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How-To: Watercolor Typography with Sarah Zero of Jackalope Heart

Watercolor Ampersand Art
Sarah Zero

Sarah Zero (what kind of a cool name is that?) is a branding and design professional whose business, Jackalope Heart specializes in rebranding, identity systems and logo design for companies and individuals who would like to take their company to the next level. She is a graphic designer as well as a watercolor artist and demonstrates her love for both in this art meets typography project.

Sarah offers workshops in social media, design and watercolor. For an extra fun experience, sign up for one of her Veggie Stamping and Sangria workshops. You can find details here:


  • A hard, smooth surface to work on (a table!)
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Computer paper (8.5 x 11”)
  • Artist tape
  • Transfer paper (cut to ~8 x 10”)
  • Watercolor paper (9 x 12”)
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Watercolor brush
  • Cup of water
  • Watercolor paint (two shades of the same color)
  • Watercolor palette
Step 1
Step 1 Sarah Zero

Step 1

Select a character. Open a text editing program on your computer, select a font you like, and type the character you want to paint. Make it big—the size you want to paint it. Print it.

Step 2
Step 2 Sarah Zero

Step 2

Create a template. Tape the transfer paper to the back of your printed character, with the carbon side of the transfer paper exposed. This is your template. Then tape your template (printed character side up, carbon side down) onto your watercolor paper

Step 3
Step 3 Sarah Zero

Step 3

Transfer the template. Use your pencil to draw directly on the character you printed, lightly trace the outline of your character. Do not fill in the inside.

Step 4
Step 4 Sarah Zero

Step 4

Remove the template. Carefully remove the template from the watercolor paper. You should be left with a coloring book outline of your letter. Erase any accidental graphite smudges.

Step 5
Step 5 Sarah Zero

Step 5

Prep the surface. Dip your clean watercolor brush in water (no paint yet!), and fill in your character with water. Start in the middle and use your brush to push the water to the edges of your outline— stop just shy of your outline so the outline is easy to erase later.

Step 6
Step 6 Sarah Zero

Step 6

Paint your first color. Add a dab of pigment to your paint palette and mix with water. Dip your brush into the color, tap off your brush so it doesn’t drip as you move your brush to your paper, then touch your brush lightly to the middle of your character. Because the surface of your paper is already wet, the pigment should blend right in, reaching to the edges of your character. You may add a bit more water to your brush to gently push the pigment where you want it to go.

Step 7
Step 7 Sarah Zero

Step 7

Paint your second color. Repeat the previous step with your second color.

While it's drying, start thinking about how you might frame your creation.

Step 8
Step 8 Sarah Zero

Step 8

Dry and erase. Be patient! All of that water takes time to dry. Wait a day, then carefully erase your outline from your painting. In the meantime, do another one because you surely learned a lot from your first!

Helpful Tips
Helpful Tips Sarah Zero

Helpful Tips


  • Want font options beyond what you already have on your computer? Check out
  • Select a font without delicate flourishes, especially when you are just beginning. In fact, a heavy (bold) font with wide strokes is nice because it gives the paint room to blend.
  • Limit yourself to one color family (e.g. different shades of blue), or two that will blend well (e.g. blue and green). Don’t use colors from opposite sides of the color wheel or you’ll end up with brown.
  • If your paint overlapped your template outlines, don’t try to erase it because it will smudge your paint even if it’s dry. Leave it, because you’re likely the only person to notice it’s there.