what is alcohol ink

Alcohol Ink Art – Complete Guide on Alcohol Ink Painting

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This article will introduce you to the basics of the alcohol ink art technique. We will give you step by step instructions for your first paintings and outline what you should pay attention to. In this tutorial, you will learn the different terms and get an overview of the required materials.



What is Alcohol Ink Painting?

Alcohol ink refers to a fluid painting technique as well as to the painting medium itself. This technique comes from the American region and has become really popular there – very similar to acrylic pouring. The alcohol ink paints consist of pigments and a large amount of alcohol, which evaporates very quickly. This has many advantages. You can dissolve alcohol inks with alcohol at any time and change them further or add more colors.

alcohol inks



Materials Needed For Alcohol Painting


Alcohol Ink Set: Perfect For Getting Started

Ideal for beginners are Alcohol Ink Kits. They usually contain inks, yupo paper, stamps and much more. Furthermore Alcohol Ink Sets are often cheaper than if you buy all products separately.


Recommendation: RANGER Alcohol Ink Set

This set includes everything for anyone wanting to start experimenting with alcohol ink painting. There are a few alcohol ink bottles, a blending solution, a mini archival ink pad, and an alcohol ink techniques book included. This is the ideal starter kit for alcohol ink art, as it includes all of the necessary tools to begin creating your first masterpiece. To make the alcohol ink painting more enjoyable and varied, there are even clear stamps, an ink applicator tool, and 10 felt pieces included. If you are new to alcohol painting, a starter kit like this can provide great insight into working with this medium.

RANGER Complete 29 Piece Alcohol Ink Kit
  • Includes everything you need to get started with alcohol ink painting
  • A mini blending solution is included
  • Archival ink pad, acrylic block, stamp set, and alcohol ink cardstock
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Alcohol Inks

There are wide-ranging alcohol ink sets available. These include different color ranges, bottle sizes, and brands. You could choose a large set or just purchase individual colors. A cheap solution is also to refill the existing bottles.

TIM HOLTZ Adirondack Alcohol Ink Mega Set
  • A popular set of 24 different alcohol ink colors
  • Alcohol ink from Tim Holtz is well known for its very high quality
  • Suitable for resin and alcohol ink painting techniques
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DECORROM Alcohol Ink Set - 24 Colors
  • A full set of 24 vibrant alcohol ink colors
  • High concentration inks - a little goes a long way
  • Highly saturated and fast-drying inks
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PICCASSIO 24 Color Alcohol Ink Set
  • A set of 24 highly pigmented, vibrant colors
  • 100% Acid-free, fast-drying and permanent
  • Highly concentrated and blendable colors
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Blending Solution and Isopropanol

Besides the alcohol inks, you can also use other painting materials. One of these is the blending solution, which helps you to lighten colors and create color gradients. This was specially developed for alcohol ink techniques. The cheaper alternative is isopropyl alcohol, which should have a high alcohol content. Isopropyl alcohol is especially suitable for dilution. You need quite a large amount of these solutions – just like you need water when painting with watercolors.

RANGER Adirondack Alcohol Blending Solution
  • A 2-ounce quality alcohol blending solution
  • The bottle has a fine detail applicator tip
  • Lighten, blend, and remove alcohol ink colors with this solution
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JACQUARD Pinata Claro Extender
  • A quality claro extender for alcohol ink
  • A versatile product that works on any surface
  • Can blend, lighten, and work with all alcohol inks
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Yupo Paper and Other Painting Surfaces

The painting background for alcohol inks must be absolutely waterproof so that the ink does not sink into the painting surface It should also be as smooth as possible so that you can control the result more accurately. This is why Yupo paper, which has been specially developed for this purpose, is particularly suitable as a painting background. Other good options are stone paper, universal painting backgrounds, glass, or metal.

FRISK Yupo Paper Pad A3, White
  • A unique synthetic paper pad
  • The perfect surface to be used with alcohol inks
  • A 25 sheet white A3 pad. Fully recyclable
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FRISK Yupo Paper Pad A4, White
  • An 85-page white yupo paper pad
  • This synthetic paper is the perfect choice for alcohol ink painting
  • A fully recyclable A4 paper pad
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alcohol ink art


Permanent Markers For Accents and Decorations

After your pictures have dried, you can apply exciting details and decorations with permanent markers. These can be for example outlines, dots, or other shapes. These are great for finer details.

SHARPIE Ultra Fine Point Color Burst Markers
  • 24 Intensely bright limited edition colors with ultra fine tip
  • Permanent, quick drying ink for paper, plastic, wood, and leather
  • AP certified ink is water, smear, and fade resistant
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SHUTTLE ART 30 Color Permanent Marker Set
  • A complete set of 30 bright and vivid colors
  • Fine tip permanent marker pens, ideal for a wide range of uses
  • Non-toxic and acid-free pens
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Drying Aids For Beautiful Color Gradients

For perfect color gradients, you should use some kind of drying aid. These can also expand your creative possibilities to create even more unusual and creative works of art.

