Using Watercolor Pencils to Make Artist Trading Cards (ATCs)

Using Watercolor Pencils to Make Artist Trading Cards

Watercolor as an art medium is something I haven’t really explored deeply until this past year. I’m kind of surprised that I’ve grown to love using watercolor pencils, which allow me to draw and fill in the detail more precisely of the subjects I’d like to paint …and then add water to create the watercolor effect. Overall, I have more control over the final result. Lately, I’ve been trying to improve the way I blend colors to create realistic effects.

Watercolor Paper

When working with watercolors for artist trading cards, it is advised to choose watercolor paper, which has a less absorbent, stiffer surface that doesn’t allow paint to bleed through and soak the paper. I purchase watercolor paper pre-cut to the 3 ½ x 2 ½ sizes needed for artist trading cards.

When I approach an artist trading card theme, I first sketch my idea in pencil. I’m currently creating a card for a Whimsical Hair theme…so this one centers on the concept of ‘dragon hair.’  Then, I follow up by outlining using a fine-tipped Sharpie pen.

Drawing with Watercolor Pencils and Sharpie Pen

I start coloring in the drawing. The darker the marks, the deeper the watercolors. I then start add more detail to the drawing with the Sharpie pen. In the last photo above, I darkened the colors and added more shadowing in the hair.

Use a Fine-Tipped Watercoolor Brush for Detailed Drawings

Since I am working with a drawing that has small details (in the hair), I use a smaller, sharply-pointed watercolor brush. The brush shown here happened to come with the watercolor pencil set that I use. I dip the brush in a small container of water, shake the excess (because too much water will cause the colors to run together). The water allows you to blend colors in a larger space, or concentrate on one section at a time. When shading the hair for this card, I paint lighter colors into dark to avoid losing hues like yellow. When the card dries, I go in and add details, like color and more precise features (such as the eyes of the girl and dragon).

Add Detail to Watercolor Art with White Gelly Roll Pen and Glitter Gel Pens

I use a black Sharpie pen, white Gelly Roll pen, and glitter gel pens to add the final touches to the card.

Using Watercolor Pencils for an Artist Trading Card Swap

One of the most recent artist trading card swaps that I participated in involved specific requests. I joined a group of four other people, and we were tasked to hand-draw or hand-paint cards for one another. Below are the themes they requested and the art cards that I made for them (and later got in return):

The Cards that I Made…

Whimsical black_orange cat with white paws for Fandanie

Fandanie requested: A whimsical black/orange cat with white paws

One of the first things that popped into my head when I thought of a ‘whimsical cat’ was Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat, so I gained inspiration from that character.

Materials Used: Sharpie fine-tip pen, watercolor pencils, white Gelly Roll pen

White Country Church for CiCiCreates

CiCiCreates requested: A white country church

This was my first time drawing anything architectural in a true-to-form nature. I had no idea how to approach this theme until I looked outside and saw snow, and just imagined a little church in the middle of nowhere that gets visits from local wildlife.

Materials Used: Sharpie fine-tip pen, watercolor pencils, white Gelly Roll pen

Whimsical pig for Suzi

Suzi requested: A whimsical pig

I approached this card like a children’s book illustration.

Materials Used: Sharpie fine-tip pen, watercolor pencils, glitter pen, white Gelly Roll pen

Sheep for KPinAK

KPinAK requested: A sheep in vertical/portrait orientation

Usually I outline artwork with a fine-tip Sharpie pen, but decided to let the watercolors create the ‘fluffy’ texture of the sheep’s wool. Once again, a white Gelly Roll pen makes his facial features pop against the darker watercolors.

Materials Used: Watercolor pencils, white Gelly Roll pen, Sharpie fine-tip pen

The Cards that I Received…

For this swap, I chose the theme of girls or ladies in a polka dotted dress.

My ultimate goal is to collect various dresses and styles…made by artists from around the world.

Girls in Polka Dot Dresses 1

Girls in Polka Dot Dresses 2

I cannot stop looking at KPinAK‘s card. I am beyond over-the-moon that it’s mine. My eye is immediately drawn to the dress (with its shadowing and lovely details) – it is truly mesmerizing. The car…the flooring…the shadows of wedding guests…even the woman’s posture are all things that I enjoy analyzing. I just feel like I received a mini painting that belongs on the wall. I can really tell that KPinAK put a lot of thought into the composition of this card, and I really appreciate it.

I am in LOVE with the lil’ girl that CiCiCreates drew – there is so much personality coming through. I love the design details of this card, especially the dress (with the little ties), her pose, her shoes, and purse.

