Tag: review

Pen Review: Visconti Wall Street Limited Edition Green Pearl Celluloid Double Broad

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition

The Visconti Wall Street Limited Edition Green Pearl is the first Visconti that I’ve ever had the privilege to use. In terms of looks, its probably the exact model I would have picked for myself. The layered green celluloid catches the light similarly to vintage Parker Vacumatics. As someone who’s heart is perpetually stuck in a 1940s film, this is an easy way to win my heart. The unique, rounded square shape is also quite appealing too. For starters, its far less likely to roll off the table and it actually feels quite nice in the hand.

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition Cap branding

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition Cap

Aesthetically, my one sticking point is the Visconti branded scimitar clip. I have just never liked this design decision and Visconti sticks it on almost every pen they design. Its like the un-design decision. Can’t think of how to design the clip? Stick the scimitar on it. Where the layered celluloid is supposed to create the illusion of floors of a skyscraper and the twinkle of lights in the windows and the shape of the pen is supposed to be reminiscent of the shape of a building, why stop at the clip? Could it not also evoke the decorative filigree on buildings like the Carbon and Carbide Building or other great historical architectural marvels? I didn’t mention the Chrysler Building because that seemed obvious but you know what I mean… right?

Most of the weight of the pen is in the cap and the clip, weighing an impressive 42 gms capped but uncapped and filled, it weighs a more manageable 25 gms. The chart below includes capped and/or posted weights for common budget-priced pens for comparison.

Fountain Pen Weights

In regards to length, the Wall Street can be used posted at an impressively long 7″ or unposted at a more diminutive 5.25″ which fit comfortably balanced in my small hands. Closed and capped, the Wall Street is 5.75″ which is only about 0.25″ longer thank your average Lamy Safari so its not a small pen but its not out of the ordinary size-wise.

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition nib BB

This nib on this particular model is the BB, double broad “Dreamtouch” 23K gold correction: palladium. It is a soft, slightly flexible nib and is quite smooth though I had a bit of a learning curve finding the right angles to  get the best performance from the nib. The BB required being held at a slightly higher angle if I was writing from below the baseline (from my left handed angle) though writing from above, I had no issues with writing at all except that the pen laid down so much ink that dry time became an issue and I kept sticking my hand in wet ink. It’s a bit flexy but I would certainly not be inclined to use it as a flex nib.

In order to take full advantage of the flexibility of the nib though, writing from below the baseline was my best option. Just the weight of one’s hand and the movement and passion with which one is writing is enough to add some character and flair to the strokes.

However, when writing overhanded, I needed almost no contact with the paper to get ink to flow. The lightest of touches was needed and ink just appeared on the paper which was really nice. It meant that writing was easy and I wasn’t having to push or pull or will the ink out of the pen. It just flowed.

Visconti Wall Street Green Pearl Limited Edition Writing Sample

I did not talk in depth about the filling system which is a double reservoir power filler. The best information I could find to clarify what a “double reservoir power filler” was came from Inks and Pens who succinctly explained that its a glorified vacuum filler. Oh, well. That’s much easier to understand. The challenge is getting a full flush. Since this is not my pen, I did my best to fully flush the pen clean but it left a bit of clean water in the reservoir. Rather than disassemble a loaner pen, I’m going to leave the water in the pen than risk disassembly. It actually arrived with a bit of water in it so it seems to be an issue coming and going.

I confess, I waited until after I did all my testing and writing and experimenting to find out exactly how expensive this pen was. I know that Visconti pens are not inexpensive but I did not want the price of the pen to factor into my opinion of the pen. As many of you already know, I’m not a fan of the hype and fanfare around the Homo Sapiens line (see Pen Addict podcast episode 238) so I went into my Wall Street experience a little skeptical to begin with. However, I did warm to the pen in general. I did gasp a bit at the price.

If I wasn’t such an ink changer and didn’t think the clip was phoned-in, I might actually consider this pen as a possibility for my collection, with an extra fine nib of course. But with those caveats, I think I might rather put that kind of money towards a refurbished Parker Vac instead.

PS: I didn’t go into detail about the packaging because it was just fancy packaging. If you’d like to see photos of the box, check out this review for a different version of the pen, but the same packaging.


