Troubleshooting our Muted Inks

Just received our brand new muted ink collection sets? Just like with any new inks there may be some questions floating around your mind about how to best use these inks. I've compiled some questions and created a video here below, but I thought to also address the top questions on this blog post!

How to use the muted inks the very first time: 

  1. Shake the bottle vigorously for a few minutes. This is important! The pigments settle and so the ink bottle will need shaking, start with 1-3 minutes, and after testing if it still doesn't flow well, shake 1-2 minutes more. These are acrylic inks, so they tend to be a touch thicker. 
  2. Test out the inks using a pen and pointed nib. Make sure your nib is prepared if this is not the first time you've used it. You can prepare the nib by adding a bit of ink onto the nib and then using a paper towel to rub it off. 
  3. Apply the ink using the dropper portion on the nib. This is my favorite way to apply inks onto the nib instead of dipping into the bottle. Here's a short video showing how to apply it. You don't need to squeeze the pipette, just use the dropper like a brush. Alternately, you can transfer some ink into a smaller container. 
  4. Ready to write! 

What to do if the inks still feel a bit too thick? 

  1. You can add some water onto your ink bottle and then shake it. These inks can hold a lot of water without affecting its waterproofness, but I would add water 0.5ml at a time and test it out. Usually a small amount of water goes a long way. 
  2. You can add mixing beads onto your ink bottle, it will help stir the inks better. Start with adding 3-4 beads. 
  3. I also sometimes have a separate container of water just like this video here. I dip my nib into the water container first then I apply ink on. 

Are your inks waterproof? 

Yes, the inks are waterproof. Dr. Ph. Martin's inks are designed to be waterproof but in the fine art setting, not for rigorous waterlogging. This means that the inks are fast drying, smear minimally, difficult if not impossible to rewet, and are resistant against environmental exposure. I made a video here showing how it stands with decent amount of water sprayed onto the paper, it didn't smear. So it means that if it was on an envelope and it was mailed, and it was raining, it will hold up. But if it was completely waterlogged... well the mail inside would definitely be all wet anyway. In this case, it would be better to add additional protection like epoxy or fixative spray. We always recommend that you test for your specific use case if you wonder about this. 

And this goes as well if you've added a significant amount of water. According to the manufacturer, you can even dilute upwards of 50% of the amount, but I would definitely make a small batch and test it out first instead of using the entire bottle. 

How long do you need to let the ink dry before it's cured for waterproofness? 

The inks dry fairly quickly on paper, usually within 5 minutes or so. According to the manufacturer this already would make it waterproof; however personally I usually wait a few hours to let the ink cure before testing its waterproofness. 

Can you mix ink colors together? 

Yes, you can mix these colors together. We always recommend mixing a small batch in a separate container just in case to make sure you see the end color first. With any acrylic paint or ink, colors tend to dry a bit darker than when you write with them. So, test a small batch and write with it, wait to dry before adjusting the inks. 

What if my inks are too watery, how do I thicken it up? 

Straight from the bottle, none of the inks were made to be too watery, in fact they might be too thick for some of your super fine nibs. But if you must thicken them, you can add some gum arabic to it. There are many grades of gum arabic so results will vary here. Again, test a small amount. Alternately, you can add medium body acrylic gel or paste which you can get at your local art supply store. 

What kind of water do I need to use to dilute the inks? 

Regular tap, filtered tap or bottled water is preferred. As long as it's clean, it shouldn't matter. Distilled water is not necessary. 

What kinds of tools will these inks work well with? Does it work with fountain pens?

These inks will work with many tools, but it won't work well straight from the bottle with most fountain pens (especially cartridge-based fountain pens) and fine point technical pens. The biggest issue is that with fountain pens is that it will gunk up the pen, so we don't recommend it. 

Can you use the inks for painting?

Yes absolutely! 

What's the best way to store the inks? 

For storage it's best to store like any watercolor or acrylic: upright, out of direct sunlight in a climate controlled environment. Don't leave in a garage or somewhere where the temperature routinely goes below freezing. 

What do I do if I accidentally leave the bottle and the ink dries out?

It's unlikely the ink ever fully dries out if capped correctly. However, it is water-based and some water can evaporate. Adding back water will usually bring it back to life. What does happen after sitting idle for years is the pigment can settle out quite hard. If a bottle has been sitting for a few years unused, it may look like it's unrecoverable, but actually, all you will need is a paperclip and some of the mixing beads.You can expand a paperclip and bend the end with a little 90º hook and run it across the bottom of the bottle to get all the solidified pigment to move. Then throw in some mixing beads and give it a good shake for 60 seconds. It will be good as new and almost perfectly smooth.

What do I use to clean my nib using these inks?

For cleaning we recommend this order: (1) warm water, (2) warm water and a mild dish soap, (3) warm water and mild glass cleaner, (4) 70% isopropyl alcohol. It really depends on the tool and how delicate it is or what it's made of. The key thing to look out for is brass… some grades of brass corrode rather easily with ammonia (which is common in many glass cleaners), so we generally recommend against this to be safe particularly if you have antique nibs. Most of the time it's totally fine, but every now and then you do see some issues with brass or other alloys and glass cleaners. Fake or low grade stainless steel can also have unpredictable results.

What kind of media can the inks go on?

It will work with almost any cotton or pulp paper. It will work with canvas (should probably be properly stretched and primed). It will work on plastic miniatures or dolls. According to the manufacturer, these inks will also work on wood, textiles (however this will not be permanent unless a heat set fixative is added). It doesn't work well with polymer paper, polished metal. Again, we recommend to test your use case just in case.

Do your inks bleed? 

No, these inks shouldn't bleed even on softer paper material. The only thing that can cause bleeding is adding alcohol, which can also reduce waterproofing. With any project, test the ink on a small swatch as some inks can feel a bit thicker on highly textured handmade paper for example. You may need to try various nibs to make this work as well. 

Can you write with these inks on handmade paper?

Yes, the inks can definitely go on handmade paper. You may need to dilute the inks a bit and use a nib that's less pointy like the Brause 361 or the Brause 66 to help with really toothy/textured paper. 

Important Note: All Dr. Ph. Martin's products are designed for fine art use on paper, canvas, and other fine art mediums with a brush, pen, or similar art tool. They are not designed for food applications. They are not designed for dermal or subdermal applications. They are not designed for use by children. They are not toys. They are not designed for use on pets or animals. 

As mentioned with almost all the questions, test for your specific use case, whether it's creating a small batch or testing on a smaller swatch of paper. 

Questions about the inks? Please send us a quick message at and we can help you out! 



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