5 Best Fountain Pen Inks For Everyday Use
There are hundreds of inks out there from dozens of different brands. There is sure to be a color already made to suit everyone’s individual tastes. Different brands have different characteristics and properties, including dry time, flow, smoothness, saturation and the ability to shade. While an ink like Noodler’s Apache Sunset is fun to write with an stunning to look at when in a flex nib, it’s not overly practical. I’ve put together a short list of my top 5 favorite inks for every day use. In the list, you’ll see a blue, a black, a blue-black, a red and a green. Read on to find out what made the list!
1. Diamine Asa Blue
Even though I’ve only recently acquired a bottle of this ink, it’s fast becoming one of my favorites. I have had great experiences with Diamine ink in the past – it’s easy enough to clean out, no staining, it’s well behaved on a lot of different paper types, and it’s reliable. This ink is a lovely shade of medium blue. It reminds me of Iroshizuku’s Kon-Peki, an ink I also love. I think the Asa Blue slightly edges it out of the top list because it is slightly more appropriate for everyday use due to the more subdued color.
2. Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black
Sailor’s Kiwa Guro Nano Black is one of my favorite inks. When I first got into fountain pens, I set out on the quest to find the perfect black. In my opinion, Sailor really did an excellent job with this ink. The color is super dark and it’s glassy smooth to write with. This is a pigmented ink, meaning that it will have a higher permanence than other inks, but be careful about leaving in a pen for extended periods of time. I’ve never had an issue with the ink, but it’s still worth a mention. Kiwa Guro is great for everyday use because it performs well on both regular copy paper and more premium pads like Rhodia. If you’re looking for the darkest, smoothest black ink out there, definitely consider giving this one a try!
3. Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai
Not quite blue, not quite black, Shin-Kai is an excellent ink for those who can’t make up their minds. While regular black ink can get boring, this cross between blue and black adds a bit of color to the page while still maintaining a serious, professional look. If the bright blue color of Asa Blue is inappropriate for your line of work, consider going for a blue black like Shin-Kai. In case you were unaware, Iroshizuku is Pilot’s premium line of inks. They all perform very well on a wide range of papers and come packaged in a beautiful glass bottle that will look great on any desk.
4. Diamine Matador
For the teachers and editors out there, this list had to include a red ink. This offering from Diamine is as bright as they come. The vibrant red ink goes on the page without any shading, which helps increase legibility. Load it up in a 1.1mm stub for bold lines that will stand out amongst an entire page of words with ease. While it may not be the best for regular writing (imagine trying to read a whole page of red ink!), it’s great for pointing out something that needs to be seen.
5. J. Herbin Vert Empire
Sometimes blue, black, blue-black, and red just don’t cut it. I like to keep a pen loaded up with a dark green ink to add some diversity to my notes. J. Herbin’s Vert Empire is a perfect green ink that’s both dark enough to read and colorful enough to be different. The color is easy on the eyes and a pleasure to write with!
I’ve given some suggestions on what inks make great daily drivers. Leave a comment below with your go-to everyday ink!
46 thoughts on “5 Best Fountain Pen Inks For Everyday Use”
Diamine Red Dragon for a somewhat less in-your-face red: a really, really lovely colour. (Noodler’s Fox for a more in-your-face red! Bullet proof and flourecent to boot. Use with EF nibs.)
Diamine Registrar’s ink as an alternative daily writer: good on even poor papers and waterproof.
Vertical Empire was the ink that got me into fountain pen inks. Lovely, thought there are many great greens and I now prefer Montblanc Daniel Defoe.
Diamine Registrar’s is a great option too! I was a bit apprehensive about adding it due to the fact that it’s an iron gall ink. Those need to be carefully monitored so they don’t corrode or stain a pen. Other than that, it’s nice to have such a good looking permanent ink!
Good list, I also like Sailor Blue Black (the smell is an acquired taste) and, for something different like Vert Empire, J. Herbin Pouissiere de Lune (kind of a brown/gray/purple) or Diamine Salamander (kind of like a salamander).
Thank you! I absolutely loved Diamine Salamander, but it’s definitely a little bit of an odd color. Fun to use though.
Great list with a few I haven’t tried yet! My everyday inks are Private Reserve Ebony Blue (which looks black in a fine nib with a teeny bit of sheen) and Platinum Carbon Black in a Fude nib for every day sketching, so I can add a watercolor wash later if I want. Thanks for this post! 🙂
Good selection – I would add Diamine Oxblood as a good not as in your face red that is generally available. For a good ‘fresh blood’ on the page the harder to get Monblanc Alfred Hitchcock Red is a must. For that sense of dried blood it is hard to go past Noodler’s Antietam
Thank you! Oxblood is one of my all-time favorite inks! I think it’s definitely usable for an everyday ink, I was having a pretty strong internal conflict over whether to include it or not.
