Writing Weekly Letters | Making My Own Letter Paper Printables

When did you last write a letter?

Letter writing, even and especially in the digital age, can be such a relaxing and rewarding way of communication.

I actually write regular letters to my grandmothers back in my home country. These arrive only after a couple of weeks and anything urgent or important reaches them via the all-knowing, all-powerful family network of Skype and messages, but they are perfect to just relate small events - sometimes they read like diary entries, or are observations of local customs and holidays, and just responses to their letters in turn.

Camellia flower printable letter paper. The original watercolor painting was arranged for different formats and both blank and lined variations. Writing paper printables can be found on Etsy.

Illustrated Printable Letter Paper

I like to elevate both the writing and reading experience by giving the letters a fun touch: Little drawings, stickers or beautiful stationery.

Since I started creating printable stickers, I've come to love using my printer a lot more! Now I printed my own letter papers instead of using store-bought ones.

(Although I have to admit: Korean stationery is the cutest!)

Aquamarine crystal letter paper. Stationery set printable with watercolor gemstone illustrations. Free printables for A5 writing paper. 

Stationery Sets

Recently, I've upped my letter writing rhythm - mostly since I go to the post office a lot, anyway, and throwing in one or two extra envelopes among my Etsy orders really doesn't take much time. For that reason, I've started creating more and more of my own stationery. 

So far, I've only turned existing illustrations into letter paper, but hopefully, I'll have time to make a completely new stationery illustration set soon! These have definitely wet my appetite for more. 

Printable hand drawn letter paper, floral pattern of Camellia flowers in watercolor. Printables available on Etsy by evydraws.

I've added the aquamarine crystal letter paper to the freebie section here. The PDF file contains two A5 pages arranged to be printed on A4 paper and cut in half. 

If you're looking for more variety, the Camellia floral letter paper comes in two variations (large illustrations and floral pattern border), both lined and blank and for US letter size and DIN formats. You can find it in my Etsy shop

Etsy printable letter paper. Camellia flowers in watercolor for a romantic vintage stationery set. Digital download file for A5 and US letter size.

What kind of letter paper would you like? I've got lots of ideas, but am mostly going for floral patterns at the moment! 

Printable letter papers - free watercolor crystal letter paper printable & Etsy digital file Camellia flower letter paper set.  Romantic vintage stationery printables.

Making Of: Crystal Sticker Watercolor Illustration

Step by Step Gemstone Stickers Painting

Inspired by the #marchmeetthemaker challenge over on Instagram, which introduces a variety of handmade businesses and has me try out new ways of showing my 'behind the scenes' imagery, here comes a Making Of for my newest stickers. 

Watercolor Aquamarine Gemstone Stickers on Etsy

Watercolor Aquamarine Gemstone Printable Sticker File on Etsy

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Art Materials

For these crystal illustrations, I started by using my Winsor & Newton watercolors. Only the final layers of colors were done in my new Shinhan watercolors, which added a nice vibrancy to the more muted and stable Winsor & Newton. I'm not sure if my Winsor & Newton colors appear a bit muted because they're very old (over a decade by now) or because they're pan colors, which are sometimes less brilliant than their tube counterparts. But Shinhan's cheap set really surprised me with their strong, pure pigmentations!

The illustrations were painted on my favorite paper, the Fabriano Hot Press Watercolor paper in extra white. This paper is perfect if you want to scan the drawings later since it has nearly no visible paper texture. That makes the whole Photoshop process a lot easier! 

Drawing & Painting Process

Pencil Guidelines Drawing Tips

I started by drawing crystal forms with a very hard pencil, with minimal pressure. The point was to keep pencil lines minimal, and have as little graphite residue on the paper. Soft (2B and softer) pencil leads can leave a bit of graphite 'dust' that will get picked up by the watercolors later on and muddy them. 

To make the lines even more subtle, I patted them with a kneadable eraser. These erasers allow for pencil lines to be reduced instead of completely erased. I was left with the barest hint of guidelines: Just enough to know where I should place my paints.

Base Color Layers

Since I wanted all the gemstones to have a similar tone to them (inspired by aquamarine crystals) the first thing to do was giving them all a nearly identical base color. Mixing a pale, slightly turquoise blue and diluting it with a lot of water, I painted in all the sketched forms with a large brush. But I did leave empty white paper among the colored spaces to be later turned into shiny highlights.

Coloring, Defining Forms

When the initial watery base colors were completely dry, I went in with a smaller brush and started to define the different surfaces of each gemstone. Like with the base color, I worked on all the individual drawings simultaneously to make sure they'd fit together as a set.

Caveat: These aren't realistic paintings. Not at all. More like comic crystals. I probably should have used reference images to get a sense of realism in the way they reflect light, but I just went with what looked good. #shrug
I'll probably do a more realistic set in the future! I love painting in realistic detail, but sometimes a girl just wants to play around with color. So these are more cute and colorful, less natural.

So the coloring process was very intuitive. I did decide on a vague source of light to give a bit of a three-dimensional feel to the crystals but kept the rest playful and colorful.

I didn't mix colors but instead applied thin layers of different shades of blue on top of each other. This allows for more vibrancy!

As a last step, I used my smallest brush and the mentioned tube colors by Shinhan in Cerulean Blue and Prussian Blue to define corners, edges and reflections. Watercolor paintings tend to look soft, but the gemstone motive asked for sharp borders and cuts!

Scanning and Digital Adjustments

I scanned the finished drawings at 600 dpi at the highest color quality setting of my Epson Perfection V330 Perfection scanner. This particular scanner is great for color accuracy and catches even subtle hues, so I'd recommend it to watercolor artists especially. 

In Photoshop, I applied a mask to make sure all the white paper was, you know, actually white. This is easier to do before exposure and brightness are adjusted since all textures are still visible. While you can get quite far with 'Color Selection', I do adjust the mask with my graphic tablet and a brush to make sure no speck was overlooked, and all the edges are clean.

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Then I cranked up the brightness and adjusted white balance with Levels and Curves, and adjusted for any lost vibrancy and saturation. Since the objects were already masked, I also applied a turquoise color layer as a clipping mask on top - set to low opacity (20%) and 'multiply'. This way, the colors would look more saturated even after printing.

Once all objects are masked and on a transparent background, it's all the easier to then layout them into sticker sheets. Depending on the project, I either arrange them directly in Photoshop or use InDesign. 

Comparison of the paintings and the stickers. The stickers are a bit more saturated than the originals, and I changed their hue from Cobalt to Cerulean to fit with the Aquamarine theme.

Comparison of the paintings and the stickers. The stickers are a bit more saturated than the originals, and I changed their hue from Cobalt to Cerulean to fit with the Aquamarine theme.

Printing on Sticker Paper

I printed two versions of the gemstone illustrations to be used as stickers: One with the individual gems arranged on A6 sticker sheets and one with them spread out on an A5 format that I then cut into already pre-cut, slightly larger stickers to be sold as a set. 

Since there was some space left on the crystal sticker layout, I decided to also turn my dessert illustrations into pre-cut stickers. They're now both available on my Etsy shop. 

Since there was some space left on the crystal sticker layout, I decided to also turn my dessert illustrations into pre-cut stickers. They're now both available on my Etsy shop. 

Printable version with a color variation for my aquamarine gemstones. If you're into DIY projects and have some sticker paper at the ready, you can print these yourself, as many times as you want. Crystal stickers look best printed on glossy sticker paper imo!

Printable version with a color variation for my aquamarine gemstones. If you're into DIY projects and have some sticker paper at the ready, you can print these yourself, as many times as you want. Crystal stickers look best printed on glossy sticker paper imo!

Thank you for reading! Would you be interested in a video or in-depth step by step tutorial of my Photoshop process? Explaining digital adjustments in a short, blog-post appropriate form might be a bit lacking, especially for beginners, so I'd be happy to do a longer post on that!