Alcohol ink art is a very intricate form of art due to its unique medium characteristics as well as the gorgeous style of art it produces.
Alcohol ink is different from any other pigmented ink or paint you will use as it is meant to sit on top of your substrate as opposed to sinking into it. It can be blown around or carried across a non-porous substrate via an alcohol medium like isopropyl alcohol.
Alcohol inks can also be very expensive for very small containers of it, making it feel like liquid gold sometimes.
Because alcohol evaporates quickly, whenever it has an area that dries, it leaves intricate and beautiful waves of color from the alcohol ink. The result is wispy, magical movement expressed through pigment.
The one thing that all alcohol ink artists know is that it is an expensive medium, and when you purchase alcohol inks and alcohol ink bottles, they are very small. Granted, you likely won't need a lot of alcohol ink for a project, but wouldn't it be nice to be able to make your own DIY alcohol ink? How about custom alcohol inks and specific colors?
Today, we are going to share how you can both save money and make your own custom colors through homemade alcohol inks.
DIY alcohol ink is a great way to get creative with your own color choices. All you need are some markers and isopropyl alcohol, as well as some other supplies and you can make your own homemade alcohol ink!
This ink is perfect for use on non-porous surfaces such as yupo, glass or metal. Plus, it dries quickly and is permanent once it sets.
You can of course use old markers you have around the house, however, we highly recommend buying a set of new markers that are permanent. Newer markers will have a full pigment load of ink and won't cost very much at all. It is worth it when making your own homemade alcohol inks.
There are so many color choices when you are buying your own alcohol inks, we love the choices that come from Tim Holtz and his Ranger alcohol inks, and we really enjoy the color selection with T-Rex alcohol inks as well, but there is something special about crafting your own permanent ink colors.
Alcohol inks are a very unique medium to create art with. Use these for adding super vibrant and saturated colors to things like white coffee cups, acrylic dishes, glass and glass ornaments, or on yupo with isopropyl alcohol.
See all of the alcohol inks and supplies we recommend on the DIY Homemade Alcohol Ink Store on Amazon.
It is highly recommended to use permanent markers when making your own alcohol inks. If you would like, you can use permanent markers as your base and add tubes from other markers to achieve a desirable color if you want.
Experimenting is always best and if you are set on trying washable markers or old markers, you might as well go ahead and try, you may just not get the results you were looking for in terms of pigment load and saturation.
Here is how to make homemade alcohol inks:
NOTE: Always wear a proper respirator for alcohol inks.
Step 1: Begin by selecting the colors you want to use to make your DIY alcohol inks. Use all of one color or several colors to achieve a beautiful blend.
Step 2: Using the box cutter and with your gloves on, cut the end off of your marker(s) (not the ink tip, but rather, the plastic end close to where you hold the marker).
Be very careful not to cut yourself. If you look carefully, you may see that the tip of the Sharpie marker has a thin line that the company used to cap off the ink inside, You may be able to use your box cutter blade to gently pry that open. You want to get at that ink tube inside.
Step 3: Once the marker is open, use your needle nose pliers to take the long, thin ink tube out. Take out the ink tubes of the colors you want to blend together if you are blending, keeping in mind the size of your little bottles (determine how many can fit inside without stuffing them in).
You may need to cut the ink tubes up a little so they fit nicely in the bottom of your jars where your isopropyl alcohol will be. Keep in mind you probably won't fill the entire small bottle with isopropyl alcohol, just enough to make a pigmented concentrate of alcohol ink.
Step 4: Add your ink tubes to your bottles.
Step 5: Slowly add your isopropyl alcohol to the bottle that you have the ink tubes in, and stir them around gently.
Keep in mind that the more isopropyl alcohol you add, the thinner the ink will be as it dilutes.
This is why we recommend 1 ounce bottles for your alcohol inks, so they will be pigmented and won't allow you the opportunity to dilute by adding too much isopropyl alcohol. Fill them enough so you will be able to put the lid on with the eyedropper and it won't over spill, and keep the ink tubes in for 30-45 minutes.
Step 6: Once you have achieved the desired color, use the needle nosed pliers again to take any ink tube and remnants out of the mixing bottles and discard them.
Step 7: Your DIY alcohol ink is now ready to use! Experiment with different colors and techniques to create unique works of art. Feel free to swatch the homemade colors and write exactly which markers you used and how much to achieve that color on the back.
Making your own DIY alcohol inks is a very fun practice and is almost a work of art in itself. It can be so exciting to create your own colors and name them custom names that jump out at you.
If there are specific alcohol ink colors that you want and you don't have the proper markers for, you can achieve those colors using different mediums, like acrylic paint.
You can use acrylic paint to make alcohol ink as well. Simply follow the same steps as above, and add acrylic paint to your mixing bottles instead of the marker tubes. Make sure it is thoroughly mixed, and mix it/shake it before using it every time.
