The darkest graphite pencil is a “pigmented” ink. I say pigmented because it is ink that isn’t “watery”, and it works in the same way as a “water soluble” liquid ink. The darker the ink, the more intense it becomes when applied to paper. Graphite ink is sometimes referred to as “black pencil”, and will appear on your work when it’s dry enough to take advantage of the ink’s color; you may notice it more when you have high-contrast or black-on-white work. Note: the ink in the picture that was used in this essay may be a different color from what is pictured.
Another way to think about black pencil is that it’s ink that is “dashed” or “flipped”, or sometimes sometimes reversed. It isn’t that the ink “flipped” and then stuck on the back; it happened when a thin layer of graphite ink was mixed with a thinner layer of water.
If you look at black pencil’s color wheel, the colors are: black, white, yellow, green, blue, magenta, cyan, and purple. The top row describes the “base” colors of this ink. The bottom row describes the ink’s color in the ink holder. The color in the ink holder indicates whether the ink is “pigmented” or “water soluble”.
How do I know if my graphite pencil is “pigmented”?
What is that gray line in the graphite pencil on the photo?
Look carefully at the graphite pencil, and read the gray line in the graphite pencil, then see if you can see a different gray line. If you can see an “arrow” that is pointing at the graphite pencil, then the ink is pigmented.
This is one of the more common ways that ink can be black or white when it’s applied, although you should understand the difference between the “green” and “blue” colors.
“Green” (or brown) ink will be green, and the “blue” ink will be blue or magenta. Green ink is “water soluble”, but blue is “dashed”, which can be wet with water, then dried so it won’t get all over the work.
What is the difference between “water soluble” and “water soluble inks?”
Water soluble ink that is “water soluble” means that it won’t get all over your paper.