Review: Daniel Smith Walnut Ink

This review is written by watercolour artist Marvin Chew.

Tools used for testing:

  1. Daniel Smith Walnut Ink ( | Amazon)
  2. Arches Watercolour Paper 300gsm Cold Press
  3. Bamboo dip pen by Straits Art Commercial store (Singapore)
  4. Pentel Waterbrush
  5. Escoda Perla Round Brush No.10

Walnut ink is a sepia colored water-based ink. You can see it works well with my bamboo dip pen and Escoda brush, although the ink distribution is slightly uneven but that's more likely due to the imperfect home-made dip pen rather than anything to do with the ink. When applied using a round brush, the ink washes are evenly spread out and behaves like watercolour.

I was curious if it can be used on fountain pen since it wasn't mentioned on Daniel Smith website, which says to use the ink with dip pen or brush. I didn't load it on to my Hero fountain pen but dip-tested it. Perhaps the steel nib on the cold press textured watercolour paper made it difficult to draw on (will update the result once loaded the ink proper in a fountain pen, and draw on a smoother surface).

For those who like to do ink and watercolour wash sketches, you will be disappointed as the ink is not waterproof (But there's nothing to stop you from painting watercolour first, and add ink later, right?). However, because it's not waterproof, it can be easily lift/ scrub off with a wet brush or sponge, and leave behind a lighter tone. Lifting is best to be done on good quality watercolour paper, otherwise you may damage the paper with just a few scrubs.

The ink can also be diluted with water to get lighter tones. To achieve darker tones, it can be glaze over with another wash or two but make sure glazing is done only when the first layer is completely dried up. It seemed to take a longer time to dry up as opposed to conventional watercolour washes, but this could be just my screw-up mind (I'm testing this at night, indoors while I usually paint watercolour outdoors and during day time under blazing tropical sun! So, my judgement on drying time may not be too accurate)!

In my quick landscape sketch test, I diluted the ink with waterbrush to paint the background foliage, and added more ink wet on wet for the darker patch of bushes. It behaves just like watercolour wet on wet. The roof lines were feathered slightly due to the damp surface and it's great to create hard and soft edges depending on the wetness of the paper and timing of your execution. Dry brushstrokes were applied for the tree behind the house to good effect.

It is a versatile ink for artists who sketch a lot but do not add watercolour wash over their sketches. The sepia tone will give the sketch a more "vintage" feel as compared to black ink. My only gripe is it isn't as dark as I like, this can be achieve by glazing but you'll have to wait for it to dry first before doing that.


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