Mini Review: Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen – Twin Tip – Gray & Black Ink

1 02 2013
This drawing is from 2010!

This drawing is from 2010!

In honor of Hourly Comic Day, I wanted to give a little shout-out to my HCD pen of choice, the Tombow Fudenosuke twin tip brush pen.

What does it say on it?? Probably says BEST HOURLY COMIC DAY PEN YOUR EQUIVALENT OF 4.25 US DOLLARS CAN BUY

What does it say on it?? Probably says BEST HOURLY COMIC DAY PEN YOUR EQUIVALENT OF 4.25 US DOLLARS CAN BUY

It pairs well with my Rhodia Dotpad No. 12 for the perfect quick-sketch experience.

The caps are not the most convenient things to post on each other, but you do what you can. BONUS! This picture is actually of 2 pens. I'm still waiting for the first one I bought in 2010 to die.

The caps are not the most convenient things to post on each other, but you do what you can. BONUS! This picture is actually of 2 pens. I’m still waiting for the first one I bought in 2010 to die.

Though a little dark, the gray is perfect for rough sketching and shading, and the black is sufficiently dark for inking and borders. There is a little give in the brush tips, but not so much as to be unruly or unwieldy for a brush pen novice.

Old tips on the left, new on the right.

Old tips on the left, new on the right.

Though I would prefer a lighter gray, the big winning factor for the Tombow Fudenosuke is convenience. I only need to grab one pen and my Rhodia dotpad, no keeping up with multiple pens. The tips do wear down over time, and as they near the end they get dry, but you more than get your money’s worth before that day comes.

If I draw anything sufficiently neat this year, I’ll add it to this post! Happy Hourly Comic Day!

 
Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen – Twin Tip – Gray & Black Ink at JetPens
Rhodia DotPad Notepad – Black Cover – 3.25″ X 4.75″ – 80 Sheets – 5 mm Dot Grid at JetPens

 

 





Akashiya Bamboo Body Brush Pen – Red Body

21 04 2012

I forgot; my scanner is too small for 9x12" drawings. Oops. I'm sure you're not missing out on much. Except for catsnail (snailcat?) in the bottom right corner.

It seems I have not yet taken the opportunity to embarrass myself with a brush pen. Luckily, JetPens has been kind enough to assist by providing me with this Akashiya Bamboo Body Brush Pen, free of charge (the embarrassment, however, is all up to me).

LET THE INADEQUACY BEGIN

In spite of a continued lack of mastery wherever brush pens are concerned (unless they are waterbrush pens, but that’s a different story), I persist in loading them onto my wishlist and acquiring them on a dispiritingly regular basis. Those of you who know what you’re doing with brush pens may want to turn away now, and skip to the link at the bottom—unless you like cats.

Cats not included

This is quite a pen, bigger even than the eternally popular Kuretake No. 33, by about 5mm. Almost as big as two Liliputs put end to end. This isn’t something you’ll just slip in your pocket (though it will easily fit in my preferred pencil case). Given that it would take a pocket of some exceptional depth to contain, I’m not much concerned by lack of clip.

Despite being made of bamboo, this pen will make a poor substitute for chopsticks

Unless you absolutely hate anything vaguely Asian/the color red/Communism more than McCarthy did, then I think you’ll agree that this is a lovely, elegantly repurposed piece of bamboo (in America, the typical purpose of bamboo is sushi placemats, chopsticks, and swords/fishing poles for children lucky enough to live near a random bamboo forest). But I have a few design quibbles I’d like to knock out real quick. The cap doesn’t post, which is irksome when there’s nothing on the cap to keep it from rolling away. The white lettering is already starting to wear off (good thing I can’t read any of it anyway)—though my Rotring Art Pen also had that problem shortly after I reviewed it. But most confounding of all, the cap does not secure satisfactorily. If you look close up there, you can see a gap between the bottom lip of the cap and the rest of the body. It doesn’t go on any further, but it also doesn’t snap into place so you know that that’s as far as it’s supposed to go. Not that it feels like it’s in danger of popping off, but there’s something profound that’s missing. In lesser mortals, this would be an invitation straight to a psychological meltdown.

Pen also comes with instructions, all in Japanese. I bet this cat can read them, but he won't tell me anything. Probably because he's a jerk. Or because he's an inanimate object.

For reasons lost on me (probably because the only part of the packaging I can read, besides the pictures, is the barcode), the two cartridges this pen comes with are exact clones of the typical Platinum Preppy cartridge; word on the internet is that the Platinum converter is a perfect fit—and this is a pen that would make the converter worth buying.

The other, less reliable word on the internet is that the ink provided isn't a true black. Well, I gathered up every black I could find in brush form...either that person is full of it, or I don't know what true black is.

Now, when it comes to brush pens, I don’t know what I’m doing; I just own several brush pens and use them on occasion, wishing I could be like those other people who pick up a brush pen and turn it into a magic wand. The closest I get to wizardry is easily replicable card tricks, relying on as little deception and actual magic as possible.

Pictured: (cat)people who have a better idea than me how to actually use a brush pen

That said, and in spite of my quibbles, I enjoy using this pen. Though I can’t get lines quite as fine, nowhere near as often as I can with a Pentel brush pen (a review for another day), I prefer the hard body that still manages to have a surprisingly consistent ink flow—generous, but not juicy. The Akashiya doesn’t have bristles as long or as few in the middle (for some reason, I want to call that area the “sharp”? Don’t quote me on it), thus why I can’t get the same consistently thin lines, but maybe this brush pen isn’t designed to cramp you into a scale that small. A big bodied brush like this seems to be gunning for a big, flourishing stage. More open, relaxing.

HE'S TALKING ABOUT ME, YOU GUYS

All the other brush pens I have are unerringly purposeful, their designs an absolute sentence of utilitarianism. But something about the design of this pen makes it feel fun. Playful.

Unless you're these guys. Then it feels like work.

Moreso than my other brush pens, this one begs to be doodled with. It doesn’t have the look that sternly chides, “I am for professionals who know what they are doing.” This pen says, “Come here! Let’s make tea and have fun! And talk to ourselves! And get strange looks from people nearby!”

What does this say? Does it say bamboo? It looks a little bit like the Eiffel Tower to me. Pretty sure it doesn't actually say "Eiffel Tower."

Hopefully, I’ll be able to make an update to this post titled “Here It Is, You Guys, I’ve Finally Figured Out What I’m Doing,” but in the meantime, I’m going to have a lot of fun doodling with this pen.

Thanks again to JetPens for providing the sample!

Akashiya Bamboo Body Brush Pen – Red Body at JetPens

Platinum Fountain Pen Converter at JetPens





Holiday Gift Guide — AND GIVEAWAY!

24 11 2011

It’s just about that time of year, my good people, when all your favorite gift-giving holidays convene. That’s right, such holidays as: my mom’s birthday. My grandmother’s birthday. National Fritters Day. Letter Writing Day. Pepper Pot Day. AND MANY MORE!

You will need to be armed to the teeth with gifts if you hope to make it to the other end of December alive. Personally, I like to do all my shopping from the same location, as far away from humanity as possible, and preferably while sitting. I think you know what that means—online shopping! This post will almost entirely feature items from JetPens; maybe, if I’m feeling particularly industrious, I’ll do another (or more?!) post(s) involving writing utensils from other websites.

And! As promised in the title, there will be a giveaway associated with this post. Details will follow. But first—pens!

I’ll organize this into two major categories—pens I own, and pens I don’t own but am going to recommend anyway—and for the first category, I’ll break it down by price. Let’s begin!

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Pens I Own

$1 to $10

There are far too many pens in this category to list them all individually. So I’ve compiled a wish list of them on JetPens! And now it can be your wish list.

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$11 to $30

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen for Calligraphy – $13.50

Great for artists and people who can write in Japanese.

It’s got individual synthetic fiber bristles, and it’s refillable. Can write from a hair-thin line to an I-can’t-be-bothered-to-measure-how-thick broad line. Comes with 2 refills.

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Uni-ball Alpha Gel Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm – $14.00

This has all my favorite things in a mechanical pencil. All of them. Including lead.

Fantastically comfortable Alpha-Gel grip + Kuru Toga lead-rotating mechanism = maybe the best pencil ever? Especially helpful for those who have to take a bunch of scantron tests / handwrite a bunch of essays in pencil. A.k.a. students.

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Uni-ball Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip Series Ballpoint Pens – 0.7mm – $16.50

There is possibly nothing I can do to make this ballpoint pen better.

Can’t have my favorite mechanical pencil without my favorite ballpoint pen. As an added bonus, I have reviewed this one before! This body takes any size Jetstream retractable refill (I currently have the 0.5mm refill in mine), and also fits the Zebra Sarasa gel refills.

