white opaque pens and alternatives

Uni Mitsubishi (Signo gel pens) and Pilot did choose not to disclose information about their products and companies (information on Uni : 2017; newest information on Pilot: 2021)

Faber-Castell is a distributor for Uni Ball and informed me (April 2021) that all the Uni Ball products they distribute, are free of animal derivatives; however, this concerns only the materials not Uni’s status (concerning the cruelty-free topic);

Speaking of Faber-Castell, these might work for you:

  • Pitt artist pen in white (my opinion when I got them when they came out: not very opaque; buildable, for small highlights , best stored horizontally)
  • watercolour pencils e.g. Albrecht Dürer; wet or dry application; of course pencils will last you practically a lifetime
  • gelatos – watercolour in stick form; blendable with finger;
  • oil pastel in white – should be very opaque
  • soft pastel
  • white pastel stick or Pitt pastel pencil; lovely over watercolour and alcohol markers …

Those are just examples (information from 2021); of course you can use any  gouache or acylic paint (or pens, pastels, …) free of animal ingredients; my other brand informations on e.g. Culture Hustle (Stuart Semple), Liquitex , Golden Paints, Qor Watercolors and others are older (2017, 2018) , but you might want to look into them.

It depends also on what surface and other medium you are working with. I for example used gelatos in the past on canvas and like Pitt pastel pencils over watercolour and alcohol marker.


Printer Ink debacle

Hi everyone,

I was asked very recently about printer ink / cartridges free of animal derivatives. Unfortunately, back in 2017, both Epson and Canon declined to reply to my enquiries.

So, if big companies are out of the question, because they don’t even bother about this topic we have to look at cartridge dupes that will fit our printers.

Nowadays, there are even printers with built-in tanks/ reservoirs on the market, that do not need cartridges; but of course that doesn’t take away from the same hassle printer ink -wise. There is no guarantee that the manufacturers of alternative cartridges will reply either, but if you find a match for your printer in your country, don’t hesitate to use my information sheet to send to those companies, to get the information you need.

I also wrote to Edding in 2017; of course four years have already passed by now, and even then the company could not guarantee that their products have not been polluted with animal derived ingredients on raw material supplier level; the products generally shouldn’t contain any animal based derivatives and they do not test on animals nor commission other parties to do so. Again, this is four year old information.

You should look into print companies and printer ink makers in your country or state … There are actually more eco friendly print companies popping up. Those use at least vegetable based inks, or you can ask them what kind of ink they use.

I actually stumbled over Zazzle offering vegan prints and posters searching for suitable print shops. I do not know the details, but if you are looking to sell prints of your artwort, you could look into that offer.

In the case of my reader, who is located in New Zealand, I found following companies , that might be worth looking into, if you are New Zealand based :

For further information  (whether they are cruelty-free and completely free of animal derivatives) you should contact them, if those sound like fitting your printing /ink needs.


Source: mail contact


Pilot’s reply

Finally one of Pilot’s branches replied to my enquiry.

Pilot Australia got back to me. They had forwarded my enquiry to their headquarters in Japan, which gave the statement that they are not able to give any information about products being free of animal derivatives. The topic of the cruelty-free status was not touched upon.

So this is the new compendium entry:

status: October 3rd,2021

Pilot Pen,

cruelty-free status: undisclosed

products free of animal derivatives: no information disclosed (by choice)


Source: mail contact



No ink pads yet but… alternatives

I was asked very recently about vegan, cruelty-free ink pads; my reply is, that unfortunately currently I have no proper information  on any. Ages ago, maybe 10 years by now, Tsukineko wrote me that their pads were free of animal derivatives; to claim they are so now would be speculation. I did write to the company again  for this website in 2017, but the company declined to reply.

BUT, even if I have no ink pads to show , I can tell you what I, and probably some of you have done, too. I used Faber Castell Pitt Artist brush pens to colour small stamps (not carved out of wood, that very well might hurt your precious supplies). Now there are the Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Marker; which have a thick juicy  brush tip, meaning the stamp is quicker covered and you have more time to transfer onto paper, etc. before the ink dries. If they had time to properly dry on paper, before going over the colour with water, there will be only a translucent smudgy hue layer on top, but the line will stay put on paper; they also only activate once, a second slathering with water will not make line or the translucent hue layer budge further; of course you can do the ol’ trick with any felt tip pencils, highlighters, also watercolour, gouache etc. . For transfer on fabrics, fabric paint in marker or paint-from-jar-on-actual-brush works too. The latter very well. Liquid color applied to a kitchen sponge, or square cellulose sponge cloth or even a plate might also do the trick as ink pad substitute.  In 2017, I received the information that gelli plates (Gelli Arts) are free of animal derivatives; theoretically, you might be able to apply  liquid colours onto one of those and press your stamp into it to get the paint on and then go to town transfering. If you have a gelli plate, maybe that will work.

