Holidays in Ink Materials

It's hard to believe that the Holidays in Ink Challenge will be starting in a week! I'm getting so excited about it that it's difficult to stop myself from diving in for a head start.  Grabbing supplies for the project from my studio shelves, drawers, and boxes is part of what's made me so eager. Here are some mouth-watering images of some of the things I intend to savor over the next couple of months. I've added Amazon Affiliate links to make it easier for you to source any of these supplies that you might want to add to your own.

Dr. Ph. Martin Bombay India Inks -- I bought a couple of bottles to try them, but if I'd known how much I'd like them, I'd probably have purchased this set of 1/2 oz. bottles instead!

Daler-Rowney FW Acrylic Inks, Primary color set

Golden High Flow Drawing Set

Platinum Carbon Black Ink - My personal favorite, waterproof black fountain pen ink.

"What is ink?" I keep asking myself, as I gather materials for my Holidays in Ink Challenge. It might seem like a simple question, but the more I research and think about this issue, the hazier the answer becomes. The medium "acrylic" refers to a specific binder/vehicle in the paint. So does oil. Watercolor and gouache also have specifications to meet. That's not the case with ink. Any of them can be ink! Let's look at some definitions of the word "ink":


Noun - a colored usually liquid material for writing and printing. 

Verb - To put ink on. To draw or write in ink. To obliterate with ink.

Oxford Dictionary:

Noun -  A colored fluid used for writing, drawing, printing, or duplicating.

Verb - Mark (words or a design) with ink. Cover (type or a stamp) with ink before printing. Obliterate something, especially writing, with ink.


Ink is a liquid or paste that contains pigments or dyes and is used to color a surface to produce and image, text, or design. Ink is used for drawing or writing with a pen, brush, reed pen, or quill. Thicker inks, in paste form, are used extensively in letterpress and lithographic printing.

Should you take on the Holidays in Ink Challenge with me, the definition of "ink" as it applies to this project is up to you. If you want to do just pen and ink,  that's fine too. I plan to use a wide variety of materials.  I want to explore, get excited about process, and have a great time being creative. My materials need to serve as a catalyst, so I don't want to feel restricted by them. The bottles of colors at the top of this page are some of the inks I plan to use.

I also plan to use a lot of felt-tipped pens like these, some with washable inks that move with water, and others that are waterproof:

Amazon Affiliate Links:

Pentel Touch Fude Sign Pens set of 3 - gray, black, brown - These are among my favorite felt tips for calligraphy, but I love to draw with them too. They are not waterproof.

Faber Castell Pitt Brush Pens, Portrait Set - lightfast and waterproof, these are very high end compared to most of my sketching supplies.

Papermate Flair Set - water soluble color, not lightfast, but who cares in a sketchbook.

Tombow Gray/Black dual tip brush pen - set of 3 - These are waterproof, and honestly, I use these for drawing all the time. Having gray and black on the same pen is heavenly, and I can do calligraphy with them too. Since they're waterproof, I can watercolor over them later if I want to. I buy them in bulk.

I definitely won't be without my favorite bristle-type brush pens too:

Amazon Affiliate Links to some of the brush pens above. (I replace the inks that come in some of these with my own favorite inks):

And let's not forget a nice assortment of fountain pens -- mostly flex pens and italic nib types:

Amazon Affiliate Links:

Pilot Falcon soft extra fine in red - my personal favorite flex pen.

(Or save yourself some money, and get it in black!)

Pilot Falcon soft fine - black exterior flex pen

Noodlers Creaper - Vulcan's Coral - flex pen

Noodlers Creaper - Lapis - flex pen

Noodlers Ahab - Ivory Darkness - flex pen

Lamy Safari with 1.1mm stub nib

Pilot Plumix -- a favorite italic pen for letter writing, under $10!

Pilot Parallel set - wonderful, inexpensive lettering pens. Everybody should have these!

Sailor Fude Nib fountain pen - one of the most widely appreciated, inexpensive fude nib pens

If you saw my post with the Holidays in Ink Prompt Lists, you know there are a few prompts with ballpoint pens. They are the pencils of the pen world! It's amazing how much variation you can get with a ballpoint, depending on speed and pressure of strokes. None yields more variation than the inexpensive 1.6mm Bic Cristal Extra Bold. The wide ballpoint on this pen can give a thick, dark line or used lightly, a very fine line. 

Amazon Affiliate Link:
Bic Cristal X-Bold 1.6mm - Set of 10 colors
Bic Cristal X-Bold 1.6mm - Set of 12 black
Uni-ball Signo White - set of 3, one for each sketch kit. I cannot be without these!

It would be hard for me to embark on an ink project without involving my dip pens. I have a few nib holders I'll use, (mostly with the amazing Nikko G nibs), as well as a ruling pen and a folded nib pen. Plus I do plan to do the Process Prompt where you make a folded nib pen. Can't wait for that one! 

Amazon Affiliate Links:

Nikko G nibs - set of 10 (they do wear out) -- These nibs have horizontal ridges that hold more ink, so you don't have to dip the pen as often. They are very flexible, yielding line variation from a hairline to a thick, wet line.

Tachikawa Nib holder with 3 Nikko G nibs

I'd pretty much had my mind set on using assorted papers for this project and working only on loose sheets. But, as sometimes happens, I changed my mind! I got this Arteza watercolor book (Amazon Affiliate Link) instead, mainly because I really liked the 8 1/4" square format, and the fact that the 34 sheets (68 pages) would be the right number for me to fill the book during this project. 

I did some tests in the of the book to anticipate how some of my materials would react to this paper. There are two different surfaces to the paper -- a "cold press side" and a "smooth side."  I tested both sides with a couple of fountain pens, a felt tip marker, some bristle brush pens, and watercolor. One nice feature is that they put the smoother sides facing each other, and the cold press sides facing each other. This results in a sketchbook that is consistent across the page spread. I often work across the spread, so this is  critical for me!

Cold Press Side:

Smooth Side:

If you compare the fountain pen samples on both sides, you can see that the smooth side does feather more than the cold press side. I decided I'll embrace that instead of avoiding it. Sometimes pen drawings can be more edgy than I like, and the feathering can add some softness to the line. Watercolor doesn't spread and mingle as much as I'd like on this paper, but I think for the purpose of this particular project it will be fine. The bristle brush pens and felt tip pens fared well on both sides. 

The prompts that are supposed to be done on toned or colored paper, I can glue into the book, or I might make pockets for them. Another alternative is to tone those book pages instead. There are plenty of options!

If you plan to play along with me from November 24-January 2, I hope you're also enjoying gathering together your materials. I realize I haven't posted most of the fountain pen inks I plan to use, and have left out some other items too. I will try to find time to do a Part II of this Materials post. Keep in mind that your own materials can be completely different from my own. Use what you have!

Here is a link to the Holidays in Ink post that contains all the relevant information and prompt lists that you'll need for the challenge. (Prompt lists are completely optional.) If you want to be sure not to miss a post, you can subscribe via email on the upper right side of my blog, and new posts will be emailed to you. I do not share email addresses.


Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links, which pay a small commission to me, should you decide to purchase any of these items, at no additional cost to you.