Paper Aging & Distressing Techniques

Hello lovely Get Messians! It’s Zinia here to share with you some fun techniques to create aged and distressed look on your pages.

When I think about music, one of the first thing that pops in my mind are those old looking sheets of music with the faded ink and brown tint on the background. So I was thinking it would be really fun to create some fake old pages to incorporate in this season’s pages. I experimented with a bunch of different ideas and techniques and I have the highlights here for you.



I remember using this technique when I was in middle school. Back when I was reading Harry Potter and I wanted to make old spell books to play around. The idea is to create a of coffee and white glue and dip your paper in it. I used instant coffee for my example but I guess you could really use anything. I’d recommend leaving the paper for a few hours (or even overnight) in the mix, you can actually fold the paper in a messy way to add some more texture to the final look.

If you are using watercolor paper or something heavy that can handle the wetness you can skip the glue. I add around a teaspoon of white glue in half a cup of coffee when I’m using normal printer paper or something more fragile and thin. The glue will make it more crisp and messy when it’s dry.

As I said this technique works best of you dip your paper and let it stay in the coffee mix for a while but if you are working in a journal and you want to distress your background, you can also use the coffee as paint and apply it with a paintbrush. Just keep in mind that in this case you may need to make the coffee a bit stronger to have more vibrant color.



In a similar way you can dip your paper in some tea. I brewed some green tea and let my paper in it overnight. I really love the extra texture that the page got from the “debris”. My tea wasn’t very strong so I ended up with a fairly light color on my paper. You can always make it stronger for more intense color, don’t be scared to add a lot of leaves, it’s not for drinking.

This technique works best with some sort of watercolor paper because it really takes some time for the tea to soak into it. You’ll have to leave it for a considerable amount of time and it will really make a difference if the paper you use is strong and absorbent.

Acrylic Paint


If you don’t want to mess up with drinks, you can still achieve a beautiful aged look by using your regular art journaling supplies. The secret here is to pick the right colors. You will need some light shades of brown and yellow, preferably not very saturated. If you don’t have any colors that would work you can always mix your own. Add some white or grey to tone down the colors to make them work for this technique.

It’s also preferable to use paints with runny consistency so that they can blend together to create a more natural look. If your paper is thick enough to hold the extra wetness, it’s a good idea to spritz it with some water before you put the colors down. This way the extra moisture will help you blend the colors together. Start by adding small amounts of color to have better control. Mix and blend the colors creating as many shades as you can on the paper. Keep in mind that you want your center to be more clean and light so always start your brush strokes from the edges.

Distress Paints will work exceptionally well for this technique since they react with water and create really beautiful effects.



Another medium you can use is watercolors. And with this one you can actually do a couple of different things. You can create a mixture of diluted colors and dip your paper in it like I explained above with the tea, you can use it with a paintbrush like the acrylic paint or you can use the sweeping technique like I’ll explain in this example.

First you need to pick your colors. Like I mentioned before make sure to use light shades of yellow and brown with low saturation. You will also need a non-stick surface like a craft mat or a piece of plastic. Add some color to your surface and mix it with a generous amount of water. I’d recommend to start with a fairly diluted mix and add more color later if you need to. Add some spritz of water on your paper to make sure that the watercolors will spread everywhere once they are added and sweep the paper through the watercolors mix. You can also smoosh it around to help the colors spread.

Let that layer dry completely and add another one if you think you need a more intense color. It’s better not to over blend the colors and leave some areas with more or less color to create a more natural look.



Last but not least you can use spray inks to distress your pages. In many cases mists have pretty intense color so you can go around that by prepping your paper with some opaque white mist. It’s better to use translucent colors so that you can layer them and still be able to see through. Add the color one spritz at a time and help it blend by adding some clear water in between colors.

Even if you start with a white base, the colors can still be more vibrant than you want. To fix that you can add a top layer of white while the inks are still wet to tone everything down more. The key is to let the colors drip and blend on their own and create a distressed and messy background.


So these are some fun ideas and techniques on how to make your pages look aged and vintage. They are all really easy and I’m sure you have the supplies to try many of them. Just remember that this is just a background. It’s supposed to be quick and spontaneous so don’t spend a lot of time adding details and being precise. These techniques will work best if you don’t over work the colors.

Have fun and stay creative 🙂


Zinia is an art student from Greece. She loves everything about colors, cats, puppies, cupcakes and pretty paper products. Zinia dreams of one day being an art educator and spreading confetti of inspiration to the world.


  1. Melody Willoughby

    Oh I really want to try this soon. Thanks Zinia!

  2. Vanessa Oliver-lloyd

    oh wow! These make very inspiring backgrounds. It will be hard to sacrifice my coffee….but in the name of art, I will do it!

  3. Tanyalee Kahler

    I love using tea and coffee to distress pages. So much fun. Thanks for sharing.