Distress Paints: Product Review and Ideas for Scrapbooking

So Typical - Background made with Distress Paint
So Typical – Background made with Distress Paint

Have you been wondering whether Tim Holtz Distress Paints are worth getting?

In January we brought you an exclusive demo video by Tim Holtz. I got to see it in use and feel how smooth it is on the paper (yes, it’s wonderfully smooth and not chalky!). But it’s another thing to actually buy and use the product.

Now that I’ve had a chance to play with my Distress paints I wanted to share my thoughts and some ideas for using them.

Let’s start with the demo video where Tim will tell you what the paint can do and how it’s not your ordinary paint…

Video Demo of Tim Holtz’s Distress Paint

While Tim works on tags, we’re scrapbookers. How would you use them in scrapbooking? Below are nine different ideas that I’ve played with so far…

Ideas for Using Distress Paint

Spread and smooth Distress Paint with a blending tool.
Spread and smooth Distress Paint with a blending tool.

1. Use a blending tool to easily spread a color on your background.
This is what I did for the first layer of of the background of my So Typical scrapbook layout.

2. Press Distress Paint from the bottle onto your craft mat, spritz with water, and press your paper onto the paint droplets.
This is how you can get that uneven mottled look you see on top of the smooth layer in the photo above.

So Typical - scrapbook layout with Tim Holtz Distress Paint
Apply Distress Paint and spray with water.

3. Thickly apply Distress Paint to your background and then spray at an angle to have it wick out sideways.
That’s what I did with the purple shade. If you have other colors that are still wet, they will blend into each other. I dried my first layers to prevent blending of colors.

4. Use Distress Paint as your color medium when you want to emboss a resist image.
I embossed the spirals on this page using a stencil and a Ranger Embossing Pen. I demonstrated how to do this on video in Paperclipping 212 – Get More Out Of Your Manual Die Cuts. This video is in the Membership Library.

Candlelight Solo
The lighter colors on this page are Distress Stains, not Paint. Let’s take a closer look at the paint effects.

Use Tim Holtz Distress Paint to create double-layered feathered-edge circles.
Use Tim Holtz Distress Paint to create double-layered feathered-edge circles.

5. Create feathered-edge circles.
Since the Distress Paints are in a circular applicator, you can press a thick circle of paint onto your background, and then spray straight down with water (as opposed to spraying from the side, as in idea #3). Your paint will maintain its circular shape as it wicks outward.

You can add a second color, as I did, to your circles. If you want them to blend, apply the second color while the first is still wet. If you want the two colors to remain separate (as I did in this example), dry the first color before adding the second.

Note: I demonstrated how to make these feathered circles in a video tutorial that shows the design purpose and principles for having a scattering of embellishment that are laid in certain directions: Paperclipping 220 – Trendy Ways to Create a Visual Path. Members can find the video tutorial in the Member’s Library.

Philippines 10

Create a mottled look with Tim Holtz Distress Paint.
Create a mottled look with Tim Holtz Distress Paint.

6. Dab the Distress Paint straight down in uneven amounts and spray with water for a mottled effect.
Spritz from different angles and add multiple layers of paint. Add thicker amounts of paint and additional layers in certain areas for varying levels of intensity and opaqueness.

7. Use Distress Paint as ink for your stamps.
I wouldn’t recommend buying Distress Paints just for this purpose, of course, but if you’re already using them, how nice it is to be able to stamp on top of the same color you’ve distressed with, as I did with the words, Forever In My Heart, on top of my mottled layers.

Philippines 9

8. Use Distress Paint to color embellishments made of materials like wood or metal.
You can even get the wicking and blending effects of Distress paints on wood embellishments, as you see below. While you can definitely paint metal, I haven’t tried blending colors together with water.

Note: The purple and blue paper strip underneath the Tagalog word, “mga,” was colored by the Distress Paints, as well.

Blend Distress Paints on wood veneer embellishments.
Blend Distress Paints on wood veneer embellishments.

9. Spritz water onto remaining paint left on your craft mat and press paper scraps onto it.
I almost always do this before I wipe my craft mat clean with paper towels or rags. When you’re down to just small amounts of paint remaining, the spray of water thins it out so it’s more like water color. That is how I got the lighter color splatters on the paper below the wooden branch embellishment.

Just store these as scraps however you store your patterned paper scraps. Or punch or die cut them for future use.

