What Are the Best Substrates for Alcohol Ink Painting?

by | Mar 29, 2018 | FAQs

Overview: Anything non-porous is fair game.  Seriously. Some of us just go to the thrift store and paint on anything non-porous we find.   

Main Substrates:

  • Yupo® paper (along with ceramic tile) is one of the two favorite surfaces for alcohol ink art. Yupo® is not actually paper at all. YUPO® is a 100% recyclable, waterproof, tree-free Synthetic Paper with non-porous attributes and properties that make it the perfect alcohol ink substrate!
  • Tiles: Non-porous, glossy ceramic tile is a great substrate for alcohol ink art.  It’s inexpensive and can be acquired at most hardware and tile stores. Alcohol ink works really well on ceramic tile, but does require sealing, or it will scratch off the surface. 
  • Dominos are great for creating pendants for necklaces, refrigerator magnets, keychains, etc. Alcohol ink pendants are a top-seller for many alcohol ink artists. We have several videos on creating alcohol ink art on dominos in our premium membership area.
  • Photo Paper: Often painters use the back/ non-glossy side, reporting that the inks are less fluid than they usually like on the glossy side. This is probably the most frequently suggested option for a less expensive alternative to Yupo®.
  • Canvas is a popular art substrate in general. However, working directly on unprepared canvas is not recommended (though several painters here do anyway!). Canvas is porous and the ink will sink into the fibers.  Prepping your canvas with a primer to make it non-porous is the more conventional method for using canvas.
  • Modeling Film – substrate is had and you can wipe back to black/white.
  • Other substrates: 
    • Cabochons (stone or glass usually shpes into a rounded oval, with a flat bottom.  Sometimes painted on, or used to cover another substrate for a jewelry piece.)
    • Cradled Wood Panel (primed, often with Kilz 2)
    • Glass Bulbs
    • Aluminum Foil
    • Clay Board (or specifically usually a product called Claybord by Ampersand)
    • Premium Glossy Photo Paper
    • Melamine Board
    • Acetate
    • Metal
    • Light switch plates (metal & plastic)
    • Toilet seat (Seriously, someone did this!)
    • Guitar face (varnished)
    • Corian® 
    • Glass Tile
    • Glass Vases
    • Canvas (Coated and Glossed)
    • Plastic Containers
    • Wax Paper / Freezer Paper (wax side)
    • Adhesive Laminate
    • Gourds
    • Shrink Film (Shrinky Dinks)
    • Silk
    • Duralar
    • Mineral Paper
    • Terraskin
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The Alcohol Ink Art Community is a community of artists who work with or want to learn to work with alcohol ink as an art medium.

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  1. Judith Bandurski

    new to alcohol painting. very excited

  2. Pam Chenevert

    What about painting on silk?

    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      Yes! Although it seems to be difficult to set the alcohol ink in the silk so that it doesn’t wash out. We’ve added it to our growing list!

  3. Pam

    Many in the polymer clay community use alcohol ink on polymer clay and on foils and gold leaf applied to clay.

  4. Jodi

    What kind of primer would be best to use on a canvas so I can use my alcohol inks like I do on my ceramic tiles?

  5. Mary L Daugherty

    When using alcohol ink on melamine counter top – what is best sealer?

  6. May Loo

    I bought a set of mini-canvases from Michael’s recently that I intended to use alcohol inks on. Should I gesso them before I apply the inks?

    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      Yes. The surface needs to be non-porous before you can do anything with the ink. Gesso works, as does Kilz2. You can also use a gloss or gel medium to create a non-porous surface on canvas. Please share your results in the community on Facebook! We would love to see them!

  7. Emily Wilson

    Great article! Alcohol inks are truly versatile and can be used on myriad surfaces. However, it’s important to learn which techniques work best for what surface. For example blending solutions can be used to clean off alcohol ink from metal surfaces, but not in others.

  8. Kiara

    Do you think there is any reason why putting ink on an actual photograph whole be a bad idea? Chemical reaction? Thanks!

    • Alcohol Ink Art Community

      Kiara. This sounds like a great thing to try. There may be a reaction or the inks may sink in.. I would love to see and hear how it turned out if you try it!

  9. joan McGinnis

    I tried pixiss paper which is made for alcohol inks. It absorbed the ink and stained. Some people on the site where I bought it said they liked it for alcohol ink. What type of alcohol painting would work with this paper?


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