Holiday Card Making with Vic Hollins

Prepare the Surface

  • Start with a piece of watercolor paper that is 10 x 7 inches.
  • Using a ruler, measure 5 inches across the halfway point of the longer end of the rectangular paper.
  • With a pencil, make marks across that centerline of the paper.
  • Score the paper by using an exacto knife to lightly cut halfway into the paper. Do not cut completely through! This will make a very nice clean fold in the paper- especially if it is a heavier stock. 140lb watercolor paper works wonderfully for this.

Transfer the lineart

  • Scale the sketch to a 5×7 format. If it is a vertical card, the image will be placed on the right side. If it is a horizontal card, the image will be placed on the lower side.
  • Using either a Lightbox or graphite paper, transfer your sketch onto the paper. Masking tape is helpful to secure the papers in place.
  • Clean the graphite lineart using erasers before the next step.


1. Koi Watercolor base

  • Tape down the paper using masking tape to hold it in place and stretch it. This will create a clean border and will keep the paper from becoming warped.
  • Spritz the Koi watercolors with water–This helps the dry pans be permeated with water making for more saturated colors & easier use.
  • Plug in flat base colors, aiming for midtone in value.
  • Add shadows using a smaller brush. Deepening the base colors will add dimension.

2. Microns

  • Plug in your darkest details first using the black Microns. Choose whatever size is needed from extremely small detail nibs to the brush tip!
  • Next use the Mid-Grey to blend out the darker areas. Layer this tone on the edge of wherever the black was placed. For doing fur, be sure to make small choppy marks.
  • Lastly, use the lightest gray to help transition the mid gray & black into the watercolor tones.
  • Just a tip~ Microns are waterproof when dry! So if you need to go back through and add in more watercolor, the Micron will stay put.

3. Gelly Rolls

  • Moonlight White Gelly rolls are fantastic for adding highlights as they are opaque and come in a variety of different nib sizes. Add as many as needed as they will make for wonderful contrast.
  • Now is a great opportunity to add in some extra color details. Gelly Rolls come in a variety of different finishes, opacities and sheens! Add any extra color as needed.
  • For covering a larger area with Gelly Rolls, scribble over an area, and chase it with a wet brush. By feathering over the wet-pen, the ink will be blended.
  • Just a tip~ Gelly Rolls are *NOT* water soluble. So be sure to be careful placing watercolor overtop as it may smear!

4. Koi CAC watercolors

  • To finish off the illustration, place metallic watercolor to give a bit of sparkle! These specialty colors come in Metallic, Fluorescent, and Pearlescent.


  • A spray varnish can be used to protect the card from grime and from the color fading over the years. This step is optional, of course! Handmade cards are extremely special and are typically cherished.
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