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Bokeh Technique


Hi All,

I’m finally getting around to trying out this technique. Bokeh is a photography term that means “out of focus” or “blurry”. I experimented quite a bit before deciding on which background mediums to show you. In the video, I create three different backgrounds using… (1) Gansai Tambi watercolors, (2) distress markers, and (3) Peerless watercolors. The one above is the Gansai Tambi background (colors 50, 62, and 139). Here is a close-up:


This one uses distress markers (squeezed lemonade, festive berries, and the new pistachio):


And finally, this one uses Peerless watercolors (Geranium Pink, Orange Yellow, and Marigold Yellow):


Click here for more information on how I created my storage folder for the Peerless watercolors.

Enjoy the video and have a great weekend!



To purchase at Ellen Hutson, click the EH link. To purchase at Simon Says Stamp, click the SSS link.

Gansai Tambi Watercolors
Gansai Tambi Watercolors
Tim Holtz Bricked Embossing Folder
Distress Markers
Peerless Watercolor Basic
Peerless Watercolor Basic
Peerless Watercolor Bonus
Peerless Watercolor Bonus
Colorbox White Ink
Colorbox White Ink
Papillon Potpourri
Papillon Potpourri
Paper Smooches Sentiment Sampler
Paper Smooches Sentiment Sampler
Sponge Daubers
Sponge Daubers
Stampin' Up! Elegant Butterfly Punch
Large Butterfly Punch
Stampin' Up! Bitty Butterfly Punch
Small Butterfly Punch
Versamark Ink Pad
Versamark Ink
Versafine Black Onyx Ink
Versafine Black Ink
Hero Arts White Embossing Powder
Hero Arts
Stampin' Up! Heat Tool
Heat Tool
Martha Stewart Mini Scoreboard
Mini Scoreboard
Thin Paper Tape
Thin Paper Tape
Strathmore Watercolor Paper
Watercolor Paper
Neenah Solar White Cardstock
Neenah Cardstock
Stampin' Up! Linen Thread
Linen Thread
Stampin' Up! Pearls
Paper Piercer
Paper Piercer
ATG Tape Runner
ATG Tape Runner
Micro Glue Dots
Micro Glue Dots


  1. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 8:39 am


    Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful!!! I’m so glad you did the Bokeh technique. A friend of mine recently told me about Bokeh. Love your color combinations and the butterflies! You always do a wonderful job. Thanks. Oh, I ordered the Misti also – can’t wait to try it.

  2. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Peg C

    Fab cards and colour choices, great technique! I would love a Misti, the postage is quite expensive to UK though and I heard she may be changing the plastic due to marking and scratching…… Not sure if this is just a rumour though x

  3. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 12:59 pm


    Love all of these, but I have to say the first one is my favorite! Those colors look creamy even when they are dry! Going to have to invest in some of those water colors! Thanks for sharing this technique!

  4. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    mary w

    The score lines used as decoration is a great tip!

  5. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 1:55 pm


    WOW!! Darlene, all three cards are gorgeous, the color combination are truly striking, very bright and beautiful. The way you mixed the pigments and inks is amazing, this is one of the great things about water color, everything works together to create beautiful, unique projects. If you make more than one card like this, each one will be different, thank you for sharing and for the very detail explanations of how you arrive at such incredibly beautiful backgrounds.

  6. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Susan W.

    I have seen this technique done on several different web sites lately. This is the most comprehensive explanation of this technique I’ve seen. Thank you so much for sharing different materials to achieve the same outlook. Beautiful cards each one of them.

  7. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 2:01 pm


    Wonderful, as always.

  8. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 2:14 pm


    Beautiful cards, Darlene! It’s so much fun watching you create and I love everything you do. Thanks for being an excellent teacher!

  9. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Lesley S

    I really appreciate your step-by-step tutorial on achieving the Bokeh effect. It was especially great to see you showcase 3 different watercolour mediums. I liked the purple and blue colour combo the best, but thought the Distress markers gave the most interesting watercolour effect where the colours blended. Thanks for inspiring me to give this a try!

  10. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 3:02 pm


    They are beautiful. The step by step was very clear for each of the mediums you used. This is a technique I really want to take a stab at.

  11. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 3:12 pm


    Awesome video Darlene ! Every cards come out nice with these 3 ink techniques. I also love this “ghost” bubble and working with vellum is always nice ! Great work as usual !

  12. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Carol B

    Great video on Bokah. I have tried this with sponging SU inks with great results, you have now inspired me to try with watercolor and distress inks. Your cards are awesome.as always.

  13. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 4:12 pm


    This was the best video so far…I loved the three techniques, and will try the distress markers, till I get some gamsai tambi. Wonder if we can get that misti in Canada…..would Stamping Up have it? Really neat. Great job, love all your videos.

    • wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Bernice. SU won’t have the Misti, unless the woman who invented it sells it to them for their next catalog. It’s a little extra $, but you can get it at Simon Says Stamp.

  14. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 6:23 pm


    Thanks for the info. Will have to check it out at Simon says stamps, but with the Canadian dollar as it is right now, I may need to wait. Sure do like it though.

  15. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 7:44 pm


    Loved seeing all of the water color effects – Do you have a preference in water color medium? Do you like certain ones for certain things or do you find them to be fairly interchangeable?

    • wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Rebecca. I have preferences for different things I suppose. For small spaces or details I like to use distress markers and Inktense Pencils. For bigger areas I like the distress ink pads or the Peerless/Gansai. The Peerless and Gansai give a more vibrant color, so I would choose those when my background is more of a focal point than a “background”.

      • wrote on March 12th, 2015 at 9:28 pm


        Thanks – Do you feel that there is a difference in Gansai and Peerless? I, for some reason, feel compelled to add to my ink/watercolor/paint/marker/etc… collection every time I see a new one and then I use them a few times and fall into my old standbys – habits…

        • wrote on March 12th, 2015 at 9:45 pm

          Darlene DeVries

          I hear you Lyn. There is definitely a difference, but is it enough to justify having both as a casual card-maker? In my opinion, probably not, especially if you are on a budget. Unless you are seriously into watercoloring and enjoy it as your favorite medium, then you can certainly get by without them. Whenever I am in a situation like this, I wait for the next holiday and ask for it as a gift. Then it’s special. That’s how I got my Gansai. 🙂

          • wrote on March 12th, 2015 at 10:04 pm


            Good idea – I have the others and love them (when I use them) but I wondered about the Gansai 🙂

  16. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 8:23 pm


    Darlene, I always enjoy your videos, but this one is outstanding. Not only did you explain the Bokeh technique completely, but to use the three different mediums was wonderful! This video was worth lots more than the price of admission! Thanks.

    • wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Thank you Jeanne! 🙂

  17. wrote on March 6th, 2015 at 10:11 pm


    I really liked how you showed us the same card using different tools. I really appreciated it. Shows me how I can adapt my own products.
    Loved this video. Thanks for the ideas 🙂

  18. wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 12:05 am


    oh my! these cards are lovely. I cant wait to watch the video.

  19. wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Anna D.

    I love how the different color combos are fitting for the sentiments.

  20. wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Jennifer Stark

    That was a great video!! My favorite part of the week is to lie in bed Saturday mornings and watch your videos!! You do a FANTASTIC job of filming and your voice over is perfect. You have a lovely voice and you give good information. Thank you sooooooo much for sharing!! Happy Saturday, or as I like to now call it, “Happy Darlene Day”!!!

    • wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      That’s so sweet Jennifer – thank you! 🙂

  21. wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 9:38 am


    I like this technique. I’ve never seen it before. In the beginning, I was getting a little anxiety with all the water, but it turned out beautiful!!! 🙂 When I use my peerless watercolors, the paper pills up? I’ve tried tim holtz watercolor paper and Strathmore. I’m thinking my peerless watercolors are old? I have no idea why, but it’s very frustrating. anyhow.. thanks for sharing!!!

    • wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Carrie. Are you brushing the paper a lot? I have found that Ranger watercolor paper starts to pill up much faster than the Strathmore. But even a good watercolor paper will start to pill up with a lot of brushing. I can’t imagine it is due to the watercolors. Maybe try more of a tapping with your brush instead of brushing?

  22. wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 9:46 am


    Love the Bokeh affect. I have always seen it done with stamps sets which I don’t have. Using a post-it with punches was like duh why didn’t I think of that. All are beautiful. One question though what size did you cut the panels down to? I don’t think I heard you say or I missed it.
    Thanks again for making these videos your cards are always some of my favorites for inspiration

    • wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Sorry – they are 3 inches wide and 5 1/2″ across.

      • wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 4:51 pm


        Thanks!! I could have done the math from the score lines if I’d been thinking.

  23. wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Michelle Vinski

    This was a 5-star video. Absolutely love the card and technique! Thanks Darlene!!

    • wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Thanks Michelle! 🙂

  24. wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 3:39 pm


    This was a wonderful video. I really like the butterflies the techniques were great to see three ways. And the post it for the holes was great so you don’t have to buy a stencil or something. Thanks

  25. wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Anna D.

    Darlene, Maybe you can speak a little about daubers. I don’t know how to use them except for with chalk. You used it here with pigment ink. Does the ink dry and harden on the dauber after a while or do you wash it off? And what’s the best way to figure out that I’m picking the right color dauber?

