Intro (and Apology!)

I’m going to go ahead and apologize to you now for showing you this technique. Why an apology? Because if you already love buying and trying new inks, then this color mixing technique will only make it harder to resist substantially increasing your ink collection!

This is especially true because this technique works with a wide variety of inks that normally aren’t compatible with Pilot Parallel pens. You could even argue that it works better with inks that aren’t normally compatible with Pilot Parallel pens because the thicker inks create more dramatic blends.

Table of Contents

Here are the steps and sections we’ll go over in this tutorial:

1. Ink Blending Supplies

Supplies Used in this Tutorial

Here are the specific supplies used in this tutorial (as shown in the photo from left to right):

  • Pilot Parallel Pen – the ever-versatile calligraphy pen (probably my favorite pen)
  • Liquitex Acrylic Ink (Medium Yellow) – you can select this specific color on the product page after following the link. A very close yellow ink is also included in this set of three inks.
  • Water (Small Glass Jar) – we’ll use the water in this tutorial to clean the tip of the pen so I’ll usually use tap water, but you can also use distilled water if you want to be extra careful. I’ll often add a little ammonia solution and a few drops of soap to help with cleaning.
  • Paper Towel – we’ll use this to clean the pen nib, so any will do.
  • Pilot Parallel Ink Cartridge (Violet) – Then have fun using up one of them until it’s empty. The violet ink cartridge is also included in this Multi-Color Set.
  • Toothpick – I like these bamboo toothpicks because they are sturdier than a standard toothpick and have pointed tip (more on that later).
  • Small Container – I purchased the container in the photo from a local arts store, but I provided a better recommendation of glass jars that should be a little more stable than the plastic container pictures (I have a set of the glass jars on order at the time of writing this post). Also available with a cork seal.

2. Install Cartridge

Install the Violet Cartridge into your Pilot Parallel Pen by unscrewing the grey section and pressing the cartridge into the feed section of the pen.

Once installed as shown in the photo, screw the grey section back onto the pen. I usually also place the pen cap on the pen and shake the pen to help start the ink flow into the feed. 

3. Dipping Reservoir

Another simple step here. We’re going to be using the small container to hold the ink that we’ll be dipping into (i.e. the container will be our reservoir).

The small plastic container shown in the photo was purchased from a local art store, but due to its very small size, light weight, and the attached lid it is very easy to tip over (I’ve had my fair share of messes with these), which is why I’m recommending (and have ordered) the glass jar alternatives that I mention here.

Before opening the ink bottle, make sure to shake it well. This will make sure that the ink is thoroughly mixed when adding it to the small container.

One great feature of the Liquitex Acrylic Inks are that they include an eyedropper in the cap.

As mentioned previously, shake the acrylic ink container well to ensure proper mixing, then use the eyedropper to add several drops to the small container. 

I never dip pens directly into ink bottles because I like to keep these from being “contaminated” with inks from pens that are dipped.

Small containers of this size work great for a couple of reasons:

  • Minimize Ink Waste: You can get a high enough level for dipping using only several drops of ink. This also minimizes ink waste due to “contamination” from dipping other pens.
  • Wide Opening: At around 2cm wide, the opening is sufficiently wide to dip most pens that you would expect to use regularly.

The photo below shows the typical level that I fill these containers.

4. Dipping Technique

If any time has passed since adding the ink to the container, you’ll notice that the ink will begin to separation. If this happens, I recommend a quick stir with the toothpick to fully mix the ink again. 

Now we’re ready for the fun part! Your pen should already be loaded with the Violet ink cartridge and you should have already established flow through the nib. You can blot the tip of the nib on a paper towel or scratch page to make sure you have ink flow from the cartridge (you can see my test stroke behind the container in the photo below).

Once you’ve established ink flow from the cartridge you’re ready to dip into the container and to start the ink blending fun.

The technique I use is to quickly dip most or the entire metallic tip of the pen into the acrylic ink. I don’t leave the nib in the ink for long, just a quick in and out.

When you pull the nib from the ink, you should already see the inks blending on the nib (pretty cool, right?) as shown in the photo below. 

Because the nib is so saturated with ink at this point, the first stroke you make will be loaded with ink and will take longer to dry than subsequent strokes, so I recommend a quicker motion for this first stroke so that the ink doesn’t pool too much. 

That’s pretty much it! The ink colors will continue to be blended for several strokes until the color in the cartridge becomes dominant again. when this happens, just dip the pen in the ink again, and continue to create your masterpiece!

5. Cleaning

Cleaning your pen is a particularly important step when using heavier inks like acrylic inks. These will adhere to and start to plug the metallic tip of your pen if left to dry so I recommend wiping the tip down after every writing session.

Before using a paper towel to wipe the excess acrylic ink from the nib, I typically dip the nib in water to help with the cleaning. Again, this is a quick dip into the container of water (primarily so that we don’t waste a lot of the ink from the cartridge to the water). 

After dipping in water, wipe both sides of the nib on the paper as you can see in the image below. Although it didn’t look like there was much of the yellow acrylic ink left on the pen, you can see the yellow color at the beginning of each stroke on the paper towel.

After wiping, the nib should look clean again. You may still see some Violet ink around the tip of the nib – this is normal and will be from the cartridge in the pen which will still be full of ink. 

6. Process Time Lapse Video

The video below is a time lapse showing the creation of the circular calligram in the photo below. The time lapse shows about 3 hrs. of work compressed into the 5-min video.

Finished Art

Note: This post and the photos within it may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a commission at no extra charge to you.