Bubbly Bokeh Backgrounds in 5 Easy Steps [Tutorial]

Bubbly Bokeh Backgrounds in 5 Easy Steps

Love the look of bokeh backgrounds? Add them to your paper crafts in 5 easy steps with watercolor and a little ink!

Beautiful Bokeh

Bokeh is a classic photography effect that has really taken hold in other areas of design, including paper crafting. Little wonder, too, as it is just so beautiful!

Bokeh Lights


Derived from the Japanese word ‘boke’, meaning ‘blurry or hazy’, bokeh occurs in the areas of a photo that are out of focus. Practically speaking, blurring the background of an image helps draw attention to the parts that are in focus. Because it creates a pattern of colorful, bubbly lights around the subject, bokeh is also a lot of fun!

Do you love the look of bokeh backgrounds? Well you don’t have to pay a photographer to get them. In just five easy steps, with a little watercolor paint and ink, you can create your own bubbly bokeh backgrounds!

Bokeh Backgrounds with Watercolor and Ink [Tutorial]


  • 1 piece of watercolor paper
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paint brush
  • Open container of water
  • White pigment ink
  • Sponge dauber
  • Circle stencils in various sizes
  • Heat tool
  • Water and heat resistant craft mat
  • OPTIONAL: Pencil with round, flat eraser


1. Brush water evenly over the entire surface of your watercolor paper.

Brush water over the entire surface of your watercolor paper - Bokeh Backgrounds

2. Using a damp paintbrush and your watercolor paints, paint a variety of colors onto the wet watercolor paper. You’ll want to fill the entire piece with color for the best effect.

Paint watercolor onto the wet watercolor paper - Bokeh Backgrounds

TIP: Allow the paper to dry before moving on to step 3.

3. Lay a circle stencil over the top of the now-dry watercolor paper. Then, using white pigment ink with a sponge dauber, fill in the circle.

Use a sponge dauber to fill the circle with white pigment ink - Bokeh Backgrounds

TIP: If you don’t have circle stencils, you can easily make your own! I made mine by punching circles into a piece of recycled, lightly laminated cardboard packaging. If your circle punches are strong enough, you could do the same with a piece of acetate.

Make your own circle stencils - Bokeh Backgrounds

4. Repeat step 3 with circle stencils of various sizes, making sure to overlap and connect some of the circles.

Ink overlapping circles in different sizes - Bokeh Backgrounds

TIP: If you don’t have a tiny circle stencil, ink up the flat, round surface of a pencil eraser, and then stamp it onto your paper.

Ink the flat surface of a pencil eraser to stamp tiny circles - Bokeh Backgrounds

5. Once you’re happy with the pattern you’ve created, use your heat tool to dry the pigment ink.

Dry the ink with a heat tool - Bokeh Backgrounds

Now isn’t that a lovely background piece — so full of light and color! I bet you can’t wait to add it to a paper craft project, right?

Finished piece - Bokeh Backgrounds

Ways to Use Your Bokeh Backgrounds

In photography, bokeh backgrounds are especially popular for holiday photos. Wouldn’t they be just as fun to use for holiday paper crafts? Some ways to use your bokeh backgrounds this holiday season include:

Christmas Card - Bokeh Backgrounds

  • Dress up Christmas cards, tags, and gift card holders
  • Create toppers for goodie bags
  • Fold into origami stars and other festive shapes
  • Wrap small gifts
  • Journal your holiday memories to add later to your scrapbook


Die cuts - Bokeh Backgrounds

You can use whole bokeh backgrounds in your projects, or even cut them apart with a paper punch or die. Although you’ll lose the ‘bubble’ effect on the cut pieces, you’ll still have some stunning multi-colored accent pieces. Also, you can use the negative of the dies — with the fun bokeh effect intact — to make another project!

Of course, bokeh backgrounds can be used any time of year — not just for the holidays! Simply change up the color scheme to suit the season or your mood.

Materials Used

Curious about the materials that I used today? To make it easier for you to find them, I’ve linked them below. Please note that some sponsored links are included. At no extra cost to you, your purchases through these links help support Paper Craft Romance — thank you!!! For more information about sponsored links, please read my Advertising Disclosure.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you or will you use this technique to create bokeh backgrounds? What other ways can you think of to create a similar effect? How will you use your bokeh backgrounds? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

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Sharing is caring! If you enjoyed this article, please share it — via Facebook, Pinterest, etc., or directly with a friend. Thanks so much for reading, and please let me know if there is a paper crafting problem I can help you solve today!

Article written by Deedee Anderson

7 thoughts on “Bubbly Bokeh Backgrounds in 5 Easy Steps [Tutorial]

  1. What a great idea!! I had never thought of doing that. Your backgrounds are so pretty. I love that so many of your ideas are not only beautiful and easy to do but also economical. Great job, Deedee!

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