Which Gray Fountain Pen Ink Looks the Most Like a Pencil?

If you’d rather write with a fountain pen, but want your writing to look like it was done with a pencil, which gray fountain pen ink should you choose? Pencil lead varies in width and softness/hardness making your writing appear darker or lighter in color. Also the kind of paper you’re writing on and how hard you press down on the pencil can influence the appearance of the line that is produced. Fountain pen ink is similar – the results vary depending on the width of the fountain pen nib and the paper you are writing on.

Writing done with a variety of pencils
Writing done with a variety of pencils

The color of writing produced by pencil in our test turned out to be a warm shade of gray. Two fountain pen inks that are also warm shades of gray are Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink Kiri-same Autumn Shower/Scotch Mist and Noodler’s Ink Lexington Gray. Lexington Gray is a dark shade of warm gray and Scotch Mist is a medium shade.

Pilot Iroshizuku Scotch Mist Ink
Pilot Iroshizuku Scotch Mist Ink
Noodler's Ink Lexington Gray
Noodler’s Ink Lexington Gray

Three other gray inks that are cool shades of gray are: J. Herbin Gris NuageOMAS Gray Fountain Pen Ink and Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun Old Man Winter/Rigor of Winter. When placed right next to writing done in pencil these inks have more of a “silvery” appearance (they are not actually metallic) because graphite pencil lead produces a warmer color of writing. On their own, away from any actual pencil, these inks still do have a pencil-y appearance.

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Fountain Pen Ink
J. Herbin Gris Nuage Fountain Pen Ink
Omas Grey Fountain Pen Ink
Omas Grey Fountain Pen Ink
Pilot Iroshizuku Rigor of Winter Ink
Pilot Iroshizuku Rigor of Winter Ink

We’ve scanned some samples of writing done on Clairefontaine French ruled paper in both pencil and ink for you to compare. What do you think? Are there any of your favorite inks you’d like to add to this list?

Pencil & Ink Writing Comparison
Pencil & Ink Writing Comparison
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Best Beginner Fountain Pens

Starter Fountain Pens
Starter Fountain Pens

So you’re thinking of taking the plunge and getting your very first fountain pen! There are many fountain pens out there for beginners so which one is best for you or your children? Typically a beginner fountain pen is economical in price and has a fine or medium nib that is easy to write with. This article briefly highlights the main features of several starter fountain pens. This will make it easier for you to compare and choose one that might best suit your personal needs. We’ve chosen to list these pens in order of price, starting with the least expensive at the top.

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens, Set of 7 Colors
Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens, Set of 7 Colors

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen

  • Very inexpensive! (Currently priced at just $3.00)
  • Disposable.
  • Recycled plastic body and cap.
  • Fine or Medium steel nib.
  • Current Pen Colors: Black, Blue, Green, Red, Pink, Yellow, Violet
  • Uses Platinum ink cartridges.
  • Platinum Ink converter for bottled ink sold separately.
Pelikan Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen - Violet, Left-Handed Nib
Pelikan Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen – Violet, Left-Handed Nib

Pelikano Junior

Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen - Dots, Medium Nib
Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen – Dots, Medium Nib

Pilot Metropolitan

  • Unbeatable price for the pen and included accessories.
  • Metal cap and barrel do not crack.
  • Fine or medium steel nib.
  • Current Pen Colors: Black, Gold, Silver, White, Violet
  • Uses Pilot ink cartridges.
  • Includes Pilot ink converter for bottled ink.
Platinum Plaisir Fountain Pen - Frosty Blue, Medium Nib
Platinum Plaisir Fountain Pen – Frosty Blue, Medium Nib

Platinum Plaisir Fountain Pen

  • Low maintenance: has a special cap that keeps ink from drying out. This means it can sit unused for long periods of time and still write. (It really works!)
  • Metal body and cap do not crack.
  • Fine or Medium steel nib.
  • Current Pen Colors: Black, Violet, Green, Blue, Yellow, Red, Pink, Ice White, Frosty Blue, Gunmetal
  • Uses Platinum ink cartridges.
  • Platinum Ink converter for bottled ink sold separately.
Pelikan Pelikano Fountain Pen - Blue, Fine Nib
Pelikan Pelikano Fountain Pen – Blue, Fine Nib

Pelikan Pelikano

  • Special soft grip provides comfort and guidance for proper finger placement.
  •  Pelikan makes giant ink cartridges that last longer than standard ink cartridges.
  • Metal cap does not crack.
  • Left-Handed nib available
  • Fine, Medium or Left-Handed steel nib.
  • Current Pen Colors: Blue, Red, Green
  • Uses Pelikan or standard international ink cartridges.
  • Pelikan ink converter for bottled ink sold separately.
Kaweco CLASSIC Sport Fountain Pen - Bordeaux, Medium Nib
Kaweco CLASSIC Sport Fountain Pen – Bordeaux, Medium Nib

Kaweco Classic Sport and Kaweco Ice Sport

  • Pocket size coolness! When capped it fits in your pocket, but when the cap is posted it is a comfortable writing size.
  • Plastic body and cap.
  • Fine or medium steel nib.
  • Current ICE Sport Colors: Clear Blue, Green, Orange, Red, Yellow, Pink
  • Current CLASSIC Sport Colors: Blue, White, Transparent, Black, Bordeaux, Green
  • Uses Kaweco or standard international ink cartridges.
  • Kaweco ink converter for bottled ink sold separately (not easy to use for beginners).
LAMY Safari Fountain Pen - White, Left-Handed Nib
LAMY Safari Fountain Pen – White, Left-Handed Nib

LAMY Safari, Vista and Joy

  • The LAMY Safari fountain pen would easily win a popularity contest!
  • Ergonomic grip provides guidance for proper finger placement.
  • Sturdy ABS plastic body and cap.
  • Ink window allows you to see when your ink level is running low.
  • Left-Handed nib available.
  • Fine, Medium or Left-Handed steel nib.
  • Current Pen Colors: Charcoal, Red, Yellow, Shiny Black, Blue, White, Transparent, Neon Coral, Neon Yellow
  • Uses LAMY ink cartridges.
  • LAMY ink converter for bottled ink sold separately.

A few of our own comments: It is not necessary to buy a left-handed nib if you are a left-handed writer. The Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen is the only one on this list that includes an ink converter when you buy the pen. Ink cartridges are usually easier to use for beginners than ink converters are. The kind of paper you write on matters when you use a fountain pen. More information on these and other topics can be found on our Beginners Guide to Fountain Pens webpage. If you discover that you like fountain pens, chances are pretty good you will want to get several of them, so no need to over-think your first purchase.

What starter fountain pen would you like to recommend?

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