Experimenting with Alcohol-Based Inks

  • Post comments:0 Comments
  • Reading time:7 mins read

Alcohol-based inks are one of the most versatile tools I use as a digital artist. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to make your own alcohol ink and how to use it for different techniques.

Tinting alcohol-based ink is one of the easiest ways to create new colors. We’ll be using a Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolor brush pen. The Gansai Tambi line comes with brush nibs that are great for mixing colors and creating watercolor effects.

It’s often overlooked how the art of an animator is mostly just the art of a doodler. In any given frame of any given cartoon, you will find a myriad of lines, shapes, and colors being used in ways that are likely to please only the artist.

A very good way to develop your artistic chops is to experiment with different kinds of media and materials. While it’s nice to have your own style, it can be a hindrance if you’re always trying to fit your style into every single thing you create. You should be comfortable drawing or painting with different mediums, and learn to appreciate the subtle differences between them.

There are many varieties of alcohol-based inks out there. Some have more pigment than others, some dry slower than others, some are more opaque than others. I’ve found that as long as what you’re doing is on paper or something else thin enough for alcohol inks to soak through, you’ll still get plenty of color even if they aren’t “opaque” or “fast drying.” I picked up my set at TAP Plastics – they’re made by American Auctions Ink from Toronto (which you can order from here ) but there are probably other places that sell them too.

I’ve been experimenting with alcohol inks for about a year now. I am fascinated by the wide variety of possibilities that are opened up when you start using them. There is a multitude of different surfaces that can be used, from metal, to glass, to leather as well as paper and cardstock. The range of possibilities is endless!

In this tutorial I will walk you through my process of developing some beeple art pieces. I hope that it inspires you to try out the medium for yourself and unlocks your own sense of fun and experimentation with the medium.

This tutorial assumes a basic knowledge of working with acrylic paint but if you’re new to acrylics then please do check out a few online tutorials first.

I’ll be using Golden brand alcohol inks & Golden acrylic paints but many other brands are available which may require slight adjustments to the process outlined here.

I will use a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator to create my final image. However, you can create your own artwork without using computers, just design directly on the surface that you want to print onto – there’s no limit on your imagination!

The main thing you need for creating your own beeple art is alcohol-based inks. These are commercially available, and come in a wide range of colors. You can get them from many different sources, including Amazon.com or Dick Blick (an art supply company).

TIP: When buying alcohol-based inks, try to find those that require thinning with water before using. Most of the commercial brands use this formula.*

You’ll also need:

– A brush for applying the ink – use artists’ brushes where possible. The cheaper ones tend to leave fibers behind.

– Various tools for texturing the canvas: non-permanent adhesive spray, rubber stamps, stencils, brushes, sponges etc. – basically anything you can think of!

– Something to burn onto your canvas such as a lighter or matches – obviously this isn’t necessary if you’re doing digital work!

And finally, some optional items include:

– Waterproof Inkjet Paper / Canvas*

– Paintbrushes*

– Brushes for thinning paint (optional)

I’ve been experimenting with alcohol inks recently, and have discovered a number of unique applications for them. First, I’d like to start by saying that alcohol inks are not paint; rather, they are water-based dyes or pigments suspended in isopropanol–think rubbing alcohol. On the surface this means that alcohol inks can be used on just about anything except paper. They are meant to be used on many different kinds of materials such as wood, glass, metal, plastic, ceramics, and even food!

Tutorial Content:

Part 1: Alcohol Ink Basics – Introduction

Part 2: Alcohol Ink Basics – Experiment 1 – “Wet-on-Wet” effects using Yellow, Red and Blue (RYB) inks

Part 3: Alcohol Ink Basics – Experiment 2 – “Wet-on-Dry” effects using Yellow, Red and Blue (RYB) inks

Part 4: Alcohol Ink Basics – Experiment 3 – “Dry-on-Dry” effects using Yellow, Red and Blue (RYB) inks

Part 5: Alcohol Ink Basics – Experiment 4 – “Dry-on-Wet” effects using Yellow, Red and Blue (RYB) inks

The first time I tried these inks was a while back while experimenting with the clear embossing ink from Ranger. I really liked that ink, but did not care for the limited color selection. The alcohol inks from BoBunny seem to be a bit more vibrant and come in a wider variety of colors.

Tutorial for Alcohol Ink:

1) I applied clear embossing ink over the top of the alcohol ink using Ranger’s clear embossing powder. 

2) I heat set the clear embossing powder by placing the cardstock on my heat tool for about 20 seconds. 

3) I then applied distress ink over the top of all three layers using my blending tool. 

4) Once dried, I sprinkled fine glitter over the top and heat set it again. 

5) Finally, I finished it off with some small rhinestones, which also got covered in glitter!  

I know some people have issues with alcohol marker bleed-through when they use it on cardstock, but I didn’t experience any problems with this process. The only thing you need to be aware of is that you should use a good quality cardstock to minimize any bleed-through issues. 

Have fun experimenting with these

B eeple is a term used for the little faces made by combining two or more images on a page, then moving and rotating each of the images to create a face. Beeple art is art that uses beeple technique.

Your computer monitor is only capable of showing you black and white, while your printer can print in color. This means that when you are making your artwork in Photoshop, you will see the beeple in black and while while they will be printed in color. This can cause problems if you are not paying attention to it. When working with beeples, I start off by making my beeple layers into Smart Objects before I begin to manipulate them. This makes it so that when I go to edit the image later, I will have the original image at the top of my layer stack and any edits I make will affect only the Smart Object below it.

To turn an image into a layer mask, click on the arrow next to the layer thumbnail. Then choose Layer Mask from the drop down menu.

Leave a Reply