The Ultimate Acrylic Ink Vs Alcohol Ink Comparison!

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Both acrylic ink and alcohol ink are becoming more and more popular amongst the art and stationary communities leading to more and more questions being asked about the two inks. Although there are a number of individual questions about the two inks that we see asked on a regular basis, we have noticed more and more people reaching out for a dedicated acrylic ink vs alcohol ink comparison.

Due to this, we have decided to publish this article going over the advantages and disadvantages of both acrylic ink and alcohol ink to try and help ensure that our readers are able to find the best option for them, their needs, and their artwork. This is due to the best ink for your needs largely depending on what you need to do with it and each of our readers will have their own specific plans for their ink when put to work.

Additionally, there are a huge number of lower-quality inks on the market so we are specifically talking about high-quality Acrylic Ink as well as high-quality Alcohol Ink throughout this article. Thankfully, the higher-quality ink formulas are not as expensive as they once were so anyone can pick them up without breaking the bank and comparing a good quality formula between the two offers the best possible comparison.

What Is The Difference Between Alcohol Ink And Acrylic Ink?

“211 – Blue Acrylic Ink Zoom” by N.C. Brown is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

So, first things first in our acrylic ink vs alcohol ink comparison is to actually go over the main usage differences between the two ink types. Although both products are very similar to each other, they do have a few subtle differences that will definitely change the way you use them for your artwork.

The main difference is that acrylic ink actually bonds to the surface that you use it with be it paper, canvas, wood or anything else that you are working with. This is different from the majority of dye based inks that tend to just be absorbed into whatever you are using for your artwork.

When it comes to alcohol inks, they do have a similar process to a traditional dye-based ink when it comes to how they work but they also have a slight difference. This is due to the dye actually being dissolved in the alcohol rather than suspended so once applied the alcohol evaporates and leaves a thinner, loosely bound color film on your paper.

What Is Acrylic Ink Used For?

Although you are able to use acrylic inks for a wide range of art related tasks, one of the main uses of the ink is to create a cost effective, intense color that can have an excellent opaque finish. Although there are a few other materials that you are able to use for these, none are as cheap or as easy to use as acrylic ink.

Another very popular use for acrylic ink is for sweeping washes and to bring subtle tones to your work. When used in this way, you usually have to dilute your acrylic ink with water or another medium to reduce its consistency to allow you to use it with your brushes for that sweeping wash effect.

What Is Alcohol Ink Used For?

Alcohol inks tend to deliver a more vivid, marble life effect when used no matter what substance you use them on for your art work although a non-porous surface does tend to perform better with an alcohol ink. Alcohol inks are able to produce some very unique looking effects that are hard to get with other ink or paint types and this is one of the main reasons that people use them.

One of the best things about alcohol inks is that you can get very creative with them with many people adding their own custom ingredients to the ink formula for a unique effect that would not normally be available. For example, adding sand or wood shavings to the ink has become popular for some types of art work but if you are just using your inks for generic art then the regular ink formula will be fine.

Can You Add Water To Acrylic Ink?

It is highly recommended that you add water to your acrylic inks if you are wanting to use them for any sweeping wash work but it is not essential for using your acrylic ink in other ways. If you want to keep the sharper, brighter colors and its opaque finish then we would not recommend that add water to your acrylic inks as it can detract from those features.

Can You Add Water To Alcohol Ink?

Although some people do dilute their alcohol based ink with water, we tend not to recommend it as there are much better alternatives available that offer better performance. One of the main ones is to dilute your alcohol ink with alcohol ink blending solution as this offers a much better effect than diluting it with water.

Depending on exactly what you plan to do, you can also add a few drops of glycerin to slightly tweak the end result of your alcohol ink once dried. That said though, if you have to dilute your alcohol ink then the blending solution should easily be enough to get the job done for the vast majority of our readers.

Does Acrylic Ink Wash Out?

As acrylic ink actually bonds directly with the fibers of the paper, fabric or wood that you use with it, your artwork does tend to be able to last for a long time and is very hard to wash out. Although acrylic is often marketed as being permanent, it does not usually have archival or lightfast capabilities so keep that in mind for your art work.

If you accidentally get acrylic ink on your clothes or furniture then you can often get it out with hot water mixed with detergent but it does take time. Some people do use water with a little acetone in it for larger stains but this can have mixed results so we usually recommend that our readers just stick to the hot water and detergent.

Does Alcohol Ink Wash Out?

Alcohol ink tends to be very easy to wash out of fabric and although this should not cause any issues for your artwork, it can make your life much easier when it comes to washing it out of your clothes or furniture. You can usually wash alcohol ink out with a little rubbing alcohol on a paper towel but if you have diluted your alcohol ink as covered earlier in the article, you can often get it out with hot water and detergent.


That brings our acrylic ink vs alcohol ink comparison article to an end. As we have tried to explain throughout the article, both inks are excellent options for the specific tasks that they were designed for and there is minimal cross over in their use cases for your artwork. The best option for your needs will come down to what you are wanting out of your artwork when complete with many artists holding both types of ink in their collection for different types of artwork.