Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Diamine Red Dragon ink review

Looks like I'm caught in a vicious circle of red and burgundy ink reviews, because it's time for yet another red ink: Diamine Red Dragon. This is easily the darkest red I've tested, to the point where it could just as well be classified under burgundy, but since it has "red" in the name, this is what I will call it.

I reviewed Diamine Red Dragon in my trusty Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.

Diamine Red Dragon shading

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 80 ml / 2.7 oz
Price: $12.95
Price / ml: $0.16

Color and saturation

As I already mentioned, Diamine Red Dragon is a very dark red ink, so dark in fact that if I were to put it under the Burgundy category, no one would bat an eyelid. As such, it is also highly saturated. To an extent, it resembles thick, coagulated blood. Or, if you will, dried dragon's blood.

To give you a better idea, I compared it with 2 other similar inks, Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses and J Herbin 1670 Rough Hematite.

Diamine Red Dragon vs Noodler's BSER vs 1670 Rouge Hematite


Because it's so dark Diamine Red Dragon doesn't have a lot of shading. Now, some people will say that it does, and I guess if you used a brush instead of a nib, and peered really hard, you would find a little color variation. Actually, you can see that on the Clairefontaine sample shown at the bottom. But for all practical purposes, when used in a fountain pen, even one with a broad nib, there isn't any shading to speak of.

Diamine Red Dragon handwriting


Diamine Red Dragon feathers a little on cheap paper, with the broad nib. No such thing happens on Clairefontaine 90g.


Considering the darkness and saturation of this ink, it was expected that it would at least ghost on cheap paper. That it does, though it doesn't outright bleed through. There's no ghosting on Clairefontaine.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Diamine Red Dragon is very smooth - when it flows. I'm not sure exactly what happened to cause this, but in the Pilot Vanishing Point the flow was very inconsistent. At times it would stop entirely, and cause the nib to skip. I had to press the nib hard to the point of flexing, before it would start again. The Pilot VP has been a wonderful writer with other inks so it makes me wonder whether Red Dragon has some weird property that causes this. To make it flow properly, I had to resort to twisting the piston converter. But this made the ink flow a lot darker, for a while at least, until it would slow down again, becoming lighter in color.

I'm really puzzled as to why this is happening, especially considering that it is a fairly wet ink - when it behaves.

Drying time

Drying times were pretty long on both cheap and good quality paper, but that's partly due to the broad nib, as well as the wetness of the ink.

Smearing when dry

Unfortunately there's a lot of smearing going on, under certain conditions. First, Diamine Red Dragon is a slow drier. It takes its sweet time before you can turn that page, but this happens on Clairefontaine 90g. Second, you must leave it at least 24 hours before you can touch the text, or else it will smear. Even then, portions of the text where more ink has pooled will smear. It's not as bad as Diamine Syrah though.

Water resistance

There's no water resistance at all.


Diamine Red Dragon is a really cool looking dark red ink with a cool name and ordinary properties. I would really recommend it, with the caveat that it might (or might not) have some flow issues, and it might also smear if you are using it on good paper. If you are looking for a neutral, "true" red, this is not it, but if you want something outside the mainstream, perhaps trending towards burgundy/brown, you might want to take a look at Diamine Red Dragon.

Here are the two samples, on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g, respectively.

Diamine Red Dragon on photocopy

Diamine Red Dragon on Clairefontaine


  1. This is one of my favorite inks! I ink my Nakaya Decapod which has a Mottishaw 0.65 cursive italic grind, so it's not a wet writer. Red Dragon behaves very well and IMO the best red for this pen! Loved reading your review! I love the color.

  2. Nice review. I enjoy using this ink, but have not experienced the flow issues you mentioned. I have used it several pens with no problems.

  3. Yeah, I can't figure out what might have happened. Both the pen and the ink are high quality so... I just don't know.

  4. Really nice pen.
    William pen