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DIY Ink with Diluted Tempera

Ink can be expensive and comes in small quantities, and although there are some tools that require calligraphy ink (such as drawing with pen nibs), we wanted to propose another option, especially if you'll be using bristle or calligraphy brushes. Diluted tempera paint is an economical alternative that doesn't sacrifice the quality of your ink drawings and sketches.

The only tempera we recommend is the Blick Premium Grade tempera. We have tried all other temperas (even Blick's Essentials or Student Grade), and they are not professional quality.

Intructions on how to make ink with tempera:

  • Take a small, airtight container and fill it with about 2oz of black Blick Premium grade tempera
  • Add about 0.5-1oz of water (depending on the consistency you want)
  • Mix well
  • If your diluted tempera is too thick, add more water and mix again
  • If your diluted tempera is too grey/transparent, add more paint and mix again
  • Store your mixture for up to 3 months in the airtight container

Why dilute tempera? Tempera straight out of the bottle is thicker than traditional ink. If you want to imitate ink, you need to dilute it with some water to match ink's consistency. If you add too much water, congratulations, you've just created a wash!

In fact, there is no discernible difference between diluted black tempera and many sumi inks. Tempera is lightfast, pigmented, and water re-soluable. It's important to note that tempera is not waterproof, however it drys matte with a little texture which is great for drawing over it with dry medium (like oil pastels).

Click the links below to have the items shipped directly to your door or print this page and bring it to your local art store.

You can use the supplies you already own. Please reach out if you have any questions.


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Prima Materia Art Institute