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Empire Ink review 2024: Top shades for professional tattoo artists


Choosing the best and right tattoo ink is crucial for professional artists, and Empire Ink is often a go-to brand, especially for those specialising in black and grey portraits. As we review Empire Ink's top shades for 2024, we'll examine if they meet the high standards of quality, consistency, safety, and ethics demanded by today's professionals. We will highlight the strengths and address any potential concerns artists might have with Empire Ink in a competitive market.

Overview of Empire Ink

Empire Inks, founded in 2012 by Colt Brown, is renowned for its specialised Graywash Series tailored for black and grey portrait tattooing. This line is engineered with e-fine base powder pigments that ensure smooth application and optimal grey tones, minimising common issues like peppered shading.

Manufactured in the USA under sterile conditions, Empire Inks uses an EU-certified pigment dispenser for consistent and accurate ink production. The inks are 100% vegan, catering to ethical considerations.

Known for its dedication to quality and consistency, Empire Inks is a favourite among professional tattoo artists seeking reliable and high-performance tattoo inks.

Analysis of top Empire Ink shades for 2024

Empire Ink - White

Empire Ink - White


Empire Ink's White is the culmination of extensive research into formulas and pigments to create a versatile and durable ink. Perfect for both mixing and highlighting, this ink boasts a balanced consistency that's thick enough for solid coverage yet fluid enough for delicate highlights. Its superior lightfast quality ensures that it remains vibrant and true for longer periods, making it an ideal choice for artists looking to achieve lasting brightness.

Empire Ink - Classic Black


Empire Ink - Classic Black


The Classic Black is designed as a cooler shade to offer a striking contrast against warm skin tones. Its medium viscosity makes it easy to work with, providing artists with the flexibility to create sharp lines and substantial fills. This ink is a staple for any tattoo artist looking for a reliable and striking black that enhances the skin's natural hues.

Empire Ink - Ivory Darkest Black


Empire Ink - Ivory Darkest Black (4oz)


Known for being the darkest pigment in Empire Ink's lineup, Ivory Darkest Black offers a deep, cool black that provides excellent coverage and contrast, particularly against warmer shades. It's the preferred choice for renowned tattoo artist Colt Brown, especially for achieving high saturation levels. This ink is part of the Empire Inks Graywash Series, renowned for its precision and consistency.

Empire Inks - Mars Black


Empire Inks - Mars Black (4oz)


Mars Black differs from the thinner Vine Black with its thicker consistency, which offers a warmer and more opaque finish. It is particularly effective for covering large areas smoothly, especially when using magnum needles. This ink's robust composition makes it ideal for artists who require a potent black that spreads evenly.

Empire Inks - Vine Black


Empire Inks - Vine Black (4oz)


With its thinner viscosity and slightly transparent appearance, Vine Black is excellent for techniques like whip shading and faster lining. It's also the perfect base for artists who prefer to mix their own shades for customised grey washes. The ink's versatility and ease of use make it a favourite among artists who value adaptability in their materials.

Tips on how to best apply Empire Ink for various tattoo styles

Applying Empire Ink effectively across various tattoo styles requires understanding both the ink properties and the specific demands of each style. You can follow these tips to get the best results with Empire Ink for different tattoo techniques:

Black and Gray Portraits

Utilise the Graywash Series to create seamless gradients and smooth shadows. The e-fine pigment base ensures that the ink spreads evenly, allowing for subtle transitions. Begin with lighter shades and build up to darker colour tones to achieve depth without over-saturation.

Solid Black Filling

For areas requiring solid black coverage, such as in tribal or geometric tattoos, use Empire Ink's Classic Black or Ivory Darkest Black. These inks are formulated to provide deep, consistent black fills. Apply with a steady hand to ensure even saturation, and consider using a magnum needle to cover larger areas more efficiently.

Fine Line and Detailed Work

When working on intricate designs or fine-line tattoos, precision is key. Empire Ink's Vine Black, with its thinner viscosity, is ideal for detailed work. It allows for crisp, clean lines that are essential for delicate patterns and text. Keep the skin taut and work slowly to ensure line perfection.

Whip Shading

For a soft, diffused look, as seen in some portraits or realism tattoos, use Vine Black or a lighter shade from the Graywash Series. The whip shading technique, which involves a lighter hand and quicker needle movement, pairs well with these thinner inks to create a smooth gradient.

Colour Mixing and Highlights

To create custom shades or to add highlights, use Empire Ink's White. This ink can be mixed with other colours to lighten them or used alone for high-contrast highlights in darker pieces. Its formulation ensures it blends smoothly without becoming overly dominant.


For cover-up tattoos, Mars Black offers excellent opacity to mask old ink. Its thicker consistency covers old tattoos effectively, but it's important to plan the design to make the best use of the ink's covering power.

Comparison Empire Inks with other tattoo ink brands

1. Ink Consistency and Quality:

  • Empire Inks are known for their specialised formulations, particularly for black and grey tattoos. Their inks are engineered to have a smooth application and consistent flow, thanks to their e-fine base powder.
  • Other Brands: Brands like Intenze and Eternal Ink also offer high-quality inks with reliable consistencies. Intenze is known for its wide colour spectrum and Eternal for its organic compositions.

2. Colour Range:

  • Empire Inks focuses mainly on black and grey washes, providing a range of shades specifically for grayscale tattoo art.
  • Other Brands: World Famous Tattoo Ink and Dynamic Ink provide a broader palette of vibrant colours, catering to many tattoo styles beyond just black and grey.

3. Safety and Sterilisation:

  • Empire Inks are brand manufactured in the USA in a sterile environment and use an EU-certified pigment dispenser for accuracy and consistency. They are also 100% vegan.
  • Other Brands: Many top brands like Intenze and Eternal Ink are also known for their commitment to safety, offering vegan-friendly options and manufacturing inks under stringent sterile conditions.

4. Ethical Standards:

  • Empire Inks prides itself on being 100% vegan, appealing to artists and clients who prefer products not tested on animals or containing animal derivatives.
  • Other Brands: Fusion Ink and Radiant Colours are also notable for their vegan formulations, ensuring that their products meet ethical standards.

Final verdict

In the 2024 review, Empire Ink continues to impress customers and tattoo artists with its high-quality shades for black and grey tattoos, offering smooth application and consistent results. The brand remains a top choice for artists due to its focus on safety and ethical practices, though those looking for vibrant colours may find the range a bit limited. Overall, the Empire Ink set is highly recommended for black and grey tattooing.


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  • Mark Joshua Luz