Distress Ink Tutorial - My Favorite Coloring Technique

A few of you have asked how I color my images, so here it is. My first Tutorial and it's on my favorite coloring technique...Distress Ink.
Some of my other favorite coloring technique includes: Prisma Color Pencil with Gamsol Oil, Prisma Watercolor Pencils, and Copic Markers.
But today I would like to share how I color with Distress Ink.

Materials I use:

  • 140 lb. Cold Press Watercolor Paper
  • Aqua Pens (large and small tip)
  • Acrylic block
  • Stamp
  • StazOn Ink Pad
  • Distress Ink Pads and Reinkers

Pick your favorite stamp, ink it up with StazOn ink and stamp the image on the watercolor paper.
I always use two or more color of the same shade to built my colors and I like to start with the lighter shade.
Fill your aqua pens with water and take a bit of color directly from the ink pad.
To blend the colors, work in circular motion with your water brush.
If too much ink is added to the image, you can remove some of the ink by adding water to the area
then simply dab with a dry paper towel to lift the ink off the paper.

Now here are the step by step tutorial on how I color my images.
Let's have some fun!

Step 1 - Skin

  • Take some Tattered Rose ink with your aqua brush, apply an even coat to all the skin area.
  • Next, apply a light even coat of Antique Linen over the first color.
  • Finally, outline the colored area with some Vintage Photo.
  • With a wet brush, work in a circular motion to blend the colors

Step 2 - Clothes part 1

  • Take a bit of Broken China and evenly distribute to her headpiece and bottom.
  • While the first coat is still moist, add some Faded Jeans to the "shadow" area and quickly blend the two colors together. Repeat this step to add a darker shade if desire.

Step 3 - Clothes part 2

  • Start with the lighter color of red, Worn Lipstick and work on her coat and the hearts.
  • Use Fired Brick to add "shadow" were you think is appropriate. For an intense shadow effect, repeat this process.

Step 4 - Hair

  • For the base, start with an even coat of Scattered Straw.
  • Use Old Paper to add low lights. Leave some Scattered Straw as high lights on the hair
  • Next, take some Tea Dye and add in the shadow area making sure to pull and blend the colors
  • Add some Black Soot to the darkest part of the hair for depth and definition.

Step 5 - Finishing Touches

  • For her Shirt, take Old Paper ink and add evenly. Add a second layer to the shadows, finally some Black Soot ink for the darker shadow.
  • Take the Scattered Straw and add to the ribbon, apply a second coat for the shadow.
  • Add some Vintage Photo to the poll and sole of her feet, go over with Black Soot for the shadow.

I finished the colored image with some Diamond Stickles, Pebbles Chalk for her rosy cheeks and white Signo gel pen for highlights.

I hope you fine my tutorial helpful and useful.
Please don't hesitate to ask me questions or leaving me comments.

Have a beautiful Easter Sunday with your family and friends.

Much Love,



  1. HI Chel! I love your tutorial! Hmmmm... should I give this a try without making a big wet globby mess? Maybe I'll try it one day! :) Thank you so much!

  2. Fabulous tutorial!! Lucky for me I purchased some watercolour paper this weekend so I will be able to have a go!!! Thanks Chelsea xxx

  3. Love this! I really want to try these. Your tutorial is perfect, makes things look easy. Thanks so much!!

  4. Great tutorials Chelsea, it's nice and clear. Thanks for sharing :o)

  5. Great tutorial!Concise but easy to follow at the same time!

  6. Really easy to follow but mine never look this good, thanks for sharing hugs Popsx

  7. Looks great!

    Realy helpfull :D

    Take care!

  8. Thanks for sharing how you get such beautiful results x Leigh x

  9. Such a great tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. Thanks Chelsea, Quick question when you're applying all the different colours to let one dry before you add the darker colour? Cheers, Jenny T.

  11. wow! this is a great tutorial. i love to color w/ distress inks too but don't have the same patience for all the detail like you. your work is beautiful. :)

  12. Thank you for a fabulous tutorial! I hope to try these soon! :)

    Happy Crafting,

  13. Fab tutorial! TFS! I've always wanted to try distress ink colouring. Right now I just use Copic markers and I luv them. One day I will give distress ink's a try. I luv the look.


  14. Such a fine tutorial. Have tried å little bit, but have much to learn about painting with distress. May be I shall try this one :)

  15. Holy smokes Chel! Congratulations on your first tutorial it ROCKS!!!
    Wowzers your direction and steps looks easy enough to follow but Geez I bet it's so much harder. Thank you for taking the time to share and for that I will give it a whirl. I'm scared LOL
    Hugs Bonnie

  16. Chelsea, this is wonderful! I've been thinking about trying this technique. Thanks so much!


  17. You must have been reading my mind.. I was looking all over the internet for a tutorial but there are not many! I love yours!! I think i'm gonna buy some re-inkers!! Maybe you can make a movie how you colour it?? Thank you!! XxMarley

  18. Very cool. I want to start using this method because I don't have copics, just Martha Stewart markers, and chalks.

    Thanks for the lesson!


  19. Thanks for the fantastic tutorial, so clear and easy to follow. Didn't know distressed ink could be used in this way. Thanks for sharing your amazing talent.

  20. Thank you so much for a great tutorial. I'm attending a crop this weekend and a friend is bringing her magnoilia stamps so maybe I'll get a chance to color some with my distress inks.

  21. I have the Re-inkers yesterday in my mailbox and I think those are so beautifull!! But if I add vintage photo to the skin it gets a bit yellow.. do you know what I'm doing wrong?? xx Marley

  22. Hi Marley,

    If too much water is added with the ink, it will lighten the color. Also, try letting the skin dry just a bit (moist but not wet) then apply the vintage photos around the edge and work the color toward the middle. Hope that works for you.

  23. This is amazing ! I wish I would have came across this last week ! I just went and bought some copic sketch markers over the weekend ! I have almost all the distress inks that you used man that would have saved me a ton of money if I had seen this earlier ! Thanks so much now I have more options on my distress inks !!

  24. thank you so much for the fabulous tutorial, Chelsea! i love it!

  25. I'm inspired. Going to purchase some supplies now.....Does Staz-On ink work better than Memento? I'll have to try both as I already have both types at home! Woo HOO!

  26. Hi Chelsea! Your coloring is amazing. Was just woundering about one thing, do u mix the black shoot with water ?? Because mine just gets really dark... Hugs