A rundown on some of the pens, brushpens and markers I've been using lately. I'll update more if I come across some interesting results. I didn't include fountain style nibs here or Rapidographs.
Copic Multiliner Brush-S:
Another waterproof pen that is similar to above, but has a thicker body for handling. The Copic brush nib tips tend not to keep their shape that long and the above SPBS’s advantage is that one can just purchase new nibs for that pen so it’s cost effective. This is a good pen and slightly lighter in weight than above (although the SP isn’t exactly a Russian kettlebell).
Copic Multiliner SP BS:
Has a replaceable and flexible brush pen nib. More flexible than the Mitsubishi brushpen.
Water proof ink which come in cartridges.
Copic Multiliner Pens:
Similar to the Microns and Staedtlers. The main difference for me is that the Copic’s actual pen body is shorter in length than the other two competitors. The pen’s top is long so when attached to the end of the pen, it is similar in length. The plastic nib casing right below the metal tip is thicker than the Staedtler and Micron pens. However, the actual metal tip is just a tad longer. So if that matters to you at all, then that might be the main factor for choosing this pen over the other two. The metal tip would be excellent for ruled or template linework.
Felt Tip Japanese Fude Brush Pen #55
From Kuretake, Excellent ink flow, but it is more like a brush pen in looks rather than performance. The line is rather dead, but if you like to hold your pens like a brush then this can still have a certain expressiveness. Just don't expect the brush pen to exceed the line quality of the fine tip Sharpie. The ink is smooth, not very dense but this is great for doodling.
Fountain Pentel with Plastic Tip:
Solo review on a marker that thinks it’s a fountain pen. A journeyman pen that is useful for quick doodles and sketches. Inexpensive and the faux fountain pen nib may be what you’re looking for. It doesn’t give you a quill’s flexibility or thick to thin lines but it’s a fun pen to carry around for on-the-go type of sketch fieldwork.
This brushpen is like the above Mitsubishi refillable that costs a lot as far as non collector pens go. You can buy new nibs for these pens, but I’ve seen a drastic drop in the quality of the nibs recently. In the past, this was my pen hands down. Excellent flexibility and wonderful tip retention. The first generation of tips I had lasted me several months of HEAVY use and I got results from it that other brush pens could not match. The ink was a rich dark black and waterproof. And came in cartridges. The brush nibs themselves had a liquid oil like substance that gave it that fresh body when you first open it. An excellent pen, so here’s hoping Kamei gets their act together and bring back the quality of their old brush pen. At this time, I can’t advise buying one due to the high price range of 70 plus dollars a pen.
The Kaimei now has a lower priced version with a longer barrel. Called the Kaimei Natural Hair Sumi Brush Pen. Running around $36 a pop. This brushpen was good for the first month of use, and then the natural brush nib lost all its naturalness and became part of the "crappy rookie brushpen " bin. Might just be the one I purchased, because it got rave reviews on amazon.
Krink Permanent Ink Marker K-70/K-42
Outside of the secretive sub culture of the graffiti art world, I don’t know of any artists that use the burner markers. One night I saw the artist De La Vega of “Become Your Dream” fame writing on a piece of discarded furniture at a Upper East Side sidewalk. After some heavy-duty downpours, I saw the furniture a couple of days later and the ink had not faded. Now, I’m not sure if he was using any special marker but I looked up graffiti markers on youtube and saw several clips of guys endorsing these burner markers. So I ordered several kinds online. What I like about them was the way the nibs were designed to draw on all surfaces. Comic book art have been a mainstay in the form language appropriated by many graffiti artists, so it’s kind of fun to be able to use some of their tools.
The Krink contains a generous tapered tip for bold linework when you want a waterproof pen. So beware of getting the ink applied to places you want free of marks. The pen works like a spray paint can with the small ball inside the body that rattles to get the ink flowing. What I like about this is that you can control the inkflow by how much you shake the pen. So you can get a drybrush feel when you want. The nib is rather large for detail work but I really like this marker as an all-purpose pen. The K-70 has a thicker barrel but a more tapered nib, while the K-42 is thinner but the nib is blunt.
I have a love-hate relationship with Koh-I-Noor pens ever since I picked up my first rapidograph when I was in middle school. The aesthetic design of the pens are always a standout and the Nexus looks like it can take a lunar landing with it’s open dock cap. However, like all Koh-I-Noors they freaking suck when it comes to keeping the ink flowing after a certain time. The ink just dries out and this is no exception. I like the grey, payne’s grey and sepia ink pens but wish they lasted. Ironically the ink takes a while to dry on the paper so it smudges. So if you are going to use these, buy them fresh and use them right away. You’d think that after so long in the pen making biz, that Koh-I-Noor would get their act together by now.
Markwell Professional Marker
The Markwell is a permanent weatherproof paint marker and a burner fave. It is the muscle car marker that can lay down some mass! Let me add… some SERIOUS mass. Don’t even bring any wafer thin paper around, this marker will tsunami its butt. The hammerhead wide nib is of anime proportion. Similar to the Krinks you can also get some nice drybrush effects when the marker has had some use. I like to go big with these and then fine tune with other colors on top or details beside it. Right out of the package the ink is a dense black. Love this pen but it might not be for the folks who like to noodle.
