Learning to Watercolor

Thought I’d share a little DIY work I did for our wedding, now that we got our photos back.

Kev and I DIY’d whatever we could for our big day, including our invites. I didn’t like any of the “free” or “close to free” printable invitation templates out there, and also needed a sort of creative suite that we could use for various assets/signage (i.e., menu, RSVP card, table numbers, etc.). We all know I can’t draw, but I figured I might be able to get away with some amateur watercoloring. It’s fuzzy and messy looking at it’s prettiest, so how could I go wrong, right? Well…

I read forum after forum (after forum after forum after forum) about anything from what sort of techniques there were to what type of watercolor paints (tube, cakes, pencils) and brushes (natural, synthetic, cheap, expensive) to buy.  I bought a pretty decent (but still inexpensive) set of watercolor paints and brushes, and a basic set of watercolor pencils to help with corrections.  I also looked around for artists whose style is similar to the aesthetic I had in mind and quickly fell in love with Yao Cheng Design‘s seemingly effortless but beautiful work.  I even tried mimicking one just as practice, but I couldn’t even figure out how to mix anything close to the colors she used let alone developing the shapes, color concentration, etc.

Yao Cheng Fail
Yao Cheng Fail

After several more tries with different looks, I finally came up wtih a few I was satisfied with.  But then I couldn’t get the watercolor to scan accurately!

Some More Paintings
Some More Paintings

After looking into a few more forums, it turns out that a lot of artists have this problem too and end up just taking photographs of their watercolor in a lot of cases with an expensive DSLR.  Purchasing a DSLR defeated the purpose of DIY’ing the invite to save money, so… I had to figure out a way to make do with what I had and scanning it.  The wreath was the one painting that had the least error, likely due to there being smaller strokes to show texture, vs letting color sit heavier in other places.  However, here is the scanned version of the first attempt (yes, there were multiple attempts).

Original Wreath
Original Wreath

For whatever reason, scanning really washed out the painting and added a grayish-yellow tinge, and it  reminded me a bit of Lamb’s Ear which is pretty but not what I was looking for. I took it to FedEx Kinko’s, scanned it at work, and went to a couple other different printers, and I even went to a few art supply stores to ask where people took their artwork to get scanned.  Turns out that our hand-me-down printer/scanner from Kevin’s mom was the most color accurate of the bunch!  Still – the above image was not what I wanted.

So I painted another “bluer”/bolder version of the wreath, thinking the scanner would balance it out.  And it worked!

Final Wreath Painting
Final Wreath Painting

I also made a few watercolor doodles with the same colors that we incorporated as accents throughout the rest of our “creative suite”:

Watercolor Doodles
Watercolor Doodles

Here’s the finished product.  I purchased blush envelopes from Paper Source (with a discount of course!) to add our wedding colors into the mix, and framed the invitation creative with a blush border to tie it all together.  I found a Pantone color guide online that broke down Paper Source’s paper color specs pretty accurately.  I designed everything in PowerPoint because I’m useless with Photoshop, and thankfully my very kind and patient friend Lingie laid it all out in a printable file that I could send off to my go-to reliable (and inexpensive!) printer.

Our Final Invite
Our Final Invite

In forgoing a design fee, we were able to get it all done including envelopes and RSVP postcards for under $125. We splurged a bit by using a really thick matte textured paper for the invite that almost looked like watercolor paper.  Here’s what the final suite looked like. Photo courtesy of Rodney Ty Photography.

Invitation Suite
Invitation Suite

I also used some little watercolor doodles to accent our address labels, favor labels, table numbers, menu, etc. Check out the gallery for more!  All of the professional photos were taken by Rodney.

Martha Stewart Cookie Boxes – 2012


The packaging for the tea-themed cookies I made for last year’s Holiday Bake-A-Thon totally slipped my mind.

I picked a new design for my holiday cookie boxes, which the Earl Grey Tea Shortbread, Chai Spiced Snickerdoodle, Glazed Lemon Cookies, and Chocolate-Mint (Nightmare Before Christmas) Pinwheel Cookies were boxed in.

Only the Earl Grey Shortbread cookies had actual tea leaves in them.  The rest of the cookies were just flavor-inspired, and I paired them with Stash brand tea bags in Peppermint Herbal Tea, Chai Spiced Black Tea, Earl Grey Black Tea, and Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea.

What's Inside
What’s Inside

While this box was far more festive than last year’s cookie boxes, I think last year’s were more my style.

All Wrapped Up!
All Wrapped Up!

However, I think for the individual packages, this year’s tagline is about on par with last year’s cheesiness.

Brew Up Some Fun, and Have a Tea-riffic Holiday!
Brew Up Some Fun, and Have a Tea-riffic Holiday!

One more post, and then I’m DONE with the Holiday Bake-A-Thon from 2012!

Ideas and Inspiration

I saw this Smash Book video on the Paper Source blog a few months ago, and have been meaning to share it here.  It’s the simplest idea for a product, but brilliant marketing!  I totally want one, but my OCD is already giving me anxiety about “smashings” things together willy-nilly with no order to it.

I was inspired by the video to start a scrapbook (essentially, a pretentious Smash Book without the chaos), and Jo-Ann’s just happened to have a big sale over the weekend.  I left the place with a sketchbook, some drawing pens, and a blank scrapbook.

I’ve also been wanting to get into drawing, but have been too afraid since it’s been SO long.  However, an idea for a short comic has been brewing in my head for a couple of months, so I’m going to try to flesh it out.  I’ve been trying to muster up the courage to draw a dog for the last couple of days, but it’s so intimidating.  I can’t even remember what a dog looks like accurately enough to put it down on paper.  Ugh…this might take a while.  Fingers crossed!  At the very worst, I’ll just use the sketchbook to draw out scrapbook layouts.  I think I still remember how to draw squares…

I’m also backlogged on a couple projects (i.e., wine coozie set, mini-scrapbook kits, etc.) that are pretty old, but I’ve been wanting to remake them and take better photos of the process.  I’m afraid to admit the photos I took when I was originally making them are really awful…not that I’ve come a very long way since then.

I also want to improve my photography!  While vacationing in Orlando back in June, I took some photos of things I thought were interesting looking based on color (for the Safari ride) or shape (for the Epcot ball and Imagination building).  While I’m on this train wreck of rant, I might as well share the photos!

Maybe I’ll learn how to use Photoshop while I’m at it!

Hopefully, Santa Claus or God or someone with some real power to make things happen is reading this post.

Basketball Tournament T-Shirt Design

I’ve been testing out the graphic design “skills”!

For KJ’s QC, I put together a surprise birthday basketball tournament and designed a t-shirt as the party favor for anyone that played. If there are only three things he loves on this planet, they are basketball, his phone, and that shade of green. With the help of his mom and sister, I’m proud to present the finished product!

Tournament Shirt (Charcoal Gray)

Of course, there were black shirts for the champions of the tournament.  Kevin hit the game-winning 3-pointer to get his team the ‘ship.

The Janky Five - Winners of the KJ QC Shootout

I also had a “limited edition” version printed on purple.

Special KJ Shirt (Purple)

HUGE thanks to the best promotional item vendor in the world, Clean Fun Promotional Marketing, who did a fantastic job printing (as always), as well as making my hack-job of a mock-up look amazing!!

Happy birthday, Kevin!  This post is all you!

Birthday Boy!

Thank you to all of our friends and family that came to support and play!


Click on the thumbnails for close-ups!


UPDATE:  I forgot to add this awesome rage comic Daniel made before the tournament.  It’s so great!

Daniel's Decision-Maker