Testing Inks for Inktober: Airport Terminal

In preparation for Inktober, I took a page out of Teoh Yi Chie’s book and did a test to see which of my inks were truly waterproof. I also tested flow and consistency when used with my dip pen. I went with a theme of people waiting at the airport terminal, and each group/person is in a different ink. I let them all try, them painted the top row using my primary color watercolor palette.

Airport terminal illustration using only inks.

I’m covering the inks on this image from left to right. I have to rank them for my Inktober work using set categories because they each bring something unique: flow, versatility, waterproofing, and thinning ability. This test is on Canson XL Watercolor paper, so it’s student grade if that gives a sense of how these results may differ with an alternate surface.

Higgins Sepia Drawing Ink

No smearing, and a smooth even line flow, but it’s too pale for my tastes.

  • Flow: 5
  • Versatility: 3
  • Waterproof: 5
  • Thinning: 4

Higgins Black India Ink

My favorite of the bunch, and the one I’ve used consistently since high school. I’ve had this particular bottle for over 10 years, and the pigment still is quite dark. No smearing and lightens nicely as a wash that also won’t smear when exposed to watercolor after drying.

  • Flow: 5
  • Versatility: 5
  • Waterproof: 5
  • Thinning: 5

Higgins Eternal Black Ink

I had high hopes for this one. It has a wonderfully smooth flow and is highly pigmented. Plus, the word eternal implies it’s waterproof. However, it smeared and feathered under even the lightest wash.

  • Flow: 5
  • Versatility: 3
  • Waterproof: 1
  • Thinning: 4

Kuretake Zig Sumi Ink

This is the other ink I use all the time. It has a good flow like most sumi inks, and thins nicely with a little water. Sadly, it did feather with exposure to watercolor. It’s faint, but visible around the shoes and base of the rolling suitcase.

  • Flow: 5
  • Versatility: 4
  • Waterproof: 3
  • Thinning: 5

Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star India Ink

I really like this ink. It’s my go-to for line art under watercolor. It’s firmly waterproof. However, it struggles to thin with water. It also is a bit too thick for my nib. I had to clean it extra carefully afterwards because it’s so quick drying and determined.

  • Flow: 2
  • Versatility: 3
  • Waterproof: 5
  • Thinning: 2

J. Herbin Inks

The bottom two are in J. Herbin’s specialty inks for fountain pens: Poussiére de Lune and Rouge Caroubier. They’re beautiful colors, but they easily reactivate with water. I did appreciate their high flow and precision, and the Poussiére de Lune in particular created a lovely purple when thinned with a little water. The red doesn’t thin as well, but it’s already a highly saturated color so there’s not as much contrast.

J. Herbin Poussiére de Lune:

  • Flow: 5
  • Versatility: 3
  • Waterproof: 2
  • Thinning: 5

J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier:

  • Flow: 5
  • Versatility: 2
  • Waterproof: 2
  • Thinning: 3
Full group colored!

This gives me a definable idea of what specifically I want and can get from each of the inks in my collection. Does this help you choose inks? Do any of these look appealing to you?


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