Do you find yourself constantly complaining about the drawing inks you keep getting in the stores? Do the inks you get from your different sources always perform under par? If so, then you’re precisely where you need to be right now. Good-quality drawing inks will help you create outstanding monochrome paintings, will have you sketching and drawing like Da Vinci himself, and will help you blow people’s minds away with your calligraphy skills.
This article will highlight some of the best drawing ink products on the market right now. But, of course, there are many different kinds of ink out there, and to come up with this details piece, we look at things like pigmentation qualities, how good its dye-based capabilities are, and so on.
When buying acrylic inks, look for products that don’t tend to clog, flow well and dry fast/waterproof. Our top pick for the best drawing ink goes to Jelife Vibrant Alcohol-Based Ink, the first product on the list below. The reason for this is because it’s straightforward to use, and you can blend them to come up with infinite color-rich overall effects once you finish creating your masterpiece.
Editor’s Pick: Drawing Inks
What is Drawing Ink?
Drawing ink refers to dye-based or water-based media made from different mineral and plant colorants. The ink comes in many different types, with each of them varying in tone because of the concentration and purity of their ingredients and how to dilute they are.
The inks can be grouped into historic drawing inks and modern-day inks.
The traditional inks were usually available in hues of reddish-brown, brown, black and gray. These drawing inks feature the same properties as watercolors, and they can be made using the same components.
The modern-day inks, on the other hand, were introduced in the beginning of the 19th century. Because they’re based on chemically processed plant and mineral colorants, they significantly increased the range of hues for artists to choose from.
However, the difference between the two is that drawing inks are low viscosity and can be manufactured using dyes. Before felt tip, fountain and steel nib pens came to be in the 19th, and 20th centuries, calligraphers and artists used narrow and broad reed and quill pens.
It is also worth noting that drawing inks and calligraphy inks are similar in many ways, and they both look incredibly vibrant when dry. However, they perform differently as you continue using them.
Let’s now take a look at seven high-quality drawing inks that’ll help you create masterpieces.
Best Drawing Inks- Buying Guide
1. Jelife Vibrant Alcohol-Based Ink
Like we mentioned above, this product is actually the best choice on this list, and for a good reason. These are new-generation alcohol-based drawing inks. The package features a fantastic selection of about eighteen highly-pigmented colors of alcohol-based inks. They have a stunning rainbow arrangement which is unlike other similar products.
These inks are also blendable and highly concentrated. The ink colors used in this alcohol-based drawing ink set are developed using a high-concentration formula designed to ensure great vibrance and depth.
You have the option of blending the colors or using them on their own. Blend them if you want to get infinite color-rich results. Blending solutions will help enhance transparency when you use them on non-porous surfaces.
The inks are permanent, fast-drying, and 100% acid-free. You can create your masterpieces with confidence knowing these alcohol-based inks are water-resistant and have no acid whatsoever. In addition, the inks come in a beautiful box which helps make them a great gift for craft lovers.
You’ll find the colors you need for several crafts. You can use the colors inside the set to create great depth, delicate layers, and striking effects on many different non-porous canvases like vinyl, leather, metal, glass, ceramic, etc. They’re also liquid-concentrated resin dye inks which help make an excellent epoxy resin mixture.
- Easy to use and great for beginners and experts alike
- You can blend them together to create infinite color-rich effects
- It comes in a beautiful, giftable package
- The set contains 18 highly-pigmented colors
- Liquid-concentrated resin dye-based, which allows for a great epoxy resin mixture
- It can be a bit messy when opening them for the first time
- It could do with a bit more pigment grain
2. Alcohol Ink Set
This set comes with 24 alcohol-based vibrant ink colors that allow you endless possibilities for creating outstanding resin art. Resin ink dyes are specifically designed to create great depth, fantastic layering, sinking, and highly-pigmented overall effects. This is one of the things that help make this one of the best drawing ink products on the market.
The alcohol-based drawing inks in this set won’t spread out much because of their high concentration. This means that a little will go a long way, which helps make them quite economical. Furthermore, it will also allow you to control the colors more accurately. Although, if you want a better spread, you need to mix them with a bit of alcohol.
These drawing inks are also multi-purpose, meaning you can use them on almost every kind of project. These projects include things like resin coaster tasks, resin painting, resin petri dish making, epoxy resin art, acrylic painting, tumbler making, and so on. However, they aren’t suitable for UV resin tasks.
These premium fast-drying, highly-concentrated drawing inks are packaged in squeeze bottles. These bottles allow for more accuracy and help give you more control of the drops. Though, when cutting the nozzles on top, be careful not to splash. Having 24 bottles that contain high-quality alcohol-based ink is great value for your buck, wouldn’t you say?
- Set contains 24 vibrant alcohol-based ink colors
- Resin dye-based inks specifically designed to create deep and highly pigmented effects
- Ink does not spread out much on the canvas
- They are multi-purpose inks you can use for several different tasks
- Great value for money
- Individual bottles are loosely packed with one another
- It can be a bit messy when first opening them.
3. Let’s Resin Alcohol Ink Set
Let’s Resin alcohol-based drawing inks work a bit differently compared to most of their other counterparts on the market. They typically don’t spread as much due to their high pigmentation. Their highly-pigmented nature allows for more accurate control of the colors, providing personalized and unique overall effects in epoxy resin art.
These versatile alcohol resin inks are also perfect for most kinds of resin art, including epoxy resin painting, resin ripple, resin Petri, etc. If you want it to spread out a bit more, you can mix in a little alcohol. However, make sure you don’t mix in too much because this will negatively impact resin curing. So pay close attention to the amount of alcohol you use.
These are a highly-concentrated batch of transparent alcohol-based inks. The manufacturer uses a high concentration formula that gives the inks high vibrancy and great overall depth. These inks are also much thicker than the average ink, meaning you can do a lot with a tiny drop. Furthermore, if you mix them with alcohol, you’ll increase the transparency and get lighter colors.
- Intense and vibrant colors
- Can choose from 18 different colors
- Highly-concentrated and thicker than the average drawing ink
- It is multi-purpose and can be used for several different tasks
- Features a 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Bottles can easily explode in the box during transportation
- It can be difficult to open sometimes.
4. Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink
You can use these drawing inks with either a brush or dip pen. For watercolor paintings, you can use them to create waterproof outlines. Their permanent nature also means they won’t re-activate with water once dry. As transparent inks, they’re perfect for replicating glazing techniques and watercolor layering.
Since the drawing ink is 100% water-resistant, you won’t have to worry about accidentally lifting the secondary layers. Although, there are a few colors, such as earth-brown and white, which collect sediment residue at the bottom of their bottles. You’ll need to stir these colors a bit before you use them.
While the company doesn’t provide data about the level of the ink’s pigmentation features, it does confirm that they use high-quality lightfast pigments. The ink colors are BW8/LFI/Max Lightfastness and won’t fade at all even after being exposed to window light for 12 months. There are no fugitive colors as well.
- Set contains 24 unique colors
- Permanent once dry and won’t re-activate with water
- 100% water-resistant
- High-quality Lightfast pigmentation qualities
- Manufactured in the USA
- Perfect for making waterproofing outlines
- They have problematic seal caps on the bottles.
- Are not multi-purpose.
5. Noodler’s Black Waterproof Fountain Pen Ink
This is a well-performing drawing ink that does incredibly well on cheap paper. Not only is it quite affordably priced, but it’s permanent and extremely dark as well. It’s also highly saturated, meaning it’ll take quite some time to dry on ink-resistant papers completely. With that said, there are not many bad things you can say about this particular product.
The ink colors come in 90ml bottles, which is way more than its counterparts and competitors’ typical 60ml or 30ml. The bottle is made out of glass and is squarish. Furthermore, all the bottles are filled to the brim. However, the opening on top is quite wide, and you need to be careful not to spill too much when using them.
Bulletproof is a term the company uses to describe the product’s waterproof capabilities. Not only are the inks 100% water-resistant, but they’re bleach-proof as well. Also, it’s tough to find black waterproof drawing ink that is also safe to use in a fountain pen. However, this product’s main characteristic is how it can bond with cellulose.
- It’s permanent and provides extremely dark colors
- 100% water resistant
- Bleach proof
- It comes in eco-friendly glass bottles
- Ability to bond with cellulose
- Manufactured in the USA
- Opening at the top a bit too wide
- It can be hard cleaning the medium, such as a fountain pen, you used because of its permanent nature.
6. Jelife Alcohol Ink Set for Epoxy Resin
There are 24 bottles of intense and vibrant resin alcohol-based drawing inks in this set. Jelife offers a wonderful selection of vivid and brilliant ink colors, including sky blue, peach red, lemon yellow, lemon green, blue-green, coffee, pink, red, orange, brown, violet, deep sinking white, and more.
These drawing inks are also multi-purpose, and you can use them in several different scenarios. However, even though they’re ideal for epoxy resin art, you shouldn’t use them for UV resin tasks. The epoxy resin alcohol base provides vibrant color schemes, giving the user endless possibilities for achieving deep sinking and highly pigmented overall effects.
Its bottle cap design is safe for kids and features a tight seal at the top. This resin dye alcohol-based drawing ink is ideal for beginners and experts alike. It features a squeeze bottle that allows users to easily control drops of ink to ensure they always get the perfect shade. This is a huge reason why it’s so good for beginners and children as well.
- It contains 24 different vibrant colors to choose from
- Are multi-purpose drawing inks
- Features a kid safety bottle cap
- Highly concentrated and thicker than average
- Backed by 100% money-back guarantee
- Permanent, fast-drying, and 100% acid-free.
- A bit messy when opening the bottle for the first time
- It could use a bit more pigment grain.
7. Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Ink Bottle
Winsor & Newton Caligraphy inks are pigment-based calligraphy inks rated AA and have lightfast features. This ink is a water-soluble dye that comes in a shellac solution. They are all transparent aside from the red-capped bottles, which are opaque. It comes in a round 30ml bottle. Unfortunately, though, they are not water-resistant.
