In this beginner friendly tutorial, I’m going to explain how to create the African daisy artwork greeting card. The project is designed to be a quick and fun project. It took me less than 2 hours to create. In this tutorial I will explain how to do the pyrography, and add color to the artwork. Plus, I will cover the last steps I took to make a greeting card out of the artwork. Keep in mind that even though I’m burning on paper, this artwork can be put on wood, leather, etc. Furthermore, if you’re making a card you can put any greeting on it you’d like.
Now, let’s get to work.
SKILL LEVEL: 1
- Writing tip
- Shading tip
- 10 x 14 inch (25.4 x 35.6 cm) watercolor paper*
- Watercolor paint
- Pattern (enlarge or shrink as necessary) African Daisy pattern
*I’m making a greeting card, so the paper gets folded in half. If you do not plan to make a greeting card, then use something half the size of what I am using.
I used the Canson Heritage 140 lb, hot-pressed, 100% cotton watercolor paper. I did not care for this paper. I had a hard time getting smooth burn results. Plus, the paper tended to get fuzzy bits on the surface. There is probably a technical name for what I was experiencing, but I’m not a painter so I don’t know it.
Of the 24 colors, I used the following
Hooker’s green dark
Intense blue (phthalo blue)
I wrote a blog that lists all of the items I use in pyrography. That blog has links to places where you can buy the products. Some of the items in this tutorial are found in the ‘card making’ section on the blog. Here’s a link to that blog: https://wp.me/p8j0lZ-5Yf
STEP 1 – PREP THE BURNING SURFACE
Let the board dry and then sand again.
This piece of plywood board is broken up into three sections. The far-left section is how the board looks without any prep work. The board has a rough texture. The middle section of the board shows how it looks after it was sanded, and the surface is a lot smoother. The right section of the board shows it after it was lightly misted with water and allowed to dry. Notice how rough the board looks, but a quick sanding will remove that and leave an ultra-smooth board.
Doing the 4-step process (sand, mist, dry, sand) produces a super smooth surface, and the smoother the surface is the better the burn results will be.
STEP 2 – COMPOSE
My main requirement was that the flower fit within the boundaries of the frame I made. The orange arrows are pointing at the pencil marks that create the frame for my artwork. The black arrow points to the center of the paper, and that is where the fold or crease will go.
STEP 3 – TRANSFER
After I knew what the composition would be, I removed a pattern and coated the back of it with a layer of graphite. I’m using a pencil extender to hold a small piece of compressed graphite stick that has a 3B value.
I often get asked why I don’t use carbon paper. I have yet to find a brand I like, so I quit wasting money on them. I do explain my reasons a bit more in my ‘Products I use’ blog if you’re interested.
After tracing a few lines, I check the results to make sure the darkness level is good. If it’s too light, then I remove the pattern, erase the traced lines, add another layer of graphite to the back of the pattern, and start again.
STEP 4 – TRACE LINES
I’m taping a piece of paper (same brand I’m burning on) to the rigid backing board my paper is attached to.
Do not burn over the dashed lines on the flower petals.
STEP 5 – FLOWER PETALS
Make sure to test out your pen tip before you start burning. I do want to point out that once I have my burner set to get the dark tan or light brown burn result, I do not adjust the burner again. Instead, I use hand speed and re-burning to alter the color of my burn results. Slowing down your hand produces a darker burn result. Speeding up your hand produces a lighter burn result.
In this step we will burn in the flower petals. The stem and flower centers burning will happen in the next step. Each flower petal will get 4 things or steps done to it. Keep in mind that the steps can be done in any order.
- Darken up the wide bands of color burned along the dashed lines
- Burn over the entire flower petal to give it a base color
- Darken up the inner edge. The inner edge is the side of the petal that touches the flower center.
- Darken up the outer edge.
From there it varied, but in this photo, I’m burning over the entire petal. As you work do not worry about making the color uniform. This artwork is suppose to be fun and easy, so we are not going to get bogged down in details or being exact.
My attempts to find a good burning position resulted in a number of dark blotches on the flower. I’m leaving them because this isn’t about being perfect. Plus, my artwork will become a greeting card, and people don’t pay that close attention to the artwork.
One other thing I did make a conscious effort on was creating a little contrast where petals touched. Generally, I made the lower or back petal a touch darker along the seam where the two petals touched.
