Fountain pen friendly paper can have many qualities. In my reviews I pay close attention to a papers feathering, bleedthrough, ghosting and even how it handles ink to produce shading and sheen. One thing that I never really mention is the color of the paper. Personally, this is something that I hardly notice, but I know that many people care about the color of their paper. In this post, I want to take a look at a variety of fountain pen friendly papers and see how they compare in color.
Although I have a fairly large selection of papers to choose from, I’m not going to analyze them all. Most of them are relatively close to one another in terms of color, so I’m going to mainly choose papers that can be found at most major pen retailers or locally in art supply shops. Of course, I’m also looking for papers that are not exactly white, just to make things a little more interesting!
With that being said, here is the list of papers we’ll be looking at today, in no particular order:
- Tomoe River 52gsm
- Tomoe River 68gsm
- Clairefontaine Triomphe
- G. Lalo Verge de France
- Midori MD
- Life Noble
- Life Bank Paper
- Fabriano EcoQua
- HP Premium32
- Apica CD
- Apica CD Premium
Comparing papers visually is not a bad way to analyze how different (or similar) they are. After all, how a piece of paper appears to us when we use it or read what’s written on it is what matters the most. Still, I want to see what kind of information we can get when we dig a little deeper. So in addition to simply looking at the paper, I’m going to photograph them all together (so that the lighting is consistent) and then digitally analyze the color of each piece. I’ll do the digital color analysis using Adobe Lightroom, but if you’re interested you can do something similar with the Digital Color Meter tool if you have a Mac.
Testing notes: To attach the paper samples to the backing paper, I used double-sided tape. It was attached to the upper-third portion of each sample, so I made sure to take my color reading from the lower part of each sample to avoid any inconsistencies. Also, whenever lines or dots were present, I avoided them to get a reading of the paper, not the markings on the paper.
Here are the RGB (Red Green Blue) values for each paper type. Keep in mind, all samples were photographed in the same image, so the only change is the paper sample. Each number in the table is a percentage, so the lower the number, the less of that color is present in the overall paper color.
|Red Value||Green Value||Blue Value|
|Apica CD Premium||84.0||83.7||80.8|
|G. Lalo Verge de France||88.0||87.9||85.2|
|Tomoe River 52gsm||87.3||87.2||85.3|
|Tomoe River 68gsm||87.9||87.8||85.7|
As you can see, despite how different the papers look, most of the numbers are all pretty close to each other. Initially, I was a little disappointed in these results, but then I spent a bit more time looking at the numbers and trying to figure out what they really mean.
If you look at Clairefontaine Triomphe, HP Premium 32 and Mnemosyne, the Red, Green and Blue values for each paper sample are very close. These are also the papers that have the least color tint and are closest to pure white. Similarly, if you look at Life Noble, Leuchtturm and Midori MD, the Blue value is significantly lower than the Red or Green value. In effect, a lower blue value means more yellow, which seems to be the case when looking at the papers.
I have to admit I’m surprised that the Midori MD green value isn’t higher. In person, the paper looks very green, but maybe it’s just a trick caused by the color of the grid. I’m also surprised how red Rhodia is. I had never noticed it until I looked for it, but if you look at its RGB values, it does skew towards Red. I was also surprised that the Tomoe River 52 and Tomoe River 68 are so close in color values. When you handle a sheet of each, the 52gsm looks a lot different than the 68gsm, but apparently that’s just because it’s so thin, not actually a different color.
So What Does It All Mean?
So now you know that some papers are more yellow, some are more red and some are more white. So what? Is this detailed information any more helpful than what you can see with your eyes? Not for the papers with more extreme color tints, but for subtle variations it may be useful. In my article How Does Paper Color Affect Ink Color, it was pretty clear that different paper colors can change how an ink looks. If you’re a color purist and know a paper has more of a particular color in it, you can take that into consideration when choosing which ink to use on it. I know that no one is going to be judged by the color accuracy of their writing, but still, it’s good to know what to expect from a particular paper color.