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Easy DIY Alcohol Ink Art Tutorial

I hope you love this easy DIY alcohol ink art tutorial because alcohol ink is my newest obsession.  This will shock no one, but I really love making things!  I hope that excitement comes across in my DIY tutorials, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: behind the scenes, sometimes I get a little frustrated when my DIY plans go awry.  DIY often ends one of two ways: a euphoric high, because my nutty scheme worked out (yay!), or a frustrating feeling of grrrrr, because I ended up covered in concrete at midnight, with nothing to show for it (true story).

Alcohol ink art elicits neither of those feelings because it’s practically foolproof.  If you’re looking for a calming and relaxing craft – this is it!  Watching the ink flow is so mesmerizing that I just feel totally totally relaxed with this DIY – I don’t even care if it “turns out”.  But it does!  Every time.

Make Easy Marbled Art

If you’ve enjoyed any of my watercolor-inspired projects (like my DIY ice dye pillows, watercolor stained plywood floors, or nail polish marbled pumpkins) then you’ll love this easy DIY alcohol ink art tutorial.

DIY Art for Beginnersdiy alcohol ink art

After I shared a sneak peek at what I was making on my Instagram Stories, I got a ton of feedback asking for a crash course using alcohol inks.  I’ve shared a lot of easy DIY art tutorials over the years (like my black and white painting, the colorful DIY abstract art I kept reworking, or the more recent abstract pair I painted for the bedroom) and each project has garnered lots of interaction from readers.  Some people have felt inspired to make something (that’s my goal!), but many others have written to tell me they’re still too scared/intimated/worried to try.  I get that feedback more than you might imagine and it always makes me sad because making things can be so much fun.  I am definitely not an artist – the only thing that separates me from the next person is that I’m fearless!  I’ll try stuff, I’ll experiment – and I’m willing to make mistakes.

DIY Alcohol Ink Art

When I stumbled across alcohol ink art, I kept thinking about those people who wanted to try DIY art but didn’t.  I wanted to share this easy DIY alcohol ink art tutorial for those people especially, because I promise you: alcohol ink is a truly easy medium to work with – even for someone who is a complete art or crafting newbie!

With only a little coaxing and the right supplies, alcohol ink travels around in beautiful ways.  The most difficult part is choosing which colors of alcohol ink to use – something my Mom learned the hard way, after inadvertently creating some designs I kept saying looked like certain body parts (careful mixing those peaches and browns in circular shapes!).

So, What Are Alcohol Inks?

Where to Buy Alcohol Ink

Alcohol ink is a quick drying, richly pigmented, and acid-free medium that works well on non-porous surfaces.  These inks easily glide around a non-porous surface, allowing you to manipulate them into swirling shapes. Because they dry so quickly, you can layer colors easily – or use an alcohol blending solution to blend them together.  The result can resemble marbling or tie dye and you can create areas with less or more pigmentation for a really “watery” effect.  They also come in metallics, which I cannot wait to try – especially because some of these pieces really look like malachite and other stone, just begging for a little shimmering “veining”!

Alcohol Ink Art

What Supplies Do I Need for Alcohol Inks?

Alcohol ink is sold in small bottles and often you can buy a multi-pack.  Here’s a shopping list of everything I bought for my first alcohol ink art experiments – including the exact colors I got:

You can use alcohol ink on many different surfaces, but to start I suggest that you buy a pack of special synthetic paper.  Yupo is a waterproof material that comes in a nice bright white (I’ve also seen translucent yupo).  It’s durable and super smooth, which makes it perfect for alcohol inks.

Alcohol Ink Art DIY

Easy DIY Alcohol Ink Art Tutorial:

I watched a few tutorials on YouTube but honestly they didn’t help because you can’t try to recreate something you see someone else make, you have to just go with the flow and the best thing to do is just play with alcohol ink, as opposed to try and copy something!  My Mom came over and we spent an afternoon just moving the inks around and that experimentation was the best way to learn about alcohol inks.

We began by dropping the ink onto the Yupo paper and then blowing gently with a straw.  You can coax the ink around the Yupo by blowing air on it through a straw and it’s such a fun way to make designs and shapes.  Alternatively you can use a can of compressed air or even a hair dryer.  The ink has a mind of its own, especially when you add some drops of the alcohol blending solution (which helps slow the drying process).  It will flow really nicely and you can even pick up and swirl the Yupo around.  Something as simple as blowing gently, or giving the ink a big puff of air, will change how the ink moves.

Alcohol Ink Art TutorialHow to Use Alcohol InksAlcohol Ink Basic Steps

There’s no wrong way to do this.

