Easy DIY Holiday Craft: 5 Paper Ornaments using Ink & Watercolor | Isa Down | Skillshare

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Easy DIY Holiday Craft: 5 Paper Ornaments using Ink & Watercolor

teacher avatar Isa Down, Illustrator, Writer, Nature Lover

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Watercolor Techniques


    • 3.

      Poinsettia Ornament


    • 4.

      Vine Leaf Ornament


    • 5.

      Floral Motif Ornament


    • 6.

      Berry Branch Ornament


    • 7.

      Leaf and Berry Ornament


    • 8.

      How To: Putting It All Together


    • 9.

      Wrap Up/Conclusion


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About This Class

Hello, and welcome to class! 

In this class, I will take you through the process of creating fun, unique paper ornaments for the holidays.  This class is intended for beginners, as I guide you through different watercolor and ink techniques to get different looks and styles to your ornaments.  Once you have learned these basic techniques, you can individualize your ornaments and all your future watercolor and ink projects! 

If you are a more advanced artist, feel free to skip to the "How To" video near the end to learn the process for creating the ornament.  From there, you can take the idea and create your own stunning originals! 

What You Will Learn

Watercolor techniques, including:

1. Wet-on-wet

2. Wet-on-dry

3. How to correct watercolor mistakes

Ink and Watercolor combo techniques, including: 

1. Adding ink to watercolor

2. Adding watercolor to ink (yes there is a difference!)

And, of course: How to Make a Paper Ornament

Materials You Need

1. Thick paper (I'm using watercolor given the medium I am coloring with. If you choose to color with a different medium that doesn't use water, feel free to use card stock or bristol paper, but keep it thick!)

2. Eraser

3. Fine liner pen (my fav is Micron)

4. Watercolors (or other coloring medium; I'm using Windsor & Newton in this class)

5. Scissors and/or X-Acto knife

6. Ornament hooks (you can buy them at any craft store, or wherever ornaments are sold usually)

7. Glue

8. Ornament design templates from class materials 

(Note: for the ornament design, you are welcome to free-hand the design of your choice, or trace my designs onto thick paper.  I use a light board for tracing, or tape what I want to trace to the window and use the natural light.)

I'll see you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Isa Down

Illustrator, Writer, Nature Lover




Hey you! I am an artist and writer living at the base of the Rocky Mountains.  Author of ‘Inking Florals: Learn to Create Modern Dynamic Florals in Ink and Watercolor’ (Walter Foster, 2020), I am a self-taught artist with a passion for watercolor, ink, and anything found in nature.  I have taught thousands of students, both online and in-person, and am wildly passionate about empowering others. I am excited to continue inspiring and encouraging others to find their inner creatives.

Thanks for stopping by my Skillshare page.  I’d love to see you in class!

Make sure to follow me to stay up to date with all my future classes.

