Brush Pen Review: Royal Talens Ecoline Brush Pens

Brush Pen Review: Royal Talens Ecoline Brush Pens

Royal Talens Ecoline Brush Pens ($3.40 each or sets available at various price points) feature a large, soft, flexible fiber tip and each of the 30 available colors features Ecoline’s liquid watercolor ink inside.

Ecoline Brush Pens

The tip is firm enough to allow both thick and thin lines. The colors in each pen can be blended or faded by adding water like pan watercolors. How successful blending is will depend largely on what kind of paper you are using. Watercolor paper, which is designed to be used with a lot of water will be more successful in more painterly experiments. Multimedia paper (Strathmore, Bienfang and Canson all offer versions of this type of paper) is the next best. Col-o-ring Paper is similar to multimedia paper in a lot of way but may curl or “taco” more easily when wet than watercolor or multimedia paper.

Ecoline Brush Pens
Testing on Col-o-ring Folio (soon to be available)

I got individual pens so I could choose colors I thought I would use more than the sets. I did want to have a full range of colors. I missed a purple though.

The physical pens are wide, like most brush pens, but lightweight and easy to hold. The colors range from bright and vivid to light and subtle. If you are considering purchasing these pens, consider what you might want to draw, paint or color and choose your colors accordingly. I like to do florals and silly doodles so I focused on colors I thought might be good in these uses.

Ecoline Brush Pens vs W&N
Testing on Bee Paper Super Deluxe Aquabee 6×9 sketchbook

I compared the Ecoline Brush Pens to what I consider to be the “Cadillac of Watercolor Brush Pens” — The Winsor & Newton Water Colour Brush Pens. I had similar colors in both brands — not exact matches but close.

While this is probably not a fair comparison, I think both pens are competing for the same type of user. Originally, I thought the W&N brush pens were very expensive but after some investigation, the prices for the W&N Water Color Brush Pens compared to the Ecoline, are pretty similar. Considering that the W&N have dual tips (the brush tip on one end and the fine tip on the other) the extra 20¢ per pen seems reasonable.

But the biggest advantage is that, when wet, the W&N pens blend much more easily and the amount of pigment in each color is much more intense and saturated. If you prefer to layer colors when color is dry, this may not be a deciding factor. W&N colors also show more granulation like traditional watercolors.

When blending, the Ecoline colors did not lift as easily with water or rewet as smoothly. Some “staining colors” from W&N also had some issues blending smoothly but both of my sample blends were not done on pre-wet paper so your results may vary with different techniques.

Ecoline Brush Pens vs W&N
testing on Col-o-ring paper

While both pens, the Ecoline and W&N do similar things and work pretty consistently but I’m inclined to recommend the W&N over the Ecoline because of the dual tip and I have more history with the brand in general. That said, the Ecoline is a solid option.


DISCLAIMER: The Ecoline Pens included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Other items in this review include affiliate links. The Well-Appointed Desk is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Robert Oster Pen Chalet Exclusives

Ink Review: Robert Oster Pen Chalet Exclusives

Recently, Pen Chalet released an exclusive Robert Oster ink – Antelope Canyon. But the Chalet didn’t stop with just one special edition. Three more exclusive RO inks were added to the lineup to make a beautiful Arizona-inspired palette. I purchased a sample of each from Pen Chalet.

I have tried to balance colors so these are shown as accurately as possible, but I finally gave up attempting to do so with the four colors together. The best way to communicate the actual colors is to show a comparison with other inks you may have or may have seen in person.

Each ink color is named after a sight you may see in Arizona. I had several stock image credits that need to be used up, so I hope you enjoy the photos!

Antelope Canyon

First, for Antelope Canyon. Pen Chalet has a poetic description of each color: “This Pen Chalet Exclusive fountain pen ink encapsulates a piece of the majestic and iconic Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona (Pen Chalet’s home state in the USA). The magnificent slot canyon’s tall, winding walls create a monumental sandstone, wave-like structure that transforms into a supernatural experience when light beams shine directly down into the openings of the canyon.”

Antelope Canyon is a beautiful brownish orange that shades wonderfully. It is close to Robert Oster Burned Orange but uses more yellow and brown. It’s a unique color and I love using it in an italic nib.

Monsoon Sky

Pen Chalet has this to say about Monsoon Sky:

“Arizona’s Sonoran Desert produces some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world…especially during monsoon season. Arizona’s monsoon sky is a surreal combination of clouds and colors that bring an otherworldly filter to notoriously blue skies for just a few months each year.”

Monsoon sky is an interesting color that doesn’t fit well in green or blue – it’s a greenish teal that has a strange yellowish undertone. The ink is beautiful and I smiled at how closely it matched another Pen Chalet special edition – Monsoon Storm by ColorVerse!

Sedona Red

Again, the poetic description from Pen Chalet:

“Inspired by Sedona’s eclectic atmosphere and the red rock phenomenons that made the area famous, Sedona Red fountain pen ink is a small piece of the fiery passion of the Southwest. With daring red hues hinting at spicy undertones and a bit of firepower paired with subtle color variations similar to the understated shades of the desert landscape, Sedona Red fountain pen ink emulates the fearless spirit of the West that still calls to adventurers from Sedona’s red rock formations.”

Sedona Red is a darker version of Robert Oster Burgundy and is close to J. Herbin Rouge Grenat. The sheen is a very dark greenish-black that shows up in writing and looks great.

Saguaro Green

Pen Chalet says:

“Saguaro Green fountain pen ink is an ode to the iconic Saguaro Cactus. Native to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, the Saguaro Cactus is the largest cactus in the United States. Saguaro Green fountain pen ink is an olive-like color that mimics the Saguaro Cactus’s ability to break up the muted, desert landscape with energy and life.”

Saguaro cactus is a very odd plant. Beautiful, but otherworldly. Saguaro green is one of my new favorite ink colors. It’s a darker, slightly more yellow Tolstoy. Olive juice would be a good description. Like a green olive oil. Great color.

The theme around these four inks have made me long for vacations and camping. Arizona sounds like a great place for both!

To show the ink in writing, I’ve shown all four – first on Tomoe River paper:

Now on Cosmo Air Light 83:

Finally, both side by side:

I encourage you to grab one or four of these colors. Luckily, there’s a sample pack available from Pen Chalet if you want to try the bunch – 4mL of each ink for $11.99.

DISCLAIMER:  All of the items in this review were purchased by me.  Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: First Day Jitters

First, I want to remind everyone that this weekend, Laura is participating in a knit-a-thon to raise money for food charities. She’ll be knitting for 12 straight hours and you can still help support her efforts. Looking forward to cheering her on from my bench seat.

Second, today is my first day at a new job. I’m nervous to start a new job with new people in a new place. I want to do a good job, be creative and clever and all those things. But… I am also worried about a lot of the dumb stuff that you worry about on your first day too like will there be a place to microwave my lunch or should I bring a salad instead? Do we get a lunch break or does everyone eat at their desk? Should I take anything to put on my desk like, you know, GOOD pens and a nice notebook? And then there’s modern day concerns like which mask should I wear? Plain or something with a pattern that shows a bit of style? I know it’s crazy to worry about this kind of thing but I do. Doesn’t everyone? So, while you all are tucked up at home working in your jammies or going about your daily routine, send me a little good luck mojo. Thanks!




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Ink Review: KWZ Raspberry

A while ago I got a small sample of KWZ Raspberry ($15 for 60mL) and I loved it. I always meant to go back and purchase a whole bottle. When I got my Kaweco Hello Kitty edition, I decided Raspberry was the perfect ink for it.

I’ve used several KWZ inks in the past and they perform well. Some folks don’t like the slight smell of KWZ inks; when I opened the bottle for this review it reminded me a bit of the extracts I use in baking (vanilla, almond, etc.)

Raspberry is a reddish pink. I found it close to the pinky parts of Iroshizuku Yama Budo (without the sheeting) and to two of the Colorverse inks. It leans red with a touch of blue, and is a nice shading ink.

Can’t wait to use it more!

