Advanced – Adding India Ink Pens To Your Alcohol Ink Paintings

Why Use The Faber-Castell India Inks

It would be wonderful if we had alcohol ink markers and pens that we could layer without fear of the ink moving.  It would also be nice to have very fine-tipped alcohol ink pens but I haven’t seen them yet. So I’ve found India Ink markers from Faber-Castell to add layers and really fine lines.

Here’s my experience with the Faber Castell (FC) Brush Pens

  1. The amount of time it takes to dry varies by region, humidity, etc.  Do a test first so you know how long it takes yours to dry. In the arid west it’s a matter of a couple of minutes. In humid Florida it can be 1/2 hour.
  2. You can blend the FC before they dry.
  3. You can use the Chameleon Blender pen to lift their color.
  4. The Signo Gel pen won’t write on top until the FC is dry.
  5. They are pigment based with a felt tip.
  6. They do come with a bigger tip. Here is a picture showing a comparison of the Faber Castell PITT, The Faber Castell Big Brush, Copic and Spectrum Noir bullet nib.  The Big Brush holds four (4) times as much ink and only costs one dollar moreTips compare 2

Here are the barrels side by side from top to bottom: Big Brush, PITT, Copic & Spectrum Noir

tips compare

The Faber Castell PITT pens have been used for half of the  I love their intense colors and they way they layer with the alcohol inks.

So why do the India ink markers work for us?  The India ink markers once dried don’t move when alcohol is applied on top of them. The reason they don’t move is that they are pigment based. Pigment based means that the particles sit on top of the paper and don’t merge with the alcohol.

Let’s look at bit more into the difference between dyes and pigments.

More About The Difference Between Dyes And Pigments

So what’s the difference between alcohol ink markers and India ink markers? The alcohol ink colorant is a dye that completely dissolves into solution and in our case it is alcohol.  When you add more alcohol the dissolved dye merges into the new solution. When you let the alcohol evaporate off the dye is more concentrated because there is less solution.

So what difference does it make if we are using dye rather than pigment? Dyes are designed for maximum brightness and color saturation.  That’s what we like about our inks.

What about light-fastness? “Light fastness is the resistance of colours to fading, changing shade or darkening under the influence of light”1 Dyes are less light-fast than pigments because the quantity of the colorant exposed to light is more. Think of the dye completely dissolved in alcohol like sugar water spread out in a pan.  Most of the dye is exposed to the light. Think of the pigment as little rocks.  Only part of the little rocks are exposed to the light.

All of the Faber-Castell India ink markers are rated for light-fastness on the barrel of the marker. Mine are all *** Maximum light-fastness.

In conclusion, I am glad to have found the Faber-Castell India ink markers as a good tool to add layers and details to my alcohol ink paintings.


9 responses on "Advanced - Adding India Ink Pens To Your Alcohol Ink Paintings"

  1. Bev, that should work fine but test it first on a scrap AI painting.

  2. I would like to know if I can use a liquid India ink (in this case Black) to embellish my alcohol painting when it is dry. Is this possible or will it damage my work. I don’t want the India ink to blend at all, I just want to add lines etc. Many thanks

  3. I love all of the information provided! I’ve tested a couple of things when painting with alcohol inks and not had great luck. Tried using a cheap gel pen for fine cat whiskers, but it didn’t flow well and so my whiskers were short and/or spotty. After getting my Sharpie water based I’ve been much happier. I am also planning on getting the sepia by FC, but waiting until I get better to see how much I will use them. Thank you so much for all of your testing!! It’s a huge help to know what to buy rather then waste money on things that don’t work.

    • You are so welcome, Pamela. I was all excited about the india ink pens because I got them at an art store close out. I used them periodically but not as much as I thought. The Sepia are the ones I turn to all the time. Enjoy.

  4. Good info. Thanks. Can you use the India ink pens over dry alcohol inks? I want to add fine white lines over the AI….but most whitevink I’ve tried yellows and fades.

  5. Thank you for the input. I am excited to learn of different ways to create details with alc ink

  6. Fantastic Sheryl, thanks for sharing with us!

    Sent from my iPhone


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