Throughout my never-ending quest to make the Pilot Parallel do things it was never designed to, I’m fortunate to have found successes here and there. Most recently, I’ve discovered how to mix opaque inks and feed them rather effortlessly through the Parallel. If this is something you’re interesting doing, then allow me to save you some headaches.

Pilot Parallel with Opaque Ink

The Parallel pen is incredibly versatile and convenient. It really is my favorite pen. However, I’d love to see Pilot continue iterating on it by offering other sizes and nib tips, among other things. But if I had to pick one area of improvement, it would certainly be a more optimized ink flow system. How nice would it be to load it up with the heavy duty pigment you find in a Montana paint marker? Imagine those vibrant and opaque lines.

Well, believe it or not, I’ve managed to get 90% of the way there. It’s a little tricky and you can’t make every shade imaginable — but it is possible to use opaque ink in the Parallel.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • White ink (I’d recommend Higgins Super White or Golden High Flow Acrylic in Titanium White)
  • Colored ink and/or highly viscous gouache (any color of your choosing)
  • A Pilot Parallel
  • Mixing cup/jar
  • Toothpick for mixing

If you’ve read my post about using white ink in the Pilot Parallel, you’ll recall I’m quite fond of the Higgins Super White ink. In my opinion, it’s the best white ink out there. That said, we’re going to use it as the base for our opaque color. In other words, we’ll use it as a blank canvas and tint it with other colors until we reach the shade we’re after.

Adding white ink to orange ink

With a couple drops of just about any color, you’ll find you can make beautiful pastels. These nice, milky tints look beautiful on dark surfaces. I particularly enjoy the way pastel blues and oranges look on a dark surface.

Happy halloween in orange opaque ink

If you’re looking for deeper hues, continue adding ink to the white base. Be careful to add a little bit at a time. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re mixing non-opaque ink with opaque ink, which results in not-quite-opaque.

Consider a bright fire-engine red. The problem here is that if you add too much red to the white, it will either end up being pink, or too transparent (this is because the base becomes too thinned down).

Thinned ink

Too Thin
Thinned ink

Too Pink

There are two approaches you can take in this scenario.

  1. Minimize the amount of colored pigment you’re diluting the white with by darkening it with black first (or just counterbalancing with an already-darker shade).

  2. Thicken the mixture back up by introducing some gouache. You wouldn’t ever want to put gouache into the Parallel by itself as it will dry up and ruin the pen’s internals. However, it should be fine when mixed in with a combination of inks.

Opaque red ink

Dipping (as an alternative)

If this is too much fuss for you, you can always dip the pen straight into a well of ink While you might not get a consistent shade of color, you can still achieve some very neat color effects.

Dipping white parallel in red ink