Ink Sample Tests and Reviews

Browns full pageMy ink samples have provided some good art therapy during exam time. Luckily, exams are over and I finally have the free time to post some ink reviews. I ordered:

+ Noodler’s Tiananmen Square
+ Noodler’s Golden Brown
+ Noodler’s Nightshade
+ Private Reserve Black Cherry
+ Waterman Havana Brown
+ Omas Sepia
+ Diamine Blue-black
+ J. Herbin Vert Olive

I tried to scan the test pages, but the colors were so inaccurate that I decided to just take photographs. Note: click on any images to view larger!

Clearly, I prefer neutral inks. They’re much more versatile, and a good neutral ink can be just as interesting as bright turquoise. I tested all 8 inks with a dip pen because I didn’t want to take the time to flush my fountain pen 8 times in a row. Of course, a dip pen gives a much more saturated sample, but they’re all still accurate. I’ve already tried three of these in my Lamy Safari (fine nib) over the past month, and they’ve written only slightly lighter.


Noodler’s Tiananmen is a deep wine red. Somebody on FPN described it as “dried blood red,” which I suppose is accurate. It’s definitely dark, but it’s rich enough that it won’t easily be mistaken for brown. It has good flow and some attractive shading, as you can see below:

Tiananmen Cherry shading

Private Reserve’s Black Cherry is certainly more brown than Tiananmen, but seems to be a true dark maroon. It may be one of those rare colors that actually resembles its name: black cherries! Has visible shading, but less than Tiananmen.

Waterman Havana Brown is a rich chestnut brown with lovely shading. This is a very popular brown, probably because it’s not too red or too yellow. This is a classy color, an ink that says, “Why, yes, I own many leather-bound books.”

sepia shading

Omas Sepia is quite a dark brown, almost identical to Waterman Havana but with less red. You can see in the above picture that it’s the ink with the least shading in the set of samples.

golden brown shading sample

Noodler’s Golden Brown: I love this ink! It’s the color of crystallized honey, or desert sand. I thought at first it would be too light for everyday use, but it dries to a lovely shade that fully legible. I’ve had this ink in my Lamy Safari for the past week and I love it. You can also see from the above image that it has the most shading of all the inks that I ordered– it’s even visible using my fine nib in my Safari.  

Cool Colors

I seem to have ordered far more warm inks than cool ones...

Noodler’s Nightshade is a shade that seems to vary widely depending on the paper and pen. When I first tested it in my exacompta sketchbook, it was a beautiful dusky eggplant color. I was excited because it seemed like it would be a good alternative to black without being too flamboyant. However, when I inked my Safari with this shade, it appeared much lighter and more transparent. 

Diamine Blue-Black is a dark turquoise with some shading. It’s one of the lightest blue-blacks out there, but it’s certainly still a lovely color. 

J. Herbin Vert Olive needs to be used on an absorbent paper to be legible; it’s another ink that dries darker and becomes easier to read. It’s a great “pop” color in my repertoire of neutrals.


8 Responses to “Ink Sample Tests and Reviews”

  1. 1 Ariane June 8, 2009 at 12:44 am

    wow, I stumbled unto your blog through craftgrrl LJ. I must say, your writing is pretty amazing, and you’re one of those people who can actually write with fountain pens!
    I can write with a fountain pen but not without making a zillion splotches on my paper and getting my fountain pen clogged at least once which usually doesnt exactly look the best :S

  2. 2 PeteAsh June 19, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Great post, you can certainly write very nicely. I have quite a large number of fountain pens but have never been able to write like this.

    It’s always nice to see different inks tested to give a feel of how they look, keep up the good work.

  3. 3 Paul January 14, 2010 at 4:56 am

    I found your blog when searching for a review of Noodler’s Tiananmen ink, and found myself perusing your whole site. It’s really quite nice; your writing and drawings are wonderful, and I like you’re taste ink and your social commentary.


  4. 4 Paul January 14, 2010 at 4:57 am

    oops, that’s taste IN ink.

  5. 5 Cole January 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Thank you for your kind words! I love to hear that people are reading both sides of this site– I worry that it’s easy to just stick to either the art, or the social commentary.

  6. 6 Rochelle June 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Hey just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you
    know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking
    issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

  1. 1 An Inky Return « The Orchard Trackback on August 15, 2009 at 8:52 pm
  2. 2 Top Posts of 2010 « The Orchard Trackback on December 31, 2010 at 4:28 pm

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