Alcohol Ink Art Tips:

There are other, different techniques to try with the alcohol inks, but I still haven’t gotten bored with the basics.  Experimenting with letting the alcohol ink dry and layering colors, as opposed to letting colors touch and mingle, or switching between adding the alcohol blending solution before or after the ink,  produces so much interest and depth.  Even the amount you blow, and how much that spreads out the drop of ink, impacts the final design by creating more sheer areas of color.  Like ice dyeing, by using a single color of alcohol ink you’ll see undertones pop up – a bright fuchsia appeared from the blue I bought and seeing these new colors emerge was part of the fun.

Alcohol Ink Art Tutorial

Can you believe that’s all it takes?  You can barely call this a DIY alcohol ink art tutorial.  Just drop some alcohol blending solution, some alcohol ink, and blowing it around with a straw!  Once you have that down, just keep adding drops of ink and blending solution and let that ink move around the yupo.

How to Make Alcohol Ink Art

The best tip I can give you in this DIY alcohol ink tutorial is to cover your work surface and also wear some thin rubber gloves.  Alcohol inks STAIN and it took a few days for my hands to fade back to my natural skin tone.  You can remove ink from skin with rubbing alcohol, but it doesn’t come 100% off.  Oops.

Do Alcohol Inks Stain?

Can I skip the Alcohol Blending Solution and Use Rubbing Alcohol?

Alcohol Blending Solution or Rubbing Alcohol?

The alcohol blending solution is expensive and we went through almost an entire bottle in an afternoon of experimenting – but I did also tackle quite a few DIY alcohol ink projects at the same time.  The alcohol blending solution contains ethanol, glycol ethers and isopropanol, whereas rubbing alcohol only has the isopropanol.  The blending solution has a stickier feel and also leaves behind a sheen.

We tried using regular rubbing alcohol and it works, but the pigment comes out of solution a little bit with rubbing alcohol.  If you try both, you’ll notice a difference but honestly it’s not dramatic, and so if you’re planning a big craft night and trying to keep costs down, then a big old bottle of rubbing alcohol works too.   But for your first time experimenting with alcohol inks, spring for the alcohol blending solution at least once – we ended up toggling between the two, and using the solution and rubbing alcohol for slightly different techniques.  You can also find alcohol blending pens, which would really help create more controlled pieces with more advanced techniques.

Alcohol Ink Art Basics

P.S. Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!

Looking for More DIY Alcohol Ink Art & Craft Ideas?



  1. Mia
    May 24, 2018 / 4:56 pm

    In addition to framing these beauties, aren’t there companies (spoonflower?) that transfer art onto fabric? In the photo just above “How Do I Use Alcohol Inks?” I see the lower left as an outdoor fabric lumbar pillow. And maybe the center one, with all the white, as a tea towel? Always love these colors!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      May 25, 2018 / 1:22 pm

      Oooo I am liking that idea!!

  2. May 28, 2018 / 12:10 am

    Oh, this is something I think I could really get into…I see note cards in my future! Love the colors you have used. Thanks for sharing, Tanya.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      May 28, 2018 / 2:30 pm

      Thank you! I’m so happy you love the idea of the project – I think notecards would be perfect. I would be thrilled if you showed me what you make 🙂

  3. Becca Besaw
    July 1, 2018 / 10:15 am

    I’m a total newb, so please forgive if this is an obvious….how would you hang this or showcase this? I have just spruced up my LR (only after living here 9 years) and I want to hang some inexpensive art. Thanks!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      July 3, 2018 / 1:55 pm

      I would just grab some cheap frames from Ikea or Michael’s and frame them like you would a photo. You can always trim off a little if you need too. Basically it’s like a shiny sheet of paper – it’s probably difficult to tell from photos how thin it is.

  4. November 29, 2018 / 2:46 pm

    I really like the outcome of this — do you think there’s any way to get this effect on fabric? (without getting it printed onto fabric, like one poster mentioned) I guess I mean, you can’t use these inks on fabric right?

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      November 29, 2018 / 11:25 pm

      Thank you! Yes, I think you can use alcohol ink on fabrics. I’ve seen it used on silk:
      I haven’t tried it myself, though. I have created something similar with ice dyeing, you might enjoy that:
      I’ll definitely have to try my hand at using alcohol inks on fabric and report back 🙂 I love alcohol inks so much, they’re so fun! And easy!

    • Trudy
      February 1, 2021 / 9:16 am

      I just stumbled on this post. Did you ever try it on fabric? Could you lay your fabric on the ink after you’ve moved it around with the the straw? I have gotten a similar effect by drawing with Sharpies on fabric and dropping the alcohol on it. Maybe you could put the ink on the fabric and then drop the alcohol? have you seen where they drop food coloring on a cookie sheet full of shaving cream and then marbleize it with a skewer? Then they lay paper or fabric on that. I am curious as to what you come up with!

