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Diluting Inks And Its Side Effects


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Hello, on the jurney to the perfect ink im stumbling across alot of obstacles, and i hope i get some support here :D


Diluting inks can make them much more shading and interesting, but it has negative side effects.

I found, that diluting Faber Castell with Water [1:4,5] is the perfect color for me with a 1.5 stub nib.

The problem is, that the ink loses its properties, and its nearly impossible to use.

Here are some images from bad to good.









As you can see, the ink doesnt lubricate the nib well enough.



What i tried so far:


My last hope is, that anyone knows the right chemical to add (sugar/glucose...?), or give me new suggestions.



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  • Bo Bo Olson


  • Chrissy


  • Corona688


  • Oshi


To be brutally honest, I would buy an ink that starts off as the perfect colour and shading that I want and leave it as it is. :huh:

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Yes true, from research i did not find a similar ink. Maybe i should try more grey inks, J.Herbin Gris Nuage is quite close.

But for curiosity i would love to know what makes the in lubricant.


here is the look im after, the colors a quite accurate on my calibrated screen.





i fell in love with theese colors... i have to admit, this is a cheap, special note card paper which supports the shading.

you can see a decent more saturated blue between the dark and light parts of the letters.

Edited by Oshi
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I am more than 'noobie' with mixing and diluting. Having some 80 inks, a small amount to many here....don't have to do much mixing. Will do so on a couple of blaa MB inks my wife bought me on a whim.

Have been impressed with changes others achieve with a bit of diluting. Too lazy..."too many inks".


Change papers. :)

If you go to Ink Reviews and look at any ink review done by Sandy1, :notworthy1: , our ink guru. So often one would not believe it is the same ink, but is.

She uses 4 normal pens, and four good to better papers that are available if you put your mind to it.....(need to follow my own advice there.) :rolleyes: :blush: Been saying I need those four papers for the longest time. I do have 30-40 papers sitting around, some very good....some I even know what they are. :gaah: :wallbash: :headsmack: :rolleyes: :blush:


Then there are different colors, cream, ivory, marbled, besides types like laid, hammered or linen effect.


Nib width and flex rate will make differences. I find regular flex nibs in M and F to be good for shading. Semi-flex requires more care in ink and paper being a wetter nib.

Wet or dry pen.


IMO there is no perfect nib, perfect paper nor perfect ink, there is though, a perfect nib on a perfect paper, with a perfect ink; that will not be perfect with a different nib width or flex. Could be how humid it is affects this. :P


Gmund 'Blanc Beige, creme 120 g, is a very near perfect paper.....I of course ordered second best the 170g, in I like the feel of the heavy paper. One of these days, I'll order the 120g. I did have to break a $$$ physiological border.

100 sheets cost E 36 and 4 E mailing inside of Germany...Austria will cost more than EU for mailing.

IMO those papers were better than the other four types including the more expensive (50 sheets at E36) Original Gmund. For such expensive papers you need to order samples and test them all. I'd expected the more expensive paper to have been the better, just like I expected the heavy paper to be better.

:headsmack:Do order the same paper in different colors. Wenn schon, dann schon!!


For free I'd ordered 2 sheets, and for E0.85 I'd ordered 8/10 sheets of their fountain pen friendly papers. Art papers are not for fountain pens. Write which ever company for a list of fountain pen friendly papers. I did not do that with an other good company, and got only Art Papers in the free sample pack.

Is on my crumbling from age list of things to do, ask Schoellerhamer for their fountain pen friendly papers.

Zander is another company that has a huge amount of different papers. I'm sure there is a perfect paper in there.....if I ever get around to testing my sample packs.

First I have to clean all my pens, clear my desk, bring out the army of inks, and scribble like I was being paid for it. Must be at least 60 Zander papers to look at.

Then after that, comes getting put in front of court for 'Wallet Abuse" :huh: .


Over a couple years, I ran a lot of inks over those 10 or so Gmund papers.....100g, 110, 120, 150 and 170g.......in a few different papers.

I had expected the heavy papers the 150-170 to be best. I was surprised when the 120 topped them all.

At that price I dithered..........years.

I had picked up a bottle of now discontinued 4001 Brilliant Green....I was chasing purple...and who needed a 'green'. It was a on sale!

Within the year I had 14 of my 17, (soon to be 18) green-greenish inks, that I tested on those papers. By that time 3/4's of the papers had failed....In the end it came down to the tad better 120g and the tad better feeling second place 170g.

I have other heavy papers, but can't make a comparison, in I don't have the lighter paper. Like I have G.Lalo Verge de France in 160g but none in 90g. Same with the Velin pur Coton, in 125g and none in 90g.


I am glad I have an extra bottle of 4001 Brilliant Green.

R&K Verdura beat MB Irish Green by a short nose, Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Green by a neck....in green-green inks. (Of course there is someone who had Irish Green by a short nose over Verdura...)