You can use this calligraphy ink with a technical pen, airbrush, fountain pen, and dip pen. When using airbrushes, you should thin the ink with distilled water. You should only use the silver, gold, white and matte black with airbrushes and dip pens. Why? Because the white and black colors are pigmented, and the silver and gold are metallic powders, meaning they’ll be much thicker than the others. Be very careful when using airbrushes and fountain pens because the colors dry fast due to being shellac-based.
Single pigments feature wherever possible to allow you to create neat and clean color mixtures. All the ink colors are rated either A or AA when it comes to permanence.
- They are incredibly easy to use
- Great portion sizes
- Has a rated A/AA permeance rating
- Lightfast qualities ensure long-lasting results
- they are not water-resistant or waterproof
- They can re-activate when they get in contact with water.
Best Drawing Ink Buying Guide
The best drawing ink products on the market may cost you a pretty penny, but they tend to be worth it. Some of the things you need to consider when buying drawing inks include:
Type of Ink
One of the important things to consider is the type of drawing ink to buy. The most common types of drawing inks you’ll get at the market include:
The best acrylic ink is made up of pigment particles that help make them acrylic in nature.
These acrylic pigments make it harder to fade when exposed to window light. In addition, they’re often permanent and dry quickly because of their water-resistant capabilities.
One of the best things about these types of inks is that the plastic components used to make them are molecularly bonded, which helps give it that high lightfast rating that makes them a favorite for artists.
These types of drawing inks are made up of a combination of gum Arabic and water-soluble dyes to create a brilliant and vibrant wide color range.
However, despite being stunningly bright, these inks usually have low lightfast ratings, which means you’ll need to keep them away from light.
However, it’s ideal for sketching because it quickly absorbs into the paper.
This type of ink was first made in China. So it’s also commonly referred to as China Ink. You could only get it in the black when it first came out, but now it’s available in many different colors.
India ink is typically made using carbon, and it has shellac or varnish, which help make it water-resistant and gives it that permanency it’s known for.
This refers to the longevity and durability of drawing ink. Three specific factors usually determine it; lightfastness, acid-free/pH neutral, and water resistance.
Any ink that’s pH neutral means they’re neither alkaline nor acidic. They are usually known as acid-free and are pure like water.
On the other hand, how well it holds up to the light is dictated by its lightfastness rating. However, the light sources will also make a difference.
For instance, halogen and fluorescent light are incredibly harmful to certain drawing inks. Direct sunlight is the most damaging of all.
There are often very many different levels. For example, water-resistant inks are usually permanent in nature. Waterproof inks mean they’ll be permanent and can’t be reactivated with water.
How To Use Drawing Ink
This brief expert guide will show you how you can use drawing inks.
- Start by using rough paper- Roughly-textured, heavy grade watercolor papers are great when it comes to making corrections. Lifting off drawing ink is easier when you use it on rough paper.
- Your style should determine the ink- Choose drawing inks that meet your style requirements. Most ink artists out there usually opt for India ink because of its permanency and water-resistant features. Water-soluble inks are ideal for when you need to wash, while water-resistant inks are perfect for line work.
- Try different nibs- There are very many pen nibs you can use to draw, and each one of them provides its own unique effect. The shape and the size of the pen nib you’re using will affect how your marks will look and how much drawing you can do. Consider using finely pointed regular brushes instead of pen nibs if you’re a beginner.
- Manage tones- Understand how to use your drawing ink to develop several different tones. Working with different tones can allow you to be very expressive. The trick here is to use dark drawing inks and then lighten certain areas of your subject by diluting them. However, be careful not to go too dark when doing this.
- Beware of smudging- Be careful when handling wet drawing ink, especially when using it on a paper surface. Keep an eye on where your arms are at all times so that you don’t wipe across the wet ink.
FAQ On The Best Drawing Inks
What is drawing ink made of?
Drawing is usually made of binders and carbon, but some are also made from animal and plant sources, like sepia and iron gall.
Is drawing ink the same as writing ink?
Drawing inks aren’t the same as writing inks because they are way more vibrant and intense when dry. Another reason why they aren’t the same is that most drawing ink products are dye-based.
Can drawing ink be used for calligraphy?
You can use drawing inks for calligraphy because they’re not too gloopy. They also have many similarities with calligraphy ink.
Is drawing ink waterproof?
Most drawing inks are waterproof. However, a select few are not. Although the best ones usually are.
What pen do you use with drawing ink?
The best pens for drawing inks are technical pens or drafting pens. Some fountain pens will also get the job done.
Is drawing ink safe for tattoos?
Drawing inks can be very toxic and are not sterile. Therefore, you should never use them for tattoos.
It can prove hard to pick a good quality drawing ink, especially with all of the options available to you. This is why we did the research for you and picked the top 10 best inks available on the market today for you to choose from.
We determined the best drawing ink by looking at archivability (which means how long the said ink will last when exposed to direct light sources, their water-resistant and permanency levels, and how bright they appear once dry). Our list features all the common types of drawing inks to ensure you’ll get a product that matches your needs or expectations.
Hopefully, now you have an idea of what you need to look for when buying drawing inks. So, what are you waiting for? Go start your art journey today by getting one of the drawing ink sets highlighted above!