Watercolor Bookmarks: Make a Unique and Polished Gift | Annie Parsons | Skillshare

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Watercolor Bookmarks: Make a Unique and Polished Gift

teacher avatar Annie Parsons, Art and Creativity

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies and Template

    • 3. Geometric Pattern

    • 4. Circle Pattern

    • 5. Book Stack Illustration

    • 6. Finishing Your Bookmarks

    • 7. Gifting Ideas and Final Thoughts

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About This Class

In this fun and easy crafting class, you'll learn how to make beautiful and polished bookmarks with your own watercolor art as stocking stuffers, party favors, or gifts for the book lover in your life. We'll walk through the whole process: printing a template, painting designs, and adding finishing touches for a long-lasting final product. As a bonus, we'll discuss thoughtful and unique ways to gift your bookmarks. At the end of the class, you will have tools and ideas to begin making tons of wonderful bookmarks for yourself and for others.

This class is appropriate for all levels: if you have no previous art or watercolor experience, making bookmarks is a great way to begin building skills. For seasoned artists, bookmarks are a new and exciting way to use your watercolor skills.

Meet Your Teacher

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Annie Parsons

Art and Creativity


 My name is Annie Parsons, and I'm a designer, illustrator, and teacher with a focus on creating bold and beautiful watercolor art for everyday use. I'm inspired by food, fashion history, children's literature, and my home in the Virginia mountains.

Through a lifetime of drawing and 6 years of educating professionally, I've found my love of breaking down concepts in a fun, collaborative way. My goal as a Skillshare teacher is to help you demystify art techniques, grow your love for making, and find creative processes that work for you!


When I'm not painting or teaching, I'm usually cooking, watching Korean TV, or playing Animal Crossing. I'm excited to learn and create together!

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1. Introduction: Hi, My name is Anne, and I'm an illustrator and designer. Today we're going to be working together to make custom watercolor bookmarks. What Marks are a really fun and simple gift for all sorts of occasions, and they're even more special when you add your own watercolor artwork together, we're going to be printing and cutting out our own bookmarks. I'm going to show you a few different ways. You could decorate them with water color, and then I'll show you a few different methods of finishing them off for a really polished and unique gift. I hope this will be a really fun and simple starting point for you to begin making border color bookmarks for yourself and for others, So let's go over the supplies and get started. 2. Supplies and Template: so before we get started. Painting are watercolor bookmarks. I want to take a minute to walk. You hear the supplies that you'll need for this project. I've got my painting supplies all laid out here, and we'll start by taking a look at my watercolor paints. This is primo marketings, tropicals palette and the colors I'm going to be using for this will be based on ah, vintage book cover from My Dad's, a vintage book collection of Agatha Christie's the ABC Murders. And as you're starting to think about your own bookmarks and maybe using some of the painting methods in this class, I'd encourage you to choose maybe three colors in a limited color palette, a light color, a medium color and a dark color. And as we get into the painting methods, you'll see how we use those colors and build them together. So for me, my three color palette is going to include the pineapple from the tropicals pellet, the high viscous, also from the tropicals palette. So we've got yellow red, and then I'm also going to include a black. This is actually not watercolor. It's a Karen dish wash in a dry pan and the reason I'm using wash instead of water color for black is I feel like Black Wash just has a bit of a truer black than Blackwater color does. Blackwater color can often wash out to be a little more of a grey than a true black? And for this, I really want a very strong, forceful black as my darkest color in my palette. So I'll be using these three of the yellow, the red and the black moving around. I've got some narrow washi tape, which will be using in one painting method that we're going to see here in just a minute. You can get narrower washi tape on Amazon or in different craft stores, and this is really good person detailed masking that we're going to be doing later on. I've got a couple pens I'm using Black Tom Beaumont Oh, drawing pins in three and in one toe. Add some details onto one of our bookmarks later. I've got a jar of water, of course, and some paper towels. The blood on some various watercolor brushes, the Princeton heritage, Princeton, Neptune and my faithful Cotman, Windsor and Newton brushes any watercolor brushes in various sizes will do for this, as well as any pens or watercolors that you want to use. And then last but not least, I have a nine by 12 pad of cancer on watercolor paper, just like I did in the gift tax class. I'm going to be cutting down a nine by 12 sheet of watercolor paper to 8.5 by 11 so that I can feed it through my printer and print my bookmark template straight onto the watercolor paper. That template is attached in this class if you'd like to use it. Or if not, you can just use a ruler and a pencil to draw rectangles to be the size and shape that you want your bookmarks to be. There are plenty of different ways that you can finish off your watercolor bookmarks, and we'll talk through a few different options in the later lesson. But right now I have laid out my supplies that I'm going to be using for finishing off my bookmarks. Just know that these are completely optional. It's totally up to you how you want to style and present your bookmarks. In the end, this is just the method that I'm going to be using as a demonstration. So here I have a sheet of scrap of paper that coordinates with the color palette I showed you earlier. I have a paper cutter. All those scissors work fine as well. I have a small laminating machine which I picked up pretty inexpensively at warmer. I've got a glue stick and I've got a few foot mark laminating sheets that measure two by six inches. And if you do plan to laminate your bookmarks, just know that if you use the bookmark template, those bookmarks that will fit perfectly attitude by six laminating sheets. Okay, so take a minute to think about what supplies you'd like to use. Go ahead and gather them together and let's get started painting our first bookmark. 3. Geometric Pattern: Okay, so I've got my template. Print it out and I have washing taped it just to the back of the paper pads so that it will stay in place. We're ready to paint. So the first method that we're going to use is a geometric abstract pattern that we're gonna create with our narrow Washington and the colors based on the book cover that I showed you before. So I'm gonna dio is start taping off sections off my book. Mark, I think I'm gonna go a little wider than that. And I'm just starting to make some triangles with my narrow Washington trying to vary up the sizes and directions. Make sure that's really good and stable. Why don't we do stripe fill in the middle and I don't want the ends of the tape toe overlap into the other shapes. I'm just being careful about how I tape this. Maybe create this won't be exactly a triangle. It'll be kind of a a different geometric shape that just trying to get some variety and they're just going over every once in a while, making sure things press down really flat. We don't want any paint coming up under this. We want some really nice clean lines. I'm not really worrying about going off the edges or going into other bookmarks. It's what's on the inside of the book Murg that's going to count, and you don't have to make your tape to pieces wide. I'm just doing that because I'm working with a really, really narrow washi tape. If yours is a little bit wider than mine than one piece is just fine. Okay, just going over all of that one more time to make sure that everything is really secure. And then we'll start painting in these geometric shapes that we've made. So for all of the painting methods were going to use today, we're gonna want to start with our lightest color and work to the darkest. So I'm gonna start with our yellow over here, grab some of that off the pan, and I'm just going to start filling in triangles with this yellow as much as I can. I'm trying to paint away from the tapes that I'm not pushing water and paint up under it. Sometimes with these tight triangles, that'll be unavoidable. So that's why it's important to really press down your tape and make sure it's secure. So I've got that one filled in again. Not worrying about going over the