After about 6 weeks of toil and trouble, we finally have our swab comparison program called the Swab Shop up at GouletPens.com. This has been a serious labor of love on the part of me, my wife (the programmer) and my sis-in-law Rebekah (professional photographer), with consultations done by none other than my friend Sam. We have color swabs done with Q-tips and glass pens with all 160+ colors we carry, on both white and ivory paper.

The whole reason I wanted to do the swabs was because I expanded ink colors on the Goulet Pens site and began to see very similar ones across ink brands. I also found as I played with more of the colors that many of them appeared MUCH different than I thought they would just by the names alone. I knew what I had to do…..swabs, and lots of them. But more importantly, I needed accurate swabs. So here’s what I did.

I did Q-tip swabs in the most consistent manner possible on extremely consistent and reliable paper, Clairefontaine Pollen 210g cardstock. Because I know how different ink can look on white and ivory paper, I knew I had to do both. Once the 330+ individual swabs were done, I scanned them all in on my scanner, a consistent light source.

Unfortunately, my scanner doesn’t have a targeted custom scanner profile, that would’ve made my life easier (but poorer!). It was time to work manually! Rebekah’s awesome photo editing skills came into play, where she was able to tweak each color as needed looking at the real swab in natural light on her color profiled computer monitor. It’s not a ‘perfect’ process, but WOW did it make a huge difference on many of the colors!

The only minor issue with the color correction is that it changed the appearance of the paper a little bit…in order to have done that differently, it would have required far more work , and the ink color wouldn’t have changed. I figured the color of the paper was not critical enough to justify an additional 20 or so hours of work.

The Swab Shop is laid out so you have 5 drop down boxes with all of the ink brands and colors listed alphabetically. Simply choose a color, and the swab will appear with both white and ivory paper. You can select anywhere from 1 to 5 colors. Here’s what it looks like:

When you select the ink color, the swabs appear. It’s that simple. Here I’m comparing several different greens:

So let me know what you think! The Swab Shop was a TON of work, but is well worth it. I want you to feel free to copy and use my swabs all you want to share and blog, as long as you give me credit where credit is due. I watermarked every swab, so as long as you don’t try to edit out the watermark and pass off the swab as your own, I don’t have a problem with you sharing it at all (in fact I encourage it!). Undoubtedly I will be adding more swabs as my ink offerings expand, as well. What are you waiting for, go ahead and play around with it!!!