5 Easy Ways to Emboss Like a Boss!

6 minute read

What is embossing, and how does it work? If you’re new to paper crafting and curious about this technique, then sit back, relax, and keep on reading! We’re diving into the shiny, shimmery, and 3D world of embossed arts and crafts!

What Is Embossing?

If you’ve been into anything crafty, you’ve probably gone down the embossing rabbit hole on Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok. 

Picture this. A crafter added some kind of sticky, clear ink to a clear stamp and stamped it onto a piece of paper. You can’t see anything yet. They then poured some kind of white powder all over the area where the invisible stamped image is. The white powder stuck to the pattern on the image, and you can clearly see it now. But it doesn’t end there. The crafter then took out some kind of heat tool and started adding heat to the stamped image. Right before your very eyes, the stamped images seemed to pop off from the page as the heat began melting the white powder. From a plain and flat image to a raised, shiny, and 3D one! That’s the magic of heat embossing!

Handmade card with gold embossed details

Antique Gold Crisp Embossing Powder

But what does embossed mean? In the world of paper crafting, an image is embossed if it is raised from the surface. Usually, paper and other materials used in crafting have a flat surface. Embossing, whether it’s dry embossing or heat embossing, will give it more texture by adding a bit of height and an almost three-dimensional look to it.

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Dry embossing vs. Heat embossing

There are two different types of embossing techniques in paper crafting, particularly in card making. Once you’ve learned how to emboss, the next step is to practice either or both of these techniques.

3D embossed DIY tags

Daisy Bed 3D Embossing Folder

Dry Embossing

In card making, dry embossing refers to the use of embossing folders with a die-cutting machine. Embossing folders are great embossing tools. They have a design, an image, or a pattern that would then get embossed onto a piece of paper or cardstock. This gives the paper a beautiful and intricate raised pattern or design. The way that it works is the pressure applied to both sides of the folders squeezes the paper’s fibers and creates the raised area in the paper. Simply put, it raises the paper. This technique is ideal for quick and easy textured backgrounds, especially on handmade cards, scrapbook pages, and journals.

Colored Embossing powders for heat embossing

Embossing Powders

Heat Embossing

This particular technique has been used by seasoned crafters long before the advent of other fancy paper crafting tools. Unlike dry embossing, this involves a stamping process. It’s the simplest and easiest way to add some shine, shimmer, and texture to any handmade project. First, you need to stamp your image using embossing ink. Then, sprinkle embossing powder all over it. To melt the powder, apply heat to the stamped image (with a heat tool or a heat gun). The ink and powder combination will result in a shiny texture and a gorgeous 3D effect.

For heat embossing, you’re going to need a few embossing tools such as:

  1. Embossing powder
  2. Embossing ink
  3. Heat tool
  4. Clear stamps

Feel free to check out Altenew's embossing supplies here!

Embossing Tools

If you think about it, creating an embossed look isn’t that complicated. You just need to have the right tools and a good understanding of the technique. Before you emboss like a boss, get out your crafting tool kit and make sure that you’ve got these must-have embossing tools on hand!

Essential embossing powders for heat embossing

Anyday Essentials Embossing Powder Bundle

Embossing powder

This is what gives your design that glittery, shiny look! An embossing powder is basically crushed and ground plastic bits. They come in three different sizes: regular, fine, and thick. You can also find a powder for any kind of effect you like, whether it’s a simple shine, metallic, distressed, etc. Here’s how it works. The powder is sprinkled on a stamped design and then melted with a heat tool to create a raised or embossed pattern.

Embossing ink

This is a thick and clear type of ink. It usually comes in an ink pad, just like dye inks and pigment inks. This slow-drying ink also comes in a brush pen or a bottle. This works as a “glue,” making sure that the powder sticks to it. It is also called a watermark or resist ink.

Floral 3D embossing folders for dry embossing

Beautiful Bergenia 3D Embossing Folder

Embossing folders

Embossing folders are basically translucent white plastic folders with embedded designs or patterns on them. It has a positive or raised side and a negative or recessed side. There are two types of embossing folders: a regular or standard folder and a 3D embossing folder.


Clear stamps are must-haves for heat embossing. In card making, clear embossing powder works well in adding that extra shimmer to any stamped design. If you’re using solid stamps, using colored powder is a quick and easy way to add color (and an extra shimmer) to your stamped image.


If you don’t own any embossing folders, or you simply want to stretch the use of your dies, you can use them as embossing tools! You can do this by putting an embossing mat underneath your paper. The mat will prevent the die from cutting out the shape into the paper. It will simply create a lovely embossed effect, just like any embossing folder.

Slimline card with debossed hello

Mega Hello Debossing Folder

Heat gun

A heat gun or any kind of heat tool is needed to melt the embossing powder and create a shiny, glazed look during the heat embossing process. Some are similar to your regular hair dryer; others are long and tube-like.

Anti-static tool

This is one of those controversial embossing tools. Some crafters agree that it’s a must-have, while others think it’s not that necessary. It’s a small bag filled with anti-static powder. What does it do? It prepares your surface for the embossing powder. The oil in your fingers can cling onto your surface, especially on paper or cardstock. So there is a tendency for the powder to grab onto parts of the paper that you’ve touched. The anti-static tool magically covers up those oily areas. If you cannot find an anti-static tool in your local crafts store, most crafters recommend using a dryer sheet or a DIY anti-static bag filled with baby powder. 

Discover our great selection of embossing folders!

Embossing paste and stencils

Stylish Stencils & Embossing Release Bundle

Embossing Techniques

Now that you’ve got the essential embossing tools down, it’s time to learn how to emboss! Here are five must-try embossing techniques along with their pros and cons.

Embossing Techniques



Heat embossing

  1. It’s beginner-friendly.
  2. It’s quick and easy.
  3. It’s economical - a little powder can go a long way.
  4. It’s a great way to add color and shine at the same time.
  5. There’s a wide selection of colored embossing powders available.
  1. It’s a bit messy.
  2. Utmost care is needed when handling the heat tool.
  3. There are too many embossing tools needed.
  4. You have to be careful not to burn the powder.

Dry embossing with embossing folders

  1. The quickest way to get an embossed look.
  2. It’s a fun way to add texture to your handmade creations.
  3. It renders well to various coloring mediums and techniques.
  1. You need to invest in embossing folders.
  2. You need to have a die-cutting machine with embossing features.
  3. Some embossing machines might not work well with embossing folders.

Dry embossing with dies

  1. It’s a great way to stretch the use of your craft dies.
  2. It produces a different result compared to embossing folders.
  1. You need to have a die-cutting machine with embossing features.
  2. Some dies might not create an excellent embossed look.

Embossing with stencils and embossing paste

  1. It creates a unique embossed look.
  2. It’s a fun way to add a different kind of texture and depth to your project.
  3. You can experiment and add any color you like to the embossing paste.
  4. Stencils are relatively cheaper than embossing folders.
  1. It’s a bit messy.
  2. You need extra care when handling the embossing paste. 
  3. You must clean up your stencil, palette knife, and work surface immediately before the paste dries. 
  4. It might take time for the paste to dry.

Emboss resist

  1. It’s like heat embossing, but better!
  2. It allows you to play with various techniques at once.
  3. It’s basically heat embossing but with additional ink blending. 
  1. It’s a bit messy.
  2. Utmost care is needed when handling the heat tool.
  3. You have to be careful not to burn the powder.


Handmade card with dotted swirls debossed details

Dotted Swirls Debossing Cover Die

Embossing is such a beautiful technique that requires minimal effort. It might seem overwhelming if you’re trying it out for the first time, but as time goes on, you can nail this technique even with your eyes closed. You just need to invest in the necessary tools, practice your chosen method, and have fun with it! We hope this quick read has helped you understand embossing better. 

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