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  1. Diamine Purple Dream (150th Anniversary II) The ink maker from Liverpool is one of the staple brands in ink-land. They consistently produce solid inks for a very reasonable price. In 2017, Diamine released their second ink series to commemorate their 150th Anniversary. I obtained my set shortly thereafter, but more or less forgot about them when my attention drifted to Japanese inks. About time to do the reviews. Fortunately, these anniversary inks are still easily obtainable, so if you like what you see you can still get them. Purple Dream is a nicely saturated purple that looks quite lovely. This is what I consider a “standard” purple – not too blue, not too red – but just bang in the middle. It’s a colour that works great for daily journaling, but is a bit too colourful for me to use at work. As we are used to from Diamine, the ink performs well and writes a saturated line in all nib sizes. Shading is present with F nibs and above, but fairly unobtrusive – there is not a lot of contrast between the light and darker parts. The ink itself is on the wet side: combine it with wet pens, and you get a deeply saturated purple line that almost – but not totally – drowns out the shading. With dry pens shading is more prominently visible, and can look quite stunning. Purple Dream works well with both white and cream paper. With low-quality paper, there is a tiny bit of feathering, and you can expect a fair amount of show-through and bleed-through. This Purple Dream is one of three purple colours in the 150 Anniversary II Series. Its siblings are Lilac Night and Burgundy Royale. Lilac Night is a beautiful muted blue-grey-purple that I really enjoy. Burgundy Royale is a reddish purple that has an old-rose quality to it – usually not my type of colour, but for some reason I find this Diamine implementation really attractive. I’m definitely going to explore this one in the near future. To illustrate the colour span of Purple Dream, I did a swab on 52 gsm Tomoe River paper, where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. This Purple Dream has a fairly narrow colour span, with not much contrast between the light and darker parts. This translates to unobtrusive shading when writing. Shading is definitely there (starting with F nibs and above) but remains fairly low. Just enough to accentuate that you’re writing with a fountain pen. On the smudge test – rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab – the ink showed lots of smearing, but the text itself remains crips and clear. Water resistance is totally absent – most colour disappears from the page, leaving only some purple smudges. From the chroma, I expected a bit more water resistance, but that is not the case. I’ve tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On each scrap of paper I show you: An ink swab, made with a cotton Q-tip 1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturation An ink scribble made with a Lamy Safari M-nib fountain pen The name of the paper used, written with a Lamy Safari B-nib A small text sample, written with the Lamy Safari M-nib Source of the quote, written with an F-nib Pelikan M600 Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari) The multi-paper writing test shows that Purple Dream can handle most papers well, looking good on both white and cream paper. There is a small amount of feathering on low-quality paper, but nothing really extreme. With cheap paper, you do get a lot of see-through and some bleed-through, making it nigh impossible to use the backside of the paper. Drying times were mostly around the 10 second mark with the Lamy Safari M-nib. Because scans don't always capture an ink's colour and contrast with good precision, I also add a few photos to give you an alternative look on this Diamine ink. To my eye, the scans show the ink a bit too light, the photos a bit too dark – reality is a bit in between. Writing with different nib sizes The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing (written on Rhodia N°16 80 gsm paper). All samples were written with a Lamy Safari. I also added a couple of visiting pens: a Pelikan M605 with F-nib, and an Edison Collier with M-nib. Purple Dream looks good in all pens, but shading is most visible with the dry-writing Lamy pen. Related inks To compare Diamine Purple Dream with related inks, I use my nine-grid format with the currently reviewed ink at the center. This format shows the name of related inks, a saturation sample, a 1-2-3 swab and a water resistance test – all in a very compact format. This Purple Dream seems to occupy the central space between more blue- and red-leaning purples. Perfectly mixed, and a pleasure to the eye! Inkxperiment – event horizon As a personal challenge, I try to create interesting drawings using only the ink I’m reviewing. I find this to be a fun extension of the hobby, and these single-ink drawings are great for exploring the colour-range nuances that are present in the ink. I love doing them! Inspiration for this drawing comes from the Sagitarius A* black-hole picture, released to the world on May 12, 2022. Astronomers, using the Event Horizon Telescope, released the first image of the accretion disk around the event horizon of Sagitarius A*, the supermassive black hole sitting at the center of our own galaxy. I used the concept of an “event horizon” as central theme in the inkxperiment drawing. I started with an A5 piece of 300 gsm watercolour paper. I wetted two circular rings surrounding the top-left and bottom-right corners of the paper, and applied some pure ink using a brush. These circular areas constitute the event horizon. I then used cotton Q-tips to draw in the houses within the horizon – these are elongated and being drawn into the singularity present in the corners of the page. Between the two singularities, a distorted starry background appears, drawn with Q-tips and different water-ink ratios. The stars were added with a B-nibbed fountain pen. I finally did a final pass over the drawing, adding some finishing touches. Purple Dream turns out to be a really nice ink to draw with. It’s easy and fun to use, and the resulting drawing gives you a good idea of what can be achieved with this Diamine ink in a more artsy context. Inkxpired – computational art I love experimenting with pen/ink/paper, and am now adding another layer as part of the hobby. I’m exploring computational art, inspired by the ink drawings I do during ink reviews. Another fun offshoot of the hobby… and all that starting with a few drops of dye-coloured water on paper. Starting from the “event horizon” drawing, I applied some filters to the drawing (using the Oilist app on iPad), and then stitched two mirrored copies of the result together. What you get is a picture of a Yoda statue, sitting in its Jedi Shrine. Cool! Conclusion Diamine Purple Dream is a lovely-looking purple, that for me embodies the concept of a “standard” purple. The ink works well with both white and cream paper, and writes fairly wet and well-saturated in all nib sizes. I enjoyed experimenting with it – both for writing and drawing - and can definitely recommend it if you enjoy purple inks. Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib Backside of writing samples on different paper types
  2. Diamine Dark Forest (150th Anniversary II) The ink maker from Liverpool is one of the staple brands in ink-land. They consistently produce solid inks for a very reasonable price. In 2017, Diamine released their second ink series to commemorate their 150th Anniversary. I obtained my set shortly thereafter, but more or less forgot about them when my attention drifted to Japanese inks. About time to do the reviews. Fortunately, these anniversary inks are still easily obtainable, so if you like what you see you can still get them. Diamine Dark Forest is another lovely ink in this Anniversary series. A dark & saturated green with strong blue undertones. My first reaction when seeing the ink was “definitely a dark green”. And then I got like “hmm… maybe a dark teal… lots of blue in there”. And after preparing the review material, I got to “well… not a teal yet, but going there.” I love it when inks leave the well-trodden path, and meander between the colour lines. More often then not they gain in complexity and beauty. Dark Forest is no exception – I find it to be a very interesting ink with lots of depth. This Diamine ink is very saturated and lays down a dark blue-green line when writing. With a wet-writing pen, the colour can almost turn black. Where the ink gets overly saturated, you can often glimpse a reddish sheen. I like it that the ink looks totally different, depending on the wetness of the nib/pen combination. Teal-leaning in drier pens, and going dark green to green-black in wetter pens. To illustrate the colour span of this Diamine ink, I did a swab on 52 gsm Tomoe River paper, where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. Dark Forest has a broad colour span, with a substantial difference between the light and darker parts. This translates to strong (even harsh) shading when writing. Shading is present in all nib sizes, even the finer ones. Personally, my preferences go to soft & muted inks, and this Dark Forest is quite the opposite. But still, I like the complexity of its character. On the smudge test – rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab – the ink behaved badly. Tons of smudges, although the text itself remains very readable. Water resistance is almost zero in practice – from the bottom part of the chromatography, I had expected a better result. But no, this ink is very prone to watery accidents. This makes it - for me at least - unsuited for use in the workplace. I’ve tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On each scrap of paper I show you: An ink swab, made with a cotton Q-tip 1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturation An ink scribble made with a Lamy Safari M-nib fountain pen The name of the paper used, written with a Lamy Safari B-nib A small text sample, written with the Lamy Safari M-nib Source of the quote, written with my Yard-o-Led Viceroy Standard with F-nib Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari) The multi-paper writing test shows that Dark Forest can cope with a wide range of papers. With the lower-quality papers (Moleskine, copy paper) there is just a tiny bit of feathering, and a small amount of bleed-through. Drying times are in the 10-15 second range on harder paper, and around 5 seconds on the more absorbent low-quality papers (with the Lamy Safari M-nib). This dark blue-leaning green works well with both white and creamy paper. Because scans don't always capture an ink's colour and contrast with good precision, I also add a few photos to give you an alternative look on this Diamine ink. In this case, the real colour seems to sit a bit between the two. Writing with different nib sizes The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing (written on Rhodia N°16 80 gsm paper). All samples were written with a Lamy Safari. I also added a couple of visiting pens: a wet-writing Yard-o-Led Viceroy Standard Victorian, and a Pelikan M120 (which writes quite dry for a Pelikan). As you can see, the ink can look quite different depending on nib/pen combination – almost a teal in the 1.9 calligraphy nib, almost black in the Yard-o-Led. But in all cases quite saturated and with heavy shading. Related inks To compare Diamine Dark Forest with related inks, I use my nine-grid format with the currently reviewed ink at the center. This format shows the name of related inks, a saturation sample, a 1-2-3 swab and a water resistance test – all in a very compact format. The ink that comes closest in comparison is the 2017 LE ink Lamy Petrol, which has just a touch more blue. With Lamy Petrol being unobtanium these days, this Dark Forest could be the replacement you were looking for. Inkxperiment – excalibur With each review, I try to create an interesting drawing using only the ink I’m reviewing. This is often quite challenging, but it has the advantage of showing the ink’s colour range in a more artistic setting. I enjoy doing these little drawings immensely – it’s quite a fun extension of the ink hobby. Always good for a fun couple of hours. For this inkxperiment, I had zero inspiration. So I started with word associations to get me going: English ink, dark forest… medieval woods… runes and druids… Avalon… King Arthur… Excalibur. OK - good enough to get the drawing started... I used an A4 piece of HP photo paper, that I covered with a paper towel on which I dripped water-diluted ink to create the textured background. Next I used pure Dark Forest to paint in some darker patches for the stone & sword, and as a background for the runes. With the side of a piece of cardboard dipped in ink, I added the branches of the medieval forest. Finally, I used cotton Q-tips with bleach to draw in the runes and Excalibur. The result is not a masterpiece, but it gives you an idea of what can be achieved with this Diamine ink in a more artistic context. Conclusion Diamine Dark Forest is a saturated blue-leaning dark green that can look substantially different depending on your nib/pen combination – it can span the whole range from green-leaning teal to dark green black. A heavy shader that shows a bit of a reddish sheen in heavily saturated areas. For me personally, this Dark Forest is a bit too dark & harsh, but it’s certainly a complex and interesting ink. I enjoyed playing around with it. Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib Backside of writing samples on different paper types
  3. Diamine Lilac Night (150th Anniversary II) The ink maker from Liverpool is one of the staple brands in ink-land. They consistently produce solid inks for a very reasonable price. In 2017, Diamine released a second ink series to commemorate their 150th Anniversary. I obtained my set shortly thereafter, but more or less forgot about it when my attention drifted to Japanese inks. So, it's about time to do the reviews. Fortunately, these anniversary inks are still easily obtainable, so if you like what you see you can still get them. My first reaction when seeing the ink was loudly cursing Diamine… the colour shown on the box suggests a rather boring purple, which has nothing to do with the actual ink that sits within. What comes out of the bottle is a beautiful dusty grey-purple that simply looks wonderful. Curse them threefold! This treasure has been sitting in my cabinet for over 3 years, hidden away behind that bland box picture. Lilac Night has a lovely colour, reminiscent of the summer night sky some time after sunset. Dusty grey-purple with strong blue undertones. Lilacs are often delicate and playful inks, but in this case the grey tones create an aura of seriousness that makes Lilac Night very suitable for the workplace – a good replacement for more traditional blue-blacks. As can be expected from Diamine, the ink performs well, and writes a saturated line in all nib sizes. Lilac Night also exhibits fairly strong and aesthetically pleasing shading The ink itself is on the wet side: combine it with wet pens, and you get a deeply