Distress Ink colouring Tutorial

I have been asked so many times how I do my colouring with Ranger distress inks.. and thought to save me a whole heap of time explaining to everyone I’ll write this tutorial.

This will describe how I use them, encouraging you to use your own style and creativity at all times! 🙂

I have taken lots of photo’s when I was doing my ATC for Tilda and friends ATC blog but it was very hard to take pictures of me actually painting and pressing the button on the camera at the same time..lol

Right.. first off.. get your materials ready.  In this tutorial I am using the Ranger Distress inks pads, I have listed the colours as I used them.. and will experiment with the re-inkers at a later time.  So, I’ve got my image, choose the papers I wanted to use.. to pick the colours for the image, a filled water brush (mine is koi) and that is it!

Lets get colouring!!.. I usually start with the lighter colours.. like the face and use ‘Tattered Rose’ colour for this.

Grab your water brush and dab/swirl it on the back of your ‘non painting’ hand, in between your thumb and forefinger.. I find that this gets the flow going and you can tell if the brush is too dry or too wet.. I also use my hand to wipe the brush so it is clear for the next colour.

Dab your brush onto the pad to pick up the colour and bring straight to the skin area of your image. Start at the hairline or darker shadowy bits of the area and drag it equally all over, at this stage I use a sweeping motion with the brush

Try and not get it too wet and a little goes a long way, you can always build up colour.. it is much harder to take it away.

Again take some colour from the pad and apply to the shadowy area’s, you are now building the colour up to a shade you are happy with… I make more of a dabbing motion with my brush for this part.  Once the face in particular is coloured and shaded move on to another area of your image, so it can dry.. we will add the blushed cheeks and details later.

Next I wanted to colour Tilda’s jeans, so took the ‘Faded Jeans’ ink pad and as this is a much to dark a  colour to add straight to the image, I dabbed the brush and then swirled some on a piece of scrap paper, or at the unused bit of the CS.  Then paint the whole area of the jeans again really dragging the colour from the edges to the middle, using the sweeping motion.


Work your colour again and again, always using your scrap bit of paper to get the darkest colour of your brush, then dab around the area’s you want more shading.. sometimes, when you drag your colour in smaller areas, a drop of water will lay on your paper as you take your brush off, I quite like this effect.. but if you don’t, you can always blend this darker bit by drying the brush.

as you can see i got quite a definate line on the second picture above.. as I wanted to show you that you can blend this easily.. when you ready to blend, swirl the waterbrush on your hand again to lose all the colour from the tip.. then go over the line and drag to the middle of the area.. the water will do it’s job and blends the line!

have a look at how I build up her shoes:


Oohpsy, made a mistake and gone outside the line?


This can also be corrected by going over it with a clear brush.. swirl your brush on your hand, go over the mistake from the white inside to the line and it will dissapear like magic!!  just have a look at the first picture below, its all gone 🙂

Next it’s Tilda’s top.. I have used ‘Spiced Marmelade’ for this.. work this in the same method as described for the jeans by dabbing the darkest colour onto scrap paper, light colouring, sweeping all over and dab the brush onto the parts to be shaded, blend with your brush (cleaned).


While I’ve got the spiced marmelade in front of me, I dabbed dark orange onto the centre of the flowers in her hair and really light onto the petals

Onto the hair, love this bit 🙂  .. I’ve used Antique Linnen all over and gone over it again in the shaded places.. then added a darker shade, Frayed Burlap for the hairline and accents, and lastly an even darker shade ‘Brushed Corduroy’ for the bits I really wanted darker.. I’ve also used this shade to give some shadow by the neck and coloured the buttons of the top,  I then took the green ‘Peeled Paint’ ink and coloured the leaves..

ohhh… nearly done, just some finishing touches..

I wanted her cheeks to be a little more rosey.. so got the tattered rose inkpad again and made small circles where her freckles are, again if the lines are too obvious, wipe your brush clean on your hand and go over the lines to blend..

To finish off I took my white painter pen and added some dots on her face and lines on top and shoes to give the appearance of a glow

This is my finished picture

She was now ready to be cut out and put onto the ATC 🙂  .. Oh.. and you might have to wash your hands, or you’ll be walking around with ink smears for the rest of the day! lol

I really hope this tutorial is of some help and use to some of you.. and ofcourse if you have any questions or comments, please contact me anytime!

Marlene xx




45 responses to “Distress Ink colouring Tutorial

  • Sarah

    Wow – what a great tutorial and what great colouring in, thanks for that!

  • Denise

    Amazing. I wish I could get my painting to look like yours!

  • Lim

    WOW!!! I have to try this .. This is my favorite Magnolia from this last season. I just received in the mail today. 🙂
    Your tutorial is amazing! Thanks for sharing..
    I’m glad that I found your blog..
    Hugs, Lim

  • Caz

    fantastic tutorial Marlene. glad to see in theory I am doing it right, just doesnt look like yours! LOL


  • Katharina

    What a wonderful and detailed tutorial Marlene! I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing and your effort to put it together 🙂
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
    Hugs Katharina

  • Andrea

    Hi Marlene,

    thanks for the great tutorial!! Your coloring is always great.


  • Agnes

    dankje wel voor je duidelijke uitleg,ik ga er zeker een keer mee aan de slag.Moet eerst wat uitbereiden met de distress inkten.

    Groetjes Agnes

  • Chrissie

    Just wanted to say “thanks” for a brilliant tutorial Marlene. I’ve been thinking of getting some Primas but may have to try the distress ink method instead now!