These are very thin pen bodied pens with a fine nib. They are very light so I prefer to use them for heavy detailed but less technical kind of linework like foliage of some insane mech. The grey ink is probably what I use most often when I pick this marker up because it is almost like an under drawing with ink. Great pen to doodle with.
Mitsubishi (Eye) Brushpen:
Comes in a light blue plastic wrap with mostly Japanese kanji lettering but you can see a small PFK-303 code on the plastic wrap which indicates it the brushpen. There’s a drawn illustration of the brushpen nib on the cover which is actual size. This pen has a sturdier brush nib and a much darker ink than the Copic brushpen. However, I can’t tell if it is waterproof but it looks like Black Magic Higgins type ink, with a rich black.
I must warn you though that the Mitsubishi pens are hard to come by. I didn’t see any at the NY Pearl Paints but discovered these at the Kunikoya bookstore near Bryant Park. It’s one of my favorite stores and I’ve bought numerous types of brushpens from there in the past. The Mitsubishis are my favorite from this store. It cost around 4.50.
I bought a Mitsubishi refillable brush pen many years ago and it was terrible. It was an expensive cartridge pen and the brush tip dried up on me pretty quickly and lost it’s shape.
Molotow 440 PP Burner Paint –Marker
Another graffiti artist multi-purpose marker. This has a wide hammerhead shaped nib for really covers bold marks. It’s great for freeflow style of art when you just want to lay down some mass without losing any rhythm. The tips are replaceable. Same caution applies on the permanency of these markers as the Krink. The ink is fast-drying. You’ve been warned!
If you find a Muji store in your area you’re lucky to pick up some affordable pens of various sizes. Since I can’t read the language of these Japanese pens, I can’t describe much else. I’ve liked all their pens so far so would recommend you pick them up and try them.
On The Run:261 Paintliner Extra Fine This is an empty refillable burner pen. You add your own ink. I mixed a couple of FW inks for a custom color, and used the Dr. Martin's Bombay inks on another. I really like the way this pen mainly for this option. The nib isn't exactly "extra fine" in the context of the fine marker arena, more like a medium tip, but as a burner it is about as fine a line as you'll get. Some may not like the splotchiness of the ink but I like to use this pen to add expressiveness to my linework.
I ordered my refill of Copic Special Black ink and will do a test run in these OtR pens. Stay tuned.
Pentel Pocket Brushpen GFKP:
Uses refillable cartridges and is similar in quality to the Pentel 101 brush pen’s nib with a better ink flow. I just like the design of the pen’s body, it just suits my grip more. Reminds me of a good old Uni-Ball pen’s body. Your mileage may vary but I recommend this pen. Price isn’t bad either.
Pentel #101 Brushpen:
Refillable brushpen and has a larger tip than the others. It’s good for thick lines. I don’t particularly like the “squeeze” bottle feel of the pen. It’s like drawing with a small inner tube. However, it is GREAT for drybrush effects, so I would recommend this pen merely on this attribute. Runs you around $10 and is refillable.
PITT artist pen Faber-Castell (brush pen):
An excellent pen that equals the Mitsubishi brushpen in sturdy nib and rich dark ink. Except on this packaging it tells you that it is waterproof and “Extremely fade resistant”! Highly recommended, and not a bad price. The difference from the Mitsubishi is the nib’s size. This tip is slightly thinner so finer brush lines sprout forth. So again, it’s based on one’s taste and task.
Very much like the Staedtler and Copic’s but the one detail I like is the feel of the pen body’s surface on my fingertips. The Staedtler has this smooth silky surface on it’s pen which is oddly distracting to me. But that’s just me, I’m just nick picky on how the pen feels in my fingertips. The disadvantage is that the Staedtler’s tips lasts longer. The small Micron nibs are excellent fine line pens, great for detail work!
Pigma Graphic 1:
This is one of my favorite pens. It’s a great sketching pen and even though it is not as fine a tip as the smaller nibbed Microns, it’s offers you a line that is wonderful for quick gestures and bolder linework. Take this along with your on-field sketchpad!
Pigma Graphic 2:
Same as above but with a fun chisel point which allows for some interesting angles and effects.
Sharpie Pen. Fine
If you’ve read this far down, then there’s probably very little I can say to you that you don’t already know about Sharpies. They are the workhorse pen for many folks. This fine point “pen.” Version has the silver and gun metal grey barrel. Store your Sharpies tip down and keep the ink flowing for a longer duration.
Staedtler Pigment Liner:
Comes in a variety of sizes and is waterproof and lightfast. It’s an excellent pen all around and the tip lasts longer than the Microns.
Uni-ball Vision Exact Micro
I like this pen, it is a middle of the road type of pen so I pick it up occasionally but I’ve found that on the ones I’ve owned, they dry up pretty fast.
That's all for now, I didn't post any pics due to time constraints and the last thing I want to do is take pics of... pens.
I'm sure most of these will pop up on Google searches.
Let me just add that outside of a select few, many of these pens contain very subtle and minor differences.
I’ve had success with all of these pens and I’d say it all depends on what you are accustomed to using.
I’d recommend trying out another pen just to see if it makes any difference to you.
Some artists favor one type of pen, but others like to switch around and use all sorts of pens just as long as they are lightfast and waterproof.
It may ultimately come down to availability if you don’t have the time to order online.
Afterall, there's no shortcuts to art - the more you learn the basic fundamentals and principles of drawing the more time you will have to play with ideas instead of being frustrated by the process. It won't come from any tool.