I use gel pens most of the time, as I’ve mentioned before. I’m also attracted to to fountain pens more and more because of the variety of colors you can get with fountain pen inks. I wish gel pens came in just as many colors!
Sure, some gel pens like Uni-ball Signo and Pilot Juice offer non-standard colors, e.g. Green Black and Coffee Brown (my favorite). I should be happy with that, but I can’t help but wish for a wider selection of more muted, nuanced colors in the brown and gray family. That’s what I prefer for daily journal writing: colors that are easier on my eyes.
I guess gel pen manufacturers are playing it safe and varying the standard black just a little bit with colors like Bordeaux Black and Lavender Black. But why not include slightly lighter colors other than shades of blue or pink? Maybe they’re more difficult to formulate, or maybe there isn’t enough demand for them. Probably the latter.
Anyway, all that rant was for me to say that I’m really glad I finally tried the Pilot Hi-Tec-C in Usuzumi. I thought it’d be just another boring gray but I was pleasantly surprised to find it warmer and darker than other gel grays I’ve tried in the past. Personally I find it really unique and interesting, and it’s been in constant use ever since I picked it up earlier this year. Usuzumi (literally “light sumi ink”) really is the type of color I’d like to see more of in gel pens: muted, not so light like pastels, and practical for longhand writing. Do I sound picky or what.
One minor thing about this Usuzumi gray is that it’s a Pilot Hi-Tec-C. As mentioned in my Gel Pens Round-Up, Hi-Tec-C barrels are uncomfortable for me, and the way the ink sometimes stops flowing can be annoying. That hasn’t stopped me from using Usuzumi though. When it does flow consistently, the pen writes smoothly, and I really enjoy the feel of the ink on my Field Notes. I also like how the gray color makes my pages look less contrast-y than black inks. Sort of like a graphite pencil. It’s just easier on my eyes since I tend to write densely. I also started using Usuzumi in my weekly planner, for drawing additional vertical lines to divide each day. It’s not too dark, so it blends in with the existing lines. Love it! Funny, because I said I would never use a Pilot Hi-Tec-C on a regular basis (I guess I can switch the barrel with a Maica pen). Maybe for me color trumps comfort?
Do you use gray gel pens? If so, what’s your favorite?
Usuzumi was released as part of the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Yawaragi colors years ago, along with four other “softened” colors: Sakura, Benifuji, Bengara, and Kurikawa. Unfortunately, the Yawaragi colors are no longer widely available, at least here in the US. But you can still find Kurikawa (chestnut brown) and Usuzumi at Tokyo Pen Shop. I have a feeling these two colors are being phased out as well. At least Kurikawa can be substituted with Pilot Juice Coffee Brown in a pinch, but I don’t know what I’ll do if Usuzumi ever runs out! The fact that the Pilot’s official website doesn’t list these colors is worrisome to me, too.