Overview: Alcohol ink is an acid-free, vividly-colored, alcohol-based dye that is liquid, translucent and fast drying. It is best used on non-porous surfaces (e.g. ceramics). Mixing colors can create a vibrant, marbled, and fluid effect. Alcohol inks come in bottles. Distress inks and India inks are NOT alcohol inks and will not produce the same effect.
Basics: The main ingredients are dye and alcohol, but even within the same brand, the percentages of those ingredients differ. Alcohol is what causes the ink to move; dye is the pigment that remains after the alcohol evaporates. An ink with a higher alcohol content will move more when applied, while one with less alcohol will move less. We highly recommend looking at Sheryl Williams “Understanding Alcohol Ink” #1 and #2 videos here to get a foundation in the basics of why alcohol ink behaves so differently than other painting mediums. They’re short, clear explanations that really help the beginner.
Ink Brands: A few main brands are most often mentioned in the Alcohol Ink Community: Tim Holtz Adirondack®, Spectrum Noir®, Jaquard® Pinata® Copic®* and Zig Kurecolor® and Shinhan®.
- The Two Biggies: Holtz® and Pinata®: Tim Holtz® and Jacquard Pinata® are the brands most frequently mentioned as being regularly used by our community members (perhaps because they are more available at retail outlets). Pinata® gets high marks for bright colors and staying true, and is often described as being a little thicker than the Holtz® ink. Holtz® has more colors and is preferred by painters wanting a more muted palette. In terms of mixatives, a majority of readers prefer Holtz Snowcap for an opaque white, while a majority of readers prefer Pinata® Gold.
- Other bottle ink observations: Regarding stability and colorfastness across all the brands (after sealing, resining, etc), different members have different experiences. However, Pinata® seems to have the most fans for colorfastness. *Copic® makes refills for their markers which come in bottles and many people use the refills as they would use the inks from other brands that come in bottles. Copic® brand tends to be higher-priced, but they have over 300 colors and the inks and markers match.
Popular art marker brands are Spectrum Noir®, Copic® and Sharpie®, Prismacolor®
Additional info: Prismacolors® are noted to match Holtz® inks. Copics® are very often mentioned as the “gold standard” of markers with Spectrum Noir® getting frequent praise as well. Copic® markers now make a “air trigger” system that can attach your marker to an airbrush device, which can be powered by either an airbrush compressor or canned air.
Latest posts by Alcohol Ink Art Community (see all)
- Alcohol Ink on NARA Paper – Painting a Lighthouse - January 24, 2020
- #FunCity2020 Alcohol Ink Art Challenge - January 3, 2020
- Fast & Fun Alcohol Ink Painting Projects with Laurie Trumpet Williams - December 3, 2019