I get asked a lot what my favorite fountain pen ink colors are, and the honest truth is that I love a huge variety of color. I am a serial ink sampler and love changing colors all the time because to me, that's a huge part of the enjoyment of using fountain pens! But over the last 3 years or so, I have definitely noticed there are some inks more than others that I am more likely to fill in my pens. I have a "Brian's Favorites" ink sample package set on my site and have talked about my favorites in various blog posts and videos, but I haven't sat down and talked about which are at the top for me and why.
I am a retailer and while you can certainly buy these inks from me, that is not at all the intention behind this blog post. I didn't check any of my inventory levels before doing this blog post so I have no idea if I'm low or out of any of these colors, but that's inconsequential to me because I'm posting this purely to share with you my own individual preferences. That said, I really would love to hear what your top 5 inks are, so be sure to post in the comments below! Here are mine, in no particular order:
This ink is just my standby. I am actually not a huge fan of black ink in general, mainly because I just find them boring. But they are necessary in life, and when I need a black this is the one I go to. There are a lot of other great black inks and I will not try to debate with anyone that this one is the best for everyone. But I like it for several reasons: it performs well, it's permanent, it's easy to clean, and as a blogger/reviewer it's a commonly recognized that's a great basis of comparison when talking about other inks since so many people are familiar with it. It's for these reasons I have standardized on Noodler's Black for my Nib Nook writing samples, and why it's my go-to black ink when I need one.
I both love and hate this ink. It smears, it has a really long dry time, and if you're writing with it in a muggy Virginia summer on an ink resistant paper, just forget that it will ever fully dry. But even with all the fuss, I still absolutely love this ink. The color is spellbinding to me. It's a deep, rich navy blue with a distinct and vibrant red sheen, unlike just about any other ink. I use it mostly in either very fine nibs to get the deepest blue shade possible, or in italic nibs to have that sheen really pop.
If you've watched just about any video where I'm using a flexible nib, you'll know this is my go-to. I adore the multi-color properties of this ink. To say that it shades is an understatement, it shades so intensely that it actually shifts from yellow to orange to red as you write with more or less ink, especially on an ink resistant paper. I love it in italic/stub nibs as well. Even though yellows and oranges aren't normally my thing, this ink is one I always grab when I want to see something cool happen.
I'm willing to bet that a lot of you who've followed me for a while might guess I would pick Noodler's Blue or Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki, and they were certainly close contenders. I'm a real sucker for this mid-range cerulean shade of blue, as evidenced by the color in the Goulet ink splatter logo, and even the shirt I'm wearing in this video! But what won out Liberty's Elysium for me is my obvious personal interest and affiliation with the ink's creation. I was born and raised just miles from Patrick Henry's Scotchtown, and I graduated from Patrick Henry High School. I proposed the idea to Noodler's about doing a Patrick Henry-themed ink, and expressed that I wanted a blue with permanent qualities. Not only is this ink something I find a pleasure to use, but I also appreciate the history behind its name.
There are a number of strong red inks available from several different brands, and you could easily argue any of them to be the best based on your own personal preference. I have a great respect for colors like Diamine Matador, or Diamine Oxblood, but for one reason or another ever since I inked up my pen with Diamine Red Dragon I fell in love. I tend to use it in finer nibs, to get a deep, punchy red on my page. I have little explanation for why I love this color, I just do.
If you want a sample of these five inks plus a few more runner-ups, check out my Ink Sample Package Set!