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8 Tips to Get Started in Alcohol Ink Art

Step into my realm! It's a place where alcohol ink used to be an enigma that I've gradually deciphered. Today, I want to present to you 8 valuable tips that helped me greatly when I first ventured into alcohol ink art! If you're captivated by the allure and flow of alcohol ink, you're in the perfect spot. Whether you're an experienced artist looking into new mediums or an aspiring creative ready to delve into alcohol inks, this guide is tailored just for you.

Alcohol ink art has taken the creative world by storm with its vibrant colors and interesting fluidity. If you're new to this medium, diving into the world of alcohol inks can be both exciting and overwhelming. Here are seven essential tips to help you get started and create stunning pieces of art.

1. Gather Your Supplies

Before you begin, make sure you have all the necessary supplies. Here’s a basic list to get you started:

  • Alcohol Inks: Available in a wide range of colors, from bright and bold to subtle pastels.

  • Isopropyl Alcohol: Preferably 91% or higher, used for cleaning and creating effects.

  • Synthetic Paper: Nara and yupo paper are popular options. Non-porous surface is a must

  • Brushes and Droppers: For applying and manipulating the ink.

  • Protective Gear: Gloves and a mask - a well-ventilated area to ensure safety.

  • Dust Blower:To move the ink with ease

  • Varnish: Alcohol ink is very sensitive - it needs protection

The reason I didn't bring up blending solution is that, after experimenting with various techniques, I found that my preferred method is using 99% isopropyl alcohol, which is readily available on Amazon here.

2. Understand Your Workspace

Alcohol inks can be messy and stain surfaces permanently. Prepare your workspace by covering it with a plastic sheet. Ensure you are working in a well-ventilated area since the fumes can be quite strong. Having a dedicated art space where you can leave your supplies and works-in-progress will make the process more enjoyable and less stressful.

3. Experiment with Techniques

There are various techniques to explore with alcohol inks:

  • Dropping and Blowing: Drop the ink onto the paper and use a straw or dust blower to move the ink around --- add isopropyl alcohol and see how it moves differently.

  • Layering: Apply multiple layers of ink to create depth and interest.

  • Blending and Lifting: Use isopropyl alcohol solution to mix colors or lift ink to create patterns.

  • Brush Work: Use brushes for more controlled application and detailed work.

Experiment with these techniques to discover what you enjoy the most and to develop your unique style.

4. Color Mixing Basics

Understanding how colors interact is crucial. Start with primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and mix them to create secondary colors (green, orange, purple). Use a color wheel as a reference to avoid creating muddy colors. Remember, alcohol inks are transparent, so layering can create beautiful effects but can also lead to unintended colors if not careful.

5. Control the Flow

One of the unique characteristics of alcohol inks is their fluidity. Controlling the flow of the ink can be challenging but rewarding. Use isopropyl alcohol to dilute the ink and make it flow more freely. You can also use a hairdryer or a heat gun on a low setting to move the ink around the paper. The direction and intensity of the airflow will affect the final appearance of your artwork.

6. Embrace the Unexpected

One of the joys of working with alcohol inks is their unpredictability. Sometimes the ink will flow in unexpected ways, creating beautiful, spontaneous effects. Embrace these moments and let go of the need to control every aspect of your artwork. Some of the best pieces come from happy accidents and unexpected outcomes.If my artwork doesn't turn out as I intended, I prefer to set it aside and revisit it the following morning. I usually find that I have a greater appreciation for it and gain a fresh perspective on the piece.

Colorful Alcohol Ink Art

7. Find inspiration online

If you are here, it likely means you are interested in starting but are unsure how to proceed. I believe an image is worth a 1000 words! A helpful starting point could be online tutorials, particularly the free ones available on YouTube. Click here to join my youtube community. I have a few video that show how to create flowers with simply technique.

8. Seal Your Work

Once your artwork is complete and fully dry, it’s important to seal it to protect the colors and prevent smudging. Avoid using a UV-resistant spray varnish as the first coat, as it typically contains alcohol that can cause your ink to smudge. Apply several light coats rather than one heavy coat to avoid running and ensure even coverage. This will help preserve the vibrancy of your colors and protect your artwork from fading over time.


Starting with alcohol inks can be an exciting journey into a vibrant and fluid art form. By gathering the right supplies, understanding your workspace, and experimenting with techniques, you can create stunning pieces that showcase your creativity. Remember to embrace the unexpected and enjoy the process. Happy creating!

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