I have posted my fair share of card tutorials on this site … and I can’t admit to all of them being quick. I know that you don’t always have time to draw and cut out an armoire, paint dozens of tiny leaves, or commit to making scores of parallel lines! Next time you find yourself on a bit of a tight card deadline, try this quick birthday card tutorial. Its versatility and simple technique makes it the perfect paper good for anyone’s special day!
1. Cut and Fold the Birthday Card
If you have a premade blank card — I like to keep these 5″x7″ watercolor cards around — then you can skip this step. To make the customized size shown in this post, however, you’ll need to cut out a 7.5″ x 8.25″ piece of watercolor paper. If you’d prefer not to use watercolors in this tutorial, then you can use plain white cardstock. (Watercolors are optional and can be replaced with crayons, colored pencils, markers, or colored pens.)
Next, fold the paper in half. To do so, make sure the 7.5″ edges are on the top and bottom, and the 8.25″ edges are on the sides. When you fold it, it should be 8.25″ tall by 3.75″ wide — the perfect size for a #10 envelope. To make a nice, crisp fold, you can run a bone folder along the seam!
2. Write the Calligraphy
Balloons are the theme for this birthday card, and three of them carry a message in their strings. The first will say “happy”, the second “birthday”, and the third “to you”. With this in mind, you’ll want to start by drawing three vertical pencil lines on the card. The three lines pictured are about an inch apart.
Use the same technique to write “birthday” and “to you”. You’ll want to connect “to” and “you” together with a fairly long tail; if the words are too closely spaced, the recipient will read them as “toyou”!
3. Draw the Balloons
Once your calligraphy ink dries, you can erase the vertical lines that you just drew. Pick up your pencil again, and use it to draw three balloons: one on the end of each line of calligraphy. Next, draw two more strings and balloons: one should go in between each line of calligraphy. If you’re not sure how to draw a balloon, don’t worry! A balloon is just an oval with a soft-angled small triangle at the bottom. You can draw your balloons at an upright angle, or, for a more natural look, you can draw them tilting all sorts of ways.
Next, trace over your pencil balloons with the same ink that you used to write the birthday message.
You’ll want to end this step with the secret to a realistic-looking illustrated balloon: light reflections! To draw a light reflection, you just need to draw two or three small rectangles that are parallel to the curved edge of each balloon. All light reflection rectangles should be on the same side of each balloon! In this case, I have chosen to make them on the left.
4. Add Color to the Balloons
This is the last step in this quick birthday card tutorial! To make this step efficient and enjoyable, use whichever color medium you are most comfortable with. For me, that’s watercolor — but for you, that could mean colored pencils, crayons, markers, colored pens … whatever! Choose three colors, then use the first of the three colors to fill in two balloons. Make sure you don’t color inside the light reflection rectangles!
Use the next color to fill in two more balloons.
Finally, use the third color to fill in the last balloon. Once you have filled that balloon in, the birthday card is finished and ready to send!
Notes and Variations
This quick birthday card tutorial is one of my favorites because you can customize it in so many ways! You can change the following to accommodate your personal style and schedule:
- Size – You can make a card of virtually any size using this technique! You’ll draw the balloons and strings closer together for a smaller card, and farther apart for a larger card.
- Mediums – Instead of a dip pen, you can use any regular pen (and faux calligraphy, if you’d like) to draw the balloon strings. Watercolors are also optional; any colorful medium will work to fill in the balloons!
- Font – If you’re not confident in your calligraphy, feel free to use plain cursive!
Whether you choose to make changes to the tutorial or not, I know you’ll enjoy making this card! It’s a clever and artistic way to make someone feel special, and provides a nice creative break for you. Win-win, right? 🙂 Of course, if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to comment; I’m always glad to hear from you!
Many, many thanks for reading TPK, and have a wonderful weekend!