• Botanical Illuminated Letter Tutorial

    This botanical illuminated letter is the perfect thing to give to someone as a Mother’s Day card, a birthday treat, or a “just because” gift. There’s nothing to it: just trace (I’ve got printable alphabet templates for you), add ink, and fill everything in with color!

    Botanical Illuminated Letter Tutorial | The Postman's Knock
    Today, I’ll show you how to create this pretty illuminated letter using metallic watercolors and a free printable.

    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.

    Tracing the Botanical Illuminated Letter
    I’m using Indian Cotton Paper Co. paper for today’s tutorial. I like the bohemian look of that deckled edge.

    Once you’re finished, your letter should look something like the one below:

    Botanical Illuminated Letter Pencil Draft
    I chose to make an “F” for my mother-in-law, Flor. This will be her Mother’s Day card this year!

    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.

    Adding Ink
    I recommend using a waterproof ink to ensure that no smudging occurs when you add watercolor.

    Continue to trace over the pencil draft with ink until you’ve covered the entire letter.

    Botanical Illuminated 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.

    Botanical Illuminated Letter

    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.

    Adding Red Watercolor to the Botanical Illuminated Letter

    Adding Red Watercolor to the Botanical Illuminated Letter

    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.)

    Botanical Illuminated Letter Tutorial
    Consider the person you’re making this for, and I suspect you’ll be able to choose a color based on their personality and preferences. If you’re not sure, just go with whatever you like best!

    Finally, add some metallic green watercolor to the little leaves. Then, you’re finished!

    Botanical Illuminated Letter Tutorial

    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!

    Illuminated Letters
    You can learn how to make illuminated letters like the one on the left here. A tutorial for letters like the one on the right can be found here.

    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!


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