Create Backgrounds with Distress Inks

After so many questions and comments, I thought I would take this opportunity to show you how to create backgrounds with distress inks in a bullet journal or planner. This has long been one of my favourite techniques to use and I have recently started using it again (August 2021 Bullet Journal Setup). There really isn’t much to this technique, rather the real magic lies in how you use it. You can check out my YouTube video here, where I describe the different kinds of Distress Inks, and show you how they work. In this blog post, I am sharing my go-to supplies, some tips and tricks, as well as an inspiration gallery.

Shark Bullet Journal Setup

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Favourite Distress Ink Supplies

So the very first supply I should mention is the actual Distress Inks themselves. The Distress Inks are part of a Ranger Tim Holtz collection. They come in Distress Inks and Distress Oxide Inks. The formulas are slightly different. I find that the Distress Inks have more of a dye ink effect and the Oxides have more of a pigment ink quality, but they are both hybrid inks.

The Distress Inks come in small sizes and in packs of 4, and then the Distress Oxides are bigger stamp pads. You can get the Distress Inks in the big stamp pads too, but I think the smaller packs of 4 are great for experimenting. The Oxides are easier to blend, just so you know. But prepare for a bit of an arm workout regardless.

Distress Inks and Distress Oxide Inks

To blend the inks, I have a round Mini Ink Blending Tool. There are a bunch of different sponges and applicators you can use. So definitely experiment to find what works best for you.

My next favourite thing to use with these inks are stencils. I love layering stencils over top of the backgrounds, and then layering more stencils/colours over top of those stencil images and backgrounds. For my August layout, I used a darker blue and a white ink with the same stencil to add visual interest.

Tips and Tricks

  • Paper will make a difference. I like thicker paper – over 120GSM. You can also look at coated paper, just make sure to give it ample time to dry. For my August layout, I am using an Archer & Olive notebook in 160GSM. The smoother the paper, the easier the ink will blend
  • Blending is the way to go. Keep adding more colours and buffing out harsh edges to get a smooth, even background
  • When adding different colours, like a galaxy effect, keep going back and forth adding colour and blending harsh edges until you are happy with the effect
  • Don’t be afraid to layer Distress Inks on top of Distress Oxide backgrounds. Since the formulas are a bit different, it can create quite a cool effect
  • Layering can be so fun! Layering with the same stencil, layering with two different stencils, whatever you decide to do, can be so fun and impactful
  • If you are creating backgrounds, you can mask off any areas you want to write in with a sticky note or paper, maintaining functionality in your layouts
Create Backgrounds with Distress Inks

Create Backgrounds with Distress Inks Gallery

As always, thank you so much for your time today. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out either in the comments or social media. If you recreate any of these layouts, please tag me as I would love to see how you create it with your own spin.

Talk soon!

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