Alcohol Inks Tutorial Color Chart and Lightfast Test

Adirondack Alcohol Inks by Tim Holtz / Ranger Ink come in over 54 colors (they keep adding new colors, including pearl shimmer ones!) including "lights", "brights", and "earth tones" shown individually here on glossy paper. They appear more vibrant on non-porous surfaces (such as a domino) and slightly muted on porous surfaces (such as paper.)


 The following video tutorial may help you get a clear idea on how these inks work. Here I'll how to apply alcohol inks to plastic surfaces, such as acrylic charms and domino game tiles. I love the new Lift Ink stamp pad by Tim Holtz, it's a great way to carefully erase designs within your inked surfaces.


The color combination charts below show how each set works together. For example, the "Countryside" set includes Shell Pink, Willow, Cloudy Blue. When used together they look like this:

The Basics. Here is the standard, most popular application: 


Use multiple color combinations to
compliment your rubber stamped
artwork. (I used Stampbord as my
surface, and the image is from

How to use the applicator, felt and alcohol inks: Add a few drops of each color you want to use to the felt pad that is attached to your applicator. I apply single drops of color a little randomly on various areas of the felt (see photo.)


Lightly dab your surface repeatedly until you achieve the coverage and pattern desired. If you apply it by patting the surface only a couple times you will get a blended, less marble looking / blotchy effect as you do if you keep patting your surface repeatedly. You can make it very interesting by blowing on it as you work in quick taps for the smallest marble pattern effects.


Try out combinations of 2 inks, or even just one and the "alcohol blending solution" (works as clear alcohol ink) for a variety of marbled monotone effects.


Note: Felt by nature has a lot of loose fibers that often fall out. I have not found a way to avoid this, but you can rub off a lot of the little fibers once the ink dries in a few seconds.


Use a blending solution (available here) to add marbled effects:

Creating custom colors and filling markers with alcohol inks:

Alcohol inks work wonderfully inside empty markers, such as Ranger Ink or Copic brand markers. Just add drops of ink onto the broad tip until it bleeds through to the bottom tip. This takes about 150 drops (it's not much, somewhere about 1/10th of a bottle of Adirondack inks.) These colors blend beautifully together on paper projects.

Allows you to turn your favorite inks into markers, or mix your own custom colors. Since you can add ink any time the marker starts to run dry, these markers can literally last forever. No more waste of disposable markers, or disappointment when you find a marker has run dry.


When mixing custom colors use an empty dropper bottle to mix the colors first before inserting the mix into your marker. Craft stores usually have empty bottles with dropper tops for essential oils in the soap making supplies area.

If you are using empty Copic Sketch markers than you can also use these inks with their airbrushing system for painting.

When you are using dark colored alcohol inks on a domino you will have a hard time getting a rubber stamped image to show up well. You can help bring out the details of your stamped art by lightening certain areas of your image. You can do this by erasing the alcohol ink with a lighter color of alcohol ink. Alcohol inks or blending solution in marker form is great for this. Sharpies also work, however the tips on those markers do not allow for smooth precision.

Altered jewelry! Add color to metal and other non porous surfaces:

I bought a silvertone metal ring a while back and I always wished it was colorful. So I picked out some alcohol ink colors (raspberry, stream and sunset orange) and placed a drop of each color onto a non-porous surface (I used the outside of a ziplock bag.) I then picked up the colors and applied them using an empty aqua brush filled with alcohol or blending solution. I sealed it with Krylon clear gloss sealer spray. 

Using alcohol inks to color plain beads for jewelry making (White acrylic beads, metal tags, blank guitar picks and game tiles
to decorate can be found on the beads page here):

Alcohol inks, glitter glue, versamark and Perfect Pearls mica powders can be found on the Art Supplies page. Beads and acrylic shapes on the blank beads page here.

You will always get the best results with transparent inks on LIGHT COLORED SURFACES (especially white tile), but for those of you tempted to try them on mirrors and metal I tested out stainless steel pendants and charms (located at the bottom of the beads page.)

Troubleshooting: I used a mirror finish, not the dull dark metal of screws/washers/hardware equipment which I found alcohol inks difficult to work on.

I do not use a felt pad to apply alcohol inks on surfaces that are not white/very light colored, as this further dilutes the ink.

Use the darkest and most vibrant alcohol ink colors directly dripped from the bottle. For the effect to the left, use canned air to blow the blob of ink around immediately after you drip it onto the metal or mirror surface.

Idea Gallery:

Failed experiments and happy accidents. (I make mistakes so you don't have to!) Sometimes I try and fail. Sometimes I thought I failed and in the clean up efforts discover something interesting! Here is where I will share these "mistakes" with you!


Eventually I just started applying the alcohol ink directly to my gold acrylic paint. I used an aqua brush filled with alcohol or clear blending solution, and picked up alcohol ink color onto the brush tip. If you do not have a non-stick mat or paint palette to put your drops of colored alcohol ink, you can always use a piece of paper covered with tape.

This looked so pretty at first and I was very pleased with the effect of alcohol ink over the metallic acrylic paint. BUT IT FADES OVER TIME! The alcohol ink colors were absorbed into the slightly porous surface of the paint. This happened very quickly, within days, and completely faded the colors you see here on the roses and leaves.


This technique could still work IF you completely sealed the paint surface before applying alcohol inks. The clear acrylic spray by Krylon should provide a non-porous surface for the alcohol inks. I'll have to repeat the test in the future to be sure if that is a complete fix.

Lightfast Test - Alcohol Inks (Adirondack Tim Holtz brand) manufactured by Ranger Ink

There is no change in colors when kept in normal indoor conditions, no direct sunlight or exposure to humidity. They are not lightfast in the sun for any prolonged period of time. Many of these colors would break down within a couple weeks of constant direct sunlight (outside OR inside by a window where the sun beams come through directly on them) because they are dyes and not artist's pigments puts them at a disadvantage. (This is not a sign of a poor quality product, but rather a side effect of this type of product. Dye based inks are very vibrant, fluid, and are capable of producing effects that lightfast pigments can not.)


UV sealers and barriers could help prolong the color life for very brief temporary outdoor situations. Particularly helpful with jewelry making, you could use a sealer such as Krylon's clear UV resistant gloss spray. That helps protect your surface and makes these inks less prone to fading if you need them to be exposed to sunlight short term. Be aware that UV sealers that are thin, like sprays and brush on sealers, only provide minimal protection since they are not thick enough to distort UV rays like resin would be. In my tests UV sprays sometimes only add a few more days (about a week in indirect light) worth of sun protection.



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