Inky Thoughts: J.Herbin

imageWhen I was ready to get my first bottle of ink, I researched and researched for that perfect bottle of black. All of my research lead me to J.Herbin Perle Noire. It’s beautiful, dark black with pleasant purple undertones and so very well behaved. After almost two years and hundreds of hours using it, I’m still incredibly satisfied.

Recently I reached out to J.Herbin to share my love of their ink. They were so kind in response, and sent me some extra bottles of the black ink, as well as a bottles of Gris Nuage and Stormy Grey to try.

I created the wash on this image with Stormy Grey first, followed by a splash of Gris Nuage and another splash of Lie de The (also J.Herbin)

Let me tell you, these are grey inks, but they are beautiful! Gris Nuage is a pencil grey coming out a pen (which in and of itself is fun to use), but in a wash becomes a gorgeous soft purple. Stormy Grey is known to be a pretty ink, dark grey with gold flecks, but it also really shines as a wash. It sparkles!

I’m so grateful to J.Herbin for sharing these inks with me, their generosity has helped me to grow as an artist. It’s given me the opportunity to try something new and experiment freely. Thank you so much! I’m looking forward to seeing how this new style continues to develop.

The wash on this is Stormy Grey and Gris Nuage. I also used Gris Nuage to create the grey scale wings.

Tool Review: J. Herbin Perle Noire Ink

Or, the Little Ink That Could

Black ink is black ink, right? You would certainly think so. However, when it comes to the world of fountain pen ink, that’s not quite the case.

Black fountain pen inks vary broadly in terms of wetness, darkness and hue. Some are very water resistant, most are not. Some are very well-behaved in pens, never clogging or staining, while others, especially water resistant ones, clog feeds and stain barrels. And when diluted, black inks can become shades of blue, green, or purple.

When it comes to black fountain pen inks, especially in relation to using them for drawing, I really like J. Herbin’s Perle Noire ink. This is for 6 reasons:

  1. It’s really dark. It’s definitely a black ink, not a grey ink.
  2. It’s wet so it flows nicely; it feels rich and inky.
  3. It doesn’t fade when erased over.
  4. When diluted, it first shades purple and then green, like a gobstopper. It’s very dynamic.
  5. It doesn’t stain, so I don’t worry about leaving it in my demonstrator pen.
  6. It’s NOT waterproof.


I generally keep my TWSBI 580AL inked up with Perle Noire. That combination behaves well in all but the cheapest paper, and I love the clean, fine lines I can create.

J. Herbin Perle Noire ink review drawing

But this little ink can do much more than line drawings. It’s my favorite thing so far to do pointillism with. I used to use felt-tipped pens like the Kuretake Mangaka Zip pen and Uni Pin Pens, but I was frustrated by the way they faded so much when I erased my guidelines. This ink solves that problem. Plus, the “inky-ness” means much less pressure and much less muscle fatigue. The only caution here is that it becomes very easy to smear the ink, as it takes a few seconds to dry, but I found the same issue with felt-tipped pens.


Perhaps where this ink is really fun though is in creating washes, à la watercolor. This is why I love that it’s not waterproof. As I mentioned above, as it comes into contact with water, it becomes a dark dusky purple, and as you push it further, it becomes green. It has so much depth.


J. Herbin Perle Noire ink review drawing

J. Herbin Perle Noire was my first ink. I knew I wanted a black ink for drawing, one that was dark and wet, but reasonably fast drying and well-behaved. I spent a lot of time researching, and finally decided that I needed a bottle of J. Herbin Perle Noire, and it’s been a fantastic choice (if I do say so myself…)

All the opinions expressed in this blog are my own. I was not compensated for this review.