      • February 1, 2021 / 1:14 pm

        Those are neat ideas! I haven’t tried the ink on fabric because I do ice dyeing on fabric and it has a similar effect and I love the technique, so it hasn’t given me much motivation to experiment with the alcohol ink on fabric.

  5. Robin
    April 12, 2019 / 9:53 am

    So I – we – did this last night using inexpensive 6X6 bathroom tiles. I even managed to get my husband to have a go. We did a lot of experimenting and it was a great deal of fun. Already, just one night into this, we have a few pieces worthy to show. My recommendations? Try a straw instead of a blow dryer. There is a real difference between just applying colour after colour and letting each colour dry before applying a new one. It is worth experimenting with both. By doing the latter, I managed to make a flower. Good luck and have LOTS of fun!

    • April 12, 2019 / 10:37 am

      I did use a straw! I never thought to use a blow dryer, interesting. So excited to hear your tiles turned out great and that even Hubby tried this project.

  6. Wendy
    May 7, 2019 / 5:59 pm

    This may be a dumb question this ink is permanent? So it wouldn’t run if by chance it got wet?? I’m going to try this with my daughters to create a masterpiece. Thanks.

    • May 8, 2019 / 11:54 am

      Hi Wendy, not a dumb question at all! I think you would get some transfer if it got wet, although it’s got more staying power than other inks/dyes. I’ve used them for note cards and if I touch them with wet hands sometimes I get a little transfer here and there. If you’re worried, you can seal it. I used a great aerosol sealer in this alcohol ink post that you might like: DIY Alcohol Ink Coaster Tutorial

  7. Amy Edwards
    May 19, 2019 / 11:01 am

    Should it be sealed after it dries with the clear coat?

    • May 21, 2019 / 12:02 pm

      Hi Amy, you can seal it (I recommend a good one in this post). But for art you don’t need to. It will probably be under a frame? Or on a wall? Unsealed, even if you handle it there’s very little transfer. But if you think it might be touched, then go ahead and use a nice spray sealant like I used here.

  8. Catherine
    July 7, 2019 / 11:01 pm

    How much alcohol did you use with the ink?

    • July 9, 2019 / 11:53 am

      It really varied – you adjust the alcohol to get more sheer/less sheer areas. Add a quart sized amount to start and you’ll get a feel for it right away. And the bottle size I linked to is perfect to start.

  9. Jean
    July 21, 2019 / 6:45 pm

    Hi Tanya,

    I’m confused? Do you always add alcohol to the Ink? When you said add a quart sized amount to Ink to start…I thought the ink came mixed or complete with purchase? And do you put down watercolors 1st with a brush and then add the alcohol ink to it? Oh, can you give me a rough idea of how much expense is involved for everything to start the project… inks, alcohol, solution, and paper? Thanks sooo much!!

    • July 23, 2019 / 4:18 pm

      Hi Jean, the alcohol purchased separately from the inks helps move the ink around to create layers and depth. You don’t need to add the alcohol, I guess, but you won’t get those lighter/darker/swirling bits. It’s less fluid without it. I dropped the ink right onto the page from the tube (no brush) and then dropped some alcohol in random spot and then blew it around to create a neat effect. But that’s just one technique.

      Price depends on where you purchase. For three bottles of ink, it’s around $15. So maybe $30-40 total to get started with a pack of yupo paper and then the alcohol? That should create at least 10 “paintings”. I started with 6 bottles to experiment (and I had about half the ink left over after I ran out of paper); they are often sold in three packs.

      I hope this helps a little? It’s a ton of fun and really easy once you get started. Just wear gloves!

  10. di Livingston
    July 25, 2019 / 12:27 pm

    I have to get another set of paints then I have everything including gloves and cover to do some tiles I can’t wait to try.

  11. di Livingston
    July 25, 2019 / 12:30 pm

    I forgot lots of people use 91% alcohol on the alcohol inks. Also you can use a spray can with air in it or a blow dryer also. I still not sure why some people put it on fire if that seals it and it only attacks the alcohol the sides won’t burn if you don’t have any alcohol on it.

    • July 25, 2019 / 3:12 pm

      Those are some great tips! I will have to dry the blow dryer next time. I think fire really helps cure with use on ceramics? I have only used a spray sealant, but I do like to keep experimenting and learning.

  12. Ren
    January 5, 2020 / 12:45 pm

    This sounds fascinating… can you paint on glass? I have an old window with six panes that begs to be hung… Any advice?

  13. KAY
    February 11, 2020 / 6:07 pm


  14. February 24, 2020 / 7:44 am

    Thanks for this and your many other inspiring ideas. I tried using the inks and although I won’t be able to make beautiful Valentine’s Day cards with the two pieces I created, I am very proud of the result and found it downright therapeutic to become absorbed in the play of colour, texture and the effects of the extender solution.

