I want to make paper look aged and then print on it a picture, I tried with coffee but the results were bad, the picture quality is poor on the coffee paper compared with the white paper, the colors are really dull and it is less saturated. I tired to fix this with photoshop but nothing worked out, We don't have ivory/yellow/brown papers available in my country and I can't get it online too. I was thinking to buy maybe a fixative spray, I contacted all stores here, they don't sell it but they do sell a acrylic varnish mat spray, will that helps ? or I shouldn't be using an acrylic spray on an inkjet photo ? it'd be much appreciated if you guys can help me with an aging technique (it doesn't need to appear really old or something) just a yellowish/brownish color. I don't want to wet the paper with coffee or tea or anything because I lose quality

  • 1
    What about a brown paper bag? Do you have those? Or some paper packing material?
    – bgmCoder
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 3:50
  • 1
    What do yo umean by "I would lose quality"? Is your paper a photograph or something? What would happen if you wet it (I know "lose quality") but what do you mean? Now, an inkejet print would smear - so I can understand to not want to wet that.
    – bgmCoder
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 3:53
  • Does this answer your question? How can I artificially age paper without staining or dyeing?
    – rebusB
    Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 19:48
  • @rebusB This user explicitly asks for solutions that don't involve the paper getting wet.
    – Joachim
    Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 20:12
  • 1
    I think a good way could be using plenty of highly water-diluted aquarelle paint (that in effect is very low on gumi-arabic (so it does not interfere much with printer ink adhesion)). But we need to understand why OP refrains from wetting the paper. Might it be the waviness that wetting causes? Because for preventing waves and humps for a 100% effectiveness there is a tried and tested solution: pre-stretching the paper, as detailed here: youtube.com/watch?v=eGi9HkEijtU
    – Levente
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 11:30

7 Answers 7


If you're printing, why not print the aged effect as well?

Print it as close to the margins as possible - your printer may even do borderless, but if not you need to crop (physically) to the aged bit. This doesn't have to be perfect; in fact it may be better done rather roughly, depending on just how old and weathered you're looking for.

If you do tea- or coffee-stain your paper, you need to dry it really well before printing, and get it really flat (e.g. iron it). This may make that an option after all.

  • Couldn't ironing be a method on its own, similar in effect to the solutions given by ninjabrer and fixer1234?
    – Joachim
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 22:31
  • 1
    @Joachim I haven't deliberately tried it myself, but it seems to take a fair bit of heat to brown paper significantly. That would be easier in an oven than trying to use an iron without leaving an iron-shaped print
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 22:33
  • 1
    Printing the aged look is brilliant, should give more control over the look. Especially since plain printing paper will not hold up to abuse well... One could start with photos or scans of aged paper that has the quality the OP is seeking and composite with the picture to print. Barring Photoshop like software, maybe print twice with the aging print very faint.
    – rebusB
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 22:41

May be you should try smoking it with a candle. It might help i am not sure. It can be done in many ways , smoking means as simple as showing the paper on top of the flame. Its better to fix it to a wooden frame or cardboard and then showing it upon a flame so as to prevent burning . Showing the paper alone might work but may burn the paper and also takes time since we should take care not to burn it. After smoking the paper we can smudge it with finger or cotton. I am uploading a picture here of a paper piece i smoked right now using a candle without smudging.(only a small portion is smoked). enter image description here

  • Candle smoke particles may contain/transfer wax residues onto the paper, on which the printer ink can not stick as firmly, and there might be a risk that with time, the printed image "comes off" partially.
    – Levente
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 11:19

If you have a candle or heat source you can try to hold the paper over it carefully and "bake" the paper to get it to a different color. You will need to go slow to ensure that you do not light it on fire, scorch, or get too many crinkles.

I have done this this make scrolls for a project, it works fairly well. If you end up getting some waves or crinkles in the paper you can try to lightly mist it with water and then put it under something heavy.

It might be worth it to print the picture first and then try to weather the paper as well!

  • 3
    Just curious--given the inherent risk of destroying the paper or starting a fire, would it be possible to achieve the result by baking the paper in an oven at a controlled temperature, or is it the irregular scorching that produces the aged look?
    – fixer1234
    Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 19:05
  • 1
    @fixer1234 You could possibly achieve the same thing in the oven! I have not tried literally baking paper. I like using the heat gun or a lighter to get darker spots and/or burns where I want them. Which reminds me that OP could also maybe burn a piece of paper and smudge/rub the char on a new piece to make it look older?
    – ninjabrer
    Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 19:55
  • 3
    On longer bake times, the parchment paper I use for food prep does start to get an "aged" look around the edges, so with some careful experimenting, it's likely that printer paper could also achieve this look, but there's risk of ignition there as well, and the final project would have to be treated post-printing as it will get brittle.
    – Allison C
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 17:26

stick the paper in your dryer with something heavy, like poker chips, the kind they have in vegas, not the little thin ones for home use. Or you can use racket balls or tennis balls. Use low heat or none at all if your dryer has an air dry setting, that would be best. Run it for about 5 minutes and see how its coming along, might want to go about 15. That outta add some years to it. Add some wadded up news paper to the dryer as well, for a little color transfer.


There are a number of options, depending on what you want to achieve.

If you want a very natural look, are not in a hurry and just want the paper to appear slightly yellowed/ivory, but not have a "handled" or "damaged" appearance, you can accelerate normal aging by using heat and UV light - a tanning lamp works, as does hanging the paper in a window that gets a lot of exposure to direct sunlight and periodically heating it even more using a hairdryer or ironing it with a hot iron. This will take a week or two, and will not work with acid-free paper.

For a more brown and "damaged" look, you can smoke the paper over an open flame. This takes some practice to get the amount of yellowing/browning you want and will also make the paper more brittle an more likely to tear when printing, so if you go this route, be prepared to waste some paper getting it right. You might also want to strengthen the paper after smoking but before printing by spraying the back (the side you are not planning to print on) with a thin layer of acrylic varnish.

If you want the paper to look like it was handled frequently, crumble it it up in a ball and smooth it out a few times, then sprinkle it with ash (from burnt paper, cigarette or dry grass that leaves a light grey or slightly cream/yellow ash) rub the ash in with cotton wool, then iron the paper so it is smooth enough to print on. The ash will colour all of the paper a bit, but the creased areas wil be darker due to the size (smooth surface layer) being broken and the fibres slightly frayed.

If you have a beige coloured pencil or dry pastel you are prepared to waste a chunk of, you can shave and powder that and rub it into the paper with cotton wool instead. This will obviously work better with paper that is slightly textured and doesn't have a glossy surface, such as paper meant for watercolours or charcoal drawing.

You could also use the method (also suggested by Chris H) of printing the look you want. If you do, I suggest you print the "paper" background first, leave the ink to dry completely, then iron the paper (on the back) to cure it a bit and then print your image on that.

Most of the other techniques are "wet" methods, so I'm leaving them out of this answer.

One last thing: Bear in mind that under normal circumstances a drawn image or photo will age with the paper it is on, so having a fresh, vibrantly coloured image on "aged" paper is going to look unnatural.


You could put it outside for a few days (avoiding the rain). The paper would soak up humidity from the air and would womple a bit - I mean, it would lose a bit of it's pristine quality - a part of aging. And if you left it in the sun, it would bleach a little. The weathering would also alter it's texture a little bit, too, and change the colours of anything written or printed on it.

Paper left outside would definitely look older than nice, fresh, clean paper.


At first color that page with deep dark yellow color (Crayons or water color). Then give it a very small amount of spray of black color. That should give it a nice old look.

  • 3
    Hi there. It would be much more helpful if you would edit your answer to include more details. As it stands, this seems like more of a comment, because of the lack of instructions. For example, color the page with what and how? And why would black spray make it look old, rather than just spotted or dirty? An example image of this being done would also be great.
    – user24
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 17:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .