Ink Wash Sketches

Inspired by Gabi Campanario I’ve taken some waterbrushes and filled them with diluted shellac based ink from Sennelier. At first I only had Burnt Sienna ink that I bought years ago from Cornelissen and Son (one of my favourite art supply shops in London), but I purchased a bottle of Prussian Blue and Cobalt Blue to add to it. The bottles have pipettes which make using them to fill a waterbrush convenient, unless the brush has a valve on the body, in which case you’ll need to dip it inside the bottle, and you’ll have issues filling it fully.

Here are some sketches done with the Burnt Sienna. The first one was done with a fountain pen and a single waterbrush filled with pretty diluted Burnt Sienna and was drawn on a Stillman and Birn Pocket Alpha. This was when I discovered that the ink dried lighter than I thought, and that layering it on this paper isn’t really an option. I didn’t get enough of a gradient, and it didn’t take long for the paper to start to disintegrate from the ink. Note also that the ink dries fast, and getting perfect washes with a waterbrush is practically impossible, even in such a small format. But I liked the result enough to experiment with it some more.

First try with ink in a waterbrush.

I then filled another waterbrush with a much less diluted Burn Sienna and water solution. Here’s the same Stillman and Birn Pocket notebook but a sketch with a little more gradient because I used two different ink/water ratios. I like the result better, especially on the trunk.

Second try, more contrast.

Then I got the Sennelier Prussian Blue that I ordered, and I filled two brushes with it, one diluted with water at about a 50/50 ratio, and another practically undiluted. I had enough of the Alpha paper, so I switched to 300 gsm cold press watercolour paper from Clairefontaine. Here’s the sketch, done with a Staedtler 0.1 pigment liner (I didn’t want the lines to distract from the wash):

Sketch done with Staedtler pigment liner of a fisherman in the sea.

And here is the result with the ink washes applied:

Result with ink wash.

I used the dark blue for the shadows on the rocks, and this time I could actually work with the ink (due to the quality of the paper) and blend between the Burnt Sienna and the Prussian Blue.

I loved this result enough to give these ink washes more tries. I will say that there have been some issues with them so far:

  • Many of my waterbrushes (most of my Pentel ones) didn’t allow the ink to flow to the brush bristles.
  • Some of my brushes leaked, and so I won’t be carrying them around in my bag without a ziploc bag to protect my bag contents from them.
  • The Cobalt Blue ink that I bought contains copper. It came with a warning label, and I’m not going to use it before I make sure I have a leak proof brush for it.
  • The behaviour of the ink is entirely dependent on the quality of the paper, more than any medium I’ve used before (including watercolour).
  • Waterbrush bristles deteriorate pretty quickly, and make fine detail work and brush control more difficult.

All that being said, I enjoyed using them enough in my sketches to continue using them for a while, and I recommend giving shellac (calligraphy) ink in a waterbrush a spin.

PS – these inks are NOT FOUNTAIN PEN FRIENDLY!
If you put them in your fountain pen they will ruin it.

Our Old Friend Joe

We had our weekly zoom call with our old family friend, Joe. I did my best to sketch him while we talked. It was slow, hard work and came out only so-so, mainly because my neuropathy is really bad lately (which is also why there’s been a dearth of posts). Still, I’m glad that I tried.

Sketch of our old friend, Joe.

Drawn with a Lamy LX Palladium, fine nib, filled with Diamine Harmony (an Inkvent 2021 ink).

Writing done with a PenBBS 535 Year of the Ox, RF nib, filled with Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho.

The sketchbook is a Stillman and Birn Alpha 5.5’’ x 8.5’’.

Today’s Fountain Pen

Today’s fountain pen is also my first fountain pen, the wonderful Waterman Phileas. It’s filled with Diamine Ruby Blues from the Diamine Inkvent 2021 calendar.

My hands have been an utter nightmare this week and I’m only now starting to feel a slight improvement in my neuropathy. This is the most that I’ve been able to draw and type all week.

Diamine Inkvent 2021: Summary

What a fun and wild ride was Diamine’s 2021 Inkvent calendar. It was tough posting a review of an ink every day for the past 25 days, in particular since my hands weren’t my best friends during many of those days (and even now) because of chemo induced neuropathy.
When comparing the 2019 Inkvent calendar to the 2021 version, I personally like the 2021 version much more. There are more inks that I could see myself regularly using, the inks were more interesting, and there was a better spread of colours.
Here’s a look at the Col-o-Ring swatches of all 25 inks in the Inkvent 2021 calendar, grouped more or less by hue:

A lot of blue for a red calendar.

Blue and blue green dominate this calendar, although there’s a good selection of pinks and purples. There are fewer brown inks this year, which I don’t think will disappoint many people, particularly since the two brown inks that have been included (Winter Spice and Brandy Snap) are interesting and unique.

I expect Diamine to issue full bottles of these samples, like they did with their Diamine Blue edition. These are the inks that I’ll likely be buying once that edition comes out:

Diamine Ash, Harmony, Night Shade, Thunderbolt, Yuletide, Black Ivy, Brandy Snap

I like shading inks more than shimmering or sheening ones, and all these inks have interesting shading properties or a unique shade that I happen to like and not have in my ink collection. Will I be buying 7 new bottles of ink? Maybe, but probably not. I have over 25 fountain pens filled with ink now (the most that I’ve ever had), so my plan is to write them dry and see after a few weeks of use which ones stick and which ones don’t.

An added bonus to the decision to ink up a pen for each sample is that I’ve inked many pens that I haven’t used in months or years. It’s been a lot of fun playing with the Sailor Cross Emperor nib again, or remembering why I liked this pen or the other. If you’re looking for a way to cheer yourself up, allow me to recommend pulling out a few pens that you haven’t used in a while and jotting something down with them or just doodling. I’m pretty sure it will make you smile.

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 25

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 25’s door.

Day 25’s ink, the 30ml bottle, is Diamine All the Best. It’s a deep red/burgundy ink with purple shimmer and a golden sheen.

Diamine All the Best.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine All the Best. The colour fits with the red colour of the calendar, and the ink is festive, saturated, shimmery and shiny. Everything you’d expect from a Christmas ink.

Col-o-Ring swab.

I used a TWSBI Go with a 1.1 stub nib to test out Diamine All the Best, and I kind of regret the choice of pen, but more on that later.

TWSBI Go and Col-o-Ring swab.

I sketched a Christmas tree with presents and a hearth with stockings to test out this ink when the TWSBI GO decided to burp ink on the page and then lay down a ton of ink. You can see the mess on the hearth. My guess is that the feed needs reseating, but I can’t deal with it now with the state of my hands.

Diamine All the Best on Tomoe River paper.

You can see the sheen and some shimmer here:

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

As you can see, there was another unfortunate burp right at the start of the page. The nib also lay down a ton of ink, which is good for showing the properties of the ink, but it makes writing with it quite a risk.

Close up on some sheen and shimmer.

Diamine All the Best is the perfect ink to end the Inkvent 2021 Advent calendar. It fits the theme, fits the calendar colour, has a rich base colour and all the fun extra properties a fountain pen ink can have (shading, shimmering, sheen). If you’re looking for an ink to write Christmas cards with, Diamine All the Best is for you.
I’ll be writing a wrap-up post about the Inkvent 2021 experience and which inks I plan on purchasing. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 24

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 24’s door.

Day 24’s ink is Diamine Yuletide. It’s a teal coloured ink that is supposed to be standard ink but has a lot of shading and a good amount of red sheen. I have no idea why it wasn’t marked as a sheening ink.

Diamine Yuletide.

A standard ink? No. Despite it being marked as such Diamine Yuletide sheens.

A standard ink? I don’t think so.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine Yuletide. The base shade of this ink is lovely, with a ton of shading and some red sheen – it’s one of the more attractive Inkvent inks, and that’s saying a lot.

Col-o-Ring swab.

I used an original Visconti Van Gogh Ocean with a medium 14k gold nib to test Diamine Yuletide out. It took a while to prime the nib after filling it through the converted (the grip and nib section are too big to fill directly from the tiny sample bottle), which is why you can see evidence of hard starts on this Col-o-Ring card.

Visconti Van Gogh and Col-o-Ring swab.

I drew a snowy scene with fir trees, which is about as much as I can draw with my hands being in the state that they are. The shading with Diamine Yuletide is wonderful, and the red sheen comes out as almost a halo.

Diamine Yuletide on Tomoe River paper.

Sorry about the blurry photo, but it does capture the red sheen.

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

A close up on the shading. My camera is de-emphasizing the sheen for some reason, but it’s there, in almost every letter.

After the lackluster Diamine Wonderland it was nice to get an ink like Diamine Yuletide. The base teal shade is wonderful, the ink offers some lovely shading, and the red sheen is a nice added bonus. Diamine Yuletide is definitely a contender for the full bottle purchase later on.

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 23

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 23’s door.

Day 23’s ink is Diamine Wonderland. It’s a standard orange ink that is bright and cheerful, but doesn’t really evoke wonderland or anything particularly Christmas themed in my opinion.

Diamine Wonderland.

It’s a standard ink, which is a bit peculiar. I was expecting it to be a shimmer ink.

A standard ink.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine Wonderland. It’s a classic orange, with a bit of shading. Nothing wild going on:

Col-o-Ring Swab.

I used a Platinum 3776 with a fine nib to test Diamine Wonderland out. A wider nib would have shown a bit more shading, but even so, there is a bit of shading to be seen with this ink. Nothing like the shading in Diamine Candle Light or Diamine Peach Punch.

Platinum 3776 and Col-o-Ring Swab.

Even though Diamine Wonderland isn’t a yellow ink, I was in the mood to sketch daffodils, and so daffodils it is:

Drawing on Tomoe River paper.

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

I admit that I find Diamine Wonderland a bit of a let down. It’s such an uninspired ink colour – a standard orange with a bit of shading and nothing interesting or unique going on. There are much better orange ink shades in the market, even from Diamine itself, so I don’t really see room for an ink like Diamine Wonderland, especially not in a Christmas themed calendar and with a name like that.

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 22

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 22’s door.

Day 22’s ink is Diamine Black Ivy, and it’s another surprising choice for this calendar. It’s a dark green/green black ink with a red sheen. Practically synonymous with Christmas, right? 😉

Diamine Black Ivy.

There’s plenty of red sheen going on with this ink, as advertised:

A sheening ink.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine 

Col-o-Ring swab.

Check out the sheen:

I used a Sailor Pro Gear Slim with a zoom nib to test out Diamine Black Ivy:

Sailor Pro Gear Slim and Col-o-Ring swab.

I drew some ivy with Diamine Black Ivy to test it out on Tomoe River paper. It’s so saturated and full of sheen there’s hardly any colour variation, even on Tomoe River paper:

Diamine Black Ivy on Tomoe River paper.

Here’s a closer look at the sheen:

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

I was really surprised to find Diamine Black Ivy included in this year’s Inkvent. It’s not a very holiday themed ink, but it is a pretty interesting one. It’s dark enough to be used as a “serious” ink, but it’s also unusual in colour and has a lot of character because of its sheen. I’m not sure if I want a full bottle of this, but it’s definitely an ink that I will consider buying later on.

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 21

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 21’s door.

Day 21’s ink is Diamine Brandy Snap, and it’s a rich caramel brown with plenty of shading.

Diamine Brandy Snap.

A standard ink, but with a lot of shading:

A standard ink.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine Brandy Snap. You can see the shading here.

Col-o-Ring swab.

I used a Platinum 3776 with a music nib to test out Diamine Brandy Snap, and the nib really allows the ink’s shading to show:

Platinum 3776 and Col-o-Ring swab.

I wasn’t up to drawing today, so an uninspired bottle of brandy and pile of brandy snaps is all I could bring myself to draw. You can see the shading in the text below:

Diamine Brandy Snap on Tomoe River paper.

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

I really like the shading in Diamine Brandy Snap, and its warm, relatively bright colour. Even if you’re not a fan of brown inks, I think that you might like Diamine Brandy Snap, and fans of shading ink will love it.

Diamine Inkvent 2021 Day 20

Caveat: this year’s Inkvent appears to have elusive ink colours. I suggest reading my description of the inks and not going by the photos alone, and comparing my results with those of other reviewers. 

The Diamine Inkvent calendar is an advent calendar with 24 tiny (12ml) bottles of fountain pen ink behind 24 doors, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th door. All the inks are limited edition, and, at the moment, only available through this calendar.

Day 20’s door.

Day 20’s ink is Diamine Pink Ice, and it’s a bright pink ink with pink sparkles – as Elle Woods as an ink can get.

Diamine Pink Ice.

A shimmer ink, with a lot of pink glitter and very little shading:

A fabulous shimmer ink.

Here’s a Col-o-Ring swab of Diamine Pink Ice. You can see just how much shimmer is going on:

Col-o-Ring swab.

I used a Lamy Studio Terracotta with a fine nib to test out Diamine Pink Ice. Even with a fine nib you can see the shimmer:

Lamy Studio and Col-o-Ring swab.

I decided to draw a quick icy landscape to test Diamine Pink Ice on Tomoe River paper. There’s very little shading with this ink, and a lot of glitter. A significant amount of glorious pink glitter:

Diamine Pink Ice on Tomoe River paper.

This was drawn on a Kanso Sasshi 3.5” x 5.5” Tomoe River Paper notebook (the notebooks I have were bought in 2016, and so they contain the old Tomoe River paper).

Finally, I wrote a page in my Midori Journal:

Would I buy a bottle of Diamine Pink Ice? No, it’s a bit much for me. It is, however, a bright and cheerful ink with a lot of glitter and a lot of potential to make you smile as you’re using it. I’m glad that it was included in a calendar that has had a bit of a tendency towards the dark and muted side of colour.