Watercolors & Mixed Media: Colorful Christmas Cards | Ruxi Vlad | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Watercolors & Mixed Media: Colorful Christmas Cards

teacher avatar Ruxi Vlad, Artist/Illustrator/Semi-crazy cat lady

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

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.



    • 3.

      The Grumpy Cat - The Sketch


    • 4.

      The Grumpy Cat - The Base Layer


    • 5.

      The Grumpy Cat - The Stripes and the Face


    • 6.

      The Grumpy Cat - The Tinsel


    • 7.

      The Grumpy Cat - The Greeting and Finishing Touches


    • 8.

      The Red Bauble - The Sketch


    • 9.

      The Red Bauble - The Bauble


    • 10.

      The Red Bauble - The Fir Branch


    • 11.

      The Red Bauble - The Greeting and Finishing Touches


    • 12.

      Christmas Eve - The Sketch


    • 13.

      Christmas Eve - Masking


    • 14.

      Christmas Eve - The Background


    • 15.

      Christmas Eve - Unmasking


    • 16.

      Christmas Eve - The Moon and the Trees


    • 17.

      Christmas Eve - Santa, Sleigh and Reindeers


    • 18.

      Snowflakes - The Sketch


    • 19.

      Snowflakes - Masking


    • 20.

      Snowflakes - The Background


    • 21.

      Snowflakes - Unmasking


    • 22.

      Snowflakes - Gilding


    • 23.

      Thank You!


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

'Tis the season to be jolly!

In this class you're going to learn how to paint some wonderful Christmas/winter holidays greeting cards!

Making a handmade card is a great gift with a personal touch that your friends and family will appreciate and want to hold onto.

The class is divided into four different projects, each consisting of a watercolor illustration greeting card best suited for different kinds of people in your life.

We are going to use different watercolor techniques and also mixed media to give the cards a little something extra and really make them pop! 

This class is best suited for people with a little more experience with painting, but of course all levels are welcomed, for I will be guiding you step by step, from start to finish, on how to paint these colorful Christmas cards.

So, grab your brushes and let's get to it!


The background music:

Festival of Lights by Purrple Cat.
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.


The music in the intro:

Christmas Village by Aaron Kenny.
Music from the YouTube Audio Library.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ruxi Vlad

Artist/Illustrator/Semi-crazy cat lady


Hello there, I'm Ruxi! I'm a freelance artist and illustrator from Bucharest, Romania. Since I can remember, I've loved drawing and painting. And I did it on everything I could put my hands on, including the house walls and on the back of the geography quizzes my dad had to grade :))) 

Having finished the graphics departament at the National University of Arts, I am very fond of going into great details in my artwork, be it etching, illustration or acrylic painting. Lately though, I have been making handmades, like painted totebags, t-shirts and broches and earrings.

