Water-Soluble Fountain Pen Inks

Water-Soluble Fountain Pen Inks

Water-soluble inks are the opposite of waterproof inks—they run, smear, or fade at the first touch of moisture. This might sound like a weakness, but it actually comes with some big advantages. Unless you’re a habitual drink spiller or plan to take your writings out in the rain, there are a few good reasons to choose a water-soluble ink instead of a waterproof ink.

Why Use A Water-Soluble Ink?

First, water-soluble inks are much more common than water-resistant inks, so limiting yourself to water-resistant inks will leave with a severely restricted palette. This is especially true with lighter, warmer colors like orange and pink, which are almost never waterproof.

Second, water-soluble inks are easier to clean. Since they dissolve quickly in water, you don’t have to spend as much time cleaning them or resort to using a special cleaning fluid. They’re also easier to clean from other things, like clothes. Just don’t take that as an invitation to wanton ink spilling! Even the most water-soluble inks can still leave permanent stains.

Third, water-soluble inks are gentler on pens and safer to leave in them for longer periods of time. Many waterproof inks contain pigment or iron gall particles, which can clog or even damage your pen if you forget to clean it regularly. We still recommend cleaning your pen every month or two when using water-soluble ink, but you don’t have to worry about harming your pen if you forget.

Finally and most interestingly, water-soluble inks can be used to create some fascinating art effects. Let’s take a closer look at them now.

Art Applications

Two easy ways to create impressive effects with water-soluble inks are to use ink washes and background effects.

Ink Washes

Art Application 1: Ink Washes
Ink wash being done with Diamine Ancient Copper

Ink washes are a convenient middle ground between simple sketching and full-on painting. Start by creating a normal drawing with water-soluble ink. Then, go over the drawing with a wet brush or a water brush to dissolve the ink and “paint” with it to create smooth shading and color gradients. Even a quick and simple treatment can add incredible depth and liveliness to the artwork.

When you do an ink wash, the original ink lines of the drawing may dissolve completely into a cloud of color or they may leave a distinct trace that reinforces the structure of the drawing. If you want your lines to disappear as much as possible, choose highly water-soluble inks and smooth paper, and perform the wash as soon as possible after drawing. If you want your lines to stay visible, do the opposite—choose moderately-soluble inks and more absorbent paper, and wait a few hours to a day after drawing before doing the wash. We’ll list the inks we’ve found to be highly and moderately water-soluble further down.

Mutli-tone ink wash made using Noodler's Sequoia Green.
The Chandelier Tree, located in Leggett, California.

When working with water-soluble inks, you may run into ones that separate into two or more distinct colors when you wet them. These inks may not produce the look you were originally going for, but they can be used to create some unique multi-tone effects. Noodler’s Sequoia Green, shown here, is a dark pine green that separates into ochre and olive green when wet.

Background Effects

Art Application 2: Background Effects
Background effects being made for the title art.

You can also use water-soluble inks to create unique background effects for drawings, calligraphy art, and homemade gift cards.

One simple technique is to create a gradient of two or more colors. First paint a section of the page with a water-soluble ink. Then take another water-soluble ink and paint an overlapping section of the page. Where the two inks touch, the wet ink will dissolve the dry ink and the colors will blend.

Another technique is to create patterns in a background of water-soluble ink by “lifting” the ink with water. First paint a background with one or more water-soluble inks, using the gradient technique above if you want. Once the ink is dry, apply water to the paper in any pattern you want. You can use water droppers, brushes, syringes, or even a fountain pen filled with water instead of ink—have fun and experiment with anything you can think of! Let the water sit for 30–60 seconds to let the water dissolve the ink (the longer it sits the more noticeable the patterns will be), then carefully blot the water with a dry paper towel to reveal the patterns you’ve created.

Our Favorite Water-Soluble Inks for Art

There are hundreds of water-soluble inks out there, so it would be silly of us to try to rank them all here. Instead, we tested the solubility of all our fountain pen inks and picked out some of our absolute favorites to use for art. We’ve also listed all of the water-soluble inks we found further down.

Diamine Ancient Copper

Diamine Ancient Copper

Art made with Diamine Ancient Copper
The ancient city of Petra, located in modern Jordan.

Perched right on the border between brown, orange, and red, Ancient Copper gives drawings a warm, rustic feel.

J. Herbin Poussière de Lune

J. Herbin Poussièr de Lune

Art made with J. Herbin Poussièr de Lune
The Giant’s Causeway, located in Northern Ireland.

The name Poussière de Lune is French for “moon dust.” This ink may not look like actual moon dust, but its subtle purple hues can certainly create an ethereal, otherworldly look.

Kaweco Pearl Black

Kaweco Pearl Black

Art made with Kaweco Pearl Black
The Storseisundet Bridge, located off the cost of Norway’s Romsdal peninsula.

