Distress Stain Watercolor

by Heather Telford

Stamp and blend with Ranger Distress Stains for a watercolored look.


  • Outline stamp (‘Fresh’ cling stamp and ‘Sprigs’ clear stamp set from Penny Black used here)
  • Watercolor paper (Fabriano Artistico Hot Press used here)
  • Tim Holtz® Distress Stains or other water-soluble medium (Peeled Paint, Scattered Straw, Spiced Marmalade used here)
  • Tim Holtz® Distress Markers(Forest Moss and Black Soot used here)
  • Mister bottle
  • Water brush
  • Other supplies as needed to complete the card (Versafine Spanish Moss ink used here)


  1. Step 1

    Ink an outline stamp directly with the dauber on the end of the Distress Stain bottle, using a light dabbing motion. Start with the lightest color – in the sample, Scattered Straw was used to ink the flowers. Add a darker shade to the edges of the image (Spiced Marmalade was used here on the edges of flowers and buds; stems were inked with Peeled Paint Distress Stain and short bud stems with Forest Moss marker).

    You should not need to squeeze the bottle as you ink the stamp. If you do, you are likely to make your stamp too wet. There should be enough stain in the sponge dauber already.

  2. Step 2

    Mist stamp with water from 6-12 inches away, then stamp on hot press watercolor paper (hot press paper has a smooth finish that is ideal for stamping). Stain will stay wet long enough that you can paint the image.

  3. Step 3

    Using a waterbrush, pull color from the stamped outline to fill the petals.

    Work on one petal or area at a time so all the stain does not run together. When one petal is done, move to another one that is not touching it.

  4. Step 4

    Gradually work through all areas of the image, pulling in the stain and blending with the waterbrush.

  5. Step 5

    If deeper color or shading is needed, or to add color to any areas that have dried, press Distress Stain or Distress Marker onto an acrylic block and pick up color with a waterbrush.

  6. Step 6

    Distress Markers can also be used directly on the image as needed. Here, a Black Soot Distress Marker was used to color flower centers then blend with a waterbrush. Add extra black from an acrylic block as needed.

  7. Step 7

    Make sure all coloring is completely dry before trimming the panel to desired size.

  8. Step 8

    Stamp a sentiment and mat the panel with coordinating cardstock, then attach to card base to complete the project.


Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Distress Stain 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.

THANKS BUNCHES Heather. Always so inspiring. j.
JoiatRR  |  Wed May 20, 2015 at 12:50 PM
This is a beautiful card, you are very clever at blending those colours perfectly TFS
Margaret Jenks  |  Wed May 20, 2015 at 1:09 PM
Clear, concise, and lovely. Thank you
Jean Adams  |  Wed May 20, 2015 at 1:21 PM
Yes beautiful , it would thrill any recipient
eluned jeffery  |  Wed May 20, 2015 at 2:05 PM
Now I know what to do with those distress stains in my cabinet!
Mary Kay Miller  |  Wed May 20, 2015 at 5:27 PM
Love your accent!!! Thanks so much for this fabulous tutorial.
Susie Williams  |  Wed May 20, 2015 at 5:36 PM
Heather, your cards are always so beautiful. Thanks for doing the video. Very clear instructions. Now about that guarantee that someone else mentioned....lol. Practice helps a lot!
Rufus  |  Wed May 20, 2015 at 8:30 PM
Great video. Love all your beautiful work.
Harriett Broyles  |  Thu May 21, 2015 at 9:03 AM
Thanks, Heather, for a clear and complete tutorial using a product I haven't really used before - distress inks and markers. I love stamping on watercolor paper and drawing in the tones with a small paint brush. The fix for the stems blending together was priceless, but effective! It does take time and practice is key, but even the boo-boos are useful for die-cut butterflies!
Diane aka ciocidi  |  Thu May 21, 2015 at 1:22 PM
Beautiful. Thanks for showing us how.
Mary Weinstein  |  Sat May 23, 2015 at 11:13 AM
I just enjoyed learning about this technique. Thank You.
Brenna Garcia  |  Tue May 26, 2015 at 12:08 PM

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