Techniques for using ink in your art journal

Hey there, Messians! It’s EmK once more, and I’m coming to you today to get you excited about the super fluid, super beautiful supply: bottled ink! I’ve been working with bottled ink for about 2 years, and since the purchase of my first bottle, it’s become a supply that seems to grace almost every one of my art journal spreads. Ink is available in every color, able to be used with a huge number of supplies, and is usually permanent when dry. It’s also available in different types, but we’ll talk about that later! If you’ve watched some of my other tutorials, you’ve probably seen me use ink for it’s transparency to tint gray-scale photos—but it’s incredibly versatile, and can also be used for many more purposes! Using ink with different supplies and other mediums can create unique and beautiful effects, and I’ll be sharing how to create some of those effects today. In this video, I’ll be showing you how to use bottled ink with 5 different tools, and showing you how it can be mixed with both acrylic paints as well as with an opaque gesso. I recommend that you simply follow along with me in your art journal during this video, filmed mostly in real time, in order to experiment with bottled ink. We will be making some beautiful inky pages in our art journals. If the pages or paper that you will be working on are not of a heavier stock (approx. 110 gsm), you may want to prepare your paper with a layer of gesso, as ink can warp paper due to it’s viscosity. In order to follow along with this tutorial, you will need at least some of the supplies I’ll be using today. But if you don’t have all, don’t sweat it, bottled ink is the only real requirement!


  • Acrylic Ink (or India Ink) in a Color
  • Paintbrush
  • Empty Water Brush (Usually used for watercoloring.)
  • Makeup Applicators (or Q-Tip)
  • Sponge
  • Stencil (Any!)
  • Mixing Palette
  • Acrylic Paint (Lighter and semitransparent colors work best.)
  • White Gesso

Once you’ve rounded up some ink and some of these supplies, just make yourself comfortable and press play on the video below!

Action Steps:

  • Pick just one color of bottled ink to start playing with! You don’t need a lot of different colors or brands to find out if it’s right for you. But if  you discover that it is, try to get one bottle of each acrylic ink and India ink to see which kind that you prefer!
  • Use some ink on a scrap piece of paper to see if you like the way that it looks when being dripped from the top, splattered on the page, or painted with a brush. Some people think “messy” is pretty—others may think it’s just a mess. (There is a huge array of ways to paint with ink, and you can learn so many of them in Jules’ Pen + Ink Course, here at Get Messy!)
  • Use ink on top of gessoed paper, watercolors, collage, and acrylic paint. You may like the effects of ink with one style of art but not the others.
  • Invest in a cheap dip nib pen and start drawing with it. You can also write with it, color with it, and more.
  • Grab the supplies mentioned in the list above, and try to follow along with this video, using ink with a water brush, sponges, paints, and more!
  • If you haven’t already, learn more about the different kinds of ink with my Art 101 season tutorial, Pens + Ink 101. That tutorial (included with you Get Messy membership) will teach you about the inks found in pens, which will relate to many inks that can be purchased in bottled format!

I can’t wait to see what you create with your bottled inks! 


EmK Wright is a self taught artist with a passion for creating. She finds her true love in between the pages of her art journals, where she has been expressing herself for about 13 years. 


  1. Laura Rahuba

    Lots of great beginner tips for ink newbs, like me!

    • EmK Wright

      Woo! Glad I could help!!

    • EmK Wright

      You should! 😉

  2. Katie Smith

    I always love your videos, Emk!

    • EmK Wright

      Thank you! You’re always so kind. <3

  3. Chris Silker

    Oh, I love inks and your video has given me a lot of new to me techniques to play with!