We love Pearl Black for its rich darkness and the bold, even shading it produces. When a subtler, slightly more soluble black is called for, we also love Diamine Jet Black.

Lamy Turquoise

Lamy Turquoise

Art made with Lamy Turquoise
Melissani Cave, located on the Greek island of Cephalonia.

You really can’t go wrong with any turquoise ink, but to us Lamy Turquoise hits the perfect tone for creating captivating, almost crystalline atmospheres.

Noodler’s Apache Sunset

Noodler's Apache Sunset

Art made with Noodler's Apache Sunset
Bryce Canyon National Park, located in southwestern Utah.

The most dramatically shading ink we’ve ever come across, Apache Sunset can range from pale yellow to bright orange and even blood red depending on its concentration. This makes it a particularly great choice for drawing expansive vistas.

Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa

Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa

Art made with Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa
The ancient city of Bagan, located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar.

A soft, almost cornflower blue, Tsuyu-kusa exudes a sense of serenity, simplicity, and innocence.

Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris

Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris

Art made with Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris
The sandstone pillars of Zhangjiajie, located in south-central China.

Dark and moody with a subtly teal twist to its blue black hue, Verdigris is a great alternative to standard black.

Sailor Jentle Miruai

Sailor Jentle Miruai

Art made with Sailor Jentle Miruai
The Great Smoky Mountains, located in the southestern United States.

A deep, misty gray-green, Miruai is great for creating mysterious and intriguing atmospheres.

List of Water-Soluble Inks

Water-soluble inks can be divided into two groups: highly water-soluble inks and moderately water-soluble inks.

We found the inks listed as highly water-soluble to leave little or no trace of the original line after wetting. Your experience may vary from ours, however, depending on your specific technique. For the original lines to dissolve as completely as possible, use smooth paper, avoid sharp pen nibs that will scratch the paper, and wet the drawing immediately after (or even before) the ink fully dries.

The moderately water-soluble inks will retain at least a subtle image of the original line after wetting. To retain as much of the original line as possible, use more absorbent papers and wait for about 24 hours after finishing the drawing before you wet it.

Click below to see our lists of highly and moderately water-soluble inks by color.

Highly Water-Soluble Inks by Color:

Black Inks
Black Inks

Diamine Eclipse
Diamine Jet Black
Diamine Onyx Black
Diamine Quartz Black
Rohrer & Klingner Leipziger Schwarz
Waldmann Black

Blue Inks
Blue Inks

Aurora Blue
Caran d'Ache Idyllic Blue
Diamine 150th Anniversary Blue Velvet
Diamine 150th Anniversary Regency Blue
Diamine Asa Blue
Diamine Beau Blue
Diamine China Blue
Diamine Florida Blue
Diamine Kensington Blue
Diamine Majestic Blue
Diamine Midnight
Diamine Misty Blue
Diamine Oxford Blue
Diamine Royal Blue
Diamine Sargasso Sea
Diamine Shimmering Blue Lightning
Diamine Shimmering Blue Pearl
J. Herbin Bleu Azur
J. Herbin Bleu Myosotis
J. Herbin Eclat de Saphir
J. Herbin Scented Lavender Blue
Kaweco Royal Blue
Lamy Blue
Noodler's Bernanke Blue
Noodler's Blue
Noodler's Eel Blue
Noodler's Lightening Blue
Noodler's Midnight Blue
Noodler's Ottoman Azure
Noodler's V-Mail Midway Blue
Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue
Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire
Pelikan Edelstein Topaz
Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro
Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki
Rohrer & Klingner Blau Permanent
Rohrer & Klingner Königsblau
Sailor Jentle Souten
Waldmann Blue
Waterman Serenity Blue

Blue Black Inks
Blue Black Inks

Diamine 150th Anniversary 1864 Blue Black
Diamine Blue Black
Diamine Denim
Diamine Shimmering Shimmering Seas
Diamine Twilight
Parker Quink Blue Black
Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris
Waterman Mysterious Blue

Brown Inks
Brown Inks

Caran d'Ache Organic Brown
Diamine 150th Anniversary Terracotta
Diamine Ancient Copper
Diamine Chocolate Brown
Diamine Dark Brown
Diamine Golden Brown
Diamine Macassar
Diamine Ochre
Diamine Raw Sienna
Diamine Rustic Brown
Diamine Sepia
Diamine Shimmering Brandy Dazzle
J. Herbin Café des Îles
J. Herbin Rouille d'Ancre
Kaweco Caramel Brown
Noodler's Beaver
Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown
Waterman Absolute Brown

Gray Inks
Gray Inks

Caran d'Ache Infinite Grey
Diamine Graphite
Diamine Grey
Diamine Shimmering Sparkling Shadows

Green Inks
Green Inks

Caran d'Ache Delicate Green
Caran d'Ache Vibrant Green
Diamine 150th Anniversary Safari
Diamine 150th Anniversary Tropical Green
Diamine Apple Glory
Diamine Classic Green
Diamine Dark Green
Diamine Delamere Green
Diamine Evergreen
Diamine Green/Black
Diamine Jade Green
Diamine Kelly Green
Diamine Light Green
Diamine Meadow
Diamine Salamander
Diamine Sherwood Green
Diamine Shimmering Magical Forest
Diamine Soft Mint
Diamine Ultra Green
Diamine Umber
Diamine Woodland Green
J. Herbin Scented Apple Green
J. Herbin Vert Pré
J. Herbin Vert Réséda
Kaweco Palm Green
Lamy Green
Noodler's Army Green
Noodler's Eel Gruene Cactus
Noodler's Forest Green
Noodler's Gruene Cactus
Noodler's Sequoia Green
Noodler's St. Patty's Eire
Noodler's Standard Green
Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine
Pelikan Edelstein Jade
Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku
Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Goldgrün
Rohrer & Klingner Smaragdgrün
Rohrer & Klingner Verdura
Sailor Jentle Tokiwa-matsu

Orange Inks
Orange Inks

Caran d'Ache Electric Orange
Diamine Autumn Oak
Diamine Blaze Orange
Diamine Orange
Diamine Peach Haze
Diamine Pumpkin
Diamine Sunset
J. Herbin Orange Indien
Kaweco Sunrise Orange
Noodler's Apache Sunset
Noodler's Cayenne
Noodler's Habanero
Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin
Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki
Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-yake

Pink Inks
Pink Inks

Caran d'Ache Divine Pink
Diamine Cerise
Diamine Coral
Diamine Flamingo Pink
Diamine Hope Pink
Diamine Pink
J. Herbin Bouquet d'Antan
J. Herbin Rose Tendresse
Noodler's Atlantic Salmon
Noodler's Dragon's Napalm
Noodler's Georgia Peach
Noodler's Shah's Rose
Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu
Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji

Purple Inks
Purple Inks

Diamine Amazing Amethyst
Diamine Bilberry
Diamine Claret
Diamine Deep Magenta
Diamine Grape
Diamine Lavender
Diamine Majestic Purple
Diamine Shimmering Purple Pazzazz
J. Herbin Larmes de Cassis
J. Herbin Poussière de Lune
J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen
Noodler's Burgundy
Noodler's Eel Cactus Fruit
Noodler's La Couleur Royale
Noodler's Purple
Noodler's Purple Martin
Noodler's Saguaro Wine
Noodler's Violet
Pelikan 4001 Violet
Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Bordeaux
Rohrer & Klingner Cassia
Rohrer & Klingner Magenta
Rohrer & Klingner Soliferno
Waterman Tender Purple

Red Inks
Red Inks

Caran d'Ache Infra Red
Diamine 150th Anniversary Carnival
Diamine Amaranth Red
Diamine Brilliant Red
Diamine Classic Red
Diamine Crimson
Diamine Maroon
Diamine Matador
Diamine Oxblood
Diamine Passion Red
Diamine Poppy Red
Diamine Red Dragon
Diamine Ruby
Diamine Scarlet
Diamine Shimmering Red Lustre
Diamine Vermillion
Diamine Wild Strawberry
J. Herbin Rouge Bourgogne
J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier
J. Herbin Rouge Opéra
J. Herbin Scented Rose Red
Kaweco Ruby Red
Lamy Red
Noodler's Antietam
Noodler's Eel Rattler Red
Noodler's Nightshade
Noodler's Ottoman Rose
Noodler's Red
Noodler's Tiananmen
Noodler's Widow Maker
Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Red
Pelikan Edelstein Ruby
Pilot Iroshizuku Momiji
Platinum Red
Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk
Rohrer & Klingner Morinda
Waterman Audacious Red

Turquoise Inks
Turqoise Inks

Caran d'Ache Hypnotic Turquoise
Diamine Aqua Blue
Diamine Aqua Lagoon
Diamine Havasu Turquoise
Diamine Marine
Diamine Steel Blue
Diamine Turquoise
J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor
J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche
J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe
Kaweco Paradise Blue
Lamy Turquoise
Noodler's Bluerase
Noodler's Eel Turquoise
Noodler's Navajo Turquoise
Noodler's Squeteague
Noodler's Turquoise
Pelikan 4001 Turquoise
Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku
Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro
Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo
Rohrer & Klingner Blu Mare
Sailor Jentle Yama-dori
Waterman Inspired Blue

