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Alcohol Ink Painting Supplies: What You Need to Get Started

Alcohol inks have become one of my favorite mediums since I first tried them.

Learn what alcohol ink painting supplies you'll need for this type of art.

Learn what alcohol ink painting supplies you'll need for this type of art.

Alcohol Ink Painting Supplies

If you're wondering what alcohol ink painting supplies you'll need to get started, this article gives a list of the essentials. You'll also learn some basic information about how these supplies are used and where to find them.

1. Alcohol Inks

Alcohol inks are transparent, dye-based inks that can be used to create unique and vibrant paintings on a variety of surfaces.

Common Brands

  • Ranger Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks
  • Jacquard Piñata Color
  • Art-C Alcohol Inks

Inks can be bought as individual bottles or in sets of assorted colors. The 0.5-ounce bottles are small, but they’re more than enough to start with.

I like the Ranger Alcohol Ink Sets with three coordinated colors. The colors are intense, and the inks flow smoothly.


  • Start with at least two colors.
  • Buy a set if you want to experiment with a wide array of colors.
  • Add a metallic fixative for highlights.
Jacquard Piñata Color Exciter set

Jacquard Piñata Color Exciter set

Some surfaces for alcohol ink painting

Some surfaces for alcohol ink painting

2. Surface to Paint On

Alcohol ink painting works best on non-porous surfaces. This will let the inks flow and blend, creating all sorts of interesting designs. There are many options to choose from, but here are a few of the easiest to work with for beginners:

Yupo Paper

Yupo is a unique, water-resistant polypropylene paper that’s well-suited for this type of painting. It won’t tear while blending and is available in a few types and sizes.

Here are some common types of Yupo:

  • White
  • Translucent
  • Standard Weight
  • Heavy Weight
  • Packs of individual sheets
  • Pads of paper

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are another great surface because they’re inexpensive and can be found at most hardware stores. Paintings on ceramic tiles have a glossy finish, and once the ink is applied, it looks like it is part of the tile.

Tip: Four-inch square tiles can be used for making colorful DIY coasters.

Ampersand Claybord

Claybord is a multi-media surface that also works well with ink. These artist-quality panels are available in flat or cradled versions with thick wood edges. Once a painting is finished and dry, a special scratching tool can be used to etch designs or textures onto the surface.

Ceramic tile

Ceramic tile

Ampersand claybord

Ampersand claybord


3. Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl Alcohol is used to blend, lighten, remove, and make designs with ink. Use 91% to 100% for the best results.

4. Alcohol Blending Solution

Alcohol Blending Solution can be used as an alternative to 91% alcohol for blending, lightening, and removing ink from a painting. It makes the inks flow in a slightly different way than plain alcohol, so it’s fun to try with your projects.

Tip: This solution can also be used to remove ink during clean-up.

Jacquard Claro Extender

Jacquard Claro Extender

5. Jacquard Claro Extender

Claro Extender helps blend ink while slowing the drying time. This allows more time to paint and blend colors. This liquid also increases the transparency of the inks and keeps them shiny. (Isopropyl alcohol gives a more matte finish)

6. Small Plastic Paint Palette

A small palette is helpful for mixing colors to create unlimited color combinations. It’s also useful for mixing ink with blending solution to make lighter, less intense shades.

  • If you don’t have a palette or need to mix more ink for a large painting, small plastic cups (either 2- or 3-ounce size) are another option.

7. Plastic Droppers and Applicator Bottles

Here are some items used to apply ink, alcohol, or blending solution:

  • Plastic Droppers - Any type of basic plastic dropper or disposable dropper will work.
  • Plastic Precision Tip Applicator Bottles (30 mL) - These are also called needle-tip squeeze bottles. They can be filled with alcohol or a blending solution so you can apply it exactly where you want it in a painting or on a palette.

8. Blending Tools

Inks blend on their own when alcohol or blending solution is dropped on them, but you can also use various tools for blending and creating effects, patterns, and designs. Some of the tools listed below are everyday household items, and others are designed for this purpose. It’s not necessary to buy all of these supplies to get started. It’s fine to work with what you have and add more items later on if you want to try new techniques.

Blending Tool Ideas

  • Pieces of paper towel
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Drinking Straws
  • Art Sponges
  • Small Pieces of Felt
  • Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool
  • Alcohol Ink Blending Swabs
  • Art Paint Brushes
Art paint brushes

Art paint brushes

A clipboard covered with foil gives a flat, stable surface to work on.

A clipboard covered with foil gives a flat, stable surface to work on.

