Friday, February 24, 2012

Antiquing Paper: A Tutorial

Hiya everyone! So I'm working on a little project that requires some old-timey looking paper, so I thought I'd whip up a little tutorial for two simple ways to antique some paper!
First and foremost, I am pretty sure there are other ways to do this. There are dozens of tutorials on the internet, just use a little google-fu if you want other options. This is just a quick tute on my two favorite (and suuuper easy) ways to do it. So anyway, let's get started!
Things You Will Need: Paper (I used some printmaking paper - it might be Stonehenge or Rives, but almost any paper will work.), Tape (artist's tape or low-tack blue tape will work), Watercolors, Dr. Ph Martin's Concentrated Watercolors, Brushes, and Walnut Ink.
Start by taping your paper down on all edges. This is important to minimize wrinkling, especially if you are going to be using paper that isn't as heavy as printmaking or watercolor paper. I usually tape my papers to whatever I have lying around - in this case, it was the back of a sketchbook.

Method One: Watercolor

First, get your paper as wet as possible. I mean soak it with water. Then take your watercolor and cover the whole surface of the paper with it.
YEOW, that is yellow. Time for some emergency texturizing/de-yellowfying:
Dab away with a paper towel. This will not only calm down the saturation of the color, but it will add that awesome texture that makes it look more vintage!
Now take a darker color, like burnt sienna, and, loading your brush with a lot of the color and a lot of water, hold it over the paper and flick it sharply with your index finger. This creates a rad splatter pattern! I didn't worry about getting it on both sheets of paper, since I was going for antiquey anyway.
Bam! (We're working on the left one - ignore the right one for now. We'll get there.) Check out that rad texture. Dang, that is awesome. Pat yourself on the back. But, yknow, it's still really bright for a supposed-vintage piece of paper, isn't it? That's where Dr. Ph Martin comes in.
Now that is what I'm talking about. Take the dropper in the bottle, drip a few drops of concentrated watercolor onto your paper, and then using a brush with a lot of water, spread it around. If you get too much on there, feel free to take a paper towel and soak up a little of the excess.
Ba-bam! (On the left.) Now that is money. Oh, what's that? You want to learn how to do the one on the right already? Alright, let's do it.

Method Two: Walnut Ink

This method is even simpler than the other one. To begin, do what you did before: get your paper nice and wet, then lay out a wash of walnut ink. Feel free to let it drip, and don't worry about getting an even wash: the more imperfect, the more perfect it is! Use the ol' flick trick a few more times, too.
And here we are already! If you want a little more texture, you can drip a few drops of water all over the paper, like I did:
I might have overdone it a bit. The beauty of watercolor/ walnut ink/ all of the above is that you can keep adding to your piece and keep taking away as much as you want.
And that, friends, is all there is to it. Two ways to antique paper very speedily. Have fun! Write some historical letters! Do some botanical sketches! Print on it! So many possibilities. As for me, this paper is going to become some Latin labels for a little project I'm working on. Want a sneak preview? Here you go:
Aww yeah.


  1. You not only made this look made it look fun!!

  2. yes, I'm going to try this and if I can do it...I'll teach it to my students. THANKS!

  3. I like to use tea bags. Run a used tea bag over the paper. Occasionally change the pressure you use to apply the tea. I also like to burn the edges of the paper a bit. If done while the paper is still damp, it's easy to control the flame.

  4. Thanks Kat, these look very cool!

  5. Thank you Kat, it's great to have a starting point.

  6. Antyczny papier już jest grafiką :)
    Ja używałem kawy ale musi być Nescaffe

  7. Antyczny papier już jest grafiką :)
    Ja używałem kawy ale musi być Nescaffe