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The Gifted Artist: Creating DIY Connect-the-Dots

I’ve been the creative director at Chartpak for nearly 15 years. With 20 brands under our corporate umbrella, I work on a lot of different projects ranging from walkable environments for trade shows to posting on this blog! One of the exciting tasks I'm involved in is product development and creating art kits. Not all of our ideas here end up on the retail shelf. When it comes down to crunching numbers and making our kits affordable, some really fun projects end up in the concept scrap heap. However, with a little adjustment, these kits can be made by anyone at home.

I’m here to share some of those ideas, and hope to inspire artists and hobbyists to create their own art kits and share their love of art with others. These kits can be adjusted for media type and complexity, so you can make a truly original gift. One of the best aspects of making this kit yourself is that you can make the artwork collaborative. You’re not just giving a beautiful work of art, but giving an art experience!

The first project in this series is a childhood favorite of mine: Connect-the-Dots.

Coming off of Inktober, you might have developed some great ideas that would work really well with this concept. Essentially, you are creating line art that gets distilled to its most essential points, which become the dots for this project. Make the connections a complex nexus of lines and dots, or make it a minimalist piece depending on your skill level or development time frame. You can create a background or other images that aren’t part of the final connect-the-dots or keep it on a clean sheet of paper. You can make a booklet out of it with mini connect-the-dot projects or make a large stand-alone piece.

We’ve created a zodiac inspiration piece that’s simple and easily customizable. Here’s the basic step-by-step:

1) Using an ink marker create the dots for your constellation. This will serve as a guide for where the stars will be placed later on. You can also create dots for the name of the zodiac sign below.

2) Wet your paper with a mop brush and water in the shape of a circle. This will be where your galaxy background will be made.

3) Add drops of colored ink onto the wet areas of your paper.

4) Take a round brush and blend in the drops to create a galaxy background for your constellation.

5) Continue to add in color and blend until you are satisfied with your galaxy.

6) Load a clean brush with white ink and gently tap the handle on your finger or a hard surface like a ruler to create a spray of stars.

7) Add the dots back into your galaxy. At this point, you can also add in numbers so that your recipient knows which order to connect the stars/dots, or you can provide an outline of what the constellation looks like. This can serve as a guide on how the stars are connected if you don’t want numbers to show up in your final piece.

8) Include a sheet of instructions, an ink marker, or a brush with some inks. You can also include a frame and matte so that your gift recipient can display their gift when they’ve completed it.

Ink Variation:

Let your gift recipient work more with the supplies. After completing step 1, stop. Include a small sample of inks, a brush or two, and an ink marker with your dot work on clean paper. Provide them with the instructions from steps 2-7, adjusting the last step to instruct them to connect the dots at the end. You can find small containers for ink online from a wide range of bottle and container manufacturers.

Ink Supply List:

Higgins Blue Pigmented Ink (44685)

Higgins Magenta Pigmented Ink (44665)

Higgins Super White Ink (44100)

Higgins Black Magic Bullet Nib Marker (44011MKR.BC)

Grumbacher Mop Brush 3/4" (Goldenedge or Academy)

Grumbacher Round Brush #6, #12 (Goldenedge or Academy)

Grumbacher Mixed Media in In & Out Pages Hardcover book (460700663) or Pad (26460700613)

Optional: Mini containers for Inks

Where to get supplies:

Jerry's Art-a-Rama:

DIck Blick:


If you’ve created your own connect-the-dot gift, show us by tagging us on Instagram #higginsinks, sharing work with us on Facebook at /higginsinks, or commenting on this blog post!

Other variations on this project using Watercolor or Acrylic can be used with products from our sister brands, Koh-I-Noor and Grumbacher.


More on this idea: This project is a mutation of artwork I gave as Christmas gifts last year to my workmates here at Chartpak. Our brand manager, Jen, created a holiday kit with Koh-I-Noor and Molotow items using this concept. I've modified it to be something that can be made with a collaborative twist by artists at home. Artwork and video shown in this post were created by our talented in-house artist, Diana Waldon. Diana also taught a workshop at Art Start in New York using the items from the zodiac kit that Jen created. SPREAD THE ART!


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