I like ink. Black India ink mostly. Historically the ink is actually from China but ages ago the English imported it through India so it’s come down to us as India ink. It’s the ink that’s been used by cartoonists and comic book artists since the beginning of the medium. Drawings are made in pencil and then redrawn in ink. The ink reproduces better than the pencil. At least in the olden days.

I’ve used a lot of different inks over the years. Back in the early 1990s, when I was just getting started learning to draw in ink, I bought a whole bunch of different inks and made a sample chart of them. I drew a grid of about ten boxes on a piece of Bristol board, labeled each box with the name of an ink, and then did some small sample drawings in each box. I used brush, ink, and whatever else I thought of of to make the sample drawings. I thinned the ink, erased over it, and scratched it with a razor. All the techniques I could think of. In the end I liked Higgins T-100 Drafting Film Ink the best. That was my favorite until they stopped making it sometime in the 2000s. Now I jump around from ink to ink.

I find it’s important to use waterproof ink. Once waterproof ink dries if you get it wet it won’t run or smear. If you get non-waterproof ink wet it’ll run and smear. I’m sure non-waterproof ink has its uses but I don’t have any for it. Early on I accidentally bought a big bottle of non-waterproof ink and didn’t have the money to replace it. So use it I did. It’s not like I’m spilling water all over my ink drawings but there is one wet object that always comes in contact with the ink. My hand.

I usually try to rest my hand on a piece of brown paper that I put on top of the art but that’s not a perfect system. When I was using the non-waterproof ink and my hand would rest on the art the sweat from my hand would pick up some of the ink. When I put my hand back down it would act like a stamp and put little ridges of ink on the paper. It wasn’t even a lot of sweat either. Just normal day sweat. They were light marks too. I didn’t even notice them at first but then they multiplied over time. Smears built on smears. I eventually abandoned the bottle.

Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten into colored inks. There have always colored inks around but a lot of them were dye based. That means that they’re not stable and their color will fade over time. I never used them for just that reason. In recent years there have been a lot of new inks on the market. They all seem to be called acrylic inks so I guess they have something in common with acrylic paints. There must be some plastic in them. They also have very dense color that doesn’t fade like dye based ink does. So I’ve bought a few bottle of those colored inks over the last five years or so and have drawn a bit in them. I don’t use the color inks much differently than black ink but they do make drawing look different. Color will do that.

I made four red and black ink art cards this week. That’s one type of drawing I do with the color ink. A duotone drawing. They’re usually my spontaneous ink drawing type where I don’t figure anything out in pencil first. I grab a brush and ink and see what I can come up with. This week’s art cards were in black and red. I often start with the color ink and then finish with the black ink but not always. With the horned monster and the three figures I started with black and then went to red. With the two head shots I did the opposite. They came out differently because of that.

When I start with the color ink I know I can block in a lot of color. Since the black is darker than the color I can carve back into the color with some black lines and shapes. Those ones tend to have less black ink on them. The ones where I start with black tend to be a bit denser. The horned monster has lots of ink on it. It looks like I went crazy with the red ink. The three figures are almost made entirely out of black ink. Only their capes are red. More red in the background balances things out but black still dominates.

The other type of color ink drawing that I’ve done is where I replace what I would have drawn in black ink with a color. Usually a single color. I have a couple of different types of those. The first type are the ones that I recycled some old drawings for. I dug out a couple of my old “Message Tee” drawings, printed out the pencils in a single colored inkjet ink, and then drew over them with the same color ink. I added a lot of different ink techniques over them too. I wanted to go off in a different direction than my “Message Tee” drawings.

The third type of color ink drawing that I’ve made is the themed one. They’re like my normal ink drawing except there was a thematic reason I went with a color ink. They are part of my goddess series and one drawing was of a fire goddess and another was of nature goddess. As you might guess the fire one was in red ink and the nature one was in green ink. Other than that they’re done like my normal India ink drawings. I pencil them, scan in the pencils, print out the pencils in the same color as the ink, and then get to the brush and color ink to draw on top of the color pencils.

So that’s what I’ve been doing this week. A little drawing in ink and a little thinking about ink.