I live in Boulder, Colorado, which is home to the University of Colorado. That’s a blessing when it comes to the TPK Supplies Shop, which employs three part-time college students as packagers. Aiden was my very first packager, and he started working for me two years ago. In all that time, he’s made a total of five packaging mistakes, which is super impressive. He also mastered making Brause EF66 flanges for these pens, which helped me to meet the demand for them.
Last month, Aiden graduated from CU, and he’s off to the UK to pursue a postgraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering at The University of Nottingham. I’m devastated to be losing him, but very appreciative of the time and energy he has given to TPK. Of course, my way of showing him my gratitude is to make a card! Today, I’ll show you how I made Aiden’s graduation card with the hope that this concept will come in handy for you, too.
1. Draw Pencil Guidelines
Begin by drawing four pairs of pencil guidelines on an A7 card. The lines in each pair should be 1-1/8″ (~2.85 cm) apart, and the pairs should be separated by 1/8″ (0.3 cm) of space. There should be about 7/16″ (1.1 cm) of space between the top of the card and the top of the first guideline pair.
Once you finish drawing your guidelines, you’ll have enough space at the bottom to draw a banner. You can use the “Geometric” concept from this tutorial to do that.
2. Draw Letters
I strongly recommend having the Circus Lettering Exemplar ($5) on hand for this tutorial. You can complete the tutorial without it by mimicking the letters in my photos. However, the exemplar will show you how to draw each letter step-by-step.
Begin by drawing a centered “O” in the top guidelines. Then, draw a centered “RA” within the next guidelines. Finally, draw “LA” within the third set of guidelines.
Now, flank the “O” with a “C” and an “N”. “RA” should be sandwiched between “G” and “D”. Then, draw a “U” and a “T” on either side of “LA”. Your card should now say “CONGRADULAT”.
Finish up by drawing “IONS” on the fourth guideline. You can start by drawing the “I” just a little bit more inward than the “U” above it, then draw the “S” just a bit more inward than the “T” above it. Then, center “ON” inside the “I” and the “S”.
3. Add White Ink
At this point, you’ll want to get out a white gel pen such as a Sakura Gelly Roll. Use it to fill in the “GRAD” portion of the lettering on the card.
Try not to color in the diamond shapes in the letters.
4. Add Black Ink
Now, grab a black gel pen such as Muji, and trace over your letters.
This step may take a while! It took me about an hour to trace over all of the letters. I filmed the process in the timelapse video below just for fun:
Once you’re finished, the card will look like the one below:
5. Fill in the Banner
Part of the beauty of this card is the personalization! To finish up, you’ll draft your graduate’s name in pencil inside the banner. Then, add ink to the banner. You can use any lettering or calligraphy style that appeals to you for this step. (I opted to use faux Kaitlin Style calligraphy. Remember, it’s difficult to successfully use a dip pen on cardstock!)
Finish up by adding ink to the grad’s name. If you want to, you can use white ink inside the downstrokes to echo the white in “GRAD”.
When you’re done, step back to appreciate your had work! Circus Style lettering is detailed and intricate, so you should feel especially proud of what you’ve created.
As I created this graduation card, I pondered ways to make the lettering process go faster. Drafting out all the letters in pencil and centering them takes a lot of time, and I devised a way to delete that step: a traceable template.
With that in mind, I used Circus Lettering to make five traceable A7 card templates, including today’s graduation card. Just print the card template out, place it on a light box, and put a light-colored blank card on top. Then, use your pen to trace the letters … no pencil draft or centering required. Easy-peasy!
You can find traceable card templates as part of the Circus Lettering Exemplar bundle. Whether you opt to use the shortcut method or you decide to hand-draft everything, I hope you enjoy the project!