Different Inking Tools – Inks and paper

opaline paper 270 grs

opaline paper 270 grs

I have tested several inks and papers during all these years, and here are my two cents about them.

Since I live in Chile I had to look for materials where are both available in Chile and / or easy to bring by mail to Chile. For instance if I start using certain kind of paper in one comic and switched to another kind of paper in the middle for me signifies a huge change in my inking method, despite that the publisher or the penciler might not realize the change, but I do and I feel that it would be a challenge to maintain quality.

So, in my opinion there are some things you can look for the best in the market and some others that I must trust that the local supplier will do the job. Let me show you an example:

– I buy my inks in the internet to an American supplier, www.paperinkarts.com. I found that store after Jonathan Glapion posted about them online. They seem to be specialized in inking materials and they have never sent me nothing but the best in the market.

– I had tried several 270 grs or 300 grs Opaline paper, which is for me – at least, locally – the best paper for inking available in the market. For two years I used a supplier that gave me a 11 x 17″ sheet paper for a reasonable price, but the best of the product was it smoothness.The paper was smooth enough to be able to use inking tools that demands a great deal of ink (quills, brushes), but still white enough to treat it carefully in case of spots and inking stains. Even thou when I used white ink, it blended great with the “whiteness” of the opaline paper. Unfortunately, the supplier ceased to work with that product so I had to start working with a lower quality paper.

Blue Line Pro Sheet

Blue Line Pro Sheet

However, If I had to order sheets like the Blue Line Pro paper (I’d love to test this one someday) I am worried that it might twist, bend or make it useless if the paper gets damaged because of the mailing service. and you know that inking with a damaged paper it will turn inking into a nightmare.


there are several inks that you can use in order to do cool comics and there are several things that you have in mind if you want to choose the correct ink:

– How the ink deals with the paper: It’s viscosity. Inks brands have some degree of solvent, which liquify the pigment into a liquid product. If you are using a texturized paper you may have some problems because of a way too viscous ink (Quill won’t drop ink into de paper smoothly) or way too thin ink (ink will moist paper and turn it into a mess).

– Which kind of tool will you use the ink with: some inks are to thick to run correctly with several tools, but still great as a black fill-in spot.

– The “Blackness” of the ink: For this matter I strongly suggest India Ink, which Wikipedia defines it as: “(…) a simple black ink once widely used for writing and printing and now more commonly used for drawing, especially when inking comic books and comic strips”. Please, take into consideration that inking is mostly a craft which turns penciled work into a fine printable black line. Remember the “printable” part: That means that a printable line must be clear, defined, easily readable to be able to turn it into a printed line in the big scale production, so if you use a ink which is not enough black, you will have problems by the time the pay gets into the printer.

For that matter here are the list of the bests ink brands I have tested and the ones I work with.


Speedball Ultrablack: Best ink, for me, however it comes in a small bottle and it lasts a few pages before it gets thicken. So you need to mix it with some drops of water in order to loosen its thickness and make it more fluid. Works great with the brushes and it’s ok with the quills – it also depends on the paper. It’s quite cheap (like 5 USD per bottle) and you need to keep it in a good watery shape.


Rotring India Ink: Surprisingly useful and not quite expensive ink (I recommend the big 250 Ml Bottle). Great black rendering, quite good (not too thick) and it helps because you can find it almost everywhere. It’s obviously not recommended for great inking tools (Kolinsky 8404, Windsor and Newton Series 7 Brushes, and most certainly, Hunt 102 crow quills does not work as well as needed with this ink). However, with other common brushes it’s a cheap ink to consider.


– Windsor and Newton India Ink: This a tough one.  have tried it for a few pages and it’s great for tools, but still quite expensive. It works great with the opaline paper and still I am trying to convince myself if this is the best ink or not.

artist Jim Ruth using Higgins ink. ©Jim Ruth

artist Jim Ruth using Higgins ink. ©Jim Ruth

– Higgins India Ink: Here I made a mistake… I used Higgins non-waterproof black ink which is better for watercolor effects. So inking, trying to produce printable black areas was a nightmare. You can see this example, made by artist Jim Ruth, which masterfully used the different black tones to give a contrast between light and dark, but for inking a page was useless. Maybe I’ll use next time Higgins Black Magic ink.

and what about white ink? Wow… I tried like for years to find a good white ink. I tried a lot, Rotring, Whiteout, even Tipp-ex  corrector, white pens, and nothing was enough good for me until I read about this piece of glory:

– Dr. Martin’s pen White ink. Brutal ink, even applied over the blackest ink or blackest paper. It’s better with quills since it’s quite viscous than the other black inks out there. It takes a lot to dry out, but the result is totally recommended for reverse inking. I have achieved great results with this ink. Just like Speedball ink it uses to dry rather quickly and you need to add some water here and there – mostly in the summer time – to keep it liquified. Unfortunately it’s only available in digital stores like Paper Ink Arts or New York’s Da Vinci Artist Supply.

Here ya’ go. That’s mostly what I know about inks. Maybe it’s not much, but I hope that it will help. Obviously it’s up to everyone’s experience to decide which ink and which paper to use.




Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Born in Barcelona, 1977, now I live in Chile. I'm currently working as a inker or letterer for several American, New Zealand or UK publishers like Beyond Reality Media, Alterna Comics, Advent Comics, Insane Comics, IDW Publishing, Ariete Producciones and Dogitia among others.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: