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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Brian's Top 7 Shading Inks




You'll definitely get a chuckle with the intro of this video, for my top 7 shady....err....shading inks. What is shading? It's a common (and often desired) aspect of fountain pen ink where there is pooling in certain parts of a letter when writing, so that the color and saturation of the ink appears different within a single letter or word. Shading inks are something commonly sought out by fountain pen enthusiasts because it's a characteristic that can't be achieved with ballpoint or rollerball pens.

I'm often asked which shading inks are my favorite, and to be quite honest, it's really difficult to narrow down even to a top 7 list. I could just as easily have made it a top 40. I chose to focus on trying to get a somewhat varied color range, especially as I've found that certain color shades tend to be better shaders than others. Oranges and turquoises tend to all have incredible shading, whereas reds and blacks seldom have any.

One distinction to make here is that I omitted inks with "sheen", as that's not really what I'd consider shading by how I've defined it here. You'll likely see some incredible inks I've left out here that you would have wanted to see, it's very likely it's a sheening ink instead of a shader.

Without further ado, here are my top 7 shading inks (in no particular order):

Noodler’s Apache Sunset (4:18)
$12.50 for a 3oz bottle



Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses (5:24)
$12.50 for a 3oz bottle



Diamine Marine (6:34)
$14.95 for an 80ml bottle



Noodler’s Navajo Turquoise (7:27)
$12.50 for a 3oz bottle



Noodler’s Golden Brown (8:03)
$12.50 for a 3oz bottle



De Atramentis Mint Turquoise (9:03)
$12.95 for a 35ml bottle



Noodler’s Lexington Gray (9:37)
$12.50 for a 3oz bottle, or $18 for a 4.5oz bottle

Photo of 8 shading inks with examples of they shade


I hope you enjoyed the video and my selections. I'd love to hear your favorite shading inks in the comments below.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

64 comments:

  1. Giovanni's RoombaMay 19, 2015 at 2:03 PM

    I love a shady ink, and Apache Sunset is absolutely the shadiest I have ever used. It's like you're writing with red, yellow, and orange inks at the same time. Lots of Noodler's inks shade beautifully, I've found: Saguaro Wine, a luscious red-violet, is amazing in that regard.


    A number of the De Atramentis scented inks shade well, even in the fine nibs I use. Hyacinth is a gorgeous blue-violet, Tobacco a true brown, and Herbes de Provence a green with a bluish cast, and they all shade nicely. Not shade monsters, but nice.

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  2. Awesome choices!
    I'm really interested to see a side by side comparison of Apache Sunset and Habanero, also between golden Brown and Kiowa Pecan. those four colors are ones that I really can't tell much distinction from disparate samples online.

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  3. Diamine Ancient Copper is one of my favorites.

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  4. The nib size really impacts how much shading an ink does. I love to see what inks do in my Conklin Duragraph Fine (really more of a medium). My Duragraph gives me spectacular shading (with the right inks). I love the shading of BSiAR and Diamine Marine. I tried the Apache Sunset and Golden Brown in too narrow of a nib to get much shading. My gray preference is Diamine Grey. Now I gotta try the DeAt Mint Turquoise...

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  5. Apache Sunset in the Pilot Parallel 6mm is amazing - The fun part is watching as the ink sets up and the blends reveal themselves - can't wait to try out some of the others on this list! As far as Red goes I have had some luck with Poppy Red from De Atramentis but it seems to be picky about paper - sometimes I get a good shade, sometimes I just get a solid vibrant tone.

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  6. Apache Sunset is easily my favorite shading ink. However, as you pointed out, Brian, there are numerous and wonderful shading inks. One of my favorites is J. Herbin Rouille d'Ancre.


    Just one question. In the opening scene of your video, why are you dressed as a flasher? Honestly, that trench coat definitely called for long pants, not shorts. LOL All kidding aside, another great fun video with good information. :-)

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  7. I have always been leery of men who wear trench coats, with bare legs showing underneath. Very shady character indeed. Otherwise, GREAT VIDEO!!

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  8. This may go without saying for your more regular customers, but shading really can only occur in a fountain pen if your pen nib is wide enough to show the shading. A fountain pen you use in the office for business writing isnt going to show much shading. Sooo, if you want shading, belly up to the GPC bar and get a pen with a wide nib!

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  9. And for my money, Noodlers Cayenne is a deeper shading than Apache Sunset - deep rich and eye popping!

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  10. Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai, one of my favourite inks and a great shader!

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  11. i'm going home and getting out my parallel pen and apache sunset. haven't played with either in a while and you've inspired me.

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  12. I love Diamine Wild Strawberry. It's a super fun red!

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  13. Katie Lyn BransonMay 19, 2015 at 6:50 PM

    This is really a really great list of inks and good to know. I'm glad the De Atramentis Mint Turquoise is in this list because it's one I want to get. I have found Private Reserve Sepia is a nice shading ink. Kind of like the Noodlers Golden Brown. And I love the Lexington Grey. I'm going to have to get that. I just wish you would have listed more just because it's fun to see how they react. You will have to do a video on those sheen inks

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  14. Waski_the_SquirrelMay 19, 2015 at 8:04 PM

    I like this list. As Brian says, there are a lot more inks that shade. One of my surprises was Montegrappa Bourdeaux. Another was Omas Grey. Both were nice shaders. I use most of the inks on this list (or don't like the specific color), so I won't argue at all.


    One tiny quibble: shorts and a trenchcoat really, really, really do not belong together.

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  15. Golden Brown makes me nuts, I adore the color but I keep finding it turns green on me, in a way I'm not crazy about.

    Clearly I need another sample of it. :) I was looking on FPN and folks mention that it can shift around even on the same page, so maybe I'm just being impatient with a temporary quirk. it's one of the prettiest inks Noodlers makes, imo.

    I love R&K's Alt-Goldgrun and Alt-Bordeaux both for shading as well.

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  16. Ancient Copper even shades with my falcon fine!

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  17. Dwight StevensonMay 19, 2015 at 10:21 PM

    I just saw your top 7 shading inks video..... I must agree that - at least based on your shared information - Noodler's has some really inviting, some downright exquisite, colors. (I am also impressed with others).
    From the very start I want to say that - at least to me - the nuances of color variation, shading, pen selection and use, a.s.o. are very much as much a part of written expression as the written text itself... thus the myopic "world" of ballpoint writing is as much a limitation as outright colorblindness.... (I am thankful to be blessed with extremely good color vision).
    (While on the subject.... that "bamboo forest" green is just DELICIOUS ! ......will need to get some).

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  18. yeah they really do! I'm totally with you on the ink thing, it's always been my biggest draw to fountain pens (accidental pun!)

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  19. I hear ya Sonia! Have you tried Diamine Golden Brown? Very similar in color but less of that greenish effect. Might be worth a sample. Yeah, Alt-Goldgrün was def a contender for me!

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  20. yes, good point about those inks. Often the lesser-saturated colors shade really well. Haha, yeah, the trenchcoat fashion is pretty laughable, I'd considered going the angle of a shady flasher/peddler but thought it was a little too creepy. Madigan ran down to our local Goodwill to pick up this $9 beauty of a trench coat, I'm pretty sure it's a ladies' one because it's super short on me and the sleeves barely pass my elbows! The hat belonged to Joe, the "fuddy duddy" you see giving me the weird look in the warehouse ;)

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  21. Yeah, Sepia is one I'd considered for this list, too! I so could have put so many more inks on this list, it was tough to narrow down! Sheen inks are coming, no question.

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  22. that is a great one, it was in contention

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  23. yes, and paper makes a huge difference! Even a broad nib on junky inkjet paper won't show how much these inks can shade, you gotta have decent paper.

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  24. haha, glad I could pull of the shady look!

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  25. haha...the honest truth? I had like 15 minutes to shoot this intro, the only trench coat I could find (in May!) was this lovely (I suspect ladies) coat at Goodwill, and I was already wearing shorts as it really was in the 90's the day I shot that...c'est la vie. So I look like a creepster, it's only on the internet forever, right?

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  26. ooo, thanks for the pic! Yeah, that 6mm nib will bring out the shading in darn-near everything!

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  27. sounds like you have great taste in ink as it is :) yeah, the nib makes a huge difference. So does the paper.

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  28. that was definitely a contender! I may or may not consider that more of a 'sheen' ink.... ;)

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  29. yeah, they're all hard to distinguish online, especially those orange inks (orange is one of the hardest colors to distinguish on a digital monitor, fyi). But in person you can see the subtleties.

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  30. all fantastic ink choices, no question. So many good shaders out there, so many!!

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  31. I don't see how you could pick, and you did list the Sepia in the list of browns. I can't wait to see the one on sheen inks.

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  32. As always, a very helpful video Brian. Please keep them coming (I will not mention anything about the trench coat). Have you considered making these inks available in a Sample Package?

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  33. Please post your results - love seeing what other folks are doing - happy I could inspire!

