If you have some spare time this weekend, I encourage you to try out this watercolor birthday card tutorial! For SEO purposes, I’m categorizing it as a “birthday card”, but truthfully, it can be any kind of card, depending on what you write on it. Whatever kind of greeting you are sending, this is a nice, relaxing tutorial that will only take a few minutes to make!
First, start with a blank watercolor paper card. I buy 5″x7″ Strathmore blank watercolor cards, but you can also DIY a card by folding a piece of watercolor paper in half. Alternatively, you could make this tutorial with a piece of card stock, but watercolor paper is always best when you are working with watercolor paints!
Next, pull out your favorite set of watercolors. You can lightly mist all of the colors with water to get them ready for use! (The misting is a trick that I learned from Jess at Greenleaf & Blueberry; all of the watercolors pictured are from her shop.)
Allow the watercolors to sit for a minute or two, then dip a size 1 paintbrush into a brown tone. You’ll want to treat your paintbrush like a dip pen: apply minimal pressure on the upstrokes, and more pressure on the downstrokes. This will give you a nice stroke variation!
As a side note, you can find the size of a brush engraved on its handle. If you don’t have a size 1 brush, that’s perfectly fine — you can use any small-ish brush for this tutorial!
Once the lettering is dry, it’s time to start painting the border! First, you’ll want to paint several dark green branches with leaves. The branches should be dispersed randomly around the card. To make a branch, paint a slightly curved line coming from one of the edges of the card.
Next, paint several leaves coming from that branch. Don’t paint any leaves on the end of the branch; you’ll be putting oranges there shortly!
Paint branches along the border of the card in random places. Some of the branches should stand alone, and others should be painted very close to another branch.
Once the branches are all painted, you’ll want to add oranges to them! To do that, choose a nice orange watercolor, and use that color to paint a circle at the end of a branch.
Before the orange paint has a chance to dry, choose a darker orange (or red) value, and paint it along the bottom edge of the orange sphere. Doing this will give the orange some dimension!
Add oranges to the end of every branch and allow them to dry.
Next, use a blue tone to draw in another leafy branch. This branch should feature leaves that are slightly smaller and closer together.
Continue to randomly populate the edges of the card with leafy blue branches as pictured below.
The final element for the illustrated border will be a leafy twig. You’ll want to use the same brown that you used for the lettering in the center; repeating that color will visually pull the whole piece together! To create it, paint a slightly curved line, then paint several small lines connecting to it.
Continue to paint shapes like this all around the card’s perimeter.
To finish up, choose a light green color, and use it to draw leaves that connect to every little brown twig.
You can use turquoise to make some of those leaves as well!
Once you’re finished, set the card aside to dry. If you want to, you may use the drying time to make a simple matching envelope! You can write the recipient’s name using the same paintbrush technique that you used to write the phrase on the card.
Next, use the watercolor calligraphy technique to write the recipient’s address under the name. I used Kaitlin Style calligraphy in this example, but any style of lettering will look great! Just make sure you use a color that appears in your watercolor birthday card design; in this example, I am using turquoise.
Add a couple of design elements (branches, oranges) that you used in the card to the top left and bottom right corner of the envelope.
Next, you can apply an eclectic stamp collage (you can purchase great vintage stamps from eBay), and your matching envelope is finished!
I love the look of this watercolor birthday card (and envelope), and I hope you do, too! It features such an upbeat, simple motif that reflects the arrival of nice spring weather here in the Northern Hemisphere.
Remember that you can use this concept to make anything — you’re not limited to just cards! Feel free to create art prints (perhaps with the aid of the Digitizing Artwork and Calligraphy eCourse), place cards, gift tags, postcards, and/or whatever else comes to mind. This is a cool and creative concept that looks good on anything!
I really appreciate you reading this tutorial, and I hope that you enjoyed it! Have a great weekend, and we’ll reconvene on Tuesday. 🙂