Pigment Ink Pen: Water-resistant But Vivid Color Pen

Pen inks can be oil-based, water-based, or gel ink, in general. But they can also be further divided into dye and pigment inks. This article will introduce the characteristics of the two, which one is better, and the recommended dye & pigment ink pen.

What Is Pigment Ink?

The process of making ink is actually quite deep and interesting.

Pigment inks are inks in which the coloring powder doesn’t fully dissolve in water or other solvents.

Due to its large particles, the ink does not soak into the paper but settles on the surface, resulting in less bleed-through and clearer lines and colors. Therefore, it is suitable for business documents that contain mainly text and diagrams.

It is also good for printing and writing on a wide range of papers, including matte paper and drawing paper.

Is pigment ink waterproof?

Pigmented inks are insoluble in water, making them highly water-resistant. They also produce clear handwriting with less bleed-through and ghosting.

Even water-based pens, which are sensitive to water, have a certain degree of water resistance if made with water-based pigment ink.

Is pigment ink permanent?

Pigment inks also have excellent light resistance, making them suitable for long-term storage or applications where the ink is displayed in a place exposed to light.

As mentioned above, pigment inks are also water-resistant, so they can be used for signing official documents such as contracts.

writing test with different types of ink pen

Difference between pigment and dye ink

The main difference between dye and pigment ink is whether or not they are soluble in liquids such as water or organic solvents.

Solubility means that no particles like tiny grains remain in the liquid. For example, if you put a drop of black ink in water, the color of the water will turn black, right?

A colorant, which has the property of mixing evenly with a liquid, is called a dye ink.

Moreover, the common pen types can be broadly divided into two categories: oil-based or water-based. And within those categories, we can also divide them into pigment or dye ink.

pen ink type chart

In addition to oil-based and water-based inks, there are also gel inks and emulsion inks. Each ink has different characteristics.


Dye and pigment inks differ in the way of coloration

In fact, the mechanism for applying color is different between dye and pigment inks. The reason for this is that the way the colorant dissolves in the solvent is different.

Dye inks have colored materials dissolved in a liquid, so the ink soaks into the crevices of paper or cloth. This is the reason why the colored ink soaks through and colors the paper so that it shows through to the back when printed on paper.

Pigments, on the other hand, work differently. The colorants in pigment inks are 10 to 1,000 times larger than dye particles. So, they stay on the surface of paper or cloth to be colored.

Which is better?

So far, I have explained that inks differ in how they are colored depending on the type of colorant. So what kind of actual differences do they give us when we use each ink?

Dye inks are made by mixing various colors in a solvent and have more vivid colors and color variations than pigment inks. When printing on glossy paper using a home-use inkjet printer, dye inks produce glossy photographs.

This is because the ink penetrates to the inside of the paper. And it reproduces the texture of the glossy paper.

On the other hand, pigment inks are more water-resistant than dyes. Pigments are insoluble in water, so they do not bleed even if the printed area gets wet. Pigmented inks are also more resistant to discoloration than dye inks because of their resistance to light.

Therefore, I recommend dye ink if you are looking for color variation and vibrant coloration. And the pigment inks will be a good choice for those looking for water/light resistance for long-term storage.

Recommended Dye / Pigment Ink Pens

Below are recommended pens for both pigment and dye inks.

Japanese pens are inexpensive, high quality, and come in a wide variety of ink and body colors and designs. So, give them a try.

Pigment Ink Pen


SAKURA PIGMA MICRON water-based pigment ink pen
Length135mm (5.31 inches)
DIameter (Ø)11mm (0.43 inches)
InkWater-based pigment
MechanismCap Type
Pen Tip0.03 / 0.05 / 0.1 / 0.2 / 0.3 / 0.4 / 0.5 / 0.8 / 1.0 / 2.0 / 3.0 mm
Ink ColorBlack / Red / Blue / Green / Sepia and more

Pigma series is a signature pen from Sakura Crepas. One of its most important features is the variety of nib thicknesses for different purposes.

People often use it to draw illustrations and pictures. But its water resistance makes it suitable for everyday use as well.


uni-ball jetstream oil-based pigment ink pen
Length139.6mm (5.50 inches)
DIameter (Ø)11.3mm (0.44 inches)
InkOil-based pigment
MechanismKnock Type
Pen Tip0.28 / 0.38 / 0.5 / 0.7 /1.0 mm
Ink ColorBlack / Red / Blue

JETSTREAM is the signature product of Uni-ball, which has been highly popular for many years for its smooth writing comfort that surpasses other pens.

Oil-based pens usually have a heavy writing feel, although they do not smudge easily. JETSTREAM ink, however, reduces friction by 30-50% compared to conventional oil-based ballpoint pens, resulting in a lighter writing experience.

