Tutorial: Washi Tape Candle Birthday Card

Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post so today I’ve got a quick and simple birthday card tutorial for you.



Washi tape in three different designs

Brush pens



Prefolded blank card made of at least 80 lb cardstock and coordinating envelope


Instructions (see below for a gallery view of the photos and also a video of me making the card)

  1. Draw guidelines for writing happy birthday towards the bottom of the card. I chose to draw four guidelines 1/4” apart for the word birthday and two guidelines 1/4” apart for the word happy. 

  2. Write out the words in pencil.

  3. Draw some guidelines for where your Washi tape candles will be. I would suggest angling them like I did to add some more interest to the card. You will see in the video that I erased mine because they showed up through the tape.  Cut the tape to size, apply to the card, and make sure to leave enough room to draw the flame above the candle. 

  4. Trace over your pencil writing for the words happy birthday with a brush pen or any other marker or pen that you want to use.

  5. Draw the flame for the candles by first drawing an orange tear drop shape. Color in everything except the middle. Add yellow in the middle of the flame and then draw some vertical angled lines around three flames of the candles.

  6. Erase your guidelines and you are done! 

Calligraphy Tip: Practicing Letter Connections

Once you have mastered calligraphy letterforms, you definitely want to start writing words.  Some letter connections can be easy to figure out while some letter connections can feel very tricky.  Then there is also the matter of connecting double letters.  In today’s blog post I want to talk about some ways to practice letter connections and give you some example.  First, I want to define words two words that I will be using often:

entrance exit strokes.jpg

Entrance stroke:  The stroke at the beginning of a letter

Exit stroke: The stroke at the end of a letter


The entrance and exit strokes are the foundation of how we connect letters.  Keeping these strokes consistent allow you to make sure your words have even spacing. Sometimes it may be necessary to condense an exit or entrance stroke to make sure the rest of the word has even spacing. Take a look at the word him above.


Let’s first talk about practicing letter connections by writing simple 3-5 words.  Usually as part of my practice, after my warmup, I go through the entire alphabet and write random words.  I focus on writing a word with each capital letter and making sure each lower-case letter is included once.  Take a look at one of my practice sheets to the left. This helps me make sure that I am always practicing all of the letters of the alphabet.


Now let’s talk about letter connections. Some letters like a, e, i, t, m, n, h are pretty easy to connect to other letters.  They end with an exit stroke which is the entrance stroke to another letter.  Take a look at the word “am” to the left and the word team below.


If the next letter has an oval stroke (such as a c, e, g), you will need to shorten the exit stroke to connect to the oval. See the word ha below and how the exit stroke of the h does not go to the top of the x height.

double letters.jpg

Connecting double letters can sometimes seem tricky. I have included some populate double letter combinations to the left to give you some examples of how I connect double letters.


In traditional copperplate, the exit stroke of letters like o, w, v, can be tough to connect other letters with. If its too short the letter get too close together and if its too long, the word does not look proportionate. Take a look at some o letter connections to the left and the word why below. See how its important to make sure the exit stroke is wide enough to fit the next letter but not too wide.


Another fun way to practice letter connections is to do something called an alphabet necklace.  With an alphabet necklace, you pick a letter and then you write every letter of the alphabet connecting to that letter.  For example, if you pick the letter n, you would start by writing n and then connect to the letter a, then write another n and connect to the letter b, and so on.  This allows you to practice letter connections and think about how to connect different letters together.  This is a great way to practice and experiment with letter connections.  Its also a wonderful warmup exercise. 

alphabet necklace.jpg

I want to end up with the thought that you should have fun connecting letters and see the different variations you can come up with. I hope you found this post informative and I can’t wait to see what you think. Leave a comment below with some letter connections that you find tricky and I will do a blog post again about more letter connections!

