So a few weeks ago, I bought some new pens to play around with.
Allow me a moment to plug Jetpens.com, which done wonderfully in keeping me supplied with awesome Japanese pens, because after coming back from Japan, where I had access to a freakin’ seven story Itoya store for two weeks and where I bought like ¥15000 worth of pens and markers, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to resupply on some of the things I brought home.
But this order was less to resupply and more to find things to experiment with! There were a few things I wanted to try out as far as new pens went:
- Fountain pens! Are they a good alternative to actual quills/dip pens?
- Gel pens? I hear they’re good for inking?
- Alternative tech pens? Copic Multiliners’ nibs are too fragile, Microns are fickle, and it is stupidly hard to find Staedtler at my local supply stores.
- Refillable alternatives to my beloved Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens?
After like an hour of poking around the site, this is what I ended up with:
- Tachikawa comic nib fountain pen – school model nib
- Pentel Tradio Stylo fountain pen
- Pentel EnerGel Euro Needle-Point gel pen
- Pilot G-3 gel pen – 0.38 mm
- Pilot SW-DR3-B Drawing Pen – 03 size
The photo’s a little misleading by the way — also pictured are my Pentel pocket brush (front) and my Tombow Fudenosukes (back). I forgot to include the Pilot G-3.
Tachikawa fountain pen
I went with Tachikawa for the main fountain pen because 1) they were super cheap, and 2) they’re the brand of my real G-pen and other quill nibs, and I’m as fond of them as I think I can be of quill nibs. I’m not entirely sure why I went for the school model nib instead of the G-pen nib, but here we are. This pen is Copic-proof , waterproof, and uses refillable ink!
The reviews on the site said as much, but this fountain pen is definitely meant for very regular use. It didn’t skip much in my first go, but in subsequent weeks, if the nib would start to clog if I didn’t use it every two or three days. It’s an easy enough fix — running the nib under warm water will clear it up, but that seems like such a waste of ink. As for the pen itself, it handles very well. It’s much easier to control, and much more flexible, than a real quill. You can push or pull your lines; curves are easier to manage, and the lines are very fine and even. I wish there was greater line variation though. The thickest and thinnest lines you can get are comparable to an 005 and 03 Micron pen (so, 0.20-0.35mm).
I don’t know how much I’ll actually be using this pen though. Not a lot of my stuff right now lends itself to very thin lines and the minimal line variation means it doesn’t have much of an advantage over tech pens. Maybe the G-pen version would have been better in this area?
Pentel Tradio Stylo
I thought the felt-tip on this “fountain pen” looked interesting, but in practice, it’s a bit cumbersome and awkward. The nib is fat and not great for precision work, but the pen itself being kind of fat makes the whole thing hard to control. And sometimes, the felt makes an unpleasant squeaking sound on paper that really bothers me. <_< Line weight variation is about the same as the Tachikawa, just a few sizes higher. The thinnest is around the 03 Micron and the thicket is a little shy of the 08 Micron (so, 0.35-0.45mm?). However, the thinner you try to make the lines, the harder it is to control the pen.
Honestly, I’m pretty disappointed with this pen. It’s refillable, Copic-proof, but not waterproof, which isn’t really a big deal since I use Copics with pens way more than watercolor, but the clunkiness of the Tradio Stylo kind of makes it useless to me because I need my precision. I guess I can use it to reinforce lines by other pens?
Pentel EnerGel Euro Needle-point & Pilot G-3
Aside from line widths (it’s funny how big of a difference 0.03mm is!), two pens are kind of the same. I’ve never really used gel pens like these before, and they kind of blew me away with their smooooothness. In fact, they’re so smooth I don’t think I could actually use them for serious inking because my hand just wants to glide all over the page instead of spending time on any kind of meticulous detail work. I’ve been using them the last few days for pen sketches and studies though, and that has been fantastic. They’re Copic-proof, and I think they’re probably waterproof to a point — the smudges on the above tests are probably because I didn’t really wait for it to dry. I went back in later in some places after it was dry and it held up a lot better. Dunno if you can tell.
Pilot SW-DR3-B Drawing Pen
This is a pretty standard issue tech pen. Copic-proof, waterproof. Pretty thick lines though. It’s a 03 size, but it’s a little bigger than a 03 Micron. I couldn’t find a thickness in mm, so I don’t know how thick it actually is. Nib might be a little stronger than a Micron’s nib, but I won’t be able to tell until I wear it down more. I guess it could be worth the extra $0.50 compared to a Micron, but I’m pretty meh.
In the end, it was cool to play with new stuff, even if some of them were duds. Sorta wish there was a magical local importer of Japanese pens so I could just figure this stuff out in the store, but heeeey, what can ya do.
Unfortunately, from site descriptions, I wasn’t really able to find anything (within my price range) that looked like it would be a good refillable alternative to the Tombow Fudenosuke. I guess it’s kind of whatever though — they’re just a quarter more than Microns, and I could probably spend another entire post swooning over them because they’re my favorite inking pen at the moment. <3 I guess some pens just won’t be replaced by random experimentation. :3