Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pen dilemmas

I'm doing lots of detailed busy-busy pieces at the minute and am trying out new pens. It's always a dilemma. I'm so used to working with pens that give, bending and flexing and responding to pressure, that using anything else sometimes feels a bit odd. But when you want solidity from a pen, you need it to perform every time.

The exception to this is the Japanese double-ended calligraphy pen I have with one very pointy, rock-hard end which is a felt tip. It's brilliant, but I have only one left and I've just completely exhausted it on a recent job for the States. Hmm. So. Two of my current jobs involve solid blacks and silhouettes and tiny fine details, and the dip-pen nibs are a little too unpredictable for that. You know - a bit too much pressure here and they'll gleefully deliver a mercury-like mound of shiny blackness just where you wanted a discreet 3pt line.

So, I bought some ZIG Millennium pens in 03, 01 and 05. They're OK, nice and solid, but they rub out when I'm erasing the pencil lines underneath. And the new, better scanner seems to see right through the ink. Result: a non-consistent black which then needs some digital darkening here and there, which I'd rather avoid. Staedtler Lumocolours just bleed. Similarly their Pigmentliners run out very quickly but more importantly, they're actually a dark grey, and also rub out when erasing. I don't like their clumsy blunt end either, just where the fingers grip

In order to get this flat, responsive, solid clean black line I'm considering investing in some new Rotring pens, which I used extensively as a student (in fact my one and only tattoo was done with a 001 Rotring - by accident, of course) I remember their ink is very opaque and VERY black - and they're refillable.

But... pen geeks of the world: can you offer me any suggestions? Perhaps there's a rock-solid standby you wouldn't be without. I've sampled every pen type in the local art shop, and I'm still not armed with the right tool. Tips, anyone?


Peter Underhill said...

Hi Sarah. For a constant, predictable and leggy line I swear by the Rotring EF & F ArtPens. The most solid and unresponsive nib I ever used, but for a regular even line, it's a good solid performer and with a piston filler, good for long sessions. If you don't already have one, you're welcome to a test drive of mine. An email to the regular address will have me at your door brandishing my tool. If it's flexy, responsive line you're after, I'd have to go back to 'steelies' or a damn good brush.

POMME CHAN said...

HI Sarah, I'm an illustrator too , I understand the pen issue because I'm one of Pen addicted. I always use Uni Pen fine line, it's water and fade proof. The ink dry really quick and work well on tracing paper too. I find, 0.05 / 0.1 / 0.3 is best.

dave moody said...

For me there are 2 choices. There are the Copic liner pens which are quite pricey but you can change the cartridges and also the nibs. Other than Rotring which I used years ago I found the green Faber Castell pens were more reliable. For the simple fact that in the cap there is a small piece of blotting paper which you keep moist which stops the pen nib drying out whilst not in use.


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