Rotring Art Pen – Extra Fine (EF) Sketching Nib

24 02 2011

Rumor has it that it is scientifically impossible to not enjoy drawing with this pen.

I’m not really an artist, but I like pretending to be one and buying supplies I don’t need in a bid to guilt myself into making more art (because, jeez, come on, I’ve spent all this money on these THINGS. Gotta use them). And that is why I picked this up for around $18 at Jerry’s Artarama.

Holds pens, ammunition, government secrets...

First off, it comes in this fancy-pants shiny case (which was about 35% of why I bought this pen) that’s just the right amount of minimalist classy, and is (presumably) protective yet lightweight.

Does not completely seal out attacks from lukewarm-hot mint chocolate. Look closely on the lid, and you will see the shadow of what was once delicious.

Opening the case, you find 5 ink cartridges and this neato-looking writing contraption. The body of this pen is in the style of such artist’s tools as paintbrushes or crowquill pens, which is to say, baffling to everyone else. You have opened the lid on some strange and exotic creature just waiting to mark all over your pages.

Now, I started out with five cartridges–only three are pictured. One of these has been co-opted in the improvement of a very inky A.G. Spalding mini fountain pen (but that’s another review); the other was in this pen for a week until my Rotring converter arrived (for the sake of brevity, we’ll do a short review of that later) and now sits beneath a mess of pseudo-sealing tape in a full upright position. They are alright, as far as cartridges go, but they are maddeningly smudgy even far after having dried, and I knew this pen deserved better. Note:

What you're noting is how switching to Noodler's Bulletproof Black on the left side DIDN'T ACTUALLY STOP MY SMUDGING WHOOPS.

I think the smudging problems with the Noodler’s Bulletproof black were mostly due to the ink not being fully dry as I was drawing. But the cartridge ink was getting noticeably smudged through contact with other paper long after that ink was dry. Both inks are a nice, rich black, but I would still recommend a Rotring fountain pen converter if you want to use this pen. The bottle ink just does better.

Just take a gander at this sexy and dangerous looking doodad. This is the only time you'll see that cap attached to that pen

Overall, the pen is made of a nice matte-finish plastic with a sturdy clip and clear, easy-to-identify labeling on the end of the cap so you know which nib pen this is. It seems like such a fancy metal box might have some kind of fancy metal pen inside, but I’m okay with the plastic–it feels durable but not weighty; sometimes I like a pen to have a low profile feel in my hand, and that’s what this pen has.

Where did the cap go? SOMEWHERE YOU'LL NEVER FIND IT AHAHA I AM YOUR PEN AND I WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH MY CAP. I flip it so hard that you can't even post it on me. What are you gonna do about it? YEAH LOSE THE CAP THAT'S WHAT YOU'LL DO.

So, as the maniacally abusive pen points out, there’s nowhere to securely post the cap when you want to write. You can put the cap on the narrow end, where it will rattle around until you lose all semblance of rational thought, or you can put it carefully on the table and hope you don’t knock it off, because putting the cap in the fancy silver box and shutting it in there would make too much sense. But seriously, adding an extra, smaller ring inside the cap so that it could post snugly on the narrow end of the pen…would that be so hard? I know the Tachikawa comic pen holders have this feature for their cheap plastic caps…you’d think a nice pen would be able to do them one better. Someone, at some point, had to consciously decide that what users of the Rotring Art Pen would do, when they wanted to write, was to take off the cap and store it in their cheek pouches until it was time to cap the pen again, and that offering a snug way to keep the cap on the other end of the pen just wasn’t a good idea.

Get up close. Look at all that ink I've gotten everywhere. What a hot mess.

I think this pen is more or less true to its advertised word; here is a fountain pen with a fine nib (I will reserve judgment on how extra this fineness might be) that is fun to sketch with. It was a little paper-temperamental in terms of writing quality, but for sketching the differences were negligible. And it was smooth, without being overly inky or wet, which is my biggest problem with some fountain pens.

I tried to follow the JetPens directions regarding refilling a piston-converted fountain pen, but I couldn’t get the ink to draw up through the nib or the entire submerged tip.  I just took the converter out and filled that up when I needed ink.

I love the quality of the line this pen puts out. It has subtle personality. I love the look of this pen–one of understated difference, elegant simplicity. This is a pen for the regular rotation of implements of artistry. My only problem is the cap-posting issue, which I can certainly get over.