I live and create in my studio apartment that I share with my furry darlings, Usagi, Ami and TziTzi. I would love to share some of my skills and ideas on this wonderful platform that is Skillshare, and al... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Intro: Season's greetings everyone. My name is Roxy and I am a freelance artist based in Bucharest, Romania. In today's class, we are going to make four beautiful Christmas and holiday inspired greeting cards. Each one with its own unique take on this wonderful time of the year. Throughout this class, I will show you what supplies I use, talk about some rules of composition, explore different watercolor techniques, use mixed media and of course, have fun. I'll guide you step-by-step from start to finish through the process of creating a beautiful handmade gift for your friends and loved ones. Okay, let's go and make some gifts. 2. Supplies: These are the supplies we'll be using for all of the Christmas cards. But don't worry, because we'll only use some of them for each one. A pencil for sketching. B or HB is good. A soft and squishy eraser. A campus. A gold paint marker, and several round tip brushes. We have a few synthetic ones, a big one, a small one, a tiny one, and a small liner. This is a very cool brush. It's a mix of synthetic and natural hair. Finally, a natural hair brush. Mine are from Da Vinci and Windsor and Newton, but you can use whatever brand you're fond of. Oh, and a ruler for good measure. Then we have the drawing gum for masking. Water based size for gilding. Also, some imitation gold leaf, which I forgot to show you. Some white or titanium white wash or, correction fluid if you don't have quotients and some black drawing ink. Water colors are white nights, which are a great choice for getting high-quality results. A mixing palette, two cups of water, one for washing and one for rinsing. Some paper tissue and the paper. This one is from Ash and it's 100 percent cotton cold pressed, 300 GSM watercolor paper. The size can be whatever you want for your card. Mine is about 19 by 14 centimeters. Okay, let's begin. 3. The Grumpy Cat - The Sketch: At the bottom of the card, leave some room for the greeting. Then begin by tracing a line down the middle of the paper to indicate the height of our cat, antlers included. When sketching, be careful not to press too hard on the pencil so you can erase without leaving a mark or a groove on the paper. We begin with the head. Now, what does a cartoon cat look like? Well, if we want our cat to be on the chubby side, the head will be wider and bigger than it usually is on an actual cat. Then draw the body and make it look like a fat bawling fin. The front legs are more far apart than usual and are at an angle, but the paws won't be touching each other like they would on a regular sized cat. Trace one of the legs, then the paw and add four toes like so,1.2,3,4. Then make the back paws peeking from underneath the fur. When drawing the ears, make them a bit more flattened because our cat is not happy with her Christmas get up. Next we do the antlers. Start by tracing the headband on top of the head between the ears. Then the actual antlers keeping the outline simple. For the eyes, draw a horizontal line where the top part will be and the vertical one down the middle of the head to help with the symmetry. Then the inside corners rounded and the outsides more pointy. To better express our cats contempt for us, place the pupils near the top of the eye. When drawing a cat's nose, keep in mind that the closer it is to the eyes the cuter the cat will appear. Draw an upside down triangle for the nose, then a small vertical line, and finally, an upset little mouth. Moving on to the tinsel, draw a line that wraps around the cat's body. Also add a tail with a tip pointing upwards and a few lines around it to suggest a twitching motion, a sign of her growing displeasure. Here I decided that the cat is not chubby enough, so I added a few extra pounds for a good measure. Finally, the greeting. Keeping in tone with the Grumpy Cat, I've chosen to write a nice sarcastic fa la la. After you clean up all the lines, we can start painting. 4. The Grumpy Cat - The Base Layer: I decided to make my cat ginger because the juxtaposition of the joyful colors and the cat's grumpy attitude is simply wonderful. Before applying them on the paper, you need to soak the colors you're going to use to activate them. I already pre-soaked mine, so I'll just grab some bright orange named golden in my set for some reason, and some titian red and mix them on the palate with my natural haired brush. Test the shade on a separate piece of paper and if you're happy with it, start applying it evenly with a flat wash. I'll leave the middle uncovered, and just color the sides of the cat's body and head. I'll also leave the pause white because is cute. You can suggest fur between the orange and white areas by making the edge a bit jagged. If you need more color, just add more water to the brush and lift some from another part of the cat where the wash is thicker. While leaving the orange to dry, we can make the antlers. Mix some brown and a pinch of red in my case, the burnt umber and madder lake red and apply it in an even coat. Pro tip, always start painting from the opposite side to the hand you're using, so you can avoid smudges. Because I'm left-handed, I'll start with the right antler and then move to the left one. After you're finished with the antlers, we'll move right along to the stripes. 5. The Grumpy Cat - The Stripes and the Face: Let's apply some stripes on the cat. Do this before the base layer dries so they will bleed ever-so-slightly, giving them a more realistic appearance. Using the mixed hairbrush, I'm going to blend some Titian red with some English red and a pinch of golden. The aim is to obtain just the right shade of darker orange, not too red, and not too brown. Starting with the head, paint an M shape on the forehead between the eyes and then a stripe on the outer corners of each eye. If the base layer has dried up, add a little water, but not too much because you might punch a hole in the layer. If that happens, just add a bit of color to cover it. Then continue adding stripes to the body. Tap the brush on the paper to make them more irregular. Again, you can add some more water on the paper before applying the color to make it bleed a little. Note that the stripes on the front legs are intertwined, and also add some spots alongside the stripes. If the stripes bleed a little too much, you can blend them with the space between them. To add more texture to the forehead, you can dot around with the tip of the brush on the ears and around the M shape. If some of the stripes are too sharp, you can soften them by dabbing them with a little water. Then we move on to the tail. The tail is pretty much all stripes. Just remember to make them a bit irregular by dabbing with the brush. After that, you can suggest some depth by making some shadows on either side of the front legs. Next up, we'll do the face. For the nose and inner ears, pick a pinch of red and dilute it with enough water so it appears pink. Keep in mind that a watercolor wash looks more saturated when wet, and will become more translucent when dry. For the eyes, I chose a yellowish-green color, so I mix the green with some cadmium yellow and just fill them in. And finally, the headband of the antlers, just color it red. Leave everything to dry and prepare for operation tensile. 6. The Grumpy Cat - The Tinsel: Operation tinsel consists of three parts. Tracing the string, painting the tinsel, and embellishing it with some cute little stars. We begin with tracing the string. Using the liner brush, take a generous amount of red. For me, it's easier to trace diagonal lines from top to bottom. So I'll start from here. Then using continuous strokes, draw the different sections of the string that wraps around the cat. Keep your brush filled with color and continue with the rest of the string. There we go. Now, to make the tinsel, this step involves a bit of patience. Just start painting small lines in various directions. You can do Xs and make them a bit scattered so you can paint in between them afterwards with a darker shade of red to give the tinsel some realistic depth. After finishing with the first pass, wait for it to dry and prepare the darker shade of red by mixing in some amber. Then start again with the small lines, this time trying to go in between the first ones. Done. While waiting for the tinsel to dry, we can bring the cat's face to life by filling in the pupils with black, and find the nose and mouth with some dark brown. Done. Because I don't know when to stop, I added a little more dark red to the stripes here and there. Now done. 7. The Grumpy Cat - The Greeting and Finishing Touches: At this stage, after everything is completely dry, you can erase any visible pencil marks. Just be sure that everything is 100 percent dry or you'll end up crying over a smudge disaster. Next we'll repaint the toes with some light orange. Starting from right to left, one, two, three and four. You can add a bit of a contour to the tail and a chin. Now, for the greeting, I'm going to alternate between green and red on each word, and I'll use the mixed hair brush for this part. Be sure to use plenty of color and water to make the words pop. I said before, it is best to start from the opposite side of the hand you're painting with, which in my case would be from the right side. But I got distracted by the fact that over here we write from left to right. After I let it dry, I continued from the right side. Make the dots red and if you leave too much water on the paper, dry the brush and you can lift the excess up with it. Then continue with the rest of the letters alternating between green and red. Don't forget to add a few lines either side of the tip of the tail to suggest it's twitching. Next, for the final part of operation tinsel, we'll paint some cute little stars here and there either side of the tinsel. What could possibly go wrong? Oh look, that star looks a little lonely. Let's give it a friend. Oh dear, I really did it this time. How will I fix this? Be cool, I can use some white correction fluid, which actually behaves quite nicely if you want to use it on small areas such as highlights or thin lines. There we go. Fixed. As I said before, I don't know when to stop, so I'll decorate the greeting with some white dots. It actually looks more festive like this. There you have it. A perfect Christmas card for your cynical friend. Fa la la everyone. 