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Ink and Watercolour: Which Pen and Ink Should You Use?

Ink and Watercolour: Which Pen and Ink Should You Use?

Do you love the sight of ink and watercolour on paper or canvas?  The combination of ink and watercolour can spark new creativity for your paintings, but how do you decide on the perfect pens and inks to use with watercolour paint and brushes?  

Let’s start with some beginning questions to help you find which pen and ink you should use.

Beginning Questions to Ask Yourself

There are a few questions that will apply to any product for whether it will be good to use with watercolour paint.

  1. Is The Product Labeled Waterproof?

If you want your linework to stay clean as you apply paint on top, you will want to get a pen or ink that is labeled waterproof.  A waterproof pen will not bleed or smudge when water is applied on top of the ink. 

Most pens are water-soluble rather than waterproof.  A water-soluble pen is not safe for using with watercolour paints!  If it’s not stated that it’s waterproof, then assume it’s in all likely-hood water-soluble and not safe for watercolour paints!

  1. Is The Ink Pigmented?

We all understand the frustration when you can't tell if the pen is waterproof or not, but you don’t need to stress!  A quick way to find out is searching for the words “pigment” or “pigmented ink”. These are tiny particles of coloured material and they do not dissolve in water, which makes them typically great for watercolour.

  1. How long does it take to dry?

Applying the watercolour too soon after drawing with ink will probably lead to some smearing. Most inks dry up after an hour or two.  If you want to stay completely safe for no smudging, you will want to wait 12-24 hours for it to dry thoroughly and set to the paper. 

And if you aren't willing to wait that long (totally understandable), get a fast-drying ink!  We will recommend one below.

What’s better?  Adding Ink Before or After the Watercolour Process?

There are two popular ways to apply ink and watercolour together.  Should you add ink before your watercolour or after?


Applying before watercolour will help you focus on the outline first. It will be easier to stay within the lines when you start applying it, and you can get precisely what you imagined! 

You will find it easier to maintain a lot of creative control with the sketch and ink before applying the watercolour. Your pen will be gliding across the page smoother than ever! 


If you love watercolour and want it to be the primary creative force structuring the artwork, you will love this!

You will notice that the lines appear much clearer over your stunning watercolour work. Now, why is that good? Because the watercolour can be your guide to where the outline will be! 

Now, it’s your choice! 

Time for your exploration and creativeness to take the lead and decide what you like the most. This is your work; you are the boss! 

Friendly suggestion: try out both of them. It will help you explore your creativity and find what works best for your art-personality.

The Best Waterproofs Pens for Watercolour

Without further ado, let's jump into some of the top-rated waterproof pens that are best to use with watercolour paints.


Copic Multiliner Pens

The Copic Multiliner Pen is accepted as a serious contender for best waterproof pen for watercolour art.  We absolutely love it, and suggest it to both beginners and experts.  It is affordable, yet not cheap, and will last you a long time.  Check out the best options for Copic Multiliners here.

  • Affordable.
  • Top Quality Waterproof Ink (Archival).
  • Smooth Writing Experience.
  • Great for serious and beginner artists.


Uni-Ball Signo Gelstick Pen

If you are a beginner and looking for something cheap, there is no better recommendation we can make, then the Uni-Ball Signo Gelstick Pen.   It is the most affordable and works fantasticly with watercolour paints.  We’ve found the writing experience very smooth for the cheap price-point.

  • Very Affordable.
  • Waterproof.
  • Fadeproof.
  • Straight thin lines.
  • Doesn’t leave stop and start marks at the end of long lines! 


Parker Pens

Using a fountain pen and filling it up with your own ink is a great alternative than using disposable pens.  It’s more professional, more affordable if you’re using the pen for over a year, and offers the best waterproof ink options for watercolour.  We can’t recommend using a fountain pen enough!  You will just need to order one of the waterproof ink bottles we recommend below.  Check out options here, and other parker pens here!  The advantages of parker fountain pens cannot be stressed enough!

  • Professional linework.
  • Top Waterproof Option.
  • Best Ink Quality.
  • Smoothest Writing Experience.



Sakura Pigma Micron Series

The Sakura Pigma is one of the best fine liner pens you can get! It will help you draw smooth, thin and consistent lines to bring together your beautiful watercolour piece! Artists around the world sware by this pen for its professional and accurate linework. 

  • Top Fine liner.
  • Professinoal liner.


Lamy Safari Pens

The Lamy Safari fountain pen is an excellent option for people who are looking for a top quality, long-lasting fountain pen option that is reveried by professional writers and artists.  This pen has become famous online and off for it’s sleek design and beautiful writing and drawing.  If you are looking for a great Lamy Safari retailer, look no further than Goldspot.

  • Top Quality Fountain Pen Option.
  • Top Waterproof Option.
  • Reusable! 


Uni-Ball Impact Gel Pen

The Impact Gel Pen is designed for broad strokes.  This is a great option to use with watercolour if you are looking for bigger lines.  The Impact is ideal for comic art, cartoon art, and contemporary mixed media projecs.

  • Top Quality Gel Pen
  • Thick Lines


Fudenosuke Brush Pen

This is a beautiful pen that will produce beautiful drawings with a lot of line-width variation. Brush pens allow for changing line-widths – all depending on how much preassure you use on the pen! One drawback: It requires practice and a level of control which may cause unwanted mistakes for beginner artists.

  • Top Quality Brush
  • Fully Waterproof
  • Artists Adore.


Best Ink for Watercolour

Now, it’s time to jump into the best ink you can get for watercolours! 

Amsterdam Acrylic ink sets

Acrylic Inks  are ideal to use on multiple surfaces and for implementing a range of techniques (including watercolour!).  We absolutely love the Amsterdam Acrylic Ink sets, and they are currently on sale.  We love this ink for several reasons.

  • Highly Pigmented Resulting in a Highly Waterproof Ink.
  • Lightfast Resulting in Bright and Long-Lasting Works of Art.

We can’t recommend this ink enough for watercolour projects!


Platinum Carbon Ink

This natural and beautiful black textured ink in an adorable little glass bottle is the one for you! The permanent waterproof ink, which takes an hour to dry, is great to use with watercolours. 

Wait for the best part – it is resistant to water, erasing, smudging, and what not! 

  • Top Quality Waterproof Ink Bottle!
  • Beautiful pure black colour.
  • Great presentation.

Winsor and Newton Ink

Oh, look! It’s Winsor and Newton again. 

Their ink is excellent for watercolour projects, offering a matte black finish that is perfect for cartoony styles and line works.  If you like Winsor and Newton and are considering getting this ink, you definitely should!  It’s so worth it.

  • Waterproof Ink!
  • Good Brand.


The Perfect Pen and Ink for You

We gave you all the information you need, but to get the right pen and ink, you need to go and investigate for yourself. Try the variety of pens and inks that exist, and go for the one that you love – don't forget to listen to your heart! After all, everyone has their own style and processes and their preferences.  Whether it’s from Goldspot Pens, Winsor and Newton, or even our very own Sydney Art Store, we wish you the very best finding the perfect pen and ink for you.


K.T. Mehra

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