An Ink Rotation And Its Worksheet


You are not alone if you wonder/aren’t certain/debate which inks make a rotation. Truthfully, it’s anything that makes you happy but a worksheet can help narrow and refine choices without inking a gazillion or even a dozen pens.

Worksheet for comparing inks

The pens in the upper right section were already inked and some will continue into the summer with the same colors.

The bottom section is a test of possible inks culled from a review of my ink journal. The dots of color were made with the tip of a cotton swab. The paper is from my daily journal which will see the most use of my rotation. It is tinted pale gray which has a mildly dulling effect on ink color so I like to test directly on it for better accuracy.

The upper left section of my worksheet reflects the most likely prospects along with possible pens. Though good colors for the season, some of the inks were eliminated due to degradation or poor performance.

April 2013 Ink and Pen Rotation

This rotation is in flux. Waiting in the wings are Sailor Uranari, olive green, Sailor Yaki-Akari, pale aqua, Diamine Steel Blue, turquoise, and Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses. If a red is needed, Noodler’s Tiananmen or J. Herbin  ‘1670’ Rouge Hematite will do depending on whether subtle or flashy suits the occasion. China Blue will replace asa-gao and Noodler’s Cayenne will replace Vermillion for summer. BSAR might eliminate Claret and Solferino as well. Chocolate and Pilot BBk will return in autumn. That will leave a nine pen rotation which is plenty even for me.

What I don’t like about this group of inks is that the colors don’t come together thematically. What I do like is that it provides lots of options for duos and trios. In addition, the inks are well-matched to their pens so writing will be very enjoyable.

The Levenger True Writer (TW) dominates for now but that is in part because it uses an easy to fill converter and the fine nibs aren’t terribly narrow. My collection needs more broad nibs and stubs to show ink color better. Skinny nibs just don’t have enough punch for a color addict but do not tell me there is a 12-step program for that addiction. I absolutely will not listen. No, no, no, no, no.



  1. Dear Inkophile,

    Great work!
    I would like to know your opinion on the following: I have five pens (Namiki Falcon, Sailor Sapporo, Sailor Realo, Pelikan M200, and a Parker Vacumatic (1943)).
    Whenever I go to US I buy some ink.I have tried some and the colors sometimes are not what I expected. Basically I do some journal writing and some note-taking. To prevent disappointment regarding inks, I decided to stick to a maximum of three different brands. Black and dark blue are my favorites. Could you recommend some good quality ink in these colors?
    Keep up this excellent blog.


    J. Alcantara
    Brasilia – Brazil


    • That’s a nice group of pens. Are you asking me to recommend brands like Noodler’s and Diamine or are you asking about colors like blue-black?

      Either way there are good inks in every brand. Each has some disappointing ones as well. Characteristics matter to performance though color is usually the first thing that catches our interest. Do you like free-flowing inks or more controlled ones? Is price important? Are you looking for something you can’t buy near home?

      If you settle on a few inks to research, check the ink reviews at FPN. Even with the best research, some will work out for you though others may not.

      Iroshizuku has a huge following but I’ve read posts about it that were not stellar. Diamine has a lot of good colors as do Sailor and Montblanc. Noodler’s Inks come in an amazing variety of colors but the characteristics make them suitable in one pen but not another. The line includes a number of black inks but I only have experience with Noodler’s Black which is a very good one. Sailor and Platinum make good inks but can be more difficult to find.

      Maybe something in all that will help or at least give you a place to start.


  2. Thanks for the reply.
    I think it would be a matter of making choices simpler. I found out that there are so many inks to choose from that at the end things get more complicated. For instance, I bought a Iroshizuku kon-peki and another tsuki-yo and they are not the colors I was looking for. The same applies to Diamine China Blue. This color simply changes tone when it is written on a yellow chequebook leaf. So, to make things simpler I would stick to black and blue-black inks. I hope you understand my doubts. A good brand, with good flow would be perfect. Price is no problem.
    The more I read your blog the more I get addicted to it.


    • Too bad those didn’t work out as you expected. Iroshizuku has a new blue-black if you like that brand. China Blue does shift from dark to light as it dries but I find it very easy on the eyes. It is in my Platinum Century B nib and I am quite happy with it. Iroshizuku asa-gao preceded it and was also a good mate for the Century.

      Diamine and Noodler’s have extensive selections of colors. The 30 mi bottles of Diamine are not too expensive so you could order a few to see what you like best. Noodler’s has a large selection of colors though online swatches may not be as accurate as one would like. My monitor adds a touch of green to everything but I have learned to adjust for that. Sailor has a well-behaved blue-black as does Stipula.

      Hopefully, something in those suggestions will work for you.


  3. Thanks indeed, Inkophile. I will try those.


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