Look through photos on social media platforms like Instagram and it won’t take long before you see the popularity of ink splat photos. There’s a good reason ink splats are so popular. They can show off all of the properties of ink, from shading to sheen, and usually represent the different colors you can expect to get from a given ink. If you’ve always wondered how to make an ink splat, I’ll show you a few different methods you can use.
How To Make An Ink Splat
The first thing you’ll need is some ink and paper. Ideally you’ll use a high-quality paper that will show any sheen that the ink might have. I do all of my splats inside a small plastic container so that ink doesn’t fly all over the place. While it is not required, it helps keep mess to a minimum and also makes cleanup much easier. Finally, you’ll need something to pull ink out of the bottle and transfer it onto the paper. This could be a pen, eyedropper, syringe, cotton swab or something else.
The Different Kinds Of Ink Splat
It might surprise you to hear that there are many different ways to make an ink splat. Each method will give different results, so feel free to try each one and see which you like the best. Also, these terms and definitions are all my own. They make sense to me, but if you don’t like what I call them, don’t get too hung up on the word and focus on the technique instead.
Splat – This is one of the two most popular types of splat and is what comes to mind when I think of the word “splat”. The body of the ink splat is fairly well contained, but still random enough to look different every time. To get this splat you’ll need a bit of pressure behind the ink, so I use a 1ml syringe (a larger one will work as well). I pull up the syringe about .05 ml to get some air into the barrel. I then put it into the ink and pull up another .05ml so the syringe is at .1ml… half ink, half air. I hold the tip of the needle about 1 inch over a piece of paper and quickly push down the plunger. This squirts the ink on to the paper, giving a nice sized splat. You’ll want to be careful that you don’t use too much ink, otherwise you’ll get more of a splash.Splash – An ink splash (or you could also call it a squirt) uses more ink than a splat does. Even though the name sounds like you’d take the bottle and toss some ink at the paper, that would be way too much ink. Instead, you can get the same results with a syringe or pipette. If you use a pipette, there will already be air in it when you suck in the ink. If you use a syringe, you’ll want to suck in some air before you suck in the ink. I’ve found that 0.1ml of ink is a good amount with about twice that much air (0.2ml). For the splash, I’d suggest squirting the ink at a bit of an angle, up to 45-degrees to the paper while holding it about 1 inch away. Splatter – A splatter uses a lot more air than ink. This has the effect of spreading out the ink on the paper. For a good splatter, a syringe works the best. I’d suggest using at least five times more air than ink. Again, it doesn’t take much ink, so start with around 0.1ml. You’ll also want to hold the tip of the needle farther from the paper than you do with a splat. Somewhere around 4 inches works the best. Quickly press down on the plunger of the syringe and get ready for a nice splatter! Smear – While this isn’t technically a splat, it is still a popular way to show off your ink. To make a good smear, you’ll need something that’s not absorbent to smear ink around on the paper. You can use a pen nib, letter opener or even a butter knife. Put a few drops of ink on your paper and smear it around. You can either create a solid smear or random lines, whichever appeals to you the most. If you want more uniformity in your smear, you can use a cotton swab that was dipped directly into the ink bottle and smeared on the paper. With this method, layering multiple smears on top of each other will show a large range of shading and color for your ink. Drop – This is the other most popular type of splat and is probably the easiest to do. The nice thing about doing an ink drop is that you can use the ink that’s already in your fountain pen! You can also use a syringe, pipette or eye dropper… basically anything that will hold a bit of ink. For a good drop, you’ll want to hold the ink source about 12-16 inches above your paper. Make sure your aim is good, as if you miss the paper you’ll end up with ink somewhere it doesn’t belong. When you’ve got everything lined up, simply let a single drop of ink fall onto the paper and let gravity do all the work. You should end up with a nice, round splat with some interesting scalloped edges.
Even if you’re an experienced ink splatter, hopefully you learned a new technique from this article. While writing or doodling is a great way to use your fountain pens, sometimes you just want to play with ink. That’s when making some ink splats can be really satisfying. If you want to get a little creative with your splats, try combining different ink colors or techniques on the same piece of paper and see what you get.
Hi, my name is John. I’m a Colorado-born professional photographer who recently moved back to Denver after spending 3 years in San Francisco. I’ve been using and collecting fountain pens for over 20 years. I got my first one in college when I got bored taking notes with ballpoints and pencils. Since then I’ve bought and sold hundreds of pens, but have consistency in my love of Esterbrooks.