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  34. Boy, Brian sure does make a believable shady character! Love this video. The selection of inks is great, though it must have been very hard to select the last two inks for the list. Although many people already love shading inks, this video highlights this ink characteristic for even more people's attention, those who have never seen shading so well presented. Nothing like seeing wonderful photos of this effect unless you have used a shading ink. I love BSiAR (both variations) and Lexington Gray, and usually have each in at least one inked pen. What you said about Lexington Gray is right - it can look like a black ink in a very wet pen or a medium gray in a slightly dry pen. When I bought this ink I found that I love it much more than expected. I'm going to have to change the inks in my Pilot Parallel pens now and try them with my shading inks.

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  35. Ooh, thanks, I will try DGB. Probably along with another sample of the Noodler's. Because addiction. :)

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  36. A sheen ink that surprised me (I only see it on heavily coated paper, but it's really prominent when it does show) is Iroshizuku's Tsutsuji (Azalea).

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  37. as i was playing, i realized that i had only tried the parallel with one ink, private reserve electric DC blue, which was way too dark for such a broad line. it is much more appealing with apache sunset. once i'm done with this color, i'm going to play with the other 5 shading inks i own off of brian's list. (btw, i plan on buying that last one i don't own... de atr mint turquoise!).

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  38. What? Where's the Diamine ANCIENT COPPER???? Hey man, you've got to add it. Eight is enough if you do.

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  39. "I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
    By the false azure in the windowpane;"
    - John Shade, poet, via Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

    I like Diamine Meadow for green. You get a yellowish-green color to a darker green color. Great video.

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  40. What a fun video! Love the PI even if you did have shorts on. And your choice of inks was terrific as well as the info. Brian, et al, I love how you have such fun with some of your videos. I generally get a good laugh and great info and ideas. Thanks again!

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  41. Hi Dave! So glad you enjoyed it. We'll have to think about doing a Sample Package. Thanks for the suggestion! :)

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  42. Hi Stefan! We weren't shady enough for you?? :P

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  43. Another ink that surprised me with neat shading is Noodler's Red-Black. I used it as an accent ink for a big project (100s of pages) and it has a great character. Long dry time, though, at least with the pen I was using.

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  44. Hi Tom! It was the trench coat for sure. :P Lexington Gray is certainly a favorite. I'd love to see what you come up with using these in your Parallels!

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  45. Hey there Pdbissett! That was definitely on the short list. A lot of those beautiful golden browns shad beautifully. :)

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  46. Hi Ed! I'll have to give Diamine Meadow a try. Sounds beautiful. :)

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  47. Hi Jane! It's great to hear you are enjoying them. It's pretty much a win/win since we have so much fun around here making them! :)

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  48. Hi Sonia! I haven't used that one so I'll definitely have to give it a try. What pen were you using it with? :)

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  49. I agree with the folks below who mentioned Diamine Meadow. Also R&K Salix shades a lot on most papers, as does R&K Scabiosa. Iron gall seems to keep the ink on the surface longer which increases shading.

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  50. Beautiful!!! Your leaves are so intricate and the color is so complex. After you outlined the deer, did you use watercolor to shade her body? . What kind??

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  51. Excellent stuff! I think the 3.8mm is the sweet spot with that ink too! I tried blending some Apache along the edge of a 6mm filled with Dragon's Napalm and got some cool effects.

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  52. Hi Laura! Sarah got all the colors from the ink. She used a brush pen to go over it which caused all those light layers. Fountain pen ink can do some amazing stuff! :)

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  53. Hi Derick! I'll pass this along to Brian for Q&A. :)

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  54. Awesome! I am going to give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  55. Weird Japanese pen that I had modified to a stub -- it was something I found over at Fountain Pen Network ages ago. I think it would do very nicely in a Safari 1.1.

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  56. I love how creative you've gotten with the videos, and that Brian is such a good sport he's willing to look like a flasher. *LOL* Great topic and great pics. People already mentioned R&K's Alt Gold-grun, and that's one of my favorites. Love the Apache Sunset too. But thanks for pointing out Lexington Gray, now I have a new one to try out! :)

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  57. Great suggestions, Ben! I'll have to give those a try. :)

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  58. Hi Otter! We're having a lot of fun with the videos for sure. Lexington Gray is an awesome ink! I'm sure you'll love it. :)

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  59. All of the inks mentioned are my favorites as well, especially Lexington Gray. Another of my favorites which shades so well in my Conklin medium nib Duragraph that it has a permanent home in that pen is Noodler's Gruene Cactus Eel.

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  60. All of the inks mentioned are my favorites as well, especially Lexington Gray. Another of my favorites which shades so well in my Conklin medium nib Duragraph that it has a permanent home in that pen is Noodler's Gruene Cactus Eel.

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  61. I'll add one to the list! J. Herbin Lie de The is an ink that i have experienced the most shading with. Definitely one of my favourite browns.

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  62. I wish you guys would do ink sample packages based on some of these videos!

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