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro/Trailer: Hey, everybody. Issa here with Poppy and Gray Co. I am an artist and creative designer. In this class, I am very happy to bring you my latest project, which is creating paper ornaments. I will be taking you step-by-step through creating five different paper ornaments adorned with ink and watercolor motifs inspired by nature. This class is intended for beginners and I will be showing you basic watercolor and ink techniques as I take you through the steps of creating your final project. In the end, you will end up with an ornament to hang on your tree or give away as gifts. I will be showing you five different designs and styles of ornaments from which you can pick and choose. For those who are wanting to copy the designs I've created for this class, there is a template of the patterns for students to download and transfer onto their paper of choice. You can also create any pattern or design that you wish using the steps for putting the ornament together, which are described in the final video of the class. I'm so looking forward to seeing what you create. So let's go ahead and get started. I can't wait to see you guys in class. 2. Watercolor Techniques: So we're going to be using a few different techniques of watercolor in this class because I wanted to show you the various ways that you can use watercolor to create different effects that you're looking for. I just wanted to go over a couple of these briefly in an intro video so you can have some idea of what we're going to be doing and so that you know that if you're watching a video where I'm using, for example, wet on wet technique and you would rather use a wet on dry then you already know how to do that. Let's start with a wet on wet technique. You wet your paint brush with lots of water and you wet the paper where you are going to be adding watercolor. In a couple of ornaments, you'll be doing this in between the leaves and it's much more specific than I'm doing right here but in this instance I'm just wanting to add water here. Then you wet your paintbrush again and you add pigment to your paintbrush and you can just kind of dab it on there and you can see it flows a little bit away from your paintbrush and creates a mind of its own. You can help it along if you want to. It flows a little bit. What I love about this is it's not as predictable how it's going to dry. You can have some idea, but it has a little bit more of that water color flow to it, and if you're wanting to add an additional color to it, while it's still wet, you can, and again, you can see how the ink just moves together and out with the water. The more water that you have, the more it's going to flow so if you're finding it's not flowing enough for you, you can always come in and add some water and you can just watch the pigment move and create it's own lines and shapes which can be really beautiful and you know, in different shapes like over here where we would not be able to accomplish that using just our own hands necessarily so you can really create very dreamy look there. The other way that I'm going to be painting is wet on dry. With my dry paper, I will come in with a very wet paint brush and pigment on my brush and I will be painting wet on dry. As you can see, I have a lot more control over what it looks like on the paper and if I want to add an accent color, I come in again with a wet paint brush and because now it's more wet on wet, you can see that where they've combined over here, I have a little less control, but I still have a lot more control over the look of the paint on the paper and it just gives a completely different look than the wet on wet. Those are the two different techniques of painting that we'll be going over in this class and that we'll be using to color in our ornaments. You'll also see that sometimes I will paint first where with just the pencil lines still drawn in of my ornament and decoration inside of that ornament, I will just be painting first and then adding my ink later. You'll also see sometimes I'm going to be doing ink and then I'll add in the watercolor inside of the ink lines. Whichever technique that you want to use you go ahead and do that. I tend to go between the two in life so I thought it would be good to show you that it's completely doable to go in between the two in this video as well. It just depends on the look you're going for, the style that you're doing, your comfort level and what your personal preference is. I tend to change it depending on which style am doing but as you can see as they're drying, they have a very different effect and look so just keep that in mind as you are painting and selecting which one that you want to do. You can certainly follow along and do the ones that I'll be doing but you can also just carve your own path and do whichever technique you prefer. Let's go ahead and get started with painting some ornaments. 3. Poinsettia Ornament: We're going to move on to our point center bubble here. For this one, I'm going to go over the pencil drawings with an ink fine liner first, and then I will be adding my details. Let's go ahead with my ink fine liner pen. I'm using size 01, which is a 0.25 millimeter. You can certainly go bigger than that depending on how bold you want your lines to be, but because I tend to do my details with a 005, which is smaller than this, I want to start off with a slightly bigger pen. Now I am going around the outside of these, but this part may end up being cut off in the end when I cut out the shape of my ornament. It really depends on what look you're going for. I'm doing it so that I know exactly where to cut, but you can also do it so that you can cut just outside of that and keep that black outline on your ornament. Really depends on, like I said, the look that you want to create with your ornament. My outlines are done, and once my ink has dried completely, I will erase it. For the most part, when you're using something like a micron pen, as soon as your pen moves away from area you've just drawn, the ink has dried. But there are a couple of places where I have just a little bit more pigment, especially down here. I'm just going to wait a minute and make sure it's completely dry before I erase so I don't get any smudged inclines on there. Now it's time to add some watercolor. I should note that, if you are putting ink first, make