Alcohol Inks have become one of my favorite mediums from the first time I tried them.
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. Some common brands are:
- 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.
- If you want to experiment with a wide array of colors, buy a set.
- Add a metallic fixative for highlights.
Alcohol Ink Poll
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 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:
- Standard Weight
- Heavy Weight
- Packs of individual sheets
- Pads of paper
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.
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 texture onto the surface.
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.
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 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 at home and add more tools later on if you want to try new techniques.
Here are just a few ideas:
Small Pieces of Felt
Pieces of Paper Towels
Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool
Pixiss Detail Alcohol Ink Blending Tools
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 to wrap a sheet of aluminum foil around a clipboard. Then, use a couple 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.
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 Online||Discount Stores, Hardware Stores or Online|
Ceramic Tiles (Hardware and Online)
91% Isopropyl Alcohol
Ranger Adirondack Blending Solution
Jacquard Claro Extender
Plastic Drinking Straws
Small Plastic Painting Palette
Precision-Tip Plastic Bottles
Aluminum Baking Pan (for Tiles)
Small Pieces of Felt
Art Paint Brushes
Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool (Stampers)
Pixiss Detail Alcohol Ink Blending Tools
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 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 all the supplies in a location out of reach of children and pets.
- Consider wearing a vapor or respirator mask to avoid breathing fumes from inks, blending solution and varnishes.
Alcohol inks can be found at many arts and craft stores. In addition, just about every item on the list above can be purchased online.
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: