If there’s one thing that makes your lettering look fancier, it’s an abstract watercolour wash as a background. Bonus point? They are actually incredibly easy to make! In this post, I’ll teach you 4 different ways to make watercolour cards in under 10 minutes — drying time not included. Let’s get started!

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Method 1: Watercolour Pencils

Let’s start with the least messy medium: aquarelle pencils. All you need are those pencils and a paint brush with some water.

Start by colouring your card with the pencils. I’m creating a bluish-purple wash here, so I picked an assortment of those colours. Fill up your card with patches of the colours you chose, colouring lightly and in one direction. You want the pigment to just sit on the paper.

Next, pick your wet paint brush or water brush and ‘activate’ the lighter colours first before moving to the darker colours. Make sure the wet pigments touch so they blend. You can help blend it out with circular brush strokes as well. Aaaaaand… You’re done!

This method generally works best for more pastel washes. More intense tones will mean you’ve to press down hard — which makes it harder to blend out the pencil strokes with water!

Method 2: Water-based Markers

This second method though is great for brighter and more saturated washes. Again, you’ll need a wet paint brush to go with your water-based markers.

Unlike pencils, the pigment from markers sink into the fibres of your paper right away, so I recommend doing a gradient here, not something more abstract! What you need to do is to colour in your card with markers in a gradient.

This method is super useful for those frayed brush pens! Here, I’m doing a purple to orange with my frayed Tombow Dual Brush Pens.

Once it’s coloured, it’s time to use that wet paint brush to blend it all out. Blend the lightest shade with the second one first (the orange and red for me), then rinse out your brush before blending the next two. That keeps things from muddling too much! When you reach the other end, you’re done!

Method 3: Plastic Bag

You may already know of this method, mainly because it’s so fun! You can never really predict how it’ll turn out and you don’t even need anything special — just some water-based markers, some clean plastic (I use a ziplock bag) and a spritz bottle of water. Let’s go!

First up, colour your plastic sheet with the markers. Don’t worry about a pattern. I usually go all patchy because the water will take care of the rest anyway. Since you’re colouring plastic which is smooth, you can use any brush pen! Even the ones that haven’t frayed — bonus!

Next up, grab your spritz bottle and wet the paper, then lay down the plastic coloured-side down. The water will activate the ink and mix it up, but you can help it along by rubbing the plastic a bit so the water and ink spread out more.

Make sure you’ve gotten the ‘paint’ onto the parts you need, then lift the plastic. Leave to dry and then see what design your smushing created!

Method 4: (Liquid) Watercolour ‘Streams’

This last method is probably the most time-consuming and actually utilises watercolours with a wet-on-wet method, so make sure you use watercolour paper!

Start by drawing lines on the card with clean water. Next, pick up one colour and tap it into the ‘streams’ randomly. After that, rinse your brush and tap in the second colour.

With a wet brush, create more paths for the paint to flow around to blend. Where necessary, add another punch of colour by tapping in more pigment.

The trick to this method is to work while it’s wet, since it’s a wet-on-wet method! That’s why my preferred medium is liquid watercolours here: they are more pigmented and take longer to dry up.

For the more translucent parts of the wash, I simply use a clean wet brush to pull the existing paint around — usually when that part is semi-dry.

And there you have it: 4 ways to create your own watercolour cards to letter on! Which is your favourite?