It’s no secret that there are thousands of different colors of ink available to fountain pen users these days. Many of us carefully choose the color of ink we use, passing on one color for another that is slightly different but, to our eyes, perfect. How often do you take the color of the paper you write on into consideration? Sure, one type of paper may look different than another, but does the color of the paper make your ink look any different?
With that question in mind, I went through my paper samples and grabbed a variety of papers that had different colors. Most paper color falls somewhere on the spectrum between white and yellow. Some, like Midori MD, have a slight green tint to them. Next, I chose a variety of inks that I thought might be affected by the paper color and did some writing. The majority were inks with lower saturation, so that the paper color could be seen through them, but some were saturated inks that show sheen.
Does Paper Color Affect Ink Color?
Let’s first take a look at some images and then discuss the findings. One thing I want to say about these images is that I did my best to get the difference in paper color to stand out. In person, they all look different, but in the images they don’t look very different at all. With that being said, I had to darken the images a bit to make the color difference a bit more obvious, so if these images don’t really *pop*, that’s why.Looking closely at the same inks on different papers, the colors do indeed look different, but it’s hard to tell if it is because of the color of the paper showing through the ink or how much of the paper color surrounds the ink. I think that, even if the ink colors don’t look drastically different, this is important to note. The color of paper that you use will definitely affect how you interpret the color of an ink. It’s not going to make an ink unrecognizable, but it can definitely color (sorry, bad pun) your overall impression of the ink color.
Now let’s take a closer look and compare the ink colors side-by-side:
Taking a closer look at particular colors without seeing the paper color, you can tell that they definitely look different. I still think most people would agree that for some of these it’s the same ink. I have to say that I was a little surprised by these closeups. I assumed the blue inks would take on a bit more of a green tone, since yellow and blue make green, but was surprised at how different the Robert Oster Sydney Darling Harbor looks compared to the other two blues. It went from a blue-green ink to an almost completely green ink. I was not very surprised at how little the red and orange inks changed, since adding yellow to red or orange isn’t going to change much. I expected the grey ink to change, but the closeup looks like two completely different inks. If this had been my grey ink review, the two colors would get very different ratings.
The above results are eye-opening, but the paper color isn’t the only thing at play here. Different papers are going to absorb ink differently. An ink may look much darker on one paper than on another, even if the paper color is exactly the same, purely based on how the ink is absorbed into the paper. Your choice of pen will also affect how an ink looks on any given paper. You’ve probably noticed that ink looks different when you use a broad or wet nib compared to using a fine or dry nib.
Going into this blog post, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Common sense would say that the color of the paper will influence how we perceive the color of an ink. When I did the initial writing tests, I found it fairly difficult to actually see any difference between writing samples. It wasn’t until I digitally cut out the samples and put them side-by-side that I could really see the difference. So what does that mean?
Chances are, if you use your favorite ink on any given paper that’s not pure white, you’ll still be able to recognize it. It’s not going to look like a completely different ink and you may not even notice any difference at all. With that being said, the paper color does indeed affect the ink color, especially when using lighter inks.
I am of the opinion that paper color is a personal preference. Some people don’t like cream-colored or bright-white papers simply because they don’t like the way that they look. I have fairly neutral opinions and don’t really care what color of paper I’m writing on. I also think that, when choosing paper, there are many more important features to consider than paper color, but the color of the paper should come into consideration. If you get a notebook with paper that you can’t stand to look at, you’re not going to use it, so be sure that you not only like how the paper you’re purchasing handles ink, but also the color of the paper itself.
For reference, here are the papers that I used, as they appear from Left to Right:
Left – Life Noble, Midori MD, Leuchtturm 1917, Kokuyo Century Edition, Tomoe River 52gsm, Rhodia Dot Pad, Clairefontaine Triomphe – Right