Big shout out to Casey (AKA Punkey) for loaning me this pen to try out. He is, as always, my enabler, my comrade and my favorite troublemaker.

My Cross Century Secret Stash (and a Cross Spire for good measure)

cross century assortment

Last summer, after answering an Ask The Desk post about finding a classic ballpoint pen, I developed a fascination with Cross Century pens. At the DC Pen Show, I acquired my first, an engraved Cross Century II in matte blue metallic and have since acquired three more: two classic Cross Centuries and a Cross Century II Starlight from NOS this December. You may be asking yourself, what’s the fascination?

First, the original Cross Century is similar to the Parker Jotter in that the design has been around for decades. Its classic, streamlined and elegant. Originally created in 1946 and still in production today, the Cross Century is a sleek, elegant design and, like the Jotter, worthy of being in any pen collector’s collection, whether you acquire your grandfather’s or purchase a new one. Or both.

cross-century II twilight grey

The Cross Century II is an updated version of the Century modified to accommodate rollerball refills, a more ergonomic grip section and the larger pens preferred by modern pen consumers. This also allowed for some innovations in their refills as well which Cross refers to as the “Selectip” refills which appealed to me because one of the options is a felt tip. Of all the major pen manufacturers, Cross is the only one I know of that offers felt tip as a refill option.

(This is the point at which I am NOT going to talk about the Star Wars Cross designs. Like they never even happened. Nevermind, those are the  “Townsend” line — they are still awful. I can gripe about the Marvel Century IIs. Those are bad too. Giant logos do not make for good licensed products. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled happy review.)

And then there’s the “Switch-It” mechanical pencil option that can be dropped into the ballpoint pen to turn it into a pencil. I love a pen manufacturer who considers giving their customers range and options! Of course, the actual implementation of the “Switch-It” refill is a little janky and it is only available as a 0.7mm mechanical pencil which steam a lot of people since the older Cross mechanical pencils were 0.5mm or 0.9mm so the fact that the Switch-It insert only has one width option is kind of lame. Anyway, actually using the Switch-It insert took a little practice since it doesn’t work like any other mechanical pencil I’ve ever used.

cross century plaid

While it took me awhile to figure out how to work the Cross “Switch It” Pencil refill on my own. I came to the same operating action as demonstrated in the video shown here:

 

cross-century pens open

And, of course, because I can’t leave well enough alone, I modified the Cross Spire pictured at the top of the photo to accept a Uni Signo 0.38mm D1 refill by jamming a bit of plastic in the end of the barrel to make up the space disparity in the length. It’s now one of my favorite everyday pens.

My engraved “The Well-Appointed Desk” Cross Century II Royal Blue Selectip Rollerball Pen $29.95 (plus engraving charges) is filled with the fine tip porous point black ink and the Cross Century II Starlight Rollerball in Grey has a fine tip porous point with blue ink. The Starlight was purchased NOS  and is no longer available but Anderson Pens still has some of the ballpoint pen models available.

cross-century writing

Cross refills are considerably more limited than Parker. Cross makes proprietary refill sizes and offer a limited range of tip sizes and colors, where PArker style refills became the industry-standard size. As a result, Cross pens are not nearly as popular unless you like plain black and blue ink and medium width ballpoint or rollerball refills. However,  if you are willing to do a little tweaking, there’s some opportunities to make these beauties work for you. And, in some ways, it looks like Cross is trying their best to help too like the Switch-It pencil refill.

Now, if they can build on that…

cross-century-3

The models shown above but not mentioned are:

Review: BigiDesign Ti Arto The Ultimate Refill Friendly Pen

BigiDesign TiArto

The BigiDesign Ti Arto Pen is touted as the most refill friendly pen and when it was announced on Kickstarter last year, I was all in from the moment they said go. As the queen of refill hacking, the idea of having a pen capable of accepting 200+ refills without having to do any manipulation, adding spacers or doing any other kind of hoodoo is my idea of the perfect pen. BigiDesign built the Ti Arto out of titanium and uses a clamping mechanism reminiscent of the locking chuck on your favorite power drill to clamp down and hold your refills in place. Freakin’ brilliant, if you ask me. The rear of the pen has a step down which allows the cap to be posted and seated lower on the pen, making it comfortable and well-balanced.

TiArto Posted

Everything else about the pen is simple and understated. The clip is smooth with the “Ti” etched into it. There are subtle rubber rings in key spots to help the cap seat and stay locked tight. It doesn’t look all that dissimilar to their Ti Post design but that’s okay. It’s the inner workings of this pen that are what I was excited about. And the clean lines of the design are good so there was no reason to mess with that anyway. I do prefer how the pen looks when its posted over when its capped however.

TiArto Cap

TiArto Refills

But the true test of this pen was could I really fit all the endless refills I had in my stash into the pen? I took a handful of the refills from my copious collection to represent the various sizes and configurations and put the pen through its paces. The nice thing about the locking mechanism is that if you prefer your refill to sit in a certain position, you can adjust it just “so” by  tilting the pen and refill at a downward angle while twisting the chuck closed with the refill extended to your preferred length until the  chuck is tight. If you want it to extend a little more or a little less, just loosen the chuck and shimmy the refill in or out to your preference and re-tighten until you are satisfied.

It might take a few tries to get your your technique down but after you do it a couple times and try writing, you’ll find your sweet spot and you’ll be off.

tiarto-1

As you can see, I tested gel, ballpoint, rollerball and fineliners of varying widths and colors all in the span of an afternoon.

tiarto-2

I even went to wide ballpoints and needlepoint tips. I went so far as to put a Cross mechanical pencil insert in, just to prove a point, though advancing the pencil leads would prove to be a bit cumbersome. However, if you found a pencil with a knock mechanism… could be kind of fun!

TiArto Writing Samples

Here are all the writing samples from the pen refills shown above. Obviously, this is not 200+ but it certainly shows the range and potential of the Ti Arto. I’m curious if all the refills I tested are actually on the BigiDesign list? The simple news is that ANY refill on my Epic Refill Guide will fit in this pen… and then some. So… that’s good news, right?


I bought this pen with my own money and was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

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.

1-marvy-leplume-ii-markers

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.

2-scribble-and-wash-test-on-canson-98-lb-mixed-media-paper

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.

3-two-sizes-of-marvy-leplume-ii-2-sided-marker-tips

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.

4-coloring-book-page-in-stillman-birn-zeta

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).

5a-marvy-leplume-ii-with-blender-pen-on-canson-98-lb 5b-marvy-leplume-ii-with-water-on-canson-98-lb-mixed-media-paper

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.

6-tombow-dual-brush-pens-on-canson-98-lb

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.

Ink Review: KWZ Honey (New & Old Formula)

KWZ Honey (old and new formula)

I finally had a chance to test both KWZ Honey (the original formula) and the newly formulated (less odiferous) version ($13 for 60ml bottle) and thought I’d write up a side-by-side comparison. The new formula of KWZ Honey hit the US in the fall with little fanfare and mixed opinions. This gave me a bit of time to play with both versions and let me simmer down in my feelings one way or another. The reason the formula was altered stemmed from the distinct smell in the original formula of Honey. It has a distinct astringent scent from the preservative used to keep the ink from molding or getting funky. It reminds me of menthol. The new version has very little scent, more of a traditional inky smell. Some people feel that the change in the preservative also altered the color and translucency. So, let’s see if you agree.

The original formula of KWZ Honey was purchased in cases this summer. I know this for a fact because I helped sell a lot of it behind the Vanness Pens table in Chicago and DC specifically. By the time we got to Dallas though, the new formula had be introduced. We really hadn’t had much chance to compare the two versions prior to Dallas other than a few quick swabs and the sniff test. So this is the first chance I’ve had to publicly share my comparisons.

KWZ Honey (old and new formula) swab comparison

Above are the swabs of both versions. The  original formula swab is in the center and I did that when I first received my bottle of Honey several months ago. The swabs right and left were done on the same day, with the same brush and dried for exactly the same amount of time to be as close in comparison as possible and as unlikely to have any fading or other changes as possible. And those were done last week.

KWZ Honey (old and new formula) writing sample

These are writing samples left and right with the same brush for the headers (my Silver round brush #6) and the same Esterbrook fountain pen nib for the writing samples done at the same time for color comparisons. In side-by-side comparisons, I was initially going to be all “oh, you can definitely tell a difference” but in the end, I really can’t tell a noticeable difference between the two versions other than the distinct lack of smelling like Vick’s Vap-o-Rub when using the new formula.

