Can You Use Alcohol Ink On Canvas | You Need to Know

Alcohol ink works best on non-porous surfaces such as plastic, glass, metal, and varnished wood. However, artists avoid using it over porous materials such as untreated wood, paper, sponges, cardboard, and fabric. Canvas is one such surface that isn’t right for alcohol ink-based paintings.

So, how can you, as an artist, paint on a canvas with the help of alcohol ink? 

Even the best artists might get stuck when it comes to using alcohol ink on canvas. Since canvas is so porous, it tends to quickly absorb the liquid from the ink, which could be a pain in proper blending. Unless you have the best tips and tricks to help you out, you might end up with lousy coverage and blending issues. 

So, let us learn more about the use of alcohol ink on canvas and the best blending solutions!

Use Alcohol Ink On Canvas


Even though you use alcohol inks on canvas with ease, the results would vary vividly given the issues related to porosity. As an artist, you must be aware that these alcohol inks perform way better on non-porous surfaces. It happens because the surface repels the ink and allows it to sit on its surface for a long time so that the artist can work on the intricate designs. 

Most beginner artists tend to make the mistake of thinking that alcohol inks would work the same way with a canvas as well. However, that won’t work unless you prep the surface and make it less porous. It will give you some extra time to achieve those detailed results you always expected. 

Thankfully, it is pretty easy to prep the canvas using certain materials. It will help with a drastic improvement of the results you expect from the work. However, you need to keep in mind that a porous surface might never function as well as a non-porous one when using alcohol ink for artistic purposes.

So, suppose you plan to use canvas for alcohol ink painting. In that case, it is ideal to prep the surface but remember; the results would be as good as your prepping efforts.

What is Alcohol Ink Actually?

While the standards in the art world are oil paint, acrylic paint, watercolor, or crayons, several artists prefer to work with alcohol inks. They are highly pigmented, fast-drying, alcohol-based inks with beautiful colors.

This fun option for painting can be used on any type of non-porous surfaces such as metal, glass, plastic, stone, ceramic, leather, polymer clay, or leather. 

Once you apply the ink on the surface, the alcohol present inside it starts to evaporate, leaving behind a pretty colorful dye that sticks to the surface. Dye-based alcohol inks create particularly vivid effects that look similar to marble when used on the mediums mentioned above, along with some advanced techniques in place.

Type of Canvas to Use for Alcohol Ink

Most artists swear by the use of metal canvas boards when painting with some alcohol ink. However, they can be a hit-and-miss deal in terms of performance. It’s because they are particularly non-porous in nature.

Moreover, they are equally expensive, which isn’t ideal for a beginner artist. It is easier for an artist to apply the alcohol ink on some high-quality Yupo Paper and allow it to dry. Next, mount the same on the display board. 

That being said, most artists want answers for traditional canvases that help keep the cost factor on the down-low. You can use a decent quality primer for the canvas and prep the same, and use alcohol ink on top.

The end result would bring about some amazing-looking alcohol ink project. Using this technique offers the perfect blend of cost-effectiveness and performance.

How to Prepare a Canvas for Painting Alcohol Ink

There are several ways to prepare your canvas for using alcohol ink as a source for painting purposes. You can apply a primer with the help of a brush as compared to using aerosols for sealing purposes.

Apart from that, latex primers work best when using alcohol ink for painting purposes on your canvas. Although other primers do work well, they sure seem to lag in terms of end results compared to the latex-based solutions. 

Another way you can prep your canvas for painting alcohol ink is to apply two thin coats of the primer instead of one thick coat. When prepping with the help of this technique, you need to apply a thin coating of the latex primer to the canvas.

Then leave the same to dry out completely before you apply the second thin primer coat. It would produce the best and most artistic results.

How to Use Alcohol Ink on Canvas

If you want to learn how to use alcohol ink on canvas, there is a right way to do it. Truth be told, as an artist, you can always experiment with the process. However, when you use the right tips, the final artwork will be just as you wish. First off, you need to start by prepping your canvas to ensure that it becomes non-porous and provides a desirable blending solution. 

If you fail to do this, the ink would simply bleed through, which might not be something any artist would like to see. Several expert artists tend to prefer Kilz2 Latex Primer to prep their canvas. It is a water-based, fast-drying, and multi-purpose primer that is easy to find and is relatively inexpensive.

The texture of the liquid seals the canvas surfaces beautifully to avoid ink absorption or seepage through the surface. 

Next, start by applying a single coat on the top and sides of your canvas. Ensure that the coat doesn’t leave any cotton weave textures or tiny holes. Make sure you give it a minimum of 45 minutes to dry out completely before you start the process of applying alcohol inks. Generally, a single coat is required. However, it is entirely upon the artist to use their judgment.

Also make sure the surface is fully dry before you start applying the drops of alcohol ink, or it might bleed through your canvas. 

Painting on a canvas is entirely different as compared to painting on non-porous surfaces. Canvases provide you with more control with the possibility for finer details in the artwork. The ink would flow around less and create something beautiful.

How to Seal Alcohol Ink on Canvas

How to Seal Alcohol Ink on Canvas

Even though multiple techniques can be used to seal the canvas before alcohol ink is used, it is usually recommended that artists opt for varnish-based aerosol sprays. You can find several brands in the market that provide the very same effect at cost-effective prices.

Aerosol varnish sprays are always an ideal choice for sealing the alcohol ink used for drawing on the canvas. It helps protect the artwork from any future damages. Using varnishes with alcohol inks helps prevent fading out as well. 

Most beginners make the mistake of not sealing their artwork which could cause a series of detrimental risks. First things first, alcohol ink-based paintings can get damaged due to UV light, and a standard varnish helps protect the artwork from the same. Sealing also helps protect smearing and smudging in case it comes in contact with anything else. 

The right way to use the sealing product is always described in the instructions section of the packaging. It can vary depending on the brand you choose.

So, make sure you read it before trying out the sealing process. Each brand is a bit different from the others due to its patented formulas. While some brands would require you to apply just one coat, others might need two or more within an hour of the first application.

Some Pro Tips for Using Alcohol Ink on Canvas

1. Using Foam Brushes Can Be Handy

When you apply primer on the canvas, the goal is to create an evenly distributed top coat. You also need to take care of coating the sides of the canvas.

Most artists avoid using a brush to coat the canvas as it can leave stroke marks on the surface. The key is to use foam brushes instead of paintbrushes as a blending solution. You can find different types of foam brushes that can be disposed of post-use. You can buy such brushes online at pocket-friendly prices.

Read Also: How to Soften Acrylic Paint Brushes

2. Clear Primer is the Best Friend

When prepping your canvas for alcohol ink pieces, make sure you use a clear primer such as the Killz2 Primer. This clear primer works perfectly when it comes to prepping black canvases. These canvases are perfect if you wish your alcohol ink painting would pop up in terms of color. So, make sure your clear primer is there by your side during the prepping process.

3. Leveling the Surface is Important

Leveling is critical when it comes to ensuring control of your alcohol inks. If you fail to do that, the ink might simply start flowing to the side that is deeper and then finally drips off the canvas. The key is to use some paper towels/tissues or other easy-to-use thin materials to level up the deeper part than the rest.

4. Sanding Helps the Most

At times, even the foam brushes can leave brush strokes and ridges. If you are someone who loves these ridges, you can leave it as it is.

However, if you are looking for a smoother finish, you can lightly sand your canvas’ primed surface using fine sandpaper. Post the sanding process, make sure the dust is cleaned off. If you fail to do this, it might make your ink muddy.

Do not sand your primed canvas too hard. Otherwise, the primer would come off from your canvas, and you might need to do it all over again!

5. Always Use Risers for Canvases

When you place your canvas on risers during the priming and painting process, it aids the entire alcohol ink painting process. It allows the excessive alcohol ink present on the canvas to drip and falls off instead of pooling in just one spot over the canvas. If pooling of the liquid happens, it can stain your canvas’ backside and then bleed back up with time, thereby staining the painting.


  • Always opt for two thin coatings of the primer as opposed to a thick one
  • Try to work faster with alcohol ink as the alcohol might evaporate soon 
  • Make sure you wear high-quality gloves during the priming process 
  • Since your alcohol ink might contain volatile compounds, make sure you work in a well-ventilated room
  • Always follow the instructions provided by the alcohol ink manufacturer to get the best results
  • Do not forget to apply a sealant after you are done painting to avoid UV-based fading out of the colors

Frequently Asked Some Questions (FAQs)

Q: How Do You Add Glitter to Alcohol Ink?

It is easy to add glitter to your alcohol ink. Simply get a spray bottle and add some glitter to the same. You can also use mica powder if you are looking for a fine texture. Now pour in some alcohol ink into the bottle and shake the entire thing till it mixes together. Use it for a beautiful alcohol ink art.

Q: How Do You Make Alcohol Ink with a Black Tumbler?

You need to prep the surface using a clear primer for your alcohol ink to show up on your black tumbler. It will help the colors pop up brighter. Next, start by picking colors that would show vividly and paint as you would a regular tumbler.

This method is also ideal when you are painting your dishes with alcohol. Check out this video to get some more ideas about the process.

Q: Can You Use Mod Podge to Seal Alcohol Ink?

Yes, you can use Mod Podge to seal the alcohol ink painting. Given that it has a water base, it doesn’t mix up or react with the alcohol in ink.

Q: Can I Use Indian Ink on Canvas?

Indian ink has a waterproof quality that makes it ideal for use over canvases. However, it is recommended that one must use a couple of drops of fixatives for the ink fixing purpose before the painting process.

Final Words

Painting with alcohol ink over your canvas sure has many advantages. However, it surely needs a bit more prepping compared to other non-porous surfaces. With the proper techniques to help you out, you can indeed create some fantastic pieces that aptly define your artistic skills.

In the beginning, you might make several mistakes. However, the key is to have patience and follow all the instructions.


Maria Tanish

Hello World! Tanish here, a student of Fine Arts. Drawing was my passion from an early age but I also love to do some DIY projects to spend my leisure. Even I work as a writer, to share my knowledge about the ins and outs of drawing and the art industry itself. As an artist, I always wanna share my experiences with you all.

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