Hi there crafters! I am excited about today's technique which features freehand watercolor – almost!

I'm kind of cheating a little by using a stencil to help here, but, as you'll see, there is still some freehand in it. It just became my new favorite way to use stencils. And while I'm only featuring one card today, there are so many other stencils I want to try this with!

Freehand Watercolor Foliage Card with Altenew Brush & Fine Tip Pens

My cardstock is Bristol Smooth which takes water well but is still very smooth and white. I also highly recommend the Altenew Watercolor Paper for this technique but, unfortunately, I had run out!

Stencil Using Brush Tip Pens

For my medium, I'm using the Hawaiian Shores Brush & Fine Tip Pens. These are simply perfect for use with stencils – easy to control, firm enough to stay within the areas, and the fine tip can be used in those harder-to-reach detailed areas of stencils that other things like blenders can't.

Select Your Stencil

I chose to use the Foliage Stencil for my freehand watercolor card today. It's a really simple stencil with an image that would look great watercolored onto a card and lends itself to that ‘freehand' style. It also has a more detailed layer that would work with the fine tip end of the pens to give them a workout!

Freehand Watercolor Foliage Card with Altenew Brush & Fine Tip Pens

I started by angling the stencil image over an A2 panel of Bristol Smooth cardstock, then adhered it down onto my craft mat with Satin Masking Tape.

Outline Your Image

I then started with the lightest marker (Firefly) and outlined each of the leaves using the brush tip end of the pen. I used a size 2 Detailed Watercolor Brush (damp, not soaking) to pull the color into the middle of the leaf. I then moved on to the next leaf and repeated. When I had completed all the leaves, I used the Honey Drizzle marker to do the branches in the same way.

Start Freehand Watercoloring

I then removed the stencil. I used the second green shade in the set Just Green and went back over the leaves already drawn – this time freehand – adding it towards the base of the leaf with a few strokes. I then pulled it out again with a damp brush. I finished with a third darkest green color – Evergreen – adding just a touch to the base of the leaf and pulling it out. I also blended it into the branch to create a stem and join the leaves to the branches.

Add Details with the Fine Tip

I placed the stencil over the leaves, this time with the detailed area of the stencil, and added the lines with the fine tip of the Firefly pen.

Freehand watercolor Foliage Card with Altenew Brush & Fine Tip Pens

Add Splatter

To give it an artsy look, I added several splatters. Simply scribble your pen onto a craft mat, pick it up with a wet brush, and splatter away!

When dry, I stamped a sentiment over the top using Obsidian Pigment Ink. The sentiment is from the Say It with Love Stamp Set. For subtle sparkle, I finished with a few Satin Gold Sequins.

You're going to love this technique – it's so fun and really makes you feel like a watercolor artist! Even though you're getting a helping hand from a stencil – you still get that freehand watercolor look.

You can check out the full tutorial of this freehand watercolor project over on the Altenew YouTube Channel:

~Supplies Used~

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