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Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s Fountain Pen – $16.50

Be careful, you're gonna put your eye out with that thing.

I’ve reviewed this one before, too. It’s a nice fine nib pen. Warning: doesn’t come with a refill. I’d advise buying the converter; it’s cheaper than the cartridges, and easier to refill. Warning: I bought the cartridges (which I refill by syringe), but I have not personally tried the converter.

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Akayashi Sai Watercolor Brush Pen – 5 Color Autumn Set – $17.50

Convenient watercolors? Yes. It can exist.

I would recommend buying these brush pens with the Akashiya Sai Watercolor Mini Pallet ($4.50) and a waterbrush pen like the Kuretake Small Compact Size ($4.25), which actually pushes the total cost of this set up to $26.25, but I think it’s worth it. And the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen works great with these for a watercolor black.

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J. Herbin Tapered Body Frosted Glass Dip Pen – Large – $20.00

Fun fact: I studied abroad in Venice before my fine pen obsession kicked in. I only bought 1 glass dip pen from Murano. I REGRET THIS VERY STRONGLY.

Impractical, but beautiful. Especially nice for ink enthusiasts (I recommend Noodler’s, which you can get through places like Goldspot Pens or the Goulet Pen Company). Easy to clean; just don’t drop it.

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Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen – $21.00

Alas, the price has gone up on these since I bought this one. Curse you, modern economy!

From extra-fine nib to broad nib in a variety of colors. Also check out the Kaweco Ice Sport line if you like translucent and bright colors. I have the medium nib, which I find to be one of the thinner mediums I own.

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Lamy Safari, Vista, and Al-Star Fountain Pens – $26, $26, and $37.50

So the Lamy Al-Star is technically out of this arbitrary price category I decided to sort things by. JUST TRY TO STOP ME!

Colorful, durable, with nibs ranging from extra-fine to broad, and in my experience, they’ve all been wonderful writers. I’d recommend getting the converter with this one, as these pens go well with having a nigh unlimited spectrum of ink colors to choose from. Warning: also recommending the converter because the Lamy takes a special cartridge rather than the standard international short cartridge. The pen is designed so that you just drop the cartridge in and then twist the nib section back onto the barrel; the cartridge then punctures itself. Warning: I’ve never actually tried to shove an international short cartridge into a Lamy, as far as I can remember, so I can’t advise what would happen.

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Lamy Joy Calligraphy Fountain Pen – $29

Pen is conveniently named to describe what emotion you'll be experiencing while using said pen

Comes with a converter. And a lovely tapered body. And the cap posts on the end! Calligraphy nib options: 1.1mm, 1.5mm, and 1.9mm. Nibs are interchangeable with the regular Lamy nibs, if you just like the body.

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$30 and up (except for the already mentioned Lamy Al-Star)

A. G. Spalding & Bros. Mini Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – $33.00

Sleek and classy, like a little sci-fi spaceship.

This pen has grown on me a lot more since I first reviewed it, and especially since I started using Rotring Turquoise ink in it (warning: that is a ridiculous price; I paid $4 for my refills at the Art Brown Pen Shop, but they don’t seem to sell that refill online). More of a medium or maybe even broad (what do I know; I never use broad nibs) nib. Warning: do not try to take the clip off or accidentally take the clip off. It comes off, and scratches the satin metal finish in the process. Oops.

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Kaweco Liliput Al Fountain Pen – $53.00

This is such a disappointingly unsexy picture of a phenomenally sexy pen.

I got the fine nib. Yes, this pen is everything I hoped for, and also more. Yes, I desperately owe you all a proper review of this pen;  I am waiting for the opportunity and the lighting so that I can take the kind of pictures that do this pen justice.  Comes in extra-fine to broad nibs. Takes international short cartridges. Also takes….YOUR HEART.

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Pilot Prera Clear Body Fountain Pen – $58.00

When I first held this pen, I couldn't leave the store without buying it. And now here we are!

I bought the fine nib, which was a Japanese fine nib—also known as an extra exceptionally fine line nib. Possibly the finest nib I own (too bad I dropped it on the nib (ARGH WHOOPS)). Also comes in medium nib. I’d recommend getting the Pilot Plumix as well (currently cheapest at Target, I believe); the nibs are interchangeable. You (like me) can have a Pilot Prera with an italic nib! Makes your handwriting look even fancier than normal.

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Pens I Don’t Own

I’m only going to make two recommendations. First, the Uni-ball Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5mm Pencil ($16.50); I bought one for a friend and he loves it. Four colors of Jetstreams, a pencil, and an eraser all in one body! Second, the Zebra Sharbo X….specifically the Zebra Sharbo X LT3 Pen Body Component – Silver ($49.50). Look at that thing. I want it. Why wouldn’t you?

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THE GIVEAWAY!

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Brad at JetPens has generously offered up a $10 JetPens gift card for one lucky commenter on this post! The rules:

  1. Leave one comment on this post any time between now and Sunday, November 27th 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. This contest is open to all readers in any country! That includes you, international people!
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Just make any kind of comment—but only one comment! Comments in excess of one shall be deleted. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
  3. I’ll post the contest winner in the evening of Sunday, November 27th (sometime between noon and midnight). Winner will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar.

Good luck! And preemptive happiness to your holidays!

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P.S. I should have it set up so comments will post without my having to approve them all moderator-style. But if your comment doesn’t show up right away, that means I didn’t set that up correctly, and your comment will show up when I go through and hit “approve” on all of them. Don’t worry! Or, if you are worried, feel free to email me!





Pilot Petit 1+2+3 Mini Pens

9 07 2011

I see great promise in these pens!

Another exciting sample package of complimentary goodies arrived in my mailbox recently from Jetpens! :D (this little face is obviously shorthand for “one thousand thanks unto JetPens”) I would never have guessed a few years ago how exciting a white Jiffylite bubble envelope could be.

The Pilot Petit is back, and true to cliche it's better than ever

I was pretty bummed when I saw that the old Pilot Petit1 was being discontinued. It wasn’t the best fountain pen; at the time I found the nib to be a bit too wet of a writer for my tastes, but I really liked the principle of the thing. Luckily, I already owned about six Pilot Petit1 pens, and a whole bevy of ink cartridges to go with them.

So naturally I needed more Pilot Petits when it burst back onto the scene. I always wondered what the “1” in the name was about; seems like Pilot was planning this product expansion all along (or at least, they can pretend that’s what went down).  You’ve got the Pilot Petit1, a fountain pen just like the original; the Pilot Petit2, a sign pen/marker pen (for very small signs, I presume); and the Pilot Petit3, a fude/brush pen.

Note the clear underbelly on the fountain pen; a thoughtful touch that lets you see just as easily as you would with the brush and marker pen exactly what color you have loaded.

We’ll stick to numerical order, for sanity’s sake, and start with the Pilot Petit1.

Hey there old friend!

I don’t know if this is just a variation in quality control or what, but the new Pilot Petit1 seems to actually be a fine nib this time, which is great considering that’s what it’s branded as. Maybe it’s just the one I got, I don’t know, but if the new Pilot Petit1 models really are true fine nibs, that’s great news for the future of these pens when drawing (and writing on multiple types of paper; finer nibs tend to fuzz and bleed less).

Why stop at one round of drawings when I can continue directly overboard with two?

I can’t really see a difference in the nibs, but I felt like the new Pilot Petit1 was better. If anyone knows why this might be, please let me know. Otherwise I assume it’s just wizardry and penmagic.

To the left, an old Pilot Petit1 color-coded to the nines, lest you forget what color originally came in the pen. To the right, the new Pilot Petit1, colored only by the ink within.

The entire body of the new Pilot Petit1 is the same translucent color (mine is purple), including the clip and the cap, in contrast to the old Pilot Petit1 which had a clear cap instead. Another minor difference is that the body of the new Pilot Petits have four very small bumps around the end of the pen, so the cap clips on when you post it instead of just being pushed onto the end until it goes no further.

The sign pen has a clear cap and a translucent clip and body, making it easy to see the marker tip's color

I don’t really do much work with signs or markers. And this marker tip is really a bit too small to be making actual signs. I did test it on some small, glossy, sign-like paper:

The theme was "Why am I trying to get away with NOT having obscene amounts of writing/drawing samples?"

What I’m starting to see is the potential for these three pens to work together in an artistic capacity. Use the Petit1 for doing fine, detailed work, as well as sketching out guidelines and such, then use the Petit2 for coloring in larger areas, making thicker lines, etc. And then use the Petit3 for fun and profit.

