If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, ARTNews may receive an affiliate commission.
Highly pigmented alcohol ink is an incredibly versatile painting medium. Most products can be used on virtually any nonporous surface, from resin to Yupo paper (a synthetic waterproof paper). These inks can be used straight from the bottle or diluted with alcohol to create lighter tones; some brands offer blending solutions, but simple isopropyl alcohol will also work. Although alcohol inks are forgiving—you can often wipe mistakes away with alcohol—they can stain clothing and skin, so you’ll want to make sure your setup is prepared to withstand drips and spills. (Note that alcohol inks are not suitable for artists under 16.) Our picks below will help you decide which brand is best for your needs.
How we pick each product:
Our mission is to recommend the most appropriate artists’ tool or supply for your needs. Whether you are looking for top-of-the line equipment or beginners’ basics, we’ll make sure that you get good value for your money by doing the research for you. We scour the Internet for information on how art supplies are used and read customer reviews by real users; we ask experts for their advice; and of course, we rely on our own accumulated expertise as artists, teachers, and craftspeople.
Jacquard Piñata Colors and Sets
Jacquard’s vibrant, fast drying, and cost-effective inks will serve you well no matter the project—use them on glass, ceramic, resin, Yupo paper, and more. They are on the thicker side, but still easy to squeeze from the bottle, and they blend well, whether mixed with a blending solution or inks from other brands. You can buy a great basic set of nine colors in 0.5-ounce bottles, or choose from 27 individual colors in 0.5- or 4-ounce bottles.
WE ALSO LIKE
Ranger Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks
Ranger is another artist-favored brand. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting to work with alcohol ink, these inks are easy to use. Although slightly thinner and more delicate than Jacquard’s inks, they dilute nicely with extenders and flow very well whether you’re working with resin, polymer clay, Yupo paper, or even metal. Their fluid consistency also allows you to have great control over blending and layering. Ranger stands out for its color offerings: their 14-milliliter bottles (a shade under 0.5 ounces) of ink are available in nearly 70 colors, including unique ones such as rose gold and a teakwood shade that you can use to create faux-wood finishes. They are sold in sets of two or three complementary colors, or you can purchase them individually.
T-Rex Inks Starlight Shimmer 12-Bottle Set
Most alcohol ink sets are sold in small volumes, with typically less than 15 milliliters of ink per bottle. While compact bottles can last a while, especially with extenders, high-volume ink users should consider T-Rex’s product, which comes in 20-milliliter (a little under 0.75-ounce) bottles. While T-Rex doesn’t have the same brand-name recognition or reputation as our top pick, its inks are excellent. They carry rich, vibrant colors and perform well with resin and papers. This set includes 11 sparkly colors to add to your arsenal of hues.
A GREAT ALTERNATIVE
Copic Ink Refills
These alcohol-based ink holders are technically refills for Copic markers, which are beloved by illustrators. But they also perform exceedingly well as implements for alcohol ink art: Simply drip the ink directly onto your art surface, be it glass, ceramic, metal, or paper. Shaped like a thick marker, these refills have an ergonomic design with an angled, dropper-style tip. The colors are vibrant and blend well with alcohol while maintaining their original hue. Best of all, you get to choose from Copic’s range of more than 350 colors. Although you have to buy them individually, each refill contains 12-milliliters (0.4 ounces) of ink.
Brea Reese Alcohol Ink and Sets
These inks are perfect for covering large areas as they have a thinner consistency than our other options. Fast-drying and transparent, they spread easily on surfaces from paper to metal and can even be moved faster with the aid of tools like a heat gun or an air compressor. This makes them excellent for tinting resin or acrylic pours, and the colors remain bright and true. Because each bottle features a precision tip, you can also use them to load markers. Choose from 26 colors, available individually or in sets of three in 20-milliliter bottles.