• Kirsty Partridge

Polar Bear Watercolor Christmas Card

Painting beautiful watercolor Christmas cards are a great gift for friends as it is not only a nice card but a piece of art they can treasure as well. Check out my online course here, where I demonstrate how to paint 4 watercolour Christmas card designs in real-time!


Starting with the cards themselves, use watercolor paper and measure out the width and height of your cards. I wanted them to be square, so I measured 30 centimeters by 15 centimeters and cut them out. Now, when you carefully fold in the middle of the 30 centimeters, you’ll have a 15cm x 15cm square card.


Using washi tape create a nice border around the painting/card. Then sketch in your outline; here I’ve chosen a polar bear in the snow. To keep this painting simple I will only be using 1 colour, Paynes Grey.





Pre-wet the sky area of the painting and then tap in dark blue for the sky. I went in horizontally and, because you pre-wet the area, the paint bleeds out. This looks nice and smooth with no harsh edges which is great! I intensified some areas with an even darker blue for the shadows of the sky.


To create a really cool snowy wintery sky, I sprinkled table salt all over the sky. This really does work magic which you’ll see when it dries.







Now for the snow; I used the wet-on-dry method here, so no need to pre-wet the snow. Using the same color I paint the shadows of the snow. Basically, I’m doing curved brush strokes for the dips of the snow. Painting quite loose and messily creates a fun and expressive piece. Darken a few areas here and there for contrast and variety.


The polar bear is your main focus and now you can bring it to life. Carefully, with a small paintbrush paint the darkest areas, so the eyes, nose, and ears. Add shadow to give structure to the face, and map in the basic shapes. Here I wasn’t worried about a photorealistic polar bear but more of a fun, stylized look.


Map the basic shadows and anatomy of the polar bear. I didn’t aim for every little fur stroke but followed the reference for more intense shadows such as between the toes, underneath the body and on the legs.




Adding a couple of highlights, as I always like to do, I used white gouache to brighten up a few areas. For example, the ear (it got kind of covered by the background) and some highlights in the snow. However, I did leave a lot of the white paper showing through, which is a nice and bright finish.


My final touch was to outline the polar bear with a fine liner. By this point the salt has created a beautiful snowy effect which I adore and think should be used more.

And in less than an hour you have a Christmas card. I also created another three Christmas cards, which you can follow along to by watching the video below. It has the painting process of all four cards in action:

If you want to improve and level up your skills, or just need some pointers, then check out these online watercolor painting courses.


Materials used:

Cotman Watercolour: http://geni.us/StarterWatercolorSet

Cold Pressed Paper: http://geni.us/Archescoldpressed

Washi Tape: http://geni.us/washitapeset

Faber Castell Albrect Durer Pencils: http://geni.us/albrectdurerpencils

Molotow masking fluid pen: http://geni.us/maskingfluidpen

Silver Brush Paintbrushes: http://geni.us/Brushset

Windsor and newton gouache: http://geni.us/DesignerWhiteGouache

Disclaimer; some links are affiliated.

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