Ancient cultures around the world independently discovered and invented ink for writing or drawing. Mostly, the ink they developed was used to paint cave walls as a means of sending messages or recording important events. Today, we have more sophisticated inks that can be used in almost any kind of medium.
Ink was discovered in Egypt and China in 2500 B.C. Back then, carbon particles called lampblack were used as colorant, and animal hair and feathers were used as brushes. These tools allowed ancient painters and writers to illustrate a wide range of subjects such as history, daily life and many others.
When the Renaissance period came, new tools such as wooden styluses and metalpoints were developed. These greatly enhanced the features afforded by ink, which encouraged scholars such as Leonardo da Vinci to use ink in their studies especially in figure drawings. Nicolas Poussin’s “Bacchanal” is a good example of an artwork that exemplifies the precision possible with ink drawings. During this era, other media were also used with ink to create drawings such as chalk, watercolor, and pencil. Ink also became one of the media used for block printing. A good example of this is Albrecht Durer’s “Apocalypse”, which features woodblock printing.
For decades, ink has become an important element of creating meticulous sketches and compositions. It has helped advance literacy and promoted the language and arts.
Personal computers and laptops have greatly revolutionized the development of ink. With the use of high powered printers, images and letters can now be transferred to paper anytime needed. Today, the ink industry is thriving despite predictions that the printing industry is coming to an end. At least for now, the future of the industry is secured as home printers still require ink for printing.