Great list Ed! My everday inks are Diamine Evergreen, Pelikan Blue-Black, Noodler’s Red-Black! I normally have two pens with work safe ink and two pens with whatever I feel like.
I have to get another sample of the Pelikan Blue-Black – it keeps getting mentioned!
Great suggestions! Here are a few of mine: Platinum Carbon Black (waterproof; have never had problems with clogging), Sailor Doyou (dark brown), Diamine Eclipse, Iroshizuku Asa-Gao
would you have a recommendation for the perfect everyday Grey and Brown inks? Shin-kai is already on my list for a blue-black, but i was hoping to find an alternative that is more affordable. would you recommend J.Herbin blue night?
I haven’t had any experience with the Blue Night specifically, although I do like the J. Herbin inks. Diamine Denim is a great dark blue for everyday use as well – worth checking out. I like Diamine Grey – it looks almost like a pencil line on the page. It’s dark enough to be easily read, unlike my other favorite grey (Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun). As for browns, Kaweco Sepia is nice, so is J. Herbin Cafe des Iles!
Talking of greys reminds me of Diamine Graphite – that’s a terrific dark grey with a hint of green in it.
Bleu Nuit is a beautiful colour, but it isn’t very dark, in my experience (it’s a bit like a dark blue wash over a white base coat, if that makes sense?) It’s worth trying a little to see what you think of it first, I think.
i already have diamine grey and j.herbin cafe des lles. i was considering diamine prussian blue but i shall check out denim. thanks for the advice.
You might consider Noodler’s Walnut for an everyday brown: it’s deep, dark, sophisticated, and highly water-resistant (it will smear a little, but leave perfectly legible text). If you want a brown that shades and you do not care about water resistance, try Herbin’s Lie de The.
You might consider Noodler’s Walnut for a deep, sophisticated brown that is nearly waterproof–it is rarely absent from my rotation. For a brown that shades, try Herbin’s Lie de The, though it has no water resistance at all.
thank you. i do have Noodler’s walnut brown. it is a nice color. however, Noodler’s ink is not recommended for my Omas piston pens. i think i shall stick with J.Herbin’s lie de the and Diamine chocolate brown. i’m currently trying out Waterman’s brown but find it too reddish for my liking.
I think Pelikan Blue/Black is a strong contender as an everyday ink – it’s really well behaved, and if you like your blue/blacks on the grey side of the spectrum, very nice. For a red, I like Diamine Monaco Red, personally.
Vert Empire is a great choice for green, although I think Diamine Evergreen may be more versatile.
As someone who likes purples, I’d include Diamine Amazing Amethyst in my list, along with a good brown, possibly Waterman Havana Brown (can’t remember what the new name for that is!)
Diamine Evergreen is a great ink too, forgot about that one! It was the first full ink bottle I ever purchased haha.
Thanks for the other suggestions as well!
No problem! Greens have an image problem in the UK that I’m not sure they have elsewhere – correspondence is best carried out in a sober, almost not green like Evergreen here, unless the recipient is a fellow ink afficionado, or someone you know well…
If you’re looking to try more purples, Diamine Imperial Purple is a gorgeous, vibrant colour, and Herbin Pousserie De Lune is so lovely I forgive its finicky dislike of all but the best paper 🙂
I’ve been thinking lately that if I were made to live with just one ink, it would be Sailor Jentle blue-black. If allowed to stretch out a little, Herbin Lie de The is a rather good brown, Diamine Evergreen offers a comforting substitute for MB’s departed Racing Green, and Pelikan black is all the black one could hope for.
I haven’t used the Sailor Blue-Black in a long time, but I love their Jentle line of inks.
Interesting that there’s another vote for Diamine Evergreen, I love that ink as well.
Aurora Blue. A very attractive blue with a hint of purple.
These all sound like interesting inks, most of which I’ve not tried. I’m looking for a black ink with silver sheen or what might be a silvery/black. J. Herbin Stormy Grey would be perfect if the flecks were silver and not gold. Should I be looking at dark grays? Any suggestions are appreciated.
You might want to check out the Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black. The ink dries to a matte finish, similar to how a pencil looks. As far as I know, there’s nothing else like that.
Thanks, I’ll order a sample. Sounds interesting.
Thanks, I have some new inks to try out.
I would offer up Pilot Blue and/or Pilot Blue-black as excellent daily inks. These inks are not the most exciting color-wise, but they have great qualities. Both inks are well-behaved in pen and on paper with superb water resistance. It’s easy on the wallet too.
Very true, Ted. I’ve a bottle of each at the office.
Where do you buy your inks/samples from. There are tons of places and I was wondering where you order from?