edge is we will cut that off later on. So for the next one, I want to try to My general rule when I paint this way is to try to not have to Triangles that are touching be the same color. So I'm gonna come over here and put some yellow in, maybe up here in the corner. And I'm working with a lot of pigment because I want my color to be a very flat and graphic like that 60 style book cover. But you can add as much or as little water as you want to. Maybe down here on the opposite corner, doing this one in the middle Maybe this guy here on the side. So next I'm gonna take my medium tone red and do the same thing. Just start filling in triangles, trying not to have two triangles that are the same color touching sides. If we end up at me to do that, that's OK. I may have to have these two guys touching just toe. It's just thinking ahead about where I'm gonna put my black. That's okay. - Okay . Now I'm gonna take my black quash and fill in the remaining dry angles. Okay? We're done painting that. I'm excited to see how it looks. Let's give it just a minute for the paint to dry before you feel up to take. Okay, The pain is still in process of drying, but I think if we're super careful, we come to peel the sovereign. See? Helped. Looks nice. Good. That's going to see some pretty clean white line separating our shapes a little bit of overlap there, but we can fill that in. No problem. This is looking really funky. Yea, that turned out really well. I love all of the clean, crisp lines on the Let's take just a teeny bit of that red paint and fill in that one little spot. Here we go. And there you have it. A very fun, very simple vintages by mid century, kind of geometric abstract pattern for first bookmark 4. Circle Pattern: So for our next bookmark, we're going to do another abstract pattern with some kind of mod inspired watercolor circles. If you've taken my gift type class, this is similar method, but we're going to allow a little more drying time for some fun overlap in between. So again, we're going to start with our yellow again. I'm grabbing a lot of pigment for that flat, uh, color, But you can do as much or as little as you like, and I'm just gonna start carefully painting circles onto my bookmark, bearing up the sizes varying up the location. Now you can make your circles go off the edge of the bookmark and then just cut it for a really crisp line there. But I'm going Teoh, try to keep all of my circles within the boundary of the bookmark to just make kind of a nice little splash of a pattern rather than a full bleed on this piece. Give you a medium sized one here, and these aren't perfect circles by any means. I'm not trying to make them perfect, but I am going slow to try to get at least some kind of equality of ah as close to unequal circle as I can. But you could vary this up and make your circles more ovals. Whatever style works for you, you'll notice I'm leaving some space in between because we're gonna come back and overlap with other colors. So unlike in our gift tag class, I'm going to give this layer time to completely dry before we add on our red circles. Okay, so now that that's dry, we're gonna out on our red layer just doing the same thing. Adding circles where it feels right, we can overlap with our lighter color. In some places, ad circles that are going out towards the perimeter or over the perimeter. Your choice. I realized while I'm painting this that these air also Mickey Mouse colors. That was an accident. So you'll notice because I gave this time to dry that the colors aren't bleeding into each other. If you want them to bleed into each other than just go ahead and dive in painting your next layer while your first layer is still drying. In this case, I really wanted the flat, uh, overlap here and those crisp edges on all of the circles. So that's why I gave it a little bit of time to dry as an option. You could also just leave the outlines on certain circles. Just leave them like this instead of filling them in. Okay. So again, I'm gonna wait for this layer to dry before I add my last layer of black circles. Okay, time for one last. Later. We'll add in the black, maybe one last one right there. And there we go. I think that's really well covered. So there we go. Our second bookmark method are really fun. Kind of mod. High contrast, watercolor circle pattern. 5. Book Stack Illustration: this last painting with that we're going to do is more of an illustration than an abstract pattern. I'm going to create a tall stack of books going along the whole length of this bookmark. So again, we're going to work from light to dark. So I'll grab my yellow. I'm using a flat angle brush to help create some rectangles for my book spines. You can also use a regular round brush as well. My yellow again and all I'm going to dio is create a brushstroke like a rectangle like the spine of the book is facing towards us in this stack. I'm just rounding off the edges just a little bit and keeping it as equal in with and his level as I possibly can. I'm gonna create a little space because we're gonna be adding in black and red books as well. I'm just gonna continue creating books varying up the height and the width of my rectangles as I go. So let's go down a bit. And maybe it will create a really tall, really thick book like maybe it's a dictionary or something. Maybe you're relieved Thin one right next to it. One brush stroke, and you can absolutely sketch out your book shapes beforehand. If that's more comfortable for you, I just find it's a little more organic for me. Teoh. Paint them directly on. Okay, that's looking good. That's he. If we can go back up to the top. Yeah, these top ones are already pretty dry. You can start adding in some red, doing the same thing, just working in layers varying up the width and height off the books in the stack again, leaving a little space for maybe some black books later on. And I try to avoid having them in a repetitive pattern of like yellow, red, black, yellow, red black. Change up your spacing and change up the order of the colors. I think that variation looks a lot nicer to the I. Okay, lets try having to read books together at the end. Simple weapons to dry and add on a layer of black. Just continuing the same thing, adding in black rectangles in the gaps that we left before. And these can overlap a little bit. Continuing to just add variation to the heightened went Let's overlap, this one with black and kind of cut down a little bit on the width of that big yellow guy we did earlier. Yeah, that looks a little more balanced. That's really cool. I'm liking how that's looking. Now you can leave this as it is. It looks really fun. Or you can take a small pen, which I'm going to do with my Tom Beaumont, a drawing pins and add on some spine details or some titles to your books, and has helped me in the past to look at some books that I already own. And it's a really fun