sure that the ink that you're using is something like archival ink, where if you add any water over it, it's not going to just bleed completely. You have to look at the ink that you're using and see if it's something that might bleed. I'm just starting with a yellow for the center of the point center, which goes into the little circles. That's at the middle. I'm doing what I'm drive for this. While my paintbrush is wet, it's not dripping with water because I want this to be able to dry quickly, and I don't want it to be bleeding outside of the lines very much. Then for leaves that the point center, they're red. Again, doing that wet and dry, and I'm using my slightly bigger paintbrush. That does still have a pretty fine tip so that I can still get that good detail in there. I have mixed two reds together, a deeper red and then a more orange-red for this part. While it's still wet, I'm going to be coming in on top of this with some more redish to just add a little bit more pop of color to it. They wanted to be able to have some variation in my color, we did a combination just for the initial layer. Again, it doesn't matter if you go over this line at the edge just as long as you're meeting the edge, because we'll be cutting around to the outside. It really doesn't matter if you go over because it'll be tidy that up later. Now I've gone outside the line a little bit here, so we just clean up my branch should dried it off. I'm just coming in. I may let in some tissue that I have here, and I'm just picking it up little by little, and we'd be anomaly tissue to clean off my brush. That can really get rid of a lot of the pigment that's gone outside on the lines. I'm going to let this dry and then I will come in and do my background color for my point center. My point center is now dry, and I'm going to come in with my medium size brush here. I'm coloring in the background. I decided I didn't want to do specific leaves of my point center with the flowers. So I'm actually just going to do the background, the color of the leaves would have been, which is that point center green. It's not a technical name, but perhaps it could be. I'm just going to be coming in. I'm going to do well on dry simply because that's what I had done for the flowers and I want to have a little bit more control over where my green goes around the edges of these flowers. But you can also do wet-on-wet because you can still get some control over where it goes just depending on where you put the water down. You just want to keep in mind what look you're wanting to go for when you're deciding what painting technique you're wanting to use. Again, I'm not worried about going outside of the lines as you can see it because I'm going to be cutting around the edges. I'm not too worried about it, and I'm being pretty sloppy with it actually, which is fun. If you need to turn your painting around or your paper around to get to the right angle to be good, to get into all of these different little peaks between all the petals of the flower, then turn away. Otherwise, you're going to be stuck trying to get your, brushing to spaces that may not be as easy to get into from these specific angles. Move your paper as you need to. There's the background, and then I'll just be putting the gray at the top of my bubble using the wet-on-wet technique, I'm just going to keep that consistent through all of my ornaments. It looks pretty sloppy at the moment since I wasn't very careful about going around, but keep in mind again that we will be going around the edges with the scissors at the end. This messiness over here will be cleaned up. As it dry, I'm just coming through with a second green that's a little bit brighter, just to add some variation. I will let this dry completely and then I would do a second one of these so that it could be double-sided ornament, and then I would create the ornament in the end after it's been dried. Again, I will show you in the final video how to create the actual ornament. I'm go going to ahead and just let this one dry. 4. Vine Leaf Ornament: We are going to be doing the leaf vine one, and I have erased a little bit of the pencil so that you can't see it as well, so when I'm adding water color, it won't be as visible. I'm going to be coming in and I'm going to be doing the background behind the leaves first, and I'm going to be doing that as wet-on-wet technique here. You wet your paintbrush without any paint on it. Just water and you come in with the water, putting it where you want your watercolor to go when you add your color. I've added pigment to my bristles, and I've added some more water as well, and then you can see just dab it into where the water is, the water carries it with it wherever you put that water. As you can see it's nicely going around the leaves that I will be coming in, and coloring later once this has dried. If you have extra water and you want to go, outside of where you have put your clean water down initially, you can just drag that water with you and go around the leaves that way. Using this wet-on-wet technique, you will be doing the entire background area of this first ornament. I just wanted to let you know right here I went over the, petal a little bit with my water, so I just took a clean q-tip, and I'm just drying that area. To get that water out of there, it will pick up any color, and water that you have in there. We just want to let that leaf dry a little before adding any additional paint in there, where it will just be pulled right back into the leaf since it's still a little bit wet. If you want to add a second red, or an accent second whatever color you are using. A deeper or lighter version of whichever background color you're doing, make sure you're adding that while the water is still wet. Let's just go ahead and do this wet-on-wet technique for the full background, and then we will meet together at the end. Once your background has been painted in, we need to let this dry before we add anything to the leaves. Don't worry about how it looks right now, I know it looks a little bit messy. You can't really tell what's happening. But I promise that once we get our leaves colored in and we add our fine liner ink drawing in there, it will look really beautiful. Let's go ahead and let this dry, and then we will come back and paint the leaves together. Now our ornament has dried, and I'm going to be coming in and coloring