Do you use watercolors?

What art medium or tools do you use?


Using Watercolor Pencils to Create Artist Trading Cards - ATCs Whimisical Hair Artist Trading Card - Dragon Hair







25 thoughts on “Using Watercolor Pencils to Make Artist Trading Cards (ATCs)”

  1. Wildish Jess says:

    I didn’t know artist trading cards were a thing. What a cool idea for artists!

  2. misty nelson dawn says:

    Wow, these are all looms beautiful and you had a good talent. I wish I could have a talent lime yours.

  3. Your trading cards are so vibrant and whimsical! My box of 132 Prisma pencils is one of my most used supplies on my art desk, but I have to admit that I haven’t done much with watercolor pencils. I love the affects that can be achieved with them though. Maybe it’s time to get a set.
    Renee | The Good Hearted Woman recently posted…“Kissing Hand” Share Chair {DIY Tutorial}My Profile

  4. I have to share this post with my daughter, she loves to use the gliter pens and draw and color on anything. This is such an adorable way for her to share her love!
    Lily @militaryfamof8 recently posted…It’s the MOTHER of all Mother’s Day Giveaways featuring over $1300 in Mom Invented prizes!My Profile

  5. Heather says:

    These are fantastic! You are so talented and these turned out beautiful.
    Heather recently posted…Dr Pepper® Ice Cream Shake Recipe Inspired by Wonder WomanMy Profile

  6. This is unbelievably beautiful! I don’t think I have the talent for something like this. I really admire your work! You’re amazing at painting!
    Carol Cassara recently posted…Opportunity to healMy Profile

  7. Echo says:

    Oh my goodness, you are so talented! I love your whimsical cat! It reminds me of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland!
    Echo recently posted…Currently with a Box Swap!My Profile

  8. Brittany says:

    These look amazing! I would love making cute little cards like this although I’m really not crafty!

  9. Erin says:

    Out of all the mediums, colored pencil is my second favorite (chalk is my number one!). I love the way pencils glide and blend. There’s just something so peaceful and relaxing to feel the color transfer to the paper!

  10. Joanna says:

    Your cards are so cute and I love your swap group! You can actually see the personality of the artists in each of the cards received! 🙂

  11. Cindy says:

    I wish I had your talent. I’m great at writing but not so much at drawing. These cards are so beautiful.
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  12. lydia says:

    These cards are gorgeous! You are such an amazing artist. I love the pig card!

  13. katie says:

    These are so gorgeous! Love all of the coloring and the details! I wish I was a talented artist like this!

  14. Oh wow, I love these. Some people are just so creative like you are. I love the ones you’ve made and received.
    Terri Beavers recently posted…Nose Piercings Are So HotMy Profile

  15. Amanda Love says:

    It’s so nice to be able to create works of art and share it with people who do the same. The appreciation for the craft grows even more. I think you did an awesome job painting and so did the other artists.

  16. Elizabeth O. says:

    What a fun thing to do. I think it’s awesome that you’re able to create cards like this just by using water color pencils. It’s amazing!

  17. I had no idea that watercolor pencils were a thing! These seem amazing, and now I want to get some! I am not an artist, but my daughter and I enjoy drawing together and I think these would be fun for both of us!
    Jessica Joachim recently posted…Raising Empowered DaughtersMy Profile

    1. Yona Williams says:

      Kids do love them! I introduced my nephew to them, and he had a lot of fun adding water to his pictures and seeing the colors blend.

  18. How fun these are! My personal favorite is the church. I wish I could draw like that.

  19. Jennifer L says:

    Omg how talented you are! These beautiful watercolor tradiing cards are just gorgeous. They’d be a beautiful keepsake gift for moms too.
    Jennifer L recently posted…Saying Goodbye to the Bad Boys & Gaining Back Your Self-LoveMy Profile

  20. Kristina says:

    These are amazing and look like a lot of fun! I’m not that great at drawing but this looks like something I’d enjoy learning!
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  21. Tara pittman says:

    You have amazing talent. These cards are so beautiful.
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  22. Janel B says:

    I haven’t drawn in a while but my medium was colored pencils but not the water colored kind. I wonder if you can still use them like a watercolor even if they aren’t specifically designed for that ?
    Janel B recently posted…Gluten-Free Spinach Fettuccine ReviewMy Profile

  23. robin rue says:

    Those trading cards are gorgeous. I mean absolutely beautiful. And what a great idea for trading cards….brilliant.

    1. Yona Williams says:

      Thank you! Trading art cards is a lot of fun!

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