Cheap Tricks

In the rock ‘n’ roll world, Cheap Trick is a group that’s been around for a long time. So have I, so I remember the band well. But we’re here to talk about art, not rock ‘n’ roll, so what sort of cheap tricks do I have up my sleeve today?

Acrylic inks. Yep, I’ve having fun learning about acrylic inks and the many tricks they can perform in art.

I got my first acrylic inks recently in my “goody box” from Paletteful Packs. What was I supposed to do with them? I really wasn’t sure, so I started browsing around a bit. I quickly found a set of video “tips and tricks” that include the following ideas:

  • A watercolor-style landscape painting
  • Painting an original greeting card
  • Combining string gel and pouring medium
  • Staining raw canvas
  • Creating wet-into-wet effects
  • Color washing
  • Pen and ink
  • Stamping
  • Air-brushing

Quite a lot of different ways to use these inks!

The set I received in my subscription box is a 3-bottle set (red, yellow, blue) from Liquitex. It sells for about $18.00 at art supply stores, or, in other words, about $6.00 per bottle. Liquitex offers 35 colors, so a wide variety is available. Of course, with these three primaries, I can make all the secondary and tertiary colors I might need. Still, I’ll be honest here. Six dollars for a 1-ounce bottle of ink seems a bit steep to me.


And then, a few days later, I was browsing the art aisle at our local Walmart, and what did I see? A set of acrylic inks, also primary colors, but including not only red, yellow, and blue, but green, black, and white. That’s a total of six bottles of ink (each 1-ounce) and this “Essentials” set by Royal Langnickel sells for only $11.97. That works out to be about $2.00 per bottle. Quite a difference.


Yes, of course, I purchased the set, so I now have a good supply of acrylic inks. I’ve used both the more expensive Liquitex inks and the less expensive Royal Langnickel inks, and at this point I haven’t seen any significant difference between the two. I haven’t used them a lot yet, but in the coming days I’ll be trying out more of those “tips and tricks” to see what results I get.

A little more browsing turned up more tips and tricks for these gorgeous, highly-pigmented inks. This link will give you information on:

  • Painting with acrylic inks
  • Writing with acrylic inks
  • Making sprays from acrylic inks
  • Adding acrylic inks to pouring medium
  • Using acrylic inks like watercolor
  • Creating abstract art with acrylic inks
  • Making collage papers with acrylic inks

My first attempt was a “watercolor-style landscape” using the Liquitex. I once again painted an imaginary scene similar to many other watercolor landscapes I’ve painted lately. I wasn’t sure how much — or how little — ink to use. This was done on “mixed media” paper. This was when I was playing with the supplies from my new “goody-box” so I added a bit of Graphix marker in places.

After purchasing the Royal Langnickel set, I did a bit of “pen and ink” work, drawing a simple flower and then “painting” it with the inks. I painted the petals first with yellow, then hoped to blend in a bit of red. My blending technique wasn’t working, so instead of subtle color variations, I just ended up with mostly orange petals. I filled in the center of the flower with dark blue, then added a thin green stem. This was also done on “mixed media” paper, as a very quick practice.

This third painting was done with the inexpensive inks. I drew this scene — tree trunks and greenery in our front yard — and then painted it. I first thinned the blue ink for the sky and then also thinned the green ink for the leaves and grasses surrounding these trees. Later I went over the leaves again using a less-diluted green. I used black and a small brush for the color of the bark. Unlike the previous two, this one was done in my regular drawing sketchbook. I like the casual feel of this, the “loose” coverage of the ink on this type of drawing paper.

From doing these three pieces, I can give a bit of advice. Working directly from the bottle was a bit awkward and messy. The bottles, by the way, include ink dropper tops. I’m sure that’s convenient for many projects, but not for what I was doing.

Since these are fluid inks, you can’t put the colors out on a flat palette as you might with paints. A small watercolor palette, however, with shallow wells would work very well. You actually don’t need a lot of ink. It spreads easily, and like other acrylics, it can be thinned with water.

As I sit here looking at my little collection of inks, my imagination is taking off. There are so many different things I can try. I want to grab my sea sponges and make impressions with them. Of course I’ll want to take these inks with me on my “nature hikes” to create with them using twigs, leaves, nuts, or whatever else I find. I want to thin them out for pale washes. I want to mix them with pouring medium. I want to splatter them onto a page with an old toothbrush.

And what about fabrics? I’m doing a bit of browsing now, and I’ve found that fabrics can be dipped into acrylic inks just like dye, and I’m guessing that it might be possible to paint on fabrics, so that’s something else I might try.

Definitely there are lots of possibilities, and if you pick up the less expensive brands of acrylic ink, you can have a lot of fun for very little money. Yep, indeed, there are lots of cheap tricks here for your art enjoyment.



    1. Thanks. Using the ink is similar to watercolor, but a bit different, too. I wasn’t at all sure how much ink to use, but for a first effort, it didn’t turn out too bad. 🙂 Later today I’m going to play a little more.

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    1. This is why I was so happy to find the inexpensive inks at Walmart! Six bottles for less than $12.00 sounded a lot better than three bottles for $18.00! They do blend fairly well, so just having the primaries plus black and white are really all an artist needs. The Royal Langnickel set includes green, too, and that’s really useful for doing landscapes.

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      1. Art supplies aren’t cheap, and I’ve learned that as often as not, buying “cheaper” brands is a mistake. We definitely do get what we pay for most of the time. Again, the acrylic inks from Royal Langnickel were a pleasant surprise. I’m finding that I actually like them better than the higher-priced Liquitex inks. Of course, I’m still new and inexperienced with acrylic inks. Maybe if I were more experienced and doing more with the inks I’d find that I preferred the Liquitex. For now, either way, I’m having fun.

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  1. Ooo… fun things! I ♥️ acrylic ink! But yes, it’s 💲💲💲. Mine are beginning to dry up, ought to use them fast bec I can’t afford to replace them. Thank you for reminding me! One thing I like to do is add Brush-O Color pigment crystals to it. Cool effects! My favs are the Golden High Flow acrylic inks, esp the Quinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold – it’s spectacular, like sunrise and smiles and joy and love – in a color. 🤗👋

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    1. Sounds fun! I had never used acrylic inks before, so I know nothing about them other than what I’ve researched and read recently. I’m not familiar with the different brands. I’m seeing that there are lots of ways to use them, and I love that versatility. I’m even thinking that I MIGHT do Inktober this year, using my acrylic inks. That’s a big MIGHT, though. I probably won’t, but the thought did cross my mind.

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