Saturday, April 27, 2019

Fun with Sheening Inks

Last week, we posted a guide to shimmer inks. But we didn’t touch on my favorite ink property: sheen!

Light reacts differently to some inks when they’re spread over a surface in a certain way. It’s called thin-film interference, and it’s the same effect that causes the rainbow colors in a soap bubble or motor oil in a puddle of water. In inks, we call this effect sheen. In some applications, these inks will turn a different color from their original hue, and even take on a shiny metallic look. This is a really interesting effect that can cause your ink to turn two or even three colors as it dries.

Make sure that you use proper paper! Paper with an ink-resistant coating is best for letting the sheen appear. Tomoe River paper is the clear favorite amongst sheen enthusiasts; it’s extraordinarily thin, and causes ink to shade and sheen like nothing else! Rhodia and Clairefontaine papers also work well.

A key part of using sheening inks is patience. Don’t blot the ink, just let it dry naturally and see what appears. It can take some time; even as I let the inks dry for these photos, I felt pretty impatient! Often, you’ll see inks whose sheen is a complementary or near-complementary color: blue and green inks with a red sheen, fuchsia inks with a gold sheen, and so on. It can be really interesting to see how the sheen comes through!

For these swabs, I made sure to use a very heavy ink application - I swabbed over the ink multiple times so that there were places where the ink pooled. I also used an eyedropper to drop ink onto the page. Sheen comes through beautifully when the ink is allowed to pool on the page.

A lot of inks have a bit of sheen to them. Try out the eyedropper technique with your favorite ink and let it fully dry. We'd love to see your results!

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