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. Our picks below will help you decide which brand is best for your needs.
1. Rupert, Gibbon & Spider Jacquard Color Alcohol Ink
These inks cover all bases. Highly pigmented, fast drying, and cost effective, they will serve you well no matter the project—use them on glass, ceramic, resin, Yupo paper, and more. These are the most vibrant inks of our picks. 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. This is a great basic set of nine colors in 0.5-ounce bottles, although Rupert, Gibbon & Spider’s line offers a total of 27 colors, including metallic tones.
2. Ranger Alcohol Ink
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 Rupert, Gibbon & Spider’s product, 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: inks are available in a generally earth-toned palette of 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 three complementary colors, or you can buy a 24-bottle combo set.
3. T-Rex Alcohol Ink 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 bottles. This set includes 11 colors plus one clear blender, making it an especially economical pick. While T-Rex doesn’t have the same brand name recognition or reputation as Rupert, Gibbon & Spider and Ranger, its inks are excellent. They carry rich, vibrant colors and perform well with resin and papers.
4. DecorRom Alcohol Ink Set
DecorRom’s inks are designed specifically for resin art, although they could be used for other types of painting with a little practice and experimentation. These inks have a thicker consistency than our other options and don’t dry as fast, and their pigment concentration is not as strong. But this makes them excellent for tinting resin, whether you’re customizing jewelry or tumblers. The color assortment is also a plus, with this set featuring 24 colors, each in a 10-milliliter bottle with a tip for controlled application. A warning: you have to puncture the tips before using them for the first time, and the bottles tend to shoot ink, so we recommend wearing gloves and working in a protected zone.
5. Copic Ink Marker 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 a generous 25-millileter well of ink.