My Favorite Inks for Calligraphy


A Few of My Favorite Inks for Calligraphy

So I took that photo in 2019 and I wanna say my list has changed since??? But some have stood the test of time and I am so excited to share with you some of my favorite inks

When I started my journey in calligraphy 12 years ago, there were a lot of inks when I visited the art supplies store, but I had no idea which ink was for what. I remember purchasing a few, but some of them just wouldn't work! Color-wise, it was also limited to the primary colors, like black, blue, green, red, and so I remember buying a few and getting frustrated at the result. I also discovered that some of the fountain pen inks are too watery for modern calligraphy, and most of my papers couldn't hold those inks, too! Drawing inks are generally okay, liquid acrylics/watercolors are great, but they are often not opaque enough. So the struggle was real! It didn't help that the nibs are so fine, so ink needs to flow well, but also be opaque enough to really pop! 

As I ventured into the wedding industry, my clients wanted the in-between colors, the pastel, understated muted tones - and these were not readily available in ink, so I had to learn to mix my own! 

Fast forward to 2024, now, we stock a lot of our favorite inks in the shop and let me share with you why. 

Please note there are some affiliate links below where we may earn a small commission.

Here are my best inks for calligraphy

Black Ink

When I was starting out in calligraphy, my favorite ink was the Higgins Eternal. I loved how fluid it was for writing, but it felt more like a watered down ink and didn't have that deep black color. 

As I started to teach more workshops, I discovered sumi ink as a better alternative. In our shop, we have the Moon Palace ink and we love using it. But the Yasutomo and the Best Bottle Sumi Ink are great alternates as well. The downside to this deep black ink is that it does crust up if exposed too long, so we do add water here and there to improve flow.


White Ink

I still remember searching for the perfect white ink - ink that would flow well and that it is opaque enough so it doesn't look gray on darker papers. For me, the Dr. Ph. Martin's Pen White is the closest to perfect for me. It is on the thicker side, so I highly recommend getting smaller jars to mix ink with and add some water to them. The Bleedproof White is also a good option, but this one is super thick, like paint, so you will definitely need to add water to them in a small container

Colored Inks

Gold - The Copperplate Gold from Dr. Ph. Martin's is still the best for me! the finetec palette is stunning, too, but you'll need to use a brush! 

Sepia - I love the Tom Norton's walnut ink for sepia. You do need to transfer this to a smaller container

Muted Inks - I collaborated with family-owned ink maker Dr. Ph Martin's to create this unique set of inks that have gray undertones for the perfect pastel shades - from taupe, blush, dusty rose, coral, rust to cool tones - light gray, dusty blue, lavender, hunter green and dark gray. These inks are also on the thicker side and could use some mixing balls and drops of water. 

Mixing your own ink

And of course, there's lots of options if you want to mix your own ink. For matte colors, I love using the Schmincke's Calligraphy Gouache because the colors are so vibrant. I usually add a tiny scoop (I use the nib) of powdered gum arabic to make it smudgeproof. 

I personally find metallic shades a bit harder to create, so I usually use the Dr. Ph. Martin's iridescent color first, then add a bit of gouache to change the shade and if needed, I'll add some Pearlex mica powder to change the shimmer. We are currently working on some options for mixing metallic colors with Dr. Ph. Martin's, but it's gonna be a while. 

Aside from that, I also love using a watercolor palette for inks - so flexible and you can paint directly on the nib, too!

Do you have a question about inks? 

Send me a reply back and I'd love to help! I'd also love to know what your favorite inks are, and would love to try them!

xoxo, Karla

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published