What are Alcohol painting inks?

Easy painting; alcohol painting inks are brightly coloured dye-based ink that is used in creating free-flowing painting effects. You can use them on their own, on canvas and ceramic, in polymer clay, to dye fabric and leather, for glass painting, metal and wood staining, and resin.  

What you need for your easy painting

The art of easy painting is basic when it comes to alcohol inks. All you need are inks, an extender, pipits or a syringe and a painting surface, which some people like to call a substrate.

The most extensive colour palettes available in alcohol inks

There are different types of alcohol inks available in the Australian art supplies market, and all have different colour palettes available. Copic marker inks and Freaky Frida alcohol painting inks are among the most significant colour ranges. All alcohol inks are intermixable, so if you like a colour from one brand, you can use it with a different brand.   

Another favourite brand; Pinata alcohol painting inks

Pinata alcohol inks have a fabulous range of opaque colours that include white and metallics. Brass, copper, rich gold, silver, pearl and the very loved Blanco, Blanco. The Blanco Blanco (white) colour is one of the only white alcohol painting inks that will soften, tint and create pastels with your alcohol ink colours.  

Drawing into your painting

Some great markers and fine liners are available that allow you to draw into your alcohol ink paintings. Any pigmented based markers will work. Copic markers have a great range of colours and nib sizes that will complement each of your ink colours. There are 358 colours in the alcohol ink range, and there are 358 colours in each of the Cio, Original and Sketch range. Sharpies are also a great alternative alongside Uni pin and Sakura fineliners. Uni pin and Sakura fine liners are smudge-proof, quick-drying and fade-proof on porous surfaces. 

Sakura fine liners have an excellent size range from 005 to a brush. They are great if you want to create detailed illustrations over the top of your alcohol ink paintings. The Uni-ball white gel pen is one of the very best pens to add opaque, white detail to your artwork. It is available in two sizes, fine and broad. The ink flows seamlessly from this brand of pen. Posca markers are also popular to use for adding detail. These are acrylic paint based, opaque, matt markers that will give you a different style and look to your artwork.  

Other items you may like to use when creating your alcohol ink painting

Pipettes and some form of eyedropper or syringe is something that you will need. You will use these to draw up the liquid (alcohol ink and isopropyl/spreading medium) so that you can squirt it onto your working surface. To blend the inks and isopropyl around, you can use small hog hair paintbrushes, fluid brushes, paper stumps, cotton buds, sponges, anything. But you have to remember that anything alcohol ink touches, it will stain. So I strongly recommend you use latex gloves while creating your artwork and cover your working surface with a plastic drop sheet.  

What you will need 

You will need either an air compressor, air gun, puffer or low-speed hairdryer. I think it is best to start with a low-speed portable hairdryer and if you love the medium and cannot stop creating. Go with something more professional such as an airbrush. After all, looks are everything when you are a professional artist.   

Hot tip when it comes to your alcohol ink painting

Fine spray misters are excellent to use and can help you to achieve great textures very quickly. Use the spray misting bottle in between layers to create interesting patterns and shapes.

How to get more direct painterly lines 

Fluid brushes are great as you can fill them with either the alcohol ink or isopropyl/spreading medium. The more pressure you put on the handle of the fluid paintbrush you will create greater flow. Beautiful calligraphy lines are made using these brushes, and exact colour matches can be achieved.

Remember, less is more 

When starting with alcohol ink painting, I recommend that you start with a limited colour palette as every colour you have will intermix to make more colours. So three colours will essentially give you nine-plus colours as the extender you use will also tint and tone these colours. You can’t go wrong using just blue tones. They are very popular and one of the most timeless selling colour combinations. 

I suggest leaving white areas on your painting (negative space in art terms) so that your colours have room to breathe and balance out. Otherwise, your page can become too busy, and the colours and shapes fight against each other, creating a less harmonious artwork.

Ready to hang your unique painting

Once you have completed your artwork and you are happy with it. The next step you will be finding yourself doing is framing your piece. You can find inexpensive frames at K-Mart or Ikea. Or, if you want a custom frame, you can go to your local framer before you do this though you will need to protect your alcohol ink artwork from fading. Unfortunately, alcohol inks are not lightfast. That is just the way they are. To help stop them from fading over time, I recommend using a mix of Krylon Kamar varnish and UV protectant. Many varnish brands have been tested on alcohol ink art, and Krylon is said to be the winner, hands down.  

Most of all, remember you are in it to have fun, and the unique creation that you will create at the end will be a show stopper. I can guarantee your friends will be asking you for their colour combinations to hang your artwork on their walls. 

Once you start playing with the medium of alcohol ink, it is tough to stop. The bright colours and ease of painting can become quite addictive. Colour combinations are endless, and it is effortless to work with any interior styling colours. Easy painting with alcohol inks doesn’t cost a bomb either it is a very inexpensive art practice. Once framed, your artwork will look like it has been bought from a gallery or an exclusive interior styling store. But we will keep that to ourselves. 

Check out our easy alcohol ink painting packages for the beginner, intermediate and art lover. All come complete with a FREE step by step artist demonstration video with Australian artist Jessica Baker.