Clean and simple is quite popular among cardmakers at this upcoming time of year…with a lot of cards to make and other projects vying for attention, getting beautiful cards made that express your love for your recipients can be tough if each one takes a long time! So I’ve got a potential solution to get a bunch of yours done quickly – and the awesome part? You likely already have all the supplies you need! 

Tutorial: Clean and simple Christmas tree cards

This is the first lesson in the CAS Trees class over at Artventure (click on Courses in the menu over there) ….. more on the class in a minute, but enjoy the simplicity of this pretty tree first:

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

A word about black pens

For all versions, pretty much any pens you have should work since the line work goes on TOP of the color. If you’re not adding extra color after, it won’t matter if it bleeds or not, the pen should stay put.

That said, some pens on some papers on top of some mediums CAN give you a little surprise. What you’re used to at a particular thickness may feather out a little once it’s on top of color or on a new paper. Always test out a little bit on a scrap so you know what you’re getting.

For fountain pens, I like a TWSBI Eco; for projects like this usually the Medium nib is best (but I keep a Fine and Extra Fine in the studio just in case.)  Don’t overlook the Sharpie Ultra Fine that’s sitting in the kitchen pencil cup though! Or a Copic Multiliner works great too.

Water-based markers

Watercolor markers can be a challenge to blend in large areas so this tree with its stripes is a simple one to get a blend in each line, just using a brush to push the color back to the shadow side. For supplies – any water-soluble markers will work here, even kids Crayola!

SUPPLIES: My favorite crafty set is Sketchmarker Aqua, and fo2r fine art: Faber Castell Albrecht Durer (Blick AMZ) (these dont fade in the light). I recommend CansonXL (Blick AMZ)  for paper with these pens, it moves the color nicely even for beginners! A good crafty brush would be a Silver Brush Black Velvet Round #8:(Blick AMZ) and.or Round #4 (Blick)

Traditional Watercolor

While I say “traditional” watercolor that doesn’t mean it’s got to be fine art watercolor. Kids watercolor paints could do well here too – though they might not be as pigmented as fine art paints. But a pastel watercolor tree can be gorgeous, so don’t overlook supplies you have on hand! You’ll create stripes with a midtone, drop a dark on the left side for the shadow, then use a damp brush to push the color leftward to create that highlight.

SUPPLIES: I’ve used Daniel Smith watercolors here: Cobalt Teal Blue with Indanthrone. And a little Quin Rose for the pot! But there are so many colors to use! Try a pink tree or a purple one, or go traditional with greens. Anything will do! For paper I love Arches Cold Press, but with areas this small, the inexpensive CansonXL (Blick AMZ)  will also do; there’s no fancy edges to worry about, and the XL might be easier for your pen work.

Copic markers

Copic users, you can join in this fun too – just pick a set of three blending colors, a light, medium, and dark, and create some stripes! 

SUPPLIES: I used three Copic Markers BG47 BG13 BG000 Copic and an RV14 for th epot.  Use your favorite paper to color on, I like me some Neenah Cardstock, Solar White.

Colored Pencil

Your pencils can come out to play with these trees, too! A dark, medium and light in whatever combo you want …I was trying to mimic the colors in the other versions and didn’t have a single pencil group that would work so tried a more bluish dark, a greenish midtone, and bluish light color (sorry I forgot to write down color names!) since I was blending with gamsol. The three then kinda average out to an overall bluegreen color.

SUPPLIES: I recommend either Prismacolor (Blick AMZ) or Polychromos (Blick AMZ) Pencils; colored pencil is one medium where the cheaper pencils just aren’t able to put out enough pigment. My favorite paper to use with pencil is Stonehenge (Blick AMZ) …it’s got the best tooth I’ve found that pulls enough pigment off the pencil tips, and works great with blending stumps and Gamsol Blending solution.

A new little type of class!

As you may well know, I offer almost 100 classes at art-classes….those range from the basics in each medium (Jumpstart classes) to intermediate smaller courses (mini classes) and all sorts of advanced ones too. But….each one is a deeper class, thought out over months and prepared to convey specific techniques and ideas. 

But….I also wanted a way to teach students to just PLAY.

This year I’ve given myself the space to play. A week on each theme, and creating social media content on that theme, has helped me take time to explore an idea and push it….and I think that’s a super valuable exercise! And I think I may have a way to help YOU do the same kind of thing in a special, smaller, “snackable” class.

These will have shorter videos, a concentrated subject, and explore a variety of techniques around that smaller idea. A few weeks back I offered a free Watercolor Pencil Leaves class, and wanted to see how popular that might be. So many people signed up! Yay! So now ….it’s time for a new class in that genre….

Clean and Simple Trees class

With the holidays approaching, trees are a perfect topic for a CAS class….trees are such a focal point for Christmas cards, they can hold their own as a solo image! And with so many techniques in so many mediums, there’s a ton to play with. As students work through the 6 lessons, more ideas should start popping up (and more are added in class!) for other subjects that would be easily rendered in that style! 

To sign up for this $7.99 class, pop over to the Artventure community and look in the Courses tab. I’m hoping by the time you read this, that the class is available on web, android, and iOs but Apple’s been slow at approving things so far! If it’s not listed as an option in your Courses tab, then you’d need to go to the web version ( and access it there until Apple gets its act together.


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  1. Gab

    These are so cool

  2. Karen Suarez

    I’ve made a lot of detailed Christmas cards over the years, and enjoy making them, but default to clean and simple. They give me the most joy!

    Off to pull out everything I will need for this class – haven’t made a card of any type for close to two months.

  3. Win Noren

    Super cute and so lovely!


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