Added 1 new A* page:~~~~~~|
Okay, let's finish up the Supermassive Black Ink Round-up! A*'s new ink will be revealed, and then we'll probably never have to talk about ink again. :P Well...at least not for a while, most likely.
This is part 3 of the round-up; for part 2, go here. At the end of that last part, I said I'd narrowed the field down to four finalists, plus the late-comer dark horse: Kuretake Manga Ink, Deleter Black 4, Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star Matte, Deleter Black 3, and Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star Hicarb. I don't know why they're in that order exactly but that's the order in which I painted quick test paintings with them, so here we go:
Kuretake Manga Ink
This one looks a bit blotchy in the wash on the cheek, but that was really just due to me blotting it clumsily--not the ink's fault. The washes did have a bit of a spongy edge bleed to them, rather like I tended to get with light washes using sumi ink, which I'd used for most of the A* pages up to this point--the paper is a factor here, as I hadn't had this problem with the sumi ink until I switched from Arches Watercolor paper to Canson Illustration paper, which has an invisible clay coating on its surface designed to stop bleeding--but in the case of washes it seems to backfire a bit, at least with certain inks--the Yasutomo Sumi and this Kuretake Manga inks being two of them.
It came out nice and black, but if you look closely, you'll see a pattern of short parallel ridges in the black in the lower left hand corner: that's the paper's scarcely perceptible texture, reflecting in the scanner's light. This ink is highly reflective! Probably too much so. You can see it in the photo I took, too:
The washes also come out a bit yellow, as expected. But overall, the ink handled well and was pleasant to work with.
Deleter Black 4
What a shocker this one was! Aside from this painting suffering from horrible draftsmanship, which was my fault, the ink itself seemed to separate into watery and oily constituents: you can see the wateriness in the way the eyelashes came out lighter than the rest--they were the first bit I tried painting--and the oiliness in whatever the heck happened to the jawline. Yeegh.
It was also more yellow than the Kuretake, and even the Deleter White 2 I put on over the shoulder in the lower right corner started to change a bit from its usual slightly bluishness (when over black ink) to more of a yellow tone; you can't really see it in this photo but just pretend:
I was really surprised at how awful this ink was to work with.
Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star Matte
This one, although not that dark in person (not that you can really tell here since this photo had its contrast raised as I usually do with photos, but hey),
had delightful super-smooth, non-reflective blacks that scanned very well--just look how nice and smooth those large black areas came out in the scan!
It did wash rather yellow, though, and the washes seemed to form hard edges rather more quickly than I'd expected, making it difficult to build a gradient effect. This may have just been clumsiness on my part, however.
Deleter Black 3
Deleter Black 3 is kind of middle of the road among these finalist inks in terms of darkness and gloss, but that balance seems to work pretty well for my scanning process.
Although this ink looked like the least waterproof of the new inks I tested in the first round of testing, second only to the sumi I had been using, I didn't have a problem with it muddling the Deleter White 2 I applied to some parts of the painting--I *did* tend to have that problem with the sumi ink. So its poor performance in the ink blot test may just have been a fluke, I dunno.
The really nice thing about this one, and I suppose you probably can't see it in the photo but you could try,
is how smooth the washes came out: no bristle marks or internal edges or other artifacts like I often get with other inks, and the outer edges didn't have that spongy bleeding I was talking about seeing with the sumi and Kuretake Manga inks. And best of all, there is very little yellow in it--maybe none at all, but I don't have one of those fancy full-spectrum lights to get a really neutral reading on it--all my lights are yellow, bah. :P
In any case, it looks really good in person, and scans pretty well too.
Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star Hicarb
Another shocker! I had high hopes for this one based on the blot test (see Round-up part 2), where it looked pretty darn dark coming thickly off the Q-tip, but when I actually tried painting it on with a brush, it came out really, really gray. I dried my brush and re-dipped a few times to see if I'd just had some water on the brush or something, but no, gray it was, and only started getting a bit darker if I sort of layered it up a bit. It was also a bit yellow, although that was expected after the blot test. It is decently matte, but just so wishy-washy in the black department as to be entirely unserviceable. Rather bizarre. I keep thinking this must have been a fluke but I dunno, I gave it a few retries and no go. Here's the photo:
We can use Photoshop to get a bit more quantitative about comparing these finalists. For instance, I took a photo of the first four of them in an otherwise dark room with my camera's flash--which is probably the most neutral light source I have
--to get a color comparison; the piece above them was the last page done with the Yasutomo Sumi ink. And...okay so you can't really see much color difference in this photo. Granted, even the yellowest of these inks is still pretty gray--still, even a little yellow will tend to stand out when you have something framed up on a wall, as I found out in my last art show. ;_; Anyway, we can see their relative yellowness by using Photoshop to crank up the saturation:
The blue parts are mostly from where I was testing Deleter White 2 over the black inks. Anyway, as you can see, the Deleter Black 3 stands out somewhat as having the lowest yellow levels.
To analyze the quality of their blackness, we can compare their histograms:
These show the amount of each image occurring across the range of values, from pure black on the left to pure white on the right. Since these were scanned in and my scanner doesn't reproduce pure black, even the blackest blacks come out a bit gray in the histograms of the original scans, so don't worry about that--what we're really looking for here is a nice, steep left slope on the left end of the histogram: the steeper that slope, the purer the black.
The Kuretake Manga ink, for instance, has a pretty narrow black peak, which is good; Deleter Black 4, on the other hand, has a very wide black peak, which means its black values were scattered lighter and darker, which is not so good. The unsurpassed smoothness of Black Star Matte shows in its very steep left slope--top marks there. Deleter Black 3, as we've seen elsewhere, was kind of an average performer in the histogram as well, and Hicarb...well, it didn't really form a black peak at all.
That was it for my tests! Which ink is in the mystery A* ink bottle, then?
That's a Black Star Matte bottle, with its label strategically blacked out with a Sharpie marker. But inside it is...Deleter Black 3! Yep. A good all-around performer, and by far the best-looking of the inks, when seen in person. It comes in crummy plastic jars, but swap one of the nice Dr. Ph. Martin jars in, and you're in business. (I noticed Dr. Ph. Martin even sells empty ink bottles, but with say Bombay Black going for just 20 cents more in the same type of jar, you might as well get that and just empty it into something else.)
So Deleter Black 3 it is! Next: less talking about ink, more talking about other stuff!