Die Debossed Watercolor

by Dina Kowal

Impress a die into watercolor paper then use the outlines to guide your watercolor painting.


  • Watercolor paper (Fabriano Medioevalis stationery used here)
  • Wafer die (Spellbinders Blooming Roses - Large Die Of The Month Club June 2018 used here)
  • Die cutting machine
  • Multi-purpose (adjustable) platform
  • Embossing pad and cutting plates
  • Bone folder
  • Watercolor medium (QoR Modern Watercolors used here)
  • Clean water and paintbrush
  • Water mister
  • Heat tool
  • White gesso
  • Ball stylus
  • Colored pencils and sharpener
  • Other supplies as needed to complete the project (used here: Gina K. Designs Wreath Builder Stamp Set, cardstock, adhesive, Polychromos colored pencils)


  1. Step 1

    Prepare the die cutting machine for embossing. For the Big Shot, open the multi-purpose platform to Tab 1.

    Lay down as follows from bottom to top:
    Multi-purpose platform
    Cutting plate
    Silicone embossing pad
    Watercolor paper
    cutting surface down
    Cutting plate

    Run the sandwich through the machine, following manufacturer’s instructions for use. For other machines, the sandwich may vary. The key to the technique is the silicone embossing pad that does not allow the die to cut through the paper.

  2. Step 2

    Remove the panel from the sandwich. The lines of the die should have impressed into the card without cutting through.

  3. Step 3

    If there are any creases in the card, smooth them with a bone folder.

  4. Step 4

    Use a water mister to activate your watercolor palette, or prepare a palette of inks (press dye or Distress ink pads onto an acrylic block, or add drops of reinker or liquid watercolor into a palette).

  5. Step 5

    Use more diluted watercolor to give the debossed image a base coat of color.

  6. Heat set after painting each color area, so that different colors do not run together. Heat set this layer of color when finished.

  7. Step 6

    Working in one section at a time, add a second layer of color. This color can be the same, or slightly darker. Note areas of the image that should be shaded:
    Areas that are hidden behind something
    Areas that are lower
    Areas that are farther away or curving away

    Use more diluted paint at first. As it dries but is still moist, you can dot in more concentrated paint where the image should be darker.

  8. Use a clean, lightly damp brush to blend out hard edges as needed. Heat set or allow each area to dry before moving on to bordering areas.

  9. Step 7

    Repeat the above step in each area of the image.

    The debossed lines in the image will show while the paint is wet, but will disappear as the panel dries. They’re useful as a guide for adding details, but are really less important as they fade, so if you go out of the lines or don’t follow the details exactly, it’s ok.

  10. When coloring a floral image like in the sample here, the shaded areas will be toward the base of each petal, and where petals overlap.

  11. Step 8

    Continue layering and blending until you have the effect that you want.

  12. Step 9

    Use a sharp colored pencil and very light pressure to define edges in your image and add finer details.

  13. Step 10

    Fill in the background with a contrasting color.

  14. Step 11

    Dot white acrylic paint or gesso onto the image with a small stylus to add highlights or other details.

  15. Step 12

    Complete the card.


Watch the full process of painting the sample card (video has no sound):


  1. Turn the panel over. Using a ball stylus or other rounded tool, press the area inside the outline into a foam mat to increase the contour in those areas on the front.

  2. Used here:
    Impression Obsession DIE250-Y Open Scroll Flower Die, C13215 To Live

Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Die Debossed Watercolor. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

Gorgeous Dina
Dandi93  |  Wed Mar 6, 2019 at 4:32 AM
Soooo gorgeous and the way you teach us it seems reasonable that we could all do it, so thanks for both the inspiration and the encouragement.
Linda from AZ  |  Wed Mar 6, 2019 at 5:45 AM
Gorgeous card Dina!
Ana Reese  |  Wed Mar 6, 2019 at 7:37 AM
I so enjoy your tutorials and have used so many of your ideas. What a fabulous way to stretch dies. I am not a pro at watercoloring but love doing it and am usually happy with the unique results this medium provides. Thanks for sharing.
Hope  |  Wed Mar 6, 2019 at 8:28 AM
What a stunning technique! Thank you for sharing!
Billie Dee Jelin  |  Wed Mar 6, 2019 at 9:13 AM
Wow, Dina! What an amazing card! I loved watching your video and could watch you paint and color all day! Stunning results, and I loved seeing how you've added pencils to watercoloring. Never would have thought about that! Thanks for another great tutorial! Hugs and love! xoxo
Cheryl Scrivens  |  Wed Mar 6, 2019 at 9:29 AM
Wow that is gorgeous!
Conniecrafter  |  Wed Mar 6, 2019 at 10:11 AM
What a wonderful technique and detailed tutorial---recipe for success. Thank you Dina. BEAUTIFUL examples.
Prissequito  |  Wed Mar 6, 2019 at 11:30 AM
So beautiful, Dina...you make it look so easy! Question? Is the panel still damp when you apply the watercolor pencil detail?
jmhoffmann  |  Wed Mar 6, 2019 at 11:38 AM
jmhoffmann, no - I used regular colored pencils here, and the panel needs to be dry.
dina  |  Wed Mar 6, 2019 at 12:00 PM
What stunning results and technique! Thank you for an elegant way to watercolor with impressions!!!
Rosy Newlun  |  Wed Mar 6, 2019 at 8:04 PM
Some people were meant to be teachers, and you are one of them. Thanks for the video on this technique. Both your cards are outstanding.
Holstein  |  Thu Mar 7, 2019 at 3:04 AM
This DID inspire me, Dina! It's absolutely gorgeous!
Thank you!
Sweet RN  |  Thu Mar 7, 2019 at 6:25 AM
Thank you for this clear and educationall tutorial, Dina! These roses are so life like with your technique and painting. I love watching you work and listening to your pleasant voice! Can't wait to try this.
claudia zimmerman  |  Thu Mar 7, 2019 at 7:04 AM
Wow! That is beautiful! I cant wait to give that a whirl. Now to find the perfect die!
Shannon Lorenz-Hatch  |  Fri Mar 22, 2019 at 5:51 AM
Thank you for such a wonderful tutorial. I just gave it a try and love it!
Julie Heyer  |  Fri Apr 5, 2019 at 8:24 AM

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