ORIGLAM Mini Rubber Air Blower
  • Metal nozzle and highly elastic rubber inflator
  • Portable, lightweight, and quick to use
  • A one-way air valve that inflates quickly
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How to Use Alcohol Ink

As soon as you have the required tools – consisting of alcohol ink blending solution or isopropanol and a suitable painting background, you can start alcohol ink painting.

First, add some blending solution or isopropanol to the Yupo paper. Now carefully dribble the first alcohol ink color onto the paper. These drops will spread out in a circle. If you put another drop of another color into the first blob, it will spread and displace the first color in the middle.

If you add another drop of paint next to the one already on the painting surface, you will displace the already applied paint. The same happens if you apply some bleaching solution or alcohol instead of paint. This will result in a darker line and shiny edges. This way, you create variety and highlights.

If you first apply a generous amount of alcohol and only then drip the paint into it, it will spread out more evenly and you can swivel the painting ground or spread it further with a hole blower or hairdryer. You can also continue working on your painting after a day or a week, as soon as you apply some paint or blending solution.


Felt Stamps For More Creative Possibilities

Felt stamps offer further creative possibilities.  You put different alcohol colors on the felt piece and at the end some blending solution. Then you can stamp with it to create unique designs. For example, you can create cards or other decorations. To take it further, you can embellish them with permanent markers or some alcohol on a brush.

RANGER Adirondack Alcohol Ink Applicator
  • Easily add highlights to your alcohol ink paintings
  • Applies alcohol inks on all kinds of surfaces
  • A precise, ergonomic, solid wood tool
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You can also paint realistic landscapes with alcohol inks. However, this requires some practice, so it is recommended to experiment with abstract paintings and gradients first. Once you know the colors and their properties, you can develop your own style step by step. Also, many different tools like straws, hole blowers, brushes, cotton swabs etc. can create unique effects. Alcohol ink can also be combined with other painting media to create exciting effects.



Varnish For Protecting Your Artwork

Alcohol colors are relatively light sensitive. Therefore, you should seal your finished works. The easiest way to do this is with a spray varnish, which protects your pictures from UV light and mechanical effects. For this purpose, a UV-protection is suitable for spraying.

alcohol nk



Painting Inspiration For Alcohol Inks

Below you can find more inspiration for artwork with alcohol inks – get inspired!


Alcohol Inks on Ceramics

Besides tiles, you can also decorate dishes with alcohol inks – from plates, cups to vases, everything is possible. The procedure here is the same as on Yupo paper, but the challenge lies in the mostly round shapes – here the colors sometimes run unexpectedly. Another possibility is the application of alcohol inks with an airbrush gun. This way a very specific application is possible and realistic pictures can be sprayed with it.

To make the alcohol inks stick better, you can place the painted porcelain in the oven at 302 degrees Fahrenheit for about half an hour. The colors will burn into the surface, and the paint application will be more resistant. A dishwasher damages the paint, so after the paint has baked hand washing is recommended.


​Coloring Epoxy Resin – Resin Petri Dishes

Alcohol can be used to color epoxy resin – for example for resin art. You can get a visually inflated impression by filling silicone molds with crystal clear resin and then dripping alcohol ink colors directly into the resin. The chemical reaction creates so-called “petrified rainbows”, i.e. petri dish effects. So you can enhance your resin artwork with fascinating color effects.



Alcohol Ink with Zentangle

You can achieve an equally ingenious effect by combining a classic alcohol ink image with the Zentangle technique. Create a beautiful image with color transitions. After drying, you can apply your Zentangle patterns with waterproof markers. You can apply simple or complex patterns depending on your mood.



Frequently Asked Questions

We answer the most common questions about alcohol inks and this method of creating art below.


Can Epoxy Resin be Colored with Alcohol Ink?

Yes, this is possible without any problems. You can add a few drops of alcohol ink after you have mixed resin and hardener. Alcohol inks are very well suited for coloring epoxy resin because due to the transparency you can see through the paint in spite of the color.


Can You Make Alcohol Ink Yourself?

Want to know how to make alcohol ink? Alcohol inks can be made by mixing printer ink with isopropanol. The mixing ratio is 2 parts printer ink with 1 part isopropanol. In this way, you can make your own alcohol inks very cheaply.

ink art


Which Varnish is Best For Alcohol Ink?

Alcohol colors are relatively light sensitive. Therefore you should seal your finished works every time. The easiest way to do this is with a spray varnish, which protects your pictures from UV light and mechanical effects. For this purpose, a UV-protection is suitable for spraying.


How Does Alcohol Ink Work?

Add some blending solution or isopropanol to the Yupo paper. Now carefully dribble the first alcohol ink color onto the paper. These drops will spread out in a circle. If you put another drop of another color into the first blob, it will spread and displace the first color in the middle. If you add another drop of paint next to the one already on the painting ground, you will displace the already applied paint again.


Alcohol ink painting is a unique artistic activity that offers some very rewarding results. We hope that this guide has taught you how to use alcohol ink, and inspired you start making your own beautiful creations!



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