Wednesday, July 9, 2014

De Atramentis Black Green ink review

Today's review marks a double-premiere: my first contact with the De Atramentis brand and the first partnership with one of my favorite pen shops, Goulet Pens, who were very kind to send me a bottle of De Atramentis Black Green ink. As a disclaimer I will have to mention that I received the ink for free but no other payment for this review, and all the opinions herein are my own.

I specifically asked the Goulets for this ink, among the (literally) hundreds they have, because I decided to try a new brand and also because I wanted to compare it to a very similar ink I tested recently, Diamine Green Black. The impressions of that ink are still fresh so De Atramentis Black Green proved to be a good choice.

Bottle and pricing
A bottle of De Atramentis Black Green is $12.50 and holds 35 ml / 1.2 oz. At $0.37 per milliliter it is rather expensive but that's what you get for an ink that's imported from Germany (despite the French-sounding name) and is allegedly hand-made. Hmm so that makes it a sort of German Noodler's? I bet they have more than one man running the show though.

De Atramentis Black Green bottle

The Noodler's comparison isn't entirely without merit because I can see some similarities in the style of the bottles, which are rather plain but neo-vintage looking, while sporting different art on the labels for each ink. The one thing that this ink is apparently missing is a box, but I guess the black bottle substitutes the role of light protection.

This particular ink is part of the Black Edition series of De Atramentis inks. This signifies that the bottle is tinted black, to prevent any light (UV or otherwise) from altering the ink. This also means that you can't see the ink inside the bottle which can be a bit of a bummer if you like to photograph the bottle in contre-jour fashion, like me.

Color and saturation
It's astonishing how similar De Atramentis Black Green and Diamine Green Black seem to be at first glance, especially since I tested both of them in my Lamy AL-Star with EF nib. If you start looking closer, you will start seeing plenty of small differences.

For starters, I think De Atramentis Black Green should be called De Atramentis Gray Green because it veers more towards gray than black. It is less saturated than the Diamine ink and also shades less, making it overall duller and more somber. In fact, it could just as well be called De Atramentis Khaki.

In the below comparison I added Diamine Graphite (which has hints of green) so you could see how the two green inks compare to a gray one.

De Atramentis Black Green compared with 2 inks

While the shading is not as pronounced as Diamine Green Black's, De Atramentis Black Green certainly has variation, and while it is subtle, it is more apparent on bright, smooth, high quality paper like the Clairefontaine 90g I tested on.

De Atramentis Black Green with Lamy AL-Star


On cheap paper it ghosts a little and may even bleed if you are a heavy writer like I am. No worries on good paper though.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness
While nothing really stands out here in terms of wetness or smoothness, De Atramentis Black Green flows impeccably if not particularly wet. I'd give it a 6/10 for wetness but if you are looking for controlled flow, this might just be the ink for you.

De Atramentis Black Green with Lamy AL-Star

Drying time
On cheap paper it dries almost instantly, and within 10 seconds on Clairefontaint/Rhodia. That's pretty good, but remember it's not a wet ink and I used an EF nib.

Smearing when dry

Water resistance
Now here's something that surprised me. Nowhere is this ink marked as water resistant. Yet, my standard dunk-it-for-1-minute-under-running-water test didn't phase it one bit. The sample remains completely readable after drying up, which puts it way ahead of Diamine Green Black in this aspect. Incidentally you can see how the dye components in the ink were broken up by the water: the green washed away while the gray remained.

For my first foray into the De Atramentis brand, I can say that I am generally pleased with De Atramentis Black Green Black Edition Deepwater Obsession (yes, this seems to be the full name). While not particularly remarkable, the performance is very solid, with no weak spots. As an unexpected perk, it seems to be more water resistant than most inks outside Noodler's specialized ones.

De Atramentis Black Green bottle

Personally, if I were to choose between De Atramentis Black Green and Diamine Green Black, I would go for the latter, but that's just because I prefer the slightly greener ink. However, there's no shortage of De Atramentis inks to choose from, and the Goulets have a wide variety of them, as well as a boatload of scented De Atramentis inks. I've already identified a few which look interesting. As for the scented ones, though I'm not in the habit of sniffing inks, they might be interesting to try.

The following samples are written on photocopy, and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

De Atramentis Black Green on photocopy

De Atramentis Black Green on Clairefontaine


  1. I will always choose Diamine over De Atramentis inks as I so much prefer the properties of the former. However, after reading this review, I may give one of my samples another chance to see if the brand is better than I remember.

  2. But which De Atramentis to choose? They have so many... I'm hoping to get the chance to test more of this brand in the future. Already have a few on my wishlist.

  3. Thanks for the great review! I think a lot of De Atramentis colors definitely go under the radar. This is a lovely ink in its own right, and it's really neat to see the water resistance - I had no idea. Thanks again! :)

  4. My pleasure! The water resistance is indeed interesting and I wonder if other inks in the brand behave the same. But the resistance is conditional to my testing method... so YMMV.