How to Use Distress Ink

By Heather Montgomery ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Distress ink in your color choice
  • Craft material (wood, paper, photo)
  • Sandpaper
  • Spray bottle
  • Heat Gun
  • Iron
  • Foam eye shadow applicator
Making a material look old and worn is easy with Distress Ink.

Distress Ink is water-based ink used in scrapbooking, photo tinting and other crafts. The ink comes in a variety of colors and can be applied to almost any craft material, including paper, wood and pictures. Distress Ink comes in an inking pad and a glass bottle with a dropper; you can purchase it at most craft or scrapbooking stores.

Distressed Edges

Sand the edges of a painted piece of furniture. You can also use a plain or torn piece of paper.

Run the ink pad over the edge of your item. Use varying pressure to give a random and authentic look.

Spray the ink lightly to make it run and feather. You can skip this step if you are happy with the look of just running it along the edges.

Use a heat gun to dry your paper if you want it to lay flat. If the paper air dries, it will curl and bend.


Crumple your paper into a ball. Smooth it out slightly with your hand and run the ink pad over the wrinkled area, giving your paper a veined look.

Spray your paper until the ink starts to run.

Dry the paper with a heat gun and then iron it with a household iron set on the lowest setting; or use a craft iron. Your paper will now be flat but with a wrinkled look.

Tinted Photos

Dab a foam, eye shadow applicator into the Distress Ink color of your choice.

Tint the area of a black and white photo by lightly coloring with the applicator. The ink will blend without leaving noticeable lines.

Use as many different colors as you like to turn a black and white photo into a vintage looking color photo.


The ink can stain surfaces; use proper precautions.

About the Author

Based in Lakeland, FL., Heather Montgomery has been writing a popular celebrity parenting blog and several parenting and relationship articles since 2011. Her work also appears on eHow and Everyday Family and she focuses her writing on topics about parenting, crafts, education and family relationships. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in early education from Fort Hays State University.