Ink Review: Colorverse Mars Curiosity, Hubble Zoom & Space Laika

(This is part two of a series of reviews about the new Colorverse ink line. Please refer to the overview for details about the whole collection.)

It was so hard to decide which set of Colorverse ink colors to review first so I decided to go with the colors I was most surprised about. First, I don’t actually remembering ordering a couple of these. I think I hit ink ordering mania and was just clicking on everything.  But secondly, I was pleasantly surprised about the colors of these inks. They are not usually colors I gravitate towards (space pun intended!) and I actually ended up really liking them which is a good thing since I now have two bottles of each!

For an ink collection about space, #6 Space Laika, #7 Hubble Zoom and #8 Mars Curiosity (each $36 per two-bottle set) are all decidedly earthy colors. I was able to include Pantone chips for all the colors except PMS2035U for Mars Curiosity because I didn’t have it. I think the chip for Hubble Zoom is pretty close but I’m not sure the chip for Space Laika is quite right.

But the big excitement was the sheen on Mars Curiosity! It looks like the silvery dust on the surface of Mars! I am mesmerized!

Hubble Zoom does not have any sheen per se, but the color has a lot of shading and is a rich, warm mahogany color. I wouldn’t call it red or brown or burgundy. It’s lovely.

And Space Laika was a freaking Communist Revolution. Its a brown I actually like. Its a warm rich brown that doesn’t go too cool. You want that rich Chocolate Lab brown? This is it.


In writing, Mars Curiosity writes bright red and then dries darker with its signature silvery sheen. Hubble Zoom is a lighter, warmer red-brown in writing and Space Laika is that fab cocoa brown that makes me want to sing the soundtrack to Dogs in Space all day.

Finding ink swatch comparisons to Mars Curiosity was a challenge as it turns out I don’t have a lot of deep orange inks in my collection. (Over 300 inks and red-oranges aren’t amongst them!) So, what I had to reference was  very limited but I also think that Mars Curiosity is in a class by itself with the silvery sheen so take that into consideration. I have Apache Sunset and its way more orange than Mars Curiosity and not even in the same field. Most of the colors I had were too orange or too red. Mars Curiosity is really a curiosity.

When it came to finding ink comparisons for Space Laika and Hubble Zoom, I faced a similar struggle finding a good range of comparison inks too. Both were different enough on the color specturm that is was more aboutfinding contrasts this time rather than similarities.

I went ahead and tried to dive a little more deeply into understanding more about ph levels today. I know its important to have a working knowledge about the acidity or alkalinity of inks but I tend to care more about staining, water solubility,  fade-ability and fluidity first. My chemistry skills being what they are, I’ve always left the more technical aspects of ink reviews to people who are more savvy than I am. But since Colorverse has been so kind as to provide ph information, I decided I might as well figure out what they mean.

So, I went over to Richard Binder’s site and found out that the ph level of distilled water is 7.  He worked with someone who tested a range of common inks to get a good idea of alkaline and acidic inks ranging from 1.5 to 9.7.

On the Colorverse pamphlet included with the inks, they list the ph for Space Laika at 8.4, Hubble Zoom at 9.3, and Mars Curiosity at 8.6. The Colorverse inks seems to be in the same range as Sailor and Pilot Iroshizuku. While that is not super scientific, I feel fairly confident that anything I write or draw will survive my lifetime if protected from the light and water. Beyond that… who knows?

So, those are the earthy tones from my first fourteen colors. Tomorrow….we go blue!


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15 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Oh, Hubble Zoom looks a bit like a lighter Noodler’s Antietam. These are lovely. It’s going to be a hard decision.

  2. Mars Curiosity reminds me of Kaweco Sunrise Orange, but where the Kaweco gets almost brown it goes red. The almost peachy feel reminds me of Rouge Caroubier, but I dunno that I’d class them as similar. Does give lovely art ideas tho since I rarely think the right solution with pretty ink colors is to use fewer.

    1. I need to add both those colors to my repertoire for better comparisons. I’ve several people mention the J. Herbin recently and I’ve been meaning to order the Kaweco Sunrise Orange. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

      1. They’re both really great shaders, and very readable in fine nibs. I’m not really in it for sheen, and my paper choices tend to be anti sheen. But the combo of lighter/brighter color and readable in fine nibs tends to be pretty great.

        Caroubier also tends to have good dry time. A lot of reds don’t. But it’s almost ok in a 1.9mm nib, and a lot of inks fail there. It gets overlooked a lot, not really sure why.

        Haven’t tested Sunrise Orange enough to speak to the dry time. My gut feeling right now is I won’t like it broader than 1.5, but I might be able to live with 1.5mm. I mostly hate orange too normally, but the shading is just to die for in a fat nib.

        And you sold me on a Kaweco Sport, and having a pen that takes international cartridges is proving to be tons of fun. Color! So much color! It’s perfect for when my TWSBIs are leaving me craving novelty.

  3. The Hubble Zoom is my favorite but what I’m really curious about is the hacked Midori bullet pen. Have you done a post on this before? I would love to hear about it – I love the pen body but haven’t heard great things about the refill, so a disposable nib would be super cool.

    1. I added the link in the tools section at the bottom to the instagram photos I posted of the hack. I actually learned about it from Leigh Reyes, pen hacker extraordinaire. Its so easy to do once you try it!

  4. Hmm, I think I like Bookbinders Snake Eastern Brown better than any of these. . . I guess it’s just not my palette. But it’s cool that they provided Pantone numbers so that you could give an opinion on accuracy! I don’t think I’ve ever known an ink manufacturer to give Pantone numbers. Very interesting and cool. (More interesting than Ph levels, for sure. 😉 )


  5. Mars Curiosity reminds me of Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki, but with a hair more red than the Iro ink. Plus that silver sheen.

    It’s really–really–close to the red-orange shade.

    I think Private Reserve’s Orange Crush is another red-orange ink, but I think it’s much more orange.

    1. PR Orange Crush, at least the bottle I have, is much browner. Mars Curiosity is more terra cotta, at least to me. However, my Orange Crush is probably about seven years old.

  6. I love Space themes in fountain pens and ink, and sometimes stationery.

    As a Missourian, I’d want Hubble Zoom as it is named for Edwin Hubble who spent his first 9 years in Marshfield, MO before the family moved to Chicago.

    I have tried it from a sample, and like it as I like brown inks. Just put Mars Curiosity (sample) in a pen (orange Shark Pen). A red orange would fill a gap in my ink holdings.
    There is no way I could put the money into all the Colorverse space named inks. But maybe these two.

    Thank you for the helpful review. Could be the Pantone chips helped make these two especially attractive.

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