I get asked constantly what ink to use if you want to work in ink and wash with a fountain pen. This information was previously included in my comprehensive 7 part guide to sketching with fountain pens, but I thought it would be useful to repeat the information on its own.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Most permanent inks are not designed to be put into fountain pens as the pigments and other ingredients can totally clog up and ruin the feed of the fountain pen. However, in recent years there have been a number of permanent inks designed especially for fountain pens using finely ground pigments. But these can still clog your pen so “use at your own risk” and make sure that you don’t leave your pens lying around unused with ink in them for long periods of time. (More about pen maintenance here). Do not put these inks into any vintage pens without doing your own research on suitability.
The most popular brands of Permanent Ink are
- Platnium Carbon Ink. I have only recently started testing this ink but I know that many sketchers use it and are very happy with it. And they come in cartridges!
- De Atramentis Document Ink (please note: it is the Document ink range only that is permanent). This is the ink that I love to use. It flows wonderfully and comes in a range of colours – in fact they specifically designed a set so that we could mix any colour we want. I just love drawing with different coloured inks – you can see some of my sketches and blog posts here.
- Super 5. They come in a range of five different colours and are good fast-drying permanent inks. I haven’t used them extensively but in my limited testing found them to dry out in the pen quicker than De Atramentis. This ink has a new formula which I haven’t tested and is now also available in cartridges.
- Noodlers Bulletproof or Polar range of inks. These were the first permanent inks I was introduced to and used without any problems for many years. Other people have had a problems with clogging pens (particularly Lamys) and the ink smearing when applying paint over the top but I rarely had any problems with it. There are many theories that have circulated online (such as ‘Noodlers doesn’t work for Moleskine paper’) but my own experience was different from many of those theories – there are so many variables when using fountain pens for sketching. Lexington Grey (a beautiful colour) is generally considered to be the best performing of the Noodlers inks.
- Sketchink by Rohrer and Klingner. I have been told that this ink is same as the original Super5 formula (mentioned above). I find that it dries out in my Lamy pens more than De Atramentis.
There are a few other brands of inks on the market but make sure you only use ink that is designed for a fountain pen and say so on the label.
What ink do you use?