Christmas Cards 2019 – Handmade papercut cards

Hey ho, here we go – Christmas cards of 2019!

Last year for my birthday (or maybe Christmas, not too sure) my family gifted me some watercolour paints. Up until that point I had only used the pencil variety so I was pretty stoked to finally, after all these years, to use the real deal. I knew I would want to use them for this year’s cards, it was just a matter of working out the image and application.

When I was a sketching up ideas, I thought it might be comical to have Lucy included in some way and ended up drawing a bunch of different dog related Christmas scenarios. I settled on one involving her popping out of a present that would easy enough to implement. For the style, I was inspired by Lissova craft with her layered pot plant creations to try something similar (definitely not as cool as hers though).

Putting together the actual design for this card was mostly simple, the hardest part was probably getting Lucy to look right in a 2D style drawing. The boyfriend and I were did lots of little edits in Photoshop – making her eyes a little bigger, reshaping how the fur went round her face, etc. Having a white dog makes it a little hard to define the features without making it seems off or too dark.

Once I was happy with how she looked and had laid out the rest of the elements, I created a couple of prototypes to ensure it would come together how I envisioned. After that, I split out all the parks individually to make them easier for the next step.

This is my outline template. Note the numbers to show which order to stick down each main element
All the pieces laid out individually to trace. For the purposes of making sure the pieces were the same size as my prototypes, they had to split over two pages to print at the same dimensions.

The creation process for these cards took the form of four steps – tracing, painting, cutting and gluing. Tracing was probably the longest and arduous step out of all of them. It ended up taking a lot longer than I expected. The usual paper I work with was also dwindling so I had to be careful and use it efficiently. All of the parts were traced in reverse so that the watercolour on the other side would be correct.

It was also midway through this step that my trusty makeshift lightbox, which I’ve been using for years, was finally starting to bend under the weight and pull apart. Using some string I tied it together to hold in place as I would need it for almost the entire process. It’s impressive how well it’s endured after all these years of use.

My makeshift lightbox being held together with string to withstand me leaning on it.

Using proper watercolours for the first time I couldn’t believe how refreshingly easy it was to apply. Compared to struggles of the pencil variety, application was surprisingly smooth. The paints held their pigment well and dried quickly, making applying new colours on top less of a waiting game.

I’m aware there’s a ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ method of applying watercolours but due to inexperience I decided to stick to what I know and just applied onto dry paper. I also didn’t do a lot of mixing of colours except for a few smaller sections like the pink in Lucy’s ears. I feel like there must be an easier way to mix then the way I was attempting. It always felt like I couldn’t pull enough of the paint off the blocks to mix them properly.

Finished pieces

Once everything was completely dry, all the pieces were carefully cut out and put into ziploc bags so I could keep track of the smaller ones. Somehow I still managed to misplace or lose a bauble or two along the way.

All the pieces for one card after being cut out

For the gluing, I used Instant classic liquid glue I picked up from the art store. I poured a small amount into a dish so it could apply with a paintbrush while I held the pieces with some tweezers. The glue dried quickly and held very strongly so I had to be careful to not set anything out of order. I used one of my prototypes as my guide to follow for the placement of each piece.

All the sets of pieces for the Lucy present section. The chair’s springy surface made it easiest to pick pieces up with tweezers.

And here’s the final card!

As always I also created a smaller, simpler version for my present gift tags, this time just using the Lucy present elements from the card.

I was so stressed about these cards but they came together pretty well. I want to get more proficient with using watercolours as I feel I only touched the surface of possibilities with this little creation.

I’ve decided next year will be the last time I create my own Christmas cards, marking 10 years since I started. So I guess, look forward to that! Hopefully it will be good ^^;;

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