Waterproof Fountain Pen Inks for Drawing

Why use waterproof inks?

Waterproof inks are usually pigmented which means there are tiny physical particles, usually carbon, and these particles will not just disappear. Hence, waterproof inks are archival and the colours will not fade. The other reason to use waterproof inks is so that you can use mixed media supplies over the ink, eg watercolour, markers or other inks.

Pigmented inks can clog fountain pens though. So when buying waterproof inks to use in fountain pens, make sure the label on the ink bottle specifically states that the ink is safe for fountain pen use. But even so, you'll definitely want to clear out the ink and wash your pen if you know you won't be using it for weeks.

There are several reasons why some waterproof inks are safe and others not safe for fountain pens. If the ink particles are big, they can clog more easily. If the ink uses shellac or other binder that dries to foam some sort of coating, the binder will coat the pen nib, in turn destroying the nib — it is incredibly difficult to scrap coated ink off nibs and from interior of fountain pens. Hence never use India inks in fountain pens.

If you're interested in black inks, check out this comparison review I've written

The ink bottles shown in the photo above are (from top left to bottom right):

These are the waterproof tests.

Whether Noodlers Bulletproof Black is waterproof will depend a lot on the paper you use, and how much time you allow for the ink to dry. This ink takes a notoriously long time to dry. I used to like this ink because it's cheap. You can get a 90ml bottle for less than US $15. But I've since stopped using it because I use a variety of different paper the ink performance always varies and I just don't have the time to wait for the ink to dry before applying watercolour.

Noodlers Lexington Gray performs surprisingly better compared to Noodlers Bulletproof Black. It still takes a long time to dry but the ink is waterproof on most paper I've tested. This is a fantastic ink for those who use gray, and it's great for refilling brush pens too because the ink is thin and flows really smoothly.

De Atramentis Archive is very black, very waterproof.

De Atramentis Document is also waterproof but it's available in more colours than just black.

Sailor KiwaGuro is a strange ink. When it was a new bottle, the ink was waterproof. But over the months and years, the ink seems to have lost its waterproof quality.

Platinum Carbon is very black, very waterproof. If you look close at the bottle opening you will see tiny physical ink particles. This is a sure sign that you must clear out the ink from the pen if you have no intention of using your pen often.

SketchINK from Rohrer & Klingner is waterproof and available in several colours.

Regardless of which ink you use, if you want to create art with them, always do a limited test with them first. Write on a small piece of paper. Run alcohol markers or watercolour over the ink. Spray fixative to see if the ink will break or dissolve. Only when the ink's behaviour is consistent and predictable can they be used for professional purposes. You don't want surprises when you use mixed media with inks.

Here's a video on how you can choose black inks for drawing.

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Did you any of those ink as

Did you any of those ink as refill for the brush pens, like the pentel pocket brush pen? I'm thinking about getting the sketchink and another pentel or the kuretake 40, so I can have a pocketable brush pen with waterproof red ink.

This is a topic I've been

This is a topic I've been invested in for a while! It started years ago with Noodler's Heart of Darkness. Rejected, not because of the reaction with water, but because it feathers quite a lot, especially on bristol paper. I like SketchINK, but I also have a cartridge of Platinum carbon to properly test. (I wasn't fond of the pen because of the broad, stiff nib, but I'll hand it to Platinum: after months of sitting in a drawer, that pigment ink still flowed through it!)

I must try one of those De Atramentis inks, they look good. Thanks for showing them off.

So De Atramentis Document Ink

So De Atramentis Document Ink is:
- extremely waterproof
- permanent and archival
- available in a huge range of colours including grey
- mixable and dilute-able without impairing functionality (you can buy the clear medium fluid)
- very fountain pen friendly

The only downside appears to be the price, but the per-drawing cost is so low that it seems to be completely irrelevant compared to paper and paint costs.

Have I missed something?

Hi Teoh,

Hi Teoh,
Thanks a lot for this article. I would like to know more about diluting waterproof ink. I'm using SketchInk Lilly which is pretty dark and I would like to have it lighter. Is water relevant for diluting waterproof ink?

This was a great comment!! I

This was a great comment!! I didn't realize that even their colored inks were waterproof as well!! I'm new to this and kept seeing colors of different inks but they weren't waterproof, so many have only the black ink as waterproof.
Great article as well!!!! I'll be looking these up for sure!!!

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