Using Gouache to make Calligraphy Ink!

Jun 17, 2020

Did you know you can use gouache to make your own calligraphy ink?  It's a great way to add beautiful colors to your piece! I also enjoy practicing with colored ink to switch things up. Arteza recently sent me their gouache and watercolor paper to test and I'm happy to share that I am really pleased with their color options, quality, and how the ink does not smear after writing on their watercolor paper.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make your own ink:

*Disclosure - Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and purchase. However, know that I will only recommend supplies that I use and stand behind. Thank you for your support!

Materials You Need

  • Ink Jar - I love using dinky dips for when I need a small batch of colored ink. These are tiny containers that fit your nib perfectly. The one that is shown here is from M.Lovewell and you can get it here. If you are working on larger envelope projects, I recommend mixing your ink in a 1/2 oz jar or larger. 
  • Gouache - I'm using Arteza gouache here
  • Water - I like to keep distilled water in a dropper bottle. It allows me to easily adjust the amount of water into the ink jar. I buy dropper bottles in bulk because I also keep my sumi ink in these bottles!
  • Stirrer - Any plastic stirrer is fine. After mixing the ink, I can rinse it with water to clean it off
  • Gum Arabic (*Optional) - I like the Winsor and Newton gum arabic and also keep this in a dropper bottle.
  • Paper - I'm using Arteza watercolor paper for this post. I also recommend HP Premium 32 if you want to print out your own guidesheets or Canson XL watercolor paper.


  1. Squeeze gouache into dinky dip (fill up to about 3/4)
  2. Add 3 pumps of water. You can add more later.
  3. Mix thoroughly with plastic ink stirrer until the ink reaches a milk like consistency
  4. Dip with nib and test it on your paper
  5. Adjust accordingly - If the ink is not flowing smoothly, you have to add more water. If it's too runny and transparent, I would add a bit more gouache. 
  6. Add gum arabic - Some gouache may smear even after it dries. In that case, I add a couple of drops of gum arabic into the ink, mix, and test again.

Here is the Stone Blue color with my added notes:

I also tried Arteza's Peach Red gouache (Looks more like neon pink. How dreamy is this!):

Here is a video to show you what I mean by ink flowing properly:

You can also watch the tutorial here:

With gouache, the possibilities are endless! 



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