5 Alcohol Ink Techniques & Ideas for Beginners

Last Updated: April 16, 2024

Are you looking for some new and exciting techniques to incorporate alcohol inks into your crafting projects? Do you love the look of marble or stained glass? You’re in luck! In this blog post, we'll explore 5 alcohol ink techniques and alcohol ink craft ideas that you need to try along with some tips and tricks to help you get started.

2 alcohol ink craft ideas using the same Craft A Flower layering dies and alcohol ink marbling technique

Whether you're into card making, scrapbooking, or DIY crafts, these techniques are sure to add a pop of color and pizzazz to your handmade projects. 

What is alcohol ink and what makes it unique?

Alcohol ink is a highly pigmented, fast-drying medium known for its vibrant colors and unique properties. Unlike traditional water-based inks, alcohol ink is made with an alcohol base, which allows it to dry quickly and create stunning, translucent effects. This medium is unique because it can be used on various non-porous surfaces such as glass, metal, ceramic, and plastic, making it a versatile choice for artists and crafters. The alcohol base of the ink also allows for easy blending and layering, creating beautiful gradients and textures that are not easily achievable with other mediums. Here’s a quick guide to alcohol inks.

Unique birthday card with marbled alphabet die-cuts colored with Altenew alcohol inks

One of the most unique characteristics of alcohol ink is its unpredictable nature. When applied to a surface, the ink tends to flow and spread in unexpected ways, creating mesmerizing patterns and organic designs. This element of surprise adds an element of spontaneity to the creative process, making each piece truly one-of-a-kind.

Alcohol ink panel made with Altenew alcohol inks

Additionally, alcohol ink can be manipulated using various tools such as:

  • Brush
  • Dropper
  • Toothpick
  • Popsicle stick
  • Air blower
2 handmade cards made with alcohol inks and Altenew stamps and dies

Another defining feature of alcohol ink is its permanence and durability. Once the ink has dried, it becomes water-resistant and can withstand the test of time, making it ideal for creating long-lasting art and papercrafts. This quality also makes alcohol ink suitable for mixed media projects, as it can be layered with other materials without smudging or bleeding. Additionally, alcohol ink can be sealed with a protective varnish to further enhance its longevity and preserve the vibrancy of the colors.

Overall, alcohol ink stands out as a unique medium due to its vibrant colors, versatility, unpredictable nature, permanence, and ability to adhere to non-porous surfaces. Whether used for fine art or DIY projects, alcohol ink offers endless possibilities for creative expression and is sure to captivate artists and enthusiasts alike with its captivating qualities.

Fun Fact! Alcohol ink was specifically designed for paper crafting. Its use in the fine art world was only recently, with the first documented case of its use in 2006.

2 thank you cards with die-cut word "thank you" colored using alcohol ink techniques

What can you do with alcohol ink?

In addition to its artistic applications, alcohol ink is also popular for creating DIY projects and alcohol ink crafts. Its ability to adhere to non-porous surfaces makes it an excellent choice for adding a pop of color to everyday objects. Furthermore, the translucent nature of alcohol ink allows light to pass through, creating a luminous effect that adds a touch of elegance to any piece.

What material do you use alcohol inks on?

Alcohol inks can be used on various non-porous surfaces, making them incredibly versatile. Some common materials to use alcohol inks on include:

  1. Yupo paper: This synthetic paper is perfect for creating vibrant and flowing alcohol ink designs.
A flat lay photo of 2 alcohol ink panels, a gel plate, and a few Altenew alcohol inks

Did You Know? You can use alcohol inks on the backside of photo paper or glossy paper if you don’t have Yupo paper. You can also use it on your favorite heavyweight cardstock, with the help of a gel plate

  1. Ceramic tiles: Alcohol inks can be used to create beautiful coasters and trivets.
  2. Glass: Create colorful vases, candle holders, and more with alcohol inks on glass surfaces.
  3. Metal: Experiment with aluminum or copper sheets for a unique mixed media project.
  4. Resin: Mix alcohol inks into resin to create custom jewelry, keychains, and more.
3 different handmade cards with the same floral design but different sentiments, made using alcohol ink techniques
  1. Vellum: Watch Lydia use alcohol-based markers on vellum in the video below. You can also try this with alcohol inks.

Is alcohol ink easy to use?

While alcohol ink may seem intimidating at first, it's quite easy to use once you get the hang of it. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Work in a well-ventilated area, as alcohol inks have a strong odor.
  2. Use small amounts of ink at a time, as a little goes a long way.
  3. Experiment with different application techniques such as dripping, blending, and blowing to achieve a variety of effects.
  4. Don't be afraid to embrace the unpredictable nature of alcohol inks - the beauty is often found in unexpected results!

With a little practice and experimentation, you'll create stunning alcohol ink crafts and designs in no time.

Clean and simple handmade greeting card decorated with alcohol inked die-cut leaves

How do you make alcohol ink designs?

Now that you're familiar with the basics of alcohol ink, let's dive into some specific techniques that you can try out in your crafting projects. Here are 5 alcohol ink techniques and alcohol ink craft ideas that will inspire your creativity.

5 Alcohol Ink Techniques & Alcohol Ink Crafts You Must Try

Alcohol ink panel with a blend of blue and purple alcohol inks
  1. Alcohol Ink Backgrounds

One of the most popular techniques for using alcohol inks is creating backgrounds. This technique allows you to create seamless transitions between different colors, resulting in beautiful and ethereal designs.