Faux Calligraphy - A Tutorial

Faux calligraphy is a really fun technique that allows you to achieve the look of calligraphy using almost any writing tool (different pens, pencils, etc.) with a variety of mediums (mirror, tables, different types of paper, etc.).  When I say the look of calligraphy, I am referring to the stroke variation in calligraphy where you have thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes.  Take a look at the quote below that I wrote using a traditional dip pen and nib:


Now, what if you want to achieve that look but on a chalkboard or a mirror?  Or you simply want to write something quickly and don’t want to wait several hours for ink to dry.  That is where faux calligraphy comes in!  In order to write in faux calligraphy, you start by drawing the skeleton of the letter.  Then wherever you had a downstroke (your pen moved towards you when writing), you add an additional parallel line to thicken the stroke. Take a look at the letter a below.  I used the color pink to highlight an upstroke (pen moves away from you) and green to highlight a downstroke.  Once you draw the parallel lines to the downstrokes you can choose to fill it in completely for a more traditional look or leave it uncolored for a fun modern look!

basics a.JPG

Below is another example of the strokes broken down using the letter h:

letter h.jpg

The technique is super fun even when you are lettering on paper and you can create variations like using different colors or designs to fill in the downstrokes like I did below:


Now, I want to talk about a few do’s and don’t to help you achieve consistent and beautiful faux calligraphy.   These are some basic rules that I follow most of the time.  I saw most of the time because sometimes you may want to “break” these rules due to style preference!   Don’t let them limit your creativity but use them as a guideline as you are learning the technique.


First, its important not to cross two thick lines.  There are some letters, like x, where depending on how you write it, you may have two downstrokes.  If you run into that, just pick one stroke to thicken and leave the other one as a thin stroke.


Second, keep the thickness of the downstrokes consistent in each word.  If you look at the word on the right of the picture above, it looks very messy.  The one of the left is easier to read and has a cleaner look.


Third, if the stroke of the letter has a curve (such as c, o, e, a, etc.) follow the curve.  Take a look at the letter g on the left and see how I follow the curve of the round stroke for the g and of the stem as it comes down?  Now look at the g on the right side.  See how awkward it looks when I create a more square/hard edge instead of a soft edge? 

I wanted to end this post by showing you some of my completed works that I used the faux calligraphy technique on.  I would love to see your work as well, please tag me on Instagram at calligraphybysana.

In this card I used the faux calligraphy technique but chose not to fill in the strokes

In this card I used the faux calligraphy technique but chose not to fill in the strokes

In this envelope I combined both a script font in faux calligraphy and a Sans serif style.

In this envelope I combined both a script font in faux calligraphy and a Sans serif style.

This leaf was written with the faux calligraphy technique using a marker.

This leaf was written with the faux calligraphy technique using a marker.

This chalkboard was almost written using chalk markers and the faux calligraphy technique.

This chalkboard was almost written using chalk markers and the faux calligraphy technique.


Art Journaling

Art journaling is an incredibly relaxing and fun activity that I recently started doing.  You can use it as a place to try different techniques (line drawings, painting, sketching, putting together collages, stamping, etc.). You can use it to try different mediums such as oil paint, acrylic, watercolor, pencils, colored pencils, pens, etc.  You can also use it as a visual journal of your day, your week, your vacations, etc.  It is a place for you to create art without judgement and you can give yourself permission to create whatever you want without feeling like you are going to “mess something up.”  Making mistakes is a common fear of beginners and often hinders people from trying different techniques and mediums.  

I started my art journal last month after watching a few skillshare videos for inspiration.   If you don’t have skillshare, check out my affiliate link here to get 2 months free!  Below is a list of a few skillshare videos that I recommend you check out if you are looking to keep an art journal:

