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.

Gorgeous! love this Mel!
Carolyn King  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 7:57 AM
LOVE this technique! Also love the way you color-labeled your Tim Holtz palette: am gonna do the exact same thing. Would love to know what you mean by the White 'pigment ink'. Would that be an acrylic ink? A brand name would certainly be helpful. Thanks!
Sue Speck  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 8:07 AM
Fabulous...can't wait to try this ....wonderful
Nadine  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 9:03 AM
Fabulous! What a beautiful effect.
Francie  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 9:07 AM
is there a video tutorial of this?
Lorna  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 9:42 AM
Wow gorgeous cards and a nice and easy tutorial to follow, thanks for the wonderful inspiration!
Jan Hunnicutt  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:03 AM
What a stunning card!! This was a great tutorial. I really liked that it had step by step instructions along with the pictures. That's always a big visual help. I can't wait to try this technique with the distress inks.
DAWN WOLF  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:30 AM
Julie and Lorna,
The video will be posted soon. Michele has never shot a video before and didn't get one done in time (one she liked sharing with us all. I can totally relate. I had to re-shoot my first video gazillion times). Thanks for your patience.

Hugs and smiles
Beate  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:38 AM
Gorgeous, can't wait to try this out.
Priscilla  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:42 AM
Fantastic technique!
Julie Heyer  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Lovely card and a great tutorial. thanks for sharing
Melodie  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:55 AM
Fabulous, just trying this technique now...many thanks for sharing...hugs..x
denise  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Wow this is fantastic information!
Susie Draper  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:12 AM
What a fabulous tutorial, as always! *waves wildly* I must try this!
leslie  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:14 AM
This is so gorgeous, I can't wait to try it out.
Omega  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Lovely, thank you
Sandra  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Thank you so much for your awesome tutorial. It is fantastic. I love this card so much. It is so beautiful and I am so happy to find out how to do this technique. Fantastic work all around.
Thank you.
Dorothy Roller  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 2:42 PM
Love this! I have this embossing folder and was never quite sure how to use it. I'll give this a try soon!

Thanks for the great instructions.
Diana  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 3:22 PM
Thanks so much for such a clear tutorial. Can hardly wait to try this
Betty Lee Moore  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 4:44 PM
Beautiful cards! TFS, now I have to try this!!
Kathleen  |  Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 5:23 PM

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