May 22, 2012

Tutorial: Water colouring Magnolias with Distress Inks

Hello Stampers!

It was a beautiful Victoria Day long weekend here in London.  Unfortunately I didn't see much of it, as I was inside with a sick child.  But I took advantage of the time to write a little tutorial!

I will be teaching a class at SGD on May 31 where you can learn this technique in person!  In the meantime, here is a pictorial view.

First - here are my tips for starting out!

1.  I use the distress ink refills - but I have also enjoyed doing this technique with the distress markers!  They will do the same thing for you - with the advantage of being more portable, and less messy.

2.  I use the Tim Holtz palette - and I have a drop of refill in each spot - and line it up with my colour chart.  Having this colour chart in front of you is very important!

3.  I use a variety of brushes.  Mostly, the Tim Holtz detailer tip water brush.  I also use a number 0 paint brush and a number 00.  The Tim Holtz broad brush is also handy for backgrounds.

4.  I use watercolour paper.  There are MANY on the market.  I buy mine at an artists supply store and it is 140lb cold press.

5.  I stamp my image using Versafine ink, in Sepia.  I have also used Ranger Archival ink which works well too.  I like the sharp detail of the Versafine.

6.  I also keep beside me a pot of water, some paper towel, and my heat tool.  This Ranger heat tool is AWESOME.  I keep it plugged in beside me all the time.

OK - here we go!

Here is Tilda with Lovely Lace Shoes, stamped in Versafine Sepia - on watercolour paper.

First I colour all the skin.  With a damp brush, pick up some tea dye ink (or apply directly from the distress marker) around the face/ skin area.

Dab all the ink off your brush onto paper towel, and using a damp brush - blend out the ink into the skin area.

Here you can see the first coat of tea dye - almost completely blended out.  The first time you try this, you  may find it tricky - and may not like the result.  The nice thing is that you can add more water - and dab up the colour with a paper towel.  Just leave to try and then try again!

The key is knowing your brush - getting the feel for "how wet is just right" and how much ink you have on your brush.  Try it out on a scrap piece of paper before applying to your image to get the amount of ink just right.  Be sure your brush has no colour on it before you use it to blend out.  Be sure it isn't too wet.  If you go outside the line, use a damp brush to clean up the area - and push the ink back into the image.

Now I leave that base coat to dry a little and move onto the hair.  I apply some antique linen as a base coat for the hair.  Later I'll add some brushed corduroy and some scattered straw.  Also a little mustard seed for some brightness on the crown of her head.  You can use any of the browns that you like - or the light yellows - give them a try!

Now I go back and apply a second coat of tea dye to the face and blend it out.  I also apply little dots of tattered rose to the cheeks.

Then I go back to the hair, add some browns, and blend then out with some more antique linen.

Now, I apply some "dried marigold" to the shirt.

Here it is blended out.

Then, I finish up the blouse with "spiced marmalade".

I use some "spiced marmalade" to give shadows on the blouse.

For the jeans, I've used "faded jeans".

And also a little bit of "crushed olive" on the bum, to make them look "lived in" and worn.  I used "chipped sapphire" for the shadow areas.

I've also gone back and touched up the hair with some "vintage photo" around the hairline, and a little "mustard seed" on the crown.

I've used "brushed corduroy" for the soles of the shoes, and "dried marigold" for the frilly sock.

I've finished up the shoes with "antique linen".  I've used "weathered wood" for the outline and "brushed corduroy" for the shadow.  I've also overlaid some "brushed corduroy" on the shadows of the pants & the blouse.  I dabbed some "dried marigold" on the hair bows.

And here she is!

I hope you enjoyed my little pictorial.  Here are a few more little tips & tricks for you.

1.  use two colours per area, a light and a dark.  i.e. "dried marigold" and "spiced marmalade" or "faded jeans" with "chipped sapphire".

2.  use a brown shade to apply a deep shadow - here I've used "brushed corduroy" over the orange blouse and the blue jeans.

3.  give the base coat time to dry before applying the shadow for more depth.


  1. Incredible colouring Sarah!!

  2. Great tutorial Sarah! thank you

  3. fantastic tutorial! I guess I should start using mine hee hee. I will keep your tutorial up on screen while I try it :)

  4. gorgeous...totally going to try this technique now...have the markers and should start using them to their fullest potential after seeing this!!!


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