I love this birthday card tutorial for a few reasons! First of all, it features a foolproof hand lettering technique that you can apply to other projects. Second, its starry motif and subdued color scheme is distinctly 1980’s vintage — but in a cool, tasteful way! Finally, the birthday card really is simple to make, and anyone can do it. If you have a few spare moments this weekend, give it a go!
1. Cut Out the Card
First, take a piece of black cardstock and cut it to 10″ x 7″ (254 mm x 178 mm). Then, fold the cardstock in half so its dimensions are 5″ x 7″.
2. Draw Guidelines
Successful hand lettering always begins with guidelines! You can use a regular pencil to make your guidelines, but the most effective instrument is a white mechanical pencil. Begin by using your white pencil and a ruler to draw a horizontal line in the center of the card as shown:
Next, draw two lines on either side of the center guideline you just drew. These two lines should be about 1/8″ (3 mm) away from the original line.
Now, draw two more guidelines. One guideline should be 3/4″ (19 mm) from the top guideline you just drew, and the other guideline should be 3/4″ (19 mm) from the bottom guideline you just drew.
Once you’ve drawn these guidelines, make a vertical guideline in the middle of the card! This will help to ensure that your letters are neatly centered.
3. Plan Out Your Letters
Now that you’ve got guidelines, you can plan out your letterforms and their positions! You’ll begin by creating a 1/2″ (13 mm) wide rectangle in the very middle of the card. One side of the rectangle will be 1/4″ (7.5 mm) to the left of the center guideline, while the other side will be 1/4″ to the right of the center guideline. Once you’ve drawn the first rectangle, draw two 1/2″ rectangles on either side of it (to result in five rectangles total).
Now, if you have it, print out the “Roman” portion of the Premium Hand Lettering Worksheet Set. (If you don’t own this worksheet set, you can just wing it and make up your own letterforms!)
Use the visual instructions in the worksheet set (under the “How to” section) to write “HAPPY” with your white pencil. Each letter should fill up one of the rectangles that you drew!
Now, use your white pencil to make eight evenly-spaced 1/2″ (13 mm) rectangles. It will be easiest if you draw the center two rectangles first, which will be equidistant from the vertical guideline in the middle!
Fill in these eight new rectangles with “BIRTHDAY”.
4. Fill Out the Letters
I like to use Bleed Proof White ink, a straight pen + Nikko G nib, and a size 0 brush for this part of the tutorial. (You can use a Gelly Roll white pen, but the ink takes much longer to dry!)
Begin by using your pen and nib to outline “H”.
Once the outline is finished and before the ink dries, use your paintbrush and white ink to fill in the rest of the letter!
Continue outlining and painting until you’ve filled all of the letters in.
5. Add Stars
Now that you’ve finished the lettering, use your white pencil to draw two wavy guidelines in the upper left and lower right corners of the card.
Use the star formation technique you were probably taught in grade school to draw a five-point star in the upper left corner.
Then, use your paintbrush to fill that star in.
Draw four more similarly-sized stars.
Use the same technique to draw several stars that are a little bit smaller than the first group of stars that you made!
Then, create a smattering of small stars.
Finally, finish up by using your paintbrush to make various sizes of little dots around the stars. None of these dots should stray outside of your wavy guideline!
Once you’re finished making dots, this is what your card should look like:
Now, repeat that same technique to fill in the bottom right of the card!
6. Flourish It Up!
Your card is nearly finished, but it needs just a little bit of pizazz! Curly flourishes help to balance things out, so try using your white pencil to draw a few flourishes (plus stars) around “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”. You can use the flourish pattern shown below, or you can come up with your own!
Once you’ve drafted out your flourishes and stars, draw over them with the white ink.
Wait for the ink to dry (if you’re using Bleed Proof White, I’d wait at least an hour), then use a black eraser to get rid of your pencil guidelines!
I love this birthday card tutorial because it offers a great opportunity to practice your hand lettering! Feel free to try it using different lettering styles, flourish positions, and colors (gouache would be great on black cardstock).
If you have any questions about the techniques outlined in this birthday card tutorial, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments! I’m always glad to answer. Either way, give it a go! It’s a project that’s a real treat to create, and you can make it now and send it out whenever you have the need for it.
Thanks *so* much for reading TPK, and have a wonderfully creative weekend!