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A simple inkcyclopedia based on (at least) 228 ink sample tests
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README.md

Inkcyclopedia

A tiny representation of the vast world of fountain pen inks. Or -really- just "inks". Except Indian Black Ink, which is made with all manner of heavy pigments and ingredients that would destroy a fountain pen in pretty much less than a minute (that's not even a joke).

Why?

I was designing a typeface, and a colleague asked me "what does it look like when calligraphed?"

I had no response other than "No idea, let me buy a fountain pen and get back to you". Then I bought several. Of course, none of the super expensive ones, but I do have some EF Lamy Safari's (in matte black and laquer red, loaded with black and red ink) for doing drawing work, a 1.5 calligraphy nib Safari for -unsurprisingly- calligraphy, and a Sheaffer 100 (with "fine" nib, because "medium" is way too fat) for regular writing.

I also like writing in red, and while I started off with a Waterman Red, because it's a decent red, and every pen shop carries it, I lamented not being able to use a particular shade of red aquarel ink I had from way back when. So I figured: "how many red inks can there be? I'll just find a matching one and use that!"

As it turns out, there are REALLY QUITE A LOT! of even just red inks.

So because I can, I bought eight reds that looked like they might be close to the aquarel ink I had, and waited for them to arrive. When they did, for the most part I was unsatisfied, but one of them (Diamine pink, of all colours, which is not quite as pink on paper as it is in the link swatch) was really close and super great and I love it and it's my main ink. But if just finding a matching red is this much work, how much work is it to just find a colour that's fun and new and you like and doesn't cost you $100 in finding out because you bought full bottles of ink?

Seriously.

Then I discovered Goulet's "surprise me!" packs of 8 inks for $8.90 and went "I have a job. Give me eight of these packs". That exercise led to this and left me feeling like I didn't have a representational enough cross section of inks. So I bought another ten packs (words of truth? The Goulet team is incredible. I emailed them asking if there was a remote possibility to get new inks without duplicates of the ones I already had, and they went "you bet!"), and ended up with a total of 170 ink samples on quite a few sheets of paper (if that count doesn't quite math up, I also had some watercolour Talens Ecoline inks and two Indian Black Inks, which I threw in. The Ecolines are actually perfect for use with a Noodler's Konrad flex pen. If that means nothing to you: you're still safe... although it is a fun pen. Despite being oddly scented O_o).

I'm sorry...

Don't be, I'll recover. If anything, my handwriting is pretty damn fancy with all the writing I've been doing, and I discovered that I really like writing in Insular Majuscule (which you might know as "Gaelic fonts", except it's not really Gaelic but really much more Irish, and it's not a font, but a script, but that's neither here nor there)

However, if you're thinking of getting a fountain pen (and I won't lie, I have some $3 Platinum Preppy pens that work just as well for just writing as my $40 Shaeffer 100, so don't let the myth of "it's expensive" fool you: it really, really isn't) then finding an ink you like is going to be a stupid amount of work, if you don't just want "Parker Black" but something you actually like.

So basically: I did this so you don't have to. 170 inks initial inks, currently 356, more as time goes on, because this shouldn't be as horrible as it really is right now. Good luck finding a store with 200+ open bottles of inks to try, near where you live.

So, what's the deal with this project/website?

I'm still developing the Inkcyclopedia at the moment, an am still adding inks, as well as trying to find a good way to get the digitized sheets to look like they do "in real life". I have calibrated monitors (because photography), but getting writing to look properly accurate is extremely tricky, so there's a lot of tool calibration involved, and the kind of leveling that a tool like Lightroom offers are actually fairly poor for real life color matching.

The Inkcyclopedia comes with a dedicate "submit a sample" page where all you have to do is drag your sample into the browser, and some cool JavaScript does color abstraction and the like, giving you what it thinks is the color of your sample, as well as some additional colours that it found that you can pick instead if it got the most important one wrong. You then just say which company's ink it is, and hit submit! That's in fact exactly how I'm using it right now because I'm not going to hand-craft JSON objects and image data URIs, so I can confirm that the code works and lets you add inks to the inkcyclopedia.

License wise, this code is locked down. I know I usually release things in the public domain or as MIT, but I like this thing, I have spent money on it, and I'd like to maybe eventually turn it into a regular website instead of a side project. If I don't, the code will fall into the public domain. Until then: all rights reserved and (c) 2014 Pomax.

- Pomax

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