Last Updated: September 28, 2021
What is acrylic ink?According to Liquitex, acrylic ink is the perfect medium for “watercolor techniques, pouring, airbrushing, pen and ink, collage and mixed media.” It can also be mixed with other mediums such as alcohol ink and dye ink. Made from super fine pigments which are suspended in an acrylic emulsion, acrylic ink is a lightfast and water-resistant medium. Essentially, it is an extremely fluid version of acrylic paint. Although both are waterproof, permanent, and dry fast, there are some slight differences between the two.
Acrylic paint is more opaque and thicker than acrylic ink. The latter is more liquid and it comes in opaque, semi-opaque, and transparent formulas. When it comes to saturation, acrylic paints tend to be more saturated. Since it is suspended in a thinner medium than acrylic paint, acrylic ink is better when doing more translucent washes and ideal for airbrushing. Aside from the various colors available, these inks are also available in metallic, fluorescent, and pearlescent shades.
Here are a few uses of acrylic inks in arts and crafts:
- Watercolor techniques
- Alcohol ink crafts
- Mixed media art
- Fabric printing
- Screen printing
- Photo tinting
Is acrylic ink the same as alcohol ink?
Although there is a variety of alcohol ink crafts that can be done with acrylic ink and vice versa, there are a few notable differences when it comes to these two medium.
Fast-drying, but not as fast as alcohol ink
Dries within minutes
Can be opaque or semi-opaque
What supplies do I need for acrylic ink pouring?Most arts and crafts stores that sell alcohol ink supplies also have the right tools that you will need to start your acrylic ink pouring journey! Here are a few of them:
- Acrylic Ink (3-4 colors) - You can get more colors if you want, but if it’s your first time then it’s better to stick to a few basic colors. Getting a set is also ideal since this usually contain all the basic colors you need.
- Pouring Medium - Although water can be used to dilute and bind the acrylic paint, it’s still better to use a pouring medium. This additive help make acrylic paints pour and flow smoothly and freely, therefore ensuring that you get the best finish on your artwork.
- Plastic Cups - Any size will do but you will need a few of these since you cannot reuse them. The more colors you use, the more plastic cups you need.
- Plastic Squeeze Bottles - You can use these instead of plastic cups.
- Pipettes - These will be helpful in dropping in water, alcohol, or ink onto your canvas. It can also create flow and texture.
- 91% Isopropyl Alcohol - Similar to alcohol ink crafts, isopropyl alcohol is essential in helping the ink move around and flow throughout your canvas.
- Painting Surface - Choosing a surface might be tricky for some beginners, so here are some of our recommended surfaces.
- Canvas - any stretched canvas, cotton or linen
- Ampersand gessobord
- Ceramic tile
- Any wood or panel that is sealed and primed
- Other Optional Tools - Some of your alcohol ink supplies can be used when creating acrylic paintings such as wooden craft sticks (popsicle sticks will do), disposable gloves, sewing needle or toothpick, palette knife, paper towel, and blow dryer.
Now that you’ve got the basic tools and supplies necessary for ink pouring, here are three easy and effective techniques that you can try.
1. Acrylic ink pouring technique using plastic cups
This is the easiest and simplest technique, especially for beginners. All you need to do is fill each cup with one to two drops of ink. You can use a couple of drops of pouring medium, 91% Isopropyl alcohol, or water to dilute and bind the ink. Stir the mixture using your wooden craft stick. And you’re ready to pour! You can pour each color at once or pour a little bit at a time.
2. Acrylic ink pouring technique using plastic squeeze bottles
Plastic squeeze bottles are perfect for both alcohol ink crafts and other kinds of mixed media art. If you want to have more control over the placement of your inks, this is the way to go. You simply need to transfer your ink and pouring medium mixture into a plastic squeeze bottle and you’re good to go. Squeezing a little bit of color here and there using this bottle will allow you to play around with different patterns and designs too.
3. Dropping ink directly from the bottle
This might be the most straightforward ink pouring technique. You don’t need cups or bottles, you just need to directly add your pouring medium or isopropyl alcohol onto your chosen surface. After that, you can add each ink color by dropping it onto the canvas.
Here are a few more reminders when you try the acrylic ink pouring technique.
- Tilting the surface helps the ink flow and creates that beautiful marbling, but don’t overdo it!
- Do not use heat guns! This will burn your ink. If you need to use one, you may use a blow dryer but make sure to maintain a distance and don’t use it for too long.
- Use a high-quality cardstock or watercolor paper. Yupo paper, which is a polypropylene paper is perfect for using alcohol inks and acrylic inks.
- Blow on the ink drop from different directions to get it to start moving around, therefore creating that beautiful “acrylic ink fade”.
- Dip a piece of paper towel in alcohol to wipe off or clean up edges or messy areas.
- If your ink isn’t moving that much, you can always add a little bit of alcohol onto it to help it move around.
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