letter with a combination of gold watercolor and regular watercolors (or ink). That’s what I’ve done for other illuminated letter tutorials, and it always ends up looking great!
More Illuminated Letters
TPK currently has two other illuminated letter tutorials. Like this illuminated letter, the alphabets for those letters come from Alexander Nesbitt’s Decorative Alphabets and Initials. Both of these illuminated letters are derived from intricate vintage alphabets. It’s difficult to pick a favorite!
No matter which illuminated letter you choose to make, I hope that you enjoy the tutorial! Remember — these are fabulous for Mother’s Day. I used the “D” on the right as part of my Mother’s Day gift for my mom last year. She proudly displays it in her living room!
Thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!