Tag Team: Assorted Brush Pens & Slow-Moving Paper

7 09 2020

The interesting problem with self-made notebooks is that you actually have to make them. Yourself! It sounds all well and good until you’re actually kneeling on the garage floor, cutting paper with your little old X-acto knife because for some reason you wanted the notebook to be smaller than the paper folded in half, but bigger than the paper folded into quarters, sloppily stitching notebook signatures together in accordance with the best tutorials a quick internet search could find. And perhaps your supplies of cheap typing paper are running low, so as you get to the end of your last handmade notebook you think to yourself, “I’ll just use one of the dozens of blank sketchbooks I have. No big deal.”


Why someone like myself would give so little consideration to the actual paper in the sketchbook I chose remains a mystery. Perhaps I had the misapprehension that pencils just write on anything, and there’s nothing that drastically different about the paper involved.


Obviously that right there is some amateur hour thinking. I’d love to tell you more details about this sketchbook model, the paper weights, and so on but I peeled off the sticker and helpfully THREW IT AWAY. After leaving the peeled sticker on my desk for weeks in which I could have potentially referenced the information on said sticker. So, it’s a Monologue brand hardcover sketchbook with 64 perforated pages and textured mystery weight paper, that’s what I remember.

and that’s all you need

Oh fine. A bit of Googling tells me this is a Basics Monologue with 148 gsm Italian heavyweight acid free drawing paper, and in all likelihood this was sent to me by Grandluxe to review……..many many years ago.

I’m so sorry

The important thing is I quickly discovered that the textured surface of this paper pumped the brakes hard on my fast and loose Col-Erase-based sketching style. I’m sure if I wanted to do proper pencil drawings with nice shading and blending it would be great. But that’s not what my heart desires right now. I want to have a cursed thought and have it drawn before my friends can even begin to threaten to have my imagination taken away.

I’ve made literally hundreds of drawings in quarantimes, and so few are actually suitable for public consumption

And not only do the pencils go slow on this paper, but it takes up seemingly a lot more lead. I probably struggled through about ten pages of pencil drawings before accepting that I needed to find a better sketch combo to use. You might look at the double bookcase crammed half-full of mostly or totally empty notebooks and sketchbooks and think, just. Just use a different sketchbook. You have so many jus-JUST USE A DIFFERENT SKETCHBOOK????

You fool. You absolute fool

No, friend. I am committed to finishing what I’ve started here. And besides, this presented me with a challenge to find writing implements that would replicate the quick sketching experience I’d fallen in love with using my previously blogged about tag team combo. Enter the brush pens and other assorted pastel felt tips:

They are my children and I love them all equally. Just kidding, some children are better than others

The number one spot goes to a combo so great, it’s going to get its own review: the Akashiya bamboo brush pen loaded with J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe ink. This is the perfect stand in for a light blue sketch pencil, except for the part where I can’t erase anything and have to live with my horrible mistakes forever. If I’m feeling lazy, I can stop the sketch there, in shades of blue, or pick out another brush pen to lay down some lineart on top of it. For working big and fast, I favor the Akashiya bamboo brush pen, Faber-Castell PITT artist brush pens, or Koi coloring brush pens, with guest appearances by the Pentel brush pen.

For a more detailed or fine-lined sketch, I grab either Marvy Le Pen Flex pens or Sharpie Pens, both in soft pastel colors.

If I weren’t lazy, I’d ink over the pastels with a dark lineart. But that’s not the life I’m living right now

Are these combos perfect? No. This paper likes to fuzz and feather, look close at this Pentel brush pen inking:


Nevertheless, I persist in this sketchbook. Only about 15 pages left, and I’ve learned a valuable lesson about what kind of paper I prefer to sketch on and why. Plus, mixing things up with color is fun. I miss erasing, but I like the way I’ve been forced to experiment with my writing implements to find something I like sketching with here.

I have nothing witty left. Take these sketches and run off into the sunset, friends

Sharpie Stainless Steel Pen

2 02 2014
I think I keep getting lazier and lazier when it comes to the length of these writing samples.

I think I keep getting lazier and lazier when it comes to the length of these writing samples.

If I remember correctly, I got this special Sharpie Pen for $2 at Wal-Mart when it first came out, which is as good as saying I punched a leprechaun in the face and a unicorn rewarded me for the deed with this Sharpie Pen, for all the replicability of getting one of these at $2 again. The real crime is that I didn’t buy more of these when they were that cheap.

I need to utilize more eclectic used books as backgrounds

I need to utilize more eclectic used books as backgrounds

Much to my surprise, I haven’t actually done a full review of a Sharpie Pen yet. So let’s start with the deluxe fancy brushed stainless steel barrel model, why not. The simple metal is attractive, and has held up pretty well so far. The branding has only just started to wear away.

