Get Started On Logging Inks In 10 Steps

get started on

Everyone does ink logging in different ways. I have come across a variety of interesting ways that people record their inks. Some techniques may be good representations of ink being laid down on paper when writing with a fountain pen, some may not. For me, my method is not perfect, but I like it anyway. Here’s sharing with you the procedure by which I log my inks.

Materials used:


  • Memo word cards, 90mm x 38mm
  • Round paper stickers (Sun Flower Brand Labels, #1013)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Kitchen towel, cut to desired size (mine is about 25mm x 50mm)
  • Plastic dropper/pipette (for inks and water)
  • Inks (here I am using the Rohrer & Klingner Viridian Green)
  • Water
  • Dip nib holder and dip nib (I use a WM Mitchell Pedigree Fleetwing #0528)

The Process

Step 1: Dip the cotton swab into the ink and let it soak for 5 seconds or so. This is to ensure that the cotton is well saturated with ink. If you do not soak it well enough, the swab may turn out paler than what it’s supposed to be.



Step 2: Perform your swabbing on the word card. I do it from left to right and trying not to overlap each stroke too much, so as to ensure even spreading of the ink in a single layer.


Step 3: After the first layer has dried, overlay a second layer onto half of the first layer. This is to create a more saturated layer of ink so as to compare different levels of saturation. You can also choose to lay down a third or fourth layer if you like.


Step 5: Press a fat dot of ink on the left side of the card, below the swab. I don’t really know why I do this, probably just to have a reference spot of ink to be more consistent, as all the ink swabs may have been done in different ways, especially if the cotton swabs I am using differ in softness.Logging-inks-8

Step 6: Place a dot of ink onto a round label. The label I use is rather absorbent, so I don’t press too hard. Just a bit of ink is sufficient. This round label will be used to test for water resistance (to some degree).


Step 7: Place a similar dot of ink onto the cut piece of paper towel. This will be used for my “Single Drop Chromatography” test to see colour separation of the inks. (Edit: Instead of using the cotton swab, I decided instead to drop half a drop of ink onto the paper towel instead. The more saturated ink spot from the latter method allows me to see the colour separation more easily.)


Step 8: When the dots of ink on the round label and paper towel have dried, place one drop of water onto each with the plastic dropper. Let the water droplet sit on the label/towel until it has spread throughout. Let it continue sitting there for 5 minutes. Then, for the round label, use a clean paper towel to dab the excess water off the label and continue letting it air-dry on its own. For the paper towel, let the water spread the ink out and air-dry on its own too.


Step 9: While waiting for the water to dry, use the dip nib to dip lightly into the ink, and draw close zig-zags onto the right side of the word card until the ink runs out. This should imitate the laying down of ink from a fountain pen nib and simulate both wet and dry ink flows.


Step 10: The finishing touches include writing the name and brand of the ink, the date of this ink entry, and transferring the round label onto the word card.

The Result


The ink swab and Single Drop Chromatography samples are ready to be photographed and analysed! Here, I note that there is some degree of water resistance from the round label as I can still see some of the original spot of colour. Some inks are totally non-resistant, while bullet-proof inks show almost the exact same spot of ink with no colours spreading away from the dot.

From the Single Drop Chromatography, we can observe some turquoise, cyan, and blue colours separating out of the Viridian green.

Observing Sheen

For sheen which can be difficult to observe, hold the ink swab close to a bright light source and adjust the angle of the way you hold the paper, until you can see the different colours. Some inks don’t have sheen. Here’s an example of two inks:


The R&K Viridian Green doesn’t have any sheen that I can observe. The colour looks pretty solid throughout with the exception of a bit of shading.


Iroshizuku Yama-budo shows a very distinct sheen of gold through the deep magenta colour. It was less observable under weaker lighting.

For some inks, sheen is visible only when the ink gets very saturated, and some ink reviewers online have managed to bring out the sheen of various inks, which I could not observe as well with my own swabs. Some of them seemed to have placed a big fat blob, or pool of ink onto the paper and let it dry as that. This might not represent actual laying down of ink by a fountain pen nib, because, regardless of how wet the nib is, the movement of the nib draws ink around and spreads it thinner than if you pool ink onto paper. Anyway, to each his own preferred method of logging inks!

9 Responses

  1. Winnie 17 September 2015 / 11:27 PM

    I love to keep track of my inks. I am loving the dot on the paper towel. Never thought to look at it that way. Thank you!

    • Maybelline T. 17 September 2015 / 11:35 PM

      You’re welcome! Hope to see your version of ink logs too.

  2. nicthegeek 12 September 2015 / 7:46 PM

    Nice! I was wondering about how to get started recording my ink collection. Thanks Maybelline!

I would love to hear your thoughts!