Photography Tricks

Watercolor Christmas Cards That You Can Make Yourself

Watercolors are in. If your painting skills are out, don’t worry. Here are five ways to make watercolor Christmas cards on your own.

Watercolors are trending—or, have been trending. Unfortunately, we’re not all painters. So, if you’re inspired to make watercolor Christmas cards for the entire family this holiday season, but Santa’s never heard your plea for painting skills—that’s okay. We’re going to digitize the process and show you a few ways to get simple watercolor looks without the water . . . or brushes . . . or the “Wait! No . . . No . . . NOOO!”s.

Watercolor Christmas Card Ideas

PicMonkey joined the Shutterstock family this year and (in the spirit of Christmas) is like a stocking overflowing with easy-to-use design tools.

Here are five unique watercolor Christmas card ideas that you can make in PicMonkey, no matter your skill level. Just start with a 5 x 7 blank canvas or card template.

1. Add Watercolor Textures to Holiday Graphics

Watercolor Christmas Card Collage
Watercolor textures added to holiday graphics in PicMonkey.

There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of simplicity. Grab a holiday-themed graphic, pair it with a watercolor texture, and voilà. Your own watercolor Christmas tree or ornament or wreath or snowflake to put on a card.

Get the look:

Finding Holiday Themes in PicMonkey
Pull holiday graphics from PicMonkey’s theme sets: Santa Land and Winterland.

Once your canvas is open in PicMonkey, click Themes on the top toolbar to quickly access Christmas and winter-themed graphics. Click on a graphic to add it to your canvas.

Adding a Watercolor Texture to a Graphic
Give your graphic the gift of a watercolor texture.

Select your graphic layer, then open the Textures tab from the left tabs menu. Click Watercolor and select your watercolor texture. Use the control sliders to adjust the look—you can drag the texture within the graphic to change its positioning. Click Apply to save your changes.

Pro tip: Your texture will retain some of the original graphic color. To eliminate this, just select your graphic and click Change color on the left tools menu and change the color(s) to white before adding your texture.

2. Make a Watercolor Background

Watercolor Backgrounds for Christmas Cards
Try using watercolors as the background or your holiday cards.

Another option is to use one of those same watercolor textures, but instead of filling a graphic with it, you can set the texture as your card’s background. This will extend the look across your entire canvas—who would guess that you didn’t paint this yourself!?

As a bonus, you can use the Color Changer tool to customize the color of your texture so that it works perfectly as a watercolor Christmas card.

Get the look:

Adding a Watercolor Texture as a Background
A texture can be applied to the background of your design.

Select your background layer, then open the Textures tab from the left tabs menu. Click Watercolor and select your watercolor texture. Drag the texture within your canvas, as you wish. Click Apply to save your changes.

Using Color Changer
The Color Changer tool lets you modify individual colors of a selected layer.

To change your texture’s color, open the Edits tab and click Color Changer. Select the color you’d like to change, then use the HueSaturationLuminance, and Fade sliders to adjust your color.

3. Create Watercolor Christmas Cards from Templates

Watercolor Christmas Card Template
Customize this Christmas card template in PicMonkey.

Another option is to combine a dab (splash?) of watercolor with a pre-designed Christmas card template. This gives you the best of both worlds—a professional card that you can customize however you like, AND a bit of that watercolor magic.

Get the look:

Making a Watercolor Moon
Give yourself something to trace with the Draw tool.

Make your life easier by giving yourself something to trace with your digital paintbrush. We added a basic circle graphic (from the Graphics tab) to serve as our moon.

Because it was originally solid black, we clicked Shadow & outline on the Graphics tools menu, checked Outlineand then checked the Knockout box. This “knocked” out the color inside of the graphic, leaving us with a perfectly traceable circle.

Pro tip: This template comes with the Santa sleigh & reindeer graphic. You can temporarily move layers off the canvas if you want, or lock them in place so that they don’t move while you’re customizing other design elements.

Making a Watercolor Moon
You’ll find the Watercolor brush in the Draw tab.

Click the Draw tab on the left to open PicMonkey’s Draw tool. Click the Watercolor brush (available with PicMonkey Pro), and select your color. Use the brush control sliders to adjust how each brush stroke looks.

After we finished painting the moon, we deleted the circle graphic, then hopped over to the Color Changer to turn our painted moon into a brighter, more luminescent yellow (as seen in the finished design above).

4. DIY for an Authentic Painted Look

DIY Watercolor Christmas Card Ideas
Get an authentic watercolor look with PicMonkey’s Draw tool.

Part of the allure of watercolors is their imperfection. There’s something ironically pristine about the inexact, fluid look of watercolor designs. Textures will give you a dose of watercolor, but if you’d prefer to DIY, then the Draw tool is calling your name.

Use the Watercolor brush—click, hold, and drag your mouse around on the canvas to produce paint strokes, or click repeatedly to dab digital watercolors onto your design.

Get the look:

DIY Watercolor Snowman from Graphics
You can use PicMonkey’s holiday graphics as the foundation for any watercolor design.

To give your watercolor Christmas card an authentic, fresh-from-the-paint-set-and-water-cup feel, repeat what we did above with your favorite holiday-centric graphic.

Remove the colors from your graphic and give it an outline (or don’t—you’ll delete the graphic anyway). Whatever you need to be able to effectively paint over the design. Add additional graphics, if you want, or stick to the digital painting.

5. Go Further with Christmas Paintings

Christmas Watercolor Photo Example
Before and after of a photo turned into an illustration. Image by anyaivanova.

If you really want to make those sleigh bells ring this holiday season, you can turn a photo into a realistic drawing or painting, then use it as the basis for your Christmas card. This requires more finagling, but is still pretty easy to achieve.

Get the look:

Photo to Illustration
Upload your image to PicMonkey.

Before you can transform your image . . . you need one. Use your own holiday photo, or pull one from Shutterstock’s glorious library of Christmas photography.

Edge Sketch Christmas Photo
Edge Sketch.

Open the Effects tab, and click Edge Sketch (you’ll find it under “Artsy”). This will make your image look like it’s been traced in pencil.

Bump the Thickness and Level of detail sliders all the way up. Re-introduce some color, too, by moving the Fade slider about half-way.

Posterize Christmas Photo

Now, we paint. Click Posterize. It’s in the same “Artsy” category as Edge Sketch. This effect is going to give your photo that painted feel.

Adjust the # of colors slider to at least 15. The Detail slider will dictate how painted your photo looks. Given the level of detail in our photo, we went high. However, you can keep details midway for softer lines. Use the SaturationContrast, and Fade sliders to control your coloring.

There it is—your very own Christmas painting, hold the paint. And, if you’re really short on time, there’s always watercolor Christmas photos ready and waiting for you. Take your pick, and happy holidays!

Cover image via Zelenkova.

The post Watercolor Christmas Cards That You Can Make Yourself appeared first on The Shutterstock Blog.