Our tests on fountain pen inks are based around a standard set of scribbles and tests, which we carry out on a combination of
We start with a set of scribbles on an index card. The card is just whatever Staples are selling cheaply.
The top line is the type of ink on the left, then the pen and nib used on the right. This card is for Noodler’s Eternal black in, and was done using a Lamy Safari pen with a Medium nib.
On the left, we start with ten lines – done reasonably slowly – five pressing on firmly, then five pressing on gently. Under these is a scribbled line, aiming to get some variation in width.
The ‘slashes’ under this, and the five long lines under them, are drawn as quickly as possible, trying to make the pen skip.
Then there’s a block filled in completely, to check how well and evenly the ink colours areas.
On the right, we start with some of the ink applied using a brush.
Then comes the line and wash tests – a square is filled in completely, then a small patch of ten lines. These are then painted over with a wet brush quite quickly, and the in each case, the ink left on the brush is used to paint a little area to the right. This is not a test for waterproof ink. Although waterproof ink will tend not to flow out as much here, even completely waterproof ink will usually be drawn out with the wet brush until the ink dries. You can see in this case that enough of the Noodler’s ink had dried to keep the shapes visible, but it still washed out quite a bit.
Moleskine and Smudge Test
In the middle of the bottom half, the tests are the same as on the index card.
On the top, in the middle, there are a few lines and a square filled in, that are drawn on the other side of the top sheet, so you can see how much the ink shows through the paper.
On the left of the bottom sheet is a set of lines. These are drawn one second apart, from top to bottom, then the book is slammed shut and pressed closed tightly. The idea is that any lines that are still wet will come off onto the top sheet. These parts would have smudged easily in use.
In the Noodler’s test above, the first couple of lines have marked the other page for their whole length, but the rest have only marked at the start. So, this ink is mostly dry after a three seconds or thereabouts, but some wet patches are left for at least ten seconds.
The photos of the samples are taken in the same place each time, using daylight from a window, with white balance set manually using a blank index card. They’re processed using The
This may not be the best way of doing these tests, but it seems to work ok. If you’ve got any better ideas, we’d be glad to hear them.