in the leaves at this point. I'm using a much smaller detail paint brush for this part of it because the leaves are much smaller. I'm going to be coming in with a blue, and I'm using a wet-on-dry technique for the leaves because I want to have a little bit more control over what I'm putting on the paper. Let's go ahead and color in all of our leaves. Then, we'll meet again at the end when all our leaves are colored, and we will talk about adding into our ornament. Now my leaves are all colored in, and I need them to dry before I do anything else to this. With my first ornament has officially dried, so I'm going to come in with my fine liner pen now, and follow the lines of the branches of my leaves here, and I'm just coming down. If you had wanted you could also make these branches with watercolor. I knew that I wanted to do outlines around my leaves with black ink, so I chose to use ink for the color of my branches as well. I did all of the outlines of my leaves with a 01 micron pen, and I'm going to come in with my 005 to do the top bubble, and for the outline as well. Now this one is done besides cutting it out which I will show you at the end when I show you how to create the actual ornament. If you are just wanting to do one-sided then you are done and you just need to cut out all around the edges. If you are wanting to do a double-sided ornament then you would need to create a second one of this, so that you can have a back side to it as well. That's completely up to you, but I'm going to go ahead and show you a different ornament. Then at the very end, in the final video, I will show you the steps for creating the ornament itself. Let's move on to the next ornament. 5. Floral Motif Ornament: Next ornament, we're doing is the flower and I will be doing the ink outline for this one first. Just to show you another way to do these ornaments. The center maybe little circles together and then off of that are going to be these little [inaudible] , which is a bit of a curved line with a bit of a circle at the end. They will trace around the pedal outlines. For this one, I'm using a 005, which is the 0.2 millimeter tip of my pen. That is generally what I use for my flowers because I like a thin line that I get from it. Then the details that I can create using such a fine tip. So let's go ahead and draw our outlines with our pen and then go meet back together when it's time to paint. I'm going to be using the wet and dry technique for the flowers of this ornament, and I'm going to be using wet on wet technique for the background. We will be using the wet on wet technique that I described in further detail in the vine ornament video. So if you're needing any information or tips on doing that one, go ahead and check out the information that I provide in that video to go over more details of the wet on wet technique. Otherwise, we're going to go ahead and paint this background together and then we'll meet again and once we're done with the background. So I'm going to let this background dry before I add any of the color to make flowers. A quick note that you've seen that, I've splattered all over the place with this one. There were a couple places where I felt there was a little bit too much water sitting on the paper in that area. So I went ahead, and went outside of my circle, and brought the water, and the pigment with me. Again, it really doesn't matter what it looks like outside the circle because we'll be cutting it out with our, so there's, before we finish our ornament. Let's go ahead and let this dry and then we will come back in and color in the flowers. All right guys, so by now, our background has dried, and for these flowers, I'm going to be using a wet and dry technique. Because the tone of my flower, the pink has a little bit of purple in it. If there's any blue dot is overlapping, I'm whetting that pigment and combining it in width, my pedal. This initial layer, I'm doing a little bit lighter because I will be coming inwards, this one has dried to add a bit of a darker pink in here as a bit of a contrast to add some depth and character to these flowers. Out of our initial pink layer has dried. I'm going to come in with slightly darker paint to add a little bit more dimension to it. Really, what I'm doing is, adding some shadow and depth, especially for these ones with the folds in them. So you can add slightly darker, pink, where do you think the shadows might be, to give it that extra dimension to it. This is also another great way, if you're having any blue that might be overlapping or any background color that might be overlapping, with the darker color, you can continue to blend it into your flowers. So then, I'm going to let this dry and then I will be adding some yellow to the center of my flower. I'm going to use very bright yellow for the center because I wanted it to be able to pack against the pink that I have selected for my flower. I'm going to have it come up at a little bit. So you'll actually ended up seeing it on all of the flowers, even the ones that were peeking out, were the ones that are? How could the illusion of having wrapping around the ornament? The reason, I'm coming up a little is because if you look at the actual flower and if it does have a really bright yellow center, it does tend to reflect a little bit around the edges, and I think it just pulls the whole thing together, a little bit more when you're painting it. So now that this one is done, I will paint the other half of this and then I will be able to come back and create my ornament from it. 6. Berry Branch Ornament: I'm going to start by shading around with my fine liner pen just going over the lines, I'm using the 005 size in my micron pen which is the 0.2 millimeter tip on it. I am only going to be coloring in the berries on this one, if you are wanting to shade in the background or add any additional color, you may want to do a slightly different style than I'm going to be doing on this one, and you may want to start with doing the background before you do anything else. Let's go ahead and draw in our ink and then we'll meet together at the end to do watercolor on our berries. Once my ink has dried I can come in with my eraser, get rid of my pencil guidelines, and then I will just be coloring in the berries with my detail paintbrush. This one I'm just doing a bright red with the white background making me think of the berries against the snow in winter. I just wanted to note too that while you're doing two of your ornaments so that you can have a front and a back that looks the same, you can be doing them both at the same time, while your paint is drying on one you can be doing the outlines with your fine liner pen on the other, really makes it pretty quick process and really doesn't take much longer than just doing one if you do it that way. The final video, I will be showing you what to do with these, and how to turn them into the ornaments that we are creating. 