1.       Sketchbook Illustration for All: Draw Your Day with Watercolor & Pen by Samantha Dion Baker

2.       Draw Your Life: Intro to Illustrated Journaling by Mimi Chao

3.       Mark Your Memories: Make an Illustrated Milestone Map | A Creative Exercise for Any Level by Mimi Chao

4.       Doodle Magic | Basic & Advanced Techniques by Yasmina Creates

5.       Urban Sketching for Beginners by Julia Henze

6.       Urban Sketching for Beginners: One - Point Perspective by Julia Henze

7.       Urban Sketching for Beginners: Two - Point Perspective by Julia Henze

8.       Urban Sketching: Let's Draw Some Doors! by Julia Henze

9.       Learn to Draw: Daily Practices to Improve Your Drawing Skills by Gabrielle Brickey

After watching most of the videos above, I was definitely motivated to keep a journal so I can try different techniques.  I decided to keep a weekly journal.  A weekly journal gives me an automatic idea of prompts for journaling and also makes me set time out weekly to create art.  I keep a journal from Sunday to Saturday each week.   Throughout the week I mentally keep note of any moment I want to remember.  Usually Saturday nights I make a pencil sketch of the main things I want to put in my journal. I don’t write or draw everything that happened in a week.  I only focus on the major things that happened that week that make me happy.   I also try to pick a few things that I am going to figure out how to draw because improving my drawing skills is a major reason why I art journal.  Sometimes its simple flowers or drawing a train or plane to signify a trip I took.

Before I walk you through my art journal for last week, let’s talk about supplies.  I primarily plan to use watercolor, pencils, colored pencils, and pens (fineliners, gel pens, etc.) for my art journal so I chose a mixed media spiral pad that was on sale at Blick Art Supplies.  You can use anything you like such as a small notebook, watercolor sketchpad, drawing pad, etc.   Just make sure it is suitable for the medium you plan to use.  Mixed media is a good choice as it can handle a variety of different mediums.  Second, you need  a pencil to draw and an eraser.  Those are the minimum supplies to get started.  I suggest you start with that and add supplies as you build your habit.  Or you can challenge yourself to use whatever art supplies you have currently and not buy anything new.  Since art journaling is so personal, anything goes!

Let’s take the week of July 21-27 as an example.  First, I won a contest by Emma Witte of the Watercolor factory to win half pans of all of the watercolors in her collection and it came with a “golden ticket.”  I loved the look of the ticket so I decided to glue it my journal and then draw the watercolor palette I won.  Then I decided to draw the logo of the Thai food place I went to on Friday with friends because I think it is really beautiful.  Finally, I challenged myself this week to draw snow crab legs and corn on the cob which is what I had for dinner with friends on Saturday. Below is my first pencil sketch, it’s a bit hard to see everything because I sketch very lightly since I plan to use watercolor. 


 After I made the sketch I decide how I want to proceed.  Since I won the watercolor set this week and I really wanted to try it, I decided to watercolor this week’s journal using only the colors I won.  Below is a photo of the completed journal.  As you can see, after I colored it in, I added text around the various illustration about moments I wanted to remember. 


Below is an example of the previous week which is far more text heavy  and has less color.  I also used the ticket from the play I see as an interest piece in the journal. Art journaling is a great way to keep trinkets like tickets that you want to keep. 


The example I walked you through is just one of the many ways you can art journal.  The important thing is to just try it.  Try different themes, different mediums, different illustration techniques, and collaging to create an open and inviting space for yourself to grow and explore as an artist.   I can’t wait to see what you create!

Calligraphy Tips: Warming up for Calligraphy

Before beginning any calligraphy session, I always take 15-20 minutes to properly warmup.  The concept of warming up for calligraphy is similar to warming up to play a sport.  If your body is not properly warmed up you will likely not perform as well or even hurt yourself.  Calligraphy is no different.  Warming up properly with drills and strokes gives your hands and arms the opportunity to get used to the motions of writing in calligraphy.  It also gives you a few moments of zen and prepares you mentally for your calligraphy practice.  During the warmup you also have the chance to test out your ink consistency as well as your nib and paper.   In this post, I will outline some of the different drills I use to warmup and show you my warmup page.  You will notice my strokes are skaky and not perfect.  That is the point of the warmup – to get over the shakiness so when you start working on a project your strokes are more confident!

I always start with dip pen drills.  The main intent for these drills is to increase my confidence in using the dip pen.  I find these exercises quite fun and meditative.  Take a look at the first half of my warmup page at the end of the post.  I start with drills where I work on my thin to thick transitions in various ways. The beauty of pointed pen calligraphy comes from the variation in strokes.  Working on the thin to thick transition with these drills has drastically improved the transitions in my letter.  After working on those for a while, I also like to do various S shape, oval shape, and circle shaped drills.  These are just another way for me to practice getting comfortable with the dip pen. 