Beautiful art pen / writes haikus and rolls away / due to friggin cap

If you’re near a Jerry’s Artarama, I suggest trying to get the Rotring Art Pen through them (because they are an amazing store / wonderland of fabulously priced art supplies). If you are not near a Jerry’s Artarama, try scouring the internet. I don’t know the best place to recommend, unfortunately, since I got my pen in an actual store. :/
Rotring Art Pen at Jerry’s Artarama

Rotring Fountain Pen Converter at JetPens



17 responses

25 02 2011
Mini Review – Rotring Fountain Pen Converter « No Pen Intended

[…] want to make additional quick mention of the Rotring Fountain Pen converter I got for my Rotring Art Pen. First, a disclaimer: this is the first fountain pen converter I’ve ever owned. All my other […]

26 02 2011

I have one of these that I bought something like seventeen years ago—it was my first fountain pen (and involved my first visit to San Francisco, including a wander through the most unsavory part of the city). Mine died after being left unused for a long time; the nib actually rusted and the tip snapped off. I’m not sure whether there was an issue with the ink, I just got a bad nib, or just bad luck, but keeping it clean and dry is probably a good idea.

27 02 2011

Very nice review and judging from your sketch pages you are certainly an artist. The Rotring Art Pen is certainly a great sketching tool when it works smoothly. Have own a few through the years, and they seem to work best with their cartridges with no clogging problems. Have used the converter to load acrylic ink in them which worked fine for a few days, but the ink dried on the nib ruining it after an extended period in storage. Definitely a good precaution to drain and flush the pen nib clean before storing for a long time.

27 02 2011
No Pen Intended

Thanks! :)

Yeah, I think I’ve read that acrylic inks and India inks both are bad news for fountain pens for that very reason. There are some inks designed for fountain pens–like the Noodler’s Bulletproof Black I used here–which shouldn’t be a risk to the pen (and the ink, so far, has been approximately waterproof). That said, I think you’ve given some good advice–always drain and flush any fountain pen before storing, even if it’s only for a couple months. I’ve almost totally killed a cartridge-fed Sailor fountain pen after not using it for a month or two.

28 02 2011
Weekly Wrap |

[…] Rotring Art Pen-Extra Fine (EF) Sketching Nib – No Pen Intended […]

30 03 2011

Nice article.. and lovely sketches. And funny and detailed notes.
Isn’t this pen a wonder?!!
I too discovered this on my recent trip to San Francisco. I am totally in love.
The ink flows so smoothly, yet so fine on the EF.

14 04 2011

I have this pen with converter for many years ( love sepia ink and it was hard to find nice cartridges with sepia and browns), it works, smooth, effortless, I love this pen, it is often in my sketch bag with me, even I already own Namiki Falcon.

28 10 2011
Edison Collier Silver Marble Fine Point Fountain Pen « No Pen Intended

[…] I have that’s thicker is the cap of my Rotring Core; the only pen longer is my taper-ended Rotring Art Pen. In a little more than two full revolutions, the cap comes off. You can technically post it, in a […]

21 04 2012
Akashiya Bamboo Body Brush Pen – Red Body « No Pen Intended

[…] 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 […]

12 05 2012
Sailor A.S. Manhattaner’s NY Artists Guild Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Cat on the Road « No Pen Intended

[…] had several pens—my Rotring Art Pen, my Akashiya Bamboo Brush Pen, my very first Sailor Ink Bar, for example—where the writing on […]

21 06 2012
Xamdulla Ramazanov


I’m looking for infor on Rotring Pens before starting my Tech Course at college …can anyone recommend a site.



21 06 2012
Xamdi Xiis Somalistars


I’m looking for infor on Rotring Pens before starting my Tech Course at college …can anyone recommend a site.



25 02 2013

When I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify
me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the exact same comment.

Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that service?
Thank you!

25 02 2013
No Pen Intended

Unfortunately, I don’t see any option that is available to me in managing the comments that will undo you being subscribed to comment notification. Perhaps send an email or tweet to the WordPress people and see if they can help?

7 10 2013
Tom DeCuir

Hey, if you want to refill any cartridge, get an 18ga IV catheter, discard the needle (safely), screw the actual plastic catheter onto an empty 10ml saline flush. This is a safe, no muss–no fuss clean way to transfer ink from bottles to factory cartridges. Thank me later. ;-)

7 09 2016
Jodi Verse

Marvelous review, and I’m grinning maniacally at your narrative. I was pretty much sold on this doodad before even reading what you wrote, but now you sealed the deal. Yes! I feel magnificently triumphant.

P.S. I’m wildly envious that you have access to a real live Jerry’s Artarama store. I get most of my art stuff from them online, and their customer service is second to none.

28 03 2017
Palomino Blackwing Slate | No Pen Intended

[…] thickness of course, but pushing the limits I was surprised to fit (one at a time, of course!) a Rotring Art Pen, the Akashiya Bamboo Brush Pen, a Pilot Vanishing Point, and even a Lamy Al-Star (though that was […]

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