One of my favorite tools to use in my work is the folded nib. They come in a crazy assortment of shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: they put down a LOT of ink. So much so that in some cases, I use a heat gun to speed up the drying process on some of my pieces, especially when I want to continue with other media on top of, or in addition to, the inks I'm using.
Recently, the awesome folks over at John Neal Booksellers were kind enough to send over a small set of their Richtone Inks for me to try out and, spoiler alert, they're fantastic. Richtone Inks are pigment-based inks and do offer a bit of water resistance, but they're not completely water-fast the way acrylic inks or paints are. They come in 20 different colors for $90, which is a super deal for these inks because they are very saturated, very vivid, very well behaved inks. I tried them out on a Dream Catcher Accordion Drawing Book, Rhodia Paper, Mnemosyne, Strathmore Cards and Envelopes, Tomoe River and Canson Bristol Board. The ink held up well on all of them. I didn't sample the ink on cheaper copy papers because I'd never use these on that kind of paper.
The image above, left uses Brilliant Orange for the lettering accompanied by Chartpak AD and Uni Posca Black Acrylic markers. The orange was a bit more saturated on this paper than others I tried, but I have to assume it's the paper and not the ink. The image above, right is a combination of Bright Green with Teal dropped into the wettest areas for some neat shading effects. I then splattered the paper with Uni Posca Green Acrylic. These are Strathmore Cards and Envelopes. Click on either of the images to view them larger.
These inks have incredible flow and when paired with the folded nibs I use, they create a vivid, wet letter that looks fabulous even after it has dried unlike some inks I've encountered that sort of lose their vibrancy after drying. These inks mix well and look fantastic when used with a brush and water as they can be toned down and layered nicely.
The colors I received are:
Deep Purple: This is the deepest, darkest purple I've used... definitely a royal purple. It shades lighter in some areas, creating a really beautiful medium lilac color that looks fantastic compared with the almost midnight purple in the darker areas. The most similar ink I have for my fountain pens is Private Reserve Purple Mojo. The biggest difference being Purple Mojo's lack of lighter shades.
Brilliant Orange: They nailed the name on this one! This is a very, very bright orange. It goes from almost a neon, pinkish orange at the lightest areas to a burnt orange, almost brown in the darkest areas. In most of my uses, the orange stayed pretty orange with just a few areas darkening to the deeper brownish shades, leaving this ink blisteringly bright. The closest thing I have to it for my fountain pens would be Noodler's Dragon's Napalm, but I think the Richtone takes the edge by having less pink in the bright shades and more rich orange in the darker areas.
Bright Green: Again, nailed it. This color reminds me of spring. Plain and simple. A beautiful, yellow-green in the highlights, sinking all the way down to a deep, kelly green in the darkest areas. This ink is extremely well behaved and very fun. And it pairs super-well with the Richtone Teal for some shading fun. I don't have anything quite like this green in my bottles of fountain pen ink. Maybe Iroshizuku Chiku-Rin, but that's more of a yellow-green and doesn't pop the way this Bright Green Richtone ink does. It's truly a unique green and is totally fun to use!
Teal: This ink was probably my favorite of the bunch, albeit the most boring. While this ink is definitely teal, it's really more on the "forest green" side and less on the "navy blue" side. The lightest areas are a muted, deep green with the darkest areas going almost to a deep, forest. This was the most well-behaved ink, having the smallest range from light to dark and dried must more evenly than the other three (with Deep Purple coming in a close second).
*NOTE: I tired my best to capture these as accurately as possible, but they were tricky to get just right. These are fairly close, albeit slightly more saturated and the range of tones are a bit exaggerated as compared to the actual colors on paper (most notably in the Teal swatch).
These samples came to me in small, wide-mouthed plastic jars seated in a 4-across Jumbo Dinky Dip. The jars were absolutely PERFECT for dipping a folded nib into and the DInky Dip (super fun name) held the jars firmly and kept them from tipping on my desk. My broadest nib is about 1-1/4" at its widest point and it fit in these jars with ease (unlike the tiny little vials from other retailers which are barely large enough for a fountain pen to get into). I did have a little mishap with a rather large drop of Teal hitting my DInky Dip, staining it, but I think over time, it'll build up a nice "ink patina" and will look fantastic. Again, other retailers would do well to look at what John Neal is doing with their samples. Their jars are far superior and the Dinky Dip is fantastic.
Note the wide mouth of the jar in the foreground and just look at that beautiful green ink puddled in the cap and around the rim! Yum! I just adored these inks and I will definitely be picking up the rest of the collection as I'm able. The samples come in sets of 10 for $24.95. They have two sets to choose from with pre-sorted colors in each of the two sets. Personally, I'd like to see them offer a-la-carte sets (maybe even allowing for sets of 4 with a Dinky Dip and sets of 10 without) as you may want some of the inks in each of the two sets. The full size Richtone inks come in full 1 oz bottles for $6, or you can buy the entire set for $90 (a savings of $30 over buying them a-la-carte). These inks are definitely worth picking up. If you're a calligrapher or painter and you love super-saturated, well-behaved inks that are lightfast and semi-waterproof, these will be right up your alley. And pick up a couple of Dinky Dips while you're at it to hold a few of your favorites when you're hard at work on your latest masterpiece.
A huge thanks to Molly at John Neal Booksellers for sending these over for review. I'll definitely be buying the full size bottles in the whole range of colors as I think they're totally worth the price of admission. I hope you guys found this helpful! Please leave me a comment if you have any questions or concerns about these inks. And definitely head over and visit John Neal Booksellers to see some of the amazing inks, papers and pens they have to choose from. Super great folks there with an awesome selection of traditional and hard-to-find calligraphy supplies.
Thanks for reading,