Coloring Techniques Supplies for Rubber Stamps Tutorial

This tutorial talks about coloring supplies for use with rubber stamps:
While there is a virtually unlimited amount of ways to color your stamped art, here are a few that I've tested out myself. The example pictures use my rubber stamps along with coloring supplies including Stazon, Memento ink pads, alcohol inks, chalks, Copic and Marvy LePlume markers, Distress ink pads, embossing powder, gold mica perfect pearls or pearl ex etc. that can be commonly found online or in your local Michaels or JoAnn craft stores.




Many companies have different lightfast ratings on their products. It is common for artist paints to include this information, but craft inks and pads rarely do. In general "pigments" last longer in sunlight than "dye" inks. I have started a lightfast testing page for my fine art supplies here. If you are making fine art for hanging on a wall, you want art supplies instead of craft supplies, such as artist's watercolor or acrylic paints. Most dye ink products will fade in sunlight, but are acid-free and archival for long term storage (like scrapbooks/ photo albums, greeting cards or other artwork NOT exposed to bright lighting conditions).




Tree rubber stamps available on sheet #Tree-125 (below) and #Scen-128 (above).




Create quick and easy winter scenes for card making using a sponge applicator. To create layered images using multiple rubber stamps, you can make a mask by stamping your image onto scrap paper and carefully cutting around the edges:


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I stamped the flower face onto a gift tag. I then laid the scrap paper mask I had
cut out over the top of it. I colored the background by sponging yellow and
orange memento inks. While the protective mask was still in place, I rubber
stamped a swirl pattern over everything before moving the mask away. (Rubber
stamp set
here #Feys117)


Out of all the traditional coloring media I've ever tried, COPIC MARKERS are by far my favorite way to color rubber stamped artwork, as they are quick and easy to do shading and get vibrant colors. You can also make your own using alcohol inks to fill the empty markers here. These allow you to achieve beautifully blended, watercolor looking effects, quickly, with no mess. Easy to use for any skill level.


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Stamp your image with Memento dye ink pad. I have tried several other ink pads, including Versafine and Stazon, but the Copic markers make those inks bleed. Or you could use any ink if you heat embossed it to seal the image first.

For the best shading effects, I recommend using Copic markers in groups of 3 to 4 of a similar color. For example, a light, medium and dark pink. Start by coloring your darkest shadow areas first, then color over the dark area with your medium color, then color over everything again with your lightest color.

The quicker you work the easier the blending will be. If your work dries and isn't blended well enough, go over the entire image again with your lightest color and soak the areas with harsh lines.

If you are debating on which markers to buy, I would research the color chart and combinations online. There is a wealth of information on google,, and I Like Markers Blog.

You can use non-similar colors together, but that is slightly advanced and up for experimentation. Most lighter colors look very nice together when blended, and beautiful effects can be achieved by layering different types of colors over top of others.

PS. Just in case you missed the note in the "types of inks" chart at the top of the page, please avoid marker #BV00 (a light blue-violet color) due to a fugitive dye which makes that particular color fade/change color quickly. It is the only unacceptable dye I have had experience with in the Copic line, and it may be that they just can't formulate that color to be any more stable.


See the finished card and other rubber stamps from the ladies in flower dresses set #Dres-M07 here. Flower and leaf stamps from sheet #Bouq-M02
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StazOn ink pads: These solvent based inks work just like alcohol inks, showing up vibrantly on tricky slick surfaces such as plastic game tiles. You can use them to color domino pieces by sponge daubing on color then rubber stamping in black. Copic marker brand "colorless blender" or Ranger Ink's alcohol ink blender both work to remove the color to create highlights. Complete instructions can be found on the domino jewelry making tutorial page here (Stamp design below is from #Wood-127).


Faux Watercoloring with Markers: You can also use the markers to scribble onto a plastic palette (any non absorbent surface will work) and pick up the color with a water brush. The water brush has an internal tube for holding water and a paint brush tip you can squeeze the water out on. There are water brushes available on the embellishments, ink and coloring supplies page here. This removes the need for messy paint tubes/water trays/clean up.


Chalk / Soft Pastels:
Great for coloring on paper, over stamped images to give a delicate pastel coloring, on domino jewelry (domino tutorial here) and also work great on polymer clay (check out the miniature food tutorials.)


If you rubber stamp onto paper with clear VersaMark, Perfect Medium or embossing ink, you can gently apply chalk over the image to color the design. The clear ink works as a chalk dust attractant. Use make up sponge type applicators or cotton balls for this method of coloring.
Achieve amazing colorful effects with alcohol inks on non porous surfaces, or use as a coloring ink/paint/in a marker for paper coloring. Also works well as a dye for embellishments, metal, ribbon etc. to match your project. There are so many things to do with Alcohol inks, I'm working on a whole page dedicated to them. Check it out - All About Alcohol Inks: Tutorials, Color Charts, Project Ideas & More!


Adirondack alcohol inks by Tim Holtz , come in small dropper tip bottles. You squeeze a few drops onto a piece of felt attached to a wooden stamper. Depending on the colors you use and the alcohol blending solution (which lightens / dilutes) you can create faux marble / turquoise / stone effects and richly colored backgrounds.


One awesome thing about alcohol inks is that they stick to tricky surfaces such as plastic / dominoes, acetate / film transparencies, glass, beads and other non porous surfaces! You can also use them with your papercrafting  projects by using glossy paper. You can use these inks on regular paper, but it will not react the same beautiful way as it does with non-porous surfaces.

As a variation on the watercolor painting technique, you can also fill your water brush with alcohol. Use these alcohol inks in a palette or scribble Sharpie markers onto the palette and pick up the color with your brush. This allows you to paint on tricky surfaces (transparency, plastic etc.)

You can use alcohol inks to fill an
empty copic marker and color with them on paper. If you fill a marker with a dark green, and a second with a light green, you can achieve beautiful blending on paper (just like genuine Copic marker coloring.)

Like to use embossing powders and wish you had a certain color to match your project? If you have some alcohol inks, you can turn your clear or white embossing powders into any color you want! Just put some embossing powder in a small jar, squeeze a couple drops of alcohol ink into it and stir thoroughly to coat all the particles. You can also add metallic powders or glitter to your mix for your very own unique embossing powder!


Distress inks are a dye based ink formulated to work like watercolors:


They react with water making it easy to blend and spread color across your paper surface. To make backgrounds that look just like watercolor paintings you randomly tap the ink pad onto a non-stick craft sheet. Spritz the ink with a water bottle and press your paper down onto it. Dry your paper with a heat gun between layers to keep your colors from getting muddy. Repeatedly press your paper into the beads of ink water on your craft sheet until you achieve your desired color coverage. To see this process in action check out this video tutorial by Tim Holtz on YouTube!


Below, I've put distress reinker (I got mine at into a mini spray bottle (like "Mini Misters" by Ranger Ink.) I put about a dropper and a half of reinker into it and fill the remaining space in the bottle with water. (You can make your colors as light as you want by adding more water to ink ratio.)
gelly_roll-White_gel_pen-Gold_Silver  Gel pens are awesome for adding a special finishing touch. Above I added golden sparkle details and outlined the Klimt image with white gel pen.






Using embossing powder over a rubber stamped image:


1) Use a slow drying embossing ink, "perfect medium pens" or any pigment ink to apply your stamped image to paper. Working over a non-stick craft sheet, tupperware or a large sheet of scrap paper will make clean up much easier.


2) Select your chosen embossing powder, and dump enough powder out of the jar to generously cover your stamped image. The powder will cling to your damp ink. Lift your stamped paper up vertically, tap it gently a couple times to make the powder fall onto your work surface below. Return that excess powder to it's jar.


3) Turn on your heat gun (similar to a hair dryer with less wind and more heat) and hold it high above your image at a slight angle. This may take some practice because you want the powder to start to melt before getting blown around by the air coming from your gun. As the powder melts in one area, continue to move your heat gun to melt the remaining powder. (This doesn't take long, somewhere around 30 seconds usually.) It becomes cool to the touch again in about a minute.


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Embossing powder basics:
Embossing powders are tiny grains of easily melted, resin-like, plastic particles. These powders can be poured onto nearly any surface. To get the powder to stick to your surface, you can use double sided adhesive or embossing ink (available in pens for drawing with, or ink pads for rubber stamping).  When you use a heat tool (a high temperature tool that looks like a hair dryer but puts out more heat and less blowing of air) over the powders, they melt quickly into a hardened shiny surface.


There are 3 "grain" sizes including large "Ultra thick embossing powder" (also called UTEE) along with regular size and ultra fine "detail" embossing powders. The particles are comparable to the size of fine and coarse table salt. UTEE is ideal for covering a large surface like a sealer or enamel coating. Fine detail powders should be used on rubber stamped images and any artwork with small lines. Embossing powder comes in a wide variety of colors, clear and metallics.


1) Use Versamark or Perfect Medium Ink Pad on your rubber stamp and press it onto your paper. These inks also come in pen form to draw with.
These types of inks are clear, oily, sticky and slow drying so that they cling to the embossing powders you pour on top in the next step.

2) Working over a piece of paper or tupperware container to catch the powder, dump enough embossing powder onto your paper to cover the
image. Gently tap your paper to remove excess powder.

If you worked over a sheet of scrap paper, carefully fold it to direct the excess powder back into its jar for storage.

3) Use the heat tool a couple inches above the paper's surface, waving the tool back and forth until you see the powder you are aiming at start to
melt. Move the heat tool around the image until all powder is melted.




Embossing powders can be mixed with Alcohol Inks (stir drops of ink colors into the powders until dry) or add Perfect Pearls for metallic effects.


Mica powders can be used on 3-D surfaces as well. Here I apply Gold Perfect Pearls to raw, pre-baked polymer clay with my finger tip. A little goes a long way, apply lightly to highlight the raised areas of your design:
Other fun ways to add metallic highlights to your stamped art, jewelry or clay:




You can use any double sided tape or special glues that stay tacky after drying to apply metal leafing or transfer foils to your project. My favorite types of glues are Deco Foil or Quickie Glue Pen.



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