Tag Team: Copic Markers & Old Moleskine Watercolor Notebooks

21 09 2020

Copic markers occupy a weird place in my psyche where I could be holding a fistful of them in one hand, a single fountain pen I spent the same amount of money on in the other hand, and yet think to myself that the Copic markers are what’s expensive here. Logically, that makes no sense but emotionally? That’s where my head is at.

That hasn’t stopped me from acquiring a small army of them, I just think to myself “oo, pricey” whenever I add a few more

When I noticed a couple months ago that my local enabler, Crazy Alan’s Emporium, carried Copic markers now and I still had cash leftover from working the Baltimore Pen Show (ah, remember pen shows in the beforetimes?), I decided to nearly double my hoard of markers. Copic is pretty much the top name brand in the art marker world, and for good reason. In the hands of a skilled artist, they make magic happen. And even in the hands of an amateur like myself, you can make some cool art with Copic markers. They blend amazingly well, and no other markers I’ve tried can compare. When you hit on marker gold, why try anything else?

Not saying this is cool art, mind you, I just still like the blending on this drawing I did years ago and colored with a friend’s Copic markers

Some quick notes about Copic markers: the ink is alcohol-based, non-toxic, and low odor (though it does have a specific, particular, and not altogether unpleasant smell). They are refillable. The plastic bodies of the markers feel quite durable (this isn’t cheap plastic, and at these prices better not be). There have been stretches of time where I’ve certainly not used the original markers I had for over a year without any detriment in the performance of the marker (undoubtedly more than a year, I just have no clue how many years we’re talking). I enjoy the oval-bodied sketch markers the best, and nearly exclusively use the brush tip to color my art. And for whatever cockamamie reason, I decided that the paper I would use to make a lot of new sketches after acquiring a bunch of new markers would be a Moleskine watercolor pocket notebook picked up on sale years ago when Borders went out of business.

Given enough time, the elastic band on one of these bad boys will blow out, like an overtaxed pair of sweatpants after too many Thanksgiving feasts. Then you either have a loose and dangly elastic band, which sounds terrible, or you rip it out as demonstrated on the one on the bottom

Unlike standard Moleskine paper (which was so terrible the last time I checked, I swore off buying any further standard Moleskines—if this has changed in the past few years, please let me know and also send me a sample of good paper from a Moleskine as proof, because I don’t believe you), the watercolor paper is good for both its intended purpose (watercolor) and the juicy medium of liquid-based sketch markers. For the most part, I’ve not had any bleed through so far, and that’s including the time an overfull marker dropped a big honking blorp of ink on the page. I did find a couple spots that finally bled through elsewhere when I colored over a section approximately ten thousand times, which is not recommended.

I had to set this down, walk away, and have a good long think on my life and my choices before I was in a place emotionally where I could try to fix this.

Those of you with keen eyes might notice that the above image is lacking lineart. Here’s another Copic fun fact: it does not play well with anything besides more Copic. Copic Multiliner pens? Fine, great, no problem. But Sakura Pigma Micron pens, Col-Erase colored pencils? Well, the Copic marker treats your lines more as suggestions that it doesn’t particularly agree with.

Gaze closely and ESPECIALLY at the smudging

When I saw that the Sakura Micron pens would smudge, I decided I would add the lineart after coloring, and I would just sketch in Col-Erase pencils first instead. Guess what, the Copic ink will also push around the pigments of the Col-Erase pencils. Those pink ears there? I deliberately used the Copic colorless blender to push pink Col-Erase pencil around on the page. In my experience, it seemed like the blue Col-Erase pencil would get smudged the least, but all in all my strategy became sketch lightly, color with the markers, and then put lineart over top all while hoping for the best. The benefit of this strategy is when that blob up there happened, I was ultimately able to fix the drawing since I wasn’t yet confined by any lineart.

So I guess the moral of the story is that we all learned a valuable lesson about…something.

I still have much to learn in terms of properly wielding these markers, but I’ve enjoyed using them to make color drawings of my characters. I will continue to expand my Copic collection at every opportunity I can, because these markers are worth it.

Unless you don’t want to color artwork, in which case these markers probably aren’t worth it for you!

Pentel Tradio Pulaman & Stylo “Fountain Pens”

19 02 2014

What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

Time to write the Tradio review that I thought I’d already done. The  nomenclature of these two pens is screwy from top to bottom; I think the Pentel policy is to arbitrarily switch what is called the Tradio Pulaman and what is called the Stylo on a regular basis in accordance with some arcane and esoteric ritual. The black, refillable Tradio I have is called Tradio PulaMan; for 50 cents more you can get what, according to JetPens, is the exact same pen, but called Tradio Stylo. Meanwhile, the disposable brown model I have says “Pentel Stylo” on the clip; JetPens’ disposable is called and labeled “Pentel PulaMan.”

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

The disposable is a very simple, retro sort of design, while the refillable model is a much more modern and attractive affair. Basically, everything I said about the Tradio TRF100 design, minus the black pearl coating. This black is a nice, solid-feeling matte black.

These are no so much "grips" as just the sections where you grab the pen...not exactly much went into the grippability of these sections

These are not so much “grips” as just the sections where you grab the pen…not exactly much went into the grippability aspect of the grip

The smoky translucent grip of the refillable gives something of a clue to the biggest baffling mystery of the naming of these two pens: clearly you can see a feed in there. But rollerballs also have feeds; that doesn’t magically make them fountain pens.

Maybe they're like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the "nib" they meant?

Maybe they’re like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the “nib” they meant?

This is what they’re calling a nib, such that these things may be called fountain pens. But I don’t think they’re fountain pens any more than a chimpanzee can be said to be a human. They’re similar, they’ve got a common ancestor, but you are dealing with two different branches on the tree. This is some kind of chisel-tip thing, some sort of hard-tip brush or marker-like thing. There is this plastic assembly where the felt/marker/brush tip comes out through the middle…if I were to describe it in terms of a fountain pen, I’d say imagine a nib made of plastic, and instead of a breather hole and slit replace that with some kind of long thin felt marker strip connected to the feed and then devolve into sheer madness and that’s about what it’s like.

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

So how do they write? The refillable is leaps and bounds better than the disposable. The disposable is scratchy, catches on the page, and creates little splatters of ink (you can see some in the writing sample). The refillable is much better, but takes way too long to dry. My hand is a mess. This handwritten review is a mess.

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

But maybe it’s more of an art pen.

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that like, absorbs and distorts pretty much anything you put on it

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that absorbs & distorts pretty much anything you put on it

More suited to smaller drawings, I think, but maybe I’m too baffled by the false fountain pen-ness of it to truly appreciate its use.



The disposable is a bust. The refillable is something worthwhile, but with slow drying times is not a lefty-friendly pen. I may use its rich black ink to draw, but I won’t be using it to write

Pentel Tradio Pulaman Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink at JetPens

Pentel Tradio Stylo Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink – Allegedly identical to the above linked pen but costs 50 cents more??? at JetPens

Pentel Pulaman JM20 Disposable Fountain Pen – Brown Body at JetPens (same as the pen I have here that has Stylo on its clip)

Ink Drop Soup: Billet Pens and Markers – Kickstarter & GIVEAWAY!

8 12 2013

When it comes to Hi-Tec-C pens and Sharpie markers, you’ve got two quality brand lines there with almost endless color choices. With so many colors to choose from, you can never have too many pen bodies to put them in—and just in time for the gifting holidays there’s a new pen body on the Kickstarter scene—the Billet Pen and Marker.

Image credit goes to Cliff/Billet Pens for all these images

Image credit goes to Cliff/Billet Pens for all these images

The body is anodized aircraft grade aluminum, with five basic body colors (red, black, purple, machined/silver, and matte black) and several laser engraved options. This Kickstarter is going fast, because the creator, Cliff, wants to get these pens out in time for those who make Christmas their #1 gifting holiday—multiple reward tiers are scheduled to ship on the 18th of December. I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too—the 18th?!? What is this, Chinese factory magic? No, Cliff is a careful engineer and has been working on this project well in advance, stockpiling the pens needed (using a slower laser) to make sure that what he offers will be ready in time.

Two solid choices for refill types

Two solid choices for refill types; Hi-Tec-C Billet body comes with black, red, or blue option refill

Reasons I’m excited about this pen:
+ Thicker barrel body. Some people like slim and slender barrels—they’ve had their pens made time and again. It’s time for something I can wrap my meathooks around and actually write with for a while, and these look like just the solid-sized pens for the job.
+ Magnets. Magnets are always exciting. Unless you swallow two or more of them, in which case magnets are an emergency.
+ Attention to detail. I asked Cliff if he had made considerations to ensure that the refills wouldn’t dry out after a week, two weeks, a month, or more of not being used, because I have had some problems with Hi-Tec-C refills in alternate bodies going dry if I’m not constantly using them. The Billet pen has a special rubber plug, and the marker has a special inner cap to keep them from going dry.

Did I mention the excellent price? It's excellent.

Did I mention the excellent price? It’s excellent.

This Kickstarter ends Monday, December 16th at 2:59am EST, so get on it!!! That’s not very many days, and the project only has to get to $5000 to be funded! Don’t deny me this pen because you were feeling Scroogey :)




To sweeten the spirit of things, Cliff is offering to give away a Billet Pen to one lucky winner! If you win, you get your choice of any of the pens being offered on the Kickstarter! Your rules as follows:

1. To enter, just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Monday, December 16th at 2:59am Eastern Standard Time. Sadly, this contest is only open to U.S. residents (but not to worry, internationals, you can get one of your own if you back the project on Kickstarter).
2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Only one comment per person! 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. I will hand number the entries because that’s just how I roll. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
3. I’ll post the contest winner the morning of Monday, December 16th. Winner must email me as soon as possible! There’s a link to my email at the top right sidebar. I’ll forward your info to Cliff so he can ship you the pen of your choosing!

Good luck! And thank you to Cliff of Billet Pens!