It’s fun to make creative mail throughout the year, but in these last two months, you can bring out all of the bells and whistles! Metallic inks, themed motifs, and flourishy scripts are all at home on holiday envelope art; and, of course, a holiday-themed postage stamp collage doesn’t hurt. In today’s tutorial, I’ll show you how to make a Christmas tree-themed piece that is festive to the max! You can follow the steps below to make cool holiday envelope art of your own.
1. Draw Outlines
Choose an envelope color that appeals to you. (Dark, rich colors are never out of place this time of year!) Next, use a pencil and a ruler to divide your envelope into four equal quarters. Once you have created the division, use the pencil to draw a star-like shape at the top center region of the envelope.
Work your way down from the star to draw a Christmas tree outline like the one shown above. End the outline of the tree’s boughs about 1.5″ (38 mm) above the bottom of the envelope. Next, draw an angular “U” shape to represent the trunk. You’ll finish up the tree by adding shine lines around the star and a simple flourish under the trunk.
2. Make Calligraphy Guidelines
Use the free Christmas Tree Holiday Envelope Art Guidelines Template to create five sets of guidelines on your envelope. You can find instructions on how to use the printable on the order page, as well as guideline measurements for those who don’t have a printer.
Now, you’ll want to make centering estimate guidelines on your envelope. If you plan on using Janet Style calligraphy for this project, you can use the Envelope Spacing Cheat Sheet in Amazing Envelopes for a Latte to estimate the width of each address line. The bottom portion of the Cheat Sheet will tell you widths for the first, third, fourth address lines. The top portion of the sheet is applicable to the second address line. For the fifth address line (the zip code), I’d just draw five small lines that are each 1/2″ (13 mm) apart. You can then draw a number on each of those 1/2″ lines.
If you’d prefer to skip doing the math or if you’re planning on using a different calligraphy style, you can simply write a calligraphy draft of each line in pencil. The point to this step, really, is to just make sure that everything is centered!
3. Write the Address
Use an elegant calligraphy style to write each address line. Make sure the middle number of the zip code is in the middle of the tree’s trunk!
If you chose a dark-colored envelope for this project, try using white ink to write the address. The white address will form a stunning contrast with the rest of the colors in this project!
4. Fill in the Tree
Now, use a bit of water to moisten a gold metallic watercolor. If you have different colors of metallic watercolors, you can also moisten a red tone.
Once the paint has loosened up a bit, brush it on the back of your nib (as outlined in this blog post), and use the paint to draw small branches. To draw a branch, you’ll start by making one curved line, which will serve as the spine. Next, use short, abrupt motions to make small strokes on either side to represent needles.
Continue to draw branches. Try to fill in the outline of the tree as much as possible! If you have that metallic red paint, you can use a small brush to draw circular ornaments at random spots throughout the tree.
Now, use your metallic gold watercolor to fill in the flourish at the bottom of the tree and the “shine lines” around the star at the top of the tree. Finish up by filling in the star at the top of the tree with white ink.
5. Erase Guidelines and Send
Wait a good 30 minutes or more for your ink to completely dry. Then, use a high-quality eraser (I like Staedtler) to gently rub off your pencil lines. If you have a variety of postage stamps available, group a few together to make a postage stamp collage. If you have holiday-themed stamps, even better!
No matter what color of envelope you choose for this project, I know that you’ll be pleased at the results! The gold ink and the inviting shape of the Christmas tree makes the envelope art fun to look at, and you can experiment with variations to make the project your own. You can, for example, leave out the Christmas ornaments, draw some gifts under the tree, or perhaps draw delicate pieces of falling white snow.
I’d like to thank Phyllis Macaluso for posting a photo of holiday envelope art last year that inspired this tutorial! If you want to be awed and amazed, you can check out Phyllis’ Instagram feed. Phyllis always churns out fantastic calligraphy, but her creations become particularly stunning around this time of year!
If you have any observations or comments about this tutorial, I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and that you find some time to sneak in making it this weekend. Enjoy the rest of your day, and thanks very much for reading TPK!