There are many good papers, some better papers, and if you look, near grand to grand papers. Your ink will be somewhat different on most.

Edited by Bo Bo Olson

In reference to P. T. Barnum; to advise for free is foolish, ........busybodies are ill liked by both factions.



The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.




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Thank you, this really helps.

I did some Glucose solution dilution tests yesterday, it helps the lubrication alot, but the ink is sticky of course :blush:

it also helps the shading quite well on all papers, as you can see in the image! I have to try out wasteland`s link :P

I bought the most recommended papers, and did research for best shading papers.

Bo Bo i have to take my time again and read your post carefully, alot of info :P your last awnser costed me about 400€ :rolleyes:




  1. Exacompta Karteikarten
  2. Tomoe River 52g
  3. Clairfontaine 90g, Papier Velouté
  4. Rhodia 80g Bloc N°18


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Counter-intuitive as it may seem, water is often used as a *drying* agent in inks. People use it to combat issues like feathering, so, yes -- it can have a negative impact on lubrication.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Be sure you're not using too too much glycerin. Ink is supposed to be 99% water, so one part in a hundred or less.


Lots of people swear by Photoflo, which is a "non-ionic surfactant" used in photography. A little bit goes a long way.

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Be glad, that E400 was cheaper than next year, and the year after, until the next Depression.

After years of 'steady' prices since the last depression, the prices have jumped.


In live auctions, Inkwell's have gone up 50-70% at least. Inkwells I thought to get at E50-70 max in they were some better ones.... were going for closer to 200. With no interest, folks have been sticking their cash in antiques, to beat deflation.


Which pens were they?


Clairfontaine 90g, Papier Velouté, is 'one' ink better than Oxford Optic 90g, the same paper as in the Black&Red notebooks. I like both; in the spiral notebooks I have.

It don't always have to be the most fancy paper....but one should have some.

My advice is for every three inks you buy, get a good to better paper. Once a year or two, a real fine paper. The paper will last many years, in one don't gulp single malt, or scribble grocery lists on fancy fine paper.

In reference to P. T. Barnum; to advise for free is foolish, ........busybodies are ill liked by both factions.



The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.




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thanks for all the infos again.


@Bo Bo

i wanted to get some insight and test stuff. Sell the pens i dont like and keep the ones i like.

Maybe even swaping nips etc.

Too bad, 2 pens dont write properly, and i dont get them to work... inconsistent inkflow, i may open another thread for this, i already made photographs.

I broke the collar of the tortoise 400, repaired it and now it leaks a little bit... but i kinda like that extra small, little flex nib, so i may keep it and look for a collar.

What i learned so far, i dont like obliqe nibs, they dont support good looking of my cursive writing.

Im not sure how i will sell the pens, maybe repair them or sell the single parts.


here you go:










(using with a Jinhao 450)


Really funny, that i like the 1.5 stub nib of goulet the most. I have to try the 1.1 also...

I would love to try such a nib with a littlebit flex, just for the experience.

I like the hard edges of the letters, not so much the pelikan 400nn`s/400.

The next project is grinding my own stubs from the cheap Jinhaos, i already have the equipment :wacko: :headsmack:


A littlebit OT, but you asked :blush:

Edited by Oshi
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Was going bananas on paper OT....close enough for hand grenades....or a bit to far out for horseshoes.


The two old 400's are stubs, and semi-flex, in all the '50-65 nibs were so. Some are maxi-semi-flex but one can not count on that...that is luck of the draw.


Hum...the tortoise could have a younger cap, in there is Pelikan on the cap ring. Or it is a '54 cap.


It does look just like my '54 tortoise....but does it have a size on on the nib??? or on the piston cap? Mine was a '54 transition to 400n, so had the nib size along with Pelikan 400 on the cap ring.

Looks EF to me....................how ever someone could have swapped nibs.

I had that happen to me, I finally figured out, that I had two OM's instead of an OB and OM. Those were '50-53 or early '54.


Those earlier '54-50's are marked on the piston knob, with no cap ring marking.

The thin nib looks like an old nib from what I can see and would guess at least an F more than likely an EF

The 400nn, looks B...can't see what letter is behind the O....and barely oblique.....like someone tried to straighten it.

An Oblique of that era should be a clear 15 degrees when held to the light.....or more rarely a clear 30 degrees.


The 250's nib I don't know....depend of from when, but I'd suspect a regular flex nib....though any from after '97 could be semi-nail like the 400/600.


When I had a chance at a 250....I wasn't interested in regular flex....only semi-flex. Since then I've learned to like regular flex....a better nib flex for shading inks. F and M is a better nib than one would expect. Many come in on an M, and go skinny or fat and pick up a prejudice against M on this com.

A test with a shading ink, in F, M and B, broke that prejudice in M did better than the others.


Semi-flex due to ease of tine bend and spread is a wetter nib than regular flex. Needing a better match of ink and paper than regular flex.