Distress Paint Colors

Don’t let my love affair with the blues and purples in Distress paint fool you. There are more than two colors! I just happen to be in the mood for Chipped Sapphire, Broken China, Salty Ocean, and Seedless Preserves lately. Clearly.

There are actually 27 colors available, as of the writing of this post (coordinating with the regular Distress color palette). Here are the ones I have purchased so far…

How do you choose which colors of Distress Paint to purchase? It’ll vary from person to person but here’s what works for me:

  1. Start with the colors you most love to scrapbook with.
  2. Choose 2 or 3 shades of those colors so you can blend different versions of the same colors.
  3. Remember that you can blend Distress Inks onto them, so you might want to consider what Distress Inks you already have and choose complements.

Distress Paint Product Review

By nature I’m not a technical person, so I will admit this is not a thorough and technically detailed review that lists all the pro’s and con’s of the paint. I also won’t be comparing this paint to others because there is nothing to compare it to. I don’t believe there is another paint out there that is anything like this.

I have lots and lots of paint products, so I was sure I would never buy Distress Paints when I first heard of them until I actually saw what they do. When they came out I purchased them right away at full retail price and I’m so happy I have them as an addition to all my other paints and color mediums!

They work just as Tim describes. They’re absolutely wonderful! :)

Links to Distress Paints are affiliate links.

  • Vee

    I agree: Tim Holtz/Ranger products are quality every time. In my 800SF place there is no room for playing messy, but I take classes that allow me to test-run new products & techniques. I’m only a week-end amateur scrapbooker. Thank you for showcasing this product – no doubt the artists will LOVE it ?

  • Yes! Top quality every time! I love that you’ve found a way to fit the messy stuff into your hobby despite not being able to fit it into your home!

  • twinsmom

    I love these paints and should have read your article before buying as I just purchased colors “loosey-goosey” and now need to go through and make sense of what I have! How do you roll your page edges so nicely?? I can never do that!

  • Bethany Rielage

    I have not used a lot of mixed media products, but these paints intrigue me! I would like to know the difference between distress paints, distress inks, and distress stain. Is there a video that you have that discusses the differences, or is there somewhere else I can go to learn more? Thanks for all your videos and posts – I’ve learned a lot by being a member! :-)

  • Do you wet the edge? I wet it before rolling.

  • Thank you! I don’t have a video, though Tim might. They all blend well and they all react to water, but they look like what they are: paint, ink and stain. Also, since the paint is thicker, you can get movement out of it onto the page when you spray it with water. The stain is easier to apply all over a large area than the ink. With the ink you can emboss.
    Hopefully that summation gives you a little bit of an idea! :)

  • Julie Hollinger

    Hi Vee… I don’t have very much space for messy play either but here’s what i do… I have about 20″ of kitchen counter between my sink and stove so i clear everything off and still have a little fun. I cover it with my no-stick craft mat or freezer paper, taping down the corners. In this space i can mist, paint, emboss, glitter and do most messy things. If it gets messy off the paper i clean my counter with one of those white ‘magic eraser’ sponges and everything cleans up just fine. Hope that helps anyone who wants to play in just a little space!

  • Great idea!

  • Sorken

    Now you reminded me of my Distress paints and inspired me to colour a blank journaling card with distress paints, distress markers and a background stamp. A quick small crafty project.

    I saw a paper ‘Paper clippings’ ! by Crate that made me think of you, because of the name and your “Shine on”. :-)

  • Bethany Rielage

    Thanks! That does help :-)

  • I heard the name “paper clippings” for that line and it kind of freaks me out. But I don’t know anything about the “Shine On” reference. Please tell me about that!

  • Sorken

    The “Shine On” reference is all in my head. The paper is a large happy yellow sunburst and it made me think of your childhood LO “Shine on” about the song you liked and you often sig of your blogposts with ‘shine on’. With the name “paper clippings” I was of cause already thinking of Paperclipping and you and then when I saw the paper the words ‘shine on’ popped into my mind. It’s a busy brain I have. :-)

  • Okay, you had me worried that that phrase, “Shine On!” was in the line. That would have been too much of a coincidence! :)

  • Karla

    I know this is about the distress paint but…thank you for posting the ‘so typical’ LO. That’s my ‘typical’ too :) I thought it was just me. Somehow I always think everyone else has the magazine cover house all the time and ‘what’s wrong with me, how come my house is not as organized?’ Anyway, I’ll have to check out the distress paints too. Thanks for the tips:)