9. Clipboard or Aluminum Baking Pan

It’s difficult to paint and blend on a loose sheet of paper, so you’ll need a firm, flat board to attach the paper to so it stays in place while you’re working. One easy method is wrapping an aluminum foil sheet around a clipboard. Then, use a couple of small pieces of painter’s tape to secure the paper to the board. This also works for smaller Claybords.

A heavy sheet of cardboard or a wood artist panel can be used as alternatives to a clipboard. If you’re using ceramic tiles, place the tile in an aluminum baking pan to contain any ink and blending solution that spills over the edges.

Use a sealant to prevent fading, yellowing and UV damage to your art.

Use a sealant to prevent fading, yellowing and UV damage to your art.

10. Sealant and UV Protector

Alcohol ink paintings need to be finished with a sealant to prevent them from getting damaged by handling or sunlight. Paintings can also eventually fade if they're not properly protected.

A sealant with UV protection can help prevent this damage and keep paintings bright and colorful. I've had success with Krylon Kamar Varnish to keep my alcohol ink art looking like new over time.

Other Supplies for Alcohol Ink Painting

  • Plastic Garbage Bag: To cover your table or workspace. A 13-gallon kitchen-size bag is usually big enough.
  • Paper Towels: To use while painting and for clean-up
  • Disposable Gloves: Wearing gloves keeps ink off your hands
  • Apron or Art Smock: To protect clothing from splashes or spills
  • Cotton Pads: These can be used with some isopropyl alcohol for cleaning ink off a plastic palette.
  • Jacquard Piñata Clean-Up Solution: This solution removes ink from various surfaces. It's also good for cleaning brushes because it contains a brush conditioner to keep brushes and sponges from drying out.

Where to Buy Alcohol Ink Supplies

Arts & Crafts Stores or OnlineDiscount Stores, Hardware Stores or Online

Alcohol Inks

Ceramic Tiles (Hardware and Online)

Yupo Paper

91% Isopropyl Alcohol

Ampersand Claybord

Cotton Swabs

Ranger Adirondack Blending Solution

Paper Towels

Jacquard Claro Extender

Plastic Drinking Straws

Small Plastic Painting Palette


Plastic Droppers

Aluminum Foil

Precision-Tip Plastic Bottles

Aluminum Baking Pan (for Tiles)

Art Sponges

Garbage Bags

Small Pieces of Felt

Paper Towels

Art Paint Brushes

Disposable Gloves

Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool (Stampers)

Cotton Pads

Pixiss Detail Alcohol Ink Blending Tools


Art Smock/Apron

Painter's Tape

A simple design using alcohol inks on Claybord

A simple design using alcohol inks on Claybord

Safety Tips

Like many artistic mediums, there are some basic safety precautions to keep in mind while working with this type of ink.

  • Always work in a well-ventilated area or outdoors when painting or applying a varnish/sealant.
  • Read and follow the safety instructions included with the supply packaging.
  • Wear disposable gloves while using inks and during clean-up.
  • Alcohol inks, isopropyl alcohol, and blending solution are flammable, so don’t smoke or keep a heat source nearby while painting.
  • Alcohol shouldn’t be airborne, so don’t use it in a mist or spray form.
  • Store inks and other supplies in a climate-controlled location and out of reach of children and pets.
  • Consider wearing a vapor or respirator mask to avoid breathing fumes from inks, blending solutions, and varnishes.

Where to Buy Alcohol Ink Supplies

Alcohol inks and related supplies are sold at many arts and craft stores. In addition, just about every item on the list above can be purchased online.

Happy painting!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Carrie Kelley


amy on November 25, 2019:

what are some sealants?

preferably non toxic ones for ceramics?

Carrie Kelley (author) from USA on May 07, 2019:

Hello Sandra - You're welcome, and thanks for your comments.

Sandra Ferland on May 06, 2019:

Fantastic article-thank you!

Carrie Kelley (author) from USA on April 05, 2019:

You're welcome, Peggy. Thanks so much for your comments :)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 04, 2019:

This looks like it would be a fun project to create some art using alcohol inks. I was unfamiliar with it, so thanks for broadening my art education.

Carrie Kelley (author) from USA on March 23, 2019:

You're welcome, Sunny. Thanks for your comment!

sunny las cruces on March 20, 2019:

thanks for the list of things needed to start.

Carrie Kelley (author) from USA on November 26, 2018:

@Arafatul Hoque Enan - I'm glad you like it! Thanks for your comment.

Arafatul Hoque Enan from Bangladesh, Chittagong on November 26, 2018:

Very informative.