The Guide to Choose Drawing Inks

Walk into any artist’s studio, and you’re sure to find a bottle or two of drawing ink. Inks are an invaluable tool to artists, due to their dark color, permanence, and their versatility and compatibility with a wide variety of drawing tools. But inks are not limited to professionals: students, hobbyists, and even those who just enjoy the feel of using ink straight from the bottle all can enjoy a good bottle of drawing ink.


Choosing an ink that works well for your needs is critical. Knowing ahead of time if your ink is waterproof or marker-proof, will fade with erasing or sunlight, or has any other issues can save a great deal of headaches for artists later on. Below is a breakdown of the major properties many artists and calligraphers look for in their ink. All images below can be magnified.


Finding the right ink can be a long and costly process for many artists. We’ve simplified the process by highlighting some of our top performers. Comprehensive test results can be found at the end of this article.

Please keep in mind that all of these tests were performed on Deleter brand 135 g/m2 comic paper, and some results such as drying time and feathering may differ on other papers.

Darkest Inks

Dark inks are great for scanning and digital coloring, as they scan cleanly and little editing is required to get crisp, clean lines. These inks are the darkest they come.

Inks with a Gloss Finish

These inks convey a sense of quality and professionalism with a beautiful gloss finish.

Inks with a Matte Finish

For artists that prefer a matte finish, several inks stood out as a beautiful velvety black. While many inks can appear glossier when applied with a nib, the following inks retained their matte quality regardless of how they were applied.

Waterproof and Marker-Proof Inks

These inks are safe with both water and marker, making them some of the most versatile inks around.When adding color to your drawing, you’ll want to know ahead of time if your markers or watercolors are going to ruin your beautiful ink lines.

Pencil and Eraser-Safe Inks

Inks that bead up or turn grey over pencil lines are a nasty surprise. It’s also frustrating when you go to erase those pencil lines – and your ink erases too! These inks stayed black over both blue and regular graphite pencils, and didn’t budge when erased over.

Quick-Drying Inks

Smudging and smearing can be a real problem, especially for those who rest their hands on the paper. Fear not, as these fast-drying inks will help keep your hands – and papers – smear free