Fountain pens are more than just writing instruments; they are a statement of style, sophistication, and personal expression.

One of the most exciting aspects of using a fountain pen is the ability to choose from a vast array of inks.

From classic blacks and blues to vibrant greens and purples, the world of fountain pen inks is as diverse as it is colorful.

This comprehensive guide will help you navigate this world, providing insights into the different types of inks, their properties, and how to choose the best color and brand for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose between cartridges or ink bottles, depending on your pen and your preference.
  • Fountain pen inks come in a vast array of colors, offering endless possibilities for personal expression.
  • Inks can have unique properties like shading, sheening, and shimmering.
  • There are two main types of fountain pen inks: water-based and oil-based.
  • Some brands offer waterproof and water-resistant inks.
  • The choice of ink can greatly affect the writing experience, so it's worth trying out different colors and brands to find the perfect one for you.
  • The type of paper you use can also affect the appearance of your ink, so consider using paper that is designed to enhance the properties of fountain pen inks.
  • Remember, the world of fountain pen inks is vast and colorful, offering endless possibilities for personal expression. So, dive in and start exploring!

Cartridges vs. Bottled Ink: Which is Right for You?

When it comes to fountain pen inks, you have two main options: cartridges or bottled ink.

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, some pen will only function with one or the other, otherwise the choice between the two will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

Most of our pens allow you to freely choose which method of refill you prefer. you can check them out here.


Cartridges are small, disposable containers of ink that are inserted into the pen.

They are convenient and easy to use, making them a great choice for beginners or for those who value convenience.

Pros of Cartridges

  • Convenience: Cartridges are easy to insert and replace, making them a convenient choice for those on the go.
  • No Mess: With cartridges, you don't have to worry about spilled ink or messy refills.
  • Travel-Friendly: Cartridges are compact and sealed, making them ideal for travel.

Cons of Cartridges

  • Limited Color Options: Cartridges typically come in a limited range of colors, so you may not find the exact shade you want.
  • Compatibility: Not all cartridges are compatible with all pens, so you'll need to ensure the cartridges you choose are compatible with your specific pen.
  • Cost: Over time, buying cartridges can be more expensive than buying bottled ink.

If you are looking for a cartridge only fountain pen that you can take anywhere and never worry, then Tiny is the pen for you.

Bottled Ink

Bottled ink is a more traditional option.

It offers a wider range of colors and can be more cost-effective in the long run, but it requires the use of a converter and can be a bit messier.

Pros of Bottled Ink

  • Wide Color Range: Bottled ink comes in a vast array of colors, allowing you to find the perfect shade.
  • Cost-Effective: While the upfront cost may be higher, bottled ink can be more cost-effective in the long run.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Using bottled ink reduces plastic waste, as you're not constantly disposing of used cartridges.

Cons of Bottled Ink

  • Messier: Filling your pen from a bottle can be messy and requires a bit more skill.
  • Less Convenient: Bottled ink is less portable and convenient than cartridges, making it less ideal for travel.
Cartridges Bottled Ink
Pros Convenient, No Mess, Travel-Friendly Wide Color Range, Cost-Effective, Environmentally Friendly
Cons Limited Color Options, Compatibility Issues, Can be Costly Messier


Electa is our fountain pen specifically designed with a converter acting as a piston-filler to easily refill from ink bottles.  

The Colorful World of Fountain Pen Inks

Unlike conventional ballpoint or rollerball pens, which typically offer refills in standard black or blue, fountain pen inks come in thousands of colors.

This diversity not only adds a fun element to activities like journaling or letter writing but is also immensely useful if you prefer to use colors to organize information in your notes.

Not Your Standard Office Blue or Black

Fountain pen inks offer a wide range of blues and blacks, allowing for experimentation even within these familiar color families.

For instance, blue-black inks, such as Sailor’s Nano Pigment “Souboku” or J. Herbin “Bleu des Profondeurs”, offer a deep navy color seldom found in ballpoint or rollerball pens.

These inks provide a unique writing experience, adding a touch of sophistication to your notes.

They are perfect for professional settings where you want your writing to stand out but still maintain a certain level of formality.

Finding the Exact Color to Suit Your Style

Whether you're looking for a true neutral red or a purple with hints of blue and teal, there are fountain pen inks that will match your exact requirements.

Brands like Sailor and Diamine offer over 100 different colors, ensuring you can always find an ink in the exact tone you seek.

This vast color palette allows you to personalize your writing experience, matching your ink color to your mood, the theme of your writing, or even your outfit of the day.

The possibilities are endless, and the choice is all yours.

Understanding Ink Properties

Fountain pen inks can deviate from their base color once they have dried on the paper, offering unique properties like shading, sheening, and shimmering.

These properties add depth and character to your writing, making each word you write a piece of art.

Property Description
Shading Change in color within the original base color family. Adds a dynamic element to writing.
Sheen Shiny finish that contrasts against the base color of the ink. Adds glamour and makes words sparkle on the page.
Shimmer Includes micro-glitter particles, resulting in ink that shimmers in the light. Adds a touch of magic and sparkle to writing.


Shading refers to the change in color within the original base color family.

Some inks offer a greater range of light/dark tones than others.

For example, Ferris Wheel Press “Goose Poupon” can range from a soft golden green to rich olive depending on how slowly the pen is moving across the page.

This property can add a dynamic element to your writing, with the color of the ink changing as you write.