Look at that. Are you dying inside? I'm dying inside a little. The cap. Should snap. Securely. And symmetrically. In place.

Look at that. Are you dying inside? I’m dying inside a little. The cap. Should snap. Securely. And symmetrically. In place.

The only big complaints I have focus around the cap area. The cap is secure—a little too secure. It takes a bit of force, both hands, to get the cap off. Maybe I’ve just got a case of the noodle-arms but this is an unusually tenacious cap, both in terms of taking it off and snapping it back on. But posting? Another matter entirely. The cap doesn’t snap on, it merely presses on, and can very easily end up askew (though it’s not at risk of falling off).

Quite streamlined with the cap on, perilous plastic precipice with the cap off

Quite streamlined with the cap on, perilous plastic precipice with the cap off

Watch out for that hard ridge above the grip. The textured rubber is very secure to hold, but I have to be wary or I end up with that terrible ridge pressing into my thumb. Maybe if you have a normal grip, unlike myself, then it’s no problem.

Felt tip? Marker tip? Tippity tip top tip? Nomenclature is confusing.

Felt tip? Marker tip? Tippity tip top tip? Nomenclature is confusing.

I think my tip has gotten a little bent over time (WOW that sounds like a real medical problem)—luckily the Sharpie Pen is refillable. The whole tip, grip, etc. is part of the refill that gets replaced. The darkness of the black is more of a dark charcoal gray, especially when compared to, say, supersmooth solid black ballpoints (like Jetstream or Vicuña), or the black of a Parker rollerball refill, or any number of black gel pens. But you want some fast drying? Get on this Sharpie Pen. I just did a color sample comparison, Vicuña vs. Sharpie, on the page I wrote this review on, did a little more writing, and bam!—little Vicuña ink spots on my hand, on the page. The Sharpie Pen ink? Gets down, stays down, right where you put it. No problems with smearing, no smudging, no Sharpie ink on my hand, no bleed through. It’s a nice tactile marker-tip-like pen that’s pleasant to write with.

That feeling you're feeling? Probably it is attraction. It is ok. Give in.

That feeling you’re feeling? Probably it is attraction. It is ok. Give in.

This may not be the right Sharpie Pen body for me personally, but it looks great and the writing is dynamite. If you’re looking for a classy Sharpie Pen, here it is.

You can find the Sharpie Stainless Steel Pen in many big-box office supply stores, at my local pen store (Office Supplies and More), and as an Amazon add-on item. JetPens has the matching permanent marker version, so maybe eventually they’ll carry the pen too!

Office Supplies and More Sharpie Giveaway WINNER!

12 02 2013

Look, I remembered I did another giveaway, and I was even in the presence of photoshop this time to compile the list of entrants. And among them, only one winner:



All right Karen Y! Email me your mailing address, and I’ll mail you these Sharpie goodies! Thanks again to my local pen store, Office Supplies and More.

Office Supplies and More – Sharpie GIVEAWAY!

28 01 2013
My local pen store!

My local pen store!

Perhaps you recall mention of my local pen store, Office Supplies & More. I was in there the other day telling the owner, Alan Cohen, about the Pentel Libretto giveaway I was doing, and he decided he wanted in on giving away something too, so he hands me two Sharpie items, fresh out of the box.

Two original Sharpie fine point markers and two Sharpie gel highlighters

Two original Sharpie fine point markers and two Sharpie gel highlighters

I love the store, in spite of Alan’s refusal to get an online presence going, so for all you old-school types, if you’re ever anywhere near the capitol of North Carolina, swing by the town of Chapel Hill and hunt down the store: 1129 Weaver Dairy Rd, Timberlyne Shopping Center, Suite Q, Chapel Hill, NC 27514. The selection is huge, spanning high end to low end, pens, pencils, fountain pens, and a huge trove of Clairefontaine and Rhodia products. If North Carolina just isn’t in the cards for you, Alan has booths at multiple pen shows. This year he’ll be at the Baltimore show in March, the Atlanta show in April, the Raleigh show in June, the D.C. Supershow in August, and the Ohio show in November. Heck, if there’s something you specifically want him to bring to the show for you to buy, here’s the store’s number: 919.929.8595 — he’s got some of the best prices on pretty much everything.




  1. To enter, just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Monday, February 11th 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. Since I’ll be sending this myself, and I’m not made of loot and dough,and Office Supplies & More is pretty much never going international anyway, I’m limiting this contest to U.S. residents only. Sorry!
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. 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. Because my blog doesn’t seem to number the comments on its own yet, and I STILL don’t will probably never have time/the willpower to fix it, I will again hand-number all the entries in Photoshop (or GIMP, or on my tablet or cell phone or somehow) like I did here. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
  3. I’ll post the contest winner on Tuesday, February 12th. Winner will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar.

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.


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!