After this busy but wonderful holiday weekend, I know that you’ll really enjoy putting together this retro floral thank you card! It’s a relaxing, straightforward watercolor and illustration project, which makes it great for new artists who want to create something cool. As an added bonus, you can send it to the Santa (or Santas) in your life to show your appreciation for any gifts that you receive!
1. Draw a Banner
First, get a 5″ x 7″ blank watercolor card (you can easily DIY one by folding a 10″x7″ piece of watercolor paper in half). Use a pencil to draw a 0.5″ x 3″ rectangle just under the vertical center of the card. Note that the measurements of the rectangle are approximate; you can adjust the size to suit your taste!
Next, draw two skinny rectangles that connect to both sides of the rectangle that you just drew. These rectangles should also have a 0.5″ height.
Finish up by drawing two forked shapes (see the photo below) that connect to the skinny rectangles. The forked shapes will also be 0.5″ tall.
Now that your banner is finished, trace over it with black ink. I used a dip pen and waterproof Ziller ink. You’ll be painting over this banner with watercolor later, so waterproof ink is a good idea!
2. Add Calligraphy
Once the banner ink has dried, you can use a ruler and a pencil to draw three guidelines: one near the top of the banner, one near the bottom of the banner, and one in the middle of the banner. These lines will guide you as you write calligraphy! Once you have drawn the lines, write “thank you” in all-lowercase Amy Style calligraphy. Don’t forget to use waterproof ink!
Of course, this part is customizable: you can write any message you want, in any calligraphy style that you want! I just like the way that the curvy Amy Style lettering complements the geometric banner. After you write the calligraphy, wait for the ink to dry, then erase your pencil guidelines.
3. Paint the Flowers
To make the flowers for this thank you card, you’ll start by painting nine circles in four different colors. I chose to use shades of earthy green, sandstone, blue, and gray — but you are welcome to use any color scheme that appeals to you! For your first card, try drawing the circles in an orientation like the one below (just so you have a guide/reference). For subsequent cards, you can experiment a bit!
Once the paint has dried, use your dip pen and ink to draw a bold, small circle in the middle of two of the watercolor circles. Then, draw a series of several lines around the perimeter of both watercolor circles. Finish up by drawing a dot at the end of each line.
Next, choose three random watercolor circles and draw a “cut pizza” design over them. To achieve that, you’ll draw a circle just inside the perimeter of a watercolor circle, then draw a series of lines crossing through the middle of the circle that you just drew.
Now, use your pen to draw rows of small horizontal lines over three more watercolor circles.
At this point, you should have one watercolor circle left. Draw a cluster of densely-spaced dots in the middle of that last watercolor circle. Surround those dots by widely-spaced dots. Finish up by drawing a series of close lines around the perimeter of the watercolor circle.
4. Draw Stems and Leaves
To draw flower stems, take a straight edge or a ruler and draw a pencil line down from the center of each flower. The length of each stem should vary.
Next, trace over the pencil lines with your dip pen and ink. Feel free to add a half-oval under some of the flowers, where they connect to the stem. This will help to make the flowers look more realistic!
At this point, you can draw different sizes of leaves and simple black and white flowers coming off of several stems. Once you draw the leaves and simple flowers, try adding small circles around the watercolor flowers!
5. Add Watercolor to the Thank You Card Banner
The finishing touch to this thank you card is a hint of color in the banner! I used yellow, but you can add any color that you like. Make sure you use a strong concentration of paint:water on the sides of the banner, then tease the watercolor out to the middle with plain water. If you use this technique, you can highlight — rather than take away from — the “thank you” in the center of the banner!
If you’re wondering what kind of watercolor I used here, it’s Greenleaf & Blueberry. Greenleaf & Blueberry makes amazing, earthy artisanal watercolor paints! Unfortunately, though, the paints are nearly impossible to order unless you keep a close eye on the G&B Instagram page for stock update announcements. If you’re looking for a good alternative, you can always try student grade Winsor & Newton Cotman paints or artist grade Yarka watercolors! No matter what paints that you start with, watercolor is a versatile and fun medium that you’ll really enjoy learning how to use.
If you have any questions about the process or materials used in this tutorial, please feel free to ask in the comments! I’m always happy to answer. Thanks very much for reading TPK, and have a wonderful holiday weekend!