©Gayle Mahoney - Marabu Graphix Aqua Watercolor Inks on Fabriano Soft Press Paper
One of the things I love about being an Artist Educator for Marabu Creative is that I get to test all their products, sometimes before they even go on the market. I am super excited about their newest product, Marabu Graphix Aqua Watercolor Inks. I have been working with this medium for several months and I have been very happy with the results!
For those of you who are not familiar with Marabu, they are a German company known for producing extremely lightfast, professional grade paints and inks at affordable price points. The entire Graphix line (inks, pens and fineliners) are archival and lightfast.
Pigments: The pigments are super fine and there is extremely little granulation in these inks, which is great if you like soft, even gradations and washes. Washes did pool well on cold press paper, so if you like a more textured look, try a cold press or rough paper. I tried on various paper types with consistent results.
Medium and flow: The inks are very transparent and non-staining so they can be used as you would any transparent watercolor paints. There was consistent transparency across the palette, which is not the case with some of the other watercolor inks I have tried. The chemical composure of the medium is shrouded in mystery... but it has a little more body than water does, although it is still very fluid. All the colors blend well and flow well, and “blooms” are soft and not too aggressive, but lively enough to create interest and motion. The inks dry without adding a surface sheen, so you don’t need to worry about a shine when photographing or scanning artwork for reproduction.
Color: The inks come in 14 colors (15ml bottles), which are extremely vibrant straight from the jar. Marabu offers the MC Floaty starter set which includes six colors and a brush. I tested all the colors but found I was able to get a full spectrum of colors even with the limited palette of the starter set, and some really nice hues. The colors in the 6-pack set are Lemon 020, Vermilion 006, Magenta 014, Cyan 056, Mint 153, Black 073.
Re-wetting and liftability: The inks can be re-wet even after drying, and are highly liftable on both hot and cold press papers even after dying out completely. I was able to reuse ink that had dried on my palette just by wetting, so I didn’t have to worry about wasting ink. I did notice that when I did layering I had to work fast and be careful not to disturb the painting below, but once I had worked with the ink a bit I was able to adjust for this. Compared to other professional grade watercolor brands, they reminded me most of Sennelier, because of the fineness of the pigment with minimal granulation, and for their transparency.
Paper: I tried them out on both cold press and hot press watercolor paper and liked the performance on both. They work great both on dry paper and wet on wet. The inks had good flow but weren’t too aggressive so they were pretty easy to control. I used them with a number of other watercolor brands and they blended well without any issues, so I wouldn’t hesitate to add them into any palette. I tried them with synthetic watercolor brushes and with nib drawing pens and liked both effects. They also worked well with masking fluid.
I would recommend these inks for: Watercolor artists who like a lot of liftability, want to avoid granulation, want smooth, soft washes and gradations, and a range of intensity in your palette. They are also great for artists who work with brushes, drawing pens or reservoir brush pens, since one product can be used with them all. The ability to re-wet the ink both on the paper and on the palette was a plus. I used them with dip pens and they worked great, even and consistent flow.
What I didn’t like: My only complaint is with the packaging, not the inks themselves. It would be great if Marabu offered a dropper top option. I would also love to see Pigment Codes on their labeling, which helps in comparing colors across brands.
• Shake the bottle well before use
• Use an eyedropper to get the ink onto your palette, or put your ink in small squeeze bottles (available at art supplies stores)
• Works great with other watercolors so don't be afraid to add them to your palette
• The inks are very liftable and can be completely reworked after wetting. If you like to build up lots of layers, don't overwork or you will lift up the paint below.
• The liquid inks work great with Marabu Graphix Pens (which come with both a brush and fine tip) and Marabu Graphix Fine Liners.
Marabu Graphix Inks
Watch my demo video for Jerry’s Artarama