Essential Supplies for Painting with Alcohol Inks
by Stephen Hans
Ever wonder what you need to paint with alcohol inks? Read on to find out!
Essential Alcohol Ink Supplies
The beauty of painting with alcohol inks is that it requires very minimal supplies to start. You really only need:
1) a set of alcohol inks like our Alcohol Ink Starter Set
2) something to paint on and...
3) your hands! That's more than enough to get started on your journey in the wonderful world of alcohol ink art.
(Image Credit: Dawn Neumeister, @2911studioart)
Recommended Alcohol Ink Accessories
However, if you want to expand your palette of techniques and abilities, there are a few additional recommended accessories you might also consider:
1. High Quality Set Of Alcohol Inks
We, of course, are partial to T-Rex Inks. But you will want to build your collection of inks and colors over time to expand the range and tones you can paint with. As of the time of writing this, we offer 36 colors, divided into 3 different sets: Alcohol Ink Starter Colors, Warm Tones, and Cool Tones which are more than enough to get any artist creating beautiful vibrant paintings of all sorts.
2. Clear Blending Solution
If your alcohol ink set came with a blending solution, like in our Starter Set, you are good to go already! We've also got you covered if you want a bigger bottle of blending solution (and you eventually will) because this is where the magic happens. With a blending solution you can dilute the fiercely vibrant colors, create textures by applying various methods, as well as get the inks to mix, flow, and play with their neighbors. It's also great for clean-up and removal!
3. Canned Air
Canned air or some other way to blow your inks around in a controlled way is another highly recommended item to have on hand. It creates very interesting, and often unexpected, effects and can be a ton of fun to play with. Having canned air on hand is a much easier method than blowing through a straw onto the paper and passing out from hyperventilation! (Though straws work just fine in a pinch)
4. Waterproof Paper / Non-Porous Substrate
This is your alcohol ink canvas. The non-porous surface of yupo paper is perfect for creating your next masterpiece. Many also enjoy painting on sealed ceramic tiles, tumblers, sheets of metal, glass, and the list goes on. Make sure it is non-porous so that it won't just absorb all the ink and leave you high and dry.
Additional Fun Supplies For Alcohol Ink Art
With the items above, you are totally good to go. But if you just can't resist adding new textures, techniques, and really diving into this art form, here is a list of even more items you might want to try out!
5. Pens, Markers, and More!
Sometimes adding some form and shape to your art is nice. To do so, Sharpie pens, Copic markers, artist pens / micron pens of various thicknesses come in very handy. And if you really want to make your linework pop, you will love adding a white gel pen to your quiver as well. Adding white defining lines to an abstract piece can have amazing effects.
6. Disposable Plastic Pipettes
To get more control over where the ink goes down, you might consider buying a bunch of disposable plastic pipettes. These handy tools let you mix your own colors and offer precision control for where the ink gets dropped onto the page.
7. Alcohol Ink Brush Pens With Reservoir
For even more control, a set of alcohol ink brushes that have a reservoir is a great solution. This way you can mix your own colors right in the pen as well as control where the ink goes with much more precision just by brushing it down.
8. Masking Fluid
If you want to control where your ink sticks to the page, and where it does not, an alcohol ink masking fluid can come in very handy. And a remover comes in even more handy for helping to remove it when you are done! Masking fluid is a great way to create negative space shapes in your alcohol ink art.
Cheap paintbrushes can help a lot with applying ink in beautiful ways. Keep in mind that you have to clean the brushes with alcohol or a blending solution to get the inks out. You don't need to go super fancy on these, a basic set of low cost brushes will do just fine.
10. Plastic Palette
Pretty soon, you are going to want to start mixing your own colors and blends. A little plastic palette with small cups for mixing can help with this a ton. We have seen many use cheap ice cube trays as well, which is very clever! Then use your paintbrushes and plastic droppers to apply the new ink colors as your heart desires.
11. Q-Tips, Sponges, Toothpicks, & Latex Gloves
Basic household supplies that work great for creating texture, getting grit out of a piece, moving the ink around the canvas, blending, and keeping it off your hands!
12. Texturizing Materials
If you want to start getting all fancypants and creating marbleized effects, leather looks, distressed textures, etc... then you can experiment with using different materials to apply ink and blending solution like wax paper, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, old credit cards, toothbrushes (these are fun to dip in ink and then rub the bristles so they splatter tiny drops onto the canvas), tissue paper, paper towels, and more.
13. Alcohol Swabs
And finally, this item is super handy to have nearby at all times for cleanup, blending, and ink removal from booboos.
So there you go. With these supplies and accessories, you should have plenty to work with to get you started. The world of alcohol inks encourages you to experiment and try new things. Artists are creating new techniques all the time, so this list is by no means exhaustive! Try out other tools. Who knows, you might invent your own one-of-a-kind signature technique!
Did we forget something on this list? What do you use to do your painting? Let us know in the comments!