DISCLAIMER: Some of the items included in this review were provided to us free of charge for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Can’t wait to use it more!

Pen Review: Archer & Olive Acrylograph 3.0mm Warm Fall Collection Paint Pens

Pen Review: Archer & Olive Acrylograph 3.0mm Warm Fall Collection Paint Pens

Archer & Olive Acrylograph

Archer & Olive Acrylograph

Archer & Olive Acrylograph

There are a lot acrylic paint pens and markers available (Posca, Molotow, Krink, Montana, Sharpie, etc) but the Archer & Olive Acrylograph water-based acrylic markers ($35, the set I bought is currently sold out but this link will take you to the page where the other sets are available) have been created and marketed specifically for the bullet journal and planner market. While that shouldn’t matter, there are certain types of art (and/or craft) supplies that just don’t make it to consumers who don’t have knowledge or access to art supply stores.

The Archer & Olive Acrylograph collect a set of curated colors of water-based acrylic marker pens into a beautifully presented set with inspiring (or maybe aspirational) graphics and instructions for use. If you’ve never tried acrylic paint pens before, these Archer & Olive Acrylograph pens are a great way to start.

I got the Warm Fall Collection which included eight colors plus an opaque white and an empty pen for blending. The set cost $35 (about $3.80 per pen). There are several other sets available including sets that feature a finer 0.7mm tip which I think would be an interesting option.

The package included a couple extra tips should the tips get frayed or bent. To switch tips, use a pair of tweezers or pliers to keep your hands from getting too messy.

Archer & Olive Acrylograph

Like with all paint pens, they need to be shaken to get the paint properly mixed and then to get the paint to flow, use a scrap sheet of paper and press the tip down until it retracts into the pen. Don’t worry about damaging the pen. As long as you are pushing  just hard enough to retract the point and pushing straight down, you will not damage the tip. Once the tip is fully coated with the paint color, it should be good to go. Repeat this process with each pen.

Archer & Olive Acrylograph

Archer & Olive Acrylograph

The package included an empty pen for blending but I was not savvy enough to figure out how to blend colors. I think that the paint dried too quickly to blend. To be honest, I think it would be difficult to blend colors in a smooth way with these relatively fine paint pen. 

Archer & Olive Acrylograph
Lame effort at blending
Archer & Olive Acrylograph
Empty pen used for blending

Maruman Sketch

I tested the colors on a sheet of Maruman Sketch 100gsm paper first to get the pens moving and just to see the colors.

Archer & Olive Acrylograph
The Warm Fall Collection included a smoky blue, a bronze, a sherbet orange, a midnight blue, a lavender, a burgundy and a pastel pink and a deep plum plus opaque white.

It’s really fun to make dots with these pens!

Archer & Olive Acrylograph

There was no show through on the reverse side of the Maruman paper which is not particularly thick which is a good sign.

Archer & Olive Acrylograph
The plum looks more bluish and the bronze looks more golden on the black paper. The midnight blue looks a little bit teal-y.

I used a sheet of paper from a Flow Paper magazine to test to see how opaque these pens were. The colors were reasonably opaque. If I layered them or applied a few more coats of color, they probably would be more opaque.

I really liked the colors though for a fall color collection, I would have liked more green but that is just me.

Overall, I think these pens are a good introduction into using acrylic paint pens. The colors are rich, opaque and dense. They can be layered when dry and can bee applied to a lot of different kinds of surfaces which is great if you like to do collage or paint on other surfaces (wood, cardboard, plastic, etc).

DISCLAIMER: Some items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. The Acrylograph pens were purchased with my own funds. Please see the About page for more details.

Paper Review: Stonehenge Legion Mini Artist Pad Sample Set, Part 2

Paper Review: Stonehenge Legion Mini Artist Pad Sample Set, Part 2

Review by Tina Koyama

If you missed Part 1 of my review of the Stonehenge Legion Mini Artist Pad Sampler Set, you might want to start there. Part 1 gives an overview of the whole collection and includes a review of seven papers. Today I’ll cover the remaining papers.

Although six pads in the sample set remain to be tested, it’s complicated. The papers are Yupo Translucent, Yupo Medium, Yupo Heavy, Stonehenge Colors, Stonehenge Kraft, and Stonehenge Aqua Coldpress Black. The pad of Stonehenge Colors, however, includes five tones – Natural, Warm White, Cream, Fawn, and Pearl Gray – so you’ll see tests of a total of 10 papers. To further complicate matters, Natural, Warm White and Cream are fairly close in color, and since the individual colors are not identified in the sample pad, I had to guess based on somewhat ambiguous images found on various retailers’ sites. As if that weren’t enough, the Warm White included in the Colors set is slightly different from the standalone Warm White that I showed in Part 1! Note to Legion: I would have appreciated having the paper names printed directly on the sample sheets.

On one side of most samples, I tested student-grade Van Gogh watercolors, a Winsor & Newton Watercolor Marker, a Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pen, and a Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencil. (I placed a small piece of graph paper beneath half the Yupo Translucent sample so that the degree of translucency could be seen.)

2 - media tests - side 1

On the reverse side, I used a Pentel Pigment Ink Brush Pen, my Sailor Naginata Fude de Mannen fountain pen with Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo ink, a Staedtler Mars Lumograph H graphite pencil, a Tombow Mono 100 6B graphite pencil, a Caran d’Ache Luminance colored pencil, and a Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencil. 

For Aqua Coldpress Black, I picked out some especially opaque media to see how they popped: two colors of Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils, a Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen, a Caran d’Ache Fibralo metallic marker, an East Hill Tombstone white brush pen, a Prismacolor Premier pencil, and Uni Posca Paint Markers. (I didn’t have any gouache paints to test, but I bet they would be cool on both black and Kraft.)

3 - media tests - side 2

First, some thoughts on Yupo: It’s the weirdest “paper” ever. A synthetic material, Yupo is “recyclable, waterproof and tree-free,” according to Yupo. It’s closer to plastic than paper. The most experience I’ve had with Yupo is the Field Notes Expedition notebook, which I use to sketch in the rain (yes, of course, I do). I usually use a soft graphite pencil, which skates silently on that completely frictionless surface and looks as almost as dark as a Sharpie!

4 - Yupo medium sketch

Other materials behave just as surprisingly. Since Yupo doesn’t absorb moisture at all, watercolors and other wet media sit on the surface until they dry, which can take a long time (a few hours for some of my tests). I’ve seen some watercolor painters create fantastic effects by taking advantage of this unique quality. But some materials will never dry, like gel pens, and can be rubbed off months later.

The Pentel brush pen’s pigment ink looks rich and solid. On the other hand, the Koi coloring brush pen looks flat and dull. The most surprising effects came from the two colored pencils I tried. The soft, wax-based Luminance could barely be applied; the pigment felt like it was simply sliding around. The oil-based Polychromos, however, had much better results. The best thing to do with Yupo is to try it with as many media as possible! It will likely surprise you, no matter what you use.

After Yupo stole the drama show, all the other samples behaved exceptionally normal by comparison. Although weights were not given on any of these samples, the Aqua Coldpress Black and Stonehenge Kraft feel like 140 pound. The Colors are lighter (I’m guessing about 90 pound). 

The Black Coldpress has a strong tooth similar to its white counterpart (reviewed in Part 1). All the Colors have a much lighter texture that feels the same as the Lenox Cotton and White (Part 1). 

5 - black sketch

6 - Fawn sketch

Overall, the subtle tooth on the lighter papers (Lenox Cotton, Warm White and White in Part 1; Kraft and Colors in Part 2) is probably what stands out as most distinctive about the Stonehenge Legion collection. It’s smooth enough not to cause problems with fountain pens, but it also has enough tooth to make pencilers happy. At least, this penciler: I’m looking forward to using the 9-by-12-inch pad of White I just bought for a colored pencil class I’ll be taking soon.

7 - all sketches

DISCLAIMER: The item in this review include affiliate links. The Well-Appointed Desk is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. Please see the About page for more details.

tina-koyamaTina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.