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.
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!
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:
Bright window (or a light box), art water, cleaning cloth
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.
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.
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.
Then, add flowers to embellish the tree forms.
Next, add a large daffodil somewhere in the letter.
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.
Continue to draw botanical elements in pencil until your letter outline is bursting with beauty.
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.
Continue to trace until you’ve filled out the entire letter.
Once your ink has dried, use a good eraser to get rid of 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.
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.
Before that base layer dries, use a darker brown tone to add dimension to the edges of the tree.
Finish up the tree branch by using a dark purple tone to represent shadows.
Use this technique to keep on painting until you’ve added color to all of the twisted tree components.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Finish up by filling in any additional flowers with red and yellow.
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.
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.
Thanks very much for reading, and I hope to see you in my eCourse. Happy creating!