7. Leaf and Berry Ornament: For this one, I will again be going over it with my ink fine liner first, and then I will be going through with my watercolor afterwards using a wet and dry technique. I'm doing that because I'm going to leave the background white for this ornament. Once I got this ink on, I will be erasing my pencil guidelines that I have been drawing over, and then I will start with my watercolor. We have colored this in and we have erased our pencil guidelines. I'm going to go ahead and start painting it in using a wet and dry technique. I'm going to do my leaves blue, and I'm actually going to do them two tones. I'm going to do one blue on one side of each leaf, and another one on the other side. I will now start doing my berries now that I'm done with coloring the leaves in here. Then for the berries I'm coming in with a bright orange just to add that pop of color contrast with my blues. There we go, and then I'm just going to come in and I'll do the top part of my bubble, the wet on wet technique. Again, just using my gray that I created. In the [inaudible] class we will go over how to put our paper ornaments together. 8. How To: Putting It All Together: Now to put them together, we have our two identical signs that we're going to be doing. The first thing that we need to do is get our scissors and cut around the edges. You can see I've already started cutting around the edges before I remembered I needed to be filming. Just go ahead and take your scissors and cut around the edges. If you have an exacto knife and a good little board that you can cut, if your exacto knife on, you can also use that. It could be a good way to get a little bit more detailed, but these are pretty easy. Trim around the edges with a knife or scissors. I'm cutting just inside the lines of my pen, because I don't want the black of my pen to show around my outline. Now I'm going to cut this one. I'm going to go ahead and put this right on top of it so that I can get a good feel. As you can see, the circles don't exactly match up that I drew. So I want to make sure that my ornament itself is matching as much as possible for when I put them together in the end. You can also cut up both sides independently and then put them back to back and trim it anywhere that you have any overlap. That is another way that you can do this. Even though doing this that may not match up perfectly in the end. So what we'll end up doing is I will cut out most of this circle or all the circle and then we will hold them back to back in the end and do any final trimming that needs to be done before we apply the glue or adhesive. Now we're going to go back to back, and we'll just trim it up anywhere that it's really sticking out, and where it isn't matching up. Now that looks pretty good. I will just be coming in with my glue and I will be attaching them together. I tend to put a little bit of glue on the backs of each. You can use the glue stick, wet glue, glue gun, double-sided tape, whatever you have that you want to use. Then I'll be sticking them together, and aligning them with each other and I will dry it under a stack of books or something heavy so that they don't peel apart or become curled while I am waiting for them to dry. Then I'll come back and I will show you how to attach the hanger for our ornament so that you can hang it onto your tree. Now the glue has dried and it's adhered to each other well. So what I tend to do at this point is I'll take my exacto knife, but you can use anything with a sharp and pointy edge. If you have a safety pin, a needle, anything like that, you can go ahead and use that. Using the pointy end, I find through middle, top and I just create a little hole in the top, and they want to come in on both sides to make that weak spot in the paper. Of course, being careful not to cut yourself. Then I take my little metal hanging, do-dad, which I know is a technical term. You can find them at any store that would sell Christmas ornaments. You can go ahead and push it through the two papers because it's a thicker paper, and these have a blunt edge. You won't be able to just push it through without weakening the spot first. If it doesn't work the first time, get your trusty little sharp object and go ahead and continue to create that little spot for the things to go through. Then it will go through nice and easy. There you have your ornament that you can hang on to your Christmas tree or anywhere else that you like to hang your ornaments. Continue to do that with the rest of the ornaments that you have created, and you now have five different styles of ornaments to give away as gifts or to add to your Christmas tree. That's it. A pretty easy and simple way to create ornaments. 9. Wrap Up/Conclusion: By now you have finished your ornaments and you now have a plethora of ornaments lying around your house, ready to be given as gifts. Put on top of presents, almost like name tags for the holidays or anything else that you wish to do with these. They are pretty durable because you have used the thick watercolor or cards Docker Bristol paper. So they should be able to last a few seasons unless you have a toddler, a puppy or a kitten, in which case they recommend just hanging them up really high on the tree. Thank you so much for taking this class with me and I cannot wait to see your projects. So upload them into the project section of this class. If you post them on Instagram, as always, make sure you tag me at poppy and gray codes so that I can see them. We do occasionally share different drawings from my class in my stories as well. So you might just get a feature there as well. Again, I'm really excited to see your drawings. If you have any questions, concerns, want any feedback, anything like that, just let me know and I will be in touch with you. All right. Thanks so much, guys. Have a great day.