How To use India Ink

How To use India Ink

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday
Here’s your weekly dose of inspiration to build a creative habit! One drawing at a time
brought to you by sketchbook skool Today we’re going to use India Ink! First of all, don’t use India Ink in your
fountain pen, unless you want to kill your pen. I think it’s the gum arabic in India ink,
but anyway, it will ruin your pen. And why would you use a fountain pen if there
are so many other tools you can use, combined with india ink? I’ve got some water here, brushes, a dip
pen, a water brush I filled with diluted india ink, and a bamboo pen. Let’s start with the dip pen. If you want clean lines, don’t dip your
pen too deep into the ink. You’ll need to dip and pick up new ink eat
time you run out. It’s pretty easy to control your line, but
the fun is also in the fact that you don’t have a constant flow of ink like with a regular
pen, so you can make use of that characteristic. You can go a bit bolder: pick up a bit more
ink, and press the nib a little harder to the paper as you are drawing. See the difference in line? This will take longer to dry. The bamboo pen is a lot of fun to use as well
– and actually, you could even use a stick or twig! It doesn’t have to be bamboo. The tip of this bamboo pen has a been cut
off flat, so it’s a bit like a calligraphy nib, only very thick and bold. When the ink runs out, the drier lines are
really nice too, a bit like charcoal. You can use the tip upside down as well if
you want thinner lines. Now the ink on these letters at the top has
dried. And that means they are water resistant. See, if I add water, nothing happens. So you can paint your india Ink drawings with
watercolours ,once the ink has completely dried. Now on these bold letters the ink hasn’t
dried yet. So when I add water, the ink fans out. I can make use of that, and activate the ink
to create shadows, for example, or I could use the ink to color the letters. So India ink is water-soluble but once it’s
dried, it’s waterproof. If you don’t want to be messing around with
ink bottles and water on location, you could dilute some India ink with water, and fill
a water brush with it. This way, you’ll always have a tool to add
quick shadows with. So if I would draw a little self portrait
of me and my dip pen, I can use thicker lines by adding more pressure to the pen, combined
with very thin, clean lines for hatching, for example. Then I can use my diluted ink to add some
shadows. Although I think the diluted ink is a bit
too dark, yikes! Well, while it’s still wet, I can blur that
a bit by adding water. Using the bamboo pen, I’ll do another sketch. While the ink is still wet, I use water and
carefully touch some of the lines with my brush to activate the ink and create shading. The wetter the ink, the darker the grey tone. To add a drop shadow I’ll use the water
brush again. You can use water brush for brush lettering
too – you’ll have a constant flow, rather than needing to dip your brush into the ink
over and over. Well, there are many possible ways to use
your tools and combine them. Give it a try! Have fun! And if you want to learn more, sign up for
the sample kourse at Sketchbook Skool! It’s free, so go to
and join!

23 thoughts on “How To use India Ink

  1. Hi Best Wishes for the New Year, What brushes would you recommend for use with india inks. I believe that these inks damage traditional natural hair fibers because of the shellac content in them. Will this ink work with a Princeton Neptune Quill which is a synthetic squirrel, da Vinci Watercolor Series 5898 Casaneo Paint Brush a "wavy" synthetic fiber developed by da Vinci",Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Brushes an advanced synthetic brush and Princeton Series 4050 Synthetic Sable Watercolor brush. Can these brushes be cross used with india inks and standard watercolor? Also can India inks be layered? and do you find that the under layer shifts once dry?

  2. I have been using this ink for over
    40 years…
    I love to use it for outline and art when
    I paint a reverse paint on glass with acrylic…
    I'm sure it would work well with Alcohol Inks too…

  3. I think not all India ink is waterproof. It depends on what has been added to it. If they added shellac, which they add to drawing inks, it will dry waterproof. But some India ink, which is really the ink that is in those Chinese sticks, has not had shellac added and is thus not waterproof. I think shellac is soluble with ammonia or glass cleaner, so that will clean it up if it has dried. And maybe even some kind of alcohol, which I cannot remember for sure. It's been along time since I used shellac. But perhaps denatured alcohol? Not sure, sorry. I'm working on calligraphy, and I have just learned that if it says "drawing ink" it has the shellac in it. If it doesn't have shellac, the ink will clean up with just water.

  4. Does india ink go bad? I bought a small bottle 2 years ago and didnt really use it and now its a bit thick. I wanted to try using a dip pen with it but i think the consistency is too thick to do anything but I'm not sure.

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