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[personal profile] rubyredrose
Right. So... recently (as in, since about for months ago) I have been getting into specialty pens. Specifically brush pens, and fountain pens. But... I am also a cheap so-and-so. Fortunately, the internet exists and there are LOTS of great resources. This post will include a bunch of links to some of these, as well as my thoughts. If this does not interest you, I honestly don't know what to tell you. Wait, yes I do. This next paragraph is for you. Everyone else, fell free to skip down to the third paragraph.

Whenever I started learning about and using ink pens for drawing, the standard advice if you wanted to draw manga (and really, was there anything else we wanted to draw back then?) was to use either Sakura Pigma Microns, or, if you happened to be talking to someone who WASN'T a weeaboo, Staedtler Pigment Liners. At the time, they were a revelation to me. An even line that didn't sputter and smudge line gel pens did! And it came in multiple widths! AMAZING. For a while. And while both are worthy pens, they both wear out fairly quickly, and do not store well. Not to mention, neither has waterproof ink. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens have all the same properties as the other two, and waterproof ink. But are hard to find, and still wear out quickly. So I went looking for something better.

Fortunately, there are folks on the internet who both have done a LOT of the research for me, and were nice enough to share. is a lovely write up on various art pens. is a very though write up on various bottled inks, with part two here: Unfortunately, the second set of links only really works if I am willing to try the very long learning curve, dexterity dependent, MESSY task of using a brush to ink. I've tried it. It makes my hand hurt, has almost no fine control, is unpredictable, and looks AWESOME. So no good for comicing, but maybe something to play with. Comic tools has several great articles about inking with a brush: All of which is great, but not for me. However, there is also a section on pens on that site: This article, particularly:

And this gets me somewhere. I tried cartage fountain pens like... ten years ago, during an art class. The ones I'd tried were cheap, wide things that I did not care for, but... they last a REALLY long time. I'd tried dip crow quill and kinda liked the variety, but they were WAY too messy and hard to keep an even amount of ink with. That said, while browsing I noticed a few articles. and particularly. And a quick search showed that they had a few cheap options I could try: particularly. Notice especially that jetpens includes which pens work with which converter. VERY handy for a complete newb like myself.

I have since then tried the same pen with a medium nib, and with a medium nib. All of which are lovely to draw with, but have different widths. Further experimentation/research is needed to find which pens correspond to which line thicknesses I like in a felt tip pen. Fortunately, has made all that much easier. Also, I wish I'd seen their fountain pen 101 series sooner:

The really nice thing about all this is that this means there are now a wide variety of bottled inks I can now use in a pen. While the internet warns me it will ruin my pens (all of which were $15 or less) I have been using Dr. Ph Martin's BLACK STAR waterproof india ink and been VERY happy with it so far. I also tried Speedball technical pen ink that came with the ill-fated Rotring Rapidograph Pen I had picked up on clearance (promptly ruined by leaving it with ink in if for more than 8 hours). The Speedball ink worked just fine, but was not as black or waterproof as the Dr Ph Martin's. I tried Higgins ink since I had it sitting around. While it is easy to find at any Michael's, it is not worth using. I also picked up an bottle of Proart india ink, which while waterproof, if neither as black, or waterproof as the Dr Ph Martin's. It is however, slightly cheaper and you get more in a container.

I currently am waiting on an order of Noodler's Polar Black which is actually intended for fountain pens and seems to be the universal favorite for waterproof black ink by fountain pen websites. This is tempting for the chance to try multiple inks, and if I like the ink I've already ordered I may well try the sample pack. Of particular note about ink is that Noodler's website appears to be run by ink geeks:

For REALLY cheap fountain pens, and be worth looking into, as while they are billed as disposable, can be converted to refillable either with a converter or using an eyedropper conversion. I have not yet tried these myself.

Fountain pens are not all I've been playing with, however! I also picked a brush pen: You'll note, unlike the Pentel pocket brush pen I've seen raved about online, this one is refillable with any ink because, once again, it accepts this lovely thing: This article convinced me I did not want to get into the same problem I'd gotten into with felt tip pens with brush tips: I will post if I have any problems, but so far I have been very happy with my brush pen and it's been three months of not-continuous, but weekly use.

In addition to inking brushes, I also picked up a few water brush pens for use with watercolor. While I have nothing useful to say about water color paint or watercolor pencils, the water brush is either a revelation, or useless, depending on the brand I've tried.

Aqua-flo by Royal Langnickel is uesless for watercolor, but works ok if you fill it with watered down ink. The reason for this is they have no valve to prevent backflow, so you end up sucking your pigment into the water canister instead of putting it onto your paper. They come with three different sizes to a package, but the bristles are pretty soppy, and have no 'flick' to them. No good.

I picked up what I think was a re-branded Kuretake Waterbrush ( ) at Michael's, under the brand Ranger ( ) The internet tells me this is actually a re-branded Yasutomo Niji ( ) which would be nice, as they are by far my favorite and easier to find. I have two, filled with different concentrations of watered down Dr Ph Martin's. The effect is really nice, similar to warm gray toned marker shading. I have had NO problems with leaking, or drying out. The brush tip is still lovely and springy. They are ok for use with pan watercolors, but not as nice as even the cheap non-waterbrush brushes I've used in the past.

I suspect water brushes would be LOVELY with liquid watercolors. If I can find a liquid watercolor set online for cheap, I should try them out and see.. they may end up being more economical than markers if so.
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