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Mont Blanc - Swan Illusion Plume

mont blanc swan illusion grey brown

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#1 namrehsnoom



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Posted 11 July 2018 - 19:46

Mont Blanc - Swan Illusion Plume


When Mont Blanc brings out a new pen, you can be sure that there is an LE ink to accompany it. With the MB Patron of Art Ludwig II pen comes the mysteriously sounding "Swan Illusion" accompanying ink. A bit of digging on Wikipedia removes the mystery though: Ludwig II from Bavaria (1845-1886) is also known as the Swan King, hence the ink's name.




The ink's packaging looks lovely, and shows a not so easily described colour... brown? sepia? grey? I'm not quite sure what to make of it. But for me, grey-brown best captures the mood of this ink. The box also suggests a broad colour spectrum spanning from very faint light greyish brown to a really dark grey-brown colour. Looks promising.




Swan Illusion delivers on the promise: the ink has a unique colour. I would definitely classify it as a brown that leans heavily towards the grey. Quite a captivating colour, and one that I really like. The ink has relatively low saturation, which translates into a subdued and somewhat faded look. The result on the page is well-balanced though, and makes for easy reading. There is tons of shading in this ink, but this only shows up in broader nibs. This is not an ink for fine nibs, use a B or above to bring out its beauty.




The ink itself lacks a bit of lubrication, especially in drier pens like my Lamy Safari. With my wetter Pelikan pens this was not a problem; here the ink writes like a dream. The ink also has a wonderfully dynamic colour span. To illustrate this, I did a swab on Tomoe River paper where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. This beautifully illustrates the ink's broad colour range. Swan Illusion moves from a very light sepia-brown to a very dark brown-grey. Impressive!




On the smudge test - rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - the ink behaved perfectly. Water resistance is amazing - the ink effortlessly survived even longer exposures to water. Kudos! This is also apparent from the lower part of the chromatography, which shows that the grey components of the ink remain on the paper. If you need a water-resistant ink, Swan Illusion certainly fits the bill. The chromatography also shows that this is a wonderfully complex ink, with tons of undertones - orange, yellow, blue…




Swan Illusion is also a fast-drying ink - with typical drying times in the 5-10 second range with my Lamy Safari (M-nib). As such, this ink is also suitable for lefties. Also: fast drying times and water resistance make it a perfect ink for the workplace. And the ink's classy looks will certainly draw attention. 
I've tested the ink on a wide variety of paper - from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On each scrap of paper I show you:
  • An ink swab, made with a cotton Q-tip
  • 1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturation
  • An ink scribble made with a Lamy Safari M-nib fountain pen
  • The name of the paper used, written with a Lamy Safari B-nib
  • A small text sample, written with an M-nib
  • Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)
Swan Illusion looks really nice on most papers, but not on Tomoe River. Here the ink looks too washed out for my taste. On Moleskine, there is some bad chemistry going on, resulting in a hideous look. The ink looks simply gorgeous on Fantasticpaper, Paperblanks and OCM cotton paper. With the exception of Moleskine, I didn’t notice any feathering or bleed-through. All-in-all a well-behaving ink.

Inkxperiment – Cubistic Dimensions
As a personal experiment, I try to produce interesting drawings using only the ink I'm reviewing, keeping things simple and more-or-less abstract. I find this to be a fun extension of the hobby, and have found such single-ink drawings a nice challenge. It also gives you an idea of what the ink is capable of in a more artistic setting. For this drawing I used 300 gsm rough watercolour paper. I started off with water-diluted ink for the lighter parts in the drawing, gradually adding more ink to the mix for the darker parts. The highlights in the drawing were obtained by painting in some bleach - the ink reacts nicely with the bleach producing a golden-yellow colour. The end result gives you a good idea of the colour span that Swan Illusion is capable of. 
Mont Blanc's Swan Illusion LE ink is a great ink with a unique grey-brown colour, that immediately attracted me. The ink totally fits my taste: nice complexity, subdued and with non-aggressive shading. And as a welcome bonus: fast-drying and water-resistant. What more can you want. Personally, I really really dig this ink ... it's currently in my top 3 of best inks of 2018. In my opinion, an ink to grab while it's out there.
Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib
Backside of writing samples on different paper types






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#2 visvamitra


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Posted 11 July 2018 - 19:50

Nice. Muted, but I enjoy it on most papers. Thanks for the review.

