How Waterproof is Noodlers Bulletproof Black Ink?

So is the Noodlers Bulletproof Black Ink waterproof? The answer is complicated.

These are the paper I've tested the ink on:

I dried the ink for a few minutes with a hairdryer. When the ink is no longer glistening, I consider them dry.

Looking at the results, I don't really have any conclusive answer. How waterproof the ink is depends on the paper you use, and how you use the ink.

With the first Daler Rowney paper test, I wrote heavily and deposited a lot of ink. Even though the ink looked dry, it wasn't dry. My guess is there is so much ink that some of the ink is not in contact with the paper, hence some ink can still be washed off. That's why I did the second Dalery Rowney test with thinner strokes, and in that case it did seem like it's waterproof or water resistant.

For the Canson watercolour paper, it looks quite waterproof. Some ink did came off but it's not a big deal. The lines were still a bit thick so some ink may not have been in contact with the paper.

Fabriano Studio watercolour paper fared the worst. My guess is the paper is sized in a way that prevents the ink from being absorbed. I read that this ink is only waterproof on cellulose paper.

But this watercolour sketch above was painted on Fabriano Studio paper as well. This is coldpress while the small piece of paper above is hotpress.

The ink on Arches watercolour paper isn't that water resistant too. Arches paper is quite dry and I wasn't able to get a lot of ink on it, and even so, the ink wasn't water resistant.

The paper in Leda Art Supply sketchbook has no cotton content and the ink looks quite waterproof. Same result with the 25% cotton content Strathmore writing paper.

So whether or not the paper has cotton content doesn't seem to matter. How the paper is made is probably very important too. With some watercolour paper, the ink is waterproof but with others it's not.

Here's a sketch I drew on the Strathmore 400 series watercolour journal (0% cotton paper).

I left the sketch to dry overnight and the next day, the ink still smear on the opposite page.

This ink just takes a long time to dry. And even when it looks dry, it may not be 100% dry and waterproof.

So my overall recommendation is, always test the ink before you use it to create actual artwork or paint watercolour on it. There are so many different types of paper out there. There's no way to know how this ink will perform without first testing it on the paper.



A big retailer claimed that

A big retailer claimed that Noodler's Heart of Darkness ink was waterproof, so I figured my search was over. Wrong.
Now I stick to Platinum Carbon Black and De Atramentis Document (or their Archive), and I never have surprises. Both work fine in fountain pens.

Cotton is cellulose. So is

Cotton is cellulose. So is linen. And ramie. And hemp. And nettle. All plant fibers are cellulose. Extruded stuff like rayon or Tencel or lyocell is also cellulose, but I’m not clear on the exact chemistry so there may be differences in how it works... but usually extruded stuff isn’t used in paper. For clothing fiber, “bamboo” usually means rayon extruded process. For paper, I’d presume it’s closer to a wood pulp paper process.

Papers with high cotton content tend to be sized differently than wood pulp paper. Nothing to do with chemistry, everything to do with the expected uses.

Anyway, Noodler’s is probably using standard fiber reactive dyes, which react with cotton and other cellulose fibers at room temperature. And the ink tends to have a very high dye load, which means that not all the dye necessarily gets a chance to react to the paper... and that unreacted dye can just float away or form washes when it gets wet. The ink just isn’t designed for watercolor use. It can work! But it’s aimed at specific papers and watercolor paper isn’t it. Noodler’s aesthetic when it comes to paper tends to be pretty cheap, and often their ink performs best on cheap US style wood pulp paper. The more absorbent the better.

When I first joined Urban

When I first joined Urban Sketchers, I was advised to use Noodler's Bulletproof. The results were miserable on watercolor papers as it bled. And the person/people advising me were experts. Like the other above, I use Platinum Carbon Black and De Atramentis Document exclusively and with excellent results.

Add new comment