12 blues I’ve stuck with

A commenter recently asked whether I still reached for a particular blue ink, more than a year after I reviewed it. The answer was ‘no’, but it got me thinking about which inks I do still regularly reach for.

Even after I cleared out a load of 70 inks earlier this summer, I still have around 40 blues. I don’t regularly use them all, if I’m honest. Here are the dozen I really do reach for.

Note: I’m leaving out teals and petrols and other half-blues… that way madness lies!

Note also: as I write this it’s dark, my SLR is packed away, and I’m struggling to take good photos of subtle shades — you’ll have to do without pics for the moment!

Dark blues

Kobe 51 Kano-Cho: far and away the blue-black I use the most, mainly because it feels so lubricating. The deep colour and green sheen are a bonus.

Birmingham Allegheny Observatory Celestial Blue: a great performer, this ink feels wet, shades well and behaves nicely. A stately blue.

Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo: this is my benchmark for green-leaning blue-blacks, and like all Iroshizuku inks it’s just wet enough and behaves well.

Mid blues

Birmingham Smithfield Truss Blue: when I want a “normal” blue that flows and shades well, I turn to this one.

KWZ Azure #5: I hate smudgy inks, which is why Colorverse and Organics Studio rarely grace my pens. I’ve often found KWZ inks smudgy, but I still love them, and Azure #5 is a classic saturated blue.

Bungubox Sapphire: few inks are as lubricated as Bungubox, and I’m addicted to how bright and gemlike Sapphire looks when it’s wet on the page. It dulls a little when dry, alas.

Bright blues

Edelstein Topaz: a strong candidate for a desert island ink, I hardly ever get tired of Topaz. It’s bright, has a wet flow, and works well in any nib, from fine to broad.

Montblanc Homer Greek Blue: I enjoy the colour change this ink goes through, and how powdery and delicate it looks when it’s dry. It’s a nice complement to some of the punchier blues in this list.

Robert Oster Fire & Ice: most people went ga-ga over the sheen, but I like the tremendous shading and pretty colour. In my experience it flows well too, which isn’t true of all Oster inks in my experience.


Herbin Blue Pervenche: a stunning rich turquoise.

Montblanc UNICEF: a lighter, more vivid colour than the Herbin.

Iroshizuku Ama Iro: one of the first turquoises I got, and still sentimental for me. Slightly less punchy than the other two, more of a wistful sky blue.

On the horizon

As many people have, I’ve been experimenting with the new complex colours in Sailor’s Studio line, including the pale shading blue 140 and darker 264, as well as the dusty blue Abalone in the Troublemaker Inks range. None of them have quite made it in to my top list so far, though.

However, this week I received the complete set of inks from Florida-based Anderillium, which includes a few blues that I really like already. Blue-Ringed Octopus could easily go into my top turquoises list, Flying Squid would make a strong competitor in the mid blues, and Colossal Squid Dark is a lovely blue-black. All are very wet and shade well, with little sheen — just how I like it. Look out for a review soon.

3 thoughts on “12 blues I’ve stuck with

  1. I can heartily recommend the Sailor Ink Studio 740 – it’s just so rich on the page, very satisfying. Diamine’s Sargasso Sea is a shade darker, some interesting tones come through when you lay down a thick line/ink drop.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gracias! You’ve given me much to go on here and so appreciate the effort 🙂 I’m good with no pictures—it makes me have to dig a bit deeper to discover which of these blues speak to me. Felicidades on your new family member.


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