Black Inking Models.

        Some time ago I was talking to someone in a shop who was planning to take up figure painting. I mentioned Black Inking as a useful technique and he admitted he didn’t know what it was. Looking at some photos of figures a friend of mine did it was obvious he had not Black Inked them. Seems there are quite a few model painters out there that do not Black Ink their models. This is rather a shame since Black Inking is a very effective but simple technique to add to your repertory.

        Black Inking does several things. Firstly, it adds shading. It makes a figure look more realistic. It makes the figure look a little grimy, adding to realism. Black Inking also fills in various fine details that would be difficult to paint conventionally.

        I always enjoy Black Inking a model. It is usually one of the last things I do to a figure so if I am Black Inking it means another figure is nearly complete.

        Not surprisingly, to Black Ink a figure you need some Black Ink. I use Miniature Paint’s Black Ink. Black Inks from other companies probably work fine, but I’ve only ever used MP. MP gives you nearly 20mls of paint or ink for about half the price that some manufactures charge.

        To Black Ink a model place a couple of mls of cold water in a container (hot water may dry too quickly and form patches). I find a transfer pipette (aka Pastette) useful for such jobs. Dip your brush in the Black Ink and mix with the water. Paint a little of the Ink/water mix onto a white surface to see if it is the desired shade. Add more water or ink as necessary.

        It is a good idea to add a flake of soap to the ink/water mix to reduce the surface tension. This reduces the chances of the ink wash turning patchy. You don’t need to use anything exotic here. I just take a thumbnail scraping from the bathroom soap and drop the fleck into the liquid.

        You are now ready to Black Ink your figure.

        Simply paint the ink/water/soap mixture over all parts of the model you want to Black Ink. Generally this will mean all of the model. Sometimes there may be a feature you do not want to ink. There is little point in inking fire, since fire does not have shadows. Glowing magic sword blades or power weapons may also be left un-inked.

        Once your figure is covered put it aside to dry. I prefer to let it dry naturally rather than placing the figure somewhere warm or using a hair-dryer on it. Dilute ink takes some time to dry.

        Check on your model after a while and give it a shake to remove excess ink. Sometimes large pools of ink collect in certain areas of the model and this may not be the effect you wanted. Excess can be wicked away with tissue paper. Ink may also be wiped off certain parts if it is not giving the effect you want.

        The Ink/Water/Soap mix that you did not use can be saved in a closed container for later use, although it may go a bit scummy and bity after a couple of days. Discard this and make some fresh stuff when you need it.

        Once your figure is dry, inspect it. Some final features to paint always seem to be discovered as you begin inking. You may want to highlight certain areas that have been dimmed by inking. Puddles of ink often dry on the base and you may want to paint over these. You may decide a darker inking was needed and want to repeat the process with a darker mix.

        I’ve Black Inked thousands of models without problems. Just two or three times I’ve had an inking go rogue, forming nasty patches. Naturally one of these was my first ever competition entry, for which I’d painted some beautifully subtle skin toning! I don’t think I was adding soap to the mix back in those days. Be aware that Inking can go wrong, so inspect your model before it is dry and add a flake of soap to the mix.

        A useful article on other uses of inks:-


        If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.


Nice article, thanks Phil :)

I don't often use thinned inks as my last layer of shading. I'll give it a go once my painting room is set up in my new house!!

Nice article, thanks! Really getting me itchy to paint.