    Looking forward to Misti video. Almost bought a Stamp-A-Mi-Jig but now I’ll wait.
    Love the new site.

    • wrote on March 9th, 2015 at 9:22 am

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Anna. I have never washed my daubers, although they might last longer if you do. I’ve probably had mine for 3-4 years, so they do last awhile. The ink doesn’t dry and harden – you can reuse them over and over. I just try to go with the same type of ink and the same color on each dauber. So, I will have two daubers for green – one for pigment and one for dye. I do this because the pigment tends to stay wet (forever it seems!). You can tell what color it is by just generally looking at it. However, I just rub it on a piece of paper to see what color it is if it’s not clear. Hope that helps.

      • wrote on March 11th, 2015 at 9:51 pm

        Anna D.

        Thank you!

  26. wrote on March 7th, 2015 at 8:49 pm


    Thanks for all the effort you put into sharing your skills and knowledge with us!! Darlene, do you own a set of SU! watercolor crayons? That is the only w/color set that I have. I wonder if a similar effect could be accomplished with those?
    Thanks for the inspiration. ALL your videos are perfect and so pleasant to watch. A real treat : )

    • wrote on March 9th, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Anita. No, I’m sorry, I don’t have the SU watercolor crayons. Those were retired quite awhile ago, weren’t they? You may be able to use them similar to the way I used the Inktense pencils to create THIS CARD‘s background.

  27. wrote on March 8th, 2015 at 3:14 pm


    Oh my Gosh, what a fabulous technique and video. Darlene your use of these mediums and the way you appear to effortlessly impart your knowledge is second to none. The contrasts are amazing and the outcomes are Stunning. Your quiet guiding voice and attention to detail is something I look forward to couple of times a week. Can’t wait for my next Darlene fix. Thank you

    • wrote on March 9th, 2015 at 9:26 am

      Darlene DeVries

      Thank you so much Dayse – what a nice comment! 🙂

  28. wrote on March 8th, 2015 at 5:23 pm


    I LOVE LOVE LOVE those butterflies! Also love your bokeh technique. Great video, thank you so much for sharing!! =)

  29. wrote on March 8th, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Susan Berry

    I love this Bokeh Technique. All of the cards you did were beautiful. I do have a question o the watercolors you use which one would you recommend for someone just starting out? Also have you tried this technique with the SU markers? Thanks again I will have to try this.

    • wrote on March 9th, 2015 at 9:29 am

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Susan. No, I haven’t tried it with SU markers. They are not as friendly with water, so I’m not sure how well it would work. I think you would end up with a lot of marker lines on your paper. The ink pads would work fine though – maybe using them similar to THIS CARD‘s background.

  30. wrote on March 9th, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Jeanette Kirby

    Thank you Darlene, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this tutorial. Super colours and cards. Have tried this technique with Stampin Up Reinker ink on watercolour paper and I found that worked well too but it is great to see it done with other products. More to add to my shopping list I think!

  31. wrote on March 9th, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    Mary Jane

    Beautiful cards, darlene. Did you use the smooth or rough side for these?

    • wrote on March 10th, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      To be honest, I’m not sure! The Strathmore sides are almost the same. If I take the time to pick, I usually pick the smoother side unless I am going for extra texture for the card.

      • wrote on March 10th, 2015 at 2:09 pm

        Mary Jane

        Ok thanks!

  32. wrote on March 11th, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Linda M Hasz

    I love what you’ve done on these three “Bokeh” cards.
    Thank you for really listening to us when we ask for a demo on something. You must incredibly busy keeping up with everything this site entails–so thank you.
    I would post a picture of the card I made but it is on my phone. I have to take a new picture on my new tablet. There is a steep learning curve here!! Of course, it could be the user! Lol.
    How are you doing on yours??

    • wrote on March 11th, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Linda. To give you an idea of how it’s going… I had to do a Google search “how to turn on the iMac” on my Windows laptop. But seriously… once I got it turned on, things improved quickly. 🙂

  33. wrote on March 14th, 2015 at 9:39 pm


    This is one of my favorites. I’ve made SO many of your cards now over the past couple years and will definitely make this one.

  34. wrote on March 17th, 2015 at 2:10 pm


    I agree. This is the most simplified way of doing this technique. I appreciate your tips on techniques. Most especially when wanting to produce a bunch at a time.

  35. wrote on May 27th, 2015 at 9:32 pm


    Getting caught up on videos I somehow missed and am so glad I found this one!! You are such a fine teacher! Cannot wait to try this technique. Thank you for all the great work!! So enjoying your site as always!! Julie

    • wrote on May 31st, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Thank you Julie! 🙂

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