• Gorgeous Botanical Letter Tutorial (+ a New eCourse!)

    This watercolor botanical letter is one of my favorite projects on the TPK Blog! In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through how to make it. You’ll also find information about TPK’s exciting new eCourse, which provides thorough video demonstrations and helpful PDF documents.

    The completed letter!
    This botanical letter project has been on the TPK Blog since 2015, and it’s been so popular that I just released an eCourse to show you how to create it!

    Illustrated flowers are the best kind of flowers because you can appreciate them indefinitely with zero maintenance. Seriously, just try to look away from that beautiful “B” above this text! Today, I’m going to teach you how to make a gorgeous watercolor botanical letter. Want to make one along with me, with the help of helpful handouts? Enroll in the Watercolor Botanical Letters 101 eCourse, which features two hours of thorough video instructions.

    The Watercolor Botanical Letters 101 eCourse

    In TPK’s new Watercolor Botanical Letters 101 eCourse, you’ll learn how to create beautiful watercolor botanical letters from the comfort of your own home! Featuring four lessons with two hours of thorough video instruction and helpful handouts, this comprehensive course will teach you valuable illustration and watercolor techniques.

    This course is suitable for both beginner and intermediate illustrators. If you’re a beginner, you will find useful tips and techniques that will serve you well in future drawing endeavors. For intermediate illustrators, you’ll likely just enjoy the course as an excuse to give yourself a relaxing art-filled afternoon!


    The Botanical Letter Written Tutorial

    The completed letter!

    It can be difficult to explain certain illustration techniques using only written instructions, but I gave it a good shot in the tutorial below! Before you get started, you’ll want to gather the following supplies:

    1. Print Out Your Letter

    First, open up a program like Microsoft Word and type out your letter in a serif font like “Century”. Make the font size quite large. You want to make sure your letter can fill up a good portion of whatever paper you plan to make this project on.

    Printout of Letter "B"The Watercolor Botanical Letters 101 eCourse includes pre-designed 8″ x 10″ letter printouts.

    2. Trace Over the Letter

    Next, use a light box or a sunny window to trace over your letter. For this tutorial, I used my Shinola sketchbook; but I’ve also successfully used an 8″ x 10″ piece of watercolor paper.

    Traced Letter "B"
    Once you complete this step, you’re finished with the letter printout!

    3. Make a Pencil Draft of Your Botanical Letter

    You’re going to spend a lot of time and energy making a pencil draft of this botanical letter! Why? Because an excellent pencil draft ensures your success with this project! Pay sufficient attention to your draft, and the results will be incredible! First, use a mechanical pencil to fill in the main part of your letter with twisted tree shapes. Then, add several little leaves.

    More leaves!
    Your leaves can slightly peek out of the letter outline!

    Then, add flowers to embellish the tree forms.

    Completed trunk of the "B"
    Don’t fill up *all* the negative space in the letter’s stem! The success of this tutorial relies on some white space remaining inside the letter.

    Next, add a large daffodil somewhere in the letter.

    Drawing a Daffodil: Step 4
    The “Embellishments” handout in the Watercolor Botanical Letters 101 eCourse includes step-by-step instructions over how to draw this daffodil and all the other florals included in this motif.

    Depending on the letter you chose, you might need to draw more trees! You can see that I drew more twisted branches to fill in the bottom bowl of my “B”. Add dimension, leaves, flowers, and berries to your trees, just like before.

    Finishing up the "B"

    Continue to draw botanical elements in pencil until your letter outline is bursting with beauty.

    The pencil draft is finished!
    This pencil draft repeats elements over and over (trees, leaves, flowers, and berries) to make for a harmonious piece! Try to only include one daffodil — the fact that there is only one keeps that flower special.

    4. Add Ink to Your Botanical Letter

    Once your pencil draft is finished, get out some waterproof ink (I love Ziller Soot Black), a straight pen, and a Nikko G nib. Use this winning combination to trace over the draft. Alternatively, you can use any waterproof black pen.

    "Inking" with Ziller Soot Black Ink
    It is of paramount importance that you use waterproof ink for this tutorial because we’re going to paint over it with watercolor. Ziller is the best waterproof ink that I’ve found, so that’s what I’m using here.

    Continue to trace until you’ve filled out the entire letter.

    The inked "B"
    If a dip pen intimidates you, you can use a Muji gel pen for this step. It may bleed a tiny bit when you put it in contact with watercolor, but it’s still a good substitute.

    Once your ink has dried, use a good eraser to get rid of pencil lines.

    Erasing pencil lines

    5. Add Watercolor

    Now, get out your favorite watercolor palette(s)! I’m using a smattering of Greenleaf & Blueberry artist grade colors for this piece. You can find my favorites for this project here. You’ll also need a size 1 and a size 3 paintbrush.

    Greenleaf & Blueberry watercolors
    I love Greenleaf & Blueberry paints for this type of project. They have a vibrant, natural feel that’s perfect for botanical illustrations. You can find all of the paints that I used to make this project by clicking here.


    We’re going to start by painting the trees. Moisten two browns — a dark and a light brown — plus a deep purple tone, if you have one. Use your light brown to make a base layer on a section of tree.

    Painting the tree trunks
    I used Brown Ochre and a size 3 paintbrush for this step.

    Before that base layer dries, use a darker brown tone to add dimension to the edges of the tree.

    Painting the tree trunks
    I used Cassel Earth for my darker brown.

    Finish up the tree branch by using a dark purple tone to represent shadows.

    Painting the tree trunks
    I used a tiny paintbrush (size 1) and Violet Hematite — a staple in my palette — to trace along the faint lines in the tree with my purple tone!

    Use this technique to keep on painting until you’ve added color to all of the twisted tree components.

    The painted tree trunks


    Now, use two different tones of green (a light green and a dark green) to paint your leaves! Try to switch up your green tone every couple of leaves; after all, in nature, leaves aren’t all exactly the same color.

    Painted leaves


    Now, move on to your pansy-like flowers. I used different hues of blue to fill in these flowers, but you should feel free to take creative license here.

    Painted flowers

    Now, fill in your lily-like flowers. I started off by painting my lilies with a light yellow, then I put hints of a darker yellow on the outside of the petals. I finished up by putting a dollop of deep red in the center (while the yellows were still wet).

    Painting yellow flowers
    If you want your flower to look like these, you’ll need to use a dark + a light hue of yellow plus a deep red.

    Now, move on to the daffodil. You’ll want to use the same colors that you used for your lilies. This time, though, you’ll use the red to accent shaded areas.

    Painted daffodil

    Finish up by filling in any additional flowers with red and yellow.


    Finally, fill in all your little berries with red. Then, add dots of Bleed Proof White ink, administered with your Nikko G nib, to give them light spots.

    Bleed Proof White light accents
    Apply a dot of white on the right side of your berry. This will add a hint of realism to your piece.

    Admire Your Botanical Letter

    Once you finish up adding those little white dots to the berries, you’re finished! You should give yourself a big pat on the back because this is a tutorial that takes a lot of thought and creativity.

    The completed letter!

    I hope that you loved reading this tutorial as much as I enjoyed making it! As I created the “D” for the Watercolor Botanical Letters 101 eCourse, I was reminded of just how lovely this project is. It’s eye-catching, relaxing to make, and oh-so-cool.

    In the Watercolor Botanical Letters 101 eCourse, I’ll make a “D” to demonstrate how you can make any botanical letter. The course features comprehensive instructions that far exceed the limitations of today’s written tutorial.

    Thanks very much for reading, and I hope to see you in my eCourse. Happy creating!


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