That is something I mentioned before about wet and dry nibs.


I find it strange to think of a 400's nib being called small, the 140's yes.

But I grew up with standard sized pens....not the Large pen of today, which needs a wider nib to balance it's looks.


There is a guy in England with collars for the 140 and 400. I just never linked it.

If you put that question up in the first section in nibs and tines someone should link you.


Perhaps even Pelikan would put a new collar on for you.


Obliques have to be held canted to work. With the pen in the air, post the cap so the clip of the cap, is aligned half way between the slit and the right hand shoulder. Adjust your grip, while still in the air, so you hand is lined up to the clip. Put down to the paper, with out changing anything, and write.


Soon you won't need that, but is an aid to start. I had an OB as first semi-flex and it is fatter and easier to use...the OM and OF need to be canted more precisely.


With your slighter looking oblique....the first I've see with what looks so little, in I have 16 obliques of that era......you might have to go over to 1/3 from the slit, instead of one half.

Edited by Bo Bo Olson

In reference to P. T. Barnum; to advise for free is foolish, ........busybodies are ill liked by both factions.



The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.




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Thx Bo Bo,


the tortoise has no sizes on the nib, piston cap or cap ring. its kind of hard to keep consistent lines when writing, since a littlebit of pressure changes it... here it is:





i already did some reasearch about the handposition for oblique nibs, here is how i hold it.

I try to naturally let the angle find its place, but this doesnt change the bad performance on both oblique nibs.




Edited by Oshi
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The first nib appears to be a maxi....which takes only half as much pressure to expand the tines to a max of 3 X....strive not to take it over 3 X.

It took me some 3 months to get use to a semi-flex....not maxing it all the time....which was good, in the next semi-flex pen I got was a maxi...not that I'd developed that term then. That took a real 'flexible' Rupp semi-flex nib to :eureka: :eureka: as I spun in little circles mumbling fro three days, 'boy that's a maxi-semi-flex'. It was and is still the most flexible of my 16 maxi-semi-flex nibs


At first from the first picture, I'd thought your cant angle of the grind to be less than the 'normal' 15 degrees. It's at least 15 degrees, could be 30 degrees....even so I think you are using a tad too much cant on the Oblique.


When you hold it to the light, how much angle does it have. 15 degrees is 'normal', I do have in a mix of semi&maxi 15&30 degree grinds in various pens, in OBB, OB, OM and OF.....pure luck for the 30 degree grind.. And a 30 degree grind on the fancy 500, signature nib....it is OBBB. That one I can think as pure factory.


If 15 degrees, then aim the posted cap's clip right between the slit and the right hand shoulder.

If 30 degrees at the shoulder.....adjust your grip in the air, then put the pen to paper and write. The cant will be proper, and not too much.

After a while you won't have to do that, but at first it's a great help. I developed that little trick, in once there were many threads of I can't make it work. And I had 'lots' of obliques of that semi-flex era and had no problems.......but I started with an OB, which has a much larger slop factor. In fact can be held straight, but has a touch of scratch. The OM and OF had to have a more exact angle of cant.


Even so, some folks had problems still, Richard Binder said, if so, then don't hold the paper at 45 degrees but at 90 or 180. After that such threads more or less stopped.


In it is never mentioned in the company info's anything about the 30 degree grinds, Outside of me, no one else has commented on that; that I can remember.


I suspect the well trained personal at the Fabled German Corner Pen Shoppe, would ask the customer if he wanted a bit more oblique and go in to the back room and grind the 15 degree oblique to 30 degrees. WOG.

In reference to P. T. Barnum; to advise for free is foolish, ........busybodies are ill liked by both factions.



The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.




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Many times, I have tried to dilute some of my inks the way you are trying. I have never had a satisfying result, and have decided that it is easier and less expensive if I just buy bottles of the colors I like.


So other inks you may want to look at which might have the color and shading that you want are L'Artisan Pastelier Callifolio Baikal as reviewed here by visvamitra.




Callifolio inks are less saturated than many others and shade very nicely. You may also want to consider Botany Bay as well. Callifolio inks are made in France, so they should be accessible to you.


Another ink that you may want to consider is the Stipula Calamo line of inks . Again, they are much less saturated but shade beautifully. I haven't tried the Dark Blue (Notturno Giannutri), but I have tried most of the others and they are very nice.

"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours. When it is gone, it is gone. Be wise, but enjoy! - anonymous today




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well ; and as a side note, even if the ink dilute well, that does not always mean it will give you the color you want , veteran artist will tell you to lighten or darken a color it take more than adding white or black. in fact in most cases, adding water ( colorless ), white or black only muddy the color. Watercolor artist had this all along

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't know where you get "water makes watercolors muddy". They're watercolors - that's what they're for. How else are you supposed to get light colors? (No, not white, which isn't a watercolor by definition.)

Edited by Corona688
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