Watercolor Birthday Card: Birthday Candles

This watercolor birthday card kit includes two drawing designs in a 5x7 landscape orientation. The design can be painted in whatever colors or format you choose. Here are some finished examples.

Supplies needed  to complete this watercolor birthday card:

  • Painters or masking tape
  • Strathmore watercolor card, 5x7 size
  • Sheet of watercolor paper for testing (optional)
  • Pencil and kneaded eraser
  • Graphite paper or a light table for tracing image
  • Watercolor paint or watercolor pencils (colors: red, orange, yellow, green, cerulean blue and ultramarine blue, plus a dark gray and black. Metallic colors could be used too.)
  • Watercolor brushes: medium round with a point.
  • Clean jar of water
  • Permanent Sakura Micron or other similar brand of markers, or a black colored pencil to draw and darken the lettering.

Steps to finish the card:

These are the general steps to a finished watercolor birthday card. There are more detailed instructions are in the downloadable tutorial.

  1. Choose the design you like from the downloaded document and print out that page on your printer, making sure to set the page size to actual size. 
  2. Trace the image onto the front of a 5”x7” watercolor card. Use a very light touch, especially on the candle flames. The idea is to have a drawing to follow but not to make it so dark that it shows through the transparent watercolor paint. 
  3. If you plan to paint in a background color, tape the drawn card down to a sturdy surface to minimize buckling when you paint.
  4. Pull off a penny-sized piece of the kneaded eraser and roll it into a ball so you can dab and lighten the pencil marks. They may still show through the paint but not as darkly.
  5. Paint the image in the stages discussed below. Use the finished examples included in this kit for inspiration or choose your own color palette.  Start with the candle sticks.  The colors below are what I used on the color wheel example included in this kit.
  6. I used a Crimson red for candle #1 on the left. Start with a light wash. Paint candle #2 with a light wash of orange.  Paint candle #3 with a light wash of warm yellow such as Azo yellow. Paint candle #4 with a light wash of warm green. Paint candle #5 with a light wash of cerulean blue or turquoise. Paint candle #6 with a light wash of ultramarine blue.
  7. If you are using watercolor pencils, lay down enough pigment on each candle so that when you go back over with a wet brush, you can spread the color easily.
  8. Allow the card to dry completely. Now go back in and lay over a second wash of color over the candle sticks (using the same colors as in step 6).  Repeat this step again or until you like the color achieved.
  9. Allow the card to dry. Now start on the flames. Paint in a light yellow wash to the center of the flame.  Let this dry.  Then paint a very pale wash of orange over the tip, and down the sides a bit.  While it is still wet, wash your brush, dab it on a towel, and then pull the orange color into the yellow.
  10. Allow the card to dry. For the base of the candles, use a light wash of gray, blue or silver, and a darker gray or black for the wicks.
  11. Allow the card to dry completely.  Once it is dry, use the Micron markers or a black colored pencil to draw in and darken the lettering.  Use the fine 02 marker for the finer, smaller print, and the 08 marker for the thicker text.
  12. Paint in a background color if you like. (You can also paint the background first if you are careful to paint around the candles and letters, or you can use masking fluid to protect the candles and flames from this first wash.  Make sure the card is bone dry before you try to remove the masking fluid.)
  13. Allow the card to dry completely, then use the kneaded eraser to remove any pencil marks. 
  14. Remove the tape around the card.  Voilà, you have a finished watercolor birthday card, ready to send!

Here are two more examples of finished watercolor birthday cards. The candles on the right were painted with metallic watercolor paint. It doesn't show up well in the picture, but they have a nice sheen.  Below is a picture of the inexpensive metallic pan paints I used. They can be found at Michael's or Hobby Lobby.

These inexpensive metallic pan paint sets can be found at Michael's or Hobby Lobby.

And If you like the card you create, you can have copies made at Vistaprint! Click the logo below to check out this great company.  I buy my business cards and postcards from Vistaprint and the service is great.


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