Pilot Petit pens 2 & 3 seen here in the wild, sizing one another up before battle(/mating; the rituals of pens are unclear)

Finally, the Fude/brush pen. This is the only compact brush pen I have, certainly the only one I know of, and undoubtedly the only one clocking in at anything less than prohibitively expensive. Coupled with the ability to choose between various ink colors/refill/change ink colors without having to buy a new pen, I think the Pilot Petit3 stands out as a very fun intro option to brush pens. Line variation was great, and the only complaint I have is that I find the solid colored clip to be a little gauche. Maybe do a clear clip instead? It just doesn’t match the rest of the set, or even the rest of its own body.

Pilot may come out with some crappy products, but they make up for it with hits like these.

Pilot’s done a good job improving upon the Pilot Petit. Care was taken with the details—like adding tiny bumps so the cap would click securely when posting, or making the underside of the fountain pen nib out of clear plastic so you could easily see the ink color—and it’s paid off. My hope is that they’ll come out with more ink colors (at least all the ink colors they had with the original Pilot Petit1; several of my favorites are missing), more body colors (currently the only body colors available are in the theme of girlsplosion springtime pastel bonanza), and perhaps even more models (like, say, a Pilot Petit4 rollerball? Petit5 highlighter??).

Thanks again to Brad and JetPens for these samples!

 
Pilot Petit1 Mini Fountain Pen – Clear Violet Body at JetPens
Pilot Petit2 Mini Marker Pen – Clear Violet Body at JetPens
Pilot Petit3 Mini Brush Pen – Clear Violet Body at JetPens
Pilot Petit Pen Refill Cartridge – Clear Blue – Set of 3 at JetPens





Mini Review: Playing Favorites

27 03 2011

For some reason, I decided to go through my pens, and for every brand where I owned two or more products, decide which product of that brand was my favorite. First, let’s meet the contestants. For brands where I only owned two products, I put both in the picture here, except for Tombow–I forgot to put my Apro Airpress in this picture. IT IS TOO LATE TO FIX THIS NOW.

Disclaimer: I am tired. But I am doing this mini-review anyway.

Here are your contestants. From left to right: Tombow, Kuretake, Platinum, A. G. Spalding, Tachikawa, Sharpie, Zebra, Pilot, Uni-ball, Pentel, and Sailor.

I proceeded to make drawings with the winning favorite of each brand, in an order that is completely incongruent with the picture above.

First up: Kuretake. Your winner:

The waterbrush wins! The waterbrush also is incapable of making art by itself. We are all very saddened by this.

Next, Tombow. Like I said, I forgot the Apro Airpress, but don’t worry; it wouldn’t have won anyway.

The Tombow Fudenosuke twin tip brush pen wins! This is the pen I used for my first hourly comics day. Its performance on that day earns it this coveted winning spot.

Platinum was a category of little contest–between the fountain pen and the sign marker, in spite of a broken cap, the fountain pen takes home the victory.

If only your plastic weren't so brittle, Platinum Preppy, you'd win other contests of my heart, instead of merely beating out a marker pen that I have no use for.

Tachikawa featured a battle between two different colors of the same style of scratchy, paper-fiber clogging and collecting fountain pen, and the far superior comic dip pen nib and holder. Sorry, frustrating fountain pens, crow quill wins every time.

I also enjoy how this reminds me of a baseball bat. (Ink used is Noodler's Bulletproof black)

In spite of being the most thick-writing “fine” nib fountain pen I’ve ever marked a page with, the delightful style of the A. G. Spalding mini fountain pen gives is a leg up over its mini-ballpoint brother. Ink used is a Rotring cartridge, because the one it came with was even worse, even wetter. Dear A. G. Spalding: THIS IS NOT A FINE NIB PEN. Please stop living in denial.

What a suave and adorable little fountain pen! It has some problems, but nothing that sheer adorableness can't overcome. This is also the working principle behind cats.

Sharpie has put a lot of effort into its products, especially in their willingness to innovate in the past few years. What I’m saying is, blah blah blah I like the Sharpie pen, and though I prefer the grip on the retractable pen, it worries me too much that I’m going to accidentally deploy the pen in my bag. So, the Sharpie Pen with Grip takes the Sharpie category.

Around this point, you may notice that my desire for some much-needed rest started to creep into my drawings.