4 different colored alcohol ink panels

How to do alcohol ink backgrounds:

  • To achieve a smooth blend, apply small dots of alcohol ink to a non-porous surface, such as alcohol ink paper or vellum. 
  • Then, use a blending solution or 99% Isopropyl alcohol to blend the colors using a brush or felt applicator.
  • Keep on blending until you get the desired “look.”
  • You can drop more alcohol ink or blending solution to make it more or less intense. 
  • Altenew's alcohol inks are perfect for blending, as they come in a wide range of vibrant color families that can be easily mixed and matched.
Alcohol ink craft idea with a marbled blue and green alcohol ink background and white and gold die-cut leaves
  1. Alcohol Ink Lifting

For a more controlled approach, try using alcohol inks with stencils to create intricate designs. While there are alcohol lift ink pads available in the market, you can easily do a DIY alcohol lift ink using 99% Isopropyl alcohol and paper towels.

Tip: Please note that it is recommended to do this technique only with rubber stamps and not with photopolymer stamps as it can damage these kinds of stamps.

How to do the alcohol ink lift technique:

  • Apply a layer of alcohol ink to your chosen surface, such as Yupo paper or glossy cardstock. 
  • Once the ink is dry, place a stencil on top of the inked surface. 
  • Then, use a clean felt applicator, paper towel, or cotton ball dipped in a blending solution to lift the ink through the stencil.
  • The Isopropyl alcohol will reactivate the alcohol ink around the area where the stencil openings are, leaving the stencil design on the alcohol ink panel.
Masculine greeting card with alcohol ink marble background and matching alcohol inked die-cut flowers
  1. Embossed Alcohol-Inked Designs 

Decorate your cards with stunning alcohol-inked die-cuts! Here’s a fun alcohol ink crafts tutorial by Svitlana where she created the alcohol ink background first. Then, she heat embossed her chosen image on the back side of the vellum (the embossing was done on the opposite side from where alcohol inks sit).

His and her thank you cards with alcohol ink marble background, made using alcohol inks from Altenew
  1. Alcohol Ink Marbling (a.k.a. Stained Glass Look) 

Achieving a marbled effect with alcohol inks is super fun and easy! In card making, you can achieve the stained glass look or marbled effect by using an air blower and adding a blending solution to “move” the alcohol inks around. Here are a couple of alcohol ink marbling tutorials you can try!

Alcohol ink crafts made using alcohol ink marbling technique and alcohol inks from Altenew

Easy alcohol ink marbling

Simple and elegant greeting card with gold marble look, made with alcohol ink techniques and Altenew alcohol inks

Gorgeous stained glass look with alcohol inks

Elegant thank you card with marbled background and gold floral die-cut, made with Altenew alcohol inks and alcohol ink technique

How to use alcohol ink backgrounds

Amber shows some fun and easy alcohol ink hacks in her video tutorial below!

  1. Alcohol Ink Splattering

For a fun and playful look, try splattering alcohol inks onto your projects using a brush or straw. This technique adds an element of spontaneity and can create unique patterns and textures.

Here are a few alcohol ink craft ideas to get you started:

2 colorful handmade cards with alcohol ink stained glass looks and gold sentiments, made with Altenew alcohol inks
  1. Create stunning marbled backgrounds for your handmade cards and scrapbook layouts.
3 different greeting cards made with various alcohol ink techniques
  1. Use alcohol inks to add color and interest to die-cuts, frames, alphabet dies, sentiments, etc..
Alcohol ink crafts idea on a scrapbook page
  1. Experiment with different surfaces such as alcohol ink paper, ceramic tiles, vellum, and glass to create unique home decor pieces.
  1. Mix alcohol inks with other mediums such as resin or acrylic paint to create one-of-a-kind mixed media projects.
  1. Make custom home decor items such as coasters, vases, and ornaments.
A "celebrate" card with gold glitter butterfly die-cuts, colored with alcohol inks
  1. Add color to glitter cardstock, just like Lydia did in her video tutorial below.

3 alcohol ink panels with a galaxy vibe, made with Altenew alcohol inks, gold embossing powder, and gold metallic ink spray
  1. Create your own galaxy design by adding gold embossing powder or metallic ink spray to alcohol inks, just like LauraJane did here.

Pro Tip from LauraJane: Be extra careful when heat setting on Yupo paper as too much heat might melt/warp the paper.

Alcohol ink techniques can be done on a plain white cardstock with the help of a gel plate.
  1. No Yupo paper? Don’t worry! You can still create alcohol ink crafts with cardstock by using a gel plate. Since the alcohol inks are highly pigmented, they would look intense on the gel plate. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial by Kinjal.
Alcohol ink craft idea using Altenew dies and stamps

Start experimenting with fun and creative alcohol ink techniques!

Alcohol inks are a fantastic medium for adding color, texture, and visual interest to your crafting projects. With a wide range of application techniques and a variety of compatible surfaces, there's no limit to what you can create with alcohol inks. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced crafter, these alcohol ink techniques will surely add a new dimension and twist to your crafting projects.

Don't be afraid to experiment and push the boundaries of your creativity - the results may just surprise you! Need more alcohol ink techniques and alcohol ink craft ideas? Visit us In the Craft Room!


Free eBook: Everything You Need to Know About Alcohol Markers


  • Altenew

    Awww, thank you so much for those sweet words Tina! We appreciate it. And yes, we love inspiring YOU to unleash your creativity. :) Hope to see your alcohol ink projects soon!

  • Altenew

    Hi Lysiane! Thank you so much for stopping by. Hope the tips here inspired you to use alcohol inks on your next project. :) Happy crafting!

  • Lysiane

    Wow, great tips and ideas. Love the different uses for inks.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Tina K.

    I am so happy with this article and the videos are excellent. Thank you for inspiring us with Alcohol Ink Ideas, you gave so many and they are great! I continue to appreciate all the extras Altenew does for us. How Awesome!

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