Yellow Inks
Yellow Inks

Diamine Amber
Diamine Shimmering Golden Sands
Diamine Sunshine Yellow
Diamine Yellow
J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie
J. Herbin Bouton d'Or
J. Herbin Scented Amber Orange
Noodler's Firefly
Noodler's Sunrise
Noodler's Yellow
Rohrer & Klingner Helianthus

Moderatelly Water-Soluble Inks by Color:

Black Inks
Black Inks

Aurora Black
Caran d'Ache Cosmic Black
Diamine Shimmering Night Sky
J. Herbin Perle Noire
Kaweco Pearl Black
Lamy Black
Noodler's Bernanke Black
Noodler's Borealis Black
Noodler's Dark Matter
Parker Quink Black
Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black
Pelikan Edelstein Onyx
Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi
Platinum Black
Sailor Jentle Black
Staedtler Black
Waterman Intense Black

Blue Inks
Blue Inks

Diamine Imperial Blue
Diamine Mediterranean Blue
Diamine Presidential Blue
Diamine Sapphire Blue
Diamine Washable Blue
J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean
Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher
Parker Quink Washable Blue
Pilot Blue
Pilot Iroshizuku Ajisai
Pilot Iroshizuku Asa-gao
Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa
Sailor Jentle Blue
Staedtler Royal Blue

Blue Black Inks
Blue Black Inks

Caran d'Ache Magnetic Blue
Diamine Indigo
Diamine Prussian Blue
J. Herbin Bleu Nuit
Kaweco Midnight Blue
Lamy Blue Black
Noodler's Q-E'ternity
Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite
Pilot Blue Black
Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-kai
Sailor Jentle Blue Black

Brown Inks
Brown Inks

Diamine Burnt Sienna
Diamine Saddle Brown
J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre
J. Herbin Cacao du Brésil
J. Herbin Lie de Thé
J. Herbin Terre de Feu
Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-ho
Pilot Iroshizuku Tsukushi
Rohrer & Klingner Sepia
Sailor Jentle Doyou

Gray Inks
Gray Inks

Diamine 150th Anniversary Silver Fox
J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey
J. Herbin Gris Nuage
Kaweco Smokey Grey

Green Inks
Green Inks

Diamine Emerald
J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage
J. Herbin Vert Empire
J. Herbin Vert Olive
Noodler's Green Marine
Noodler's V-Mail Burma Road Brown
Noodler's V-Mail G.I. Green
Pelikan 4001 Dark Green
Pilot Iroshizuku Chiku-rin
Sailor Jentle Miruai
Waterman Harmonious Green

Orange Inks
Orange Inks

Noodler's V-Mail Operation Overlord Orange

Pink Inks
Pink Inks

Noodler's Baystate Cape Cod Cranberry
Noodler's Hellfire

Purple Inks
Purple Inks

Diamine Damson
Diamine Imperial Purple
Diamine Tyrian Purple
Diamine Violet
J. Herbin Scented Violet Purple
J. Herbin Violette Pensée
Kaweco Summer Purple
Noodler's Baystate Concord Grape
Noodler's Purple Wampum
Pilot Iroshizuku Murasaki-shikibu
Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo
Sailor Jentle Nioi-sumire
Sailor Jentle Shigure

Red Inks
Red Inks

Diamine Merlot
Diamine Monaco Red
Diamine Syrah
J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite
Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses
Noodler's Nikita
Noodler's Park Red
Noodler's V-Mail Mandalay Maroon
Noodler's V-Mail Rabaul Red
Sailor Jentle Oku-yama

Turquoise Inks
Turqoise Inks

Diamine Eau De Nil
Diamine Teal
Noodler's Blue Nose Bear
Noodler's Dostoyevsky

Yellow Inks
Yellow Inks

*None

Final Thoughts

As you can see, water-soluble inks come in a cornucopia of captivating colors, offer convenient advantages over waterproof inks, and can be used to create some amazing artistic effects. Have you made any interesting artwork with water-soluble inks? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Would you like to see more inky guides and comparisons? Click here for a list of all our fountain pen ink articles.

Our Favorite Water-Soluble Inks for Art
Diamine Ancient Copper J. Herbin Poussière de Lune Kaweco Pearl Black Lamy Turquoise Noodler's Apache Sunset Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris Sailor Jentle Miruai

Title Art
Coral reef title art. Inks used: Diamine Ancient Copper, Diamine Coral, J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor, J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie, J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe, J. Herbin Larmes de Cassis, Lamy Turquoise, Noodler’s Apache Sunset, Noodler’s Summer Tanger, Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro, Pilot Iroshizuku Chiku-rin, and Pilot Iroshizuku Momiji.


SOURCE:https://www.jetpens.com/blog/water-soluble-fountain-pen-inks/pt/911

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