Honey shades from a nice golden color to a rich chocolate brown. There’s great range to the color.

KWZ Honey (old and new formula) swab comparison

I’ve include comparison swatches of some other warm golden browns, including Callifolio Heure D’orée which is a seriously underappreciated ink. I’ll be doing a more detailed review of it soon. Other browns don’t  shade with as wide as range as Honey.  Akkerman #22 Hopjesbrown is a much more reddish brown and Iroshizuku Ino-Ho and KWZ Green Gold 2 are both much more yellow-green but are closest in value.

So, if you had wanted to buy KWZ Honey but were not buying it because you only wanted “the one, true original formula” you are doing yourself a disservice. The new formula is just as lovely as the original with 95% less Vap-o-Rub scent.


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

Ink Review: Robert Oster Fire & Ice

Robert Oster Fire & Ice

I could not wait to get my hands on Robert Oster Signature Fire & Ice ink ($16). It was sold out on Vanness Pens as soon as it was available so I had to wait a couple weeks to get a bottle of my own. It was totally worth the wait. This is one of the Oster inks with a lot of sheen so if that’s something you like in your inks, this is definitely a color to consider.

Robert Oster Fire & Ice Ink Swab

Fire & Ice is a blue ink that leans to the dark turquoise (ice) side with a red/magenta sheen, hence the “fire”.

Robert Oster Fire & Ice Writing Sample

The Oster inks still comes in the tall, slender 50ml plastic bottles, for better or worse, depending on your perspective. Its the only sticking point I have with their inks. I don’t mind the plastic part, since the inks ship all the way from Australia, I appreciate the overall weight reduction of the plastic and the dark material of the plastic. I even don’t mind the slender shape for storage but I know I’m going to get to a point with every single one of my Oster inks where I’m going to need to transfer them to other containers in order to get the inks out of the bottle. I’ll be buying lots of empty glass bottles from Vanness to store my inks for sure.

Robert Oster Fire & Ice Ink Swab comparison

I hope the swatch comparison above helps show where Fire & Ice falls in the “blue and sheen-y” ink category — at least in my ink collection. I also included all the other bluish Robert Oster inks. Callifolio Omi Osun is very close in color but does not have the sheen. Oster’s Aqua, Torquay and Blue Denim all sheen as well but are different colors of blue. Torquay is much more turquoise, Blue Denim is a darker blue and Aqua looks more teal comparatively. Sailor Yama Dori and Pilot Iroshizuku Ku Jaku both have sheen but are closer in color to Oster Aqua than Fire & Ice. And finally, I included Private Reserve Daphne Blue and Akkerman Treves-Turquoise which both sheen a bit but are much lighter, brighter cool blues.

So… if you collect blue inks, sheening inks or turquoise inks with the same wild abandon that I do, you’ll not want to wait a second to order a bottle of Fire & Ice. It’s pretty magical and mesmerizing to write with. But if this kind of inky trickery is not your cup of tea, then you’ve been sufficiently warned. Oster makes many other ink colors that are beautiful colors that I’ll be reviewing soon that may be more to your taste.

Brush Pens, Part 4: Water-Soluble Bristle Tips

Guest review by Tina Koyama

This fourth and final installment of the brush pen series reviews bristle-tip pens containing water-soluble ink. Similar to their waterproof ink counterparts, these 10 brush pens have actual synthetic hair tips that take a bit of practice to get the hang of controlling. However, I find their lines to be more expressive and fluid than felt tip brush pens, so it is worth it to me to give them the extra effort to use.

water soluble bristle pens

Ink Color & Permanence

First, I’ll talk about the inks these pens contain. While they all look within a comparable range of black on the Canson XL 98-pound mixed media paper I scribbled on, the Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pen has a slightly purplish tinge (which is more apparent when washed with water). The Zig, the Pentel Standard Brush Pen (medium tip) and the Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pen have the darkest, richest washes when water is applied. That’s a quality I look for in water-soluble inks, since I generally use them when I want to take advantage of the wash for shading.

water soluble bristle wash test

Compared to some of the water-soluble pens in the felt tip group, these inks mostly stayed water-soluble when washed a couple of weeks after the initial line had been applied. However, when I washed them again just now, more than a month since the initial application, all of them were nearly permanent. I think it’s safe to assume that these inks eventually become permanent over time.

field notes water soluble bristle brush tests

All inks behaved as expected on Field Notes 60-pound Finch Opaque Smooth paper with very little bleed-through except where I had applied water. As I mentioned in the water-soluble felt tip review, it’s interesting to see the difference in the washes when comparing the Field Notes paper with the 98-pound Canson paper. Sized for water media, the Canson paper brings out the washed color, while the Field Notes paper makes the washes look more like wimpy blurs.

Although I tested only pens with black ink, it should be noted that the Akashiya Sai comes in 20 colors and the Zig Clean Color comes in 80! They can be blended like watercolors, and since they remain soluble for quite some time, you could continue blending them as you work. The Akashiya Sai ThinLine is available in five dark, natural tones. (I think I’m going to have to eventually get all five because I love the muted tones, which aren’t easily found in brush pens.)

Beyond these points, none of the inks stood out with any distinction. What I find distinctive about this group is the wide variety of form factors in which the pens are available.

water soluble bristle pens variety of form factors

Variety of Form Factors

By form factor, I’m referring to the size and shape of the pens. The three Sailor Fude Nagomi brush pens (the red, the green and the black) look the most like traditional Asian calligraphy brushes with their longer length and tapered body. (Incidentally, the three Nagomi pens are identical except for their body colors; I guess I would have known this before buying all three if I’d read the descriptions more carefully and hadn’t been so excited about having more brush pens to explore!)

Yellow Akashiya New Fude Disposable on 140lb Watercolor Paper
Yellow Akashiya New Fude Disposable on 140lb Watercolor Paper

The Kuretake No. 30 Double-Sided Brush Pen has a firm felt-tip on the opposite end of the brush (a nice option that was offered on several of the water-soluble felt tip pens).

The Akashiya Sai and the Akashiya New Fude Disposable Brush Pen look similar, both with transparent caps, but are longer than the Kuretake Zig Clean Color, which is slightly thicker. The Akashiya ThinLine, however, is indeed a distinctly thin pen – a little too thin for my comfort. It could be mistaken for an eyeliner. The brush itself is somewhat thinner than the others in this review, but because of that, I missed the wider end of the range that I could get with the others. Its very tip was not any thinner than the other tips.

Sketched with Sailor Profit on Stillman & Birn Epsilon paper.
Sketched with Sailor Profit on Stillman & Birn Epsilon paper.

The Pentel has a reservoir and a soft barrel that can be squeezed to push more ink to the brush. (Beware: this is the type that will leak to high heaven at high altitudes.) It is refillable, however, with proprietary cartridges. The only other refillable pen in this group is the Sailor Profit Brush Pen, which looks like and is refillable like a Sailor Profit fountain pen.

The variety of shapes and sizes means that you can choose the one that fits your hand and work style most comfortably. If you are already familiar with a classic fountain pen body, then the Sailor Profit is an easy transition. If you like narrow barrels, then the Akashiya ThinLine might be a good choice. The Zig Clean Color has a body that feels the most like a classic marker, and I find the thicker barrel easier to use. The longer Sailor Nagomi pens might be difficult to handle, but they are nicely balanced even when posted.

Final Impressions

I’ve done it in all the other reviews, so I might as well complete the set: I am notably grumpy about caps that don’t post as expected. In this group, only the double-sided Kuretake has caps that must be reversed to post. All others made me happy by posting predictably.

pentel-standard-colored-pencils-stillman-birn-alpha

While I tend to reach for waterproof inks more often, I have to say that the water-soluble aspect of these bristle brush pens encouraged me to experiment more. Most of my sketch samples in this series were done with brush pens only. For this review, however, I tried something different by sketching the pear first with oil-based Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils. Then I gave it shading with the Pentel, which I further blended with a waterbrush. The wash has enough transparency that the blended colored pencils underneath show through – an effect that I like.

sailor-nagomi-canson-100-lb-all-media-paper

I wore out all three Sailor Nagomi pens at life-drawing practice sessions. The expressiveness of the brush combined with the ability to conveniently shade by washing the line made them a joy to use.

While no clear favorite emerged from this group, this combination of brush and ink type is definitely a keeper in my sketch kit. In fact, as a result of writing this series, I now have four daily-carry brush pens, one of each type, because each serves a different sketching need.

If you missed the other parts, they are:

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.