8. The Red Bauble - The Sketch: We'll start with the greeting so we can use it as a guide for aligning the rest of the elements on the card in a balanced composition. For this one, I'll use the classic Merry Christmas. I have aligned the text on the left and chose a cursive style. Next, draw the fir branch on the top left of the card, then trace the bubble's outline. I'm using a compass, but you can also draw it with the rim of a glass. Yes, very professional. Finally, draw the tip and the string, and we're done. 9. The Red Bauble - The Bauble: Before we begin, I am going to demonstrate using a quick sketch how we'll paint the highlights and shadows on the bubble. You'll have the bubble, these two areas will be the highlights. On the top left we have around highlight and on the bottom right, a crescent shaped highlight. Then this area will be the darkest. In between these areas, the color will gradually go from dark to light. With that in mind, let's start painting. After adding some water and leaving the colors to activate for about half a minute, take the natural hair brush and load it with lots of red. The trick with watercolors is to know how much water to add. Because we want a very bright and intense shade of red, don't add a lot of water. We start with the middle section and move towards the highlights. Paint a wavy line and fill in the bottom left side. Then trace the outline of the bubble with a thin line. Next, we extend the red area a little like I did in the sketch. After that, start fading the color from the red middle area towards the highlights so we can obtain a nice gradient. Rinse the brush, take out the excess water, and soften now the edge with the damp brush. Make sure it's not too dry because the color won't move enough, or too wet because the color will bleed too much. As you move towards the highlight, add more water to the brush and continue to fade out the color. In my case, the red was a little too dry, so I'm going to try and blend it. You can leave a little uncovered circle and use the white of the paper to suggest a specular highlight. Continue to blend the bottom highlight with the damp brush. If the color gets too dry, use circular motions on the edge to get a softer gradient. Of course, I did it again. Well, I'll just take a clean brush with clean water and rub it on the smudge. Then damp it with a clean tissue and also clean my fingers. Do try to be more careful than me. I think the bottom highlight is too large. So add more color to the brush and keep blending in from the middle to soften the gradient. I'll also make it a more crescent shape. Keep lending until you get a nice transition with no sharp edges. If you want to let some color from the paper, use a damp brush and clean it on the tissue. When you are satisfied with the result, leave it to dry. 10. The Red Bauble - The Fir Branch: For the fur branch, we'll use the liner brush. Mix some raw sienna and redochre and trace the branch. Don't forget to paint some buds at the tips of the branch. Wait for everything to dry completely then we'll move on to the needles. Take a generous amount of green, and start painting the needles. To avoid any more mishaps, I'm starting from right to left. Make the needles a bit scattered so you can paint in between them afterwards with more shades of green to give the fur branch some more fluffiness. After covering the branch with the first layer of needles and making sure it's dry, take a different shade of green. I'm going to use the darker green and repeat, to make the appearance of the branch more realistic paint some of the needles at slightly different angles but in the same general direction. Then after leaving it to dry, take yet another shade of green and paint the final layer of needles. I'm going to use the emerald green. Be sure to cover any spaces that are left in between the needles. Looks great. Next up, the grading. 11. The Red Bauble - The Greeting and Finishing Touches: First, we'll add some more intensity to the bubble with some more red. After applying another coat of red in the middle, slowly fade it towards the highlights. For the greeting, I'm going to use a gold pink marker because is shiny. Press on it to get the paint flowing, wipe the excess off and write the greeting with a steady, continuous motion. Then draw the tip of the bubble and a little string. After making sure that everything is super-duper dry, finish by decorating the bubble with some sparkly snowflakes. Finally, clean any visible pencil marks, and enjoy your classic Christmas card. Merry Christmas everyone. 12. Christmas Eve - The Sketch: We're going to make this card in landscape format due to the nature of the composition. First, we'll trace some hills in the lower half of the paper. Then, some vertical lines to indicate the position of the trees. The ones in the foreground will go outside the frame, and the ones further back will be smaller. Then, draw a big moon using a compass. As a guide, if you want to have a good composition, don't place important elements right in the center. Instead, shift the focal point to one side using the rule of thirds to give the composition a more dynamic feel. Next, we'll mark the rough position of the sleigh and reindeers flying in front of the moon in a slightly ascending line and then start drawing the sleigh. When there's movement in the frame, you'll want to leave more space on the side towards which the movement is happening. In this case, because Santa and his reindeers are moving from left to right, we'll place them on the left side, leaving more space on the right. Then, we'll continue with the reindeers. Mark the places where they will be and start drawing the one closest to the sleigh. To help with the shape of the reindeers, you can use a reference image because that's exactly what I did too. Finally, draw the harnesses. The sketch is now completed. 13. Christmas Eve - Masking: Now we're going to apply drawing gum on the moon and splatter some across the sky to make the stars. This will make painting the sky much easier as we don't have to worry about accidentally painting over the moon, and we'll also save some effort with the stars because we don't have to paint them afterwards. Using a synthetic brush dip it in the drawing gum and cover the moon being careful around the edge so it stays nice and crisp. Then for the stars, dip the brush in the drawing gum again and tap it with your finger. This will make some random dot clusters to which you can add some more single dots afterwards. Leave them to dry for about 10 minutes and very important, immediately after finishing with the drawing gum, wash your brush thoroughly with hot water and soap, or else it will get damaged. 14. Christmas Eve - The Background: After the drawing gum has dried, we can paint the midnight sky using the wet-and-wet technique. With the natural brush, cover the whole sky with a coat of clean water. This will give us a nice flowy look and help us obtain a soft gradient from the darker edges to the halo of the moon. Then choose a few shades of blue. In my case, I chose all the ones in my set; ultramarine, cobalt blue, bright blue, and indigo. Plus a little green for the moon's halo. Starting from the outside, in apply the darker shades, and as you get closer to the Moon, use the lighter shades with more water. I began with the bright blue to which I added some indigo right at the edges. If the color puddles, spread it around with the brush. Also, don't worry if the paper buckles because that's a normal part of the process and it will straighten back when it dries. Then as you get closer to the moon, make the strokes more circular to suggest the halo and add a pinch of green to the blue. Here you can really appreciate the utility of the drawing gum as you don't have to worry about messing up the contour of the moon. As the watercolor starts to set on the paper, you can add more color on top to make the sky more vibrant. Next, rinse and clean the brush, take the excess water out on the tissue, and really define the halo with circular motions. Add some more indigo on the edges, and as you can see, the end result is pretty much a nice vignette. While waiting for the sky to dry, we can make the snow covered hills. For this, I'll use some whitewash and mix it with just a little bit of blue. Then cover the whole area evenly being careful not to touch the sky area if it's still wet so they don't bleed into each other. After you're done, leave everything to dry. 15. Christmas Eve - Unmasking: Now for the fun part, we unmask everything. Just be sure that the paint is completely dry and your fingers are clean. Because watercolors are water-based, they can lift from the paper onto your fingers, so keep your scrubbing motions short. Finally, remove the gum from the moon. Oh wow, that was really satisfying. Clean everything and we're done. 16. Christmas Eve - The Moon and the Trees: For the moon, we'll first cover it with an even wash of yellow ocher using the natural brush. Then to suggest the land features of the moon we'll make some roseanna and sepia and dab the brush on the lunar surface. After you're done, leave it to dry, and let's paint some trees. Using the small synthetic brush, take some indigo or black and trace the trunks of the trees. Then dab the brush on the paper to make the crowns starting from top to bottom and from the opposite side of your painting hand, of course. For the color to remain concentrated, mix it with a small amount of water. That way, you can build the trees in basically one go. The key to making the trees look realistic is to use small strokes so we can still see the background between the branches. What you don't want to do is make the trees a solid colored shape. When you're done, leave them to dry, and we're almost finished. 