Creating a Guest Book Tree


  • Paper
  • Printer
  • Scanner or photocopier
  • MDF or some other type of board
  • Acrylic paint
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Sharpies

Approximate Time: 8 hours (not including drying time)

Just over a month ago my step-sister got married.  A couple of months before that she asked me if I would paint a guest book tree for her.  Of course I accepted the challenge.

She considered a thumb-print tree, but thought that it might be too messy for her guests; instead she opted to have me paint on thumb sized leaves.

She emailed me some pictures of trees for inspiration.  She loved the look of the brown tree below, but also liked how the picture of the birch tree contained their names and wedding date.

I attempted to combine the two ideas into one image.

I started off by printing the original image of the tree she wanted, and then drew over it in marker to flatten out the three (since the tree in the image she gave me was on a slant).

I then scanned the image and erased a lot of the details and shading and then turned the image black and white.  This left me with a basic outline of the tree, which I then printed.

The next step was to add on 125 leaves, as requested by the bride and groom.  I quickly added them by hand with a black marker so that I could see roughly how the final tree would look (and numbered them to be sure of the count).

I emailed my step-sister a bunch of font choices for the lettering.  She chose a font called “Always Forever”  by Brittney Murphy.  I typed up their names and wedding date, printed it and taped it to the bottom of the tree.

The final image I had come up with was slightly larger than a legal sized piece of paper.  I enlarged the tree several times on my photocopier and stretched out the tree trunk to make it look closer to the original image.  I taped the pieces of the enlarged photocopies together as I went, but it was still too small.  The piece of MDF I had to work on was approximately 2 feet by 3 feet.     I chose to make a grid over the original image and on the MDF and freehand the image onto the MDF using the grid as a guide.

I ended up using 2” squares on the original image, and 4” squares on the MDF.  Once the grids were laid out I sketched out the image.  Once the image was completed I erased all the gridlines.


I started painting the solid colours first using acrylic paint, the background (sky and grass) and then the tree trunk.  Then I added all of the black details: the definition on the tree as well as the lettering.  Then I added the birds and freehanded the heart.  Last I painted on the leaves.  Each step required two coats of paint, but the leaves took approximately 4 coats of paint.  I wanted the leaf colour to be solid so the guests could write over them and their names would be legible.


The original plan was to have the guests sign near or on the leaves; however the couple changed their mind and decided to let their guests choose where they would like to sign.  The completed painting was placed at the wedding reception near the entry way so that all of the guests would see it.

Here is the finished product. It was fairly easy to do if you have the time for it. I think it’s worth it for a cute, custom guestbook.

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