Pilot Metropolitan Pen and Waterman Absolute Brown Ink

After cruising about reading reviews, looking at techniques, and due to the poor availability of Noodler’s bulletproof ink in Canada, I decided that I wanted to try a fountain pen ink for sketching. I saw some examples of line drawings where the ink had been wet afterward to paint shadows, or an ink wash was applied with a brush around an inked line drawing.

I liked the look of it and there wouldn’t be as much fuss to use and clear the pen of ink as there is with waterproof inks. Since I don’t use a pen every day it made sense to try another direction. I also didn’t want to use my vintage Parker 51 pen for drawing on different papers, or risk damaging it.

The Pilot Metropolitan looked suitable as a fountain pen for drawing, and it was $19 and came with a converter so you can fill it with ink from a bottle. I also bought the Waterman Absolute Brown ink (formerly called Havana Brown) since it looked rather painterly and wash-like. I am not a big fan of black ink for paintings, and I plan to use this with some watercolour as well as by itself.


Of course I had to get a good colour! My other pen is black, so I didn’t want a black pen and this looked rather special in purple/blue with a leopard trim.

So I did a test using Waterman Tender Purple on Strathmore Bristol Board to see how it did with watercolour pencils. Not bad and it would be very easy to use it on its own and shade and wash with the purple ink (as you can see in the blobby building with the window.)


The pen I bought has a medium nib so I think it’s slightly wider than the Parker 51. It’s hard to tell as the Parker 51 nibs are all different in the older pens, and I want a slightly wider line and a pen where I might be able to change the line width slightly. This M nib is apparently finer than a Lamy Safari pen in its nib width, so I think this will work for me.

I do have a dip pen and lots of waterproof ink of several colours in either Speedball or FW Acrylic ink, but it’s more fiddly to use, so if I really need waterproof or a wider line it’s better to use that rather than ruin a fountain pen. Apart from that I knocked over a small bottle of Speedball gold ink the last time and I’m a bit clumsy around those bottles.

I usually don’t go for brown but I often use my sepia-coloured PITT pens and I like the antique-y look. I could also mix a bit of the Waterman purple with the brown and get a slightly different colour.

Today’s scathingly brilliant plan for art.

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7 Comments on “Pilot Metropolitan Pen and Waterman Absolute Brown Ink”

  1. Please share what you come up with, would love to see your ink work!

    • JJ ColourArt Says:

      Okay, I’ll try. Currently my ink work looks…wonky, but I am working on architectural stuff.

      But hey, wonky ink work can be charming sometimes. I’ve been doing wonky line work for 40 years, maybe it’s a personal style. Ha-ha.

  2. Interesting post, I have just entered the fountain pen world and have pen trying out ink. Currently with the trusty Lamy and noodlers black, but will watch with interest what you try out. Karen

    • JJ ColourArt Says:

      I considered getting a Lamy Safari but it’s plastic and some of their pens smell bad because of the plastic. I have gotten sick before from the smell of certain plastics, which was why I went with the Pilot.

      Noodler’s ink was available from a US Seller on amazon.ca but they wanted $20 shipping. I’m not paying $38 for a bottle of ink. Wonder Pens in Toronto sells the Noodler’s for $13 but they need $7 shipping. They also sell the small sample size of Noodler’s which looked interesting. It’s just too expensive up here.

      Nina Johansson uses the Lexington Gray Noodler’s and that’s the one I wanted as it has subtle gradations and isn’t really dark like the black. She swears by it so you might like to try it Karen.

      In looking at the Noodler’s colour chart, they have lots that aren’t waterproof but they are also not fade-proof either. The bulletproof Noodler’s ink is UV protected as well so that makes it useful.

      The Waterman ink runs beautifully through the Parker 51 pen, so I figured I’d stay with that and it’s $12 and excellent quality but not waterproof. So I thought I’d try a different way of looking at it–not getting frustrated by what it can’t do but going with the flow (pun!)

      I also didn’t think I’d have the patience to fiddle with cleaning a pen every week. Years ago when I took a drafting course I had a set of Staedtler technical pens and every single one of them clogged and I wasted a lot of money.

  3. murielmakes Says:

    Interesting thank you Judy, I have been wondering about getting some kind of pen to draw/sketch with and will await your results with interest.

    • JJ ColourArt Says:

      OMG Lorraine, there are so many and so many inks. The research I did was endless and then most information was in the States and you know what it’s like trying to get supplies Americans use in other countries. I have a dip pen so you might try that for an easy solution.

      You can’t use India ink in fountain pens and the waterproof inks require you to use and clean the pen frequently. I didn’t think I’d be using it daily or even weekly so thought a water-soluble ink was best. Plus I can still use it to write with.

      A lot of the sketching people use the Lamy Safari pen with waterproof ink, but I just couldn’t see myself fussing and cleaning a pen every week.

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