All of these methods have a plus point, which is you can go very colouful. You can colour your stamp’s design’s elements in different colours, gradients, a colour pattern … no limits.

There are no boundaries, of course don’t go breaking your pens now for the sake of an ink pad replacement, that’s too far .

Until I stumble upon cruelty-free company produced animal derivative free ink pads: Get resourceful, McGuyver the crap out of your art supplies.

paper free of animal derivatives – status 2017

I thought I would share the information here as well, since I just wrote about it to a reader. I haven’t done those – if you will – reminders -in the past; only passed  gathered information on in replies to reader enquiries but not mentioned them on here; but I think it might be informative to more.

About paper:

in 2017, I collected information about following brands selling paper products free of animal derivatives (see compendium):

  • Hahnemühle: all FineArt paper products, technical papers and canvases are free of animal derivatives,with the exception of Photo Silk Baryta and PastellFix (status 2017);  now Hahnemühle even labels new products that are free of animal derivatives; (they even sell coloured watercolour paper now)

Hahnemühle website

Hahnemühle Compendium entry

  • Fabriano : all paper  except three, are free of animal derivatives. The exceptions are Roma, Esportazione and Secolo XIII  (status: March 2017)

Fabriano website

Fabriano compendium entry

  • Strathmore: all paper products are free of animal derivatives except  Gemini Watercolour Paper. (status: 2017)

Strathmore website

Strathmore compendium entry

Faber Castell update: complete information


Faber-Castell is completely cruelty-free and has been so for more than  several decades  (more than 40 years), including their raw material suppliers. This does not only mean, they don’t test on animals and do not commission such testing but also their raw material suppliers don’t test or commission for the material they use. So no animal testing on any level, including MSDS (material safety data sheets) and raw material suppliers.

All listed products here are free of animal derivatives, including the manufacturing process and packaging.

cruelty-free status: cruelty-free on all levels 

Here is my updated (incomplete) list of products, free of animal derivatives :

  • Gelatos
  • all Faber-Castell coloured pencils (including Albrecht Dürer and Polychromos)
  • all graphite pencils
  • watersoluble graphite aquarelle pencils
  • Art Grip aquarelle pencils
  • Pitt Pastel pencils
  • Pitt Graphite Crayons e.g. art.nr. 129902, 129905
  • Graphite Pure pencil art.nr. 1173…
  • all mechanical pencils
  • all mechanical pencil refills; coloured and lead ones
  • jumbo lead pencils
  • graphite and polymer lead
  • indelible pencils (Kopierstifte)
  • Albrecht Dürer watercolour marker
  • regular erasers, kneadable erasers, pencil erasers
  • all Pitt Artist products
  • Pastel crayon Polychromos
  • Polychromos pastels (art. nr. 128 …)
  • tortillion / blending stump/ estompe/ Papierwischer
  • soft pastels
  • oil pastel crayons
  • foldable watercup
  • charcoal,  natural Pitt/ Zeichenkohle
  • charcoal (zeichenkohle)
  • graphite chalk/crayon (Graphitkreide)
  • natural charcoal art.nr. 129114, 129116, 129118, 129122
  • compressed charcoal (Reißkohle) art.nr. 129906, 129903, 129900, 129913, 129916
  • sanguine  crayon (Rötelkreide)
  • Creative Studio pastels
  • Creative Studio oil pastels
  • sharpener
  • ruler
  • Pitt Monochrome
  • Ecco Pigment
  • Grip lead pencils and mechanical pencils
  • Art & Graphic Water Brush
  • Goldfaber Coloured Pencils
  • Goldfaber Aqua Watercolour Pencils
  • Oil Colours (Creative Studio)
  • oil paint (tempera)
  • Creative Studio – watercolour paint in pans
  • watercolour starter set in tubes
  • Synthetic brushes (art. nr. 481600)
  • Broadpen
  • all ink
  • Graf von Faber-Castell inks
  • Faber-Castell ink
  • (ink) converter
  • Grip fountain pen
  • pastel textmarker
  • metallic textmarker
  • textliner 48
  • metallic textliner
  • notebooks DinA5 and DinA6
  • biros
  • biro lead
  • Fineschreiber 1511
  • Grip marker (flipchart, whiteboard, textmarker pens, permanent marker)
  • Grip Textmarker & Textliner
  • Multimark marker
  • all Uni-Ball products (attention: Faber-Castell is  the distributor not the manufacturer; so regard the information as ingredients based only)
  • felt pen and double-sided felt pens (Faserschreiber)
  • T-Shirt marker
  • Jumbo Grip neon
  • all chalk (alle Kreiden)
  • Connector Deckfarben (opaque paint in pans)
  • wax crayons art.nr. 122540, 120010, 120024
  • thermoplastic wax crayons art. nr. 122540, 120404, 120405


Source: mail contact


(M)SDS – (Material) Safety Data Sheets , and how to read them

This post is about the whole animal testing  shebang concerning companies. I just finished writing a rather lengthy reply to a reader about the nuances used in describing the testing methods in Material Safety Data sheets (MSDS), and I came to the conclusion it was now a perfect timing to mention this here as well.

In the past I had to dance around with companies, sometimes correspondence turned from days into weeks, into months and finally into way over a year, to reach the end and get the information, that they don’t know whether the raw material supplier tested on animals or not. So, even though a company can state that it is cruelty-free, they don’t test themselves (which probably all can state, because it is more a commissioning kind of thing), and they do not commission third parties, the raw material supplier might have been left out of the equation. In my enquiries, I do refer to my information sheet that all companies get sent for the topics concerning cruelty-free and free of animal derivatives.

Cruelty-free, you can split three ways:

      • the company does not test on animals
      • the company does not commission other parties to test on animals, nor does it use such gained information for the materials used
      • the raw – material supplier does not test on animals nor commissions it (for the materials used by the certain company;  a raw material supplier not testing on animals at all/ commissioning it, would probably be a jaw dropping incident)

the use of animal derivatives (ingredients)  is a two parter :

      • the product does not contain animal derivatives
      • no animal derivatives are used in the manufacturing process/ production

Although a product can be free of animal derivatives, this does not conclude the path to its existence being free of it. Pigments for example, can be dispersed with animal fats or oils in the manufacturing process.

I would also like to mention, that if companies use the term the “finished” product or “end-”  product was not tested on animals / is cruelty-free, alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear.   Also the term the ” products are cruelty-free” does not ever read as the company is free of animal testing. These are two different statements . It may very well be that a company can state in such way and is cruelty-free (see above) and doesn’t know about the intonation their wording has; how it is read by the consumer; or maybe the company doesn’t care about it. It is always up to the consumer and the way the consumer reads and interprets the information.

This concludes a very long preface, to finally come to the topic of Material Safety Data sheets, hereon after mentioned as MSDS.

Not all companies offer their MSDS online for public access, but they are very helpful to the consumer, to find out whether,  1, a product contains animal derivatives e.g. Bone Black PBk9,  2, how its raw- material were tested.

Under the subject toxicology it gets quite interesting.

  • e.g. “similar” chemicals / material have/ has been tested on e.g. rats, rabbits …  this does not conclude to the actual used chemical/ material being tested on animals
  • the chemical/ material shows … in tests… – naming animals such as, rats (often used to swallow material), rabbits (often material used on skin and in eyes), guinea pigs ; and mentioning effects upon breathing material in;
  • it states under toxicity “ocular” and “cutaneous” irritation, which also means animal testing, because who would offer themselves up to get chemicals poured into eyes, on skin or open wounds? – no one
  • mentioning of a certain US university as having been commissioned to do the material testing, is also a very inconclusive information, as the university does test on animals, so no certainty here;

In case you stumble over the ol’ “Ames Test” under toxicology in the MSDS: the Ames test does not use living animals, but is a bacterial test; as gathering from “not living” also outlines, it uses animal matter, rat liver extract.

The importance of the date on the MSDS: here you can get a rough, but not completely certain idea about when the information was gathered / the testing done. Chemicals / raw material were tested on animals in the past, yes, several decades ago, when it was necessary by law; when a MSDS sheet states the date of e.g. 2018 and mentions animal tests , this does not mean it was accessed old information (decades ago) it can be very fresh – three year old information, meaning the mentioned animals being tested on three years ago;

This leads to how important it also is to get the information from the companies directly, and why I write to them, because MSDS don’t give you all the information needed. So if the MSDS reads inconclusive concerning animal testing/ cruelty, if a company states no animal testing concerning the raw material suppliers gives you a better, hopefully clearer overview.

I mentioned before that I  – until recently- reached out several times to companies to get more information  concerning this precarious topic. I decided to no longer pursue a company, if they chose to purposely omit the cruelty-free topic, though enquired about and information sheet submitted that explains all the topics as well as gives examples of animal derivatives. What you find from this February (2021) on under the listing of a company here, is for example “cruelty-free status: undisclosed”, which means, a company did not give me the information. I give you a summary of what a company relied to me and a list of products free of animal derivatives, or vegetarian-friendly, if they offer such products. I will also mention, whether the information adhers to the product or manufacturing cycle as well, if I receive as much information.

It overall relies on you, the reader and consumer, to  make your decision. Everyone chooses for themselves. Is it enough, that an end-product doesn’t contain animal derivatives or vegetarian-friendly ones, does the cruelty-free part play a role in your decision?  There are a many people with different opinions and views on why and what they choose. Not all vegans e.g. are vegans because of the treatment of animals but for health reasons or ethical reasons concerning humanity (for the resources and money spent on raising “food” animals, more humans could be helped and saved from starvation). There are vegans, for whom the definition concerns alimentation only. There are omnivores, who’d rather not have animal suffering attached to products they use. Again, everyone makes their own decisions.

What I gathered from my correspondence with companies over the last four years is, that raw material suppliers are very potent institutions, or big bad wolves, if you like. Companies that use MSDS provided by their raw material suppliers are afraid or rather not ask about animal testing in order not to make the raw material suppliers cross and suffer repercussions, such as being dropped as customer – I guess. This also does not only concern small companies but also big ones. Apparently they hold such power over  companies, in a way their consumers, that those buckle underneath. The (rhetorical) question is, whether raw material suppliers should hold such power. To be clear, there are enough alternatives and already so much data collected from decades past, that there is no need for further animal testing.

I would also like to point out that it receiving information concerning the raw material supplier from a company brings certainty , in contrary to companies talking around the topic or leaving it out altogether. So even if you find the information of a company listed upsetting  – it means the company didn’t hide it; a company going out of its way to not talk about the topic, not mentioning it at all or philibustering their head off, those purposely draw a curtain over your eyes. Only talking about positive things, their products and not questioned topic, does not render them in a better light than the companies, that spoke the truth. As a consumer, you should be  wary about getting the wool pulled over your eyes.

Additional note, not concerning “animal” – but human cruelty: the topic Mica;  if companies use mica and do not disclose, whether it is natural or synthetical and where its origins are, its origins can be very questionable and ethically tainted  with child labour. If a company for example takes great lengths, describing e.g. all the locations of quarries and countries, where the pigments are sourced from, doing this for all the pigments they use, but purposely leave out the origin of mica used (even not mentioned on MSDS sheets), the origin might be ethically very questionable.  Another method of non-disclosure is to say a product is “made in .. ” giving it a tone of pride but also veils the mica heritage in opaque veils, especially if said products main ingredients is mica.

Please inform yourself about the mining of mica . It is not only found in art supplies but also e.g. in cosmetics and make-up . You might want to have a look at Refinery 29’s video on youtube.

Here is once more my information sheet – about the topics of animal testing and animal derivatives – at your disposal:

the English version and the German version



source: mail contact / company correspondence, company websites,






Umton Barvy

 Umton Barvy – Summary:

The only animal derived ingredient to be found in Umton’s artistic oil colours, tempera gouache and watercolours is PBk9 /Amorphous Carbon/ Bone Black in several colours (see attached PDF lists and colour listings on their website for more information).

At this time, there is no further information whether this applies only to the finished products or manufacturing cycle as well.

Company cruelty-free status : undisclosed

Umton website

Umton: chemical composition

Composition of Colours – list received Feb 2021

Colour Index Numbers – received in Feb 2021

source: mail contact