11 Best-Behaved Fountain Pen Inks (for Each Color)

Written by Shawn Buckles in Ink

In the search for the best behaving fountain pen inks, I've found that some of the classic brands don't hold up as well as I've thought. Luckily, there are more well-performing inks on the market than ever.

Some of the best-behaved fountain pen inks are Noodler's lubricated Eel and Polar series, Herbin's La Perle des Encres range, Diamine's entire range (with some exceptions), and Lamy's T53 Crystal range.

Below you'll find a list with inks for each color, and for different properties, like permanence or shading. It is my aim to continuously update this list while I find better behaving colors. If you have suggestions, please leave them in the comment section.

In this article:

  1. Best Behaving Fountain Pen Inks
  2. Black: Noodler's Black
  3. Grey: Noodler's Lexington Grey
  4. Purple: Herbin Poussère de Lune
  5. Blue: Pelikan 4001 Blue
  6. Turquoise: Herbin Blue Pervenche
  7. Pink: Lamy Crystal Rhodonite
  8. Brown: Diamine Chocolate Brown
  9. Red: Diamine Red Dragon
  10. Orange: Noodler's Apache Sunset
  11. Green: Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine
  12. Yellow: Papier Plume Yellow

Best Behaving Fountain Pen Inks

Below I'll list some of my favorite inks and ink series for different colors and properties. I'll go over each of those inks in detail in the next subheading.

Best inks for different properties

  • Permanent ink: Noodler's lubricated Eel and Polar-series
  • Shading ink: Herbin La Perle des Encres-series
  • Smooth writing: Diamine inks
  • Shimmering ink: Lamy Crystal

Best-behaved fountain inks for each color

  • Black: Noodler's Black
  • Grey: Noodler's Lexington Grey
  • Purple: Herbin Poussère de Lune
  • Blue: Pelikan 4001 Blue
  • Turquoise: Herbine Blue Pervenche
  • Pink: Lamy Crystal Rhodonite
  • Brown: Diamine Chocolate
  • Red: Diamine Red Dragon
  • Orange: Noodler's Apache Sunset
  • Green: Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine
  • Yellow: Papier Plume Yellow

I will receive a batch of new inks shortly with Pilot Iroshizuku, and some brands that are new to me, so I expect to add to this list in the near future.

Before I go over the inks one by one with a more detailed description, I'd like to briefly touch base on what 'well-behaved' means.

What 'well-behaved' means

With well-behaving, I'm referring to four different properties:

  1. how the ink behaves in the pen
  2. how it writes
  3. how it behaves on the paper
  4. how it behaves over time

Inks should be reasonably easy to clean and maintain, which means they shouldn't dry out in a week. When cleaning, it should be easy to flush out residue with simple water, with an occasional deep rinse using my homemade pen flush.

I like my inks to flow freely, meaning they should write quite wet, and ideally dry (somewhat) quickly. I like the feel of lubricated inks, since they feel smoother while writing.

On the paper, ink shouldn't feather too much, but it should also dry relatively quickly. It shouldn't smudge after 20 seconds or so.

Over the long term, ink should hold up to UV, be somewhat fade-resistant, and be able to withstand reasonable water spills.

I've found that my best-performing inks all share the following properties:

  • lubricated
  • waterproof
  • pH-neutral

Worst-behaved inks

Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses has a very long dry time, of more than ten minutes, and is very prone to smudging. It's a beautiful ink that offers a good writing experience (it doesn't feel dry), but it isn't a good daily ink because of this.

Diamine Majestic Blue also dries slowly and smudges incredibly easily, even after the ink has completely dried. It is a very beautiful ink, easy to maintain, and is a pleasure to write with, however, it is not water-resistant at all and should be handled with some care since even a mildly damp finger will smudge ink that has set for days or weeks.

Diamine Pumpkin and Parker Quink both feel dry when writing. I think there is a somewhat abrasive dye in these inks that makes your pen feel like a felt-tip pen. Not incredibly unpleasant but I have a personal aversion to squeaky pens.

  1. how the ink behaves in the pen
  2. how it writes
  3. how it behaves on the paper
  4. how it behaves over time

Black: Noodler's Black

Noodler's Black is a great everyday ink. It behaves well in the pen and is reasonably easy to clean. It's a strong black that ever so slightly shades, which gives it a bit more complexity. On the paper, it strikes the perfect balance between dry time and (lack of) feathering. it is water-resistant and fade-resistant.

It's a bit drier than some of the lubricated blacks, like Polar Black or Americal Eel Black, which are smoother to write with and a bit more vibrant, but also have longer dry times and therefore increased risk of smudging. However, once these inks dry (which doesn't take unreasonably long) they stand up to pretty much anything too.

