Creating Exquisite Collages with Alcohol Ink & Metallic Paint

We will begin by creating background prints. These prints will have a beautiful, etheric feel to them, and resemble landscapes and atmospheric moods. In this technique a slurry is created that allows for interesting and unique patterns to be pulled from the gel plate. 

Process Overview: In this 3 part process, we will first create backgrounds, then we will create our tissue paper images, and last but not least, we will collage.  

The first thing that we want to do is to mix our paints. We will be using a 50/50 ratio. Put approximately a tablespoon of matte or chalk acrylic paint in the bowl. Add the same amount of alcohol in small amounts, mixing the paint with the alcohol as you pour. Adding the alcohol in all at once will create clumping. You will know when you have attained the right consistency when it looks like buttermilk and the paint is not dripping off the brush. 

Next put the paint mixture onto your plate. Spray it with alcohol and then brayer it out. Spray a little more alcohol and then brayer some more. This helps distribute the alcohol and the paint to create a pebble effect. 

In this case I sprayed some of the tattered rose on the bottom of the plate and also some of the Gold Mine by Seth Apter’s IZinks; however, you can definitely use the sprays that you have and that are in your color palette. 

Lay your paper down on the plate. I used a 300 GSM watercolor paper that is smaller than the plate because I wanted the paper completely covered in paint for this project. 

Pull the print. 

To pull a second print with the remaining paint that was left behind, brayer out the extra paint and spray some more alcohol and/or spray inks. Pull the print. Depending on the quality, this can be a primary print or secondary print to use in other projects. 

We are going to make a few more of the backgrounds. Continue to put down and brayer out the white paint mixture. Spray the bottom of the plate with bundled sage and tea dye. Pull the print. 

Sometimes after you pull a print, you will have quite a bit of the spray color on the plate. What I do, is I put the white paint mixture just on the top half of the plate, brayer it out, spray a little alcohol over the whole plate to get the pebbling, then brayer the bottom half where the color is to start integrating it half way. At this point you can add a little extra color to intensify the color that was left there. In this case I used the bundled sage. Then pull the print.

Keep in mind that you can also use larger sized papers for these prints if you would like.

Clean your plate off by pulling prints and/or use the baby wipes on whatever is left. This is important to do periodically so that you do not muddy the white color field. I especially like to use tissue paper for creating prints that clean the plate because they make great collage material. 

Continue creating another print and experimenting with your sprays. 

In this case I created 4 backgrounds, but you can certainly continue this process before moving on. 

The next part of this process we will be using a technique called “fragmenting”. We will be using archival tissue paper and some of the tissue paper prints we made while cleaning the plate. I call this technique fragmenting because it’s a great way to get shapes and repeat patterns on translucent paper that will work as collage material. 

Create a palette. Dip your brush in a color and paint shapes on your gel plate. For example, I made 3 filled in circles, a cross, and 2 circles with a space in the middle. Leave enough space between the shapes so that after you pull the paper, you will have enough room to tear around the shapes. Lay a piece of tissue paper down and pull the print. 

Repeat step 1. This time pull the print with the tissue paper that you used to clean your plate in the first part of the session. What is especially nice about using these specific prints is that they already have hints of the colors that are on your background prints and will blend in beautifully when you get to the collaging step. 

Wait for your papers to dry before moving on to the next step. 

While you wait for the papers to dry, take out a smaller gel plate if you have one and the ivory Posco pen. You can still do this on the 8” x 10” gel plate, just keep your scripting toward the center. 

Script right onto your plate with the pen. I am using the ivory color because it will still pop a bit on the white section of the background print but the ivory color is still neutral.

Take one of your background prints and lay it on the plate so that the scripting goes a little bit into the darker toned bottom part of the background print. 

Now you are ready to create the fragments from your dried prints of shapes. 

One of the things I like to do is to grab my water pen and outline the shapes I plan on pulling before ripping them out. For example, I decided to rip out all three of my circles in one piece and then glued this entire fragment down on the center of my background print. 

Next create some more scripting on your smaller sized gel plate with the black Posco pen. 

Lay your paper down so that the scripting will cover the top of your fragmented piece.

Next we want to create more weight to the work by using the black Posco pen. I decided to do my “graffiti” style scripting. Cover only a quarter of the plate as this scripting will only go on the bottom portion of your print. Place your print on the plate so that the scripting touches the bottom, colored portion of your print. 

Once I got to this point, I was inspired to add red to the piece. I scripted just one symbol right in the bottom center of the plate and then laid my paper down so that the red touched the top (white portion) of the print. Throughout the video I mentioned Basquiat several times. This combined with the crown led me to calling this piece “Homage to Basquiat”. 

I hope you have enjoyed this process of creating these harmonious backgrounds with alcohol mixed with acrylic paint, as well as the fragmenting technique for collaging. 

I am so happy to be part of the Gelli Arts team and enjoy so much sharing these techniques with you. Happy Creating!

Robyn xx


  • 8” x 10” Gel Plate
  • 6” x 6” Gel Plate
  • Brayer
  • Small Bowl
  • Paint Brush
  • Spray Bottle
  • Alcohol (Rubbing Alcohol/ Isopropyl Alcohol 50%) 
  • Blick Matte Acrylic (any Matte Acrylic or Acrylic Chalk Paint will do) 
  • Iridescent Bronze from Golden
  • Seth Apter IZinks: Gold Mine and Antique Pearl
  • Tim Holtz: Distress Stains Tattered Rose, Tea Dye, and Bundled Sage
  • Iridescent Bronze from Golden
  • Archival Tissue Paper 
  • Watercolor Paper 300 GSM 
  • Posca Pens for Mark Making (Black, Ivory, and Red)


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7 thoughts on “Creating Exquisite Collages with Alcohol Ink & Metallic Paint”

      1. Thanks so much – haven’t used that brand before so will have to try it out.

  1. Mrs Mary Clare Hughes

    What a great tutor and generous artist Robin is to share her techniques. How I wish we had the materials she works her wonders with here in UK. I have the plates but not the inks.

  2. Mary Clare Hughes

    Really great mono printing on the Gelli plate with all those techniques that Robyn demonstrates so well and beautiful image too.
    Thank you so much.

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