the low-down on BLACK inks

My current favs are: 


Updated from original post: August 2021

test results from under 1 minute, fast application, BLACK ink down and smudged with water. i know that is super-fast and ink dry time does change the results. the following is in order from least smudge to most smudge with wet media:

  • Staedler Permanent Lumocolor Marker (superfine and bold tip) NOTE: the superfine is not a fan of cold-press paper, but they make a fine point too if that performs differently. the medium and bold tips are still my overall, keep in studio, mark on anything, including glass, pen!
  • Zebra Sarasa Porous Fineliner Pen {note: this is still a solid pen for drawing with ink first, then wet media added after. was my go-to when i first started and it has the best overall flow across cold-press paper (normal light texture), which i enjoy working on. seems obvious that all these pens will work great on a dry, smooth paper, hot-press surface. but not sure how well they all work on smooth paper with wet media.}

 swatch test of various black inks |

next, new test and results after 24 hours (who waits that long?! 😜 ...but patience is a virtue😇), BLACK ink down and smudged with water next day. not sure what happened chemically, but the results did change based on how long the ink set. after 24 hours, the order of least smudge to most smudge with new wet media was:

  • Sharpie Oil-based Paint Marker Fine Point
  • Montana Bold Marker
  • Pilot Ultra Fine no Xylene Permanent Pen
  • Staedler Permanent Lumocolor Marker
  • Black Cat Waterproof India Ink
  • Zebra Sarasa Porous Fineliner Pen
  • Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Fineliner Pen

results can vary based on the type of paper and inks you're using. i usually do not let the initial black drawing pen dry too long (maybe 15 minutes or so, small format works). but i've found that letting the black pen ink sit overnight to continue working with wet media later, the pen ink sometimes bleeds even more. plus waiting overnight or longer takes away the spontaneity of resolving the piece in the moment. the joys of experimenting to see what works best for you! i usually create my ink drawings with permanent inks (technical drawing pens), acrylic inks, and sometimes india inks. i don't use traditional watercolor for final works; but i use it in my sketchbook and occasionally to get things flowing for an underpainting. 

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