Art supplies that are cruelty-free or without the use of animal products is an important concern for many artists. While some would argue that you simply cannot replicate or replace natural hair or ingredients within certain products, there is a growing need for synthetic brushes or for clarification as to which art materials do not contain animal products. We thought to cover a few items for those of you that would like to use cruelty-free supplies, this is by no means a definitive list and if you have any to add please let us know and we will add them on!
Watercolour papers are traditionally sized, or treated with a substance to reduce the absorbency of the paper. Usually, to make the sheets less porous, the paper is coated in a gelatin-based glue, gelatin being the collagen which is extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals. Rough and Cold Pressed watercolour papers are often made on a machine which uses woollen felts to give surface texture to the paper, this can be controversial in terms of whether textured watercolour paper can be classed as vegan or not as the paper comes into contact with woollen blankets. Some of the papers below have been made on a machine which uses woollen felts and so the paper would have come into contact with it, however the paper itself does not contain animal derived ingredients. Therefore it is down to the individual choice of the artist and how strongly they feel regarding this as to whether the watercolour paper is suitable for them.
Bockingford Watercolour Paper is not externally sized with an animal-derived size. Traditionally made on a cylinder mould machine at St Cuthbert’s Mill, its attractive surface is created using natural woollen felts that give it a distinctive texture. Appreciated for its excellent colour lifting abilities.
Canson Moulin Du Roy Watercolour Paper is sized with starch, not gelatin. Produced on a traditional cylinder mould machine, this paper has the look and feel of a handmade paper. Both absorbent and strong, Moulin du Roy has internal and surface sizing that permits the lifting of dried colour and the reworking of watercolour. Canson Moulin du Roy watercolour paper is naturally white, acid-free and made entirely without bleaching agents, for an optimal conservation over time.
Strathmore Papers – Strathmore use plant-based and synthetic sizing in the manufacturing of nearly all of their papers, excluding the 500 Series Gemini Watercolour Paper which uses an animal byproduct to size the paper. All of their other papers are vegan friendly and only use plant-based and synthetic sizing.
Fabriano Artistico Traditional White Watercolour Paper – This paper is externally and internally sized with a specially formulated, gelatin-free sizing that is odourless when wet. Therefore it does not contain animal products. It is ideal for watercolour, tempera, gouache, acrylic, ink, charcoal, graphite and drawing. Fabriano Artistico watercolour paper is mould made, produced with 100% cotton, chlorine and acid free, guaranteeing long conservation and inalterability over time.
Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Inks contain no animal derived ingredients however their Drawing Ink range contains soluble dyes in a superior shellac solution. Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug and so therefore the Drawing Ink range can not be considered vegan/free from animal derived ingredients.
Here is a really useful pdf which lists many of the Winsor & Newton products, detailing whether they include animal derived ingredients.
All the inks with Winsor & Newton’s Calligraphy Ink range have been formulated with carefully chosen pigments to ensure maximum brilliance of colour. Single pigments have been used wherever possible to make clean colour mixtures. The formulations of the inks are non waterproof ensuring they are non clogging and have good flow characteristics when used in a fountain or dip pen.
Daler Rowney FW Artists’ Inks do not contain animal products or animal by-products. FW Artists’ Ink is an acrylic based pigmented water resistant ink in a range of 38 colours, all of which have either a 3 or 4 star rating for permanence. Colours can be substantially diluted to achieve the most subtle of tones, very similar in character to watercolour. Such washes will dry to a water resistant film and successive layers of colour can be applied.
Schmincke AERO Professional Colours are totally free of animal products. Aero Colour Professional are highly light-resistant, brilliant air-brush colours developed especially for use with an air-brush spray-gun, they can also be used with retouching pens, dip-pens and brushes. All colours are ready-to-use and can also be used undiluted due to their very fine pigmentation.
Gelli Plates for printmaking – There is no gelatin in a Gelli Plate or animal products, therefore they are considered completely ‘vegetarian friendly.’ They are durable, reusable and easy to clean, meaning they are always ready for printing. Available as a 6x6in, 8x10in, 12x14in or an 8inch round plate.
