Can You Use Alcohol Ink On Canvas – How To Prep!

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Our regular readers may have noticed that we have been posting more and more content based around using alcohol ink for your arts and crafts. This is due to the recent surge in the popularity of using alcohol-based inks for artwork and seeing a number of people reaching out with a wide range of different questions about pretty much every topic you could imagine.

One question that we have seen being asked more and more is based around if you use alcohol ink on canvas and due to so many people making easy to avoid mistakes when using alcohol ink on canvas, we have decided to publish this article. Due to the nature of alcohol inks and canvas, the ink tends to absord into the canvas making it a pain to blend or get good coverage unless you implement a few tips and tricks that we will cover later in the article.

Please also keep in mind that we are presuming that you are using a cheap but high-quality alcohol ink as well as some decent canvas when working. We see people using low-quality inks and canvas all the time that only makes the issues worse but thankfully, these days high-quality does not mean high-price so you can easily get yourself some decent ingredients without breaking the bank.

Can Alcohol Ink Be Used On Canvas?

Although you can easily use alcohol based inks on canvas for your arts and crafts, the results can vairy wildly due to the issues of the canvas being a porous surface and doing everything it can to absord your alcohol ink. You may be aware that alcohol inks tend to perform much better on a non-porous surface as they repel the alcohol ink letting it sit on the surface.

This allows the inks to blend and mix to give you those beautiful swirls that alcohol inks are known for while also ensuring that you get excellent coverage of the ink on your surface too. The majority of people who look to use alcohol ink on canvas tend to expect the same results as they would get using something like Yupo paper and are often sadly mistaken as they fail to prep their canvas prior to applying their alcohol inks to it.

Thankfully though, it is surprisingly easy to actually prep a canvas for use with alcohol inks allowing you to drastically improve the results that you can expect from your work. Although a porous surface such as canvas will never perform as well as a non-porous surface when it comes to using alcohol ink on them, it is surprising to see the level of improvement that you can get from your artwork by taking a minute or two to prep the canvas as explained in the section below.

How Do You Prepare A Canvas For Alcohol Ink?

There are a number of different ways that you are able to prepare a canvas for use with alcohol ink and many of them work very well. In our opinion though, a primer that you actually apply with a brush such as Kilz Primer will always beat the aerosol options on the market by a large margin. In addition this, latex primers seem to always be the best option for use with alcohol ink on a canvas too and although some other types can work, they tend to lag behind the end result of a latex-based solution.

Another tip that you can take advantage of for the best possible performance of your alcohol ink on your canvas is to use two thin coats rather than one thick one. Ideally, you will apply one thin coat of your latex based primer to your canvas and then leave it to dry fully before applying the second thin coat to get the best results. That said, we know that some people won’t have the time for this so a single thicker coat can work but two thin coats usually deliver a better end result.

What Kind Of Canvas Do You Use For Alcohol Ink?

Although a number of people do swear by metal canvas boards for use with alcohol ink due to it being a non-porous surface but it can be hit and miss with their performance and they do tend to be expensive so we usually recommend our readers avoid them. In our opinion, the best option is to actually apply your alcohol ink direct to some Yupo paper, let it dry and then mount the Yupo paper to a display board.

That said though, the majority of people that we see reaching out are looking for a traditional canvas for their alcohol inks. Unfortunately, even the higher price point premium canvas’ tend to all have the same issues when it comes to alcohol ink due to them being a porous surface.

Due to this, we usually just recommend that our readers pick up some cheap canvas to keep their costs as low as possible and then use a decent Primer on the canvas following the method explained above to prep the canvas for use with alcohol inks. This tends to offer the best blend of costs to performance ratio and can result in some excellent-looking alcohol ink based artwork.

How Do You Seal Alcohol Ink On Canvas?

Although there are a number of techniques that you are able to use to seal your alcohol ink artwork on canvas, we usually recommend that our readers go with a UV Archival Varnish Aerosol Spray and there are a ton of different brands on the market that all do the same thing and all perform well. In our opinion, this will always be the best option to help seal your alcohol ink onto the canvas and protect your art in the future.

We know that a surprisingly larger number of people tend not to seal their alcohol ink artwork but this just leads you to a number of potential risks. The first one is damage from UV light that the standard varnish sprays all protect your art from helping to ensure that it will last as long as possible in gallery condition lighting without problems. The second is to offer protection agains smudging and smearing if anything comes into contact with your alcohol ink due to the nature of how alcohol inks work with their thin layer of color over their surface being vulnerable.

They specific method that you use to seal your alcohol ink art on your canvas depends on the specific product that you are using for seal it so we always recommend that our readers follow the instructions on the label of the product they use. If you do switch between the same type of primer but between brands, it is also a good idea to double check that the sealing process is the same too.

This is due to different brands using slightly different formulas to each other in the same delivery system. For example, one aerosol spray primer may only need to be sprayed over your canvas once for the primer to take hold where as another brands aerosol primer may need two coats with an hour or two between them.


That brings our article going over if you are able to use alcohol ink on canvas to a close. As we have explained in our article, you can use alcohol ink on canvas but ideally, you will be using a primer on the canvas before you apply your alcohol inks to it. Once your art is complete and dried, it is also a very good idea to also apply a sealant to the canvas too as it adds a number of protections to it to ensure that your alcohol ink will stay on the canvas for as long as possible too.