Posts Tagged ‘design’

Design: Emily and Taylor Wedding


My sister got remarried! I’m so excited for her. As a gift to them, I designed their wedding invitations. She was the easiest to please bride I’ve ever worked with. All she wanted was something casual, but nice. I decided to go with some brush work with the design.


I used a more formal brush hand, but kept it in the casual zone by varying the letter sizing just a touch and pairing it with a simple sans serif. My favorite sans serif at the moment: Museo Sans 300. I swear I use this for everything. It’s like the denim jeans of fonts for me. It’s more round than Helvetica Neue, so a tad more casual, but so classic.

I created and scanned in a teal watercolor wash. I used Daniel Smith Cobalt Teal Blue and Daniel Smith Phalo Turquoise for the gorgeous colored washes. They’re incredible watercolors!


Em wanted them really simple, but I felt like they were too plain as-is. Since she was only doing a few dozen, I bought some white vellum and cut out overlays with a heart goign around their names. It’s really hard to photograph, but if you look closely you can see.

I didn’t cut them by hand. I used the design as a reference to create the heart-shaped overlay in Illustrator then I cut using my Silhouette.



I bought teal envelopes to coordinate with the watercolor washes and addressed the envelopes in a more formal brush for the names and a casual print for the addresses.


Pic c/o SaltyBooth

I love how this mini wedding suite turned out, but most of all I’m glad to see my sister found a great guy.


Designed: Gold and Silver Foil Bee Tattoos



This post is sponsored by Fashion Tats. Shop, wholesale or create your own gold and silver foil temporary tattoos.

The dreamcatcher and the roses are my favorite. What are yours?

I’ve been aching to design foil temporary tattoos for a while, but I just couldn’t think of a design! Designer’s block got the best of me for a good portion of a year.


Image c/o Alix Adams (via IG) – I love that she put it on her cheek.

I was writing a gift card for a Melissa when I thought I should add a honeybee flourish, since our name means “honeybee”. I couldn’t find any exemplars to go from, so I designed my own. It dawned on me that was what I needed for my foil tattoo design.


At Alt Summit this last June, I handed out my business cards (above) with silver and gold bees. Since my name is Melissa and I hail from the beehive state, it only seemed fitting.


Thanks to my awesomely tan neighbor for modeling these for me. I noticed that foil tattoos don’t photograph particularly well on my pasty white skin. Perhaps I need to get out of the house more?

Now that I’ve done one design, I’m ready to do more. I’ve got a few ideas. Mostly words that I want to design. What word(s) should I do next?

Freebie: Inspirational Quotes


Back in January, I had the joy to design a little print series for Bing for their lounge at Alt Summit. They wanted inspirational quotes to support the concept of their cloud-based services. I made a series of 4 prints that could be tiled together to create an abstract cloud, or they could stand alone.


I’m happy with how they turned out, despite my limitations with the design and time.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 7.30.35 AM

See above how I tiled them.


I was very limited on the design as I didn’t have much time to execute. I was given the official ‘go ahead’ while I was flat on my back with strep throat. The next day I created the designs. By the time I had work ready to print we were less than a week away from the deadline. Obviously no time for fun stuff like letterpress, gold foil, laser-cutting, etc.



Of the local digital print services I tried, no one wanted to touch this job. We needed 500 of each design (2000 cards total). I sent it off to overnight prints and they pulled through for me (granted, it required a substantial rush fee).


I would love to re-work these prints and get them completed with off-set and silver foil printing. I just don’t see that happening though.

As far as the design process goes, I painted the starry scene on watercolor paper with dry gouache. Added gold and glitter touches then scanned in. I lettered the quotes separately and placed them over the background.


Click the image above to download the free desktop background quote “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” By downloading you agree to the Terms of Use below. Stay tuned for more fun stuff with the other three quotes!

Are you new here? Check out the “printables” tab at the top of the page for more freebies! Interested in learning calligraphy? Let me teach you how! Click the image below for more information.

learn calligraphy online with melissa esplin

*This tutorial/freebie is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without my consent. Altering any files is NOT ALLOWED. If you would like to use this freebie for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!

The Purrfect Valentine


Penelope found my Paper Source catalog last month and basically flipped out when she saw the front cover featuring these little Kitten and Puppy Valentines. It didn’t look like they had pockets, so I thought it would be fun to DIY our own version.


Instead of having 6 parts that need to be assembled, I made it into 3 parts (including googly eyes) with a pocket for a special treat.


This one I made for my sister-in-law who is heading out to Spain soon as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I included some stickers, postage (’cause I want mail from her!) and a temporary tattoo.

I didn’t do any calligraphy for Penelope’s handouts. I wanted Penelope to have artistic control over assembling. She ran with it! She decided to give the kittens winky faces. Then she grabbed spare hearts from the kittens to use for eyes. She had fun. And she owned the project!

I used Illustrator, my Silhouette and My Mind’s Eye paper (paper provided by MME) to complete this project. Side note: MME plain cardstock takes ink remarkably well! WIN!

Handmade: Letterpress Business Cards + Motivators


I had the opportunity to participate in this year’s summer Alt Summit, and boy did it sneak up on me! I barely had the chance to recover from January’s conference.


I wanted to do something completely different for this session’s business cards, but I ended up doing everything last-minute. And by last-minute, literally making business cards the night before the conference.


The cards have the same general vibe as they did previously, with a little motivator and acrylic stand, but I approached the printing and calligraphy differently.


Instead of doing one kind of motivator (“You are awesomesauce”), I decided to switch things up and write out different adjectives. The monoline style is quite different from last time, too. I used watercolor paper and a sumi ink to create moody washes on the backs of all the papers to create a moody texture. Then lettered with white ink overtop. The texture of the black wash gives the card more depth, in my opinion.


The printing was a little different as I was using a watercolor paper and not a thick letterpress paper. There’s still a deboss from the printing process, but it’s not as stark. I went with the watercolor so that the lettering on the back would be easier to create. Last time I had a heck of a time lettering on that soft letterpress paper.


I also had a problem with the ink in the letterpress printing bleeding, making the hairlines a tad garbled. Above, you can see different experimentations on printing. The top right is using regular letterpress ink, you can’t tell a whole lot from the image, but it’s feathering a little bit on the paper. Then I tried various blind-deboss printing techniques, then applying ink afterward. That didn’t work quite like I had envisioned. Then the top left is when I discovered inking up my letterpress plates with a stamp pad. The stamp pad from Silhouette’s stamp kit is quite tacky and worked perfectly for inking up the plates. The printing was more crisp and the clean-up was a million times easier with the water-soluble ink. Major win! I’ll be using this method for printing with the L-Letterpress in the future.

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