Favorite: Noodler's Black (check at Amazon)

Grey: Noodler's Lexington Grey

Lexington Grey is a favorite of many, and it is easy to see why. It's somewhat of a staple grey: not too light, not too dark. Very readable, pretty thin yet saturated, which makes it wet and also easy to clean. It provides a lot of shading with broader nibs and is also permanent, water-resistant, and fade-resistant. An all-around pleasant, archival-quality grey ink.

Favorite: Noodler's Lexington Grey (check at Amazon)

Purple: Herbin Poussère de Lune

This dusty purple is one of my favorite inks, both in the pen and on the paper. It doesn't require any maintenance at all, it cleans out with a quick water flush. It flows quite nicely, being pretty wet, and feels somewhat thinner and drier than lubricated inks. It also provides very nice shading and dries quickly and definitively, so it doesn't smudge. It is a pH-neutral ink so it should be very easy on your pens. It isn't permanent or waterproof, however, it holds up reasonably well with minor spills.

Favorite: Herbin Poussère de Lune (check at Amazon)

Blue: Pelikan 4001 Blue

This classic is a good everyday ink that flushes straight out and holds up reasonably well with minor spills and sunlight. It is a pretty thin ink, so it isn't very vibrant; a somewhat dull ink but a staple nonetheless. It is pretty acidic at 2.1 pH, so it could corrode some pen parts over time. However, it has a long track record as being safe to use in pretty much any pen, and my experience confirms this. Provides a tiny bit of shading. Mostly a well-behaved ink because of the low-maintenance and predictable properties in all pens.

Favorite: Pelikan 4001 Blue (check at Amazon)

Turquoise: Herbin Blue Pervenche

Easy to clean ink and a pretty smooth writing experience. Not at all water-resistant, and quite a wet ink, but also very vibrant with incredible shading: one of my all-time favorite turquoise inks. It dries quickly and doesn't feather too much. However, even with minor spills, the ink runs off the paper like it hadn't dried at all. Not a good archival ink, but very pleasant to work with.

Favorite: Herbin Blue Pervenche (check at Amazon)

Pink: Lamy Crystal Rhodonite

I would have said Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses here since it has great shading and a very pleasant vibrant magenta tone. However, it smudges like crazy and has an insane dry time.

Rhodonite is a lubricated ink I believe since it writes very smoothly, but it's thin enough to not clog up your pen. It's a shimmering ink, but I've found it works well with all types of feeds and doesn't dry out. It provides very nice shading. Not permanent and also not water-resistant, and it will smudge with minor spills. The ink does fade slightly over time, and since it's a pretty light color, I think it won't hold up too well after a couple of decades.

Favorite: Lamy Crystal Rhodonite (check at Amazon)

Brown: Diamine Chocolate Brown

This truly is a rich chocolate brown, saturated with lots of beautiful shading with faster writing, which tells me it is a very free-flowing ink, as all Diamine inks are. Very pleasant to write with, almost as if it is lubricated. It has a bit of dry time, but it also behaves well on cheaper papers. It does smudge and isn't water-resistant, but the incredible color makes up for that.

Favorite: Diamine Chocolate (check at Amazon)

Red: Diamine Red Dragon

Red Dragon is very vibrant red that provides beautiful shading. As with Diamine Chocolate (and many of their other inks), it's a wet but 'round' ink, in that it feels buttery to write with (in a good way). It does have longer dry time and smudges a bit if you're not careful, and it again isn't permanent or water-resistant.

Favorite: Diamine Red Dragon (check at Amazon)

Orange: Noodler's Apache Sunset

The most beautiful orange available. Beautiful on paper, and also well-behaved in the pen. Feels really good while writing. Not too difficult to clean, and is known for its incredible shading on fountain-friendly papers like Rhodia Le R. Not archival quality; not water-resistant or fade-resistant, but does hold up reasonably well with minor spills.

Favorite: Noodler's Apache Sunset (check at Amazon)

Green: Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine

Pelikan's Edelstein range is a success in my opinion. These are pretty wet inks, and perhaps not as saturated as some would like, but this ensures great shading and quick dry times, with some feathering as a consequence. Aventurine is a very vibrant mid-tone green, not too blue for my taste, like 4001 Dark Green. It's very easy to clean, but also doesn't hold up great in terms of permanence and water resistance. It is pH neutral so it will be easy on your pen.

Favorite: Edelstein Aventurine (check at Amazon)

Yellow: Papier Plume Yellow

I don't own a bottle of Papier Plume Yellow yet, in fact, I don't own any yellow since it tends to be so illegible. I've read that this is a very well-behaved ink, and one of the more legible yellows out there, but it remains to be tested by me in the future, so I can't recommend it wholeheartedly.

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