Creating Artworks for Christmas cards

This was the handout from a workshop I ran recently on Christmas cards. I thought some of you may find it useful :- 

Christmas Card Designs in Watercolour

Christmas is a great time of year to be more adventurous with your artworks and use your imagination. It is good to get away from relying too much on reference photos and think about creating your own compositions and designs. We all know that Reindeer can't fly, so reference photos of flying reindeer may be hard to come by! We therefore need to gather reference photos and ideas from varies sources to bring together for our chosen themes. It's a good idea to start by looking in the shops to see what is in fashion for the year.

If you have the time, it is nice to make “one off” cards on watercolour paper for those closest to you. You can buy watercolour blank greetings cards. However you may find it more cost effective to make your own. Using a ruler and scissors or a guillotine, cut your paper to the size of your unfolded card. Then on the reverse side of the paper, measure the halfway line and carefully score it with a knife along a metal ruler. Take care not to score too deeply and cut the paper all the way through. Now turn your card over and paint your design on the right hand side. Once dry, carefully fold the card along the score line. Alternatively you could score and fold a piece of craft card and glue your small watercolour design to it, leaving a margin.

As you may not have time to create lots of small individual cards, you may perhaps prefer to create one watercolour painting to then photograph and print. One advantage to this, is that you can paint on a larger scale and then reduce the size. It is much easier to paint on a larger scale, I like an A3 size paper, which will reduce down nicely to an A5 or A6 card.

The most important thing after completing your work is to get a good clear photograph of it. You don't need an expensive camera for this, even a tablet or phone will do. However you must have good lighting and a steady hand. If possible take photographs in natural light outside. Once you have a good clear image, you can either print from your own home printer or upload it to a professional printer.

Watercolour Christmas Card Design

In the example above, I used the “wet on dry” method of watercolour painting. This is the easiest watercolour technique and a good way for beginners to watercolour to get started.

Materials used :-

Watercolour paints
Watercolour brushes (round synthetics with a nice tip are good)
Watercolour paper (minimum 140lb)
Pencil & Eraser
Water container

Firstly on a sheet of rough paper, get together some ideas and thumbnails of your composition, style and theme. The style may be realistic, illustrative, impressionist, abstract etc. The theme may be religious, humorous, traditional, wintertime etc. Think also of whether your card will be portrait or landscape, keeping in mind that landscape cards aren't always as easy for the recipient to display.

Next, tape your paper to your board and draw a margin using your ruler. Draw your design lightly in pencil.

Once you are happy with your design, paint in sections, allowing each area to dry before adding more layers. Remember to leave the white paper for your highlights. Build up carefully in layers to get a good depth of colour.


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