Creating Compositions: Holiday Cards


Using the art skills learned throughout our course, The Practice of Botanical Drawing, create a finished composition suitable for printing on holiday or harvest greeting cards to send to your friends and family. To create a finished seasonal drawing, focus on complex compositions and seasonal color combinations.



A complex composition of a plant should show at least three of these components:

  • Reproductive Parts, Flowers, Petals
  • Stems
  • Leaves
  • Fruit, Berries, Seedpods
  • Roots, Bulbs
  • Habit Drawings



Use various pieces of tracing paper to roughly draw the various elements in your composition so that you can rearrange them on the page to achieve a pleasing composition.

You can also try moving the physical components of your subject around your page to get an idea of what might look best.

Don’t fear the center of the paper! Though students tend to shy away from it, the center is crucial and can be a great location for a subject.



Choose a subject that you find compelling. What aspects attracted you first? What do you find most interesting? What do you want to stare at? Choose the most compelling part (often identifying characteristics, such as flowers, unusual seed pods or leaf arrangements) to be your focal point.

Enhance the three-dimensional quality of your focal point using a full range of tones and saturation. Define overlaps and use contrast to draw the viewer’s eye to your focal point.



When choosing a focal point, consider the following:

  • Always begin a rendering with your focal point.
  • Render more detail in the foreground.
  • Render less detail in supporting elements and those further back in space.
  • Use more contrast and saturation of color in front, with less finishing details in back.
  • Use warmer and brighter colors in front.
  • Use cooler and grayer colors behind.

Get more FREE TIPS on composition here.



Color composition can be crucial to consider when crafting celebratory cards. For inspiration, look to colors occurring in nature at this time of year and other traditional holiday combinations.

Holly is often associated with the winter season and is a great combination of traditional red and green Christmas colors, which makes it a perfect subject for a winter holiday card. 

For a more generic winter card, try white flowers on kraft paper!

Nutmeg is a spice associated with holiday meals and contains a great combination of colors found outside in fall, including deep gold, burgundy, and brown.


Asian Pear composition by Wendy Hollender


This composition is simple, but still has impact enough to stand on its own and would make a nice greeting card for any occasion. Even though the composition is simple, notice that it still contains 3 elements: stem, leaf, and fruit.


Coffea Arabica – Ikawa by Wendy Hollender


If you are planning on printing a botanical as a card, it is a good opportunity to give some information about the plant. Botanical Art informs by the artwork itself, but accompanying text and title can often give important and useful information. Consider listing the scientific and common name, the family name and other pertinent information, such as where the plant was collected.

You may decide to gift your finished composition as a fine art print. It can be difficult to source proper scanning and printing services for colored pencil/watercolor art, but I have been professionally printing my artwork for several years using top of the line equipment, and I want to offer that service to you!

Get YOUR ARTWORK as High Quality Fine Art Prints (9″x12″ or 12″x16″) on Somerset Enhanced Velvet Fine Art Paper 255gsm with archival Epson inks. (See more products you can offer with your designs.)

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