In the Craftroom 14th February 2015 – A Distress Marker Master-class?

Master-class? Hmm maybe it was  more of a “lets see what works” class, but we certainly gave the pens a thorough work out trying out several different techniques. The ladies, as well as having a fun afternoon playing with different techniques,  will also (hopefully) have learnt that there was a lot more you can do with a set of Distress markers ( be it 12 pens or 48) than just colouring in.

I must have been feeling in a generous mood for this class as not only did I provide everyone with sets of different types of card stock (all neatly cut to A6 size), a binder ring (to keep  their work samples together as a  technique booklet) and a thick acetate work sheet,

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but I also treated the group to not one but TWO sets of Tim Holtz’s new stamp sets

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I thought they would be ideal for the group to practice their colouring skills, honest!

For the last couple of weeks now I have been researching, taking notes and trying out everything I could find on distress marker pens and theirs uses. Most of which is  probably common knowledge, but maybe some of what we have done this afternoon will be new to some of you.There are lots of tutorials, videos etc on the internet.

As most (if not all) the ladies had recently purchased (or received as a gift) sets of the Distress markers, but they had not as yet had them out of their containers, mainly due to the fact that they were not sure how to use them.

So lets start right at the beginning.

Distress Markers are a water based dye ink pen  with similar  water reacting qualities to the Distress inks. It is a slightly different type of ink though and the pen in NON refillable.

The pen it self is double ended with a fine nib at one end and a brush nib at the other. Something you may not know is that the brush nib itself is double ended, this means that, although the nibs are non replaceable, if you were to damage the brush nib you can pull it out and turn it round. Just make sure you are more careful with this time lol.

You will get different results depending on the type of card stock used and the technique you wish to use.

For this afternoons session we are using 3 different types of card stock – water colour card, specialist stamping card, and coated card stock.

To start the session I just got the group to try out the pens on the different card stocks so that they could see for themselves how the pens react.

First just scribble onto the card then using a paintbrush or water brush add a little water and try and move the ink around. Straight away they found out that the coated card stock was not going to be much good for any of the water colouring techniques as the ink just dried on the card and could not be moved around and blended. It is great for creating backgrounds though as you will see later.

So this left us with the water colour card and the stamping card, both with their own interesting characteristics as you will soon see. but first a few little hints and tips to help with colouring.

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The card above shows how you can achieve different shading results just be adding another colour or water to the brush nib.

By adding water to the nib it temporarily takes away the colour and as you keep working with the pen the colour works back to normal. To do this add a little water to your craft sheet/glass mat/acetate and just gently swipe the pen nib through it once or twice. Do NOT stand the nib in the water and definitely DO NOT dip the pen nib into water jar as the water will be soaked up into the ink chamber and affect the ink.

You can also use the same technique to make the colour darker to start with either by adding black soot or another darker colour to the nib. You can do this either by scribbling some of the colour onto your mat and picking it up on the nib as with the water or by dabbing the end of the nib with the nib of the other pen.

Or you can just add the colours direct to the card and just blend with your brush.

It is just worth having a play just to see what works for you, there is no right or wrong way except if dip your pen in your water jar.

So basic colouring in

When stamping images for colouring in, because the distress inks are water based, you need to use an ink that is NOT water based. ie  Archival, Versafine or Stayzon will all work well. You can also print off images from your printer onto water colour or stamping card. Just check that your printer can take that thickness of card.

Stamp out several images onto your different card stocks and just colour in. Start around the edges or where you want it darker then use a brush to pull the colour in and move it around. If using a paint brush you do not want your brush over wet so have a piece of kitchen roll to hand and after dipping brush in water jar dab it first on kitchen roll before using on the card. If you go outside the lines you can either leave or add to it for a real water colour effect or just taking clean brush with a little water and  just dab over the area then blot off with kitchen roll. this should remove the colour. You can also use this technique to lighten any areas where you have gone in too dark.

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love these crazy birds. The one on the left is on water colour card, stamping card on the right and all just using one pen colour.