kind of personalization that you can add to this. So in this incident, my dad is a really big fan of mystery novels, So I'm going to just add on a few little details to my red and yellow books and maybe a letter the names of some of his favorite books onto the spines of these just is kind of a personal touch. So I'm just going to start by adding a few spying details, and we'll come back and do the lettering. Afterwards, I put a little line here just to kind of separate the two books that are the same color. Take my smaller pen now and add on some authors and titles to this book static. So there you go a few fun little details on our stack of books at all. Three of our workbooks with guns have joined me in the next lesson for a few tips on finishing these off. 6. Finishing Your Bookmarks: so we're all done with the painting stage of our bookmarks. I've taken my piece of paper off of my pad with the washi tape, and now it's time to finish them off and make them look really polished. And from here, it's really up to you what you dio you could just cut them out and give them as is, watercolor paper is really sturdy, and it works great as a bookmark just on its own. You could also punch hole in the top and put a ribbon through. You could put them into, ah, plastic sleeve for a little bit of protection. The possibilities air. Really, unless on how you present this one piece of information that's useful to know, and I've never experienced this myself. But I've heard from people who live, maybe in warmer climates or more tropical climates that sometimes the water color on your watercolor bookmarks can reconstitute and bleed onto the pages of a book. So for that reason, and just for general reasons of preservation and longevity of your artwork, I'm going to be laminating these so that they last a little bit longer and can stand a little bit of wear and tear. So I've got my sheet of scrap of paper, that kind of coordinates with my designs and I've got a glue stick. And what I'm gonna do is what, this face down and begin Just applying glue to the back of my watercolor paper, especially paying attention. Teoh, the area where my bookmarks are gonna be and adding this sheet of scrapbook paper to the back of my bookmarks is going to do two things. A It's just gonna be pretty is that we have a riverside that's also nice to look at. And B it's going to create just a little more reinforcement. Just a little bit more stiffness on your bookmark so that it won't bend as easily. Okay, I think that's pretty thoroughly applied. So now I'm just going to take my scrap of paper and lay it over top and gently press downs of that it years. And we don't have to worry about it being super thoroughly unmovable e stuck. All the glue is doing is holding the two papers together long enough to get it through the laminate. Er, so now that I've got my backing glued on, I'm just going Teoh cut along the lines of my template. I just want to pause and say, How cool and Chris that looks now that the edges air cut off and the back looks really need as well. Okay, alright, so I've got those cut out on my laminate ear's all ready to go. It's making slightly eerie sounds, but we are ready. Teoh. Seal these and finish them off. I'm just opening my bookmark laminating punch. We'll go ahead and stick one of these guys in, make sure that it centered all the way around and I want to touch this down just a little bit. There we go. I think that looks good. We're just gonna take that and carefully feed it into the machine. Wants the magic so cool so you can see the lamination doesn't change the color of my artwork at all. The back looks so cool. This is now really tightly sealed and finished off. I think that looks super, super neat. Let's do the others like a shirt centered once it goes through the machine. That's the way it is. So the lamination is definitely an extra step, but I really like it because it offers Ah, lot of extra protection to your artwork. It really extends the life of your artwork, and it makes it a lot more usable for the person that you're gifting it to. They can stick it in their book and throw it in their bag without worrying about damaging it. Plus, the end result just looks so cool and polished. That looks really beautiful, and I love how well the bookmarks from the template fit into these two by six laminating sleeves. It's always a fun day when you get to play with eliminator, and there we go. Our bookmarks look super polished. Their double cited there really, really sturdy. I'm super pleased with how these turned out, so that finishes off the painting and construction of our bookmarks. Join me in the next lesson for a few final thoughts before you put your project together 7. Gifting Ideas and Final Thoughts: as I'm finishing up this class, I want to take just a minute. Teoh give you a few ideas for how you might gift these watercolor bookmarks. As I mentioned before, bookmarks that are made by you are amazing stocking stuffers. Teacher gifts may be part of a gift basket or a gift set, but my favorite idea for gifting these that I want to take a minute to leave you with is gifting your watercolor bookmarks in a used book. First of all, I'm really excited about how these bookmarks look with the addition of the ABC murders that I based them on. I think there's an idea out there that gifting a used book is somehow less special than gifting a new book. But used books have these amazing potential to be the perfect gifts, because you can find things that are really unique or vintage or Taylor to the book lovers interests that you're gifting for. They're really affordable, they're good for the environment, and I know I really treasured the used books that I've picked up and had gifted to me over the years, And the thing that can make a used book find even more special is, of course, artwork made by U Onda watercolor bookmark that matches the book or ties into your recipients. Interests in some way is a really great way to make this book super personal and thoughtful . So I hope you'll consider tying in your watercolor bookmarks to a used book. As you're thinking of gifting these because it's a really fun project to put together and makes for a really nice polished gift. I hope you had a wonderful time seeing how my watercolor bookmarks came together. I can't wait to see yours. So please do post a picture of your watercolor bookmarks to the Project Gallery and write a little bit about your designs and the techniques that you chose along the way as well. You can tag me on social media. I am at Anne draws things on Facebook, Pinterest and instagram, or you can use the hashtag and he draws things when you post your bookmarks to social media . Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you can use the tips and ideas in this class to make tons of wonderful watercolor bookmarks with your artwork, happy crafting and I'll see you next time