Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

India ink
patrickdevine at 12:35AM, Feb. 15, 2011
(online)
posts: 759
joined: 4-26-2007
I originally posted this on my blog, I don't know how useful anyone here will find it but I'll put it up anyway. What I've noticed is that very few people go out of their way to compare different India inks so I've decided to share what my experience has been.
Higgins Black Magic
This is easily the most ubiquitous brand of ink out there and the first brand that most people try. It's a fairly thin ink which comes in a dropper bottle– to me it seems a little watery and isn't terribly dark. Given about a week with the cap off the bottle to allow some of the water in the ink to evaporate Higgins can be OK, if slightly less than ideal. Higgins is by far the easiest to find– every shop I've been to that sells art supplies sells Higgins.
Speedball Super Black
I've known a few real cartoonists that love this brand so I gave it a try, from the get go it seemed promising. The first thing I noticed about Speedball is that it didn't come in dropper bottles but small jars, I'd later discover that this is because the ink is too thick to use with a dropper. After some difficulty getting the jar opened I noted that this ink was rather thick, particularly in comparison to Higgins, I hoped that this would mean that it would be darker too. Unfortunately it was about as dark as Higgins, maybe even a little lighter. As near as I can tell Speedball's thickness is because it contains more shellac. Like Higgins allowing water in the ink to evaporate will result in it becoming thicker and darker, nevertheless I was disappointed in this brand. Speedball is fairly easy to find, though there are quite a few art stores that don't carry it.
Windsor and Newton India Ink
What made me want to try this brand was the fact that it came in a glass bottle, (the extra heft of glass makes the bottle harder to knock over.) This turned out to be my favorite brand overall, it's not as thick as Speedball and maybe slightly less watery than Higgins but darker than either. I needed to allow some of the water to evaporate in this brand as well but it worked well after a few hours, (Higgins and Speedball required days to get to the right consistency.) Unfortunately this isn't an easy brand to find. I only know of one art store that carries it and I've never seen it sold by the jug.

Anyway, this is hardly comprehensive but those are the India ink brands that I'm familiar with and hopefully some of that is useful. If anyone would like to share some their favorite ink brands go right ahead!
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
Ironscarf at 2:26PM, Feb. 15, 2011
(online)
posts: 1,123
joined: 9-9-2008
Here in the UK, Windsor and Newton is pretty much the only brand you'll encounter on the high street - haven't even heard of the others. I had a friend who swore by Rotring ink but I found it too heavy for brushwork.

The brands I've heard mentioned often are Dr. Martens and Pelican. It would be good to hear from anyone who's used those.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
demontales at 5:52PM, Feb. 15, 2011
(online)
posts: 305
joined: 7-18-2009
Great topic! I fell in love with india ink about a year ago.

The only brand I know and tried so far is from Demco, which I think sells mostly in Canada, if not only. It's the only one I could find in large amounts, and it's cheap(or so it seems). I love it with brushes but it might be a little too thick for some pen. Or the problem might be in my pen or paper, I'm not experienced enough to say for sure. It is dark enough, I don't know if it could be more, but it's darker than any other pen I have.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
patrickdevine at 6:46PM, Feb. 15, 2011
(online)
posts: 759
joined: 4-26-2007
Ironscarf
Here in the UK, Windsor and Newton is pretty much the only brand you'll encounter on the high street - haven't even heard of the others. I had a friend who swore by Rotring ink but I found it too heavy for brushwork.

The brands I've heard mentioned often are Dr. Martens and Pelican. It would be could to hear from anyone who's used those.
Haha, yeah those other brands are frequently used in the States. That explains why I usually see British cartoonists using Windsor and Newton. I've never used Pelikan India ink before but I do use Pelikan fountain India ink for my fountain pen.
I know of Dr. Martens but I've never used it. I know some people that like Rotring's pens but I've never them or their ink. How dark is Rotring? Would it be worth looking for?
demontales
Great topic! I fell in love with india ink about a year ago.

The only brand I know and tried so far is from Demco, which I think sells mostly in Canada, if not only. It's the only one I could find in large amounts, and it's cheap(or so it seems). I love it with brushes but it might be a little too thick for some pen. Or the problem might be in my pen or paper, I'm not experienced enough to say for sure. It is dark enough, I don't know if it could be more, but it's darker than any other pen I have.
What's happening when you try using a pen? Does the ink not flow from the nib right? Try checking the nib, if the tines are slightly permanently spread you should probably replace the nib. Also, if the nib is new it might have shipped with a protective coating to prevent rust– if you were to hold the nib over an open flame for about a second (carefully!) the coating will burn off and the nib will usually work much better. What kind of nib are you using? I find that bowl nibs are generally more forgiving than something like a crowquill nib.
If the lines aren't bleeding I'm pretty sure the paper is fine. If the ink seems too thick for pens still you could try adding a little water to it.
I confess that I've never heard of Demco though it does sound nice– cheap thick and dark is a good combination for India ink in my book! And yeah, when comparing India ink to things like technical or drafting pens India ink will almost always appear darker which is why I love it!
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
demontales at 7:57PM, Feb. 15, 2011
(online)
posts: 305
joined: 7-18-2009
By looking for the brand of nib I use, I saw the first kind of india ink I tried, which wasn't from Demco, but Nobel. It was pretty much the same to my opinion, but slightly more expensive.

