So you’ve been lettering for a little while and you want to put your skill to good use beyond oh, text on a watercolour background. If you’re thinking of more unique surfaces such as mugs and jars or just a notebook that is exposed to the elements regularly, you’re going to love heat embossing!

(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click through and purchase something, I make a small commission — but you still pay the same amount! I only put affiliate links on items I use and love.)

What is heat embossing?

Heat embossing is a way to letter more permanently. You letter with a special sticky embossing ink, get embossing powder on the lettering, then melt the powder so it bonds to your lettering and the surface you wrote on!

It’s great for surfaces that are subject to more wear and tear, like mugs, jars, notebooks, wood signs…

Regardless of your lettering skill, this method is fun and easy. In fact, for this tutorial, I’m going to simply use faux calligraphy!

The only downside is this: You know how I said you can letter with just paper, pen and practice? Yeah, this isn’t one of those tutorials. You may have guessed already, but you’ll need special supplies for this, namely a heat gun, embossing powder, and an embossing pen!

Naturally, step zero is to gather all these supplies up!

Clockwise from top left: Heating gun, embossing powder, embossing pen, notebook (or an item of your choice), pencil and scrap paper folded in half.

1. Sketch out design

Once you’ve got your tools, it’s time to get down to the business. First up: your design. For this tutorial, I’m keeping it super simple by just lettering a name plus a flourish below. Since I’m working on paper, I sketched directly on the notebook in pencil.

For more complex designs or non-paper surfaces, you can do the sketches separately then trace and transfer with tracing paper — either with pencil or chalk.

2. Inking with embossing pen

Your next step is trace your design with embossing ink. This ink comes in a few forms — bullet or brush tip pen, ink pad… even in a bottle. Here I’m using a bullet tip embossing pen. Creating thick downstrokes is just a matter of going back to add more width.

Be careful with this step. Embossing ink is sticky and can’t be easily removed once applied! It also doesn’t just dry up and go away, but at least that means you don’t have to rush!

3. Adding embossing powder

Now for the fun parts! Before we get our hands dirty though, I like to grab a piece of scrap paper and fold it in half. Unfold it and put your notebook (or whatever object) on top, then cover your design with embossing powder.

I usually just shake it liberally over the design, then tap off the excess onto the scrap paper. The crease down the center helps funnel it the extra into the bottle later 😉

A few extra tips: 1) don’t work in a windy spot as the powder can easily get everywhere, 2) if there’s excess tapping can’t get rid off, a small paint brush will do the trick, and 3) don’t try to blow away the excess — all the powder will scatter, including those held by embossing ink!

4. Cure the embossing

Finally, the heat part of the embossing! Pick up your heat gun and start it up and just let it melt the embossing powder into your design. Let it cool down and you’re done!

Of course, this is the most basic way to use heat embossing with your lettering. You can definitely do more complex lettering designs and even use more than one colour. Just repeat steps 2 to 4 for the second colour after the first has cooled down, and keep the excess powder on separate pieces of paper so you can put the different colours back in their respective bottles!

What will you like to heat emboss? Let me know in the comments!