Afterwards, I focus on basic strokes.  Each script, such as Spencerian, Copperplate, etc. has its own set of basic strokes that makes up the letters.   I continue my warmup by reviewing the basic strokes of the lower case and the upper case letters of the script style I am planning on writing.  You will also notice that on my warmup page I have a few check marks and x’s. I like to pause after each set of strokes to review my writing and look for improvement.  Sometimes I notice something I am struggling with such as staying on the slant line and I think about ways to improve.   

You can also use the warmup as a chance to work on something you are struggling with.  For example, if you find that your writing is inconsistent in the slant, you can work on drills where you draw various shapes and lines on the slant line.  Another idea can be to work on specific letters. For example, I have a lot of trouble writing the letter capital M.  I use my warmup time to practice the basic strokes that form the letter M several times so that I am not confident with the letter by the time I start working on an envelope. 


I hope this post convinced you to give warming up a try before working on a calligraphy project.  I would love to hear how you like to warmup for calligraphy.  Tell me in the comments.   


Heat Embossing Part 2: Thank you Card Tutorial

In today’s tutorial I will walk you through my steps to create a simple thank you card using heat embossing. I love the simplicity and elegance of this quick to make card. It took me about 10 minutes to make all together.



Heat embossing tool like this one

Embossing powder (any color you like)

Cardstock (any color you like but at least 100 #) or a blank folder card

Pencil for sketching your design

Bone folder (if not using a blank folded card)

Scrap paper for embossing powder

Paintbrush or small brush for excess embossing powder, if needed

Embossing pen, see post here for recommendations

Craft Time:

Start by folding your cardstock to shape if you’re not using a pre-made folder card. Use a bone folder to get a clean fold.

folded card.jpg

Use a pencil to write out your design. Feel free to use a ruler to draw guidelines. You can erase them after you are done embossing.

writing in pencil.jpg

Use the embossing pen to go over your sketch. I would recommend doing one word at a time and going over the design twice.

embossing pen.jpg

Place a piece of scrap paper under your card and sprinkler enough embossing powder to completely cover the design. Tap off the powder on the scrap paper and add the excess embossing powder back to the jar. Repeat with the additional words.

Turn on your heat embossing tool and heat up the powder until it turns shiny. Be very careful with the tool as it gets very hot and make sure to follow all manufacturers recommendations. Move the embossing tool slowly around the card until all the words are shiny.

Erase any guidelines that are remaining and you are done!


Incase you are a more visual person, I made you a quick video showing the process:

Trouble shooting tip:

If embossing powder is sticking to areas of the card that you did not write on with the embossing ink, use a very small paintbrush to brush away the excess powder. Also make sure not to touch the surface you are writing on too much. The oils from your fingers will transfer to the paper and cause embossing powder to stick to areas where you did not write. A used dryer sheet can be rubbed on the surface prior to embossing to remove any excess oils.

Heat Embossing Part 1: Embossing Pen Reviews

In today’s post I want to talk about heat embossing your lettering and review some embossing ink pens.  Heat embossing is a great way to add variety and interest to your lettering projects.  In order to emboss your letters, you need a heat emboss ink pen, embossing powder, and a heat gun.  In today’s post I am going to review pens from three brands and let you know which pens have given me the best results.  We will be discussing pens with a bullet tip and with a brush tip.  Then next week I will have a fun birthday card tutorial for you using heat embossing!  Let’s get started.



The Versamarker embossing pen was the first embossing pen that I was introduced to.  The pen has two tips: a bullet tip and a brush pen tip.  I personally do not like the embossing results from this pen.  I find that there isn’t enough ink on the page from this pen for the embossing powder to stick to so the results are not very smooth.   The brush pen tip is also very flexible and hard to control.


Ranger Emboss It Pens

The ranger embossing pen set comes with 2 pens, a white and a black pen.  These pens only come in one style, a bullet tip.  I really liked these pens and felt that they held up pretty well when embossed.  The black pen is great when you are working on white paper so you can see what you are writing.   Just make sure to go over the black ink twice to ensure the embossing powder sticks to the ink and you don’t have any black ink peeking through after you are done heating the embossing power.


American Craft Pens

These pens are my absolutely favorite.  They come in a set of three tips: broad tip, medium tip, and a brush tip.  When writing on white paper, the pen has a light pink hue to allow you to read what you are writing but it doesn’t show through after embossing.  The pens have really good ink flow and provide very smooth results when embossing.   The brush pen tip is not very flexible and reminds me to the tombow fudenosuke pens. These pens were the clear winner for me when testing all three brands.  I like that the pens come in a set of three different tips which gives me a flexibility to provide a lot of different projects. 

At the time this post was written, the American Craft three pack of pens is the cheapest of the three options.  So if you are in the market for embossing pens for lettering – definitely check out the American Craft Pens and let me know what you think.  These are my opinion on the pens I tried so its important to understand that the best way to know what works for you is to try different things. 

Below is a photo of embossing results using the pens above.  In the first line of the first photo, I had trouble seeing what I wrote with the clear Ranger pen on white paper so I didn’t follow the writing completely when I went over it a second time. 

Top to bottom: Ranger clear emboss it pen, Versamarker dual tip pen, American Crafts medium tip, Ranger black emboss it pen

Top to bottom: Ranger clear emboss it pen, Versamarker dual tip pen, American Crafts medium tip, Ranger black emboss it pen

Top pen: American Craft brush tip. Bottom pen: Versamarker dual tip pen.

Top pen: American Craft brush tip. Bottom pen: Versamarker dual tip pen.

This post is not sponsored by any brands and I purchased all of the supplies used with my own money.  Links provided above for the pens are not affiliate links.

Birthday Card Tutorial

Birthday Card Tutorial



Supplies needed:


Craft cards such as these or any other blank card




Markers (I used a Tombow fude black pen and a Tombow dual brush pen in green (color 158)) 



1.       Draw guidelines:

a.       Draw lines to mark the center of the card.


b.       Draw a line 0.25” above and 0.25” below the center line.

c.       On the top half of the card, draw two lines 0.5” apart starting from the line drawn 0.25” above the center.

d.       On the bottom half of the card, draw three lines 0.5” apart starting from the line drawn 0.25” below the center.   See below for how your card should look now.  I have written a “c” on the center line.


2.       Pencil in your lettering.  I chose to do block letters for the word happy and script for the word birthday.  I also have a free traceable printable for you here for the lettering if you don’t feel confident in your lettering. 


3.       Once you are done writing your letters in pencil, you can ink them.  I used the black marker for the word happy and then wrote birthday with the green tombow dual tip brush pen.  You can choose to write in brush calligraphy, write in faux calligraphy, or keep the letters the same thickness.


4.       Now we will draw the banner.  Draw a curved line above the word happy which starts at the top left edge of the card and ends at the middle of the card.  Repeat the same curved line from the top middle of the card to the right top corner.


5.       Draw small inverted triangle to represent the banners. 


6.       Now, outline the word HAPPY using the white gel pen.  In order to get the shading correct for the outline, imagine a light source on one corner of the card.  In my case, I pretended that the light source is on the left.  Therefore, all shading will be towards the right side of each letter and under the horizontal lines.  For curved lines, the shading follows the same principle and curves with the shape of the line.

7.       Next, add outlines for the word BIRTHDAY using the same steps outlined above.  Below is a closeup of the shading I did.  As you can see, I added outlines to the right side of every stroke, even the thin strokes.


8.       Color the banners using the white pen and the green brush pen.  Let the ink dry for a few minutes (or longer depending on the markers you used) and erase the lines.   Add dots randomly around the card using the white, black, and green pens.   Now, you are done!



I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  There are so many ways to customize this card design.  Here are some ideas:

1.       Use different color combinations for the brush pens and/or the color of the card.  A black card with metallic lettering would look amazing.

2.       Use different styles of lettering.  For instance, you can write happy in script and birthday in block letters.

3.       Personalize the card by adding in the name of the recipient.

4.       Add an envelope liner coordinating with the color of the card.  See here for a tutorial on how to make your own envelope liners. 

I look forward to seeing the fun things you come up with.  Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or send me an email with your creations.  If you have any questions please reach out on Instagram or leave me a comment below.