Alcohol inks on actual photos?

I haven’t taken the plunge with getting alcohol inks yet and have been able to avoid the temptation so far, but this is the clincher:
I know glossy photo paper is an option for an alcohol ink substrate, but have you ever used alcohol inks on an actual photo? I’m talking pre-digital photos, from negatives. I have a ridiculous amount of old photos, so I’m curious how this would look as a method of altering them. I haven’t found any examples online, which makes me doubtful.

Any thoughts? Are you willing to give it a try and share your results (for science, of course :wink:)? I’ll send you a batch of photos to experiment with if you have inks but no unwanted photos, just message me!

I have lots and lots of old photos…including black and white…I have been trying to think of cool projects to use them with…I will give it a try with alcohol inks and let you know.


You actually use the back of the photo paper, rather than the photo side. But I think this could work - I think matte-finished photos over glossy prints. Just my 2 cents…now I have to find some old photos to alter!

I didn’t realize this!

I’ve seen demos that use both sides; as far as I know the reason to not use the glossy side is because it is designed to absorb ink - but I wonder if that is only the paper for digital photo printing, and old-school photo paper is made differently? Experimenting with other media on old photos, they don’t seem too absorbent.

When you drop alcohol ink on the glossy side of photo paper, it gets sticky and gunky. Alcohol inks are meant for non-pourous surfaces. You can use alcohol inks on paper, tyvek and other things but you won’t get the bloom that you get on plastic-y papers/materials.

By all means - experiment. This is just based on my own YouTube viewing and personal experience.

For reference - see Barbara at Joggles on YT.


Good to know! Piggybacking in this, would you say other kinds of ink (the non-alcoholic variety, haha :beer:) would be a better option? For attaining super-vivid translucent color my mind automatically goes to “alcohol inks”, but there are all those other ink options out there that I forget about.

re: vivid colors, remember that alcohol ink is non-archival and will fade over time.

Do you mean acrylic inks? That sounds intriguing. You could dilute with water for more translucency…you are giving me too many ideas! Will have to play when I get home from work!!

Non-alcoholic inks, still chuckling!

I think the front side is coated with chemicals or has residue of the printing/developing process?