Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Search for the Perfect Brown

I've found my brown ink!
For a long time now I have been searching for a good brown ink to draw with. My color model is a brown used by artists of the past. (For example, Beatrix Potter used a brown ink in her illustrations quite frequently.) That brown color, which I have always thought of as Sepia, is a reddish-brown, sometimes leaning towards Golden-Brown. I know that I’m picky, but I have already tried a number of inks and have not yet been able to find the perfect one. Here’s a list of the inks that I have already tried - Noodler’s Golden Brown, Noodler’s Polar Brown, Noodler’s Whaleman’s Sepia, Noodler’s Cayenne. It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Fortunately, the nice folks at Goulet Pens sell ink samples so you can get in and get out really cheaply.

I realized that it was time for another round of ink tests and ordered some new samples from Brian and Rachel Goulet. My newest batch included - Diamine Dark Brown, Diamine Sepia, Diamine Ancient Copper, De Atramentis Ochre Yellow and Private Reserve Copper Burst. Online I could see that all the inks appeared to be in the right color family. I had a brand new Noodler’s Flex pen in the Arizona color primed and waiting for her new brown ink.

Brown ink comparisons on Bee paper
I tested all the new inks with a dip pen and although it was a close race between the Diamine Sepia and the Diamine Ancient Copper, the Sepia pulled it out to win! (So it WAS a Sepia ink all along!!) It was exactly the color I’d hoped for. What’s more, it paired perfectly with a Pitt #169 (Caput Mortem) Brush Pen. And so voila! A new pen and brush set ready for drawing! I’m very pleased!

Ink tests with Diamine Sepia in Noodler's Flex pen and Pitt brush #169 on Bee paper
Ironically, now that I have the perfect ink, I’m having some trouble with the Arizona flex pen. I have several Flex pens that I keep filled with various colors of ink. This one, as I have said, was ear-marked for the brown ink. Two of my newest flex pens come from a later manufacturing batch and just aren’t as good as my three earlier flex pens. They’re alright but the nib doesn’t sit as deeply into the pen and they just doesn’t write/draw as well for me. But it does an OK job as you can see in the drawing samples. Perhaps in the future I’ll find another individual Noodler’s Flex pen that writes a bit better to replace it. But in the meantime, I love my new ink color!

Sepia ink in Banditapple Carnet Notebook
The ink samples are shown in a Bee Pen Sketcher’s pad and in a Banditapple Carnet Peewee notebook. I have to take a moment to say the Banditapple Carnet notebook is very impressive in that the ink did not bleed through the page as I would have expected. It’s really a sweet little purse notebook for $3.50. You can find them at


  1. Hi Miss Sara, I can't put my name on the internet, but i'll give you a clue, Percy is doing great. Plus who else calls you Miss Sara? this is really cool that you did an entire test to find the right color for your collection!

    1. I know who you are! *sing song voice* Thanks for reading my blog Anonymous. ;-) I was just drawing a pony in the new brown colors when you wrote this comment. How about I send it to you as a gift for writing in? I'll send it to someone we both know on Facebook (and here's a hint for you - she picks you up from school...) ;-). Please give Percy a pat for me. :-)