Tag: marker

Review: Marvy LePlume II Brush Markers

Guest review by Tina Koyama

Before I got heavily into colored pencils, watercolor brush pens were my coloring medium of choice. It’s hard to resist the huge range of intense, saturated colors many of them come in. Tombow Dual-Brush Pens were my gateway drug, and I managed to acquire quite a few of the line’s 96 colors before I discovered Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens. I decided that the “real” brush tips on the Kuretake pens were more variable and expressive, and they were my favorite for a long time (and yes, I acquired quite a few of those, too).

Eventually colored pencils suited my urban sketching needs better than markers, so except for black brush pens, I haven’t been using markers as much. Recently, though, I discovered Marvy LePlume II Double-Sided Watercolor Markers – and good golly, they come in an unbelievable 109 colors! Even more than the Tombows! Resistance was futile. I did, however, manage to resist getting all 109. In fact, my general tendency is to pick out all the brightest, most garish colors in any set, but I wanted to limit myself to about a dozen, so I showed some restraint and chose a relatively cohesive, subdued (for me) palette. I also got a blender pen.

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Scribble and Wash Test

My initial scribbles were done on Canson 98-pound mixed media paper, which is sized for wet media. On the right I used the blender pen to test the wash properties and found the marks to be a bit scratchy looking – the blender brush pen’s strokes are apparent. On the left I used a Kuretake waterbrush and prefer the more watercolor-like effect of its wetter brush.

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I have to say that I didn’t use the fine end of the two-sided Marvy LePlume pens except to write the color names and numbers on the left side of the page. The fine end is a firm tip suitable for writing and drawing, but not for coloring. When I’m coloring, I prefer the softer brush tip of the larger end, which is made of a compressed, slightly flexy material (not hairs). Like all brush pens, you can adjust the size of the mark the brush makes by changing the angle relative to the paper. I found it easy to color in larger areas quickly by using the broad side of the brush tip held at a sharp angle to the page.

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Stillman & Birn Zeta Test

The next test was more fun. I’ve seen many adult coloring books lately with beautiful abstract patterns. To test out the markers’ blending properties, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: I made my own coloring book page. I did the line work first with a waterproof Sakura Pigma Micron pen in a Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook.

I’ve successfully used 180-pound S&B Zeta paper with traditional watercolors, so I assume the surface is sized for wet media. I tried to make gradient effects with single colors as well as with two or three shades, but they didn’t blend as well as I thought they would. On the Zeta paper, I found the blending effect to be better with the blender pen than the waterbrush, but when I scrubbed more to increase the blending, the Zeta’s surface started to pill a bit.

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Canson Mixed Media Test

I did a third test using Canson 98-pound mixed media paper (the same kind used for the scribble/wash test). This time I thought the Marvy LePlumes blended much more easily and with less scrubbing whether I was using water or the blender pen. The blender pen still shows brush strokes more than the waterbrush, but they are not necessarily objectionable – just a slightly different effect. It’s a matter of personal preference, but I like the look of these markers and their blending qualities better on the toothy Canson paper than the smooth Zeta paper. I’m not sure whether it’s the texture or sizing or both, but as usual, the particular paper used with a pen makes a big difference in the effect.

I know that brush markers are popular among coloring book enthusiasts, and I’ve sometimes wondered whether the types of paper coloring books are published on are suitable for wet markers like these (let alone blending their colors with a waterbrush). If you’re planning to use them in coloring books, I’d buy just a few pens and test them out before investing in all 109 colors (which is the kind of crazy thing I’d be likely to do without testing first).

One thing to be aware of is that some Marvy LePlume colors are much juicier than others, and when I pulled the caps off, they actually spattered ink on the page (I circled the spatters on the S&B Zeta page).

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Tombow Comparison

I didn’t intend this to be a head-to-head comparison review, but since I just happen to have a good supply of the afore-mentioned Tombow Dual Brush Pens, I decided to do a mini-test of their blending qualities on Canson paper, just for kicks. The Tombows are comparable in that they also have a broad brush end and a fine, hard-tip end. With a waterbrush, Tombow ink makes an almost seamless wash that looks very much like watercolor. With the Tombow blender, blending gradient colors was a bit easier to do and showed fewer brush strokes.

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Final Thoughts

While I found no fault with the Marvy LePlumes, they didn’t distinguish themselves much from other similar markers I’ve used, and I think I prefer the Tombows when color blending. (What a relief – now I won’t have to run out and get the rest of the LePlume colors!) They did remind me, though, of how much fun it is to use watercolor brush markers, and I’m going to get them out more often again.

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.


DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Koi Watercolor Brush Pens 12-Color Set

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

I was introduced to the Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens 12-color set ($27)  by way of Lisa Condon’s blog, Today Is Going To Be To Be Awesome. She had a post on her sidebar about her favorite tools to use for drawing and illustration and one of her recommended pens for sketchbook use were the 12-color set of Koi Coloring Brush Pens.

The pens are felt-tipped and shaped like a paint brush tip. The colors are bright, clean and vivid and are water soluble so they will blend together easily allowing the 12-color set to extend itself into a wider range of colors by blending the colors together.

If you do blend the colors together, be sure to have a piece of scratch paper handy because the colors will migrate from pen to pen and you’ll want to clean off any color transfer that might occur in the process though this can also create some interesting an unexpected results. Just be prepared.

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

The set comes in a plastic sleeve but I prefer to dump out all my pens immediately into a pen case or a cup so they are handy and accessible. If they are all locked away in a protective sleeve, I find they don’t get used which is a waste.  Rolling around on my desk, I wrote notes, doodled, colored and generally just enjoyed the bright vivid colors all week which was welcomed in the bleak January days I have to say!

The black pen in the set is also water soluble so I would not recommend using it as an outliner and then trying to go back and fill in with colors as the black will migrate. The word “KOI” on my sample has darker colors because the black started to creep into the center. If you want to do outlining in black brush pen and then use the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush pens instead which are permanent and then add color with the Koi Coloring Brush Pens.

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

I think these pens might spend a little time out with our coloring books this week and see how it plays there. I’d also like to add in a little light water brush to lighten the colors a bit and help to blend so that the colors will play even more like watercolor. I did try a water brush after photographing the samples and the colors do continue to blend even several hours later so these will definitely be lots of fun to play with. A very clean, portable way to use watercolors on the go! And, wow! Are the colors ever bright and clean and juicy!


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Copic CIAO Markers

Copic Ciao 6-pack color set

I recently bought the Sea colors 6-pack of the Copic CIAO markers. The set comes with four, watery colors plus black and a clear blender. Each marker uses an alcohol based permanent ink and features a brush tip on one end and a chisel tip on the other.

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In general, I think the Copic line of markers is popular with illustrators, particularly those in the comic book and/or animation business. When I was at the local comic book convention last month, I saw a lot of the artists had Copic markers in their kits. The CIAO is a smaller, less expensive version of the professional Copic Markers.

Writing Sample Copic Ciao

I absolutely love the springy quality of the brush tip. Its great for lettering. I’m a doofus with the wide chisel tip though. I blame my left-handedness.

Overall, the colors in the set were pretty though I never figured out quite how to use the blender pen. Because of the lightness of the colors, there was a little washiness in the colors that was not intentional.

After playing around with the Sai Watercolor markers, I was even less interested in the Copic CIAO markers but I suspect that these markers are not really made for the casual user. They reminded me a lot of the old DESIGN markers we were supposed to use in art school for “marker renderings” back in the day when digital photography and mock-ups were too expensive so artists would do a realistic drawing to show potential clients.

When dry, these inks were virtually waterproof which means that other water-based media, colored pencils or paint could be added to a drawing or calligraphy piece. On the right edge, I liberally applied water from a paint brush onto the markers after they were dry for a minute or so and the colors didn’t budge.

Reverse side of Copic Ciao Writing Sample

Then there was the bleed through issue. If you need markers like these for illustration purposes or for the waterproofiness, then the bleed through may not be an issue. For me, they bleed so much as to not be suitable for sketchbooks or even envelopes.

I will definitely use the black for calligraphy with the brush tip and the chisel end for labeling boxes (like a Sharpie Marker), but the other colors might not get a ton of use for my purposes. If I stumble across an illustrator or a young would-be illustrator, I will gift them the set.

Bottom-line: These are not for the casual user but more valuable to the artist, illustrator, animator or art student using heavy duty illustration board, specialty “marker paper” or the like.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Highlighter Round-Up

Highlighters

You know you’re an office supply nerd when you think a good way to spend the weekend is to do a highlight head-to-head. Yep. That is me. I pulled out all the highlighter tools I have to see which ones I liked best.

In the pile:

Highlighter Writing Samples

The industry standard for highlighting is the yellow so first I wanted to see which yellow looked the best. I was a little disappointed by how light the NPW neon pencil was. I really want to embrace pencil highlighters but I’ll definitely have to keep looking in regards to yellow pencil highlighters as this one left me wanting. Poppin’s Thin Highlighters had a bright clean neon yellow I was quite happy with. The Sanford Accent looks more like a yellow orange but I have to wonder just how old the marker is. The Sharpie Accent mini was an acceptable yellow but the Platinum Preppy and Poppin Thin Highlighters had the best yellow color, IMHO.

