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Review: De Atramentis Document Ink (Brown)

Recently, I had a comment on my video review of Daniel Smith's Walnut Ink asking if there's a "bulletproof" brown ink. I remembered that De Atramentis has a brown ink from their Document Ink series so I decided to compare the two and see what's the difference.

De Atramentis Document Inks are handmade in Germany and created specially for use in fountain pens. On their website, there's no mention of whether the ink is waterproof or not. On the bottle's label, there wasn't much information either, and there's no mention of whether the ink is pigmented. I guess De Atramentis likes to keep the formula of making their inks a mystery or secret.

Here's the sketch and some marks that I made.

For this part, I used a dip pen and the shaded part was coloured with Copic markers. The ink dries relatively fast, and works well with markers. There's no feathering on the cartridge paper I used. Even on lousier paper, the lines were able to hold sharp edges. That's quite impressive.

The lines at the top were drawn with the ink inside a fountain pen. For some reason, the ink looks lighter when used in a fountain pen than in a dip pen. The lines at the bottom were drawn with Daniel Smith's Walnut Ink. Notice that the Walnut Ink is even lighter.

This is the waterproof test. Daniel Smith's Walnut Ink dissolves quite easily with water. You can almost erase the lines if you add even more water. The Document Ink is permanent and waterproof when dry.

Since the Document Ink is darker, I wanted to see what would happen if I dilute it with some water. For the handwriting sample above, I've actually applied water over the words. So even the diluted ink is waterproof when dry.

Daniel Smith's Walnut Ink flows a bit more easily with the dip pen. Within the strokes, it's easy to create transition of values, from light to dark, vice versus. So when writing words, Walnut Ink strokes look more interesting.

Document Ink strokes do not have gradations or transitions of tones within. The lines are always consistently dark, and predictable. Daniel Smith Walnut Ink behaves more randomly. So yeah, you can dilute the Document Ink to get the sepia shade but you won't be able to replicate the interesting value transitions.


De Atramentis Document Ink is a solid performer. It works well on good and lousy paper. The ink performs consistently, and is waterproof when dry. Ink is dark and can be diluted. If you want a waterproof sepia ink, this is a good one to consider.


Check out more reviews for De Atramentis Document Ink on Amazon: | | | | | | | | Jackson's Art Supplies (UK)