Etching Inks – Charbonnel


Intaglio inks are an essential part of intaglio (a design incised or engraved into a material) engraving/printing. Examples of intaglio printing are etching, drypoint, engraving, photogravure, heliogravure, aquatint, and mezzotint.

Charbonnel’s range of products answers to the standards of the most demanding printers and artists. The pigments are chosen for their excellent lightfastness and low acidity. They are blended with top quality oils and finely milled to ensure trouble free printing and lasting works of art.

The Charbonnel Earth tone inks have a synthetic oxide or iron base. The synthetic oxides possess the characteristics of the natural oxides without their defects. They are more lively, less grainy and dry more rapidly. They are also semi-opaque. The Metallic etching inks feature larger pigment particles and thus a thicker paste than our other colours. This is because grinding the pigment down too much would destroy the metallic quality of these inks. Charbonnel Black etching inks are a little more complicated. They can differ in shade and viscosity depending on the composition. See the classification table below.

View more information on each colour.

All hues consist of ground pigment fully miscible with polymerized Linseed Oil to provide an ink of superb consistent quality. Designed for use with copper, brass or zinc plates, the detail and subtleties of an artist’s work come to life with Charbonnel inks.

Product features:

  • 100% natural, additive free and non toxic intaglio etching ink.
  • Every colour is highly pigmented, delivering impressive covering power even after dilution.
  • Linseed oil based binder. So, like oil paints, Charbonnel inks absorb oxygen to dry.
  • Depending on the colour, the drying time is between 2 and 3 weeks.
  • Wash with oil or solvent.
  • High lightfastness rating (Excellent ***).
  • Opaque (Blacks & Metallics) & Semi-Opaque (Earth tone colours).
  • Available in 60ml tubes or 200ml tubs.


Colour Disclaimer. Actual colours may vary since every computer monitor has a different capability to display colours and everyone sees these colours differently. We cannot guarantee that the colour you see accurately portrays the true colour of the product.


View our range of Charbonnel products.

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The binder used for Charbonnel colors is stand oil. This is polymerized linseed oil, i.e. oil which has been heated so as to be thicker. This linseed oil yellows only very slightly with age and is archival. The more the oil is cooked, the more viscous it will be. This viscosity is measured in poises. A high poise number indicates a high viscosity.
Charbonnel colors all contain a 30 poise stand oil (medium viscosity).
Some blacks also contain 200 poise stand oil. These varied viscosities allow different techniques and results: black 55985, for example, will be difficult to wipe due to its high viscosity but will enhance the bards of the dry points. It is ideal for dry point and aquatint. Charbonnel intaglio inks contain no additives (siccatives or wax). This gives them optimal intensity and qualities. Artists can add a siccative if desired for example. It is always easier to add a product than to remove one.



Charbonnel inks are more or less easy to wipe depending on their viscosity and the pigment used.
Some blacks are difficult to wipe due to their high poise rate. All the colors contain a 30 poise stand oil. Some shades such as Prussian blue are difficult to wipe because of their pigment. The wiping can be improved by adding a little linseed oil to the shade before applying it to and heating the plate (mainly in winter).



The consistency of Charbonnel colors is identical; from the new 60ml tube to the 200ml pot. The consistency of a Charbonnel intaglio ink co lour is measured by its viscosity which will vary slightly depending on the pigment used and for the blacks according to the viscosity.
The adhesion and thickness of an ink can be reduced by adding linseed oil which will make wiping easier. The thickness of the ink can also be reduced with 30 or 60 stand oil. In this case the ink will remain thick (useful if the ink is wiped too easily). If the ink is thought to be too fluid, the user may add a white transparent base.


Siccative Properties “Drying”:

The intaglio colors are like oil colors, they dry by oxidation. However, because the thickness of an ink in an engraving is generally less than for an oil painting, it will take less time to dry. In addition, paper absorbs more paint than a canvas. You should allow about two weeks for the paint to dry thoroughly.



The opacity or transparency of a Charbonnel ink will vary depending on the pigment used. This characteristic is very important for the creation of work with several plates. An opaque color applied on a transparent color will not have at all the same effect as, for example, two transparent colors applied on each other.



Charbonnel inks can be kept for years in their boxes or tubes. If the greaseproof paper which is placed on the ink in the boxes is damaged, it should be replaced by another to prevent the upper layer of the paint drying.

Table of Charbonnel Etching Inks:



Carbon Black Carbon Black


Low viscosity.

Easy to wipe.

Can be used in particular for test print runs.
Soft Black Ivory Black


Low viscosity.

Easy to wipe.

Very supple black.

Can be used for lowering the tones of a plate which is too heavily etched.

Black (55981) Ivory Black, Carbon Black


Very viscous. Easier to wipe than 55985. Universal supple black.
Black (55985) Ivory Black, Carbon Black, Prussian Blue


Highly viscous. Difficult to wipe. Very deep, slightly blue black.

Can be used to strengthen the other blacks.

Black (58995) Carbon Black


Low viscosity.

Easy to wipe.

Can be used in particular for test print runs.

“Cleaning black” for the plate.

Black F66 Ivory Black, Carbon Black


Low viscosity.

Easy to wipe.

Medium intensity.
Sanguine Synthetic Iron Oxide


Medium viscosity.

Easy to wipe.

A brown with hints of red.

Drying time: approx. 5 days.

Warm Sepia Sodium Aliminosilicate Ivory Balck Synthetic Iron Oxyde


Medium viscosity.

Easy to wipe.

A brown with hints of red.

Drying time: approx. 5 days.

Bistre Iron Oxide, Azo Yellow, Carbon Black


Medium viscosity.

Easy to wipe.

A brown with hints of red.

Drying time: approx. 5 days.

Gold Natural Bronze base pigment. Very viscous.

Relatively easy to wipe.

Do not mix these colours so as not to reduce their effectiveness. Attention should be paid to risks of gold paint oxidation, particularly when used with copper plates.
Silver Aluminum base pigment. Very viscous.

Relatively easy to wipe.

Do not mix these colours so as not to reduce their effectiveness. 

YouTube video


Etching is a printmaking technique capable of producing atmospheric tonal prints. The technique can be used on its own or combined with many others – there are endless creative possibilities. In this article we describe how to get started with etching and explain the various materials and tools you need to create your first print.

Etching is an intaglio printmaking technique, where acid or other corrosive chemicals are used to incise lines or marks into a metal plate. An acid resistant ground (or resist) is applied to the surface of the plate, and an image is scratched or drawn through the ground to expose the metal underneath it. The plate is then placed in an acid bath for a period where exposed marks are etched away. Ink is applied to the plate, and pushed into the etched lines before being placed in a press, where it is printed onto damp paper. The resulting prints often have rich, velvety lines and a range of tones which stand alone or can be combined with a range of other printmaking techniques.

Etching tools of various sizes can be used to make marks in the etching ground. Using a variety of etching needles allows you to create lines of varying widths and depths. It is like using a pen without ink, and they have metal points to scratch into the etching ground.

Etching ink is stiff, highly pigmented and designed to stick to the grooves and indentations in the plate. There are a variety of different types and brands of etching ink, and they generally fall into two categories – traditional oil based ink and watersoluble etching ink.


Additional information


Black (F66), Soft Black, Black (55981), Black (55985), Black (58995), Sanguine, Warm Sepia, Bistre, Carbon Black, Gold, Silver


200ml, 60ml


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