What is the difference between making paints/inks from dry pigments vs. buying ready made paints in tubes? How do you determine the quality of ready made paints? Where do you buy dry pigments, and what are the recipes for making your own paints/inks?
Ready made pigments have basically three grades;
- Student grade; inexpensive, little pigment, mostly fillers, high opacity (transparency) not lightfast (fades or changes color rapidly), muddy colors and made to not last.
- Archival grade; expensive, mostly pigment rather than fillers, accurate true color, lightfast (doesn’t fade or change over time) made to last lifetimes.
- Professional grade; obviously this falls somewhere in between student and archival. Generally, the more expensive – the closer to archival quality.
Two outstanding resources for pigment identification and classification;
- David Meyer a visual artist has put together an extensive pigment database
- Bruce MacEvoy at handprint.com has an extensive guide to watercolor pigments
Archival inks can be made from dry pigments for less than half of the cost of the best archival ready made pigments. Before the invention of flexible tubes for paints artists made their own paints/inks.
Using dry pigments allows you to control exactly how much pigment, transparency and oil is used without fillers; this ensures quality, permanence and versatility. The spectrum of true, vibrant, flexible, lightfast color is unsurpassed when inks/paints are made from dry pigments.
Here are a few suppliers of dry pigments;
Artists who make their own pigments have recipes that are usually variations of a standard mixture they have developed over years of experimentation.
Oil paint, acrylics and watercolor recipes are available. This is an intaglio ink recipe, adjust this for your individual needs and the type of printing you’re doing, a little goes a long way;
- one part dry pigment to 1/4 – 1/2 part #00 burnt plate oil. Burnt plate oil is linseed oil that has been heated. (#00=viscosity rating)
- the amount of transparent base varies depending on the opacity you need and the color overlays you do.
- 1/8 – 1/4 magnesium carbonate (talc) – stiffens ink and reduces tack.