How to Use Ink with Watercolor (Tip#05)

posted by Misfit

I know to some of you, ink may seem a bit strange to place on a watercolor supplies list.  But for my artistic style, ink is essential for getting my desired look.  So I want to go over some basics that will help you in your watercolor journey if you decide to try ink.  So, without further ado, let’s jump into this…


The first question you need to ask yourself is what ink do I need?  If you are planning on making precise lines that you don’t want to smudge while painting – then you definitely want to buy some form of permanent ink.  If you are desire to use black ink – you might see some companies refer to permanent ink as Indian Ink.  This basically means that this ink is a deep black ink with carbon particles located inside it.  This type of ink is often used in calligraphy and for technical drawing.    


Now the next question you probably are wondering is what ink is best?  Well, this is a loaded question because it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish with your ink.  Such as do you want your ink to spread out in an inky texture or have smooth sharp lines?  Also, another question you need to ask yourself is do you want to be using your ink with a brush or with a pen.  This really boils down to artist preference. 


For today’s episode but I’m going to do is review the inks that I have, how I use them and why?

INK #01 – Sakura Micron PENS

        • How I Use It: The first ink I’m going to be talking about is Sakura Micron Pens.  Now let’s talk about how I use it.  These pens are awesome for detailed line work and crosshatching which refers to the drawing of lines to show textured shading.  I typically use these pens (especially the size 005 pen) to do my basic outline work on my illustrations and then go back and add my crosshatching later.   
        • WHY I Use It: The first reason why I love these pens is because of the amount of control you have when using them.  Unlike liquid ink, these pens are very predictable at where you place your lines and how thick you make them.  The disadvantage to these is that it’s hard to get a varying of line width with a single pen.  To adjust for this – you may have to use two to three pens to get the desired look – compared to a single brush stroke with liquid ink. 


        • How I Use It: The second ink I’m going to be talking about is HIGGINS Liquid Ink.  I honestly rarely use this ink but I’m not saying it isn’t a great ink.   It’s rather just because it doesn’t fit well into my style of art.  However, if I do use this ink – I use it for large inky washes or cool inky splatter textures.    
        • WHY I Use It: The reason why I don’t use this ink often is because it’s not as sharp of an ink as I like for my illustrations and it can be a bit unpredictable.  But that being said – this ink is awesome for it’s water and ink fluidity.   If you desire more loose splatter or those loose water/ink techniques similar to YouTuber Mary Doodles this is the ink for you.  


        • How I Use It: INK number three is Dr. PH Martin’s MATTE BLACK STAR liquid ink. If you see me painting with ink, usually this is the ink I use.  Compared to the Higgins ink it feels a bit thicker in consistency giving me a bit more control with my line work.   I also really love using this ink for smaller details since the lines are very sharp – similar to the micron pens.     
        • WHY I Use It: The reason why I prefer this liquid ink over the Higgins ink is because of the sharpness I can achieve with the thicker ink as stated earlier.  Now, I will say one disadvantage to this ink is I wish it was more Matte in appearance but other than that I really like this ink – which is my go to for liquid ink.     


        • Outline & Small Details: For time sake, I’m not going to get into a lot of detail for this question, especially since i gave you little snippets of how I use each of the inks earlier.  But, I will say I tend to lay down my outline first (just a basic line drawing) of my illustrations with ink pens and then I might add a few small details such as fur texture or shadow crosshatching in areas.  Then I allow the ink to dry throughly before painting with my watercolors. 
        • Paint: The next step is to paint with your watercolors (I usually finish the whole illustrations) and then once again allow it to dry throughly. 
        • CrossHatching and Larger Details: The final step I do is add my hatching along the shaded side of the object I’m painting and then I come back and add larger liquid ink details with my brush.   


        • Now the reason why I place my outline and smaller intricate lines down first is because – I’ve noticed my ink pens tend to smear a bit when placing them onto previously painted paper.  This is why I want to place all my smaller sharper details first.  Then, I wait until the end of the painting to add my larger ink strokes because at this time it’s easier to see where I can place those thicker ink textures without overwhelming the illustration.  I also wait to add my crosshatching usually to the end since I can follow textures in my paint to make the ink and watercolor appear as one of the paper. 

And that is a brief overview of ink.  I hope this cleared up some things for you and perhaps you learned something new.  If you want to learn some more helpful things about brushes or watercolor in general – make sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter.  The link is provided down below.

….and As Always Ya’ll, it’s been a pleasure and I will see you next time!

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