Home » Painted Rock Ideas » Beginner’s Guide to using Alcohol Inks on Rocks


This beginner’s guide will cover how to use alcohol inks on rocks and rock painting techniques. Alcohol ink painting is a easy and creative way to make alcohol ink art with these simple tips.

alcohol ink art
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What you will learn:

  • What Alcohol Ink is and how to make your own alcohol inks.
  • Types of rock painting techniques.
  • Step-by-Step tutorials on how to use alcohol inks on rocks.

Alcohol Inks on rocks is my new obsession! I love experimenting with new ways to create and using alcohol inks on rocks has become my art therapy.

Using alcohol inks on rocks is a fun way to create abstract art while experimenting with different art tools and how it reacts with other colors.

Alcohol inks have a water consistency and will have an alcohol type smell. If you are sensitive to smell, consider working near an open window.

What is Alcohol Ink?

Alcohol inks are permanent, dye-based vibrant pigments that are fast-drying and perfect media for beginners. It’s typically used on non-porous materials such as glass, tile, ceramics’, yupo paper, and metal.

Alcohol inks have a water consistency and will have an alcohol type smell. If you are sensitive to smell, consider working near an open window.

Blending Solutions are used for diluting the highly pigmented colors and blending the alcohol inks together. It’s also used for cleaning paintbrushes, work areas, and hands.

When applying the ink to rocks be sure to work fast, the ink will dry fast because of the alcohol in the ink. You can apply the blending solution or use plain 91% Isopropyl alcohol to the rock to continue working with the inks.

Why use Alcohol Inks on Rocks?

Why not? Yes, some rock surfaces can be porous, but by applying a base coat of paint it creates a barrier. This makes it a perfect surface to paint with alcohol inks!

Beginner’s Tips and Tricks


  • Prep your work area with a piece of freezer/wax paper or something that’s not absorbent and paper towels.
  • Wear an apron or clothes you don’t mind getting ink on. Remember, it’s permanent.
  • Glove Up! Don’t get me wrong but I kinda like getting a little dirty but alcohol ink is tough to get off especially around and under the nails. Try using Dawn dish soap and baking soda to scrub inked up hands. Hand Sanitizer or Rubbing Alcohol works too.
  • Alcohol… (Isopropyl too) is Awesome! You can also use it to clean your paint palette and paintbrushes.


  • All you need are sharpie permanent markers, 91% or higher Isopropyl Alcohol, containers for each color ink, travel size mister bottle, or eye-dropper bottle.
  • With gloves on, remove the marker’s nub and the take apart the sharpie to get the ink pad.
  • Put the marker nub and ink pad into a container with 1.5 oz of 91% or higher Isopropyl Alcohol. Let it sit for at least 2 hours.
  • Fill ink the in the travel size bottles and throw away the ink pad.


  • For more brush control add the alcohol inks into a welled paint palette and let dry. Then, reactivate the dried inks with a little bit of rubbing alcohol on your paint brush. This is useful for creating fine lines, and detail work.
  • To create interesting brush lines, simply let the layers dry before painting more on.
  • If you want more of a tye-dye look, simply add all your colors and let it blend together.

Alcohol Inks Tools and Supply Checklist

Prep and Cleanup

  • Freezer Paper/Wax Paper to work on
  • Apron or old paint clothes to wear
  • Gloves
  • Paper Towels
  • Container for Alcohol
  • Gesso or Acrylic base-coated Rocks

Alcohol Ink Supplies

  • Alcohol ink (Tom Holtz or Jacquard Pinata Brands)
  • Paint Palette with wells for alcohol ink.
  • 91% or higher Isoprophyl Alcohol or Alcohol Blending Solution

Alcohol Ink Tools to Try

  • Paint brush
  • Compressed can of air
  • Q-Tips
  • Magic Erasers
  • Toothbrush
  • Straw
  • Felt
  • Foam Brushes
  • Possibilities are endless!

Alcohol Ink Techniques


  • Drip a few drops of alcohol inks onto the rock. Mix and blend different colors and drip some alcohol to create stunning effects.


