Information on ink waterproofness, wetness and such seems to be in moderately short supply, so I figured it would not hurt to add to the pool of information out there. The current compact ink test format tests for an ink’s flow, smear resistance, shading and general water resistance. The test is compact because doing it this way affords easier side by side comparisons and provides a lot of information in a small space.

All tests are performed on the same Kokuyo loose leaf 5mm grid paper, using a Leonardt Principal EF dip pen. The water tests are done a day after preparing the test, allowing ample time for ink to fully dry.

The test components are divided into the following sections:

  • Writing Test
  • Blob Test
  • Smear Hash
  • Flex line soak test
  • Hash soak test

Here is how it looks for the Camlin Royal Blue:

Camlin Royal Blue
Ink test for Camlin Royal Blue

Moving from top left,

  • Writing Test: The name of the ink is written with a fully loaded Leonardt Principal EF. The finer the lines here, the wetter the ink.
  • Blob Test: The ink is blobbed by flexing the Principal EF down one grid space, and repeating till the ink is exhausted. This helps expose shading in the ink. A wetter ink will not produce many blobs while a dry one can go a long way.
  • Smear hash: The first hash is drawn on a 3×3 grid, and smeared with a water saturated q-tip. No attempt is made to dab up the ink after. This helps evaluate the ink’s water resistance in a bad smear situation.
  • Flex line soak test: A freshly saturated Principal EF is fully flexed and drawn horizontally until the end of page is reached or pen is exhausted. A 0.2ml drop of water is added by syringe and allowed to dry. This tests the ink’s water resistance in a soak test.
  • Hash soak test: The test is repeated with a 0.2ml drop of water on a 3×3 hash. This helps show up the resilience of the ink in the case of a soaking: If a visible line remains in the middle of the dried blob, the ink will not completely disappear after a soaking.

To illustrate the same on a waterproof ink, I am including something for the Sailor Nano Blue Black:

Sailor Nano Blue Black
Ink test for Sailor Blue Black
  • Writing Test: As can be seen, this ink is comfortably dry, with fine lines that are not too thin. On a fountain pen it can be expected to write on the dry side without being too stingy with the ink flow.
  • Blob Test: Due to the saturation of this ink it will have limited shading. However, when it does shade it goes to a lovely pure blue black that does not have a greenish tinge that accompanies many others. As can be seen, it blobs slightly longer than the Camlin Royal Blue does.
  • Smear Hash: This ink will not smear. Period. I really love the Sailor Nano inks for that. I would highly recommend the Sailor Nano Black for those who are more into black inks.
  • Flex line soak test: Nothing new here, the ink will not soak out.
  • Hash soak test: Given its excellent water resistance, fine lines are unaffected too.

A glossary of the terms:

It is always tricky to assign labels to inks, but I do endeavor to have as objective an evaluation as possible when labeling the inks; preferably using reasons to back up those said labels.

Waterproof: An ink deemed waterproof exhibits little to no bleed when wet, and is definitely legible after the Soak and Blob Tests. 

Water Resistant: Water resistant inks exhibit some distinct color bleed when wet, with auras that are generally fairly opaque and affect legibility of the writing. However, the writing is definitely legible after the Soak and Blob Tests.

Thus concludes the premiere post of the Compact Ink Test. Was this useful to you? Is there anything else you’re interested in seeing? Let me know in the comments below =p