Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tutorial: "Cupcake" Christmas Card

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably left sending out Christmas cards to the last minute.  It’s the same every year, Christmas sneaks up on me and by the time I start thinking about it, there is only a week or so left.  So last night I sat down in my little studio and whipped up some Christmas cupcakes.  Not the delectable edible kind, rather the twinkly visual kind. LuminArte have released some gorgeous new holiday colors in their Twinkling H2O range, so I thought I’d try them out.

These 12 new colors are deep, rich and highly glamorous. Vavoom Red, Sugar Plum, Raspberry Wine, Twilight, Mystique, Harvest Sol, Desert Clay, Spanish Moss, Moon Beams, Emerald, Ice, and Golden Nugget. These are shimmer on steroids and they are perfect for so many holiday projects.

 I thought I share a little of my process. Here’s how I did it: Start with a quick pencil sketch of a cupcake.

Sweep a light wet wash of “Spanish Moss” over the cupcake pan.  Let the pigment and mica play over the paper and encourage it with your brush to settle into what will become the ridges of the pan.

Next, using “Emerald” gently fill in the holly leaves applying the same technique.  Use a little more water if necessary and watch as the mica moves around.  Again, as it’s drying, just encourage the shimmer to settle into the areas that will be ridged or shaded.  Use a paper towel to dab out the excess from the areas that will reflect some light. I used “Hot Cinnamon” for the berries, with a flash of “Vavoom Red” for dimension.  The berries are so small that it’s important NOT to over work them.  One layer of “Hot Cinnamon” for color and one or two light brush strokes of “Vavoom Red” for dimension.

Next, fill your brush with a very wet, but light coating of “Harvest Sol” and run it around the edges of the frosting. “Harvest Sol” has a beautiful strong pigment and you only need a small amount of paint. Only cover the edges at this stage as you’re trying to bring out the shading.  Let it dry before the next coat.  Fill a clean brush with a generous coating of “Ice” and wash it all over the frosting.  “Ice” is colorless, but you’ll definitely see the shimmer take form as you lay it down.

Using another coating of  “Harvest Sol” bring out more of the shaded edges by blending it very softly into the ice.  You’ll be able to see that as the mica builds up around the edges of the frosting, the light plays in a way that it begins to look three-dimensional. That’s the beauty of Twinkling H2O’s. 

Now you have your primary layer on your cupcake, from here on, it's all about subtlety. This is where it is important to use less water on your brush and more paint, but remember a light hand will give the best results, and keep a paper towel close by for dabbing.
Start with “Emerald” and put in darker lines over the case for ridges.  Just work the paint in a way that it ‘looks’ right to you.  Follow any contours of the cupcake and keep the lines parallel and consistent, but not too perfect. Lightly wash a little more of the “Emerald” around the edges of the case adding shadow and form. Dab away the areas that reflect light, giving it the impression of a round case and let it dry between layers.

Apply the same layering principle over the rest of the picture.  Adding a little more paint in areas that are darker or shaded and dabbing away at the lighter areas. If you want to lift away some of the darker paint, just use a wet clean brush, run the water over those areas and dab away with your towel.  The Twinkling H2O’s are remarkably easy to lift in this way.

When you’re happy with the result, let it dry, then pick up a fine black marker or pen and use it to define the cupcake.  Keep the lines small, clean and unobtrusive.  This stage is just for definition; don’t let the black lines overtake the entire picture, but instead use them to help bring out the edges of the cupcake.  

As a final step, I mixed “China Black” and “Siam White” to make a creamy matte gray.  These two colors are the only non-mica colors in the Twinkling H2O range. I use them a lot, especially for background shading.  The matte of these two work in perfect harmony behind a shimmering subject to make the piece “POP” from the page.

Be very careful when using them though, the pigments in these two colors are very rich and even though you can mix them with the mica-based colors, they can easily and quickly over power the mica if you use too much. Lightly wash the gray behind the cupcake, starting your stroke against the edge of the cupcake, pull the color out with you brush and lots of water, dabbing away at the edges to keep it smooth.

As a final tip, scan or copy the finished cupcake and print it out onto card stock. Then, using just the main colors, lightly brush a layer of Twinkling H2O onto the copied version of your cupcake. 

Cut around the edges and stick it onto a blank greeting card. This makes it easy to produce many shimmering glittering copies of the original, and perfect for bulk Christmas Cards for all your family and friends.

And, as a little Christmas gift to you, here is a scanned copy of my finished Christmas cupcake. Please feel free to download it, print it onto card stock and then brush over it with your own Twinkling H2O’s.  It’ll make a fun Christmas card, or gift tags.

Have a yummy, twinkling Christmas, and thanks for checking in. xx


  1. They are utterly brilliant, and your Christmas card recipients will find them worth waiting for. (I'm the same with Christmas cards, I always leave them til late)! Hoho.

  2. Such a beautiful card and your tutorial was very helpful. Thanks for sharing......Dianne K.

  3. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I'd sure love to get a card like that. They're beautiful!

  4. I love this! Your post also answered a question I asked on my blog yesterday. I'm new to these Twinkling H20's, and I apparently have five that I bought several years ago. I did not use them until recently. They say LuminArte on the bottom and I wondered if it they were the product called Twinkling H20's. Now I know and I love the stuff! I need to buy more and keep reading your very helpful blog.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Great ‘tute’! Looks good enough to eat! (I haven’t even started on my cards yet! LOL)

  6. beautiful......i have loads of these paints and have never used them....i must try them...

  7. Gorgeous, as always!1 I am so excited to see these new colors - I just KNOW I NEED them, LOL. In actuality, they are paints I love to use, and you do a wonderful job of showing off their versatility!

  8. A very lovely Christmas card...all of them!! I love my h2o's!! many hugs

  9. Darling Card~~~So cute!!
    Stopping by via WHOA :)

    Merry Christmas blessings to you,
    Kay Ellen

  10. TFS this step by step and for the finished cupcake, I like the holly and berries on top!

    Congrats on your son's success and also for your upcoming workshops!

    Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2012!

  11. Lovely card.. a merry Christmas to you and yours xx

  12. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial, Dion. Your descriptions are very helpful. Now to buy some Twinkling H2Os.

  13. Dion-
    This is such a wonderful tutorial.
    Thanks so much for sharing your talent!


  14. I made a card inspired by this post. You can check it out on my blog. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Wonderful tutorial, thank you!

  16. Dion - can you tell me what kind of pen you are using? I have issues with pens so I'd love to know what you use. Thanks for the your work. Merry Christmas!

  17. Rhonda, thanks for your comment, for this I used the Koh-I-Noor Rapido Sketch in a 3x0/.25 I also use the Pigma Micron quite a lot...or a dip pen and India ink, depending on how fine I need the marks. xx

  18. Hi, found your tut thru the Flickr group. Enjoyed it very much. Great work!


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