How to Paint with Sharpies and Alcohol

***This post contains affiliate links. If you click one and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no cost to you.***    ***UPDATE – After you read this post, click here  for instructions on how to seal your tiles!***   Before you get too excited, I’m not talking about painting with wine, I’m talking about rubbing alcohol.  Although feel free to add the wine if you like.  Just drink it, don’t paint with it.  Or maybe wine is a fantastic additive for paint.  What do I know?  I’m just a humble crafter. The point is people, you can make totally awesome art with wine and alcohol!  No, I mean sharpies and alcohol!  I swear I didn’t drink any alcohol in the making of this craft.  It must be the Sharpie fumes.  Who wants to learn how to paint with Sharpies and Alcohol? (and wine). Well, let’s do it!

How to Paint With Sharpies and Alcohol

How To Paint with Sharpies and Alcohol


Sharpies, various colors

91% Rubbing Alcohol, not the 70%**

4.25 x 4.25 inch ceramic tiles (or whatever size you want!)

Small paint brush (you could also use a dropper or a small straw)

Krylon UV Resistant Clear Acrylic Coating

**Important Note:  When I went to get my supplies, I saw that there is 91% alcohol and there is 70% rubbing alcohol. I got the 70% alcohol.  I did that purposely because I am going to be using this method with a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds and I was worried about the smell of alcohol.  Well, the 70% was a total bust.  I started over with the 91% and all was right with the crafting world.  And there was no difference to me in the smell.


Step 1: Clean off your tiles.  I bought my tiles from Home Depot for less than a dollar each.  They had what I can only assume is a protective strip of netting on them that I removed.  Dry the tiles well.

Step 2:  Color your tile with coordinating Sharpie colors.  Don’t be scared, they look really bad until you put the alcohol on them.  You can color small areas with different colors as in the tile below, or you can cover a greater amount of area with each color.  Totally up to you!

Step 3:  With your paint brush, small straw or dropper, drop small amounts (about dime size) of the alcohol onto the colored tile.  You’ll almost immediately see the alcohol start to blur the colors.  I sort of concentrated on the areas where the colors met so that those lines would be well blurred.  After dropping some alcohol on random spots on the tile, stop and look at the tile.  Do you see spots that need a droplet?  Add one.  BUT!  Don’t add too much alcohol to the tile.  I’ll show you why in a minute. 

Step 4:  When you are happy with the amount of blurring from the alcohol, you can stop and let the tile dry.  OR, you can be a nosy artist like me and dab at the colors with a paint brush.  Or, you can be like my daughter and actually pull the paint brush through the colors, which I thought was going to totally ruin the whole thing!  But, it didn’t. Her tile came out different than the others, but very cool!  See below:

If you’re wondering, she used red, yellow and purple sharpies for this tile.  I can’t lie.  I watched her making it and I was like, “Oh my God, that is going to be so bad and I’m going to have to pretend to like it when she’s done”.  But guess what?  It’s probably my favorite!  It’s a completely different look than mine.  Her colors are a little more muted whereas mine are more in your face.  That sentence has so many meanings.

Important Note:  You must let your tiles dry when you are done adding your alcohol and dabbing at them with your paint brush, if you chose to dab at them with a paint brush.  Give them a good 30 minutes and then go look at them.  Did they come out weird with a weird sort of washed out spot where you can see the lines from your Sharpie?  Don’t worry, I did that, too. I’m pretty sure it means you added too much alcohol (too much alcohol is bad for everything).  But it’s an easy fix!  Grab your Sharpies and add some more color then add a little more alcohol to get the blurring going again. (This is not what you should do if you have added to much alcohol to your body.  Generally, adding more alcohol to a problem that was caused by too much alcohol is never a good thing.  Except when we’re talking about painting tiles).

All in all, this craft is super easy, especially since I’ve now shown you what mistakes to avoid!  You’re welcome!  And they are definitely high impact.