17. Christmas Eve - Santa, Sleigh and Reindeers: For this final step, we'll use the liner brush and the black drawing ink. Trace and fill in the rein deers and slave plus Santa at your own pace. I decided to leave this card without a greeting because I believe that the picturesque image speaks for itself. Remember to put the open bottle of ink a little further from your hand to avoid any catastrophic spills. Trust me, they can happen and drawing ink doesn't come out ever. After you're finished with the drawing ink, be sure to close it firmly and the card for your Christmas magic enthusiast is done. Ho, ho, ho, everyone. 18. Snowflakes - The Sketch: Okay, the sketch, I already marked the placement of the snowflakes with some circles of different sizes. As for the actual snowflakes, you can make them whatever shape you want, let your imagination run wild. You can also look online for photos of actual snowflakes and get inspired from there like I did. Fun fact, because most snowflakes are hexagonal in shape, you can make a symmetrical hexagon with help of a circle. Just use the fact that the side of the hexagon is equal to the radius of the circle that encloses it. You've got to love maths. I'm going to write Happy Holidays at a slight angle and use a thin and delicate style. Once all that is done, it's time for masking. 19. Snowflakes - Masking: With the liner brush trace the shapes of the snowflakes that you sketched with the pencil. Start from the opposite side of your drawing hand, going from top to bottom. If the area to be covered is bigger, like on my large snowflake, use a bigger brush. But first, wash the liner one with hot water and soap so it won't get damaged. It's important to fully cover the pencil marks with the gum so you can erase them after the unmasking because once you paint with watercolor over the pencil, you cannot erase it anymore. From time to time rinse the brush so the gum won't dry on it and damage the hairs. You can make some lines thicker, some thinner, and cover the center of some snowflakes. Close the lid of the drawing gum and store it upside down so it won't dry inside the bottle and leave everything to dry for about 10 minutes. Don't forget to wash your brushes. 20. Snowflakes - The Background: After the drawing gum has dried, clean any pencil marks that are visible, including the circles and the guides for the snowflakes and greeting. Be very careful not to rub the drawing gum by accident. You can use a small eraser to have better control. With the natural brush, take some clean water and apply it on the paper in a wavy fashion. This will become the shape of our background. Then we can paint the background using the wet on wet technique. This will give it a beautiful gradient and help us obtain a nice overall texture. To obtain an icy look, I'm using the bright blue, ultramarine and a bit of violet and green. Start applying the colors with the same wavy motion. Wet on wet, as the name suggests, is the application of wet paint on a wet paper. By doing this, when the color touches the wet paper, it will bloom giving our background a soft fuzzy appearance. You can also tilt the paper to guide the colors around, enabling them to blend more softly. If the wash gets too transparent, add some more color to make the background more vibrant, but don't overdo it, because with water colors, it's easy to go from vibrant to muddy. When you're happy with the result, leave everything to dry. 21. Snowflakes - Unmasking: Time to unmask everything. First, be sure that the paint is completely dry and your fingers are clean. Then scrub and peel off the drawing gum. At the end, remember to erase the pencil marks which were underneath the gum. Look at those beautiful snowflakes, lovely. 22. Snowflakes - Gilding: Now for the grand finale, with the mixed hairbrush, I'm going to apply some gilding size on the greeting from right to left. Take your time and try as much as you can to have a steady hand when applying the size because the golden leaf will show any hesitations. Put the lid back on the bottle, go clean your rush, and wait for the time indicated in the instructions. In my case, that is 15 minutes. Take a piece of golden leaf very carefully and put it on top of the writing. You can also use golden flakes for this step, they're just as good. Then, brush it gently so the leaf sticks to the size. Be sure to cover every letter, then remove the excess leaf. The best brush to use for this step would be a firm synthetic one. Keep clearing the excess leaf until the outlines of the letters are nice and sharp. You can gather any leftover bits that are big enough and reuse them on other projects. After you're finished, sit back and admire the beautiful holiday greetings card fit for that special someone who might not celebrate Christmas. Happy holidays, everyone. 23. Thank You!: Thank you so much for watching. I hope you enjoyed painting this beautiful holiday cards as much as I did, and found the lessons to be informative and fun. I hope to see your works in the project section, and would love to read your feedback or to answer any questions in the comments. Also, if you enjoy this class, check out my other classes and give me a follow to get notified when I post new ones. Happy holidays.