Paper Crafts Blog

A Simple Way to Create Trendy Bokeh Cards With Watercolor

Bokeh is a common term used in photography that has lately made its way into card making. It’s a fun technique of adding muted or “out of focus” circles to a background. The background can be plain, brightly colored or even patterned. For this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a bright watercolor backdrop for our bokeh effect.

Close-up of bokeh effect

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How to make bokeh cards

To create the watercolor background for your bokeh cards, choose colors that blend well together. By doing so, additional hues will naturally be created as the inks run and overlap. For example, by selecting pink and yellow, the colors stand well on their own and blend to a nice bright orange where they mix. If too many individual colors are used, or if the colors are not complementary, you will end up with a brown/muddy background.

Supplies for making bokeh cards

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Watercolor paper
  • Reinkers (I used Ripe Raspberry and Banana Split by My Favorite Things)
  • White pigment ink (I used Unicorn by Memories/Stewart Superior)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Blending tool
  • Post-it tape or other low-tack tape
  • Craft sheet or protective cover for work surface
  • Circle dies (I used Circle STAX 2 by My Favorite Things)
  • Acetate
  • Paint palette
  • Small bowl of water
  • Paper towels (as needed)
  • Heat gun (optional)
Step-1-Cut-paper-to-size

Step 1:

Cut watercolor paper to 5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″.

Step-2-Tape-paper to work surface

Step 2:

Using Post-it or low-tack tape, secure paper to craft sheet.

Note: The watercolor paper I used has a smooth side as well as a textured side. Since I will be stamping on the finished surface once my background is complete, I chose to use the smooth side.

Step-3-Apply water to paper

Step 3:

Cover surface of the paper with water. Do not over saturate, but you want the entire surface to be wet.

Step-4-Add water/inks to palette and dab pink onto paper

Step 4:

Fill two wells of paint palette with water. Add several drops of ink to each well. Beginning with pink, randomly dab watery ink mixture onto paper.

Step-5-Drop-Yellow ink/water onto paper

Step 5:

Randomly add dabs of yellow ink mixture. The goal is to cover the entire surface with blots of ink.

Step-6-Cover with inks, leaving no white

Step 6:

Continue to add ink or water until entire surface is covered, leaving no white.

Step-7-Remove tape and allow-to-Dry

Step 7:

Remove tape and allow to dry. A heat gun can be used to speed the drying process. If using a heat gun, be sure to rotate the heat around different areas of the paper to “encourage” the paper to dry flat (or close to flat).

Step 8 Die-cut three circles-from-acetate

Step 8:

Choose three sizes of circles and die-cut each from a piece of acetate.

Before moving on to Step 9, be absolutely certain the paper is completely dry. If the paper is not completely dry, ink will transfer from the paper onto the blending tool and into the white ink pad.

Step-9a-Sponge-Large-Circles

Step 9:

Using blending tool, apply ink through largest circle onto paper. Repeat several times, blending some circles partially off the edge of the paper.

Step-10a-Sponge-Second-Circles

Step 10:

Repeat process with middle size circle, overlapping some of the larger ones.

Step-11a-Sponge-Small-Circles

Step 11:

Blend smaller circles randomly over larger circles. I did not cover the entire paper with white as I wanted some of the brightness of the watercolor background to show.

Finished-card with watercolor bokeh effect

Step 12:

Once the ink has completely dried, finish card as desired.

I die-cut the bokeh panel using Stitched Rounded Rectangle STAX by My Favorite Things. I used Sending and Wishing stamp set with Wishing die by Simon Says Stamp. The arrow and heart were die-cut from watercolor paper using Tiny Hearts Dies by Paper Smooches. The smaller portion of the sentiment was white embossed, and the bokeh panel is secured to the card front using foam tape.

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9 Comments

Shari Arbogast

This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Reply
Ginnie Dugan

I really enjoyed this tutorial. I had never heard of Bokeh so I learned something new. Great!

Reply
Michele Boyer

Oh good! Thanks so much!

Reply
Ruth

Hey Michele, thanks for the lovely tutorial …just wanted to know was the use of Acetate in the project. It has been mentioned on the list of required supplies..thanks

Reply
Michele Boyer

Hi Ruth! I die-cut the three different circles from a piece of acetate to use as a “stencil” for creating the white circles. (See steps 7 through 11.) If you don’t have acetate, you could use thin cardboard or heavy weight card stock but the benefit of acetate is that it is strong enough to withstand the repeated stenciling/ink, it is transparent so you can see exactly where to place your circles and it can be wiped cleaned for future use.

Reply
Amy Rohl

Amazing!!!

Reply
Su

Stunning design and amazing colours! Can I just ask, which machine do you use for the die-cuts please?
Many thanks.x

Reply
Michele Boyer

Hi Su. Thanks for the compliment. 🙂 I use a Bigshot as my die-cutting machine. (I love it.)

Reply

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