Ask The Desk: Art Supplies – Black Paper, Blacker Inks & Bleedproof Traveler’s Notebook

Catherine asks:

Please can you tell me where I can purchase black paper that is lined? It’s for my sons Art GCSE. He wants to make his annotations on BLACK background and it’s taking so much time for him to mark and rule up for each piece of work.
Any ideas?
Would have to be faint lines though as he plans to write up in silver/white.

John Neal Booksellers, supplier of the finest calligraphy materials, sells lined black notebook paper. It’s available in packs of 150 sheets for $4.39. Lines are white so I don’t know how faint they are but hopefully it is better than having to draw them all by hand.

Another option might be to invest in a light box and lay a sheet of lined paper under the black sheet as reference. I own an Artograph Light Pad but there are less expensive models available. You might have to try a few different methods until you get one that shows up through the black paper – another black sheet with white lines inverted out (maybe printed off of a laser copier) or a bright colored sheet with dark lines.

Jose brings an art-related question:

I use to ink with fine liner pens in Fabriano Bristol paper of 250 grames. The problem is that when the stroke dries, loses its dark color and become a bit grey. It has happened with Pigma sakura, stabilo and Faber castell Pitt. Some of my friends have told me that is normal, and the original ink drawing always get grey, no the reproduction copy. But I watched this video and I think the stroke is dark
I think she uses Deleter paper, but I am not sure.
So, I ask you, what is the best paper (ah, I almost forgot, I also used Canson Xl Bristol, Canson Mayor, Canson Marker, Canson the Wall, and Canson illustration bd and no one were a good purchase, they made the same problem with the stroke…) to get a dark stroke, and the darkest fine liner pen that you know?

I don’t know that it’s the paper that’s necessarily the problem. Most fineliner pens are water-based ink. The pens you are permanent and water-proof ink like the Faber-Castell PITT and the Sakura Pigma Microns. Alcohol-based inks might be a bit darker but the inks are more likely to bleed or feather on most papers except marker paper. If you’re planning to use the pens with alcohol markers as well, the markers will cause the fineliners to bleed or smear so alcohol markers might not be a good solution.

For the blackest of the black ink, you may want to consider switching to either a fountain pen that uses liquid inks or a dip pen. With a fountain pen, you could choose a permanent Carbon black ink like the Platinum Carbon or one of Noodler’s bulletproof blacks like Heart of Darkness. If you want to consider a dip pen, then you can try an india ink like Speedball Super Black, Higgins Black Magic or Pilot Document Ink.

I recommend checking out some of the great articles that Drewscape has written about using fountain pens and dip nibs to create some of his comics. While his illustration style might not be the same look you are striving to create, I hope you can see the potential for blacker blacks in his work.

Hayley asks:

I make my own Traveler’s Notebook inserts for my bullet journal but I’m struggling to find a paper that meets me needs: it needs to work in an inkjet printer, be fountain pen friendly, and thick enough or bleed-resistant enough that my W&N ProMarkers don’t obliterate the other side of the page. You seemed like the person who might know!

The only paper I can think of that might survive alcohol markers like ProMarkers without much show through might be Tomoe River 68gsm but I can’t find anyone who sells it in flat sheets. Alcohol markers are the single worst for bleed through of any  tool. Short of a heavyweight cardstock which would not be efficient for folding and would likely feather, I fear that you might not have a very compatible combo with the ProMarkers and the Traveler’s Notebook/Inkjet. Not to mention the inks that inkjets use are likely to be removed by the alcohol in the markers.

I say this only to prevent an extensive waste of time and money at this stage. Have you run a test print on regular paper and tried your ProMarkers? Do the markers pull the inkjet toner off? If the markers remove the toner ink from standard 20lb bond, then I really wouldn’t risk investing in more expensive papers at this point. Try a laser copy from a local copy shop, your school or office as well and see if the ProMarkers pull the toner on those. Not to mention if the toner transfers onto your markers. You wouldn’t want all your lovely, expensive markers to get all grungy from black toner.

Maybe handwriting your planner, diary, or calendar Bullet Journal-style might be a better solution on a blank 68gsm Tomoe River insert? Then, even if you did get some bleed through, you could choose not to use the back of the page on every spread.

Sorry, I didn’t have a better answer for you. Tough questions this week! If anyone has better ideas for any of the questions this week, please share them in the comments. Thanks!

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2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. You might try and see if David can get that for you. He does sell a sample pack of Tomoe River paper but it is 52 gsm. He might have other alternatives for you.

  2. Inkjet ink is water soluble. You can spray it with a workable fixative. I like Krylon workable fixative. I haven’t tried fountain pen ink over the fixative, but it makes it possible to use a light watercolor wash or a water based glue without the inkjet print running. So it should be fine with fountain pen inks.

    I have no experience alcohol based ink.

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