Distress Watercolor Dry Embossing

by Mel McCarthy

Combine dry embossing and watercoloring for a beautiful look.


  • Watercolor paper, 140lb cold press used here
  • Embossing folder, Stampin' Up! Manhattan Flower used here
  • Die Cutting Machine, Cuttlebug used here
  • Rubber brayer
  • Temporary adhesive
  • Versamark Inkor another embossing ink
  • Clear fine (or detail) embossing powder
  • Heat gun
  • Distress Ink refills and palette, or another coloring medium
  • Paint brushes
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Double-sided tape
  • Scor-Pal™
  • White Pigment ink
  • White Sakura Souffle gel pen
  • Microglaze by Judikins


  1. Step 1

    Cut a piece of watercolor paper to fit your embossing folder.

  2. Step 2

    Place the watercolor paper in an embossing folder and run it through your embossing machine. Make two or three passes for a deep impression.

  3. Step 3

    Add temporary adhesive to the back of the image and adhere it to a flat work surface.

  4. Step 4

    Cover a brayer in Versamark ink.

  5. Step 5

    Brayer the Versamark ink onto the raised areas of the embossed image.

  6. Step 6

    Cover the wet Versamark in with clear fine embossing powder.

  7. Step 7

    Brush off any areas of stray embossing powder from the negative (or un-raised) areas of the dry embossing.

  8. Step 8

    Heat the embossing powder with a heat gun to melt it.

  9. Step 9

    Add color with distress ink, or another medium and a paint brush. Begin by wetting the watercolor paper liberally, so that the ink will bleed out and give a painterly look.

  10. Step 10

    Add ink to the water. If there is enough water, the ink will spread out.

  11. Step 11

    To add bold sections of color dip straight into undiluted ink or paint.

  12. Step 12

    To create areas that have softer shades add a wash of ink that is diluted with plenty of water.

  13. Step 13

    For a softer look you can add white pigment ink to your palette and mix it with water and ink.

  14. Step 14

    Spray the paper with a fine mist of water to blend the ink. No need to worry about it if the ink bleeds out of the lines; it's part of that painterly look.

  15. Step 15

    Use a tissue or paper towel to remove any extra ink.

  16. Step 16

    Add a wash of a complimentary colour for a background.

  17. Step 17

    Use a Sakura Souffle pen to touch up any areas that you would like to be more white.

  18. Step 18

    Apply a thin layer of Microglaze to make the colors pop.

  19. Step 19

    Score a card cut to fit the watercoloured panel.

  20. Step 20

    Adhere the panel to the card. Watercolor paper may warp a little, but with plenty of adhesive to the back of the embossed image it will lay nice and flat on the card.

  21. Your card is finished.

Your Turn

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

Questions and Comments

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

This is gorgeous! Thank you for the detailed steps.
Carol R  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 6:06 AM
Thanks for this great tutorial, I have that embossing folder and have been looking for more ways to get more use from it. This one you've shared with us is just fabulous.
Thanks again.
veronica  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 6:08 AM
Wow, your card is gorgeous. Love this technique and can't wait to give it a try. I hope you will be sharing more techniques soon.
Dolores  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 6:09 AM
As always, Mel, your ideas are amazing!
kren  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 6:12 AM
What an amazing technique! The results are stunning. Thank you for the fantastic tutorial, Mel!
Anya  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 6:13 AM
OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!!! This is stunning!!!
Love it, through and through!!!!!!!!!
TFS, with all my heart!
Kris  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 6:22 AM
Thanks for the great tutorial. I will try that out right away ... the effect is stunning. smile))
Gerda  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 6:34 AM
there are no words for this---but it is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
kellystar  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 6:34 AM
This is such a beautiful technique! Thank you for sharing - can't wait to give it a try! Gorgeous cards!!!
Patti J.  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 6:38 AM
this is stunning!! Love the watercolour paint-like effect and the colour really pop!
Heaney Hong  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 6:40 AM
Just love this, will have to try, may even change my next class plan so I can share it, will credit you with tutorial, many thanks
Majella  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 6:53 AM
This is a great tutorial...I am definitely going to try this with my embossing folders!
Susanne  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 7:12 AM
My girl Mel is all grown up know and posting tutorials on SCS...sniff! To think I knew you "when"! And of course, a brill job..you are always so thorough!
Allison  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 7:13 AM
OK! NOW, I KNOW, I HAVE TO get that particular Embossing Folder! I've been eye-balling it since it came out! Just haven't gotten it! :/ (I want to kick myself!) LOOOOOOOOOOVE your tutorial!!!!!!! AND your card is GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!! smile
One question, what is Microglaze & where can I get it?
Becky Green  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 7:13 AM
What an awesome technique. I have done something similiar with vellum paper and ink, but this is really good!
Mary  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 7:20 AM
Great tutorial, thanks for sharing..
i'll try if my tools is completely. lol
Djyoti  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 7:23 AM
Oh thanks for this it is Breathtaking! So love the technique.
Melissa Lenhardt  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 7:33 AM
How come this technique does not have a video with it?
Julie  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 7:37 AM
Wonderful tutorial. How would this technique look with gold or silver embossing powder or even on black paper? Hmmmm......must try it all!
Michel Emrich  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 7:52 AM
This is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!!!! Thank you so much for sharing all of the details with us. Beautiful!
Catherine  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 7:55 AM

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