This tutorial will walk you through how to make a fiddle leaf fig illustration that transforms a plain envelope into fabulous mail art. To get started, you’ll need watercolors, white ink, and a nice podcast or playlist to help you relax and enjoy the creation process!
Over the past few months, I’ve really embraced writing letters as a way to reconnect with friends. For me, it’s a win-win: I can write a letter by hand while my toddler winds down in the evening. Then, the next day, I spend time making a fun envelope. This week, I decided to make a fiddle leaf fig-themed piece. It’s clean, modern, and eye-catching … the perfect little gift for a friend to find in his or her mailbox! I’ve outlined the creation steps below so you can make one, too:
1. Draw a Fiddle Leaf Fig Illustration Pencil Draft
For a foolproof illustration, I recommend starting with a pencil draft. Use your pencil to draw a cylinder in the middle of your envelope. The cylinder should be about 2″ (~50 mm) tall and 2.5″ (64 mm) wide.
Next, draw four wavy stems coming out of the top of the cylinder.
Once you’ve drawn the stems, begin drawing leaves. Fiddle leaf fig leaves are shaped a bit like, well, fiddles! Some have a slight indentation at the end that sort of looks like a heart. Each leaf has interesting Y-shaped veins, which you should go ahead and draw in as well.
Continue to draw leaves until the plant is nice and full. Try to give your leaves different shapes and sizes to make the tree look more realistic.
Finish up by drawing the floor of your choice, if you want to. I used this pattern as a model because I love Moroccan concrete tile motifs!
2. Paint the Leaves
Now, moisten at least two different shades of green watercolor: a dark green and a light green. (If you have a medium green, moisten it as well!) Use those green watercolors to fill in your leaves. Most leaves should feature a mix of the 2-3 green tones. You can paint in a couple of leaves with only one green tone for contrast.
Continue to use your green watercolors to fill in the rest of the leaves. Once you’re finished, the leaves should look something like this:
3. Paint the Pot and the Floor
Now, moisten a dark gray or black tone of watercolor, and use that to paint a sliver of soil at the base of your fig.
Use the same black tone and a tiny brush to outline the pot. Then, use a brush that you’ve moistened with water (not watercolor) to tease that black tone out into the pot a bit more. This will give the pot some dimension while maintaining its clean look! Once you’re finished with the pot, paint the floor. I chose to use my gray tone to fill in my tiles, but you should do whatever makes sense for your floor.
4. Trace Over the Leaf Veins
To finish up your fiddle leaf fig illustration, double check to make sure that your leaves are dry. (To do that, lightly touch a few of the leaves. If the surface of the paper doesn’t feel damp, you can move on to this step!) Then, get out a bottle of white ink and a straight pen with a Nikko G nib. Use that supply trio to trace over the veins in your leaves.
Continue to trace over the veins until all or most of the leaves feature some lines.
5. Write an Address
You don’t have to use this fiddle leaf fig illustration as mail art, but if you are, use the space in your pot to write an address. While I’m normally a fan of show-stopping calligraphy, in this case, the focus is the lovely fiddle leaf fig illustration. With that in mind, I just went with cursive with a bit of an embellishment to write the address. You could use a sans serif print, and that would also look nice!
6. Slip Something Inside and Send!
I normally just talk about the process of making the mail art itself in my mail art tutorials. Today, though, I’d like to show you what I put inside! The mail art contains a letter helping me to reconnect with an old friend who my communication tapered off with after Remy was born. She was busy establishing herself in a new city, and I was busy figuring out how to take care of an energetic baby boy. After going two years without speaking, it felt a little intimidating to send an update and ask questions. There was just so much to say! With that in mind, I printed out the Letter Layout Planner from The Letter Writer’s Complete Resource.
I didn’t end up covering everything that I had planned in the letter that resulted. However, having the planner as a guide really helped me to craft friendship-rekindling correspondence. And, bonus — now I have a record of the topics that my letter covered, which is something I always have trouble remembering later!
Is This Envelope Art Effective?
Before I end this tutorial, I want to touch on one question that I receive after every envelope art tutorial, which is “Will the post office really send this?” While you should always be prepared for the chance that your envelope will be one of the 6% that gets lost every year, it’s quite likely that this envelope will reach its destination. Just make sure you write the address legibly, paying special attention to the zip code, and you should be okay! (For more tips for making lovely mail that arrives at its destination, see this article.)
I hope that you enjoyed reading about this project … and that you give it a try! Remember, you can follow the tutorial exactly or just riff on it to make a card or a sketchbook page. Thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!