When I started looking at the colors (and I did not have a full range of colors for every brand) I ended up really liking most of the colors in the Poppin set. I still think purple is an awfully dark color to highlight but it would work well for underlining or otherwise marking a passage in a book or notes.

In the NPW pencils, I think the orange was the most effective highlighter color. The pink and green work pretty well too. I definitely prefer the other colors in the pencil highlighters to the yellow.

Highlighter Writing Samples

When tested over various writing tools, using highlighters with pen or pencil is a fine balance. Ink that dries to a water resistant finish work best with the marker highlighters. The reason I’m so keen to find a good pencil highlighter set is that they can be used over less water resistant inks like fountain pen ink and they are less inclined to bleed through in books or textbooks.

Surprisingly, Marvy Le Pens, which are not particularly water resistant, held up well to the highlighters.  The Sakura Pigma Micron and Uni Jetstream also did well with all the various highlighters. The Staedtler Triplus did well with everything but the Sharpie and Stanford Accents. And pencil performs with wet and dry highlighters. My Retro 51 Rollerball is not highlighter-friendly.

NPW Neon Pencils

The NPW neon pencils (from Target) came in a set of four in an acetate box. I found them on clearance for a few dollars.

Sharpie Accent Minis

The Sharpie Accent Minis came in a set of four on a blister pack at my local Office Depot. This particular set was in their clearance bins up front so I got them for about $3. While I love the idea of being able to attach them to a keychain or something, I never do so they just end up being really short highlighters that fall to the bottom of my pen box.

Platinum Preppy Highlighter

Platinum Preppy Highlighter

The Platinum Preppy highlighter is a refillable highlighter. It uses the Platinum ink cartridges and I believe the tip can be replaced as well. I like that its reusable and refillable and I could probably even use my bottled Noodlers Firefly ink an syringe fill the cartridge. Its one of my favorites because of this. Highlighter is $2.50, set of three refill cartridges is $2.50  and replacement tips are $1.65 for a package of two. The Platinum Preppy Highlighter is available in five colors: yellow, green, orange, red and blue.  A set of all five available highlighter colors is $12.50.

Poppin Thin Highlighters

The Poppin Thin Highlighters are available in boxes of 12 for each color or an assorted box with 2 of each color. $10 per dozen.


For more about highlighter options, check out the Highlighter Round-Up, The History of the Highlighter, Office Max Liquid Highlighters and the Kaweco Highlighter Pen.


Now, for the giveawayI have a set of six Poppin Thin Highlighters — one of each color — available to one lucky reader. Just tell me what you like to highlight to be entered to win.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday, October 25, 2013. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Saturday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money.

DISCLAIMER: Some items were sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens and Poppin for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: Pinning away for it

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From my Well-Appointed Desk board (clockwise from top left): A homey workspace, a very elegant workspace, a desk transformed from Martha Stewart, and a workspace from Design Sponge

This week, I thought I’d cull through all my desk, pen and office supply boards on Pinterest and give you some visual Link Love. Check the sidebar to find me on Pinterest and follow the boards that interest you.

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From my Pens and Pencils Board (clockwise from top left): Pantone marker set, beautiful Edison Encore pen dipped into water for a rinse from Goulet Pens and Pelikan Edelstein ink swabs from JetPens.
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From my Digital Office Board (clockwise from top left): iPhone cases from Ampersand Shop, stackable USB cords and Kate Spade desktop wallpaper
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From my Timekeepers Board (clockwise from top left): large number flip clock, LED digital clock, color coding pages in a planner with washi tape and washi tape accents on a paper planner
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From my Desk Accessories board (clockwise from top left): Doane 3-ring notebook paper, pencil cup dispenser, office supplies from Restoration Hardware and a desktop screensaver clock

Other folks to follow on Pinterest:

Black is Beautiful

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By far, the most popular ink color for pens is black. And for markers, be they art-making tools or big, bold utility markers, black is the go-to color. Which is why the new website Black is Beautiful is a great resource for lovers of felt/fiber-tipped markers. Included in their database is paint pens, washable markers and permanent alcohol-based markers like Sharpie.So far, there are over 100 markers in their database.

The site is beautifully arranged and features photos of each marker in the database. The site does not feature reviews of each pen but does provide detailed images and info about each pen. I do hope in the future they add more user information about the more commonly available pens.

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Black is Beautiful is scheduled to be updated on a weekly basis, adding more pens to the database. At present, a limited edition poster is available for purchase for $50 for Canada and $75 for US (prices include shipping).