Adding shimmer to embossed backgrounds

Spectrum Noir Shimmer background tutorial 1

Create a shimmer background

This tutorial will focus on how to add shimmer to embossed backgrounds with Spectrum Noir AquaTint inks.

Gather your supplies

First, get all of the supplies you nee din one place, to make crafting easy!

You will need Gold or Silver AquaTint inks to recreate this project.

In addition to this you also need a piece of foam or a sponge of some kind. You also need an embossed piece of cardstock. If you would like to color your background like I did you can use any kind of dye inkpad with some ink blending foam.

Watch the video

Other ideas with AquaTint inks

The metallic AquaTints are favourites among the design team and many artisits & colorists. I personally use them to splatter over my cards for shimmery dots.

Spectrum Noir Shimmer background tutorial 2

I also use them to mix with different watercolour mediums to add shimmer and I sometimes like to add stripes or to dress up the edges of my cards.

Supplies: AquaTints: 70

Share your work with us on our Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest (use our #spectrumnoir or #spectrumaqua tag) – we’d love to see what you’re coloring!

Tutorial credit: Maya Isakkson

Making Plaid Backgrounds with AquaTints


I wanted to share a really fun and easy technique for making backgrounds. Plaid patterns are very on trend at the moment and I keep seeing them everywhere.

Making them yourself is super easy, and adding the metallics from the Essential sets makes them a bit dressed up. Perfect for the holidays.

If you want to go with another theme it’s easy to change the colors. You can make the plaid pattern with any of the Spectrum Noir pens and markers.

Use the broad tip of your alcohol markers or use the AquaBlend colored pencils to draw lines and use a wet brush to spread it out.

You can always go in on top with either the metallic AquaTints or the sparkle pens to dress it up. Have fun with it!

Tutorial credit: Maya Isaksson

Wavy Background with Spectrum Aqua

Spectrum Noir Maya Isaksson tutorial september

You can’t really have too many background techniques in your arsenal. Here is one that is really fun to do, and it looks great for any occasion. Just change the colors.

Use good quality watercolor paper for this technique. You work the paper a lot and make many layers and many of the cheaper papers tend to pill when you go over it many times.

Spectrum Noir Maya Isaksson tutorial september detail

This technique is super easy. Just tape down your paper to prevent it from buckling up from the water. Scribble a few waves, add water, dry, repeat.

Take a look at this video for more information and have fun making waves!

Share your work with us on our Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest (use our #spectrumnoir or #spectrumaqua tag) – we’d love to see what you’re coloring!

Spectrum Aquas used: Rose Pink, Amber, Sunflower, Blossom.
Sparkle pens used: Clear overlay, Moonlight and Solar red.
Stamps by My Favorite Things

Tutorial credit: Maya Isaksson

AquaBlend pencils on Kraft

Maya Isaksson Spectrum Noir foiled kraft tutorial

Experimenting with different kind of paper is a great way to stretch your supplies. The same image colored the same way can look really different by just switching your plain white cardstock to a colored one.

Discovering you could watercolor on regular kraft cardstock without warping or pilling was a happy accident to me but I fell head over heals for the look.

I printed my image using a laser printer and then foiled it with pink foil. This makes the card stand out a bit and the foil also helps with the watercoloring by acting as barriers between different fields so the color won’t bleed as easy if the area next to the one you are working on isn’t completely dry.

Don’t worry about the foil coming off by adding water or drawing on top of it. When you foil on toner from the laser printer it’s not coming off, it’s really stuck.

Here’s a video showing the coloring process. For this to work you have to be careful not to add too much water on paper not made for watercoloring.

A waterbrush helps having more control. Also be careful not to overwork the areas, don’t layer color until it’s good and dry.

Remember that this kind of paper absorbs the pigment into the fibers and you will probably not be able to remove streaks after the paper has dried so work pretty fast to get a smooth blend.

Experiment on a separate piece before starting, all papers are different.

I hope you got inspired to try different surfaces for your pencils. I went for the soft look but if you want to add some more contrast after you are done you can always go back with the ColourBlend pencils and add more shading. Good luck and have fun! Share your work with us on our Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest (use our #spectrumnoir or #spectrumaqua tag) – we’d love to see what you’re coloring!

Colors used: Oregano, Petunia, Blue Marine and Brunette.

Digital stamp by Make it Crafty

Tutorial credit: Maya Isaksson

Sparkling AquaTint backgrounds

Maya Isaksson Spectrum Noir July tutorial1

Making custom backgrounds is so trendy right now in papercrafting – we’ve been showcasing different ways to make your background unique all week here on our site. This tutorial will show you another fun option to try!

One big advantage with using liquid inks like the AquaTints is that you are able to mix it with different other mediums without risking to contaminate it. I mixed mine with Sparkle pens to make then shimmer but you could also use the very pigmented gold and silver AquaTints mixed in for a similar effect. I just wanted the clear shimmer this time.

