Sumi Ink Worked over Acrylic Paint on Canvas by artist Nicole Baker

Sumi ink has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese and Japanese calligraphy. Beautiful traditional ink paintings are also created with it.

It is a lovely ink which can be used on a wide variety of papers. Japanese rice paper, Awagami papers, watercolour paper and Yupo paper all bring great results.

Sumi ink is known for its wonderful deep matte black finish. This liquid Sumi ink flows smoothly and can be used with many different inking tools.

If you want to explore traditional calligraphy techniques, then get hold of some calligraphy brushes. You can also use other tools such as bamboo calligraphy pens, fluid paint brushes, natural sable haired watercolour paint brushes or traditional dip pens.

Sumi ink can be used on its own to create stunning monochromatic pieces with rich dark blacks through to pale grey washes. It is also excellent to use in combination with other media.

This dense velvety opaque ink will effectively cover acrylic inks, shellacs inks or watercolours with ease. Make your artwork really come together and pop with some fine black line work to set off and define the details. Or, give it real punch by adding large blocks of solid black, or even some splatters and drips.

Straight from the bottle, this Sumi ink will give you the dense, rich black this style of ink is prized for. Diluted with water, you can create a full range of grey tones as you require. Tones can be achieved by using diluted mixes of ink and water. Laying watered down Sumi ink onto a piece of quality 300gsm paper can achieve a wonderful flowing effect.

You can also work with blending the ink and water directly on the paper to allow a more organic interplay of tones. Working in this way you can combine Sumi ink effortlessly with watercolours. Contrast this with intense crisp outlines or silhouetted shapes using fine brushstrokes or a dip pen.

Urban sketchers or traditional comic sketchers, Sumi works great with traditional calligraphy pens. With this ink you can easily create quick dynamic sketches on the go. Crosshatching, fine lines, stippling or patterns all look stunning in black Sumi ink.

This ink was simply made for indulging in some fine writing. Experience the pleasure of using a dip pen and traditional parchment paper. Take your time and use it with some practice blotting paper to begin with. Calligraphy brushes can also be used to explore more traditional forms.

In the traditional Asian styles one initially learns the basic strokes through calligraphy. This is not a fast process, and precision and care must be balanced with lightness and flow. Only after some mastery does one move on to the painting of plants and flowers, then animals, landscapes and people.

The goal in this traditional style of ink painting is to depict the spirit of the subject, instead of merely the physical characteristics.

There is a real art to this. It is as much about self-discipline as it is about the pieces which are created. When you have some nice pieces take them to the next level by finishing them with a traditional coloured wax seal.

Once completely dry – give it a full 24 hours. You typically won’t need any sealant over the top and you can leave its lovely velvety matte quality showing. The results you get can get depend on the paper you use, so do some testing if you need.

There really are no limits to the possibilities for Sumi ink. It is a fantastic medium which you will fall in love with. Draw with it, paint with it, write with it. Own it and bring your creative visions to life