If you're eagerly anticipating the Christmas season just as much as I am, you're probably ready to dive into those watercolor Christmas cards as soon as Halloween is over.
The holidays aren't just about festivities; they're a chance to show your loved ones how much they mean to you. With just paper, watercolors, and our outstanding and cozy template designs, you can create something truly special.
So, it's time to prepare a cinnamon tea, play your list of Christmas carols, and let's get started on this super fun project!
The materials we'll need for this project are:
- Watercolor paper (preferably more than 240gsm. Choose any size you prefer; I used a letter size paper or but you can adjust the scale if you want to make a smaller card).
- "Elf Template" Card Template from the Cozy Christmas Collection which you can download from the Freebies page
- Watercolors. For this case, I used Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue, Hooker's Green, Yellow, and Ochre, but you can paint with the color palette you prefer.
- A palette for mixing watercolors. If you don't have a palette, you can use a ceramic plate.
- Watercolor brushes (for this project, I used a round brush No. 8, one No. 4, a 2/0 for details, and another thick round one to add clean water without having to clean the brush I was using).
- A water container to clean the brush and for the wet-on-wet technique.
- Cloth for cleaning the brush.
- Colored pencils in the same tones as the watercolor colors you will use.
- Regular graphite pencil.
- And, of course, a nice cup of tea to enjoy while painting. If it's cinnamon or ginger tea, even better to invoke the Christmas spirit.
- Plywood and masking tape: To secure the card and prevent paper warping while painting.
- Paper to support under your hand: Provides a smooth surface for your hand while painting.
- Watercolor scrap paper: Use this to test colors before applying them to your artwork.
- Score Board or Ruler and butter knife: Helpful tools for creating a clean fold in your card.
- LED Light Pad: Optional for tracing the template.
Visit this link for a complete Guide on the essential materials for watercolor painting.
Check out this link to explore four different methods of transferring a drawing to watercolor paper.
Great! Let's dive in! 🎨✨
Step 1: Marking the Front and Back of the Card
First things first, let's prep our paper before tracing the template. Simply mark the center of the card to distinguish between the front and back. You can use a Score Board or, if you don't have one, mark the paper's center from the back. Use a ruler and the back of a butter knife to create the card fold.
Step 2: Tracing the Template
Now, let's trace the template. Align the card fold with the template's fold line. I'll be using an LED Light Pad, but you can trace by placing watercolor paper over your template and securing them with tape on a well-lit window. Remember, these templates aren't just for cards; they work wonders for creating postcards, artwork, or Christmas tags.
Adjust the print scale if you wish to make a smaller card.
Step 3: Prepare Your Christmas Color Palette
Time to prepare our favorite Christmas colors. For this card, I'll use Cadmium Red, Yellow Ochre, Green, and Blue.
To desaturate each color slightly, mix in a bit of its complementary color. Be cautious with the water content to achieve the desired tone.
For the wet-on-wet technique, prepare two mixtures of each color—one with more water and less pigment, and another almost transparent. Test the colors on a scrap of watercolor paper to ensure it's the palette you desire.
Step 4: Color Sketch
Let's do a super quick color sketch! All Iperartika templates come with a Color Sketch sheet to help you plan your painting. Grab colored pencils matching your palette, squint your eyes, and color swiftly without getting caught up in details. This exercise helps visualize the color distribution, highlights, and overall balance of your artwork.
Step 5: Watercolor Layer
Alright, let's start painting, keeping our color sketch in mind. To prevent paper warping, I've taped the card to plywood—more convenient than fixing it to the table, allowing for easy rotation while painting. Be mindful not to let the tape damage the paper; attach it to the wood first, remove, and reapply to reduce adhesive.
Enjoy a cup of tea while painting, and how about some Christmas carols to summon the holiday spirit?
Apply the wet-on-wet technique by layering the color with high water content over wet paint or pre-moistened paper. This creates interesting textures and shadows.
Begin with lighter colors first to avoid blending with darker ones. Start with the back of the card to allow it to dry while working on the front. Alternate between painting the front and back, letting each element dry before moving on. Change to a finer brush for corners if needed.
Create skin color by mixing a bit of red and yellow with plenty of water. Harmonize it with the chosen color palette.
Step 6: Painting the Background
Prepare a watery blue for the background, emphasizing that the snowflake on the back of the card is white. You can paint the background first if you prefer. Dampen the area where you want the paint to spread, taking care not to touch what's already painted, as the paint will spread on damp surfaces.
Before the water dries, load your brush with the watery tone and spread it around, being cautious at the edges. Unlike other elements, leave no unpainted areas in the background as it shouldn't have highlights.
Repeat the same background effect on the front of the card. Be cautious not to smudge the still-wet back.
Always use watercolor-specific brushes for better water absorption. Let the card dry completely until the back feels warm to the touch when placing your hand on it.
Step 7: Final Touches with Colored Pencils
As a final step, add some finishing touches with colored pencils matching your chosen palette. Sharpen the pencils for thinner lines, and subtly accentuate contours. Avoid outlining everything; leaving lines open creates a more intriguing effect.
Accentuate details like the elf's eyes with a fine-tip pen.
Once your card is ready, carefully remove the tape.
And there you have it—a delightful Christmas card ready to bring joy to your favorite person and fill them with the holiday spirit! As an extra tip, if you want to 'iron' your card and give it a professional touch, let it rest overnight inside a heavy book.
What did you think of this super easy Christmas project? Are you eager to paint all the other card templates? Subscribe to our inspiring email list to stay updated on all our projects. Don't forget to share this tutorial with everyone who'll enjoy creating it!
Let’s keep creating! 🎨🌟✨
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