If I created a post of all the calligraphy inks that I love, you’d be here all day. So: I’ve limited it to five! These are the five inks that I use and appreciate the most, and I hope you’ll give at least one of them a shot. If I missed any must-try inks, please…
Before I start this post, a disclaimer: there are so many calligraphy inks available, and I’ve used a tiny percentage of them! Still, I encourage you to try the calligraphy inks on this list, plus any other inks that appeal to you. The only way you can find favorites is through experimentation in growing your collection — and you can never have too much ink!
White calligraphy has a way of catching the eye. It presents a striking contrast and has a “how-do-you-do-that?” factor! In order to create gorgeous white calligraphy, you have to use a nice, high-quality white calligraphy ink.
My favorite white calligraphy ink is Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White. Bleed Proof White works so well because it’s not really ink … it’s more like correction fluid. Unlike a lot of white inks (e.g. Winsor & Newton), Bleed Proof White won’t smudge when you run an eraser over it. Just make sure it’s completely dry before you erase! (You can find this plus six other tips in the Seven Tips for Writing White Calligraphy post.)
Internationally, you can find Bleed Proof White at:
If you use walnut ink, you’ll be rewarded with calligraphy that features a myriad of different brown hues ranging from very light to deep and rich! You can use it to create calligraphy pieces with a vintage vibe.
You can mix your own walnut ink from crystals (or make it from walnuts), or you can buy it premixed — which is what I prefer! Daniel Smith makes a fantastic walnut ink that dries to a vibrant brown hue.
Internationally, you can find Daniel Smith Walnut Ink at:
Iron gall ink has a watery viscosity that makes it a joy to work with when you are trying to create thin hairlines. Depending on the ink brand, the calligraphy will either all dry deep black, or some parts will have a nice fade!
Iron gall ink has been used for centuries by masters from Rembrandt to da Vinci. Again, I don’t recommend a specific brand. Whatever is available to you will work great! If you absolutely cannot find iron gall ink, you can try making your own (though it looks a bit complicated).
When half of your family lives in Peru (as mine does), you learn very quickly that it’s no fun traveling with calligraphy inks in bottles. Travel with a dry watercolor palette instead! All you need to do is brush a watercolor hue on the back of your nib, and you can write with it just like any other ink.
If you’re curious about how to use watercolors to write calligraphy, you can learn in this blog post. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never pack calligraphy ink to go on a trip again!
As far as the best watercolors for calligraphy go, anything works! I’ve used everything from children’s palettes to artist-grade paints … they all write beautifully. Feel free to grab what you have at hand!
I hope that you enjoyed this post! If you’ve got any favorite calligraphy inks that I missed, please contribute them in the comments. I’d love to learn about more inks, and so would others! For now, though, I’d like to say thanks so much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your day. 🙂