In addition, by combining newly invented colors and pigments, it has twice the black density of conventional pens.

Other than that, JETSTREAM ink has been redesigned with new raw materials and formulations to make it easier to penetrate the paper and dry more quickly than traditional oil-based ballpoint pens.

Uni-ball Signo 207

uni-ball signo gel pigment ink pen
Length144.8mm (5.7 inches)
DIameter (Ø)11.8mm (0.46 inches)
InkGel pigment
MechanismKnock Type
Pen Tip0.5 / 0.7 / 1.0mm
Ink ColorBlack / Red / Blue

Uniball‘s best-sellers are not only the JETSTREAM series but also the Signo series. The most noticeable feature is that it does not blur even when writing fast. That is because the viscosity of the ink changes as you write. So, even if you draw a curve, it will not be blurred.

This pen is very easy to use because it does not easily form ink pools.

Uni-ball Eye

Length138.8mm ( inches)
DIameter (Ø)11.3mm ( inches)
InkWater-based pigment
MechanismCap Type
Pen Tip0.5mm
Ink ColorBlack / Red / Blue

Uni-ball Eye is also a pigment-based ink pen produced by Uni-ball.

Constant ink flow from the nib ensures that every last drop of ink will not be blurred. Since the pen is highly water-resistant, the ink will not run even if you spill the water on it.

Another visual feature is the small transparent window on the pen’s body, which allows you to see the amount of remaining ink at a glance.

Zebra SARASA Clip

Zebra SARASA Clip water-based pigment ink pen
Length141mm (5.55 inches)
DIameter (Ø)11mm (0.43 inches)
InkWater-based pigment
MechanismKnock Type
Pen Tip0.3 / 0.4 / 0.5 / 0.7 / 1.0mm
Ink Color57 colors

Sarasa Clip is another highly popular oil-based pigment ink pen with many users.

The secret of its popularity is a large number of color variations. There are 57 different ink colors to choose from. So you can write in the color of your choice.

To explain the awesomeness, there are many different colors available in the blue colors alone: blue, blue-black, cobalt blue, pale blue, and light blue.

When you have SARASA clip pens in all the colors, they look just like colored pencils from an art supply set.

Dye Ink Pen

Pentel Energel

Pentel Energel gel dye ink pen
Length147mm (5.79 inches)
DIameter (Ø)10mm (0.39 inches)
InkGel dye
MechanismKnock Type
Pen Tip0.3 / 0.4 / 0.5 / 0.7 / 1.0mm
Ink ColorBlack / Red / Blue

The main feature of Energel is its excellent color. Some pigment ink pens, such as Sarasa Clip described above, are available in a wide variety of colors. But Energel uses dye ink, and the colors are pretty vivid.

As a water-based pen, you can write smoothly with a light touch. And you will not get tired even after writing for a long time.

PILOT Precise V5 / V7

PILOT precise V5 water-based dye ink pen
Length141mm ( inches)
DIameter (Ø)12mm ( inches)
InkWater-based dye
MechanismCap Type
Pen Tip0.5 / 0.7mm
Ink Color16 colors

PILOT V5 series is characterized by a writing experience similar to that of an autograph pen.

It comes in a wide variety of colors and is the number one selling rolling ball pen in the United States.

The V5 has a 0.5mm nib, but I recommend V7 with a 0.7mm pen nib for those who prefer slightly thicker handwriting.

Zebra SARASA dry

Zebra SARASA dry water-based dye ink pen
Length139.4mm (5.49 inches)
DIameter (Ø)10.9mm (0.43 inches)
InkWater-based dye
MechanismKnock Type
Pen Tip0.4 / 0.5 / 0.7mm
Ink ColorBlack / Red / Blue

Zebra’s SARASA dry is a water-based dye ink pen that dries incredibly quickly.

This pen is especially recommended for left-handed people and those who frequently have trouble getting pen ink on their hands, as it will not smudge at all even if you rub it with your hand immediately after writing.

The coloration is also decent, especially the black, and the shading is quite clear.


A quick summary of the characteristics of pigment and dye inks:

  • Colorants that are soluble in solvents are called “dyes”, while those that are insoluble are called “pigments”
  • Dyes have vivid colors, but are sensitive to light and water.
  • Pigments tend to have fewer color variations than dyes, but are more resistant to light and water

Apart from the differences between pigment and dye inks, the possibility of ink leaks and how to clean ink smudges will also vary depending on whether the ink is oil-based or water-based. So, choose the best pen for you based on the characteristics of each ink, and enjoy a happy pen life!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *