Birthday candles are colorful and celebratory — but, in real life, they’re fleeting. This watercolor birthday card captures candles at their most festive, with glittery flames to boot! To make it, you’ll need a few supplies and about an hour of free time.
Supplies Needed for the Festive Candles Watercolor Birthday Card
To get started, gather the following:
- Watercolor set (with at least 12 colors)
- Small (size 0-ish) paintbrush
- Sumi ink
- Nib + pen holder of your choice (I used a Brause EF66 nib + oblique pen)
- Pencil + eraser
- Blank watercolor card (Note: I have used Strathmore blank watercolor cards for several TPK greeting card tutorials. They are super handy to have around!)
1. Make a Pencil Draft
First, use your ruler and a mechanical pencil to make guidelines with the measurements pictured below:
Then, use the bottom two guidelines to write “Happy Birthday”. (For a reference and practice writing this greeting, see the Greeting Card Calligraphy “Cheat Sheet” + Worksheet.) Next, draw nine or so rectangles positioned at various slants, and draw diagonal lines inside those rectangles. Leave room below the top pencil guideline for the flames! The rectangles should fill up the entire 3″ horizontal guideline.
Next, draw wicks and flames as shown below.
2. Add Watercolor
Now, use white watercolor to fill in every other space in your candles.
Continue to paint until you’ve applied the white to all of the candles.
Next, start adding colors to the candles. To do that, paint the blank stripes with a color like purple. Then, dry blend just a bit of purple into the white paint. Finish up by outlining the edges of the candles with a dark color (like Payne’s Gray) and dry blend that color into both the white and the purple paints.
Here’s a closer look at the process. For each candle, fill in the stripes first. Then, paint quick, tiny dots on one edge of each white section.
Before the green dots have a chance to dry, use a wet paintbrush to blend the dots into the (dry) white paint.
Then, make a thin outline along the edges of the candle with a size 0 paintbrush and Payne’s Gray watercolor. Before that has a chance to dry, blend it in to the rest of the candle. Then, use white paint to fill in the bottom part of each candle’s wick.
If you’re intimidated by this painting technique, consider enrolling in TPK’s The Ultimate Beginner’s Watercolor Online Course. Take the course, and blending watercolors will become second nature!
3. Add Sumi Ink
Next, use sumi ink (or any black ink — Ziller works well, too) to trace over your calligraphy and fill in the rest of the candles’ wicks.
4. Add Flames and Erase Pencil Guidelines
To finish up, use your paintbrush to apply red metallic paint around each candle’s wick. Blend that red metallic paint into gold metallic paint. Finish up by filling in the rest of the flame with a bright yellow watercolor like Lemon Yellow Hue.
Once all the paint and ink has dried, use a good-quality eraser to get rid of all your pencil guidelines. Your card is now finished and ready to spread joy!
I hope that you enjoyed today’s watercolor birthday card tutorial and that it inspires you to get creative this weekend! Even if you don’t know someone with a birthday coming up, it’s never a bad idea to create birthday cards in advance and send them as the occasion arises. There are several birthday card tutorials that you can browse on TPK … why not make an afternoon of it? 🙂
Thanks so much for reading, and I’ll catch you next week!