Alcohol Ink Watercolor Background

by Colleen Schaan

Create abstract, watercolor-like backgrounds with alcohol inks and the colorless blender solution.


  • Aqua brush filled with alcohol blending solution
  • 3-6 Alcohol ink reinker (coordinating colors, Copic™ Various Inks used here)
  • Paint palette with individual wells
  • Paper (Canson Marker Pad used here)
  • Stamp set with quotes or phrases (10 Second Studio – “Life” used here)
  • Black ink (Tsukineko VersaFine used here)


  1. Step 1

    Fill each paint well with 3-5 drops of alcohol ink.

  2. Step 2

    Slightly dampen brush with blending solution or pure rubbing alcohol. Dip aqua brush into well to pick up ink.

  3. Step 3

    Swipe brush across the paper to apply ink

  4. Step 4

    Continue applying ink using a variety of lines, shapes and brushstrokes.

  5. Step 5

    Wipe off excess ink into scratch paper before changing colors.

  6. Step 6

    Dip aqua brush into ink as necessary to pick up more color.

  7. Step 7

    Continue to apply layers of color. Rotate the paper so that the brush stokes are more random.

  8. Step 8

    For lighter washes of color, squeeze out more Colorless Blender solution, for darker shades, dry the brush on scratch paper before picking up ink.

  9. Step 9

    Once dry, stamp a favorite quote or saying onto the Copic watercolored background.

  10. Step 10

    Layer to complete project.



    - Use only 3-4 colors on each individual background to help create a unified look.
    - Let some of the ink layers dry before adding additional layers for less blending.
    - Don’t over-brush the inks or they will muddy.
    - Save the paint palette for future use, dried inks can be re-activated.
    - Use a variety of surface types for different looks. (primed canvas, metal, acetate, vellum)
    - No Various Inks? No problem…swipe a Copic marker across the surface to apply ink and then move it around and paint with the Colorless Blender filled aqua brush.
    - Create home décor, greeting cards, scrapbook papers, and/or art journal pages with each unique Copic Watercolored background.

Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Alcohol Ink Watercolor Background. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

Thank you so much for this. I don't have the ink (only the markers) but I will try this with my alcohol inks...See what happens..Thanks!
Winnie  |  Wed Sep 5, 2012 at 11:25 AM
what exactly is Alcohol Blending Solution and where do I purchase it?
Janeane Ely  |  Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 7:19 AM
Cool idea! Love the free flow look, it's a must try technique. Thanks for the easy to follow instructions.
Kris  |  Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 7:27 AM
This is a beautiful technique. Can you use Tim Holtz alcohol inks to do this project?
Fran MacDonald  |  Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 7:29 AM
Beautiful background. You make it look so easy, I think I'll give it a try. Thanks for sharing.
Robin Powell  |  Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 7:44 AM
Janeane, Copic Colorless Blender is the alcohol solution without any color, so it "moves and blends" the other colors together. You can purchase it anywhere Copic products are sold.
Colleen  |  Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 7:55 AM
Fan, I haven't used Ranger Alcohol inks for this, but they are similar in some regards, so I would assume you might get similar results.
Colleen  |  Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 7:56 AM
What an interesting and different technique! Colleen, what did you use to adhere the vellum to your card? Thanks!
Barbara Joyce  |  Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 8:03 AM
Thank you - it looks like a lot of fun and I'm always looking for new ideas to use my Copics for.
Penny  |  Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 8:11 AM
What a beautiful background for my stamps. Thanks so much for using our designs on your tutorial...that is my favorite saying.
Cheryl Darrow  |  Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 8:54 AM
What a great idea! I can't wait to try it cause I've always appreciated the look of abstract art.
Paper Crazy Lady  |  Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 9:29 AM
You make it look so easy and the picture just comes to life.
Cathy Poffenberger  |  Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 4:02 PM
Is the colorless blender the same as the refill for my Copic #0?
swldebbie  |  Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Yes, that is the #0 refill.
Colleen  |  Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 5:32 AM
Beautiful!! Can't wait to try it!
Angela Bode  |  Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 8:14 PM
Wow! What a beautiful card and stunning color combination, Colleen! Thanks so much for sharing the step-by-step instructions with us!
Kim Ross  |  Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 8:43 PM
Great tutorial, I love this technique. Where do you get the Aqua brush? Love to try this. Thanks for the video.
Anne Matthews  |  Fri Oct 19, 2012 at 6:11 PM
Hello! Just wondering, for this technique or other techniques using alcohol inks, can you stamp your image FIRST and then work accordingly to using the alcohol inks? Hope this makes sense!!
daisygirl74  |  Tue Aug 14, 2018 at 7:48 PM
You can - just make sure that your paper and ink are compatible with the alcohol ink, especially if you're working on a glossy paper or surface like Yupo. I'd recommend a hybrid ink - the ones I use are from Impression Obsession.
dina  |  Wed Aug 15, 2018 at 4:53 AM

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