Pilot bottled inks for dip pens

パイロット 製図用 証券用 インク
Image taken from the Pilot web site

There are so many different drawings out there, I can't begin to describe them all. If you want to make ink and watercolor sketches, then you'll need waterproof ink such as india ink. If you are drawing in ink alone, then you have a wide variety of inks to choose from.

The two non-waterproof inks I am most familiar with are the ones I can get at most stationery shops in Tokyo. They are from Pilot and are called SHOKENYO (document ink) with yellow on the box and label and SEIZUYO (drafting ink) with gray on the box and label.

As for actual pronunciation -- and this is a real hassle for non Japanese speakers, so feel free to ignore if you are not buying in a Japanese shop -- the Os are long vowels (as in bone) and held an extra beat; the E is a short vowel (as in egg) and is also held an extra beat. The N is also held an extra beat (as in "can never") so it comes out something like SHO-O-KENN-YO-O and SE-E-ZU-U-YO-O. As for accent, keep it basically flat and you will do fine.

How are these two inks different?

SHOKENYO (document ink) in the yellow box is:

  • thinner than SEIZUYOU
  • faster drying
  • weaker against erasing
  • dries to a flat matt finish
  • slightly water-resistant
  • after it dries, the surface ink will not transfer to the facing page in a sketchbook

SEIZUYO (drafting ink) in the gray box is:

  • thicker than SHOKENYO
  • slower drying
  • stronger against erasing
  • dries to a glossy finish
  • not water resistant
  • after it dries, the surface ink will transfer to the facing page in a sketchbook and leave a ghost mirror image

SEIZUYOU (drafting ink, gray label) is preferred by manga artists in Japan, but when I draw in a sketchbook, I prefer SHOKENYO (document ink, yellow label) because the image will not transfer to the facing page when dry, and I like to photograph my sketches for this web site, so the matt finish is nice for that. And if I let the ink alone for a day so it has time to thoroughly dry and set, I have no problems erasing the underlying pencil lines.

Pilot Drafting Pen Ink and Drawing ink are probably available outside of Japan, but there are probably other less expensive options which are just as good if not better.