  • sandra_w

    Dank je wel, Marlene voor de uitleg…ik ga het ook maar is proberen. Ik moet alleen nog wat kleurtjes distress inkt erbij hebben…;-)

  • sue lumber

    Great tutorial hope this might work with my Lyra aquacolours I just bought if not I will be off to buy more stash and it will be all your fault LOL. Tilda looks gorgeous clever girl. Sue :o)

  • Bernie

    Hi M! I must say I wondered a few times how you managed with the distress inks…I must give them a go!

    Congratulations on a fabulous tutorial…excellent level of detail, plenty photos of each stage and great humour of course! Loads of work for you (thank you!!)…it gets A+ from me! And of course the results are stunning! bx

  • Jacqui Dennis

    Thanks Marlene, that was a really helpful tutorial your images always look so beautiful, off to have a try myelf.
    Thanks aganin
    Hugs Jacqui x

  • carole

    Wonderful tutorial Marlene, thanks for explaining in so much detail – the photos really help. I’ve just got this Tilda in the post today, she is so pretty!

  • donalda

    oh thank you so much for this, i had always used nibs with the distressed inks but it had to be glossy paper. this is awesome

  • annie

    Great tutorial Marlene! what sort of paper are you using? I tried with a water-colour paper but the colours spread out and became all the same, no shading!

  • Maggie

    Great tutorial – thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Diane W

    Hey!!! Thanx Marlene,I luv your cards when you use this technique,just started collecting these ink pads too!!!! You’re a star :o)x

  • Kathy

    Thanks so much!! Here I have all this stuff and never knew what to do with it!! I am going to give this a try today!! I know I will be disappointed when it doesn’t look like yours though!! (LOL) Thanks again.

  • Kevin

    That’s beautiful. 😀

  • Marlou McAlees

    great tutorial, thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  • Mel

    These are great, might go and treat myself to some inks and have a go.

  • Elizabeth

    Bedankt voor de schitterende uitleg!! Wist niet, dat je dit allemaal met de Distress pads kon doen. Ik heb er nml. de nodige, maar het wordt vast nooit zo mooi als bij jou.

  • My Paper World

    Wow! Your colouring is amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Maria

    Thanks for the fabulous tutorial, Marlene. I must try it out at the weekend.
    Maria x

  • Kazza

    Wow what a great tutorial!! especially the bit about how to clear up those mistakes lol. and thanks for visiting me and your kind comment :O)

  • Debbie

    Really like your blog Marlene. Your cards are beautiful. I am very impressed!

    Have saved you to favourites!

    Debbie (Stampeezee)

  • susanbluerobot

    thank you for wonderful lesson

  • peechy

    wow!! fabby tutorial!! i did wonder how you got your images looking so good!! Thanks so much for sharing, I will deff be having a try…. now i need some inks.. LOL xxx

  • fifi

    love your blog :~) great cards – i will be visiting again soon xx

  • joanne

    wow its very stunning, only wish i could colour like that, jo x

  • Caroline

    wow, thanks marlene for such a great tutorial! I just bought about 6 of these inkpads on someone’s recommendation for stamping – but not had much luck with them yet! can’t wait to get the waterbrush and have a go at painting with them!
    Love your blog, your cards are fabulous – will be back soon 🙂

    Caroline x

  • Gia

    She’s absolutely beautiful Marlene. I love the way you have coloured her. I will def be trying this myself.

  • Jill

    Oh thank you Marlene, I really enjoyed reading this and looking at the pictures your cards and watercolouring in are fantastic thanks for the tips and advice Well done Jill x

  • Claudia Rosa

    fabulous tutorial marlene.
    i loved to read about the distress inks and what colors you are using.

    i do yous the stampin up reinkers BUT .. there is a problem with these inks..

    they are way cheaper than the distress inks so i do have a problem with certain colors the most browns.
    if i add them to my image they devide themselfs in to nasty green colors. horrible and than other colors are just fine.

    you see defenetly the price difference mine are a bottle 2.75 and distress are 4.99. i will defentetly buy the spiced marmelade and the the blue.

    thanks marlene
    i would also be interested which colors besides the ones you talked about on your tut you reccomend?

  • Charmaine

    Great tutorial and super fabulous coloring. Love the colors you chose for the image.


  • Kristine

    WOW MARLENE! Your colouring is beautiful!

  • Heather x

    oh Marlene! I neeeeeedddd tilda’s and distress inks, where’s my purse?

    You have really gone into detail and helped a novice to understand 🙂 I am not a lover of stamping, could never get the hang of it…..but now I want another try lol.

  • alice

    Great technique – thanks so much for sharing! Love your blog – your artwork is amazing!

  • Vix SBS12

    Superb! I have the inkpads, I have the koi brush so just need to practice and your tutorial is highly detailled and much appreciated 🙂

    Can I also ask what brand of paper you are using?

  • Korin

    This is a fabulous tutorial Marlene! I just wish I could master it as well as you!!

    What ink are you using to stamp the image? I guess I should try Stazon, since I tend to get bleeding when I watercolor an image that is stamped with dye ink. My paper could also be part of the problem. What kind of paper do you use also?

    Thanks for sharing you amazing talent with us!

    korinstamps at comcast dot net

  • Sandra

    Thanks for such a clear and easy to follow tutorial. Brilliant

  • elisa begg

    This is fantastic.I will have to get myself some inks.Lovely.xx

  • Renilde

    Hi Marlene
    What a realy great tutorial for coloring with distresse! Thank you very much! I’ll put a link on my blog.
    I’m also a big fan of your work and come back soon to see more of your nice work!
    Thanks, Renilde

  • Sam

    What a fantastic tutorial – I’ve linked to my blog.

    Looking forward to your suggestions using the re-inkers.


  • Liisa

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have wanted to test distressis for a long time, but never dared to. Tomorrow I’m going to by some, and you can propably guess what I’m doing this weekwnd 🙂

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