Cardmaking, Essentials By Ellen

Beginner Tips for Making Cards with Sketchmarker Aqua Watercolor Markers

Are you new to coloring with watercolor markers? These beginner tips for using Sketchmarker Aqua Watercolor Markers will help you achieve beautiful results no matter your skill level! Join Angela to learn what worked for her as she explored this new to her product!

Hi friends! It’s Angela here, and today I’m sharing a card that definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m the type of cardmaker that becomes giddy at the sight of ink pads in every color, but coloring with markers – specifically watercolor markers – is very new territory for me. That said, I have a steadily-growing collection of Sketchmarker Alcohol Ink markers, and recently was given the opportunity to try out the brand’s Aqua Watercolor line too.

For those of you that are new to these like me, let’s start with a few basics. Similar to other art markers, they have 2 ends – one is a flexible brush tip, and the other is a fine nib that’s great for small details. The pigment is lovely, rich and saturated, and when blended out with the waterbrush that comes in the set, becomes beautifully watercolor-like. I am using the Balloons set, but there are others available that you can choose based on the types of images and art that you want to watercolor. There’s also a palette inside the box that you can reuse again and again, and a coloring book for practicing. Copy the pictures on to a bristol paper or watercolor paper and being your practice sessions OR even better stamp your images using a waterproof ink and repeat as needed.

Before making the card you see here, I did some swatching on bristol paper, first swiping the markers directly, then blending them out with the waterbrush being certain to not overwet the bristol paper. I also stamped some practice images using the My Favorite Things Sweet Treats stamp set, and colored those in to get a feel for the technique I wanted to use on the card. I made notes as I went so that I could share them with you, and here’s what I found…


  1. First things first: just like with stamping and ink blending, paper type matters! You’ll want to use watercolor paper which will absorb moisture and hold up much better than other cardstock. As well, you can use a quality bristol paper if you do not overwet it.
  2. Just like with your ink pads, swatching watercolor markers is also important. The colors of these markers are absolutely gorgeous, so I think you’ll have fun with this process. Swatching really helps to get a true sense of what the colors are going to look like when blended with water and without (because those caps can be a little deceiving) and once you’ve done it, choosing a color palette becomes easy.
  3. No-Line Coloring Ink is an intuitive choice when it comes to stamping images, but you can also color the stamps directly with your markers, then use the waterbrush to blend the color from the edges inwards. This is exactly what I did, and found it to be a very beginner-friendly technique.
  4. Another technique I used to blend my light and darker areas together (after the method above) was scribbling out color from the brush tip on the reusable palette, then dipping the waterbrush in that ink and painting the stamped image. I love how this method allows you to apply a lighter intensity of pigment with precision, and the result has a beautifully soft watercolor finish.
  5. Try working from light to dark values. Similar to ink blending with dye ink and brushes, it’s easy to intensify color, but hard to take it away. I tend to be heavy handed in general across all mediums, and found while practicing that it was helpful to start with what I wanted to become my lightest washes of color, then build on those to develop the darker, more highly-pigmented areas.
  6. It’s important to work quickly, because once the pigment dries it gets harder to manipulate. Thankfully, if you’re working with small stamped images, this shouldn’t be a problem. That said….
  7. Have patience! Unlike working with markers, watercolor needs time to dry. Sometimes color blending is a good thing (hence the tip above), but if yours are running into each other and producing a not-so-nice result, try letting your work dry completely before adding another layer.

After I’d finished coloring a few images from the Sweet Treats Stamp Set, I set them aside to work on the rest of my card. I used the Essentials by Ellen Swirl Background stamp and Concord & 9th Ballet Slipper ink to create a subtle but fun background, then reached for the Classic Block Alpha and Classic Block Numbers and Symbols to cut the letters for “yay!” from shades of pink and orange cardstock. I wanted to pair it with a sub-sentiment, so I embossed a little ‘so excited for you’ from the My Favorite Things Itty Bitty Celebrations stamp set.

Once the watercolored treats were dry, I cut them out with the coordinating dies and started arranging things on top of a vellum circle layered over the background. After all the little bits were secured, I finished the card with a few sparkling clear sequins and called it a day.

As for the markers, I can’t wait to practice with them more. I’ve found that while watercoloring does take patience, the markers make it really easy to achieve more precision and control, which is something that this type-A crafter really appreciates! The colors are gorgeous, the value is incredible, and I hope you’ll give them a try too!


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1 Comment

  • Reply tsurutadesigns1 January 29, 2023 at 5:55 am

    Love this!

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