How to Work With Acrylic Ink

Updated April 17, 2017

Acrylic ink is an acrylic-based, water resistant ink that comes in several styles, and has the versatility to be used either as a water colour or acrylic paint. Whether you are a beginning or more experienced artist, learning how to work with acrylic ink can provide you with valuable artistic experience and increase your flexibility between mediums.

Sketch the drawing. Before working with acrylic ink, it helps to sketch a preliminary drawing on the paper with a light pencil. The sketch will guide you in applying the acrylic ink.

Use a synthetic brush. Acrylic ink tends to be acidic and could damage natural hair brushes.

Wash paper. Acrylic ink dries quickly and tends to bleed into the paper, so washing the paper before using acrylic ink can make the acrylic ink more spreadable and give you more time Wash the paper by taking a brush, dipping it in water, and lightly brushing the water over the paper before use.

Mix the acrylic ink with water. Use a paper plate or a palette to mix water with acrylic ink before applying it to the paper. The amount of water you can use with acrylic ink can vary, though the more water you use, the softer and more diluted the colour. Mixing acrylic ink with water can allow you to use the acrylic ink like a watercolour, which gives you more control over the consistency of the ink and makes the ink more fluid and spreadable.

Mix colours on the palette, not the paper. Acrylic ink doesn't mix well on paper, as it tends to stick wherever it's placed and doesn't flow very well. Mix colours on the palette beforehand to get the desired colour and consistency.

Keep brushes and palette wet. Use an atomiser to occasionally spray the palette down, and dip your brushes in a cup of water before and after applying acrylic ink to keep the brush wet. Letting acrylic ink dry on a brush or palette can ruin it.

Paint the background first. The background is generally less detailed than the foreground of a painting, so paint the background and allow it to dry before painting the foreground.

Paint in layers. Since acrylic ink doesn't mix well, paint a layer of acrylic ink and then let it dry, then paint on top of it to add additional details to the painting.

Work quickly. Since acrylic ink dries fast, work quickly to produce the best effect and keep paint from drying before you've finished applying a particular colour.

Clean brushes after use. Take a paper towel and gently squeeze and wipe the brushes, then wash the brushes in warm soap and water.

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About the Author

April Lee started writing professionally in 2009. She is the marketing writer for an independently owned cheese business. She attended the University of North Texas and majored in English.