Bold Watercolor Birthday Card Techniques: Distress Ink Watercoloring and Die Cutting

This handmade card combines Distress Ink watercoloring with a subtle, white-on-white die cut background for a look that’s clean and bold!

A Bold Handmade Birthday Card with Distress Ink Watercoloring

Make a bold handmade birthday card with Distress Ink watercoloring.

How to make a bold card with Distress Ink watercoloring and die cutting

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Watercolor paper (I used Distress Watercolor Cardstock for this project)
  • A card base cut from white cardstock
  • A paper cutter or scissors
  • Painter’s tape
  • A hard, smooth surface
  • Distress Ink (I used Picked Raspberry, Peacock Feathers and Faded Jeans)
  • A large acrylic block or similar surface
  • Watercolor brushes (I used a ¾ inch filbert and a #10 round)
  • A cup and water
  • Paper towels
  • A Silhouette Cameo or Portrait + Silhouette Studio software OR a manual die cutting machine plus metal sentiment and background dies
  • 3-D foam squares
Watercolor with Distress Ink

Step 1:

Tape a piece of watercolor cardstock to a stable surface with painter’s tape to prevent the paper from warping after water is added. I just taped the cardstock to a craft mat on my work surface for this project, but you could also use an old cutting board, a clipboard or a hard piece of plastic.

Wet-on-wet watercolor technique

Step 2:

Fill a cup with water and completely wet the watercolor paper with water using a large brush. I used a ¾ inch filbert for this.

Note: I wanted the colors to blend well for this project, but if you want to have a more defined separation between the colors that you’ll be using, you can add water more sparingly to the cardstock or skip this step altogether and go with a wet-on-dry technique.

Smooshing Distress Ink onto an acrylic block

Step 3:

Smoosh your inks onto an acrylic block. A piece of acetate or a craft mat would also work.

Watercoloring with Distress Ink

Step 4:

Take a smaller brush (I used a #10 round), dip it into the water and then into the ink. Start painting on the surface of the paper. I started in the top right corner and painted down and across, but you can paint in whatever direction you’d like.

Wet-on-wet watercolor blending

Step 5:


When you’re finished with the first ink color, rinse your brush and continue painting with a second color, overlapping with the previous color to blend. Repeat this process with the remaining colors until the entire area is painted. If you notice areas where water is pooling on the paper, use a paper towel to absorb the excess water.

Note: I wanted the colors to be bold and saturated, so I went back over many areas more than once with the ink to deepen the color and to further blend the colors.

Adding glue to digital die cut card background

Step 6:

Set the watercolor aside to dry completely. Meanwhile, cut your background from white cardstock using either a digital die cutting machine (I used a Silhouette Cameo) or a manual die cutting machine and a metal die. Dot the back of the background piece with craft glue and adhere it to the front of an A2 card base.

Note: I designed my background in Silhouette Studio using the numerals from a free font (ChunkFive). Then, I combined them using Silhouette Studio’s weld tool and cropped the background to the size of an A2 card using the crop tool.

Adhering watercolor paper to Silhouette Cameo mat

Step 7:

When the watercolor is completely dry, remove the painter’s tape and, if using a digital die cutting machine, adhere the paper to a cutting mat. I recommend using a new or still-pretty-sticky mat for this so the paper adheres well during the cutting process.

Cut your design according to the heavy cardstock settings, if using a Silhouette (Blade 7 / Speed 1 / Thickness 33 / Double Cut). If using a manual machine and metal die, position the die on the paper where you’d like your sentiment to be and run everything through the die cutting machine.

Adding foam adhesive to the back of die cuts

Step 8:

Cover the back of the sentiment die cut(s) with 3-D adhesive foam squares. Cut the squares into pieces to cover areas that too small or narrow for the squares.

Positioning and adhering sentiment & word die cuts

Step 9:

Remove the backing from the 3-D foam pieces and adhere the sentiment to the front of the card.

Tip: When I want the perfect placement of die cuts with several pieces — this especially comes in handy for words and sentiments — I place the piece that the die cuts were cut from on top of the card base just where I want the die cuts to be. Then, I place each die cut element into its corresponding cut out area, sort of like I’m inlaying the pieces. After all of the pieces are adhered in place, I carefully pop each piece back through the cardstock and lift as I go until the cardstock is completely free of the die cuts. Works like a charm!

A Bold Handmade Birthday Card with Distress Ink Watercoloring
  • (will not be published)

No Comments