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Distress Ink Techniques
for Beginners

Butterfly card created with distress oxide inks and a stamp from visible image.

Distress inks by Tim Holtz/Ranger bring a unique addition to the world of card making.  As there's a whole raft of distress ink techniques that enable us to be more creative.

The range is now enormous with ink pads, sprays, stains, paints crayons, markers and more!

Here, I'm just going to cover the ink pads as these are the most useful products for beginners.

A collection of Distress ink pads.

There are two types of ink pads - Distress Ink and Distress Oxide.  No one explains it better than Tim Holtz....

In summary, the distress ink is a vivid dye ink that is slightly transparent.  While the distress oxide ink is a hybrid ink - part pigment and part dye ink.  It gives a more opaque solid colour and when dry appears "chalky" and more "vintage".  Both types are water reactive.

So, which is best? It all depends on what you want to use them for!  And everyone has their own personal preferences!

started out buying a few packs of the Distress Ink mini's as this was the cheapest way to purchase.  Followed by the Distress Oxides ink pads.  I don't have a full set of either as it's gets a bit expensive and Ranger keep introducing new colours to their range.



Both types of distress ink pads can be used for stamping.  The standard distress ink gives a clearer impression than the oxides but even that isn't as clear as other ink pads.

They work best when you want a grungy/vintage style image.

Ink Blending

A "Just for You" card created with distress oxide inks, an Altenew embossing folder and a die cut sentiment from Penny black.

Distress oxide inks are my go to inks for ink blending.  They are creamy and the colours blend together easily.

Use blending brushes or sponges to blend the ink.

With this card I used wilted violet and cracked pistachio distress oxide inks.  I flicked some water droplets over the blended card to create some texture.  Absorbing the water with a sheet of kitchen paper.

When dry I embossed the paper with an embossing folder from Altenew.  I very lightly smeared white pigment ink over the raised areas to highlight the flowers.  

I completed the card with "Just for You" die from Penny Black.

Ink Smooshing

Butterfly card created with distress oxide inks and a stamp from visible image.

My favourite card making technique!

Here I used Ink Smooshing  to make a batch of birthday cards using the VIMini # 1 silhouette images from Visible Image.

Using a large sheet of mixed media card I used two distress oxide colour combinations:

  • Spiced marmalade and worn lipstick
  • Cracked pistachio and peacock Feathers

When dry I trimmed the card into smaller rectangles and stamped and heat embossed the images.

Background layers were created with either a background cover die or an embossing folder.

A silhouette card created with distress oxide ink and images from Visible Image.


An stamped image of mushrooms surrounded by grass by Woodware Stamps.  Coloured with distress oxide inks.

Distress inks are water reactive and can be used for painting your stamped images. 

Smear a little ink from the ink pad onto a palette or glass mat and spray with water to create your "paint".

Then use and blend in the same way as watercolour paints.

My final card uses a beautiful image from Woodware Stamps.

I painted the heat embossed image with distress oxides and added a little sparkle with a gel pen for the mushroom spots.  

Sentiments for Distress Ink Techniques

For my ink smooshed birthday cards I used the Mini Strips - Birthday stamps with matching die from Taylored Expressions.  These little sets are a quick way to create multiple sentiments for your cards.

Distress ink techniques for beginners

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