Apr 2, 2016

Black Ink Comparison

I recently received a cube of the Hero Arts Intense Black ink as part of the March My Monthly Hero kit.  The word "intense" had me worried. Does this ink study too hard?; does it worry about the number of followers it has on Instagram?  Then I thought that maybe there was something wrong with my other black inks. Maybe they should be intense. AAACK. So, I HAD to compare the Hero Arts Intense Black with my other black inks.

A few things before the comparison.

First, I did not pay for the Hero Arts ink -- Hero Arts kindly sent me the March My Monthly Hero kit along with some other products.  Hero Arts did not ask me to do this review and doesn't know I am doing it.

Second, as far as I'm concerned, finding the "best" black ink is like finding the best presidential candidate.  Scratch that, it's easier to find the best black ink.

Two stampers can use the exact same ink pad with the same cardstock and stamp and get different results.  Sometimes it's just the way we stamp.  Also, ink pads themselves vary. My friend Susan Raihala loves Memento Luxe ink, but I tried it and got awful results.  I think I had an overinked pad, or maybe I just press differently, or perhaps Susan is wrong mistaken had too much wine.

That said, here are my results.  For this test, each ink pad was either new or recently reinked.  I stamped each image twice using the MISTI onto Neenah Solar White cardstock.


I also stamped a line image with each ink.



Since my camera and your computer may affect how you see these images, here's what I see looking directly at the solid circle images (the line images didn't vary as much) and my other commentary:

Ranger Archival Black -- The crispest image (edges not ragged), very black.  The worst coverage on solid stamps.  Even stamping twice with the MISTI, there are some tiny white spots on the solid circle.  Waterproof. Cannot use alcohol markers, such as Copics. Hard to clean and stains.

Memento Tuxedo --  Least crisp.  Ok coverage.  Looks dark gray when compared to all others.  Can use with alcohol markers, such as Copics. Easiest to clean. Does not stain.

Hero Arts Intense Black -- Crisp.  Excellent coverage. True black, but slightly less black than Ranger and Versafine.  Can use with alcohol markers and is waterproof (Hero Arts does not claim it is waterproof in the description on its website, but I watercolored with it with no bleeding.)  Easy to clean and does not stain.

Versafine Onyx -- Crisp.  Excellent coverage.  Waterproof if you let it sit for a few minutes, can emboss, true black. Can not use with alcohol markers such as Copic. The first 20 times I used this ink pad I got awful messy results. Then, voila, the ink pad came out of detention, got its act together, and I am very happy with it. Not as easy to clean as Hero Arts or Memento because Versafine is a pigment ink.  Does not stain if all ink is removed.

MOOD WHEN DONE =  Will use Hero Arts Intense Black instead of Memento when using Copics. Will use Versafine for everything else unless I can't find it under the piles, in which case I'll use Hero Arts.  Would love to know your thoughts on black inks!



35 comments:

  1. so funny. that hero arts ink looks way better than memento. i always thought my memento was black, but no way! thanks for the tip.

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  2. thanks for the comparison Joan - so good to know about the new HA ink working with both Copics and watercolor - i've been using their regular black "hero hues" for ages and have always loved it and it embosses beautifully with clear powder. but still had to use memento for copics and the ranger for watercolor - and it will be nice to use just one black ink for everything

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  3. Thanks for the comparison, I think I'll try the HA if you can use Copics and watercolor with it. I love my Versafine Onyx for sentiments, and I use either Memento or MFT Hybrid for Copic, although I sometimes get bleeding with them and I don't know if it's the ink or the paper I'm using.

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  4. Great comparison chart, Joan. I've started using my Versafine for everything, even though I can't stand that it stains my stamps. I don't have copics, but it doesn't bleed with the zig brush pens either.

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  5. Interesting comparison. I bought the HA intense black as so many were raving about it. However my experience is that my HA ink pad stamps lighter than Memento, which in turn, stamps out similar to your sample. Sigh - still looking for the perfect all purpose black. I do love VersaFine, but of course it can't be used with every coloring medium. Thanks again for your info and inspiration.

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  6. Have you tried Archival India Ink. It has always been my go to black

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    1. I have not. Can you describe its uses?

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    2. That is and always has been my favorite black ink. I use it almost exclusively. I use it with watercolor. It's a really dark black.

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  7. Good comparison Joan. I find inking with two separate brands using the MISTI gives the results I'm happy with. Usually Momento Tuxedo and SSS Black Premium Dye ink.

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  8. My personal experience is that Memento is darker than the HA intense.

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  9. I have been using the Simon says intense black ink. I think that it works very well. It works great with copics.

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  10. thanks so much for the info, Joan. finding a good black ink is always difficult, but I'll keep mum on the whole presidential race. (I'm writing in Morgan Freeman! grins!)

    I've been using the Memento for ages, but will give the Hero Arts a try when I am next able to place any kind of order. gotta give props for crisp! since I watercolor everything, I need something that doesn't bleed.

    have a great weekend! :)

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  11. Love this comparison. Can't remember ever having such a fun time reading the pros and cons!!
    Lu C

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  12. Leave my wine drinking out of this, Joan. ;-)

    Seriously, though, I totally agree that individual results vary HUGELY with inks. I love my Memento Luxe, but VersaFine never, ever gave me good results. When my Memento tuxedo black pad was new, I loved it, but now that I've reinked it several times, it doesn't give nearly as good results. And that's just for black inks. Throw colors into the mix, and things get even weirder. Some colors of ink work better than others...in the same company's line.

    You have convinced me to try the HA intense black. We shall see. I really want an improvement on the Memento now, especially seeing the color difference on your chart. Thanks for posting this!

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    1. thanks Susan. I've read that reinked pigment ink pads often are a bit of a mess. go figure

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  13. I am so glad you did this ink comparison! I have all of these black inks (obsessed crafter? Ummmmm YES) and you beat me to my own comparison. Thanks for sharing and love your witty commentary as always, Joan!

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  14. Great post! I'll have to try the Hero Arts, I have two other blak inks from them, the chalk one and the hue. I love Hero Arts products, they were my favorite when I started crafting. I usually go for Memento for copics, not always the black, I like less visible lines when I color with copics, so I use the London Fog most of the time. And the Versafine Onyx Black for most of my sentiment stamping. I didn't know it was waterproof if you let it sit, that's awesome! Thanks for the post. Learned good things :)

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  15. Thanks so much, the HA ink sounds like a good option for Copics especially because it is a 'good' black. I've been using the Memento Tuxedo as I did try the MFT, but didn't like the stamped results although I hear that they have changed the formula now... But my all time fave of blacks is the Versafine Onyx for sure.

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  16. Well, now I have to have another ink pad, thanks to you! LOL
    I truly appreciate your doing this comparison. It is vert helpful, and so good to know how they do compare! Kudos and many thanks to you for doing this!

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  17. Brilliant article. Really made me chuckle. I've only used two of these inks. Some people rave over memento black when colouring with alcohol pens but I don't find its a clear line image at all. I love black versafine for everything. HOWEVER I do love memento coloured ink pads they're my fave!

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  18. Versafine is my go to for sentiments or if I need a solid black image. I use Ranger Archival for watercoloring, but I only have gray and ochre. I don't have a MISTI. Memento for Copics. Some feel it's waterproof, and it may not run or bleed, but seems to me it fades under water. I don't have Hero Arts black, but I'll look for it locally. Really appreciate this honest comparison, Joan.

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  19. Thanks for doing this comparison! I would love to see a couple others compared to these too, like Gina K Black Onyx and the Lawn Fawn Black Licorice. I know neither of those would be Copic friendly, but there are times you just *need* a good black and other folks rave about these. I prefer Archival when I need it to be dark, but I use Versafine for sentiments, especially when detailed or tiny. Very curious though, what brought your Versafine out of detention? Or why do you get along with it better now?

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    1. the first 20 or so times I used it (I kept sampling) it was not clear at all. It was a mess and I was so frustrated. But I guess it had too much ink on it because I blotted it very gently with a paper towel (I just have the cube) and I am now very happy with it.

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  20. I use Ranger Archival and VersaFine a lot! I use The Ton Caviar when I need to color with Copic markers. Memento didn't give crisp images like I wanted!

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  21. Thank you for the comparison! This is very helpful. BTW, I am now following your blog which I just found tonight thru the Hero Arts Blog Hop. I just had to stop hopping to read more posts and let you know how much I have enjoyed reading it!

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  22. Great post - thanks for the information. I did have a Ranger Archival which I loaned to a friend for a church project...it never came back to me....I use Brilliance Graphite Black but my go to black is alway Versafine Onyx - never fails. I'd like to try the HA one though.
    As for the Presidential thingy...not that I understand all the nuances thereof being across the pond but glad 'you know who' has been somewhat scuppered.

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  23. I'm definitely going to try the new HA Intense Black, but I'm also wondering if anyone has tried the SSS Intense Black? How do they compare to MFTS Hybrid Black?

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  24. I think everyone is searching for that stamping holy grail of the perfect black ink!

    Thanks for the comparison... I'll probably pass on the Hero Arts Intense Black. I already have a number of black ink pads and use them variably depending on their properties and the project.

    I have to second both the Stewart Superior India Ink as a crisp, waterproof ink (works on non-porous surfaces too) and the Tsukineko Brilliance Graphite Black for embossing a clean black line. In my opinion Brilliance inks are under appreciated in the stamping community (although Susan R pulls them out occasionally)

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  25. I'm a VersaFine Onyx kind of gal but haven't tried Hero Arts. Sounds intriguing. Great comparisons, Joan!

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  26. Thank you soooo much!! I have spent days googling what ink can I use instead of Memento coz I hate that the lines are ragged, great that you can use it with copics but horrible lines!! I will give Hero Arts Intense Black a bash!!
    Roni :D

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  27. My Versafine Onyx pad is still over-juicy after more than 15 years, so good to hear that Hero Arts could be a contender. Thanks for the comparison!

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  28. Awesome post!! Thank you!! I have been pining for a blacker Copic ink, so I think I'll check out the HA now. I mean, when you have 6 different black pads, what's one more, right?! Haaa!! So glad you did the work for me--thanks again. :)

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