Guest Post: Artistic Ways of Using Fountain Pen Ink, with S. Jane Mills

2 September 2016 By ian


S. Jane Mills runs one of my favourite blogs: Sketches and Studies. Her Quote Monday pictures are thought provoking and showcase Jane’s inspirational and imaginative art. I’m very honoured that she took the time to write such a fantastic post for Pens! Paper! Pencils! combining two of my most favourite things: fountain pens and art.

Here’s a little post about using fountain pen ink in your artwork! I’m only going over a few of the basics here, but my big motto when it comes to working with any art medium is to experiment! Also, these are just how I do it – there is no right way or wrong way to incorporate fountain pen ink in your artwork, so have fun playing around!

Fountain Pen Ink

There are two types of fountain pen inks to consider based on what their use will be: Permanent/Pigment and Dye Based/Water Soluble. A quick way to test out your fountain pen inks to see if they are one of the two, is to make swatches and add a little water from a paint brush after all is completely dry. This is a good way to have a catalog of your inks, as well.


Permanent/Pigment inks are inks that do not bleed or wash away when water (or other liquid) is applied after the ink has dried. I use these type of inks for line work. My personal favorites are Platinum Carbon Black and Platinum Pigmented Sepia. Permanent/Pigment inks can come in a variety of colors. For instance, the De Atramentis Document ink series has a large selection. Permanent/Pigment inks tend to stain and clog fountain pens, so make sure you take care of them by cleaning regularly.

Dye Based/Water Soluble inks are inks that will bleed and wash away with water and other liquids.



Tools & Technique

When using your fountain pen inks, you can use many different tools to apply them to your artwork. I’ll go over some of the tools I use, as well as the techniques I use for them.

Fountain Pens

When I’m drawing with my fountain pens, I mostly use the following: my TWSBI mini (F nib) and my Hero 9018 (Fude nib). TWSBIs are very easy to clean so I like inking them with water soluble inks in various colors. The Hero 9018 is inked with Platinum Carbon Black ink and the Fude nib is perfect for creating super fine and bold lines with the same nib. If you’ve not tried a fude nib, I recommend it!

If I’m using Permanent/Pigment fountain pen inks, I mostly use them for lining a drawing that I intend to use watercolor/inks on top of.



Important tips:

Make sure the permanent/pigment ink is completely dry before putting any water/liquids on top of it
Do not use inks made for dip pens (India Ink, Lawyer’s Ink, Calligraphy ink, etc) in your fountain pens. These will damage your pen. Use only fountain pen inks in your fountain pen.

Dip Pen

I also use dip pens in some of my artwork. It’s an easy way to use different kinds of inks and nibs without having to use and clean multiple pens. Different nibs give different effects, from fine to bold to flex.


Paint Brushes

Another tool that I have available when I’m using fountain pen inks is the simple paintbrush. When using paint brushes, I find it best to put the ink you intend to use in a sample vile. This way the bottle of ink does not get contaminated with other inks/particles which could potentially ruin the ink.


You can really get a more expressive look when using paint brushes. There are some really nice high pigment, high shade fountain pen inks that can make artwork ‘pop’, compared to some watercolors. I enjoy painting with a permanent/pigment ink first, then layering dye based/water soluble inks on top for a bit of a layering effect.



Water brushes

I use water brushes 2 different ways with fountain pen inks. One way is that I fill the water brush with water (as intended) and after drawing line work with water soluble fountain pen inks, I use the water to mix the inks around, which creates a blended look.

Another way is to fill the water brush with water soluble fountain pen ink. I have been doing this with Diamine Inks, and they flow nicely in the water brush. Some inks will stain your water brushes, so a thorough cleaning is needed if you wish to switch colors. I use specific water brushes for inks, so the ones I use for water stay clear.




Well, that is all that I have for now! Hope this was informative and I really appreciate you taking the time to read this little post! 🙂

Happy Inking! 😀