What Are Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks Used For?

What Are Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks & How Can I Use Them?

Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks have been the first choice for Illustrators, Designers, Calligraphers and Artists since their launch in the 1890’s.

Formulated from a series of soluble dyes mixed with a shellac binder Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks are fast drying, transparent and water resistant when dry (except Liquid Indian Ink, Gold and Silver).  The Inks are extremely vibrant with unrivalled strength of colour and brilliance.  Colour intensity tends to be stronger in dye based inks and the shellac binder leaves a brilliant sheen to the colours.


Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks 14ml Bottles


Each Winsor & Newton Drawing Ink label has been individually designed by British Illustrator Michael Peters OBE with each illustration featuring the colour contained.  The bottles are beautiful and have become design icons.  Imagine a whole collection of glinting jewels on your studio shelf!

What Colours Are Available In The Winsor & Newton Drawing Ink Range?

There are 26 colours in the Winsor & Newton Drawing Ink range including a non-water proof Liquid Indian Ink.  Each Ink comes in an attractive 14ml glass bottle with a screw top making it easy to dip nibs and brushes in to it. The oversized base makes it difficult to overturn and spill the Ink.


Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks Colour Availability

The Liquid Indian Ink, Black Indian Ink and Gold and Silver Ink also come in 30ml bottles.  Black Indian Ink is the most popular and available in a larger 250ml and 500ml bottle.

What Is The Difference Between The Liquid Indian Ink & Black Indian Ink?

Liquid Indian Ink is the bottle with the Dragon on it.  It is a water-based solution made from traditional Chinese Stick Ink grounded up and mixed with a shellac binder.  It is not water proof.  Liquid Indian Ink is very popular with Calligraphers and is ideal for use with a dip pen.


Winsor & Newton Liquid Indian Ink Dragon Bottle


The Black Indian Ink with the Spider illustration on it is the most popular colour in the range and you will find it in most designers and students art kits.  This black ink is water resistant.  Make sure it is on your college shopping list!


Winsor & Newton Black Indian Ink Spider Bottle


Do Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks Come In Sets?

Allow me to introduce William and Henry, the two Winsor & Newton Drawing Ink sets available:

The Winsor & Newton William Collection Drawing Ink Set contains a selection of 8 colours in 14ml: Brilliant Green, Deep Red, Peat Brown, Purple, Sunshine Yellow, Ultramarine, Vermilion and Black (Indian Ink).

The Winsor & Newton Henry Collection Drawing Ink Set contains 8 different 14ml colours: Blue, Carmine, Canary Yellow, Emerald, Nut Brown, Orange, Violet and Black (Indian Ink).

Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks Henry Set

What Can I Use To Apply Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks?

You can use Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks for precise line work and for looser applications.  The most popular way of applying these Drawing Inks is with a Watercolour Brush or Chinese Brush, Ruling Pen, Dip Pen, Airbrush, Pipette or Spray Diffuser.


How To Apply Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks


You can apply Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks using virtually any thing. Experiment with your Ink application.  I remember at Art College we used sticks and twigs from outside to dip into the Winsor & Drawing Inks and draw with them.

To create a page background we free poured the ink over the paper then tilted the paper to let the ink flow freely across the page.  We then drew images over the top of the ink once it was dry with charcoal and fineliners.  We also mixed our Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks with PVA glue and dribbled it over paper and canvas.  It created some really interesting effects!  The possibilities are endless!

Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks can be used for writing with dip pens but are not recommended for use in fountain pens because the binder in the inks can clog the nib.  If you are planning on using the Drawing Inks in an airbrush it is recommended that you thin them with de-ionized water.

How Should I Use Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks?

Drawing With Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks


Use Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks straight from the bottle for an intense and saturated colour or dilute it for washes and to increase the transparency.  If you are diluting it make sure that you use distilled water and not tap water as this will cause the dye to separate from the binder.

All Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks are fully intermixable with one another and can be laid over the top of another colour without lifting or bleeding.  They can be easily watered down and won’t streak.  Being dye based there are no pigment particles in the ink so you get a perfect gradient when the ink is brushed on.


