Tools: Inks, Part I, Waterproof

In preparation for Inktober, I am reviewing inks.
As always, these posts are about my relationship with inks, and is not definitive.

*peeps, a bit of advice, especially if you are not made of money
and have to budget:  look at an artist’s work and find out the artist’s
parameters for their choices before buying their favorite products!*

I use inks in the following ways, in the order of importance:

1) Artwork, waterproof inks for both line work (see above)
and underpainting in greys (grisaille), browns (brunaille),
and occasionally, green (verdaille) and purple.
BTW, I love to use colored inks under watercolors sketches sometimes<
shown top.  Change it up!

2) Painting… yup, I do like to paint with  them,
but as they are not all lightfast those go in my sketchbook;

3) Writing


Waterproof inks are critical to my mark-making!

There are VERY few waterproof inks.
Bulletproof, archival and water resistant are not the same.
Look it up.  Call the companies and ask them!

If you are a watercolor artist your definition of “waterproof ink” is the most rigorous.
Not rain on an envelope… submersion in a puddle!
We want to wash lots of wet water over inks and they need to stay put.
They need to work on all kinds of paper.
There are only a handful that meet that qualification, and I own every color.

BTW, test ALL “waterproof”  inks in the back of new journals or papers before using…
I still do even with my favorites!  What if a manufacturer changes formulas?
Can an ink get old?  Loose it efficacy?  I don’t know but don’t trust!

The only inks I KNOW to be waterproof, meaning they’ve never let me down
on any paper if saturated with water, are:
Platinum Carbon ink
All De Atramentis DOCUMENT inks
All Super5 inks.
Noodler’s Polar, Lexington and Heart of Darkness are hit and miss —
and so, they fail from time to time, and that doesn’t work when you want waterPROOF.

The inks below are my workhorses for linework:

Platinum pen + Platinum Carbon Ink Cartridges, above…
Platinum Carbon pens (and Goulet sells them in extra fine and medium —
no one else does to my knowledge) and the platinum carbon cartridges.
Part of my love for them is that they travel so well.
I ALWAYS have a Platinum Carbon Pen and a box of cartridges in my purse.
And I’ve never had one clog.  I’ve had die entirely after two years.


Super5 inks can now be found in the USA at Blue Rooster in Los Angeles.
They are amazing inks.  WATERPROOF!
Their pigments are tested for lightfastness, (Yay!)
Their colors are wonderfully interesting pigments. I love them all. I use Frankfurt (a medium brown-grey) for both grisaille and linework and it is an everyday carry ink; I use
it as much as the DeADoc Black or Platinum Carbon.
And I like Darmstadt,
an almost black ink.

Super5 Australia is a surprising ink to use under watercolors, above.

I love De Atramentis Document Inks (I call them “DeADoc”).
My favorites are DeADoc Black and DeADoc Brown, above.
Many of my colored inks are DeADoc inks.
Their colors tend to be crayola-colors, a bit predictable or uninteresting, and sometimes not vibrant, which is why the bulk of their colors are not my everyday carry inks —
but that may be what you are looking for, a predictable color.
Especially in an ink color for a pen for the office.
They have not clogged by pens with one exception:
their White ink clogged a perfectly wonderful pen in one day…
Never going in a  pen again… Dip pen only!


In terms of black ink, my favorite is De Atramentis Document Black, left.
Black, no hint of grey or brown, and no sheen.
I love Platinum Carbon, middle, also comes in bottles,
but it has a bit of a charcoal sheen to it…
I don’t mind the sheen, but it is not the blackest black!
When photographing, you can sometimes see the carbon sheen…
Super5 Darmstadt, right, is a good black, but just a hint off the darkest black,
but with no sheen, like a deep deep charcoal grey.  I love it.

Note: Noodler’s inks are NOT waterproof…
no matter if some folks have been lucky…
“Sometimes working” isn’t good news in waterproof ink and birth control!
Heart of Darkness is shown above on good paper
with a bit of water added after thorough drying.
NO Noodler’s ink has ever worked consistently waterproof —
I’ve had several sad disasters, and their inks left are never drawing inks no.
Fool me once…

Inks MUST be thoroughly dry to be waterproof.

You may want to write over watercolors too.
Know that they must be dried completely too or the ink will spread.
In any case, I find it often changes the way the inks
relate to the paper, and the inks may feather a bit over watercolor.


Below are the waterproof cool-toned colors I trust, including a new one,
Rohrer and Klingner Marlene ink in a clear blue.
I’ve tested other samples of the R&K waterproof line,
but was unimpressed with them…
Marlene does stay put and the color is a strong clear blue —
I just don’t like the chemical smell.
But this one blue color I can’t get in any other waterproof brand, and it is pretty….
I have it in a pen currently and so far it is well-behaved.
I may pick up a bottle so included it here.


Below are the waterproof warm-toned colors I trust.
I’d love to see some other good warm colors….
I like the DeADoc Fuchsia (sample was spilled before I could do a swab).


Grisaille (/ɡrˈz/ or /ɡrˈzl/; French: gris [ɡʁizaj] ‘grey’) is a term for a painting executed entirely in shades of grey or of another neutral greyish colour… A grisaille may be executed for its own sake, [or] as underpainting … working in grisaille was often chosen as being quicker and cheaper, although the effect was sometimes deliberately chosen for aesthetic reasons. Grisaille paintings resemble the drawings, normally in monochrome, that artists from the Renaissance on were trained to produce.”   WIKIPEDIA

My favorite “grisaille” inks under watercolors, are above.
I typically have them lightly diluted in waterbrushes.

I still use Noodler’s Lexington ink or Polar Brown in these instances,
because I have a HUGE bottle and I test in each journal for waterfastness.
I use them carefully, especially the Noodler’s Polar Brown…


Iron gall inks have a reputation of possibly ruining pens.
I heard of this after using them extensively in several Pilot Metropolitans.
I understand that they may have improved, and they are interesting inks.
I advise cleaning your pens more often with these inks.

My favorite are the Platinum Classics.

I use the extensively for writing.  Some appear to be water resistant, which is shown by the lack of a solid dot in the middle of the swabs, below, listed in order of water resistance.
I also use them in drawings where I want to wash the images after with water, and have the color move some while still retaining visibility as a line, even if a bit fuzzy.
They typically change in color, becoming blacker over time, like the two images above — those are the exact same ink, Lavender, just wet and dry.

Below are the inks I own in this category.
Of them all, I will buy the Lavender and the Cassis again.
I am so surprised at how much I love writing and sketching with these inks.

Tomorrow I will post
Tools: Inks, Part II, Soluble Inks!

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About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
This entry was posted in art journal, challenge, creativity, drawing, ink painting, journal, pen & ink, process, sketchbook, virtual sketching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Tools: Inks, Part I, Waterproof

  1. Christine says:

    Thanks for all this useful information!


  2. NatashaMay says:

    gorgeous work! I’m not into watercolors but I love your style 🙂


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