I made sure to start by scribbling my Clear Overlay Spectrum Noir Sparkle pen to make sure not to contaminate it in any way and then I added the AquaTints.

I used a wet on wet technique on watercolor paper, so I made sure the paper was taped down to prevent warping from all the water.

Here is a video explaining the process.

I added extra interest to the backgrounds by adding droplets of water on my backgrounds and lifting it off with some dry paper to make bleached spots.

I also tapped my Spectrum Noir Sparkle pens to make spots of shimmer over it. Another idea is to scribble the Sparkle pens on some slick surface and using a wet paintbrush to pick it up and splatter over the background.

In the video I also show how I store my AquaTints in an ArtBin storage box together with the pipettes and a swatch book.

Here is another card using the same technique.

Maya Isaksson Spectrum Noir July tutorial2

Colors used:
AquaTints: 08, 55.
Spectrum Noir markers(for the second card): CR4, CR5, CR6, TB8, TB9.
Spectrum Sparkle Clear Overlay.

Stamps and dies by Lawn Fawn, Winnie & Walter and Mama Elephant

Share your work with us on our Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest (use our #spectrumnoir or #spectrumaqua tag) – we’d love to see what you’re coloring!

Tutorial credit: Maya Isaksson

Using AquaBlend Pencils with Stencils

Maya Isaksson Spectrum Noir AquaBlends tutorial1

If you like the hand drawn look but don’t feel confident enough to draw on your projects this is a great way to make it look like you have hand drawn your images. Use your stencils, die-cuts or an electronic die-cut machine to make your own stencils to use as guides.

I have put together a video to show how I did this technique using Spectrum Noir AquaBlend pencils together with a stencil, a die cut and a stencil I made using my electronic diecut machine.

Here are more of my finished projects.

Maya Isaksson Spectrum Noir AquaBlends tutorial2

Pencils used: Spinach, Parakeet, Aegean Blue, Opal Blue.
Die by Winnie & Walter

Maya Isaksson Spectrum Noir AquaBlends tutorial3

Pencils used: Bright Green, Verdant Green, Aegean Blue, Opal Blue.
Stamp by Lawn Fawn and die by Winnie & Walter

Supplies for first card shown:
Pencils used:Petunia, Papaya, Rose and Pineapple.
Stamps by Mama Elephant

Share your work with us on our Facebook page,
Twitter, Instagram,
or Pinterest (use our #spectrumnoir or #spectrumaqua tag) – we’d love to see what you’re coloring!

Tutorial credit: Maya Isaksson

Coloring with Spectrum Noir Sparkle Pens


Some images need a bit of extra sparkle! It’s very easy to add it by coloring with Spectrum Noir or Spectrum Aqua markers and then adding a coat of clear Spectrum Noir Sparkle over it.

I think it’s so much more fun to actually color with the many colors of Sparkle markers. Did you know they come in over thirty color choices? Check out the range of Spectrum Noir Sparkle markers here.

I used my Sparkle pens to color up some cute critters, as shown in this video.

The Sparkle markers are water-based so a watercolor paper is generally a good idea. I prefer a smooth background and instead used a smooth cardstock for my coloring (Sheena’s stamping card from Crafter’s Companion UK). It works great with water, doesn’t warp, and the color is smooth and well-blended when used on that type of paper.

I used one dark and one lighter shade to give my critters dimension.

Feel free to play with different combinations for fun and varied results. Do remember to scribble on a clean piece of paper after mixing colors to make the brush tip like new again.

Share your work with us on our Facebook page,
Twitter, Instagram,
or Pinterest (use our #spectrumnoir or #spectrumaqua tag) – we’d love to see what you’re coloring!

Spectrum Noir Sparkle Pens used: Soft Jade, Olive Jade, Sage, Ocean Wave, Moonlight, Biscuit

Tutorial credit: Maya Isaksson

Watercolor stripes

This is a quick technique for making backgrounds that is super easy and fun.

You can also vary it in so many different ways to make it just the way you want it.

I used the new AquaBlend pencils but you could as well use the Spectrum Aqua watercolor markers.


Start by drawing lines with your pens or markers. I used a ruler with gridlines on to make them evenly spaced.

For different looks try freehanding, draw them on a diagonal, make a plaid, or whatever you can think about.

I used shades of yellow and orange for my background.


Then add water with a brush to spread the pigment. I went over my lines twice, letting them dry in between. That way I got a more intense color by building up the pigment.

On my finished card I also stamped a flower using a Spectrum Aqua, coloring it with AquaBlend pencils and adding sparkle with a clear Sparkle pen and splattered some black AquaTint for added interest.

Colors used:

AquaBlend Pencils: Strawberry, Papaya, Persimmon, Carrot
SpectrumAqua: Begonia
Spectrum Sparkle pen: Clear
AquaTints: 63

Stamps used:Kaisercraft – #Me, Winnie & Walter – In Bloom: Addie’s Garden


Double Stamping with Spectrum Aqua

spectrum noir march tutorial double stamping

This is a fun technique to make a black stamped image bleed color, like a watercolor halo.

