Tag: super black

Speedball Super Black vs. Holbein Super Opaque Black

speedball super black and holbein super opaque black acrylic ink

I’m always on a quest for the perfect ink. A long time ago, Jimmie Robinson told a group of us who were at a meeting of Bay Area comics creators that he used Speedball Super Black. Over the years, this is probably the ink that I have used the most and the most often returned to.

Well, I’m returning to it again.

Most recently, I have been trying out Holbein Super Opaque Black Acrylic Ink. As I mentioned in a previous post, I tried it because I had really loved Holbein Special Black, but couldn’t get that ink anymore. The Super Opaque Black isn’t an India ink, but instead a water-based acrylic. So I was concerned at first, but it’s a good ink. The lines I get from it are fine and it’s probably the blackest ink I’ve used. It dries like a watered down acrylic paint. So its coverage is incomparable. However, the longer I’ve used it the thicker it has gotten. Even when I vigorously shake up the bottle before I pour it out, it is often so viscous that I cannot get it to flow from my dip pen nib. Water in my ink well helps, but too much can cause the ink to gray out. Also, over time I’ve noticed that my nibs are gumming up and wearing out faster. I think the acrylic is just hard on my tools. But I wanted to give it a fair try and so I kept going with it. But my frustration was growing and that’s never a good thing.

So I switched back to Speedball Super Black. And it flows like a dream. Now, what tends to make me drift away from Super Black and try other inks is that Super Black tends to be a bit watery. On the one hand, this is why it flows so well. On the other hand, it can fuzz out and bleed on certain papers. Obviously, I can just use papers that work with Super Black, but sometimes I like to try out new notebooks and sometimes Super Black doesn’t work on the paper in them. And so I yearn for something more dependable.

Really, what it comes down to is that Holbein Special Black was the best ink. It sucks that I can’t get it anymore.

inks

Working with acrylic ink – Holbein Super Opaque Black

I was really into Holbein Special Black drawing ink. It was smooth, black, and created nice thin lines. But then I was out and the local store I was buying it from didn’t have it. I looked on-line and couldn’t find it anywhere either. Yet what I did discover was that Holbein made an acrylic ink. I had somehow formed the opinion that India inks were better and that acrylic inks were harder on drawing tools, but I didn’t have any actual experience and I had really liked the Holbein Special Black. So I decided to try Holbein’s Super Opaque Acrylic Ink out.

At first, I really liked the ink. It was dark and fine, just like Holbein’s Special Black. Then I started to notice an issue. I have the habit of pouring my ink into a a pewter ink well that I have. When I am done for the day, I screw on the cap to keep the ink from drying overnight. What I noticed is that when I would come back the next day the acrylic ink would be watery and gray. Lines would bleed and the ink would dry a bit faded. This was frustrating. So I would pour the ink back into the original container, shake it up, then pour a new a new batch into my ink well. And it was fine again. Black and sharp.

So by reflecting on this and with a bit of internet research I realized what was going on. Acrylic ink settles. The pigment is heavier than the rest of the liquid it is with, so over time it sinks to the bottom of the ink well. In practical terms, this means that I can’t leave the ink in the ink well overnight. I need to get a fresh supply each time I sit down to draw. This isn’t a big deal, but it helps to have figured it out.

So I’m not sure yet how I feel about acrylic ink. This is the only issue I have had with it so far. Otherwise it has performed really well and works on almost any paper, which is one of the main drawbacks of Speedball Super Black (my former favorite ink). That said, I’ve read that acrylic ink doesn’t hold up as well in the long run and that it can bleed if it gets wet. Seeing that I scan my work pretty soon after I create it, these issues probably won’t be a problem for me. Still, I want to wait and see before I wholeheartedly endorse acrylic ink.