Alcohol Ink Painting for Beginners

Alcohol Ink paintings are taking the internet by storm lately so I compiled a few helpful tips and some basic information on it.

In this post, you will learn about the following:

Alcohol Inks

Flow Aids



Supplies to Create Effects

Personal Protective Equipment

Alcohol Inks

  • Tim Holtz Ranger

  • Copic Various Ink Refill (Copic marker refills)

  • Jacquard Pinata

  • Spectrum Noir

  • Art-C

  • Chamealon

My favorites are Tim Holtz Ranger, Copic and Jacquard inks. I prefer the Copic inks because I love the variety and availability of the colors offered. I purchase my inks HERE from Blick.

Flow Aids

  • Tim Holtz Blending Solution

  • Rubbing Alcohol (91% or higher)

I use flow aids to extend my drying time, to create softer edges and to create dimension in my alcohol ink paintings. I put rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and will spritz it on my painting to create a speckled effect.

Substrates- any non-porous surfaces

  • Yupo- paper made from plastic

  • Metal

  • Ceramic

  • Glass

  • Back side of Photo Paper

  • Plastic

  • Canvas- prime with a glossy primer first

  • Back of Glossy Photo Paper (Kirkland brand recommended)

  • Ceramic Tile

  • Glass Tile

  • Glass Vases

  • Glass Bulbs

  • Canvas (Coated and Glossed)

  • Aluminum Foil

  • Clay Board

  • Melamine Board

  • Vellum

I personally love using Yupo paper the most! On Yupo, the inks flow beautifully and the colors look more vibrant than they do on other substrates. I purchase Yupo paper in pads on Blick HERE and individual sheets through Blick HERE.

I have used all of the substrates listed and my least favorite is using inks on canvas. They don't flow nicely, even when the canvas is primed, and they get chunky and dull when they dry.

Sealants & UV Protectant Sprays

  • Krylon Kamar Varnish

  • Krylon UV-Resistant Clear Coating

  • Krylon Gallery Series UV Archival Varnish Aerosol Spray, Matte

  • Golden Archival Varnish with UVLS

  • Epoxy Resin

Alcohol inks are not very lightfast so you will want to use 2 or 3 coats of a UV protection spray and a varnish to seal your painting. I use Krylon Gallery UV Archival Varnish spray in Matte because it has the varnish and UV protection in one.

I sometimes use epoxy resin on my alcohol ink paintings but I seal them first with a UV spray or else the colors can bleed into the resin.

Supplies to Create Effects

  • Acrylic Paint

  • Spray Paint

  • Stencils

  • Acrylic Paint Markers (Posca brand is best!)

  • Paper towels dipped in rubbing alcohol

  • Felt Pads

  • Brushes

  • Sponges

  • Q Tips

  • Canned Air

  • Straw

  • Air Compressor

  • Fire (only on non-flammable surfaces like metal or tile!)

I don't like the metallic alcohol inks. They get clumpy and don't move easily so I use Golden High Flow gold or copper acrylic paint and mix it in with my wet inks. I typically blow through a straw to manipulate and blend my inks. If I'm working on metal or ceramic tile, I like to light the inks on fire to create cool burn patterns. (Bonus: Fire makes the inks dry faster too!)

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Nitrile Gloves

  • Respirator

  • Safety Goggles