I think we already knew that the Zebra Sarasa Push Clip 0.3mm blue-black gel pen was going to take the Zebra Cup. None of my other Zebra products even made it to the competition picture, because they were not competition.

I'm excusing this poorly drawn nonsense due to having done some decent doodles on the actual review of this pen.

I own three types of Sailor fountain pen, and yet, the cheapest remains my all-time favorite. In fact, it may be my favorite pen out of all pens. Every time I make a JetPens order, I try to remember to throw another one of these pens into the order, because they have allegedly been discontinued, and one day there will be no more. I’ve tried refilling one of my Sailor Ink-Bars so far (with much mess), but the ink I used (Noodler’s Bulletproof black) just isn’t the same and doesn’t dry as fast. :( Sailor, why would you cancel my favorite pen? Whyyyyyyyyyyyy?

Sailor Ink-Bar, you are the winningest winner of everything that has ever won my heart.

Now we get to the final three categories–also some of the biggest three sources of pens in America. For each brand, I had trouble deciding which writing utensil within each of these final three categories would be declared my favorite.

The Pilot semi-finals: Pilot Plumix italic nib fountain pen, Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Me 4 component multi pen (3 mechanical pencil components, 1 eraser), and the Pilot Fineliner

It was a tough call, but ultimately this Hi-Tec-C Coleto Me multi pencil won the day with its stylish body, complement of pencils, and onboard eraser.

Not winning: my attention span for this task

Uni-ball also had a trifecta of star products. The decision, again, was quite difficult.

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN MY FAVORITE MECHANICAL PENCIL, MY FAVORITE BALLPOINT PEN, AND ONE OF MY FAVORITE GEL PENS?! AUGH UNI-BALL WHY DO YOU HAVE SUCH NICE THINGS

In the end, my love of the smoothest, butteriest ballpoint pen just edged out the wonderment I hold toward the Kuru Toga. But only just.

So rich and smooth and creamy and delicious.

Good things allegedly come in threes. Three great pen companies, each with three great contenders for favorite product…that makes nine. So that adage is a useless lie.

The Pentel semi-final was dominated by art products: the Tradio Pulaman "fountain" pen, the Jolt (with Pentel's Stein blue lead), and the Pocket Brush Pen for Calligraphy

Due to my continuing lack of mastery of the Pocket Brush Pen (my fault entirely), the win ended up going to the much easier to master (or at least seem competent with) Tradio Pulaman.

Unfortunately, by this point, I could only draw something weird.

And there you have it. Favorites (as of the time of this writing) have been declared! Many pens came very close, and really, just about every one of the pens I own is pretty terrific (except for the Sharpie Liquid Pencil–but that is a review for another day). Let’s have a round of applause for all our contestants, and an extra round of applause for the actual winners. Yay!

Your winners! Also pictured, your losers! And my cold coffee! And my breakfast plate! Hooray!





Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pen – 5 Autumn Color Set + Akashiya Sai Watercolor Mini Pallet + Kuretake Waterbrush – Small – Compact Size

10 12 2010

It makes no sense to review these separately. Enjoy an excruciatingly long title instead!  So, I was looking for something fun to round out a recent Jetpens order when this watercolor brush pen set caught my eye.

Look! Primary colors! This is important. Also, check this nice plastic case! Bonus.

Being an impatient person, I like to practice the infuriating art of watercolors. I tell myself that it’s an exercise in improving my disposition; like meditation, but with more mess. Also, more set-up. Though I have both watercolor cakes (cheap, but my favorite) and tubes, as well as a whole mess of brushes and several sketchbooks of cold press paper, I rarely use them. Doing watercolors involves a ritualistic set up: get the two glasses of water, lay out the mixing trays and colors, get some newspaper, prepare drawings, get some cups for the brushes…look, I swear it’s a lot more of a pain to do than it is to describe. I still haven’t cleaned out my water cups from the last time I did a full watercolor set up. My tubes are shoved in a defunct purse somewhere in my room, and the watercolor cakes are under the bathroom sink, for reasons I can only hope existed and made sense at the time.

Enter the Akashiya Sai watercolor brushes.

With these colors, I can recreate the entire rainbow and RULE THE WORLD..of...rainbow making...?

I picked up the Autumn color set because, if these things operated like regular watercolor brushes, then really, all I needed were the primary colors (and black, which, for this, I used the Pentel standard brush pen—but that’s another review), and I could then make any color I wanted.

