Every Monday, I’ve been sending out a brief newsletter to TPK subscribers. It’s something I have really enjoyed because a newsletter isn’t nearly as formal as a blog post; instead, it feels more like a conversation. In the last newsletter, I asked for blog post topic feedback — in short, what do readers want more of (or less of)? A theme appeared throughout several of the feedback emails: more watercolor tutorials! So, today, I want to show you how to make this simple twig watercolor thank you card. It features a blending/salting technique that I promise you can do, and I’ll teach you how in a video toward the end of the post!
1. Gather Your Supplies
Before you get started, you’ll want to round up a modest compilation of supplies. You can find a list below this photo!
- Blank A7 watercolor paper card (You can DIY one by folding a piece of 10″ x 7″ [254 mm x 178 mm] watercolor paper in half to 5″ x 7″ [127 mm x 178 mm].)
- Paintbrush (I used a Winsor & Newton size 3)
- Straight dip pen fitted with a Nikko G nib
- Watercolor palette with a light shade of green, a dark shade of green, and a dark brown or purple tone
2. Make a Pencil Sketch
Use your pencil to lightly draw a left-leaning leaf with a line that curves to the right underneath it.
Then, draw several other leaves (and some stems) off of that original right-leaning line.
3. Start Painting the Leaves
At this point, it’s time to add paint to your watercolor thank you card! First, use a syringe, spoon, or small spray bottle to add some water to the colors that you plan to use. Remember, those colors are: a light green, a dark green, and a brown or deep purple tone. Once the water has soaked into the paint (~1 minute), use your paintbrush to paint the upper left leaf with the light green watercolor.
Once you have filled in the leaf with the light green, dip your paintbrush into the dark green value. As soon as you touch your brush to the wet light green paint, the dark green paint will start to spread — which is what you want! Keep working around the leaf with the dark green paint, allowing the dark green paint to merge with the light green paint.
Now, while your paint is still wet, use your thumb and your index finger to sprinkle just a pinch of salt on top of it. Try to evenly distribute the salt such that you don’t have many clusters of grains. The idea is to have individual grains of salt sitting on top of the wet watercolor.
Here’s a close-up:
Continue to paint the leaves one at a time. Add the salt as you finish each leaf!
4. Add Paint to the Stem
Once you’ve finished painting the leaves, follow the paint application steps in the Watercolor Calligraphy Tutorial to add light green and brown or purple watercolor paint to the underside of your Nikko G nib.
Starting at the top left stem, use your pen to trace over the stem pencil lines.
As promised, here’s a video tutorial over how to create this simple but elegant piece:
5. Add Lettering
You can, of course, leave the watercolor thank you card as it is, without any text. Some small and simple lettering, however, will enhance rather than detract from the illustration! To write a perfectly centered “THANK”, draw two horizontal guidelines that are spaced close together (~3/8″ or 9.5 mm apart). In the middle of those guidelines, write an “A”. Draw a “T” to the left of that “A”; then measure the distance from the “T” to the “A”. Use that distance to draw an equally-spaced “K” on the right.
Now, mark the middle of the space between the “T” and the “A” and the “A” and the “K”. In the space between the “T” and the “A”, write an “H”. In the space between the “A” and the “K”, write an “N”. You can now cross your “H” and your “A”, and you may choose to connect them like I’ve done below!
At this point, you can hook the cross from the “H” and the “A” to a nice, curly “y”. Follow the “y” with an “o” and a “u”.
Next, reload your dip pen with light green and brown or purple watercolor. Carefully fill in the letters that you just wrote, and the result will be the neat two-toned effect shown below.
6. Erase and Scrape
The last step in making your watercolor thank you card is to wait for the watercolor to completely dry. I’d give it an hour just to be safe! Then, lightly use your eraser to get rid of the pencil guidelines around the “Thank You” lettering. Once you’ve done that, gently run your finger over each leaf to loosen up the salt granules. As the granules dislodge, you can blow or wipe them away.
And that’s it! You’ve got an elegant watercolor thank you card that anyone will be absolutely thrilled to receive. Of course, you don’t have to use this technique to make a thank you card. If you would prefer to experiment with this technique in a sketchbook or just use it to make artwork for your home (frame it!), I encourage you to do so!
I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial! If you have any questions, you’re more than welcome to ask in the comments below, and I’ll be glad to assist. If you’re not signed up for the TPK newsletter, I encourage you to subscribe, which you can do by clicking here! On Monday, I’ll be announcing a neat little giveaway via the newsletter. 🙂
Thanks very much for reading TPK, and have a fantastic and creative weekend!