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Robert Oster 1980 - Whisper Red


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Robert Oster 1980 - Whisper Red


Robert Oster is an Australian ink maker that is well-known for its unique range of colours. With this mini-series he gives us a conglomeration of colours inspired by the anything goes world of the 1980s. The inks include muted pastel-type colours along with some eye-popping disco-style hues. Definitely an interesting series.


In this review the spotlight is on Whisper Red - a muted pastel-like rose-red that is easy on the eye and works quite well as a writing ink. Personally, the colour brings back memories of plastic toys that looked exactly this shade of muted red. For a Robert Oster ink, it feels well-lubricated and lays down a sufficiently contrast-rich line with all nib sizes, even with the finer ones. That being said, I personally don't see much use for this ink. I occasionally use it in my journal, and have also used it as an ink to mark-up and annotate reports at work. But I don't see myself using it on a daily basis.


To show you the impact of saturation on the ink's look & feel on paper, I made some scribbles where I really saturated portions of the Tomoe River paper with ink. This gives you a good idea of what the ink is capable of in terms of colour range. As you can see, Whisper Red ranges from a faint wispy rose to a well-saturated rose-red at the dark end of the spectrum. This relatively broad tonal range reflects in the shading properties of this ink - Whisper Red shows some really nice aesthetically pleasing shading, especially in broader nibs.


Like most Robert Oster inks, Whisper Red has zero water resistance. Short exposures to water completely obliterate the text, leaving next to nothing on the page. This is also apparent from the lower part of the chromatography. The chroma clearly shows that the dyes migrate away with the water, with only some smudges remaining on the paper. Definitely not a water-resistant ink.


I've tested the ink on a wide variety of paper - from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On every small band 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 an M-nib Lamy Safari fountain pen

  • The name of the paper used, written with a B-nib Lamy Safari

  • A small text sample, written with an M-nib Lamy Safari

  • Origin of the quote, written with a Pelikan M101N Bright Red with F-nib

  • Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Lamy)

Whisper Red is a well-behaving ink on most paper types, with only a little amount of barely-visible feathering on lower quality paper. The ink dries quite quickly around the 5 second mark (with the M-nib Lamy Safari). Saturation and contrast are really good across all paper types in my test set. The ink also shows some nice shading, even with finer nibs. All in all a very pleasing writing experience.





Writing with different nib sizes

The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. All samples were written with a Lamy Safari, which is typically a dry pen. I also added a visiting pen: a wet-writing Pelikan M101N Bright Red with F-nib. Whisper Red can effortlessly handle the complete nib-range, from EF to broad and italic calligraphy nibs. Contrast with the paper is excellent, and the ink retains its muted character across this broad range of nibs. Nice and consistent, making it a fine writing ink.


Related inks

To compare this Whisper Red with related inks, I use my nine-grid format with the currently reviewed ink at the center. This format shows the name of related inks, a saturation sample, a 1-2-3 swab and a water resistance test - all in a very compact format.


Inkxperiment – gladiator fight

With every review, I try to create an interesting mini-painting using only the ink I'm working on. This really forces me to explore all colour-range nuances that are present within the ink. Often quite challenging, but always real fun and my favourite part of every ink review. For this drawing I used HP Photo Paper. To create the background, I put a wet paper towel on the photo paper, and painted ink on top of it with a brush. The ink then migrated through the paper towel to the photo paper below, resulting in a nicely textured background. The photos of the drawing phases were taken with my phone under artificial light, and definitely show a much too orange hue.


I next drew the arena with the fighting mouse and mousetrap using my M-nibbed Safari. The cats in the audience were painted in with fountain pen and brush. The resulting mini-picture shows what can be obtained with Whisper Red as a drawing ink. My personal experience: red inks are really difficult to draw with. The result is - well - too red and busy and in-your-face. Definitely not my favourite drawing colour.



Robert Oster 1980 Whisper Red is nice muted rose-red, that works really well as a writing ink: nice shading and good contrast with the paper in all nib-sizes. Personally, I'm not a red ink fan, and don't typically use this colour for daily writing. I can see myself using this ink mainly for annotating reports and papers. A nice ink to try, but by no means an extraordinary one.

Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib


Back-side of writing samples on different paper types





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Whisper Red seems to be a very difficult colour to capture correctly on photo or with a scan. The inkxperiment scan above is definitely a touch too purple. Below is a photo of the inkxperiment taken in sunlight - this shows a more accurate appearance of the colour.



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Love you review(s) and your drawing....the ink well...



I found it striking that you used a Gladiator scene albeit comical with whisper red.

This is favorite quote by "Marcus Aurelius" from the movie Gladiator


There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish… it was so fragile. And I fear that it will not survive the winter. Maximus, let us whisper now, together you and I.....



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This really is a chameleon ink ... depending on the light you get a completely different-looking colour. I really hate it when inks behave this way. Anyway ... to better help you make up your own mind, I've added a photo made in sunlight of a writing sample (compare with the scanned image in the review) - this one looks much less purple.



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TERRIFIC review. Thank you.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).

Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar

Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016

Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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