Sometimes its nice to go back to my tried-and-true basics: gel pens. For many of us, it was the gateway into better pens whether it was in school or later in life. And what better way to liven up a wintery day (or a bleary Thursday) than with some metallics and pastels! So I thought I’d go over the Pilot Juice Metallic 0.5m 6-Color Gel Set ($9.90) and Pilot Juice 0.5mm 6-Color Pastel Set ($9.90) as well as do a quick comparison of some of the white gel pens available and which ones I like best.
Like all the other Pilot Juice pens available, the metallic and pastel set in 0.5mm come with the spring-loaded clips and rubberized grips. They are all retractable so they are easy to use and feature the same conical tips. The metallic set come with metallic violet, metallic pink, metallic blue, metallic green, silver and gold.
I tested the pens on both white paper and black paper. Then I tested the color over black Sharpie marker to see contrast.
The 0.5mm is fine line enough to dry quickly and work for anyone with small handwriting like myself. Because it is very fine line, they are not as sparkly or glittery as a Sakura gel pen but they also don’t take an age to dry or get gloopy. The colors are nice and vivid but since the points are very fine, if you re using these on colored paper like construction paper, you may pick up loose paper fibers since the pens are very fine tipped and pointy. A light touch will work best and you may want to use a paper towel to wipe the end to remove any loose fibers.
The pastel set comes in the same packaging and features all the same great features as the metallics: retractable, conical tip, spring-loaded clips, etc.
The colors in the set are pastel yellow, pastel violet, pastel pink, pastel blue, pastel green, and white.
When tested on white paper, the pink and purple were the only truly usable colors. The green, purple and yellow would work for coloring or underlining and not much else. On black or dark colored paper or to go over other colors, ink or pen, though, the pastels and white were a lot more usable.
Again, the Pilot Juice 0.5mm are very fine line and sharp so on construction paper, you are likely to pick up paper fibers if you are heavy-handed but with a light touch or small or detailed work, these can be a nice addition to your collection.
I decided to include the Sakura Ballsign 5-Color 0.6mm Pastel Set ($12) for comparison since I had it available. It is a little bit wider tip but I think it will give a good comparison colorwise to the Pilot Juice Pastel set. It does lack the pastel yellow however.
You’ll notice that the pastel blue, pastel pink, pastel green and pastel purple included in the Ballsign set are all fairly usable on white paper as well as on darker stocks. And the white is much more opaque on black. I don’t know if its the shades of pastel they chose or the extra 0.1mm that makes the difference?
So, after comparing the Pilot Juice to the Sakura Ballsign, I decided to pull all the white gel pens I had in my stash and do a quick comparison of all the ones I had to show the difference in opacity on dark paper.
Above I have:
- Pilot Juice 0.5mm White ($1.80)
- Signo Angelic UM-120 ($2.30)
- Sakura Ballsign White 0.6mm ($2.80)
- Y & C Gel Extreme Pastel White ($1.20)
- Sakura Gelly Roll 08 White ($2)
- Uni-Ball Signo Broad ($2.50)
Clearly, the Pilot Juice is very light but it is also very fine and the Uni-Ball Sign Broad is pretty opaque but the broadest of the lot. My favorite middle ground is the Signo Angelic which is pretty fine but also pretty opaque and can be layered up a bit.
The Y&C Gel Extreme did well on dark paper but I’ve not had as much success with it over ink and other artwork so if you’re looking for a pen to draw or write on colored paper, the Y&C might be good for you but I wouldn’t recommend it as much for using over other inks. I find it cuts or lifts up the other colors.
The Ballsign is okay for doing little bits of dotty snow or stars or the occasional highlight. Its okay but the Uni-Signo and Angelic are definitely better options.
Sakura Gelly Roll is good for doing eye lights or other “final touch” highlights but takes an age to dry so be prepared to leave your drawing or lettering out to dry if you use it.