I love working with water colors. I love how delicate it looks when using them for backgrounds. It adds the right amount of color without taking away from the design or lettering. There are a couple tricks I use to make this "technique" work.
1. CHOOSING THE RIGHT MATERIALS
Using water color paint for backgrounds is very easy and doesn't require special materials or professional paint. However, you do need a good smooth brush and a thick paper stock. I am using a 65lb white cardstock. You can also use a thin paper but your paper will curl up a little more once you add the water.
2. USING THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF WATER
You don't want to use too much water on the paper otherwise the paper will curl up a little too much and it will be hard to get rid of those "waves" the water created. I add 2-3 drops of water to the swatch I am using, in this case pink (always pink really), and then I draw the first stroke on my paper. I draw 2 or 3 more strokes towards the bottom and then I dip the brush one time in water and finish the strokes until I get to the bottom edge. I love the ombre look this creates and by dipping the brush only once in the pink swatch it helps me avoid deforming the paper.
3. FLATTENING THE PAPER
Once the water color has dried out I simply take around 10 place cards and put them in between the pages of a heavy book and leave them overnight BEFORE writing on them.
4. WRITING ON THE WATER COLOR PLACE CARD YOU CREATED
This is where I struggled when I started using water colors and then writing over it with a calligraphy pen. After you add the water color to the paper the texture of the paper changes completely. It gets a little rough almost like a really light sand paper so it is very important to find the right nib to write with. I like using the Brause Rose Nib, this is a tricky nib and I know the frustration you've been through to get this nib to work! I found that the trick with this nib is to use an old nib! I know, with most of the other nibs you want to have a fresh, brand new nib. But, for some reason this one seems to get better and better as you keep using it. It is a great nib to use on textures like this because it is flexible and not to pointy which helps avoid splatters. I tried using Zebra G and Tachikawa G but I would never get the thin strokes. With the brause rose nib you will NOT have this problem. However, you do have to be careful with the amount of pressure you put on the pen. I also like using an oblique pen with this texture paper because I have a little more control on the pressure I put on the nib. I tend to write with a heavy hand and this helps me control that. Lastly, I find that almost any ink works good with water color backgrounds, I chose the Fine Tec metallic palette this time. Ever since I started using these I would never go back to the already pre mixed metallic inks.
5. FOLD CARDSTOCK TO CREATE TENT PLACECARDS
I like using the flat card stock and fold them myself because I feel they keep the tent shape better than the once that come folded already. At this point I just fold the cards and they are ready to go!