Another way to stamp is by colouring the stamp itself with the pens. This way you can ink up the stamp in different colours. You use the brush nib for this but make sure you use the side of the nib and not the point as you could damage it. When you have finished colouring the stamp just breathe over it to reactivate the ink before you stamp. don’t use a water spray/mister as it will make it too wet.

This technique works really well on stamps with solid areas and you can blend different colours. Some of the ladies got better results on the stamping card than the water colour card so again you will need to see which effect you prefer.

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This was my attempt on water colour card. I stamped the main image and then just just kept breathing and stamping until no ink left. Love the ghosting effect in the background.

You can also colour outline stamps the same way.

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And then just using water and a brush you can pull the colour in from the lines to colour the image but still keep the outline. I like this for backgrounds.

While researching I came across the technique using embossing ink and white embossing powder to stamp the outline and then colour in with the pens.

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Have you tried stamping and embossing white embossing powder onto white card and then  colouring inside the lines? what lines?  (If you have I would love to hear from you re any tips you may have)  The finished result may look lovely, but not the easiest technique to try so I changed it slightly for my ladies,to make it a little easier to see where they were painting, by giving them craft card to stamp on

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Love this look on the craft card.

I know I could also have given them black embossing powder to use instead too. lol,  but do like the effect with the white.

Time for a break I think and then its backgrounds.

One of the easiest ways to make backgrounds is to scribble with the pens onto a piece of acetate, spritz and swipe, job done.

To make this even easier I had given them all a piece of acetate ( I had just had a delivery of 8″ x 8″ embossing folders, guess from where, and used the acetate packaging as nice and sturdy) and also an A6 piece of paper to put under the acetate. This was so that they could see where to scribble the pens, just keeping to the area of the paper.

Again play with the different types of card stocks that you have.

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With this one I just over stamped inking the stamps with the same colour pens I had used to scribble the background.

Then it was out with the cling film, oh did eyes light up at the sight of this, lol.

Spritz glimmer/metallic spray ( Oak House Studios metallic sprays are rather good) onto piece of cling film, after swiping over the inked acetate lay the card inky side down onto the cling film, turn over and scrunch and move the cling film around until happy. fold over the edges of the film to back of card and leave to one side for about ten mins to dry. This works great with the coated card stock as the ink stays moveable on top of the card. Though I also liked the effect on the water colour card stock too. The ink soaks into the card so all you are really moving with the cling film is the spray but is still works. You just get a more subtle effect.

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Water colour card on left, coated card stock on right.

This technique was popular with the ladies and so while they were happily playing with this technique I quickly ran through a few other way of making backgrounds for stamping or even just for sentiments.

You can quickly scribble onto an acrylic block spritz and stamp onto a piece of card or stamp and slide it across the card depending on the card stock used.

2015-02-14 17.44.26This is handy for sentiment backgrounds, quick and easy.

Take a stencil and colour the outlines on the actual stencil or part stencil,  then place piece of card on top and press down for a different look.

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Or you could colour the raised (or debossed areas) of an embossing folder with the pens…… but

Thats all? we have had time for this afternoon, hopefully it has given the ladies a few ideas of what they can do with their Distress markers and that they have been inspired to use them a bit more often.

All the techniques we have played with this afternoon can be used with any water based ink markers. if you do not have any you can still do some of the techniques with dye based ink pads or reinkers . just swipe the pad(or couple of drops reinker) onto craft/glass mat and use a brush to pick up the ink but I don’t recommend using a brush direct to the ink pad.

The main thing is to play, experiment, find out what works, doesn’t, and have FUN!

Think I may have to have another play with those Crazy birds now.

And if you are reading this, thank you for taking the time to stay till the end.



  1. lisa

    What a fun crafty arty, really enjoyed playtime, thanks Julie x

  2. Jacky Allatt

    You did a lot of preparation for this, Julie, I bet your ladies had great fun and went away inspired to explore the ideas further. I enjoyed reading this and learnt some new things about the Distress Markers. Thanks for taking the time to post all this info, it was a good read.

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