Poor recent college graduates can’t just go around buying pens all willy-nilly (in spite of what my monthly(more like twice monthly) JetPens orders might suggest). Gotta be crafty, gotta mix things up. Literally. In a palette. With a water brush pen.

A waterbrush pen. Only one. Don't let the picture fool you.

Before and after use. Actually, having two of these would be fantastic.

While the Kuretake waterbrush pen is billed as “small” and “compact size,” I can tell you that it’s the size of a normal pen (actually a bit longer, and a bit thicker). I was worried we would be dealing with mini-pen sized dispensers of water; this is not the case. Cease your worrying, good citizen. The Akashiya mini palette is a nice sturdy plastic, easy to wash, and fits neatly in the front zipper pocket of my Nomadic PE-08 Easy Classification pencil case (but that is yet another review). After boggling vacantly at the whole assembly, I figured out what I can only assume is the correct system for mixing colors (I do not read Japanese, nor did this come with any instructions anyway).

Observe my lack of Photoshop color-matching skills.

Color with the brush directly into the palette, add water from the waterbrush as you fancy, mix with the brush, put brush to paper. It’s insanely, satisfyingly simple. Normally, mixing colors is a rigmarole production of brush to color, to water, then clean brush, get new color, try not to contaminate the source colors, mix, clean brush, get more color, so on. Here, the middleman of sending brush to color has been consolidated into a glorious lovechild of brush and color source. The brush IS the color source. Fantastic! You can color directly with the brush, mix color in the palette, do whatever you want. That is what convenience is about, my friend.

I don't understand how this pukey yellow-green makes that lovely peach skin tone. Do not understand.

That pinkish effect? Made with this green. I...I don't even know.

Now, I used the waterbrush the entire time for painting; I don’t know if that is the typical protocol of what is supposed to be done. The advantage of using the waterbrush is that it cleans itself out; no need for multiple cups of water for rinsing dirty brushes, providing water to clean ones, serving as an intermediate water state between dirty and clean… Just have some scrap paper handy to wipe the waterbrush out on until it’s clear again. Ta-da. It’s practically magic. The body is easy to squeeze if needed, simple to refill, and lasts for quite a while (I’m still on my first full fill).

The disadvantage of using the waterbrush: I often failed to get a fine tip effect. I have brushes I could have used for that. But I didn’t want to deal with cups of water. Perhaps with a lighter touch, I could get the same from the waterbrush. Another disadvantage: sometimes in painting, I was lifting color up due to the wateriness of the brush. But this seems more like a problem with watercolor in general than with this waterbrush.

By your powers combined...

Let me pull this all together: if you like watercolor, and especially if you want to be able to do watercolors on the go, you should get this set (brush pens, water brush, little palette, the whole thing, buddy, no skimping). The brushes are all great to work with; as you can see in this picture, the tips are synthetic individual brush strands (NOT felt tip. I am mostly against felt-tip); the waterbrush is the same. I would recommend you get a black pen as well. Everything you need (besides a sketchbook, of course) to paint with watercolors can fit in your pocket. I have had no problems with any spilling or leaking in carrying my set in one of my Nomadic pencil cases. For a little over $20, painting has become convenient enough that I can do it on a regular basis. That is a convenience well worth your money.

Now, before I set you loose with a page of painting examples I did and your requisite item links, I want to send a big thank you to JetPens. When I ordered this set, the yellow pen arrived having leaked into its cap. I contacted JetPens about it, and they sent me a replacement pen with no problems and no hassle. Their customer service is just…so pleasant, it’s hard to believe it’s categorized under the same umbrella as the typical nightmares masquerading as “customer service.” They are terrifically helpful people; if you ever have a problem with your order, just let them know. (I wish I had known this sooner, I could have sought their advice over a finicky Tachikawa manga fountain pen…but that’s another review.) Thanks JetPens! :D I will definitely be buying more of these pens when they run out. (and more pens…all the time…)

Art! Doodles! Paint! Insanity! All colors on this page made with the Autumn color set (plus a little Pentel brush pen black). Inking done with..Sakura microns? And maybe a Tachikawa manga fountain pen? Heck, who knows. Click this thing! You know you want to examine these masterpieces.

Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pen – 5 Autumn Color Set at JetPens

Akashiya Sai Watercolor Mini Pallet at JetPens

Kuretake Waterbrush – Small – Compact Size at JetPens








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