Monday, December 15, 2014

Product Review: Super 5 Ink Waterproof Test

Waterproof Super 5 ink showed no signs of smearing after less than 30 seconds.
(Stillman & Birn Epsilon)
One of the gifts in my swag bag from the Urban Sketchers Symposium last August was a Super 5 fountain pen, which was filled with the Super 5 ink color of my choice. The pen’s performance was only so-so – I didn’t care for its heavy body, and its idle time was disappointingly short – but the ink was exciting. Available in several colors, Super 5 ink is waterproof. I was told at the time that it would be available in the U.S. soon, and it’s finally here – now stocks it.

Step dancers I sketched with
Super 5 Frankfurt.
At the symposium, I tried the Sepia color, a very dark, cool brown. Now that I’ve discovered DeAtramentis Document Brown, which is pleasantly warmer than Super 5 Sepia or any other waterproof brown I’ve tried, I’m less interested in Sepia (which, strangely, isn’t offered at Goulet anyway), so I decided to get a few different color samples from Goulet: Frankfurt, Dublin and Atlantic. Frankfurt is a dark, warm gray (I used it the other night at the concert, at right), while Dublin is a dark olive. Atlantic is a subdued blue-black that has potential (a couple of years ago I tried Sailor Sei-Boku Blue-Black, but it was too bright to use with watercolor). I filled up a Sailor pen with Atlantic for these tests.

In the same way that I tested DeAtramentis Document Brown and Noodler’s Brown #41 against my personal standard for waterproofness, Platinum Carbon Black, I did a simple waterbrush test on a line of Super 5 Atlantic. After 10 seconds, it showed no signs of smearing, let alone 60 seconds. (I didn’t even bother testing it at 20 minutes.)

Here I applied water while the inks were still visibly wet.
Left: Platinum Carbon Black; right: Super 5 Atlantic.
Just for fun, I even tried washing the ink immediately after drawing a scribble, when I could see from the sheen that it was still wet. I know from sketching during sudden rain showers that Platinum Carbon Black (squiggle shown on the left) definitely smears if it is washed before having had a chance to dry. I’d have to say that the Super 5 (on the right) was on its way to being dry even faster than Platinum – very little smearing is visible. For comparison, I also washed a still-wet scribble of water-soluble ink.

For comparison, here's water-soluble Pilot Black cartridge ink. 
Rated strictly on waterproofness, I’d say Super 5 is a definite winner. But other than the few sketches I made with it during the symposium and at the concert the other night, I haven’t given it enough of a sketching test to know for sure whether I like it. Plus there’s the all-important idle-time test: How long can it sit in a pen unused without clogging? Time will tell. Stay tuned.

Edited 1/2/15: The idle-time test results are in: not spectacular, but acceptable.

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