If you like the consistency and color you get from making homemade alcohol ink with acrylic paint, you can use that acrylic paint to really achieve any color of alcohol ink by blending colors the same way.
The difference between making alcohol ink with markers and making alcohol ink with acrylic paint is the color pigment medium. Sharpie permanent markers are a dye-based ink where acrylic paint is a granular solid-based pigment, such as a mica powder, and the result is water-soluble paint.
According to Sharpie Markers, whose colors are dye-based, a white marker needs a pigmented, rather than a dye based ink, to achieve the required opacity.
Sharpie says: "With the ink technology available, we have been unable to manufacture a marker or pen that will uniformly lay down white ink. In the future, however, as new ink technology develops, it is quite possible we will be able to make a pigmented white ink marker. Until then we suggest trying Newell Brands white Sharpie Paint or Poster-Paint marker. It is a valve action marker, which requires a pumping action".
You can use white acrylic paint to make homemade white alcohol ink by following the same steps above. We recommend using a good quality white acrylic paint to make your own white alcohol ink.
You may find that your alcohol inks get a more highly concentrated pigment load using the dye-based markers, but you might opt for acrylic paints to make your white alcohol inks.
Of course, this is a matter of preference. So go ahead and play! Try making homemade white alcohol ink or other colors with different mediums. It can be fun and educational to experiment in making your own formulas.
You can also use this method for making black ink if you would like, or you can use the black permanent Sharpie marker.
Yes, mica powder can be used to make alcohol ink as well. Because all mica powders are different, you will have to experiment with the brand that you purchase to get the perfect mixing ratio. Try adding a bit of mica powder at a time and mixing to see what the result is.
With mica, you may find that you don't get those bold colors or high pigment loads, but again, experimenting is fun, and you may love the results.
Mica powder tends to have an almost pearlescent sheen to it, which may be the desired look you are going for.
We recommend purchasing ethically-resourced mica powders, preferably from companies who have certification that their mica powders have NOT been obtained from a facility that uses child labor so they are ethically sourced.
Alcohol ink needs to be on a substrate that does not have any absorption at all. To swatch your homemade alcohol ink colors, try buying yupo paper, which is actually not a paper but is a very paper-like plastic substrate. You will see your true colors this way.
For swatching mica powder-infused alcohol ink or light and white inks, you can purchase black yupo paper or Nara paper. You will really see that pearlescent sheen on there.
These "papers" are great options for swatching your homemade alcohol ink colors.
You will want to consider making your own homemade alcohol ink for a few reasons:
For the cost savings. Alcohol ink can be a very expensive medium, and if you are just starting out, you may go through more than usual. It will be more cost efficient to make the ink yourself.
For your own custom colors. Experienced alcohol ink artists in the crafts community understand the exact colors they need for what they want to paint. Many artists find that they can achieve excellent color and quality of ink when making it themselves.
If you are not sure which avenue is best for you, you can try both by purchasing a small set of alcohol ink to play with, and also try making your own.
When making your own homemade alcohol ink, note the difference you get in:
color or pigment load when it is sitting on your isopropyl alcohol medium
color or pigment load once it dries on your substrate (nonporous surfaces)
how long a whisp will blow using the same amount of isopropyl alcohol with both the store-bought ink and the homemade ink
if you achieved the color you thought you made with the homemade alcohol inks
This will tell you if you are an artist who prefers making homemade alcohol inks to save money or if you would prefer to purchase alcohol ink from a supplier. It is all about what works best for you and what makes you the happiest.
You don't necessarily need isopropyl alcohol to create alcohol ink art, however; if you want to blend ink colors together or blow them around on your substrate, this is the medium you will need to achieve those looks. It is considered a necessary medium according to the arts and crafts community.
Isopropyl alcohol will carry alcohol ink around on your substrate and evaporate quickly, leading your ink exactly where you want it to go. You can use a few drops of isopropyl alcohol, or use a thin coat on your substrate.
Just remember you will probably have to reapply due to its quick evaporation rate. If you are using other surfaces where you want the ink to stay more pigmented and stationary, for example, on glass jars, you can opt to use a paint brush to push your alcohol ink around. You will just get a different effect this way.
Isopropyl alcohol typically comes in three options in terms of percentages of alcohol
When it comes to which is the best isopropyl alcohol percentage for alcohol ink, all three will work as a medium carrier, but each will have a different evaporation rate.
This will be a matter of preference in whether or not you want your alcohol ink to blow across your page and carry the color, in which case you may prefer a lower percentage, or whether you want to lay that color down and have the carrying medium evaporate quickly.
You can certainly try all three and keep a journal as to which you prefer.
We hope you found this tutorial informative and that you enjoy experimenting and making your very own alcohol ink colors.
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