This review has been a long time coming.
I first reached out to Dominant Industry on Instagram in August 2020, and — once we broke the language barrier — it was clear they weren’t ready for a review until they got their international expansion underway. But I didn’t forget, and this September I followed up. Shortly after, a big box arrived from Korea with seven bottles inside.
Dominant makes a huge range of inks, including some crazy pearlescents and shimmers and heavy sheeners. Some are only suitable for dip pens. I just asked for regular inks from their ‘Standard’ line, because I’m a boring sod.
I’ll get into the colours below, but first a word on the packaging.
Each ink arrives in a pretty cardboard box, with a little cotton bag inside, then this gorgeous little droplet-shaped bottle.
The bottles aren’t large, but they’re a practical shape, stable, with a wide enough opening, and they don’t leak.
In the end, Dominant sent me these, pictured with some comparable inks from my collection swatched below, on watercolour paper, in overcast natural light.
Winter Wood is a dull cool brown.
It’s not a yellow brown like Herbin Lie de The, or a rich warm brown. I’d call it a taupe-brown or grey-brown.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of brown ink, and when I do use it I go for the orangey browns like SBRE or Montblanc Single Malt. From memory, Winter Wood feels closest to something like Montblanc Cigar or Waterman Havana Brown, or from my own current collection, the original formulation of Birmingham Alternator Crimson — although that has a little too much plum in it.
When laid down thick, it looks almost black.
On paper like Tomoe, it shades a lot.
Maple is a light, bright red-orange with hints of coral.
Laid down thick, it’s a bright colour — but it still pales next to zingers like Sailor Irori or Diamine Fire Embers. And from a pen it comes out much more muted, almost pastel. Put next to a true orange like Montblanc Lucky Orange it’s very clearly different, more autumnal.
Lots of shading in normal writing on Tomoe. I have this now loaded in my Ystudio and I love writing with it. It’s a very thin, watery ink — not at all lubricated and oily. It reminds me of Herbin inks.
The closest match I have in spirit is Montblanc Red Fox.
Downpour is a neutral silvery grey. It manages to dodge all the grey hybrids: it’s not a blue-grey, a purple-grey, a brown grey. In purity it’s closest to something like Diamine Silver Fox, although it’s a little warmer.
It can get quite dark when you really lay it on, but from a normal or finer nib it is delicate and pale.
Again, there’s plenty of shading.
Leaf Green is a rich and high-shading green that shades to light grass and even a hint of olive.
I am extremely picky about my greens — I like them not too pale and yellow (Chiku Rin, Vert Olive), not too punchably grassy (Meadow, Akkerman 28), etc. Leaf Green is very close to perfect in my book. And it performs very well.
The shading is fantastic, and it flows really nicely from the fine nib on my designC.
In terms of comparisons, Ferris Wheel Peter Moss is pretty close, but Leaf is that bit brighter. Venvstas Muschio is murkier, Vinta Leyte is more olive, Gazing Far Mung Beans is more yellow or khaki, so is Sailor 280. Given how many green inks I have, this one is interesting.
Lake is a pretty turquoise that leans a little green. It’s a high shader and full of life, with fun haloing too. This is the one people will go gaga about on Instagram.
Photos don’t often bring out the green in inks like this, be warned.
There are plenty of similar inks in my collection — I love this colour family. Two very close marches are Pennonia Meregzold and Robert Oster Sooty Sheerwater. Vinta Android Teal is decently close too. Bungubox June Bride is much too blue; Montblanc Emerald is too green.
Romania is a strong blood red with pink cherry-leaning tones and a dark sheen. It looks very different in changing light.
Closest matches I had to hand were Scribo Rosso Melograno, although that’s a bit brighter; Gazing Far Red Bean; and DeAtramentis Mulled Wine.
Overall I’m a big fan of this colour family, and this is a good one.
Dominant Blue is a saturated mid blue with pronounced red sheen.
I’m no longer a big fan of sheen so this wasn’t my favourite ink, and of course there are a million sheening blues out there to choose from.
It’s close to Otto Hutt Ocean Blue in colour, but the OH has no shading or sheen. Montblanc Lapis Lazuli is similar but a touch more bright and blurple. KWZ Azure #5 is similarly saturated but darker.
I’ve been using these inks for a few weeks now in several different pens, and I have to say I’m impressed. They don’t all have the same personality: some, like Maple, are thin; others are much more saturated and cling to glass stubbornly.
Normally when I get a group of inks in to review, one or two stand out as favourites. Here, five of the seven will go into my regular rotation.
Maple is a really pleasing shade that I haven’t quite seen replicated.
Downpour is a pure grey with excellent shading.
Leaf Green is a super interesting green with lots of personality and shading.
Lake is beautiful, with clarity and verve.
Romania Red feels luxurious and powerful.
I like these inks so much that I’ve already ordered another, Forest, to add to my collection. And although my package came from Korea, Dominant Industry inks are now stocked at Pure Pens, and Cult Pens should be getting them soon too. At £8.50 for a 25ml bottle, they’re priced fairly. I’m excited to see Dominant Industry become part of our community!