    • February 24, 2020 / 4:32 pm

      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed working with alcohol inks and even more thrilled to learn that you found it therapeutic!! Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

  15. Rhoda
    April 20, 2020 / 11:28 am

    I am obsessed with the alcohol inks also.. I am a woodworker and I do stained glass and also quilt. This medium is new to me but I love it
    I have been using microscope glass for my ink designs then foiling and tinning the edges. The designs are beautiful and a little hook on the finished piece makes a nice ornament. I thought you might like to work with something different. Your items are unique and I love the colors you choose. I am looking forward to seeing more of your work.

    • April 20, 2020 / 1:01 pm

      Hi Rhonda, your idea sounds gorgeous and I have been meaning to expand my alcohol ink experiments, having tried them on ceramic and bisque. Thank you for sharing!

      • Sandra
        May 23, 2020 / 4:31 pm

        I would like to know if card stock or watercolor paper would work as well as the yup paper ?

        • May 25, 2020 / 9:47 am

          I believe those two would be too porous. The yupo paper, if you’ve never seen it, is almost plasticy. The word “paper” is misleading, it’s more like a thin plastic sheet. The inks need something they can glide across – like ceramic tile or metal or this yupo paper.

  16. Melanie
    June 18, 2021 / 12:57 pm

    This looks like an amazing project. I wpuld want to do this with a large number of women (like 75) and was wondering how I could make it more cost effective. Do you think the inks are dark or opaque enough to use on old playing cards (the ones have a plastic like coating? Are the cards big enough to use? Also any tips for bulk ink supplie?

    • June 18, 2021 / 2:22 pm

      Amazon has some really great bundles of inks I have bought to help keep costs down. I bought this exact set and was really happy with it (although you might need a few sets for a group that large – Amazon might even have larger sets). I wouldn’t suggest playing cards. I don’t think the designs would show up as well… I mean, try, of course, if you really love the idea. You could try Yupo paper by the roll, as opposed to by the sheet, which I think is more cost effective. You can also try to make your own alcohol inks, but I’ve never done that myself. Some people try this craft and don’t love it, so you could always put a want ad on FB marketplace to see if anyone wants to get rid of their supplies. I actually found a ziploc bag full of inks at the landfill once, lol, so it doesn’t hurt to ask and that could help keep costs down. Good luck!!

  17. EvilEye
    August 30, 2021 / 8:45 am

    Thank you for your Alcohol ink work. I just started working with it. I started 18 months ago and was diagnosed with cancer and had to suspend my creativity until now. I am finding that the ink is not the same. My question is do/can alcohol inks go bad in their bottles? The brands I was working with was Ranger, and Bree Reese. They seem not to have the same coverage as they used to.
    Also I purchased some Alcohol ink color packs of the Piñata brand on Amazon. I really think these were watered down. Is that possible? They were so transparent before I used any blending solution or isopropyl alcohol.
    Will you please help me by comment?

    • August 30, 2021 / 4:45 pm

      First, I am very sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. I hope that because you are back at creating, the prognosis has been good and that you are in remission and on the mend. Unfortunately, I do not think I can help. I have not had alcohol inks go bad or change, but I can see Amazon selling watered down ones. I think there are better and less good quality brands. But some of mine are years old and they still seem to work the same. Could it be the paper? Are you using the same brand of yupo paper for your inks? I’m sorry that I can’t be of any help!

  18. Sophie
    December 16, 2021 / 2:59 pm

    What is the color in the rubbing alcohol?

    • December 16, 2021 / 5:22 pm

      If you’re asking what chemicals are in there, I have no idea! But I can tell you which colors of alcohol inks I bought: I bought two 3-packs: this one (Mariner-Indigo/Mermaid/Teakwood) and this one (it’s called Lakeshore) and then later, after I painted these, I bought this whole 24 color mega set. But to do these paintings I started with the two 3-packs I listed.

  19. Sheri Heller
    January 19, 2022 / 10:04 pm

    Thank you! I have been playing with alcohol inks for a while now and love them. A tip I can offer is using a microwave glass plate (glass insert that spins around). They make an excellent base and a quick wipe with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer cleans it right up. Any second hand store has them really cheap. Happy creating!

  20. March 21, 2022 / 8:34 am

    I’m not sure which is easier to add to paper first. The ink seems to dry too fast to get the effect I want. When I add the alcohol it spreads too quickly. Can I add the alcohol first then the ink, speaking from your experience. Thanks

    • March 21, 2022 / 12:10 pm

      Yes, you can add the alcohol first and then the ink. You can also decant some alcohol into a small dropper to have more control, if pouring from the bottle is flooding the art too much. I have even poured some into a little dish and dabbed it on with a small dollar store paintbrush to really have control over the amount.

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