#3 zaddick


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Posted 11 July 2018 - 19:56

Thanks for a great, in-depth review!

#4 da vinci

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Posted 11 July 2018 - 21:12

Fabulous review, thank you :thumbup:

Edited by da vinci, 11 July 2018 - 21:12.

#5 Lgsoltek


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Posted 11 July 2018 - 21:49

Amazing review as always! Thank you!


Regarding this ink I'll teetering between dislike and kind of intrigued... I don't like pale muted colours just like this, but at the same time I sometimes find the shading part not bad at all.

#6 Ghost Plane

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 00:06

Thank you for the comparison to other inks. I’ve now spotted two others I want.

#7 Sakura FP Gallery

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 04:49

What an interesting ink ! Super review ! 

Catherine Van Hove


#8 Chrissy


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Posted 12 July 2018 - 05:22

Thank you for the fabulous review.  :notworthy1:


I'm still on the fence with this ink, but it's great to see the comparisons with other inks that are similar.  :thumbup:


#9 Nikaa


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Posted 12 July 2018 - 05:23

Amazing review! !

I almost start to like this ink, this is because of your review...

but I have tried it and color was a disappointment for me. 

#10 JulieParadise



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Posted 12 July 2018 - 08:09

Thank you for the great review!


I wholeheartedly agree that this ink is special. I was lucky to get a sample of it and tested it in different pens. Those that write wetter like my Pilot CH 912 FA did the best job in bringing out the shading and colour changes.


If you think the ink is still too light I would recommend Kyo-Iro Stone Road of Gion. It is almost the same colour but a tad darker on paper. Hadn't I also tested the Stone Road I would totally rush to buy the Swan ink. Beautiful!

Sina a.k.a. Julie Paradise | www.instagram.com/wwwjulieparadisede

#11 MrsHobie


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Posted 12 July 2018 - 08:30

this review is wonderful !

I fell in love with this ink.

One pen roll, two pen rolls, three pen rolls ... So many pen rolls ! Do you want one ?
my tiny shop is open  and you can have a closer look on my website to see my cotton (and sometimes silk) OOAK penrolls.

#12 Arcadian



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Posted 12 July 2018 - 08:50

Thank you for this review! It is by far the best review format I have come across, with the examples of inky behaviour on different notebook papers.


Oh, and your drawing is beautiful, too!  :-)



 - P.

#13 bass1193


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Posted 12 July 2018 - 16:14

Love it! Ink and review both!

I'm definitely going to have to buy this. And Stone Road of Gion, another lovely that I've been meaning to get....

#14 Tom Kellie

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 20:24

~ namrehsnoom:


Thank you for the Swan Illusion review.


Your many images are a superb help to anyone interested in this ink.


I've been using it for the past two months, enjoying its color.


Your description and explanation is ideal.


Tom K.

#15 Intensity



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Posted 13 July 2018 - 02:21

Reminds me very much of Papier Plume's Pecan--one of my favorite inks.

#16 lapis


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Posted 13 July 2018 - 11:14

Thanks. Excellent review of a very interesting addition to the MB collection. I especially love your personal approach and also your explanation of where the ink's name came from. I have to have this ink just because of its property of coaxing us to say... "Is it an A with some B, or is it a B with A in it?" A fleshy grey, or a greyish flesh?. Oops....

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

#17 namrehsnoom



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Posted 13 July 2018 - 19:20

If you think the ink is still too light I would recommend Kyo-Iro Stone Road of Gion. It is almost the same colour but a tad darker on paper. Hadn't I also tested the Stone Road I would totally rush to buy the Swan ink. Beautiful!


Stone Road of Gion is indeed of the same family, and a gorgeous ink itself. And the similarities are indeed striking - with SRoG having a bit more brown in it. Swan Illusion has much better water resistance, and is a more complex mix of dyes, as illustrated by the chroma's. Hmm.... looks like an excellent pair for a new shoot-out.



Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: mont blanc, swan illusion, grey, brown

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