It can make your notes more engaging to read and add a touch of creativity to your writing.


Sheen occurs when a fountain pen ink dries to a shiny finish that contrasts against the base color of the ink.

For example, many sheening blue inks will reveal red or gold sheening tones, like Diamine “Sargasso Sea”.

This property adds a touch of glamour to your writing, making your words sparkle on the page.

It's perfect for when you want your writing to make a statement.


For an added touch of excitement, some fountain pen inks include micro-glitter particles that result in an ink that shimmers in the light.

The inks in the Diamine Shimmertastic series and J. Herbin 1670 series are examples of fountain pen inks with shimmer particles.

These inks are especially great for festive occasions, like when you need to write out Christmas cards or send a congratulatory message for a milestone achievement.

They add a touch of magic to your writing, making each word you write sparkle and shine.


Choosing the Best Brand of Fountain Pen Ink

When it comes to choosing the best brand of fountain pen ink, popular options include J. Herbin, Noodler's, and Pilot.

Each of these brands offers a wide range of colors and has a reputation for high-quality inks.



Known For

J. Herbin


Wide range of colors, unique shades



Waterproof and bulletproof inks, creative names



High-quality inks, smooth flow, vibrant colors

J. Herbin

Herbin is a French company that has been making ink for over 300 years.

They offer a wide range of colors, including some unique shades like "Rouge Hematite" and "Bleu Pervenche".

The company's long history and commitment to quality make it a reliable choice for your fountain pen ink needs.


Noodler's is an American company known for its waterproof and bulletproof inks.

They have a wide range of colors and are known for their interesting and creative ink names such as "Bad Belted Kingfisher" and "Nightshade".

If you're looking for an ink that is as unique and creative as you are, Noodler's is the brand for you.


Pilot is a Japanese company known for its high-quality inks.

Pilot inks are made with a special formula that ensures a smooth writing experience and vibrant colors.

If you're looking for a reliable and high-quality ink, Pilot is a great choice.

Types of Fountain Pen Inks

Fountain pen inks can be categorized into two main types: water-based and oil-based.

Each type has its own unique properties and advantages, and the choice between the two will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

Type Description
Water-Based Common type used in fountain pens. Easy to clean and dries quickly. Suitable for most types of paper. Provides smooth writing experience.
Oil-Based Thicker ink that takes longer to dry. More resistant to smudging and fading. Suitable for important documents or artwork. May be harder to clean.


Water-Based Ink

Water-based ink is the most common type used in fountain pens.

It is easy to clean and dries quickly. This type of ink is suitable for most types of paper and is ideal for everyday writing.

It provides a smooth writing experience and is less likely to cause smudging or bleeding through the paper.

If you're new to fountain pens, water-based ink is a great place to start.

Oil-Based Ink

Oil-based ink is thicker and takes longer to dry.

It is more resistant to smudging and fading, making it suitable for important documents or artwork.

However, it can be more difficult to clean and may not be suitable for all types of paper.

Oil-based ink provides a unique writing experience, with a thicker and more luxurious feel to the writing.

It's a great choice if you're looking for something a bit different from the norm.

Waterproof Inks

Most fountain pen inks are water-soluble due to their dye-based nature.

However, if you need to retain important information permanently or if you're an artist who likes to add a watercolor wash over your line drawings, you may be interested in the small selection of waterproof and water-resistant inks available.

Brands like Sailor and Platinum offer waterproof inks in a limited range of colors.

These inks are perfect for those who need their writing to withstand the test of time.

Getting the Most Out of Your Fountain Pen Inks

To amplify the unique characteristics of a fountain pen ink, use a pen with a broader nib and use paper that is sized to allow inks to sit on top of the paper.

Sizing in this context refers to the coatings applied to the surface of paper to impart certain qualities.

Tomoe River Paper or Cosmo Air Light Paper are recommended for best results. These papers are designed to enhance the properties of your ink, allowing the colors to shine and the unique properties like shading, sheening, and shimmering to stand out.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is fountain pen ink made of?

Fountain pen ink is typically made of water, colorants (dyes or pigments), solvents, and additives that improve flow and prevent clogging.

Do fountain pens need specific ink?

Yes, fountain pens need specific ink designed for them. Other types of ink may clog the pen or damage its components.

Can I mix fountain pen ink with water?

It's generally not recommended to mix fountain pen ink with water as it can affect the ink's properties and lead to inconsistent flow or clogging.

Can you use any ink in a fountain pen?

No, it's important to use ink specifically formulated for fountain pens to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

Should you shake fountain pen ink?

It's not necessary to shake fountain pen ink. Gentle swirling or rolling the pen between your hands is sufficient to mix the ink.

Can I mix two fountain pen inks?

Yes, you can mix two fountain pen inks, but be cautious as different inks may react unpredictably. It's advisable to test the mixture first.

How should I store my inks?

Fountain pen inks should be stored in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight or extreme temperature changes, to maintain their quality and prevent degradation. Keep the ink bottles tightly closed to minimize evaporation and contamination.


Choosing the right fountain pen ink is an essential part of the writing experience.

With the right ink, your fountain pen will write smoothly and your words will look beautiful.

It's worth trying out different colors and brands to find the perfect one for you.

Remember, the world of fountain pen inks is vast and colorful, offering endless possibilities for personal expression.

So, dive in and start exploring!

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