MAU Art & Design Glossary

Drawing Ink



Drawing ink is produced by using pigment as a colorant mixed with a fixative such as glue in soot. It is known for its resistance to water and light and for its strong fixing properties. It is mainly used in the preparation of blueprints that are to be stored, lettering, cartoons and comics, etc. Chinese ink, also known as India ink or sumi ink, which has long been used in the East, is very similar to drawing ink in terms of the way it is produced and its ingredients. It is generally used by applying ink on the nib of a ruling pen or glass pen but a drafting pen can also be filled with the ink. (Drafting pens require special ink and cartridges.)

The ingredients, qualities and effects vary depending on the type of ink and, therefore, it is important to use the proper ink for the application and purpose. Black ink is included in water soluble colored ink sets of transparent shades in a range of colors, but this is different to drawing ink. Some of these colored inks do not have the durability needed for drafting, so it is best to use ink that is sold and labeled for that purpose or that can be confirmed as being suitable for that application.

After using ink, the lid should be shut firmly to prevent drying and hardening. Also, once ink hardens, it cannot be diluted with water so if a drafting pen is not going to be used again for a while, the ink should be removed from the pen by rinsing in warm water, and washed regularly with a special cleaning solution. It should also be noted that if left for long periods of time, ink cannot be removed even with a cleaning solution. Drawing ink and cleaning solution can be purchased at stationery and art supply stores.


  • Clockwise from bottom: A drafting pen, a cartridge, ink, and cleaning solutionClockwise from bottom: A drafting pen, a cartridge, ink, and cleaning solution
  • Various expressions with drawing ink