Distress Ink Watercolor Tutorial
Written by Tara Hadley Cox   

Tim Holtz Distress Inks are a collection of twenty-four acid-free, non-toxic, fade resistant, water-based dye inks. They’re perfect for the new vintage, stained, aged effect crafters are creating in their altered books, scrapbook pages, cards and paper craft projects. Tim selected the colors and helped develop these inks to produce a realistic, weathered look on paper, photos and decorative fibers. All the colorful Distress Inks afford added versatility when photo tinting and color layering with the original, award winning tones. The 2" x 2" pads are made with a higher raised felt for easier use with direct to paper techniques.

  • Acid free
  • Non-toxic
  • Fade Resistant
  • New Higher Felt
  • Raised 2" x 2" Pads
  • Water-based Dye Inks

There are many fun techniques you can do with your Distress Inks; right now we will focus on a watercolor technique for painting in a stamped image.


  • I use the REVERSE side of my Fiskars craft cutting mat as it is non-porous and non-sticky. For this technique you could also use any non-porous surface like a sheet of waxed paper, or plastic plate, etc.
  • Distress Inks in your choice of colors.
  • Paint brush and water. (I prefer to use a water brush as it has a chamber to hold water inside- keeps your brush wet, avoids spills, and you have total control on how much water you use.
  • Stamp(s) you want to water color.
  • Versafine ink pad. (This is used to stamp the image with that you will later watercolor).
  • Cardstock to stamp and paint on and paper towels for easy clean up.


  1. Begin by stamping your image. You can stamp on to regular cardstock or watercolor paper if you prefer. If you use regular cardstock, as shown here the paper may curl a little when you add the watercolor to it- but it will flatten back out as it dries.
  2. Versafine Ink for stamping

    NOTE: Versafine ink is an excellent all around ink for stamping, and is perfect for water coloring as the color will not smear or bleed. Versafine ink is also ideal for very detailed stamps like the one used in this tutorial.

  3. To start water coloring- first rub the Distress Ink pads of your choice directly on to the non-porous surface.
  4. step 1

  5. Next, add a few drops of water to each swatch of color. This is your paint. You can make your colors lighter by adding more water, or darker by using less water. You can mix colors together to create new colors.
  6. step 2

  7. Now you can paint in your stamped image.
  8. step 3

  9. Continue picking up color, mixing colors, and painting in your stamped image. You can paint over areas you have already painted to add depth and shading.
  10. step 4

  11. After your image is painted the way you like, you can trim, and layer with other papers and mount to your card or project.

step 5

Here are some other cards using this same technique:

Distress Ink Watercolor example Ink Watercolor example
Ink Watercolor example Ink Watercolor example
Ink Watercolor example

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