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Delightful Drawing Inks

Delightful Drawing Inks

Posted by Sarah @ PIA on Jan 19th 2023

Our selection of inks may be curated for calligraphers, but most can be used for a wide variety of other projects as well. Today we're going to go over our best inks for drawing and illustration. Whether you're inking comics, sketching in your favorite notebook, or commissioning an original design, these inks will make your drawings professional, high-quality works of art.

Ink drawing has been popular for centuries, with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrant, Vincent van Gogh, and Picasso practicing the art form in both sketchbooks and final works. Its popularity has only increased in modern day artmaking; many comic book artists ink illustrations with dip pens, and events such as Inktober encourage artists of all shapes and sizes to keep up a daily drawing practice.

A number of excellent drawing inks are included below, from traditional black and other neutrals to a variety of colorful and metallic inks. You're bound to find a new favorite!

Elisabeth Elvira Alba from uses Black Star ink for this gorgeous time-lapse drawing

Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star India Ink dries matte and does not reflect light, producing a velvety smooth black finish that's lightfast, permanent, and waterproof when dry. Black Star adheres to almost any surface, including paper, illustration board, canvas, and more. This ink is non-clogging (it's capable of flowing through a 0.134 mm pen tip) and produces excellent results when used with a brush, technical pen, dip pen, or airbrush. While extremely opaque, this ink contains no varnish or shellac. Comic artists will love this ink because it maintains opacity no matter how many times you erase atop it, and holds a crisp, sharp edge.

Liquitex Muted Color Ink

Liquitex's Muted Collection includes five subtle acrylic inks that dry quickly and permanently, flow smoothy, and won't smudge, move, or bleed no matter how many times you layer on top of them. These inks are semi-transparent and come in a unique tonal palette that will add a moody, atmospheric quality to your drawings. Liquitex's Muted Collection can be used with brushes, dip pens, and airbrushes and adhere to a variety of surfaces, including canvas, paper, wood, plaster, fabric, and board. We highly recommend this one-of-a-kind color collection for hobbyists and professionals alike.

@laurieconleyart with Higgins Ink

Laurie Conley from @laurieaconleyart used Higgins Ink for this Inktober drawing

Artists and writers have used Higgins' dependable, high-quality ink for over 140 years. We carry a number of Higgins products, and it can be hard to tell the difference between the varieties of Higgins ink available. Higgins Eternal is most popular for calligraphy, but it also makes an excellent archival drawing ink and can be used with dip pens, fountain pens, and airbrushes. Higgins Fountain Pen ink is, as the name suggests, designed specifically for fountain pens, but it has an excellent flow and works great with dip pens as well. Black Magic is the most opaque of all Higgins ink, and it can be used in dip pens, technical pens, and airbrushes. Black Magic is fadeproof and can be diluted with water. Finally, Higgins Black India is available in non-waterproof and waterproof varieties, produces a full scale of grays, and is pigment-based.

Dr. Ph. Martin's Bombay India Ink

Dr. Ph. Martin's Bombay India Ink, Set One (top) and Set Two (bottom)

Dr. Ph. Martin's Bombay India Inks are highly-pigmented, jewel-like colors that offer watercolor qualities while remaining lightfast and waterproof when dry. Like Black Star india ink, Bombay inks are non-clogging and flow freely from brushes, technical pens, dip pens, or airbrushes. All colors are semi-transparent except black and white; these two colors are extremely opaque and have excellent covering power. Bombay india inks are excellent for layering and adhere to almost any surface, including paper, wood, vinyl, plastic, and more. Available in 24 brilliant colors and two sets of 12.

Daniel Smith Walnut Ink

Sarah Bogdal from @spaghetti_bolognese used Daniel Smith walnut ink with a brush and a Zebra G nib to create these pinecones

Branch out beyond traditional black and find yourself a new favorite neutral: Walnut Ink. Before india inks were manufactured, many artists made ink from walnut husks, which produced a rich sepia hue. These finely pigmented, water-based inks emulate the aged quality of traditional walnut inks without fading or eating away at your paper. Walnut inks hold well in both dip pens and brushes and are capable of creating a wide variety of tones depending on how much you layer them. We carry two excellent brands of Walnut Ink: Tom Norton and Daniel Smith. We also carry a Darkening Medium from Tom Norton that allows users to create even darker tones.

Maxon Comic Ink

Maxon comic inks are uniquely designed for inking comic panels, strips, and full-page illustrations. Mix these inks with water to create washes, or with other water-based media to create shades, tints, and a wide range of colors. Once dry, Maxon inks remain waterproof and permanent. Excellent for use with dip pens and brushes. Available in black, white, and gray.

Sandra Ruberto from @sandra__ruberto uses Winsor & Newton's liquid india ink with a brush for this line drawing of a delightful snail

Winsor & Newton drawing inks are fast-drying, water-resistant, and transparent. Their Liquid India ink is a water-based solution that behaves like traditional Chinese stick ink, flows smoothly from brushes and dip pens, and is well-loved by calligraphers and illustrators alike. We also carry Winsor & Newton drawing inks in metallic gold and silver.

Cover image by Faith Rowley from @faithrowleyphotos