This simple Southwestern envelope art proves that sometimes less can be more! I love its limited color palette, perfect balance of lines and curves, and interplay between block lettering and calligraphy. In today’s tutorial, I’m going to show you how to make an envelope just like this one!
1. Find a White Envelope
First, you’ll need a white envelope that can handle watercolors and calligraphy. To that end, I always have good luck with Cards and Pockets (this is just an A7 envelope in “white”)!
2. Write the Recipient’s Address
The symmetry of this Southwestern envelope art involves some planning! First, use a pencil and a ruler to draw a horizontal line in the center of the envelope. Then, draw a line 3/8″ (10 mm) away from either side of that center line.
Now, try writing out the recipient’s name in pencil and Amy Style calligraphy, then measure how long the recipient’s name is. Once you know that measurement, you can center the name! To accomplish that, draw a small vertical line in the center of the envelope. Divide the length of the recipient’s name by two, and use the number you get to draw a vertical guideline on either side of the center line.
Now, if you want to, you can partially erase the pencil draft of the recipient’s name — especially if the pencil draft wasn’t centered. (You only made the draft so you can know exactly how long the name is. That helps to center the final calligraphy!) Then, use walnut ink and your favorite nib to officially calligraph the recipient’s name! Don’t forget to start the calligraphy at the left pencil guideline and end it at the right pencil guideline.
3. “Frame” the Name
Now it’s time to get out your watercolor palette! Moisten a vibrant red color with a bit of water. While the water is soaking in, draw two horizontal pencil guidelines. One guideline should sit slightly below the top pencil guideline you drew in step 2, and the other guideline should sit slightly below the bottom pencil guideline. These guidelines should be just a little bit longer (1″ [25 mm] or so) than the name that you just calligraphed.
Now, use the watercolor calligraphy technique to load red watercolor onto your nib. Once you’ve done that, trace over your fresh pencil guidelines!
After you’ve traced over both of your horizontal guidelines, cap the ends with little leaf shapes.
4. Write the Address
This Southwestern envelope is nice because it doesn’t require you to center an address! Instead, we’re going to justify everything to the left, which will save time and stress. To get started, draw a vertical pencil guideline down the center of the envelope, below the recipient’s name. Then, draw three sets of two guidelines that are 3/16″ (4.75 mm) apart. Leave about 1/16″ (1.5 mm) of space between each guideline set!
Here’s what the envelope will look like once you’re finished:
5. Make the Southwestern Envelope Motif!
Now we’re going to add the design element that makes this a “Southwestern” envelope: a Southwestern-inspired motif. It’s simple to make if you break it down step by step! Begin by drawing a 1-3/4″ (45 mm) long pencil guideline about 1/8″ (3 mm) under your red horizontal line. The pencil guideline should be centered between the center of the envelope and the end of the red horizontal line. Once you’ve drawn that guideline, use your dip pen to draw a walnut ink semi-oval on the bottom center of the pencil guideline. Then, use the watercolor calligraphy technique to draw a turquoise half-circle that “hugs” the semi-oval.
Now, use red watercolor to draw two half-leaf shapes on either side of the turquoise half-circle.
Next, use your turquoise watercolor to draw two little “shark fin” shapes to hug the red half-leaves.
At this point, you’ll want to grab your pencil and draw a little vertical line centered under the turquoise half-circle. Draft out two teardrop shapes that lean in opposite directions, then fill them in with a deep yellow watercolor. Then, draw a fan-like shape between the teardrops, and fill that in with red watercolor.
Now, fill in the negative space on either side of the yellow teardrop shapes with turquoise teardrop shapes that mirror each other.
Finally, use your dip pen and walnut ink to draw various sizes of dots as shown below!
Once you’ve completed this step, flip the envelope upside down and create the exact same motif on the other side (the right hemisphere of the envelope)!
Once everything has dried (5-10 minutes), take a good eraser and use it to get rid of your pencil guidelines! Put a postage stamp — preferably one that incorporates one of the main colors of your design — in the upper right corner, and send this lovely envelope on its way!
A word of advice: if you live in a humid area or you’re worried about rain, try waterproofing your envelope. If you live in a dry area and/or you like to leave things up to chance (like me!), then you can just send the envelope as-is. 🙂
I hope that you enjoyed this fun little tutorial! I was inspired to create it after coming across a photo of some Southwestern envelope art that I made in 2015. The photo has been popular on Pinterest, so I thought you might appreciate some insight into how to make the design!
If you have any questions or comments about this tutorial, I’d love to hear from you! Just scroll down to put in your two cents’. 🙂 Thanks very much for reading TPK, and have a wonderfully creative rest of the week! (Keep an eye out: Ana is writing a cool autumn illustration tutorial for this weekend.)