Ink Review | J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques

J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques is one of the new Herbin inks that joined the core line in 2018, alongside a few other interesting colours. True to its name, it’s a warm, bright orange-pink, and comes in the standard Herbin 30ml glass bottle. It’s more vibrant than I expected out of a Herbin ink, with some decent saturation, and fairly readable despite its brightness.

I’ve tried my best to represent the colour and saturation accurately in the photographs, but my equipment (which is a nice way of saying “an iPhone and a large window”) and skills are limited in that regard.

Corail des Tropiques
J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques bottle with a Col-O-Ring card and a TWSBI Diamond 580AL Rose.

The first bottle of fountain pen ink I ever bought was Bleu Pervenche, a nicely saturated, lubricated cerulean blue with nice shading. Outside of that, I’ve only really played with J. Herbin inks in sample sizes. The price of a bottle versus the quantity of ink has been the biggest barrier for me; it’s one of the few brands that you can actually go into a store and pick up easily in New Zealand, but $24.90 for 30ml is steep when taking alternatives into account. Still, I picked up Corail des Tropiques and Vert de Gris because they were intriguing colours.

I’ve seen a bit of huffing and puffing about the little pen rest on the Herbin bottles. I actually quite like them. Sure, they categorically fail to serve the function they’re intended for, but they’re cute. You can do a lot worse than cute and pointless. That’s a quote from my Tinder profile. (Editor’s note: That’s not even funny. Cut this part.)

Corail des Tropiques on Col-O-Ring
Corail des Tropiques swatch on Col-O-Ring card

Riveting aside out of the way, I’ve featured the following notebooks/papers in this review:

  • Milligram (85 GSM, white)
  • Leuchtturm1917 (80 GSM, ivory)
  • Rhodia Webnotebook (90 GSM, cream)
  • Tomoe River Paper (52 GSM, white)
  • Tomoe River Paper (68 GSM, white)
  • Col-O-Ring (160 GSM, white)

The pen used for the bulk of the writing is a TWSBI 580 with a B nib. I’ve also used a Kaweco Lilliput BB and a Pilot Kakuno EF for comparison. The swatches and big writing were done with Toronto Pen Company’s CxPO Tester pens.

Corail des Tropiques Tomoe River writing sample
Writing sample on Tomoe River Paper (52 GSM)

The colour of Corail des Tropiques itself is quite pleasant; it’s not so bright that it’s unreadable in large doses, and even verges on pale in a finer nib. There’s very little shading that I could see on any of the papers I tested it with, and no sheen. There’s a little bit of a halo on Tomoe River, but that’s the extent of it. That’s the biggest disappointment I have with the ink, as a big lover of shading.

Corail des Tropiques writing sample
Writing sample in Milligram Basic Notebook (85 GSM)
Corail des Tropiques Leuchtturm1917 writing sample
Writing sample in Leuchtturm1917 (80 GSM)

I had no issues with feathering or bleeding on any of the papers I tried with regular writing. The folded nib writing packed on a lot of ink and bled through, which wasn’t surprising at all. The dry times came out in the 20-30 second range on most of them (bearing in mind I used a Western B), with the exception of the Fabriano, which I do find to be more absorbent paper in general.

Corail des Tropiques Rhodia Webnotebook writing sample
Writing sample in a Rhodia Webnotebook (90 GSM)

As you can see from the Rhodia sample, the water resistance is non-existent. I dripped a little bit of water onto the page and left it for 30 seconds before dabbing it off with a paper towel. The colour came straight off the page.

(My Rhodia sample pages look a bit different to the others because I use a Webnotebook as a personal ink log and this is more or less the format I’ve stuck to in the other pages.)

Corail des Tropiques Rhodia writing sample
Close-up on Rhodia writing sample

One of the reasons I decided to buy Corail des Tropiques is because I don’t have very many pink inks; as a result, I have very few to compare them with. It does lean quite orange, though, and Iroshizuku Fuyugaki is the one that came to mind when I first saw a sample online. I’ve compared my Col-O-Ring cards below:

Iroshizuku Fuyugaki, J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques, Oaso Lingxiao
Iroshizuku Fuyugaki, J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques, Oaso Lingxiao on Col-O-Ring

These swatches are unfortunately not as representative of the differences as I’d like them to be. The Corail swatch in particular is a bit darker than the ink actually writes. Fuyugaki leans much more orange and shades more in writing. I’ve also included OASO Lingxiao in the comparison above, but it’s not an ink I’ve seen many people talk about, much less own, so I won’t go into it here.

Corail des Tropiques Tomoe River writing sample
Writing sample on a sheet of Tomoe River Paper (68 GSM)

Final Blathering and Where to Buy

Corail des Tropiques is a nice enough ink with some decent saturation to it, and it’s certainly lubricated. I do think it’s an interesting colour, but the solidness of it just isn’t quite my thing. It would be pretty good as a highlighter, I just don’t see myself writing pages and pages with it.

I purchased my 30ml bottle of Corail des Tropiques from Pen Classics for $21.99.


If you have any ideas for what you’d like to see reviewed, drop a comment or contact me via email.

You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook. I’m on Twitter as well, sharing such hard-hitting insights as: “i am thoroughly unconvinced that fountain pen twitter is even really a thing”.

I purchased the products mentioned in the review with my own money and have no affiliation with any business mentioned above, which is why I have no money.

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