Schmincke Aero Color Acrylic Ink Review Waterproof Fluid for Airbrush and Dip Pen
Aero Color is a fluid acrylic ink made by Schmincke in Germany. Like their high quality watercolors and gouache, they primarily use lightfast pigments that are very finely ground. They are smooth textured, can be diluted with water for a wet wash or with table salt texture techniques (similar to watercolor paints) and flow freely off a fine detail brush or dip pen.
My favorite use for them is as a waterproof drawing ink on cotton watercolor paper. Once dry, usually within minutes, it becomes permanent. The transparent colors can be layered for deeper values, just as in glazing techniques in watercolor. They start to have a subtle sheen in thicker layers, but can be very matte in wet washes. They do offer 12 "total cover" opaque colors that can be used to cover dark surfaces. The "candy" colors are extremely transparent and while the "total cover" colors are opaque, almost any color can be mixed with "supra white" to become an opaque gouache-like pastel.
There are a few pigments that are rarely used in other paint brands and several that only appear in a handful of the highest quality professional brands. PBr23 Teak Brown is a very transparent orange-brown that often appears too red to cameras/scanners causing swatches online to be inaccurate (I have attempted to color correct this in my swatch below). PBr25 Burnt Sienna is another beautiful warm brown, similar to Holbein's version called Imidazolone Brown.
Other pigments of limited availability across brands include PY93, PY110, PR166, PR221 and two-tone metallic mica based colors such as "Silver-Violet" or "Gold-Red". While increasingly common )but limited mostly to pro grade paints aside from Daler Rowney's Aquafine) they also offer PB16 Phthalo Turquiose. It is a gorgeous alternative to PB15 as a primary mixing blue, a green leaning cyan color that makes lovely greens when mixed with yellows or lovely purples when mixed with Magenta PR122.
Cons: There are 12 metallics (down from 24 after recently simplifying their catalog) including standard metallics like gold and bronze. They could make lovely highlights/foil/metal leaf alternatives for use with a detail brush. While these are beautiful, I do not like how these flow from a dip pen compared to the non metallic colors. Mica watercolors work much better for that purpose, which are unfortunately not waterproof. Experimenting with mica watercolor mixed with thin varnish or clear airbrush mediums may be worth looking into for dip pen. There is an unusual super-fine holographic glitter called "Vision Space", a rainbow-reflective glitter which shows up best in layers on a dark surface under certain lighting conditions. I found Vision Space to be too subtle to be worth the high price tag. When mixing the metallic/pearl white with other colors there was not enough reflective sparkle once dry to really tell that I was trying to mix a "pearl" color.
Where to buy? These are available at Jackson's here.
Want to see how these colors compare to other brands? Check out the swatch card pigment database here.