This area would be a good spot to rotate the board. One thing to keep in mind is that I video tape my work. If I rotate the board a lot it makes for uncomfortable viewing in the videos, so I try to keep my rotations to a minimum. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rotate the board as often as needed!
With the cast shadow from the flower center, I used a very short zigzag burn stroke. This means I burned in an up and down motion. Plus, I had little to no gap between the zigzag lines. This combined with the short burn stroke produces an extremely dark burn result.
In this photo you can see how I burn a band of color on the petal along the seam where it touches the lower flower. This creates a buffer zone. The buffer zone means I don’t have to get the pen tip precisely on the seam edge when I burn in the petal.
STEP 6 – FLOWER CENTERS and STEM
Darkly burn along the outer edge of each triangular shape on the flower center. Then darken up the bottom half of each triangular shape. When I darkened up the bottom half, I used a zigzag burn stroke to do so, but I left gaps between the lines.
I just noticed that I didn’t darken up the right edge of the flower center. Oops. Goes to show that just about anything goes with this artwork.
STEP 7 – ADDING COLOR
Before I added watercolor, I applied white artist tape along the edge that creates the frame for the artwork. I didn’t do this before because I wasn’t sure how the paper would handle this, so I wanted to minimize the amount of time the tape was in contact with the paper.
This photo shows the size difference. Keep in mind that I am NOT a painter. I couldn’t tell you if the paint brushes I have are good or total junk. I buy paint brushes based on prices. I do want to mention that you do not need the enormous paint brush I used. I bought this brush on clearance, and I’m not sure why. Until this project I have never used it.
Yes, that was the extent of my use of the mega large paintbrush. I think you can understand why it’s not necessary to have one for this project.
Next, I applied some diluted cobalt blue to the flower centers. Diluted means I mixed the paint with water in a little dish. Then I used that instead of dabbing the paint brush directly on the paint pan.
I should have known this would happen since the entire paper was wet. I did mention that I’m not a painter.
I will admit that it was during this time I wondered why I chose to paint the color onto the artwork. I hate paintbrushes and I’m not a big fan of painting. Some of you might be thinking that my attitude is why I’m such a terrible painting. While that might be true, I prefer another explanation.
I think paintbrushes hate me, and that they purposely try to ruin my paintings. Based on my beliefs, my attitude is perfectly justified. 🙂
I’m not 100% sure the problem was my fault. I did mention that paintbrushes hate me, so I think the brush has to take the majority of the blame.
Some of you are probably wondering why I chose to paint this artwork given my general dislike of painting. The reason it is painting so much faster than using colored pencils.
At this point I decided to let the paper dry before I continuing.
To keep things simple and easy to replicate, I did not mix any of the colors together.
There is another reason for this, I’ve discovered that I have this amazing ability to create brown paint. Give me a couple of basic colors, and I’ll give you some not so lovely shade of grey or brown. Even more amazing, I create a new shade of grey or brown with each mixing.
Yes, I know, my lack of precision is rather obvious. That’s okay. This was meant to be a quick and fun project where I didn’t fuss over details
My friend, Ryn Shell, does this, and it works wonderfully. I didn’t work for me. I ended up with large droplets of paint that I didn’t much care for.
STEP 8 – GREETING
Next, use a straight edge and a fine-tipped black marker to ink in the frame lines. I didn’t do this beforehand because I didn’t want the tape to remove the lines. I wasn’t sure if the tape would do that, but better safe than sorry.
After that I rubbed a pencil eraser over the line I drew down the center of the paper. I know, why bother with the center line in the first place? It’s not necessary and I’m not sure why I drew it in.
My set is very, very old. I’m not 100% sure they are still being made.
On the blog about products I use, I found a clear marker that will serve the purpose for this card.
I bought a set of many assorted colors a number of years ago when I was into scrapbooking. I didn’t bother to try and find the huge variety set I have. Instead, I found a small variety set on Amazon. This and the other card making items are listed on my products blog.
I hope you enjoyed this project. You can create a card for any occasion and have a lot of fun in the process. Before I go, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions. The pyrography took me 1 ½ hours to do, and then I spent around 15-20 minutes applying the paint. That excludes any drying time. I did mention before that I wanted this to be a quick and fun project. I managed the quick part, and I hope I accomplished the fun aspect too.
Until the next blog,
July 27, 2021
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