View Full Version : newbie seeking info: india ink supporting materials

10-26-2018, 12:46 PM
with a long starting stretch in oils, my goal now is to pick up the means and knowhow to make something quickly. i've chosen india ink.
visualizing using brushes, nibs, silicone tools, twigs, what have you, with a few color acrylic ink pens (primaries, couple of earths), working on small supports.

i've a big bottle of india ink, two nibs, one holder on the way. looking at acrylic pens rather horrified at the prices.

1. what is the difference between natural and synthetic brushes with india ink?
i don't have my health so all tips promoting speed and ease in handling, cleaning are seriously welcome!

2. what is the difference between archival and acid free? what is the projected longevity, 200 years vs 20? or 200 vs 2?

3. are there other types of treatments to prepare grounds, does gesso accept india ink with brush and nib?

3b. do i need varnish/fixative?
3c. am i able to varnish/fixate mixed media including india ink?

4. how do i find the whitest paper? do you guys have like a secret vocabulary?

5. i've
canson multimedia paper,
mi teintes colored pastel/oil pastel paper
various oil&acrylic paper qualities, arches, fabriano, georgian and conda.
a Bockingford pad
Strathmore on the way.
any comments on paper+india ink behaviour appreciated, most interested in any angles on ink on sized acrylic/oil paper. (i could draw a line or make a splotch with oils since they're littering the place.)

6. while in europe and most of you in US, what is the smart buy in acrylic ink?
i love the idea of picking up a pen and putting it away but my stupid wallet disagrees. which brands of pen are professional, offering zero disappointments in pigmentload and behaviour, absolutely not just inexplicably drying up on me in 8 months (and maybe resistant to pendling indoor temperatures if that's a factor)?

if you feel like it, your personal preferences in acrylic inks, brushes, their combinations?

thanks for looking, here's a sketch for fun, with a hand missing and schmuts transferred from the doodles on the opposite page.... have good weekend! :wave:


pedlars pen
10-27-2018, 07:32 AM
Hi Ronsu, You say " my goal now is to pick up the means and know how to make something quickly. i've chosen india ink." That sounds very much to me that that you should forget dip pens nearly entirely - you know all those spidery thin lines that steadily build up over many hours to build up tones over many hours or days .
There is one dip pen witch gives gorgeous lines of widely varying thickness & is very expressive like a bush that is the "Joseph Gillot nib no.1290". A unique & very nice nib which if cleaned every few dips in ink will handle your indian ink just fine. Highly recommended !

Looking at your pencil sketch I can see the subtlety & sensitivity, it occurs to me that brush drawing would very much be what you are looking for, it would satisfy your need for speed & smaller size .Brush drawing can be extremely spontaneous yet the resulting drawings having great power of suggestion & feeling.
The Chinese & Japanese have a very long tradition of this & it is to them that we must go to pick up our tools. To give it a try very cheaply I suggest you start with a fude (pronounced foo-day) pen,it just means "brush" in Japanese. This model is a flexible felt tip version & permanent etc. - you might decide that you need go no further in your search as it has tremendous feel & quality about it.Highly Recommended ! I'm in the UK. so use cult pens -www.cultpens.com/i/q/ZB27154/zebra-fude-brush-pen You can get these with actual bristles in too nylon or sable etc An extremely popular & widely acclaimed nylon bristle one is the pentel - https://www.cultpens.com/i/q/PN00837/pentel-brush-pen-black-with-4-cartridges. That ink is not permanent but you can get permanent inks for such pens.
Here is a quick primer on technique http://sketching.cc/articles/brush_ink.html & www.bing.com/videos/search?q=brush+pen+drawing&qpvt=brush+pen+drawing&view=detail&mid=6E3EB5C652791405CA486E3EB5C652791405CA48&rvsmid=97EBF110DEF3248C629E97EBF110DEF3248C629E&FORM=VDQVAP even if the style is not your own it shows the variation in line width & expressive line making.

Now if you insist on using Indian ink you will need to use a real brush Amazon has some inexpensive but quality ones https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chinese-Professional-Calligrapy-Painting-10-piece/dp/B06XF5YRYR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540634676&sr=8-1&keywords=chinese+art+brushes
India ink uses shellac as a hardener it sets rock hard & there is no solvent to take it off really , so you MUST clean your brush or pen out in water every few of minutes to avoid disaster. Never put indian ink in any kind of pen with a internal works like a cartridge etc. it will kill it stone dead within half an hour!

Paper ? smooth & non bleeding is the requirements for ink however it is appied - for selling work use "Bristol board" most makes are fine "windsor & newton" is best.For practice - most heavy glossy finish inkjet/copy papers are good,"IQ selection smooth" is acid free & works extremely well with ink whether from a brush or a sharp dip pen.

Archival is a museum term -this will last for ever sort of thing. Acid free it will not go a bit brown & discolour after 10 years or so.Acid free will last a lifetime archival will last centuries.

VERY smooth gesso will accept India ink from a brush but the softness of the surface will not allow a dip pen to be used.A hard surface is a requirement of dip pens.
I'm not sure that a paper or board intended for oils would take the water based indian ink , & the paper intended for pastels would have too much texture for ink drawing although no doubt some interesting dry brush marks could be found with it.Generally speaking always keep it smooth for fine line work.

No fixatives are required with ink on paper at all, however if additional media was used along with the ink you can use it if the ink is waterproof like Indian ink & many other inks BUT not all permanent inks are waterproof or spirit proof.

Acrylic inks ? Windsor & newton for me but there are a few really good brands out there to equal them. The thing about acrylic ink is that when you use it with a dip pen it needs to be kept washed out in water to stop it ruining the nib PLUS you cannot put acrylic ink in in any other pen just like the Indian ink, so I tend to avoid using acrylic ink except when I need to take advantage of either a. a specific colour OR 2. I want the lines to be waterproof so I can place colour on top of them.
Hope somthing in there was of use !
Cheers Mike

10-27-2018, 09:52 AM
One tip about indian ink and brushes: the shellac dissolves in ethanol, so it can be used to salvage dried brushes. Soda ash in water will also work, but it is bit slower. Soda ash works also for dried acrylic inks (about 1 part of soda ash to 10 parts of water should be fine).

Derwent inktense "watercolor" blocks could be nice alternative to acrylic inks, since those become waterproof when dried on the paper. I've been thinking about using those, since I use color inks so little that the acrylic ink bottles go rancid before I finish one small bottle. The acrylic inks have usually 3 to 5 years shelf life and after that the ink can get clotted, starts to smell awful or does something else to become useless. I recently did throw away many Liquitex acrylic inks that I bought approx 4 years ago because the inks had gone bad.

Indian inks have also limited shelf life and some folks claim that the carbon pigment particles will start to agglomerate. It doesn't affect the usability when using the ink as such, but may produce some unwanted effects when heavily diluting the inks (to produce gray washes) and storing the diluted inks for more than one day.

I would recommend fineliner pens for any black ink drawing work. Pigma Micron or Uni Pin pens work really well and have similar characteristics as indian ink.

pedlars pen
10-27-2018, 10:42 AM
Ethanol cleans dried indian ink ? Thanks for that b&w ,I know that will come in very handy on occasion !

10-27-2018, 02:19 PM
Yes, ethanol will dissolve dried indian ink. It will take some time, since shellac is very slow to dissolve. I would soak brush overnight in the solvent and then shake it in the solvent to get rid of any remaining ink.
Ethanol can be tough to the brush materials (it can dissolve also other parts than the dried ink...) so my primary solvent is soda ash. It takes about one day to rescue small dried brush with it.

Soda ash is also used to make indian ink. One recipe is to dissolve about 8 parts of soda ash (the crystalline stuff that is sodium carbonate decahydrate) and 20 parts of shellac flakes to 100 parts of water. When those are dissolved (takes about one day), add about 10 parts of pigment powder or water-based pigment paste (the preferred way that is way easier to mix) and stir like crazy until all pigment is in fine suspension in the liquid. That will produce glossy ink. If one needs matte ink, double the amount of water and pigment.

pedlars pen
10-27-2018, 02:53 PM
Thanks again, although it would have to be a pretty expensive brush to justify buying the chemicals & messing around.
However I remember reading a professional DC. comics inker writing that his favourite Windsor & Newton no.3 sable brush had survived many years of constant inking !
So let's just try to keep them in good order rather than raising them from their death bed ! :lol:

10-27-2018, 03:58 PM
two cups of coffee later i''ve scratched the surface of this info. you kind, dedicated people give us hope.

the "Joseph Gillot nib no.1290".
there's a william mitchell 1290 on its way, judging from the internet this is not too far off?

it occurs to me that brush drawing would very much be what you are looking for
yes! i've just studied the chinese principles for holding the brush, the standard strokes and ordered a rather simple, archaic tool, a piece of bambu with brush in one end and a carved blade shape in the other. 😊

An extremely popular & widely acclaimed nylon bristle one is the pentel - (...) That ink is not permanent but you can get permanent inks for such pens.

this pen is available in both my countries, it's the price of pleasure that confounds.. have to find a large refill package before committing, to be able to not think about the waste in learning. if that even makes sense. i do like it, it brings.. promises. (pardons, have to go wash my wallet's mouth w soap.)

Here is a quick primer on technique http://sketching.cc/articles/brush_ink.html & (...)
:clap: :clap: :clap:

India ink uses shellac as a hardener it sets rock hard & there is no solvent to take it off really , so you MUST clean your brush or pen out in water every few of minutes to avoid disaster.

yes sir.

Paper ? smooth & non bleeding s the requirements for ink however it is applied

here comes real trouble, this means no watercolor paper?! for brushwork, multimedia work? i was looking forward to working with watercolor paper.

Hope something in there was of use !
:grouphug: we beginners, present and future, salute you.

thank you for the wisdom and useful tips!
having just witnessed the power of vinegar on three half dead synthetic oil brushes, nothing short of a miracle! wondering if this has been tested with inks? (otherwise i'll let you know soon enough.)
the inktense pencils are on their way, i've hesitated for years and now the time has come. i've ruined many a fineliner in the past, i still recall one success depicting a steaming teabag on a flying carpet with a caption... something about 007 being late again.
that was pre-wetcanvas!

thank you!

pedlars pen
10-27-2018, 06:44 PM
Hi Ronsu, Good ! I'm pleased you found that of use , that's why I put the time in here.

Yes Mittchells have taken over Gillots so it is the right nib.

"No water colour paper then" - well no, none of that over priced soft & fluffy cotton rag however there is one W/C. paper which is very inexpensive but lends itself very well indeed to P&I. that is " Daler Rowney Aquafine SMOOTH water colour paper ". It is HP.(hot pressed), it is acid free & works better under a pen than paper costing 10 times as much !
Cheers Mike

10-27-2018, 10:12 PM
it's the simple things.
searching with that brand, article, processing, opened the door for Coincidence.
found a domestic paperheaven i'd not seen once during the two week research into ink.
(would you believe there are entire countries with blatant disregard for search engine optimization - because they can afford to.)

there's yasutomo, bristol, imagine (A3 200g 50pages 18 - let learning begin) and black wall, and something obviously popular from schut, SMLT.
and an aquarelle scetchbook from hahnemule that looks just like the one in tate in the Turner room. i've a healthy relationship with paper but may just have lost it.

things are flowing forward. thank you so much!

pedlars pen
10-28-2018, 07:32 AM
i've a healthy relationship with paper but may just have lost it.

A little relationship counseling seems in order ! :)

So a pens ideal partner in life is hard,smooth & not very absorbent at all(heavily sized)- give a pen Bristol board & he is in heaven.
But water colour paint's ideal partner is water colour paper, she doesn't mind texture at all, thrives on it even ! softness is no problem -all the better if it aids absorption for her.
How is this desperate couple EVER going to live on the same page ?

Compromise of course !
The sad fact is, that multimedia work inevitably involves compromises, what is good for a pen or ink is either less good or totally unacceptable for for paint !
So you personally have to decide where & how much compromise to make only you can find your peace with that decision according to your preferences.
It is totally possible to lay a light wash on bristol board & the uniform flat wash of inktense pencils forms a lovely visual harmony with the flat uniform look of ink especially if thick lines have been used.
Really the pencils would prefer a bit of texture so you can crumble a little of their lead into a WC. palette or buy inktense in block form.OR you might use cold press WC. paper but the pen will complain !

When adding water colour to ink Hot press water colour paper is often pressed into service , Should be ideal ,shouldn't it ? NO ! not really, the sharp dip pens(not so much with the 1290) dig in but even worse the ink lines are totally compromised :eek: The lines sink deep into the paper & loose their power of standing proud of the paper like an embossed line. Arches & other top quality hot pressed WC. papers might be heaven for water colour application but are third rate for pen & ink. THAT is why I recommend the "Daler Rowney Aquafine SMOOTH HP water colour paper ", it is sized & cellulose & your pen lines are very good on it. No it is not as high a quality water colour paper as arches HP., nowhere near but that is where I draw my line of compromise.
Where will you draw your line of compromise ?
Very often a painter will have their favoured paper & just feel that they are unable to wield their hard won painting skills without the perfect painting surface. It's just a compromise too far ! they cry.
But hold on a minute , are those skills either wanted or needed when working with ink ?
Are they missing the real Zen of the marriage of pen line & paint ?
How should colour be best used with ink?

Ink is powerful , I think we can all agree with that !
What place has subtle changes in hue & saturation within a colour when it is outlined in a black line ? might "painting" with colour not be a distraction , a weakening of that afore mentioned power ?

So where to draw the line of compromise when doing multi media for me is firmly on the side of the ink comes first ,it is naturally the dominant partner in this relationship, it just changes everything. That is just a fact , is it not ?

I'm Morally obliged to declare - I am colour blind! That doesn't mean I can't see colours , just that i do not see them all.:lol::lol::lol::lol:
However I don't feel that takes away from my argument on this topic.
Cheers Mike.

PS. Ronsu , Lots of folk get frustrated when trying a new dip pen - a new dip pen nib needs to be steeped in boiling water for a minute to get rid of manufacturing oils & rust inhibiting lacquer.

10-28-2018, 10:00 AM
that's exactly what i was thinking about all night last night.

i could not find the DR smooth but didn't forage all domestic sites, not by far. browsed what's available on three sites, learning vocabulary, reading on manufacturers' sites soothingly stroking my wallet (now exhibiting stress induced hives and the beginning of a limp.) ink/tusch paper is easy to find, but i see outlines combined with simple fields of black and/or color in my dreams every single time i look. whether it be barely-there earthy partial backgrounds or plastic-y superintense color elements, there's always line defining a mass on top (i'm an animator). the end station will be mixed media, pretty sure about that, but just as positive that ink has meaning right now, no doubt due to versatility.

thank you so much, again! all of this, needing to formulate for discussion, reading your seasoned experiences clarifies everything. this instance is still a question mark, but surrounding it are more and more defined concepts waiting to become vehicles for adventures. 😀