Artwork Created Using Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks For The Limited Edition Ink Set


Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks are ideal for pen work as they are not too gloopy.  Gold and silver are particularly popular for Calligraphy Writing and Illuminated Text.  They really pop on the paper when added over darker colours.

Note that the Gold and Silver Inks should be added to other colours in small quantities to avoid the ink from thickening too much. The Metallic Inks should not be stored together mixed due to adverse chemical reactions.

With the exception of the pigmented Black and White and the metal based Gold and Silver Inks, the remaining colours are dye based and therefore not lightfast. They will fade over time and it is best to avoid bright light when displaying ink work.  To protect artwork created in Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks, we recommend framing it with UV protective glass.

Which Surfaces Should I Use Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks On?

Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks respond best on smooth surfaces.  Bristol Board is a firm favourite with Illustrators because it is a bright white paper that is very smooth and the 250gsm weight takes the ink well without the paper cockling.


Canson Illustration Bristol Board Pads


For heavier Ink applications, try using a Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper such as Daler Rowney Aquafine Watercolour Paper or Fabriano Classico 5 Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper.

Smooth Heavyweight Cartridge Papers are also suitable for Ink work.  Try the Daler Rowney 220gsm Smooth Surface Cartridge Pads.

Some Artists prefer to use a rougher paper as it is easier to lift the Ink off if a correction is needed.  To remove Drawing Ink from the paper surface, brush the excess Ink off with a soft paint brush then carefully keep adding clean water to it and blot the surface.


Whether for Illustration, Cartooning or Calligraphy, the Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks continue to be a firm favourite and an ideal gift for an Designer, Artist or Student.


For great prices on Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks and other Art Supplies shop online with Pullingers Art Shop.


Tell us what you use Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks for!

22 thoughts on “What Are Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks & How Can I Use Them?

      1. Hi Sue,
        Winsor and Newton Drawing Inks can be used alongside Watercolours, and most of them are water-resistant when dry (with the exception of Liquid Indian, Gold and Silver). If you are looking for an ink that is water-soluble, may I suggest the Dr P.H Martins Radiant Inks which can be worked just like watercolour to produce some stunning effects! You can find these here: http://www.pullingers.com/c/1090/art-paint-supplies/drawing-inks/dr-ph-martins-radiant-inks/dr-ph-martins-radiant-ink-15ml-bottle/
        Thank you for your question,
        Kind regards,

  1. Hey what’s the difference between the Henry set and Williams set? And which one had a wider range of colours?

    1. Hi Halima
      The Henry set contains the following 6 colours: Black (Indian Ink), Blue, Carmine, Canary Yellow, Emerald, Nut Brown, Orange and Violet.
      The William set contains: Black (Indian Ink), Brilliant Green, Deep Red, Peat Brown, Purple, Sunshine Yellow, Ultramarine and Vermilion.
      Thanks for your query,
      Kind regards,

  2. If i were to use the nutbrown ink or the black indian ink for the lineart in a drawing, is it possible to then color the drawing (using the other colored inks) without the black/brown ink mixing with the other colors/bleeding?

  3. I have a small sketchbook planned for W&N inks. I don’t want to take our each page to protect it from light with UV glass. Are there any other alternatives to protect my inks from fading?

  4. I am using your inks on wood carvings, I thought it would be worth trying due to the shellac content. I have found them very successful.
    Here is what I am wondering
    As I use methylated spirits to mix my own shellac finishes, can I dilute these inks with it?

  5. Hi.

    Do you thin these inks with distilled water or will de ionised do the job? Both are kinda mentioned above and I know from buying distilled water in the past it can be tricky to get hold of.

    And would you then use the same to clean brushes etc or simple tap water?

    Thanks, Lee.

  6. Hi, I was wondering if the Indian black ink is okay for skin? Or if it’s harmful in anyway to have it on your skin for too long? I use paints a lot and have been considering to use this ink to experiment with and I work with inks and paints a lot and I usually end up with ink and paint on my hands 24/7. Especially as I am a person who gets cuts in my hands a lot from paper and things so I just wanted to know if this ink would harm me if it would be in my skin all the time?
    Thank you

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