How to Prep a Canvas for Alcohol Ink

by | May 10, 2017 | Alcohol Ink, Alcohol Ink Basics, Alcohol Ink Tips, How-Tos, Techniques

Alcohol ink art typically requires a non-porous substrate in order for the effective “flow” of the ink.  If you attempt to paint with alcohol ink on a porous surface, the inks will soak into your surface and the wonderful flow that makes alcohol ink a great medium with which to work goes away.  One of the most common questions from those just starting out with alcohol ink is “How can I prep Canvas for alcohol ink painting?”  Here’s a quick video demonstrating how this is done!

Alcohol Ink Art Community Contributor, Denise Balcanoff demonstrates how to prime a canvas for alcohol ink.

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  1. Julie Lark

    Anyone know what product you can use instead of Kilz 2 on canvas it didn’t appear to be available in Australia?

    • Bob

      Any house paint primer. I use Kilz to prep my canvases for acrylic painting.

  2. Jeanette Sheehy

    This may be a silly question since hardware store products are not really meant to be archival, but does anyone know what the longevity of the primer is? How it affects the longevity of the inks?

    • None

      Alcohol inks are not archival and have low light fastness. Fix with a varnish for longevity

  3. Krista Vaituzis

    I used alcohol ink on a gessoed cotton canvas panel, and when I used other mediums over top the alcohol ink rank onto the other (paint, ink, stain spray, etc.). Is this to be expected?

  4. Rose

    Painting with alcohol inks on aluminum board…. does the aluminum board have to be primed in any way?

    • Denise

      I don’t believe you do. Aluminum is non-porous.

  5. Nat

    Can you use gesso as the primer?

    • Denise Balcanoff

      I have found that the inks don’t flow as well over gesso and if you use a lot of alcohol it can remove the gesso. That’s why I prefer A latex house primer like Kilz 2.

  6. Jimmi McCarter

    When using alcohol inks on a gesso cradle board (white) can you use a UV spray to protect or do you have to resin?

    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      YOu should use a sealant that won’t reactivate the inks. Most of us use Krylon Kamar Varnish which works well to fix the inks. Then, we spray UV to help prevent fading. So you do not have to resin the artwork.

      • Beth Leonard

        Though I like the effect of resin on my canvas, Can I put resin after the Krylon and UV?

  7. Annie

    Can I use gel medium as primer on canvas? Can I use any wall primer sealer on canvas? I live in Pakustan and don’t know from where I can get Killz latex primer

  8. Roshni

    Hi, I live in the UK and do not have access to Kilz 2 latex primer. I have tried the UK version of Zinsser B-I-N primer and also gesso on another canvas. However for both when I add alcohol onto the canvas it starts to lift the primer also. Does anyone have any suggestions of things I can use where the primer will not lift when I add alcohol? Thanks

    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      Roshni, You could also use a gloss medium, which I’ve done before. The inks don’t really flow the same, however. I’ve also used gloss spray paint before on wood, but not canvas. That may be worth a try too!



        Will the Kilz affect the area that I want to do acrylic painting? I only want to do alcohol ink on a portion…

  9. Barbara McKenna

    I have tried this—2 coats—and the ink still sinks in, doesn’t move as well as I would like.


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