Parchment Craft Beginners – Dorsing

Dorsing is a technique for colouring parchment. You can use Dorso Crayons but Oil pastels or Polychromos Pencils will also work well.  The crayons are applied  on the back of the parchment (usually but not always) and then rubbed with a folded piece of kitchen paper plus a tiny bit of medium to smooth and blend, this gives a really subtle background colour for parchment craft projects. Below is a step by step guide.

Using the dorsing technique you can also create rainbow parchment paper or simple backgrounds to go behind your parchment craft designs.  

Pergamano Dorso Crayons  – two sets available

How to Dorse

You will need

Parchment craft paper, crayons, medium and kitchen roll


You can use Dorso Oil, Zest It, or White Spirit (Mineral Spirits), I think Barbeque fluid also works, or any other medium.

Just follow the few steps to create coloured parchment paper:

Put the sheet of parchment onto a hard clean surface and fix into place if possible

Make sure that the crayon you are using has an angled flatish surface – if you do not have a slanted broad surface on your crayon, carefully cut the end to the shape below

Apply broad strokes of colour – don’t use a point

fold the kitchen roll into a pad and drop a couple of drops of medium onto it

use circular movements to spread the colour evenly  onto the parchment

Rub until you can no longer see the strokes

Not quite finished

How to Dorse more than one colour

  1. Start as before
  2. Apply the colours in wide stripes – diagonal – zig zag – wavy lines – or whatever you want
  3. Smooth out the colours one at a time using a clean piece of kitchen roll with a tiny drop of medium for each colour
  4. Then gently merge each joining line so that the colours fade into each other. Keep refolding the kitchen roll so that it is clean – use medium as required.


Fold the kitchen roll and apply a tiny drop of medium as before but apply a small amount to the plain parchment

Then rub the kitchen roll on the crayon and apply the colour to the parchment paper in circular movements.


Faber Castell Oil Pastels


Uneven effect after using the medium  – Use a little more medium

Colour disappears  – Use less medium

Too much or too little colour – Apply less or more crayon – best to practise on a piece of scrap first to see how the colour works out.

Experiment with Dorsing

Try experimenting with low tack tape to mask areas you do not want coloured – create stripes, checks, patterns as backgrounds for your designs.