All of my samples came from Goulet, haven’t ordered any samples in a while though. Anderson Pens also offers samples. I get a lot of my ink from JetPens, always great service, also being sponsored by them helps. I’ve ordered from Amazon before with no issues either!
J. Herbin and Diamine have released smaller ink bottles, which I find to be perfect. They’re more than a 2ml sample, but not as much of a commitment as a full bottle.
Awesome, thank you I was looking at Goulet. I noticed they don’t have the sailor inks that you recommend so I was just wondering.
When it comes to an everyday ink, I find myself always going back to Parker Quink Permanent Black. It writes well, dries quickly, and rarely bleeds through or “echos” to the reverse side of the sheet. My daily carry pen is loaded with Quink, not because it is my “favorite” but because it is so well behaved on just about any paper, even the thermal credit card receipt paper. Do you have a black that you believe is equally well behaved? I would love to know. Thank you for your reviews! They are very helpful!
Thanks for the kind words!
I’d definitely consider trying a sample of the Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black.
A lot of blues are prone to fading. I don’t know if Diamine Asa blue is one of them, but if you want to know for yourself, make a writing sample and hang it in a window for a couple of weeks or months.
Shin-Kai is apparently a lot more prone to fading than Tsuki-Yo, which would actually be my first recommendation among all Iroshizuku inks.
I figure that there are six colors one can readily and reasonably write in that should not be hard to read: black, blue-black, purple, blue, green, and brown. These are my Six Essentials, and I’ve been on a quest to find one ink in each with the perfect balance of fade-resistance, legibility, good behavior, and appealing color.
My black of choice is Noodler’s Heart of Darkness, without question. It stands up to just about every kind of imaginable assault, and in my experience, it dries faster and smudges less than Noodler’s Black. If I were worried about Noodler’s harming my pen, I’d readily consider J. Herbin Perle Noire or Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black as alternates.
Pilot Blue-black is fade resistant, water-resistant, well-behaved, inexpensive, highly legible, and could almost be regarded as a blue. It is an aniline dye ink, not an IG ink, so it’s also safe for everything. Pilot sells it in both 70ml and 350ml bottles. It is not eye-catching, but it is absolutely a workhorse. This has earned it a place as one of my Six Essential Colors — unless, of course, I decide that it’s not really black enough to be a blue-black, in which case my blue-black will almost certainly be Tsuki-Yo.
I haven’t decided on a purple yet. I have a four-way fade test going between Noodler’s Violet, Noodler’s Purple Martin, Diamine Damson, and De Atramentis Aubergine. I’ll probably announce this on Fountain Pen Network once I decide.
But I have decided on a blue: Noodler’s Blue. Though I might buy Noodler’s Blue Eel next time.
As for green, I am very happy with my choice of Diamine Sherwood.
I have considered many browns, far and wide, and I think I will be happiest with Iroshizuku Yama-Guri. Like the entire Iro line, it has a reputation for excellent behavior. It also is noted for both fade and water resistance.
My recommendation for a teacher marking up student work for correction would be to have three colors, one for each type of cone in the retina: a bright red like Sheaffer Skrip Red, a n eye-popping turquoise or aqua like Sheaffer Skrip Turquoise, and a retina-searing green like Diamine Apple Glory. Various pinks, magentas, and oranges could also easily be used, as long as they’re dark enough to read and bright enough to really pop. I don’t do a lot of markup, though, so the bottles of Noodler’s Widow Maker and Sheaffer Skrip Turquoise that I already have will probably last me for a decade or more.
I would just like to say that those colors are just beautiful. They would be fun to use for everyday writing. The colors that you picked just seem to jump off the page.
I’m having a love affair with J. Herbin’s Poussiere de Lune. I’m not usually into purple inks but this has dark enough grey tones to hit the sweet spot you mentioned with the Vert Empire. The more I use J. Herbin inks, the more I love the soft, velvety shades.
I like private reserve inks a lot.
I have read of articles. Wonderful. My questions are as under
1. why we use in ink pen?
2. Why Ink pen is costly than boll pen,roller pen etc.?
3.now a days ink pen Cruz going down.
4. Which ever ink we uses, it is fired and in the connection with water ink writing become wash.
5. Pl gives tip’s, how to prevent ink & nib pen ?
6. How to stop over flow the ink from pen?
7.Bank people are not willing to accept cheque, who signed by ink pen?
If you have more information pl provide.
I am using extra broad nib with dark black ink ink pen. I have M B, cross, Lamy ,parker Shepher, due pont, carendas , and others so many pen. My hobby is collection of pens & watch.
Tsuki-yo, Asa-gao, Shin-kai, Ku-jaku and Yama-budo.
Thx for post.