saturated line of very dark grey-purple. With dry pens the blue-lilac comes more to the front. Lilac Night prefers good quality paper. On print/copy paper it has a tendency to feather, and exhibits a fair amount of show-through and bleed-through. To illustrate the colour span of this Diamine ink, I did a swab on 52 gsm Tomoe River paper, where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. Lilac Night has a medium colour span, with moderate contrast between the light and darker parts. This translates to soft shading when writing. Shading is prominently there, starting with F nibs and above. Really nice! On the smudge test – rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab – the ink behaved well. There is smearing, but the text itself remains crips and clear. Water resistance is only so-so: most of the dyes disappear, but a faint-puple ghost image of your original writing remains, which is still more or less readable. I’ve tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On each scrap of paper I show you: An ink swab, made with a cotton Q-tip 1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturation An ink scribble made with a Lamy Safari M-nib fountain pen The name of the paper used, written with a Lamy Safari B-nib A small text sample, written with the Lamy Safari M-nib Source of the quote, written with an Esterbrook Estie with jounaler nib Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari) The multi-paper writing test shows Lilac Night’s preference for good quality paper. With cheaper copy/print paper there is visible feathering, and you also get lots of see-through and bleed-through. It’s best to use this ink with high quality hard-surface paper – that’s the paper eco-system that it prefers. Drying times for this ink are mostly in the 5-10 second range with a Lamy Safari M-nib. Because scans don't always capture an ink's colour and contrast with good precision, I also add a few photos to give you an alternative look on this Diamine ink. In this case, the scans do a better job – in the photos the ink appears too blue. Writing with different nib sizes The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing (written on Rhodia N°16 80 gsm paper). All samples were written with a Lamy Safari. I also added a couple of visiting pens: a TWSBI VAC Mini with M-nib, and an Esterbrook Estie with a journaler nib. I especially like the way Lilac Night looks with the Esterbrook: a dark grey-purple line with really nice low-contrast shading. Add the stubby nature of that nib, and you get some true eye-candy! Related inks To compare Diamine Lilac Night with related inks, I use my nine-grid format with the currently reviewed ink at the center. This format shows the name of related inks, a saturation sample, a 1-2-3 swab and a water resistance test – all in a very compact format. I have no other ink like it. The closest I have is TACCIA aomurasaki, which is a darker grey-purple with less blue in the mix. Inkxperiment – shattered As a personal challenge, I try to create interesting drawings using only the ink I’m reviewing. I find this to be a fun extension of the hobby, and these single-ink drawings always push my creativity. These inkxperiments are great for exploring the colour-range nuances that are present in the ink. I love doing them! Inspiration for this drawing comes from the COVID19 pandemic that has been defining our lives for way too long. At work, I have colleagues that have been screen images in video calls for almost 2 years now, instead of human beings of flesh and blood. And looking around at our society, I can’t help but notice that we are rapidly losing empathy for our neighbours. The lack of direct contact shatters and distorts our view of the world – we get irritated way too quickly, blow out of proportion the smallest mistakes or differences of opinion… I am convinced that we absolutely need to make a conscious effort to interact more positively with each other. So start today… and look behind the shattered glass. I tried to capture this feeling in my inkxperiment. I started with an A4 piece of HP photo paper. I dripped some ink in different water/ink ratios on the paper, and spread it out using a piece of cardboard. This produced the patterned background. Next I drew in the people figures with a brush and slightly diluted Lilac Night. I finally used my B-nibbed Safari to add the shattered glass foreground. Using Lilac Night in this artsy context was pure pleasure. The ink looks great in drawings, and the HP photo paper definitely enhanced the soft lilac tones. Conclusion Diamine Lilac Night is a dusty grey-purple that not only looks beautiful, but also writes well with good saturation and pleasing shading. And if you enjoy drawing with your inks, you’re in for a treat – this Lilac Night can produce stunning tones in inky paintings. I really enjoyed this one, and I can definitely recommend you to try it. Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib Backside of writing samples on different paper types





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