Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I have never made an ATC!!!  No never!!!!  I really don't know why...maybe because I see the small size as limiting or the thought of trading art work with other artists never occurred to me...or whatever was stopping me is not stopping me now.

If you have been following my blog for very long you probably know that I have taken every single one of Joanne Sharpe's on-line classes.  Yes, all of them and I am not have many others.  And...after a while, you become pretty good friends with the other artists and become inspired and even influenced by them. That's how I became involved in ATC's.  One of the artists in Joanne's class started a closed FaceBook group to trade ATC's.  So....I thought that I would give it a try! "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

To get started I cut up scraps of watercolor paper to size, grabbed my Tombow markers and various other pens and pencils and got to work making ATC's. Whenever I get stumped for ideas of what to draw, I always turn to faces.  Faces are the most comforting to me, especially when you are not trying to draw anyone in particular.  And...because of the small size of the ATC's, I thought that I would draw just part of the face and feature the hair by painting it bright colors like blue, green or pink.  Here is the first of six that I made.

And this is how I made them.

I used:

Strathmore 300 Watercolor paper
Tombow watercolor markers
Prismacolor pencils
black Pitt pen, fine
Acrylic Paint marker, Painter's
Signo Uniball white pen
Koi waterbrush
White charcoal pencil

Lightly draw the girl in pencil.

Note:  Use a good quality watercolor paper because the Tombow markers will not blend on an inferior paper.

Using the Tombow markers, color areas of the paper.

Do not color the area solid as we are going to move the color around with water from a water brush or paintbrush. This will give it a nice watercolor look.

Be careful not to let the areas touch while wet unless you purposefully want the colors to blend.

I wanted the purple and turquoise to blend for the background but I did not want them to mix with the green hair. One way to avoid one color from bleeding into the adjacent color is  to let each section dry before you paint.

Blending the colors with a wet paintbrush or waterbrush.

Wet the areas of the Tombow paint until it starts to flow and then push it around to cover the desired area to be painted.  If you have to scrub with the paintbrush, you may not be using enough water. At the same time, be sure to get rid of the hard edges.

This may look a little watermarked or splotchy.  If you don't like the way it looks, re-wet the area and push the color some more.  This takes a little practice but also keep in mind that watercolor is supposed to be watermarked. Also, don't worry too much about a smooth background because it will be covered by the lettering.

See how the purple and turquoise is not completely mixed together?  I was striving to blend the hard lines but still allowing both the purple and turquiose to maintain their true color.  I was not trying to obtain a new color by mixing the two.

Leave some white paper showing in the area of her nose and chin...areas that you wish to come forward.  The areas to recede are darker in color.  This gives the face its rounded shape.

Now to add detail.

I used a medium purple Prismacolor pencil, Violet 1008, to start outlining the features of the face and to streak the hair.

I used a deeper green prismacolor pencil and a white Signo pen to add additional streaks to the hair.  I also added shading to areas of the hair that would appear under her face or scarf.

I added color to the eyes, lips and scarf with Tombow markers.  

In this step, I have deepened the shadows with prismacolor pencils and used a black Pitt pen for detail.

I used the Pitt pen to draw the stripes in the scarf,  accentuate the facial features and necklace, and draw a border around the edge of the card..

I added a dot of white highlight to the eyes and bottom lower lip and added more hair streaks with the Signo pen.

The red stripe on the scarf is Tombow marker.

The final step is to add the lettering.

I used a white charcoal pencil to draw the placement of the letters.  This later erases beautifully using a kneaded eraser.

Next, using a fine tip paint pen, draw the letters.

Once the paint is dry, outline the letters with a Signo pen.

Once all pen work is dry, erase any visible charcoal lines.

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and give it a try!!!  I welcome questions!


Here are a few more ATC's using this technique.


  1. These are beautiful! Now you've made a few ATCs I promise you will be hooked.

    1. Thank you Deborah! Yes, I think they will be addictive!

  2. These are fabulous Ginny! Love the colors! I too have never technically done an ATC so I'm getting my feet wet with the Index Card a Day challenge over at Daisy Yellow. Enjoying it a lot! (

    1. Thank you! It is nice working at a smaller size...I can complete a card in a little more than an hour.

  3. Thank you Ginny !
    And I can say I'm the first who received ATC cards from you !
    They really are beautiful !
    And it's nice to discover her how you've made them

  4. Thank you Heidi!!! I got your B'day card today and your sunflower is beautiful!!! I am honored to own it. I am having fun making ATC's...I bought a stamp for the back and plan to either make or find a book to put them in.

  5. Love, love, love your girls Ginny. They are gorgeous! Which colour(s) did you use for the face? I have a few tombos and would love to try this technique. Thanks.

    1. Thank you Erin!!! I used 850 for the base, shaded with 912 and made rosy cheeks and lips with 772. I bought the 6 pen portrait palette set which has 800, 850,020,772,912,969. It's good for a lot of different skin tones.

  6. Thank you Ginny. I so love your "girls" and will give this a try! Appreciate you giving me the info!

    1. You're Welcome Erin! I would love to see what you do.

  7. Used your tutorial and created 2 of my own girls. I also did a response to the birthday ATC you sent me. Not as good as yours but they sure were fun. If you want to see I've uploaded them to my flickr account -

    Thank you so much for posting this tutorial!

    1. Oh Cheryl, I looove your girls!!! You did a fantastic job!!! I'm glad that the tutorial helped! Don't you just love Tombow markers and prismacolor pencils?

    2. I do love them! I didn't have the ones you used so had to improvise but found the 6 pen set at my local art store. I need to take Joanne's color class and the marker one. So many classes, so little time. :)

      thanks again for posting your tutorial.

    3. I know what you mean when you say "so many classes, so little time." I signed up for too many this year and couldn't keep up but the good thing about Joann's classes is that they are open forever.