Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens
I don’t use pens/ink very much but they are handy for certain projects and it is nice to have decent ones to use. Apart from any other consideration, you want whatever you create to last and look good. Having used Faber-Castell pens before and being a fan of their coloured pencil output, I plumped for this rather lovely boxset of their brush pens. I won’t mention that I got them for almost half price on eBay. Not much.
First of all, they come beautifully packaged. A cardboard slip case, when pulled back reveals a faux-leather box that opens at the top and secures again with an unseen magnet. The pens are arranged in 4 rows of 12 and a tug on ribbon lifts the drawers up and out concertina style. The pens themselves are self-coloured on the barrel and those are a wealth of information, proudly displaying the facts that these pens are pigment rich, indian ink, waterproof and extremely lighfast. The nibs too are a sturdy brush which Faber-Castell claim will not buckle or lose shape under pressure or prolonged use. Quite a claim. We’ll see. You can use these to create a very thin line or with a little pressure a thicker line. The colour range is good; muted, soft colours that layer, a world apart from the lurid felt pens of our youth.
Did I mention I got them half price?
Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens
Faber-Castell also make great ink pens in addition to their Brush line that have thinner nibs and you can buy them in small collections. Here are the packs that I own, which also includes a select collection of the grey Brush pens –
The Sanguine and Sepia collections are very good for drawing and look good when combined with coloured pencil. Like the Brush pens, these are highly lightfast, pigment Indian ink and are waterproof. You can’t really go wrong with these and they are perfect for writing, sketching, drawing or even a finished piece. Look how lovely that grey Brush collection is.
Rather than look at all of these similar pens individually, I thought it would be beneficial to see them all at once for comparison.
All of these pens (Faber-Castell Pitt, Prismacolour, Letraset, Rotring Tikky Graphic, UniPen, Stabilo Write4all, and Stabilo Sensor) are pigment ink, waterproof, lightfast and come in various nib sizes. They are metal-encased nibs for strength and durability. Out of them all, my favourites are the Faber-Castells, the Rotrings, and the Prismacolors. These three have consistent flow/coverage, dark ink, various nib choices and just all round reliability. The Rotrings feel suitably masculine and professional, while the Faber-Castells and the Prismacolors are more arty and elegant. The Prismas must win on nib choice which you really are spoiled for. But if I was honest, every time I pick one up to use for writing or sketching, it’s mostly the Rotrings.
The bads? Well, not bad, but the Stabilos are kind of boring and that’s quite an admission given how much I love their Point 88s and the UniPen does not have consistent flow. Over any paper with a little tooth, they will scrape and miss. I wouldn’t buy them again.
These, along with Copics, are the choice of the artist and illustrator. They come in 148 colours: brights, pastels, greys, you name it and they are alcohol-based permanent ink.
This means that they dry quickly and because they are also translucent, they can be layered and blended without tearing up or disturbing your paper. They boast consistent coverage and no streaking – and it’s true. Each pen is double-ended – a broad chisel nib at one end and a more traditional felt-tip nib at the other for finer lines. What I especially like about them is the fact that you can layer them and the value changes. Normal pens just saturate the paper and don’t retain the quality of the support, but these darken and tone layered with the same pen or even with a darker shade. And the paper stays true. They are great fun. The only con I have is that they do dry up quickly so look after them: tips on out of direct sunlight, and give them wee breaks when using them eh?
Caran D’Ache Fibralo
These are more like the felt-tipped pens of our youth. Long, heavy pens with a white, click shut lid. They come in 30 colours and are water-based inks. They have the normal nibs that you would expect and also boast that they come with a 3 year guarantee against drying out. Of course, that’s provided you don’t leave them with their lids off.
I like their weight in my hand and they offer a lot of control. The nib is sturdy and I don’t worry about it splaying. The colours are muted, a few brights, but all-in-all a nice collection for sketching and sketchbook work.
I had never heard of these pens when I stumbled across them and was immediately seduced by their matt black barrells. I only have a handful of them but I do like them. They come in 40 colours which are water-based and claim to be extremely lightfast. The bullet nib is softer than that of the Caran D’Ache Fibralos and the ink saturates the paper much quicker. They do look very sexy too.
Stabilo Fineliner Point 88
These are probably my favourite pens. The colour range, the fine point which doesn’t splay, the handsome livery, the hexagonal barrells…it’s hard to pick one reason why I love them. They look ‘proper school’. I love writing with them as well as sketching and drawing. Sometimes I have been known to mark tutor-pupils’ work with the bright pink one. The boys’ work of course. These are without fault. They have a fine 0.4 nib which is metal-encased for durability, come in 25 colours and have long lid-off time.
I have heard told that they also ‘wash’ quite well, in that you can use them like watercolour pencils, but I have never tried them in this way. If I do, I’ll let you know the results.
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner
An alternative to the wonderful Stabilo Point 88s, this fineliner has a thinner nib at 0.3, though metal clad like the Stabilos. They come in 20 water-based colours and in a very nifty plastic snapback box. Which I stupidly got rid of so I could store them with all my other fineliners. The ‘tri’ comes in with respect to the barrell which is comfortably triangular. They have a long lid-off time too and the company boasts further that they can be used on an airplane. I quite like them even though they look like a cheaper version of the Stabilos – the performance isn’t cheaper.
Stabilo Trio 2-in-1
These pens are bright and colourful which makes me think that they are more suited to students. Double-ended, they have a broad, bullet nib at one end and a plastic-encased fineliner at the other. They are handy for sketching and less important projects, the double-ends are handy for travelling. But do they work on airplanes?
These are an odd inclusion, granted, but include them I will. You get them in a pack of 8 in Asda (Walmart-owned supermarket in the UK): 2 red, 2 green, 2 blue and 2 black. They are double-ended with a broad, calligraphy chisel nib (3.5mm) at one end and a thin, calligraphy chisel nib (2.0mm) at the other. They are fade-proof (whether or not that means the same as lightfast or is a get-out phrase, I don’t know), waterproof, low-odour, non-toxic and have an extended lid-off time. It’s not clear who makes them but they have the same flayed cap shape as Zig ColourTwins, so 1 and 1 makes…
You can use them for calligraphy if you want but for sketching and writing they are hard to beat. The nibs are strong and they last for ages. Get rid of those crappy Sharpies. £2.00!
Stabilo Pen 68
So in love with my Stabilo Point 88s am I, that I thought I would try out their felt-tip collection, Stabilo Pen 68. This comes with a more traditional bullet nib which Stabilo claims is more sturdy than that of normal felt tips. And it is. I like the colours – the same range as the Point 88s – and I like the thin, hexagonal barrells with their stripy, colourful livery. These aren’t artist quality but they are great for sketching and for more fun works.
Copic Ciao Set A
I treated myself to some more Copic Ciao markers. I already have a set of 5 greys which I love using, but I felt the need for some colour. While I love my ProMarkers, using the Copics is a fantastic experience. They are truly brushlike and the ink that comes from them is vibrant, like watercolour, which can be layered and blended beautifully.
I got the Set A box of 36 colours, which for the money contains a good selection of brights and pastels, even some skin colours. Each Copic Ciao is double-ended, with a broad wedge nib at one end and a good-sized brush nib at the other. They also come in a sturdy plastic box with cubed trays, top and bottom, to hold your pens in place.
Letraset Tria Markers
The wallet is big, and sturdy but soft and tactile too. It has a zip pocket on the reverse and at first you think you won’t get much in, and you won’t, but it does stretch a fair bit to allow you to get a couple of pens, card, or pad in.
Then the pens. The Trias are much thicker than most markers. You’ll notice that straight away. They also have clear barrels so you can see the ink easily.
Each Tria has 3 nibs. Yeah, you read that right. 3 nibs. On one end you get a brush nib and on the other, a broad, chisel nib. Under the cap for that nib, is another nib on top which is fed by the broad nib underneath. Here we have a fineliner nib which is absolutely tiny.
Each nib is great quality, sturdy yet flexible. And the colour saturation is complete. By that I mean that when I did my colour swatch card, I used quite rough watercolour paper and the nib filled the tooth with ease and didn’t ‘bump’ over the paper. Each nib delivers the ink smoothly too.
The Architecture collection contains 24 colours perfect for drawing buildings. There is a heavy reliance on browns, yellows and greys found in buildings and blues and greens found in the environment around.
In the Manga & Comic collection there is 24 colours, bright and bold. There is a focus on purples and blues. Also, bright red, orange, pink; all perfect for cartooning and comic-booking.
Each collection contains and XB pen, which stands for eXtra Black, really the one pen you can’t do without if you just work from your wallet alone.
I’ll need to have a play around with these, see them in action, before I can give you some in-depth thoughts but if first impressions count, and I believe they do, I think I’m in love.
Sakura Pigma Micron
The nice people over at Pencils4artists have finally added Sakura Pigma Micron pens to their extensive product range. They have been promising to do this for a while and, I am sure they were teasing, things went wrong and it took a while. But they are now available. They come in 4 colours: Black, Blue, Green and Red and are available in 7 sizes: 0.2mm, 0.25mm, 0.3mm, 0.35mm, 0.4mm, 0.45mm, 0.5mm. Lots of sketchers and arty-folk use these pens and while I LOVE my Rotring Tikky Graphics, I couldn’t resist trying these out.
They were shipped very fast and I ordered all sizes – at £2.25 each, how could I not? First impressions are that the pens are weighty and solid feeling. They have a shiny lid tip which also has the nib size on it. The ink is archival and waterproof.
The nibs are pretty solid though the tip is a lot spongier and softer than the Rotrings. It scratches a little when used but that is more to do with the rough paper I use for swatches than anything else. The ink is dark and flows well which is pretty much what you need. So far, I like ’em but I’ll need to do some sketching with them to see if they come close to my beloved Rotrings. And I miss seeing the little ink well which is a nice feature of the Rotrings.