Holbein Watercolours are manufactured without the use of ox-gall, animal by-products or other dispersing agents. This means that their colours are much stronger and allow for greater density of coverage, allowing a much more controlled application of colour. It has a creamy texture that remains smooth when dry, meaning you can re-wet colours easily. All the colours within the range (except Ivory Black PBk9 which is made from charred animal bones) are animal friendly
Lukas 1862 Watercolours are manufactured without the use of ox-gall, animal by-products or other dispersing agents. This means that their colours are much stronger and allow for greater density of coverage, allowing a much more controlled application of colour. It has a creamy texture that remains smooth when dry, meaning you can re-wet colours easily. All the colours within the range (except Ivory Black PBk9 which is made from charred animal bones) are animal friendly.
ShinHan Premium Watercolours are free from animal derived ingredients with the exception of colour 683 Ivory Black. ShinHan Premium Watercolours are crafted with the finest high-grade gum Arabic. To enhance the clarity and depth of colour, single-pigments are used whenever possible and the usage of mixed pigments has been limited. The ShinHan palette offers colours that are transparent and subtle, yet intense and vibrant, allowing for an even greater freedom of expression.
Royal Talens Rembrandt Watercolours are vegan except for Lamp Black (702) which contains pigment made from bones. The Rembrandt Professional Watercolour range offer a selection of mostly transparent colours. Suitable for both beginners and professionals, these watercolours are durable, intense and reliable.
Qor Watercolours do not contain any honey, which is used in a few traditional watercolour paints. The only colour within the range which is not vegan is Ivory Black (PBk 9)
Daniel Smith Watercolour Paint uses a synthetic binder. The only animal-derived ingredient is the pigment PBk 9. PBk 9 is found in the following watercolours only: Sepia, Ivory Black, Joseph Z’s Neutral Grey and Payne’s Gray. Today as in 1993 when Daniel Smith watercolours were first developed, these watercolours are ‘formulated to meet and exceed the highest industry standards for the manufacture of artist’s paints’, and every batch made is tested and analysed for its performance qualities.
Daniel Smith Watercolour Grounds allow you to make almost any surface suitable for watercolour painting, from stone or wood to cloth, ceramic or plastic. This ground will also support collage, pastels, pencils and mixed media work. The product is classed by Daniel Smith as vegan friendly.
Ox-Gall is a wetting agent that improves the flow of watercolour paint, which usually comes from the gallbladder of cattle. Golden QOR Watercolour Synthetic Ox Gall does not contain animal ingredients and would make an alternative when using watercolour paint.
Rabbit skin glue is also called hide glue and is a general name for glue made by rendering an assortment of animal parts. It is a traditional glue used in the preparation of gesso, as a sealant (size) on canvas (and wood panels) underneath gesso, and as a glue in some book making. An alternative to Rabbit Skin Glue sizing, although not exactly the same, would be the Gamblin PVA Size – PVA Size would be considered a vegan product as it is a neutral pH polyvinyl acetate glue thinned with distilled water. PVA provides a good size layer that seals the fabric but does not re-absorb atmospheric moisture, swell and shrink like rabbit skin glue does. PVA size also doesn’t tighten fabric like animal glue.
Amsterdam Acrylic Standard Series has not been tested on animals and does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. This range of acrylic has a high degree of lightfastness throughout its 70 colours, the paint is durable thanks to a binding agent which consists of 100% acrylic resin and can easily be thinned with water. It has a short drying time; thin films of paint dry within half an hour.
Langridge Oils are completely vegan. They do not use any directly or indirectly sourced animal based products in their paints.
Michael Harding oil paints are cruelty free, with the exception of Ivory Black which contains PBk9 (bone black)
The following Daler-Rowney products do not contain animal products or by-products:
All Artist Oil Colours with the exception of Ivory Black and Blue Black; All Georgian Oil Colours with the exception of Ivory Black, Prussian Green and Coeruleum Hue; All Cryla colours with the exception of Ivory Black; All Designer’s Gouache with the exception of Neutral Grey 2, Paynes Grey, Lamp Black, Cool Grey 1,2, & 3 and Warm Grey 1,2, & 3. All System 3 colours with the exception of Raw Sienna.
Faber-Castell Polychromos and Albrecht Dürer products contain no animal ingredients, using inorganic and synthetic materials and materials of plant origin. Faber-Castell have not initiated any animal testing on products or materials for 22 years, and do not use casein glue in packaging.
Jackson’s Studio Synthetic Watercolour Brushes are made from the highest quality synthetic available, and so do not contain animal hair. There are also no animal products in the glues or varnishes used on the ferrules or handles, and so are completely free from animal ingredients. They have a superb point, great colour holding capacity and a lovely spring.