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Lightfastness Tests

May 26, 2012

The following list is an attempt to put all the lightfastness tests I’ve done since starting this blog in the fall of 2008 onto one page. I will endeavor to update it as I do additional tests for lightfastness on other media.

I have listed the items individually even though some links lead to reviews were multiple pens are covered. Not every post is conclusive, i.e., I may have reviewed an item but not done a lightfastness test but plan to add one when I have a moment. At least you’ll know where I stand on these items. For the most part these posts contain lightfastness tests that you can see for yourself.

You can easily do lightfastness tests for yourself, if your favorite pen or pencil is not found on this list. You can make a chart of lines and solid blocks of each color you are testing. You should make your chart in two identical columns. Be sure to label them with a pen that is lightfast. And be sure to date both halves of the chart with the creation date and first date of exposure.

Then tear your chart vertically in half so that one column is on each half. Place one chart in an envelope or file out of the light. Place the other half of the chart face out in a window and leave it taped there for several months. When you take the exposed chart down add the date of removal from the light source so you have that for your records.

Compare the exposed chart portion to the control portion of the chart which was stored away from any light at all. Based on your comparison you’ll be able to see how stable or fugitive the colors of that medium are. 

We don’t typically put our artwork in direct sunlight so this process speeds up the exposure process your artwork behind class will experience.

Keep in mind however that light exposure is not the only contributing factor causing colors to be fugitive. Acids in paper may alter inks but also some formulations, such as some dyes, fade even when they are not exposed to light. You will see the more quickly in this test and can best decide whether or not to continue to use a product.

Art Kure Brush Pens

Black Pencil Recommendations

Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901

Caran d’Ache Neo Color II

Derwent Graphitints

Derwent InkTense

Derwent Drawing Pencils

Herbin Encre de Chine

Japanese Brush Pens

Letraset Aqua Markers

Nexus Pens

Noodler’s Polar Brown Ink

The Pentel Color Brush Pen

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen

Pentel’s Slicci Pen

The Preppy Pen

Stabilo All

Stabilo Tones

Staedtler Pigment Liner

Tradio Pen

I have not written reviews on lightfastness for the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist’s Brush and Calligraphy Pens, but both these pen types contain lightfast ink (which also dries quickly and can be easily painted over with watercolor or gouache). I love sketching with the Calligraphy variant of this brand of pen.

Wet Media

I use the following brands of wet media, which are rated as artist grade and all carry lightfastness designation on the individual tubes so you can make a decision about individual pigments. If you use the search engine on this blog you will find a number of posts about these media, the pigment selection I use, how I use them, why I use them, and so on.

Schmincke Gouache

Schmincke Pan Watercolors

Daniel Smith Tube Watercolors

M. Graham Tube Watercolors

M. Graham Tube Gouache

Golden Acrylics (tubes)

Golden Fluid Acylics (bottles)

FW Acrylic Inks (bottles)


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