Black Ink Comparison

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

In the past few years we have seen Copic, Big Brush and Memento markers become popular for coloring stamped images. Do certain markers work better with certain inks? Which inks are the darkest and blackest? And most importantly: Is there an ink which is really black that doesn’t smear when colored with markers?

In 2008 Craft Critique’s Technical Editor, Dana Vitek, did a very detailed comparison of black inks called, “The MOTHER of all black ink tests…“. As a follow-up to Dana’s well-researched comparison, I have created a similar but simpler test to compare some of the newer black inks. All of the inks (except one) used in the test are part of my stash of art supplies. The exception was the Jet Black StazOn ink (and cleaner) which belonged to a friend.

I printed the testing matrix on Georgia Pacific white cardstock and Stampin’ Up Whisper White cardstock. I stamped each type of ink four times on each sheet of cardstock (three for testing and one as a control). I started with the StazOn ink and afterward cleaned the stamp with StazOn cleaner. For the remainder of the testing, I used Ultra Clean Stamp Cleaner before changing ink sources. All of the ink air dried for approximately 14 hours before I tried coloring over the image with markers (I didn’t plan to wait 14 hours but life happened). After coloring each image with marker, I scribbled it on scrap paper to remove any black ink transferred to the marker tip.

Stampin’ Up Whisper White
Georgia Pacific White

Copic Y11 Pale Yellow
Faber Castell Big Brush Light Yellow Glaze 104
Tsukineko MementoPear Tart PM-703


Below are my results (click on the photos to make them larger).

It is important to note that Copic markers which are meant to be blended, so by design Copic over Copic will blend (aka smear). However, Memento over Memento and Big Brush over Big Brush did not smear.

Biggest Surprise- The Nick Bantock ink did not smear with Copic or Memento markers but there was some smearing with Big Brush markers. This ink was also very easy to clean off the stamp and did not stain. Secondly, the Stazon did not smear but the stamped images feathered and the black didn’t seem as dark as some of the other inks.

Overall- Stazon, Memento and Big Brush did not have any issues with smearing. Memento images were slightly crisper than Big Brush. I’m not sure if I had been comparing a black Memento marker to Big Brush if the results would stay the same.

Bottom Line- If I had to pick one ink that stamped crisply, had a rich black color and didn’t smear when colored with markers, I would choose Memento based on my results.

What brand of black ink do you use with markers? Please share your thoughts with our readers.

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7 Responses to Black Ink Comparison

  1. Avatar
    Peggy August 29, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Thanks for the interesting review! I have used Superior Memories Black Ink for years and have been very happy with the results. If I need it to set in a hurry I dry it with the heat gun for a few seconds and that does the trick. I also use StazOn inks but generally only on nonporous surfaces.

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    Rebecca August 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    GRRRRRrrreat review, Heather!

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    Kayla and Samuel August 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Thanks so much for the review, I am going to be on the look out for Momento ink next time I’m craft shopping. It’s so nice to have a great site like this so we all don’t have to waste a ton of money finding a good product.

  4. Avatar
    shauna August 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    Thanks for taking your time to do research and for the great article! I love Stazon!! I have every color and wish they would come out with more. It is especially terrific for non porous surfaces but I use it for everything. I have some Memento and like it a lot also and just bought the Faber Castel so haven’t tried it yet. Another one I love almost as much as Stazon is Ranger Archival. They came out with some new colors so had to get those! This has nothing to do with black inks, but my all time favorite inks in any category in general are the Versa inks. VersaMark, VersaFine, VersaInk- all the colors. No worries about embossing or not embossing- can do either and the selection of color is like no other! Anyway, I appreciate all work that went into your article. Kudo’s!

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    Inkerbelle August 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    I have been instructed in my Copics class not to use Stampin Up Cardstock/Whisper White with Copic Markers for it’s coating will harm the Copic marker nibs. Almost all the articles I’ve seen recommend using Memento ink for Copic coloring.

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    Kathy August 30, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    I like the Momento ink best, although I also use Staz-ON! This is a gret revies, thanks so much!

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    Jodee August 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    Definitely Memento! Love it and it works great! Thanks for your review. It’s always nice to see some other options.