How do I make my own ink?


I’ve been using ink to tidy up the outlines on marker drawings. The problem is black ink is too dark and it overpowers the rest of the drawing. I’d like to use a lighter ink more suited to the tone of individual sketches (say a warm. medium grey) but I can’t find anything beyond the basic colours in shops.

Is there a way of mixing my own from scratch?

I’m using a Rotring Rapidograph pen (various sizes) and I’m pretty sure they use water based ink. I’ve considered just mixing up gouache to the approximate consistency but I’m worried about it drying out and ruining the pen (they’re not cheap).

Has anybody here mixed waterbased inks from scratch before?
Is it as simple as adding gouache paint to water or would I need to add anything else (say something to prevent drying)?
Is there an online store that sells a wide variety of coloured inks?

Thanks in advance,


I wouldn’t put Gouache into your Rapidograph.
Try a ruling pen. It comes with most higher end compass sets or you can buy them alone.
They are an old school illustrators tool. It’s basically a tip that uses the surface tension of the water in gouache to hold it in and then you can use it like a pen. You can adjust the thickness of the line by changing the distance between the tips.
They can get a little messy, but with some practice, it can be done pretty cleanly.

WOW, a ruling pen, now there is something I haven’t thought about in a
long time! I had an instructor who insisted we do all of our drawings with one. He was older than dirt and went to some ancient French school for Architecture.

I had a couple of instructors that were part of a dying breed of 100% non-digital Illustrators. They swore by the Ruling Pen.
Mostly, I found that they were great for making a huge mess.

if it’s water-based why don’t you just add more water to the existing black mix. distilled water of course. and a drop of brown ( it’s def. sold in stores) for some warmth?

how 'bout using marker refill inks? ( with that new shiny ruling pen of yours)

I took technical drawing classes for a couple of years back in Russia in mid 90s, and guess what we used? friggin’ ruling pens and diluted ink. oh, the technological progress!