Scrutinizing the Rohrer & Klingner inks for sheen

A while ago I had published my Rohrer & Klingner (I will just call it R&K in the rest of the post) series overview from parts 1-6, covering 3 R&K inks in each part. I love manufacturers who make a greatly attractive series of ink colours, but then again, we are all spoilt for choice, and a variety of ink colours can make choosing the “ideal” one quite difficult. But call me picky or not, sometimes I am targeting that one specific ink colour which eludes me, despite the sheer variety of inks available on the market!

Before the R&K ink series, I had also published a 4-part series of the Pilot Iroshizuku inks, 24 colours in total. For a number of those inks, I managed to spot some sheen very easily. I don’t know if this is characteristic of Japanese inks or not, but I hadn’t managed to spot much sheen in other inks, especially those from R&K. I wasn’t convinced that R&K inks have totally no sheen, so I decided to do a little experiment on my own.


For my ink swab records, I usually made a single ink layer followed by a double layer using a cotton bud (or Q-tip, which may be a more familiar term for some of you). For Iroshizuku, this was already sufficient to bring out the sheen under good lighting, but it was definitely not enough for R&K. Therefore, for this follow-up study, I dabbed a very generous amount of each ink onto a piece of paper from a Caran d’Ache notebook (yes, fountain pen-friendly paper), let them dry, and then scrutinized them under my bright desk light. Just to get some additional information, I also tried to split the ink colours using water by dripping a drop of tap water onto the corner of each dried ink spot, then let it spread and dry on its own.


Okay, to be honest, my camera does not always take the best picture to represent the ink as seen by eyes. In fact, some people even perceive colours differently. Seeing a turquoise-y colour, I might generalize it to “green” while my mum might call it “blue”. Also, the infamous “blue-and-black-or-white-and-gold” dress that took the world in a viral wave last year proved that colours can be interpreted very differently! (Side note: By the way, there was a follow-up to #TheDress this year, featuring #TheJacket.)

In order to showcase the sheen in some of the inks better, I have edited the exposure and contrast settings of the ink photos and I will be showing both the original and the edited one side-by-side. Which one is more accurate? I don’t really know. Both, I guess? In any case, its is better that you try the ink yourself. Don’t trust any ink photos on the internet, as they most certainly would look at least very slightly different from a real-life perception!

Here are the photos:


Alt-Bordeaux: Nice spectrum of colours when the water touches it, but no sheen


Alt-Goldgrun: No sheen, but it’s interesting how marked the water boundary is


Blau Permanent: Some purple-y sheen observed on areas where ink is really saturated! Hardly enough, though.


Blu Mare: No sheen. Some inks like Blu Mare, Alt-Bordeaux, and Alt-Goldgrun tend to give saturated ink borders at the edge…


Cassia: Very saturated, but no sheen. For this ink, the water spot does not create such a solid boundary from the ink, interestingly.


Fernambuk: Bright red, but no sheen.


Helianthus: Bright yellow, no sheen.


Konigsblau: Finally an ink with a visible sheen! The edge of the ink shows a clear reddish sheen all around it.


Leipziger Schwarz: This is black, but looks green, and has no sheen.


Magenta: Another bright and vibrant colour, but no sheen.


Morinda: Morinda is a rich red but unfortunately is negative for sheen.


Salix: Salix is an iron gall ink as you can see clearly that the water spot is virtually invisible. But interestingly, the dark blue gives some hints of pink, although I couldn’t call that a sheen.


Scabiosa: Another iron gall, some ink leaches out in the water, but no sheen.


Sepia: The edited version looks really dull but it shows no sheen.


Smaragdgrun: This green gives a very turquoise-y look from my camera at this angle. You can see some darker parts tending to be saturated with blue, but no sheen.


Solferino: This wonderful magenta-purple colour amazes me with the sheen on the saturated edge of the ink! The sheen gives off a golden, almost glittery look (although it looks more greenish on paper). Nice one.


Verdigris: Very dark ink which separates by water into many pretty colours, but no sheen.


Verdura: Finally, another saturated ink colour but it has no sheen.

In conclusion, there are really very limited inks in the Rohrer & Klingner range that shows any sheen. The best ones would have to be Solferino and Konigsblau, but even these aren’t extremely obvious on paper. Blau Permanent offers some glimmer of hope in the sheen department, but it is really quite limited.

Now I wonder if sheen is more a Japanese kind of thing…

Do you like sheen in your inks? What are your favourite inks that have a great deal of sheen in them?


2 Responses

  1. Annemarieke van Dijk 21 August 2017 / 2:55 AM

    I get a ton of sheen with waterman tender purple, also tend to get sheen with parker quink washable blue. The pelikan 4001 turquoise has a massive amount of sheen too (even in a finer nib, pilot MR medium nib on oxford Optik 80-90 g/m²).

    Not just Japanese inks get sheen. Many European inks get sheen too.

I would love to hear your thoughts!