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Winsor & Newton Inks: What’s the Difference?

Pictured above: Black Indian ink remains the most popular color in the Drawing Inks range. The illustration Michael Peters & Partners devised for its packaging covered four times more area than the other packs!

Winsor & Newton offers both Drawing Ink and Calligraphy Ink in beautiful colors. There are 18 colors in the calligraphy ink range and 26 colors in the drawing ink range. Learn more and pick the right ink for your artwork in October.


Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks come in square-based bottles, featuring iconic packaging designed by Michael Peters OBE. He was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1990 for his services to design and marketing.


The drawing inks are water-resistant, except Liquid Indian Ink, Gold and Silver. However, since all the colored inks are made from dyes, they can bleed out into subsequent washes. The degree of bleeding varies from color to color and with the amount of water used, so test out your chosen colors before using them in your artwork.

Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Ink is a pigment-based ink that is lightfast, rated AA (extremely permanent) or A. Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks are water soluble dyes in a shellac solution. Unlike the calligraphy inks, they are not lightfast. Both ranges are transparent apart from the red capped bottles in the calligraphy ink range, which are opaque. The calligraphy ink is not waterproof; it comes in round bottles. Calligraphy has been used in various forms since ancient times, seen as both a skilled art and the main source of written communication and expression until the invention of the printing press.

In use, calligraphy ink can be paired with a dip pen, fountain pen, airbrush or technical pen. If using in an airbrush, it should be thinned with distilled water. The matte black, white, gold and silver should only be used with dip pen and brush as the black and white are pigmented and the gold and silver are metallic powders, leading to thicker ink than the other colors. The drawing ink can be used with a dip pen or brush. Care should be taken with a fountain pen or airbrush because the colors are shellac-based and therefore fast drying.

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