Rock Painting Guide

Everything you need to know about using Alcohol Inks on Rocks

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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.

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 Tips for using Alcohol Inks on Rocks:

  • There are several brands of alcohol inks on the market, I used the Tim Holtz collection. As I beginner, I choose the Tim Holtz brand because each set comes with 3 complimentary colors that work well together for blending. If you’re feeling brave, I have found some YouTube videos about how to make your own alcohol inks using just sharpie markers and 91% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol.
  • 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.
  • Techniques: There are many tools used to apply alcohol ink to your project, felt applicators, straws, can of compressed air, paintbrushes, and stamps. The list is really endless, just use your imagination.
  • Art is messy, but alcohol inks can stain hands, clothes and some surfaces. Be sure to prep your work area with plastic tablecloth and use a sturdy board to put under your rocks to absorb the runoff ink. I used a piece of cardboard and that worked just fine. Wear an apron or your favorite rock painting shirt with a pair of nitrate or latex gloves.

Now rocks are porous, but I tried it anyway to see how it would look.

Here’s what happened…

I started with 3 smooth rocks and 1 rough rock, then painted 2 smooth Mexico beach (gray) rocks and the white rough rock as well. I left the white smooth rock untouched.

alcohol inks on rocks

Then I used the alcohol inks on all the rocks and got different effects on all the rocks.

alcohol inks on rock


  1. Alcohol Inks
  2. Blending solution or 91% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol in a squeeze bottle or mist spray bottle
  3. Apron or old paint shirt will due
  4. Nitrate or latex gloves
  5. A small container of 91% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol for brushes
  6. Additional tools for your preference (straw, hairdryer or compressed air can, paintbrushes, foam brushes, and cotton swabs. The possibilities are endless!)

Check out the Alcohol Ink on Rocks Starter Kit!

There are several techniques that I have used on rocks that create amazing results! For more tips, tools, and techniques cheatsheets sign up for access to our FREE Resource Library.

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.

What to do with the rocks once it’s painted and sealed? The possibilities are endless!

Here are a few craft ideas!

  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.

Want more tips on how to create art with alcohol inks on rocks?

Sign up and download useful alcohol ink tips, tools, and techniques cheatsheets. 

To learn more about rock painting for beginners check out these helpful articles:

Visit our Art Toolbox Essentials page for our favorite art supplies and tools!

Be sure to join and share your creations with our Facebook Group for others to admire!

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I’m Tina, and I love all things crafty. My philosophy is that if you create it, it will inspire!

This site is to serve you and provide easy, beginner-friendly rock painting how-tos for all ages.

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