  • I like to use magic eraser pieces dipped in alcohol ink and dab it on a rock. This can achieve a nice blending or gradient effect.


  • Drip some alcohol ink a rock and using a straw or can of compressed air to move the ink around. You must work fast, the alcohol will dry the ink fast. Add some alcohol to reactivate it and to keep working with the ink.


  • You can use paper towels, cotton balls, or foam brushes to create a swipe effect. Simply add drops of alcohol ink and swipe it over a rock in the same direction. This can make for a nice background effect to your design.


  • Wet brush with alcohol then dip on desired alcohol ink color and paint rock.


  • Simple and fun technique using a toothbrush. Just flick ink or alcohol to create a fun splatter effect.

how to use alcohol inks on rocks guide

alcohol inks on rock

Drip Technique

  1. Drip a few drops of alcohol ink onto your rock. Less is more!
  2. Let the ink spread, you can help move it around by blow on it, you can use a straw or canned compressed air to get a dramatic look.
  3. You can also use a paintbrush dipped in alcohol to create more spreading.
  4. Use different colors and see how the colors blend together. Use more alcohol to wet the alcohol ink by misting it on or using a paintbrush.
  5. Add more drops of alcohol ink and blending solution until you think your rock art is done.
  6. Let it dry completely before using a high gloss sealer spray.
beach alcohol inks on rocks

Beach Inspired Alcohol Ink Painted Rock

  1. I used tape on my rock separate the inks from bleeding through. Be sure to make good contact on the rock with the tape (I obviously didn’t make a good enough contact on my rock!)
  2. Spray alcohol or blending solution on the rock.
  3. Drip a few drops of blue/teal alcohol ink onto your rock. 
  4. Let the ink spread, you can help move it around by blowing on it with a straw.
  5. Once the ink is dry, remove the tape and use the gold/yellow on the other side, blending gently into the blue.
  6. Let it dry completely before using a high gloss sealer spray.
Candy Corn alcohol ink painting on rocks

Swipe Technique 

For this project, I used (3) 1 inch foam brushes.

  1. Divide the rock into three sections, just like a candy corn. Be sure protect your work surface by using paper plates or something similar while using alcohol inks (orange, white, and yellow).
  2. Dip each foam brush in each alcohol ink color.
  3. Swipe one of the colors across the rock in a horizontal line covering of the top portion.
  4. Repeat the same process of swiping the next two colors across the middle and then the bottom.
  5. For more vibrant colors apply a second coat of stripes across the rock again.
  6. After the beautiful candy corn rock painting is completely dry, spray a light coat of clear sealer on the rocks and let it dry some before applying a second coat. Let it dry for 24 hours before touching the rocks.

For more Alcohol Ink on Rocks Ideas, check out Julie Bullock, a talented alcohol ink artist with her PRO tips in How to Make Easy Stunning Alcohol Ink Art Like A Boss!”

alcohol ink art like a boss

10 Ways to Use Painted Rocks

  1. Beautiful handmade paperweights
  2. The kindness rocks trend, I think is here to stay! Write inspirational messages on your painted rocks.
  3. Display your rock art and turn them into magnets for others to admire.
  4. Be creative with learning time. Use painted rocks to make learning fun for preschoolers.
  5. Decorate and use your painted rocks as markers in your flower pots and vegetable garden.
  6. Make awesome photo holders!
  7. Decorate your home with holiday-themed painted rocks.
  8. Raise awareness for a cause in your community with painted rocks.
  9. Discover new ways to decorate rocks, using alcohol inks, chalk, crayons and more!
  10. Hide and Seek Rock Hunting is a fun outdoor activity to do with your children at any time of the year.

That’s all folks! In the meantime, if you are new to rock painting and don’t know where to start. You can download a free pdf of this guide in our free resource library. Check out the Rock Painting for Beginners series below.

Part 1 – How to Paint Rocks 

Part 2 – Rock Painting Supplies | What you need to know

Part 3 – Easy Rock Painting Techniques

Part 4 – How to Mix Colors with Confidence