If you’ve perused the photo library of the Gearpunk dice, you might have noted that the Zinc-finished dice are rather shiny, especially when compared to the brass and copper variants.
I’m partial to the antiqued look, both because I like the more rustic aesthetic, and because the antiquing makes the dice easier to read. Since the factory managed to mangle our order’s quantities, we wound up with over 100 extra shiny Zinc D10 “decader” dice. One of them seemed like the perfect test subject, then, to see what sort of simple inking options I might have. I’ll be trying other experiments, but this is the initial test, which I’m pleased with.
I used Speedball “super black” India ink, water and a small hobby paintbrush.
Specifically, this ink:
And a brush a bit like the middle one here:
Though I picked up mine in a set of three at the local hobby store for $2. It doesn’t need to be an expensive brush, just one that will hold a point when wet and is about 1/8″ in diameter or so.
I put eight drops of water and three drops of ink in a plastic cup for this experiment. I diluted the ink to give myself a little time for the ink to dry. When used straight, the ink dries fairly quickly, and I wanted a little wiggle room in case I messed up. This experiment really doesn’t need a lot of ink, either. I would have been fine with 1 drop of ink and 2 drops of water in retrospect, though it’s not a bad thing to have a bit more than necessary… and it’s not like a few drops really put much of a dent in my supply. That’s the nice thing about this ink; it’s great to use, even when diluted.
I used the brush to pick up a bit of the ink, then gently applied it to the background behind the numbers on the die face. The water tension naturally makes the ink settle into the recesses, though I did need to guide it around a little. I added a little with a light touch to the other recesses in the design, and brushed lightly to help spread things around and get some ink in the smaller details around the edges and corners.
Since the ink does run a bit, I did only one face at a time, the one facing up and its edges. Inking the adjacent faces would mean the ink would pool largely on the downhill side of the contours, and while I didn’t want a flat color, neither did I want it heavily lopsided.
Each face, then, took a few minutes to dry. That’s not too bad, and if I were doing a set of dice, one face at a time per die, by the time I finished with the last die’s upright face, the first die could be ready to roll over and do the next face. It’s best if you get each application dry before doing the next, so that timing might not work perfectly, but all in all, it wasn’t too much of a wait.
I’m sorry I didn’t have my camera handy to take photos while I was working, this project had to fit in some of my very constrained time last night and I wasn’t properly prepared.
Here are some photos of the finished die next to one of its unprocessed kin, in a variety of lighting situations (including one that’s just a color correction, taking the yellows out of an indoor photo).
I think it turned out well, much better than I had expected. I’ll be doing more experiments when I can, but this was a good start, I think.