Monday, July 30, 2018

How to Create Alcohol Ink Silhouettes on Yupo

Short Version
Choose a silhouette pattern you like.
Make a stencil of the silhouette.
Stick the stencil onto Yupo.
Drop in some ink.
Remove the stencil. 
Embellish the background -  or not.
That's it.


Long Version
Materials Needed:
1. Self-healing cutting mat or piece of thick cardboard                                              

2. X-Acto knife with a sharp blade (I mean sharp).

3. ConTact paper to make a stencil
I used ConTact brand clear matte shelf liner.  It's not like the old stuff that sticks forever.  This new one allows you to reposition it.  Also, it is pretty good at preventing ink from seeping into the background. I have tried masking fluid (frisket) with less than satisfying results (background bleed & choppy lines).  I know art stencil film is available, but I have not tried it yet.

The ConTact paper was purchased at a local Target store in the kitchen section:  I've also seen ConTact paper at hardware stores & online (Amazon, for instance). 

If you live in Europe/UK and do not have access to this brand, be sure to find a clear shelf liner paper that allows you to reposition it. You might also have access to some art stencil film. Make sure it has a repositioning adhesive backing.

4. Silhouette pattern
There are royalty-free patterns on Pixabay:, and other reputable sites.  Check out "public domain" sites also.  To personalize your artwork even more, use your own references, of course:  dogs, cats, babies, flowers, ...

5.  Yupo paper

6.  Alcohol inks and blending solution

7.  Thin vinyl or latex glove(s)


1.  Choose a silhouette image and make a copy of it on your printer, sizing it the way you want your final piece to look.

2.  Place the print facing up onto your cutting mat or piece of cardboard.  Tape it in place.

3.  Place a piece of ConTact paper on top of the print.  The clear translucent side should be facing up, the backing of the ConTact paper facing down. The ConTact paper should be as large, or almost as large, as the final piece of Yupo you will be painting on.  Doing this will keep the background in pristine condition.  Sometimes the ink spreads farther than you think it will.

4.  Using a sharp X-Acto knife, cut around the outline of the silhouette. 

5.  Carefully remove the backing from the ConTact paper.  The silhouette may or may not pop out. Place the ConTact paper dull side down, sticky side up, on your work surface.

6.  Lay the Yupo paper on top of the sticky side of the ConTact Paper & press. Flip it over.

7.  Gently remove the silhouette if has stuck to the stencil.  Use the X-Acto knife to help lift edges, if necessary. Do not use a lot of pressure or you will scratch or dent the Yupo. 

8.  Burnish the cut edges of the ConTact paper to the Yupo by covering everything with a clean sheet of paper & gently pressing with something like a credit card.  This will help prevent the ink from seeping under the stencil into the background.

9.  Wearing a clean glove, smear a few drops of blending solution onto the Yupo and drop in some alcohol ink.  Mix colors, make spatters, whatever you want.

10.  Allow the ink to dry completely.

11.  Gently remove the stencil. Your edges should be crispy clean.  If there is seepage, you can try one or more of the following things.

       a.  Wrap the tip of the X-Acto knife with 1-2 layers of paper towel, dip into blending
            solution, lightly blot, & then try to remove unwanted ink.  Depending on the color               
            of the ink, you might be left with a stain. 

       b.  Use a "white out" product like "Dr. Ph Martin's Bleed Proof White" or white   
             acrylic paint to conceal the mistake.  The only problem in doing this is that the 
             white paint leaves an obvious matte area on the top of your shiny Yupo surface.              
             If you are keeping the original for yourself, you can ignore this if it doesn't bother 
             you.  I personally would not sell it in this condition although you               
             could still make a beautiful print from it.

        c.  Using a very thin brush, dip the tip into matching ink, blot some ink onto paper         
             towel, and then extend the image with the brush to cover the mistake.

        d.  Do it over.  I've redone two (so far).  

The silhouette paintings can also be created using watercolor paint on Yupo or on watercolor paper.  If you are doing watercolor paint on paper, you don't even need a stencil.  Just thoroughly wet the silhouette shape and drop in some watercolor paint.  The paint will not travel beyond the wet surface as long as you don't rock the paper.

You could also try using acrylic paint or acrylic ink on a variety of surfaces or anything else you can imagine.

Hope you give it a try.  You may discover a simpler, easier way to do silhouettes.  This is not the only way, but it works for me. 