The first time I encountered this technique was on Jennifer McGuire’s blog, using distress ink. But the Spectrum Aqua markers, in my opinion, are even better to use if you also want a variation of color because you can use more than one marker on each image.

Here’s how you do it:

double staming 2

The MISTI tool is perfect for this technique because you can stamp twice, lining up the stamps perfectly. Start by putting down your stamps on the paper, picking them up by closing the lid on the MISTI.

double staming 3

Color the stamps with the side of your Spectrum Aqua markers. I used two colors on each jewel.

Before stamping, spritz a small amount of water to re-hydrate the ink if it had time to dry while you colored your stamps.

double staming 4

Stamp on watercolor paper that can take a lot of water.

You can use regular cardstock too because you aren’t working with a brush and making it pill but it will warp a lot more than watercolor paper does.

double staming 5

Clean your stamps without removing them and stamp again, this time using black waterproof ink like Archival ink, StazOn or Versafine ink.

double staming 6

After letting the waterproof ink dry, spritz a bit of water (or a lot) to make the Spectrum Aqua markers under the black ink bleed.

Start with a little and add a bit at a time until you are happy with the effect. The more water, the bigger the halo. Let air dry or heat set it with your heat tool.

I added Spectrum Noir Sparkle pens on top of the jewels and covered them with glossy accent to make sparkly jewels.

Spectrum Aqua markers used: Navy, Aquamarine, Begonia, Rose Pink, Moss, Charcoal and Slate
Clear Spectrum Noir Sparkle Pen
Stamps by Winnie & Walter and Kaiserkraft

Tutorial credit: Maya Isaksson

Airbrush & Embossing Powder: Two Different Looks

Spectrum Noir Maya Isaksson airbrush embossing tutorial1

Airbrushing color on top of embossing powder is a great way to add texture to your backgrounds. Here are two different looks you can achieve that way.

tutorial airbrush and embossing 1

These are the supplies used for the backgrounds. You can use white or clear embossing powder. If you use a colored embossing powder remember that your markers aren’t opaque so some of the color will show through the airbrushing which can be a fun effect too.

I used two background stamps by Hero Arts but you can as well use a smaller stamp and stamp repeatedly.

I used Neenah cardstock because it blends beautifully, but when airbrushing the cardstock used is not as important as when you color straight to paper.

tutorial airbrush and embossing 2

Here are my embossed backgrounds, the left one is embossed in white and the right one in clear. The reason for using clear embossing powder on one is that I intend to iron it off after I’m done so I want to make sure that if I smudge it won’t show up.

tutorial airbrush and embossing 3

When I airbrush I make sure to stick my paper to a larger sheet to catch the color that goes outside the paper. It’s easy enough to clean up from a glass cutting mat using some hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol but I rather not have any mess.

tutorial airbrush and embossing 4

I picked three colors and airbrushed randomly over the paper, going over everything a couple of time to make it look even. This is the piece that will be ironed off later so even though it looks a bit messy now it will look good once it’s done.

tutorial airbrush and embossing 5

This is the way to set up your marker. Making sure the nib is angled right so that the air will blow across the tip of the marker to the paper.

If you don’t get a good spray pattern you should check if the nib is straight or try to wiggle the marker a tiny bit in or out of the holder.

This is the other background that I won’t iron so I’m making sure this is smoothly blended and looks pretty before I am done airbrushing.tutorial airbrush and embossing 6

If you want you can iron the embossing powder off after airbrushing. That way it acts like a mask and the surface is smooth. Use some printer paper between the iron and your embossed paper and iron over, remove before it cools off or it will get stuck to your piece.

Use a different part of the printer each time paper and repeat until all the embossing powder is gone.

Spectrum Noir Maya Isaksson airbrush embossing tutorial1

Here you can see what a lovely texture you get from airbrushing on top of the powder without ironing it off. It’s like embossing but very detailed.

Spectrum Noir Maya Isaksson airbrush embossing tutorial2

This is the look you’ll get by ironing the powder off after airbrushing, and the surface is completely smooth.

For the pink card:
Background: LY1, CR5, FS5.
Girl: EB1, EB2, EB6, GB8, GB2, FS7, FS3, CR3, PP3, BT7, IB1, IB2, IB3, BT3, BT4, BT5, BG1, BG2.
Stamps by Hero Arts, Some Odd Girl and Simon Says Stamp.

For the blue-purple card:
Background: PL3, IB2, TB8.
Image: EB2, EB6, BG6, BG7, FS3, GB2, FS7, BG6, BG7, BG8, BG10, IG1, IG4, IG5, IG6, DR5, DR6, DR7, TB2, TB3, TB8.
Stamps by Hero Arts, Some Odd Girl and Simon Says Stamp.