patrickdevine
What's happening when you try using a pen? Does the ink not flow from the nib right? Try checking the nib, if the tines are slightly permanently spread you should probably replace the nib.

The more I think about it, the more I think the ink is not at fault. Sometimes it doesn't flow right, as you said, but with previous nibs it has already flowed very well(unfortunately I am not delicate enough to preserve the thinnest nibs more than a few months and I broke my best one). Also, I had forgotten that new nibs are protected and it might explain problems I have with my last ones. *facepalms*

patrickdevine
What kind of nib are you using? I find that bowl nibs are generally more forgiving than something like a crowquill nib.

Too technical for me, haha. I don't even know the distinctions in my first language, so in english even less. So I googled the terms but I didn't find any clear explanation. If I understood well, the crowquill seems to be the more “rectangle” ones, and the bowl with be those looking like a spade. If this is so, I use both.

last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
patrickdevine at 8:03PM, Feb. 15, 2011
(online)
posts: 759
joined: 4-26-2007
This is a bowl nib:
http://www.johnnealbooks.com/fullsize/1082/6
I guess it is a little bit spade-shaped, they'll fit in just about any standard nib-holder.
A crow quill looks like this:
http://www.johnnealbooks.com/fullsize/2308/6
Crow quills are more tube-shaped and require a smaller nib holder
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
demontales at 8:34PM, Feb. 15, 2011
(online)
posts: 305
joined: 7-18-2009
I have one bowl nib and a couple crow quills. I really like the bowl one because it is my biggest and toughest, and my very first one. It is great for outlines, but for crosshatching not so much, unless the drawing is really large.

I had a perfect tiny crow quill for the precise crosshatch, but it was very fragile and I curved it accidentally. I don't know if it's the way I handle them, but often I cannot even manage to do a line with some crow quill, the slightest pressure widens the “legs” way completely. They'll also often get caught in the paper, curve, and then release, letting big blotches of ink along the way. But as I said earlier, I am not very delicate and often press too hard on pencils, so imagine nibs.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
Ironscarf at 1:10PM, Feb. 16, 2011
(online)
posts: 1,123
joined: 9-9-2008
patrickdevine
How dark is Rotring? Would it be worth looking for?

It was the blackest thing I've ever seen! It's designed for capillary action technical pens and it seems a little thicker than most - you'd get that really shiny, shellac sheen going on very easily. I watered it down for brushwork but it seemed to thicken up again really quickly and if anything, it was just too dark!

You'd have to get it shipped to try it. It was a German company and despite being taken over by the American Sanford pens co, they stopped shipping to the States in 2005 according to Wiki.

I think our standard nibs were different too: from what I hear American cartoonists used Hunt nibs, but here you wouldn't find those - we had mostly Joseph Gillot & Sons - sounds like the local family butcher. A lot of people seem to use the Japanese nibs now.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
patrickdevine at 6:00PM, Feb. 17, 2011
(online)
posts: 759
joined: 4-26-2007
Hmm. Rotring might not be worth it then. I do know some people that love the type of technical pens you're referring to, they're not really my thing. Are you sure it contains shellac? I understand that India ink in general shouldn't be used in a pen with a reservoir/cartridge because shellac can clog the action.
What you've heard about nibs is generally true as well– American cartoonists tend to use Hunt nibs, I do as well. Some people I know also use Japanese Nikko or Deleter nibs but they're pretty hard for me to find, they are nice though. I do own one Japanese nib from Nikko called a “G-nib,” which is similar to a school nib in shape and very flexible– or rather more flexible than I'm used to. As I understand the Hunt nibs I'm used to are actually quite stiff.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
GrimGary at 3:55PM, April 8, 2011
(offline)
posts: 15
joined: 2-12-2010
Pelikan Type A This is the top of the rung ink. Was taken off the market for a long while because idiot tattoo artists were using it and poisoning their clients. But it is the most vivrant black india you can get, beating out Higgins, Speedball, and Winsor.

The best bet for any ink for a richer tone and thickness is to leave the cap open on the bottle from anywhere between 6 to 8 hours (basically overnight). Your ink will thicken and work a lot better.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:39PM

Forgot Password
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved