Ink Tests for Water Resistence

A week or so ago I experimented with a variety of inks on the sketchbook and drawing papers I like best to find out how water resistant they are on each one. What I want to do is go out into the field with my dip pens and watercolors, draw something in ink and then be able add watercolor for color if I want to. So the ink has to dry pretty fast and not make a mess when I add the watercolor.

I wrote out the names of the inks with a variety of dip pen nibs, let the paper sit for about an hour, then did one swipe with a water brush.
(Top image: Strathmore 300 vellum bristol)

Stillman & Birn Zeta paper
Stillman & Birn Nova paper
Stillman & Birn Gamma paper
Stillman & Birn Delta paper
Canson Mi Tientes drawing paper
Pentalic Nature Sketch sketchbook

My go-to studio drawing paper is Strathmore 300 vellum bristol and, overall I think it did ok, but not great. I probably would need to let the ink dry longer for it to work well enough.
Interesting that the Noodler’s Black, a great ink, only worked at all on the Canson paper, another paper I use in the studio.
But what works in the studio and out in the field are two different things. Fast drying time is critical in the field.
I was a little surprised at the Zeta results, but it’s fairly smooth and “harder” than the others so the ink probably didn’t sink into the fibers as much.
The Nova did the best of the Stillman & Birn papers, four inks staying dry. I’ve already added a Delta sketchbook as a regular go-to as it’s 270gm, no show-through.
The Gamma is 180gm and there’s show-through if one works in pen and ink on both sides, which is a dealbreaker for me, but it did well on the test. And I like the ivory color of both of them very much. I’ll use it, but only on one side, which cuts the number of pages in half.
I’ve used Pentalic Nature Sketch sketchbooks for years since it takes both dry and wet media well. But the Manga ink was the only one that could take the rewetting and it’s for dip pens only, not fountain pens.

Conclusion: Realistically, I think I’ll end up mostly putting down the watercolor or water-soluble pencil first, both of which will dry quickly and then doing the pen and ink work over them. If I want to add color to a pen and ink drawing, it will most likelybe a dry media. More to come! Stay tuned…

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