Inks 2: Rust, Brown, Grey & Black

Note: The color swatches below were made with a swab on Clairefontaine Triomphe paper. I covered the entire length with a back and forth, then re-dipped and went over the first half again, to get an idea of the shade range of each ink. All these tests were white-point corrected with a preset correction curve, to keep the different colors from affecting the correction curves of each one. They are as accurate to the original as I can make them, but as you know, screens vary….

+ Indicates sample vial only
* Indicates scented ink

Company/Ink; Comments Swatch

Private Reserve Plum +

I think I’d be more likely to call the Arabian Rose ‘Plum’ and call this some kind of deep red. It does have a purpley-burgundy tone to it, but there is a definite hint of brown as well. It shades well in the swab, but I’m less than impressed by it pen-on-paper.

Diamine Oxblood

A deep, rusty red, heavy with shades of iron and burgundy. A perfect deep dried blood, but a lovely color nevertheless.

Noodler’s Tienamen

Clearly I have a thing for brown/red hybrids! This is another lovely one from Noodler’s.

Diamine Monaco Red

A rich cinnamon red brown, saturated and fiery but not orangey. Shades beautifully, not as darkly as Oriental Red, but with nice depth. Another Opium red, and another favorite!

De Atramentis Oriental Red

Warm, saturated, cinnabar red, shades beautifully to a deep rust. Opium red. I love this color!

Levenger Cocoa

Levenger’s brown is a sweet rich brown that leans red, but on a cooler side of red. Not quite purpleish, but a defninite burgundy cast. Puts down a lovely rich brown line, and is a pretty well-behaved ink.


De Atramentis Chocolate *

Rich reddish brown, shades to semi-sweet chocolate brown, light chocolate scent. I can’t decide between this, PR Copper Burst, and PR Chocolat – I love them all!

Omas Sepia

If there is a color I like as much as the “Opium Reds,” it’s obviously brown. Here is Omas’ Sepia, a lovely warm brown, just in that range I like. Not too much shading, but very well behaved ink, in a fantastic octagonal bottle

Visconti Sepia

I didn’t really need another warm brown, but I love the Visconti bottles, so here it is. Visconti makes a very high quality ink, and I’m sure it will get its regular place in my brown rotation.

Pelikan Brillian Brown

This is a lighter brown than many others I have, but it is vibrant and rich nonetheless. It shades well in a fairly wet pen, and is stunning from a bold, stub, or italic nib. In a drier writer or a fine nib it can end up looking a little weak. however.

J.Herbin Terra de Feu

One of the more saturated Herbins I’ve used, but still shades really well. Overall, for some reason, none of the Herbins really excite me. This is a eminently usable ink, though, and I like this one more than most.

Private Reserve Copper Burst

Just a hair lighter & brighter than Chocolat, with a hint more red, shades to what I’d call Victorian Cherrywood. Has a similar feel to DA Chocolate, but a wider shade range.

Herbin Caffe Des Isles

Lighter and softer than most of my browns, still has a richness and warmth I like. It’s a red-brown, to be sure, but more saturated than Lie d’The, or even the Diamine Saddle.

Private Reserve Chocolat

Rich chocolatey red brown, shades well to a deep reddish walnut. A favorite!

Diamine Saddle Brown

Deep red-brown, similar to PR Chocolat, but lighter in its deep tones; for me it displays much less of a shading range, and its very lightest shades seem a little washed out.

Herbin Lie d’The

Soft sepia brown with a hint of a green cast. It shades well to a true walnut, but lighter tones don’t seem very saturated.

Parker Penman Mocha

Gorgeous neutral brown, ranges from a dark walnut to a true brown, maybe a hint of a burgundy cast in some light. Discontinued, sadly. (I’m in the ‘love it’ camp!)

Herbin Cacao Du Brisil +

Another deep espeesso, surprisingly not at all what I’d expect from a ‘cocoa.’ I am underwhelmed by this ink, much as I love browns.

De Atramentis Coffee *

Deep, deep, espresso brown, shades to a true dark roasted coffee brown, with a dark-roasted, espresso scent.

De Atramentic Frankincense *

Another of my scented ink batch, this one with a smokey Frankincense that I really like. It’s a pretty true dove grey, which I also like, though it’s an odd color choice for the scent (to me, at least).


Diamine Grey+

This is an interesting ink. It’s a true grey, with no noticeable shades of green, blue, or brown. It shades nicely, and seems to perform as one would expect a Diamine ink to perform. So I like this, I’m just not sure I’ll ever use it….

Waterman Black

Slightly washed out but pretty true black; no noticable blue or brown tones.

A. T. Cross Black

Neutral to purple/brown black with grey tones in its lighter range.

De Atramentis Love Letter *

True velvety charcoal black, no green/blue/brown tones, with very subtle shading and a heady rose scent.

Visconti Black

Deep true black. (Small plastic bottle.)

Levenger Raven Black

As rather my namesake, I love this deep true black, even though I don’t really do blacks much. Of all of the blacks I have, this one has a pleasing tone, just the sort of subtle purplishhue one might expect on the glossy wing of a corvid.


Mont Blanc Black

Another basic black. I grabbed this more for the ‘shoe’ style bottle (the older, more rounded, deco-styled one, not the current blocky one) than the ink- I don’t tend to use black much.

Inks 1:
Orange, Red, Pink & Burgundy

Inks 2:
Rust, Brown, Grey & Black

Inks 3:
Purple, Blue & Green

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