So, now you’ve made four super cool tiles, what are going to do with them?  You are going to protect them of course!  The sharpie “paint” will rub right off with water and will scratch very easily, so you definitely want to protect these before you use them.  I’ve done some research and written a post on how to protect them here.  Once we have sufficiently protected our tiles, however, there are a lot of ways to use them!  You can make coasters or tile a bench or  a mirror or frame them and hang them as art.  I think coasters are the best implementation.  Just pop a piece of felt on the bottom with some hot glue and call it a day!  As for me, these tiles were a practice round for another project that I will be posting about soon!



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  • Rabbit | January 18, 2017 | Reply

    I bet a little resin poured on top would be the perfect way to protect them and give them some awesome glossy shine!

    • Undercoverdiyer | January 18, 2017 | Reply

      Hey Rabbit! Thanks for the tip. I’ll have to look into that!

  • Mary Powell | January 18, 2017 | Reply

    Would the Krylon spray sealers work if applied thinly in several coats? I’m anxious to try these. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Undercoverdiyer | January 18, 2017 | Reply

      That is next on my list to try! I promise to post an update before the end of the week! I tried shellac and that was a fail, but I didn’t realize there is a lot of alcohol in shellac. It totally reactivated the color. I’m not giving up!

  • Jane T | January 18, 2017 | Reply

    Has anyone figured out yet how to protect the watercolor after drying?

  • Elizabeth H-Lightfeather | January 18, 2017 | Reply

    I used Valspar project perfect top coat gloss. It made to be used indoor/outdoor wood metal and more. I have made many and have used them as coasters, hot plates etc and have had no peeling of the paint.
    Hope that helps everyone.

    • Undercoverdiyer | January 18, 2017 | Reply

      Thanks Elizabeth! That sounds similar to the Krylon product that I ended up using. I’m glad there is another option!

  • Beverly De Fronzo | January 18, 2017 | Reply

    Oh my gosh, I love this idea. I want to make the wind chimes. Where can I get the round tiles? Craft store?

    • Undercoverdiyer | January 18, 2017 | Reply

      Hi Beverly! I ordered them from Maryland China company online, but I also saw similar ones on Etsy! Good luck!

  • Brenda Suggs | January 18, 2017 | Reply

    Will this method on canvas?? I want large painting over my bed in place of a headboard.

    • Undercoverdiyer | January 18, 2017 | Reply

      Hey Brenda! You are the second person to ask me that and I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but I will this week. I’ll be sure to post about it and let you know! Marybeth

  • Monica | January 18, 2017 | Reply

    I am going to try it on the acrylic from a picture frame, then turn it paint side in to keep it protected. I’ll let you know how it works.

    • Undercoverdiyer | January 18, 2017 | Reply

      That’s a great idea! Definitely let me know!!

  • Cindi | January 18, 2017 | Reply

    Do you know if you have to drop the alcohol right after you’re done with the sharpies or is this something that can be done at a later date with the same effect?

    • Undercoverdiyer | January 18, 2017 | Reply

      Hey Cindi, I can’t say for sure. I’ve never waited between coloring with the Sharpie and then dropping the alcohol. My gut says it would still work. The Sharpie dries pretty quick, so even without waiting a significant amount of time before dropping the alcohol, it’s not like the ink is really wet. Give it a try and let me know!

  • Cindi | January 18, 2017 | Reply

    I don’t think waiting 24 hours to apply the alcohol worked. I’m using the ceramic disks from ETSY and I’m wondering if because they are porous the marker didn’t bleed as I thought it should. I’m going to try spraying a disk with top coat first then using the markers and applying the alcohol immediately.
    Will let you know how this works.

    • Undercoverdiyer | January 18, 2017 | Reply

      Do they have a shiny finish or flat? If it’s flat, I think a top coat will help.

      • Cindi | January 18, 2017 | Reply

        It’s a flat finish. Did you use the flat finish for the hand-painted wind chimes? This is the project I plan on working on.

        • Undercoverdiyer | January 18, 2017 | Reply

          I bought mine from Maryland China and they were shiny.

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