  1. Hello Chris,
    Nice to see how you can make these kind of paints with inkt.
    It so nice and of course the wildlife animals as a lion.
    The stamp of the feet is amazing.

    Sweet greetings,

    1. Thank you, Marco. Your wildlife photographs never fail to inspire me!!

  2. One material, or ingredient, you have left out is talent. You must have talent to do paintings like you do. In my case, when I paint the walls and ceiling, the paint goes everywhere but not on the thing I am painting. Somehow, the pain prefers to drip on the ground and on me rather than stay on the ceiling. I doubt using a cut out stencil of a lion would help. How do you make paint stay where you want it to?

    God bless.

    1. You just talk to the paint, Victor.
      But, seriously, thank you.
      And God bless YOU - abundantly.

    2. Sometimes you have to face the fact that I am not talented.

      As for telling the paint to stay where I want it to. I have named our new dog "Stay". He is totally confused when I call him.

      God bless.

  3. I don’t know how you do this Chris! Your work with yupo is amazing!!!

    1. Oh, thanks, Hilda, but this is so easy and fun.

  4. Thanks for sharing the information, Chris. It looks a bit complicated and, for me, messy, but I like the idea of trying it with watercolor on paper...may give it a try. I love your lion!!

    1. Thanks, Rhonda. I'm going to try on watercolor paper, too. From what I've seen, the effects are different and quite beautiful.

  5. Thanks for the tutorial, always wondered what alcohol inks were too.

    1. Welcome, Christine. Hope you try the inks sometime.

  6. You gave the beautiful lion a fantastic yellow fur, it looks very alive!
    Your detailed workshop is also great, so you will surely get great results!
    But the stencil paper looks very thin. I wonder if this stencil can be used several times...that would of course be very good.
    Best regards Ulrike

    1. Thanks, Ulrike.
      That's an interesting question, Ulrike. The stencil would probably not tear, but they are quite sticky. I'll try it.

  7. Hi, Chris! Thank you for posting instructions. You did a great job! The red lion definitely looks like a king.

  8. It's beautiful, thank you for the directions!

    1. Thanks, Debra. You're welcome. It's fun to do.

  9. Quite cool Chris! Wonder what this would be like on Terraskin? One of these days I will take those instructions and do it. I can imagine they would be really fun notecards. Right now I am concentrating on oils and challenges. btw Victor is funny naming his dog Stay! :>O

    1. Thanks, Teri. I don't have any Terraskin, so I don't know. Hope when you try it, you'll let me know.
      I think these are perfect for prints on lots of stuff, especially notecards.
      I am loving your challenges. Can't wait to see another installment.

      And Victor? He is a gifted writer and has a great blog!

  10. This looks so complicated, but what an incredible effect!

  11. very easy to follow tut :) the art stencil film works the same as the contact paper, (it really comes down to what a person can find) you also get spray adhesive that works the same.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I'll look for some spray adhesive & see if it's easier.

    2. just make sure you dont get the permanent adhesive, it does not come off

    3. Boy, that's something I'd do. Thanks for the heads up!

  12. Great post Chris - thanks for sharing your info.
    I've bookmarked this to re-read when its cooler as my brain can't take it all in at present ha ha
    I have some ShinHan art masking film that I've not yet tried which is repositionable so that should work.
    No Yuppo as yet - but wondering what is your thought on glossy card stock for alcohol inks? (as I have plenty of that to use up).
    Gill x

    1. Thanks, Gill.
      For inks on card stock, I would try without getting the expensive masking film involved first. That probably occurred to you already. I have heard of people using inks on photo paper, too. Gotta be something on YouTube about that... My brain is fuzzy, too, for the same reason :}

    2. Thanks Chris - I'm glad you suggested trying the card first as I had a good play yesterday afternoon. On a couple of pieces I think I overworked them as the ink bled through the glossy card. Glossy obviously doesn't mean its non porous - duh - silly me ha ha :)
      I have now discovered that one of the places I send off for art supplies now stocking Yupo so will add that to my next order :) And will look at your other suggestions too and...just thought... wondered if the tear-off acrylic paint palettes might work with inks - will try that next :)
      Hope you've had a good weekend.
      Gill x

  13. What a great detailed description of this technique and your results are really good. The animals really glow, especially the proud red lion.

  14. Many thanks for sharing the information here.

    All the best Jan