Decorated envelopes make for an amazing surprise gift! Think about it: usually, a person’s mailbox is a pretty boring place, home to many a credit card offer and grocery store flyer. When something extraordinary graces the humble mailbox, it’s hard not to get excited! Accordingly, today’s tutorial offers a quick and effective way to make an artistic piece of envelope art that will stand out in anyone’s mail pile! To create it, you’ll need a black (or very dark) envelope; mine is a cheapie that came in a black card/envelope set from the North American craft store chain Michael’s. Use a soapstone pencil and a ruler to make a centered vertical guideline as well as a centered horizontal guideline.
Next, draw marks on the horizontal line that are 1.25″ (31.75 mm) from the edge both sides of the envelope. Then, draw marks on the vertical line that are 0.75″ (19 mm) from the top and bottom of the envelope.
Use curved lines to connect the marks you just drew. Don’t worry about the curves being perfect; part of the charm of this piece is that it’s not perfect!
Next, dip a size 1 paintbrush — the size is engraved in the handle — into white calligraphy ink (I am using Ziller), white acrylic paint, or white gouache. (If none of these three inks are handy or you are not comfortable using them, you can substitute in a white Gellyroll pen for this step.) Use your brush to paint a wavy line over the oval you drew in the previous step.
Once you finish painting the wavy line, start painting another wavy oval line. This wavy line should have waves that appear at opposite parts of the first wavy line; you’ll feel like you’re making “8”s all the way around the oval! Again, don’t worry about perfection here: if your waves aren’t perfect, it’s no big deal.
When you’re finished, the oval will look something like the photo below.
While you’re waiting for your oval to dry, you can pull out your colored pencils. I love Prismacolor pencils because they’re soft and high-quality!
Choose two different colors to use on the envelope; I would suggest blue and red, as pictured below.
Take the red pencil and draw a series of short and connected curved lines in the bottom left corner of the envelope; your goal is to emulate a sparse tree branch.
Next, draw leaves connected to the lines. The leaves don’t need to appear in any sort of pattern; wherever you can fit in leaves is perfect!
Before you go any further with the colored pencils, it’s a good idea to erase your soapstone pencil guidelines!
Once the guidelines are erased and your first laurel branch is drawn, you can add another laurel branch. This branch will be blue!
Continue to draw laurel branches around the envelope. The size and the shape of the branches don’t matter; the important thing is just to alternate the colors. Every red branch should be sandwiched between two blue branches, and every blue branch should be sandwiched between two red branches.
The result will look something like this:
The next step is to finish up your envelope art by adding complementary calligraphy! For projects like this, I like to pre-write the recipient’s address in pencil (or, in this case, soapstone pencil) to ensure that everything is centered and evenly spaced. It’s not a necessary step, but if you’ve got the time, it’s not a bad idea! Amy Style calligraphy, the style used to write “Rebecca Thering”, corresponds beautifully with the playful nature of the surrounding laurel wreaths.
I love the look of calligraphy paired with hand-lettering, so the address for this envelope is written in Sans Serif letters.
After you write the address, you can add a white laurel branch above and below it to echo the colored laurel branches. This helps to visually tie the piece together!
You can finish up the envelope with a stamp or two in the upper right corner. Don’t worry about covering up some of your artwork; I find that stamps always enhance — rather than take away from — any piece of mail art!
While today’s tutorial shows how to use this design motif for decorated envelopes, I encourage you to be creative with using it on other projects! From place cards to bookmarks to greeting cards, you could use the technique described above to make any paper good stand out. All you’ll need is some black paper, white ink, and colored pencils. Speaking of which …
If you don’t have any colored pencils to create this tutorial with (or you’d just like to upgrade), then you’ll enjoy this international giveaway! Two winners will receive a set of 24 Prismacolor colored pencils, a $32.00 value plus shipping.
You can enter using the Rafflecopter widget below! Remember, if you’re not on social media, that’s perfectly fine: you can still enter with the “Answer a Question” option.
Both winners will be notified via email upon the giveaway’s completion on the morning of Tuesday, May 3rd.
I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial, and that you will use it to make some delightfully artistic decorated envelopes! I’m wishing the very best of luck to you for the giveaway, and I hope that you have a fantastic weekend!