Posts filed under Pilot

An Introduction To The Brush Pen Sampler

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

A few months ago, I wrote about my introduction to the brush pen genre with the Pilot Petit3. Shortly after that, JetPens began offering a sampler pack of 5 popular brush pens under the $30 mark. I ordered one right after seeing it, and I've been trying them out since. The main thing I've learned? Not all brush pens are created equal. Each one has a purpose, and as long as you understand that, you'll get along just fine.

The criteria

Recently, JetPens released a fantastic video that explains the different qualities of brush pens and how that affects the writing, drawing, lettering, etc. experience. I'm using the same qualities in my review, so let's have a quick look at what they are:

  • Tip type: This describes what the tip is made out of. This could be natural hair bristles, synthetic bristles, or felt. Depending on the type of material used in the tip, the rest of the characteristics of the pen will vary greatly.
  • Firmness: This can range from soft, medium, and firm. Soft tips will create wider line variation, but require more control and finesse. Firm tips are easier to use, but do not have great line variation.
  • Fineness: This can range from fine, medium, and broad. This refers to the line width the pen produces, similar to your fountain pen nib sizes. Brush pens with a soft firmness can hit all three line widths.
  • Elasticity: You guessed it, this refers to how well the brush tip can hold its original shape after being expanded with additional pressure. Basically, bristle tip pens will maintain the wide shape once you let off, and you'll have to fiddle with it a bit to make it fine again, whereas a felt tip pen will immediately return to its original width when the stroke is complete.
  • Ink flow: Again, if you're familiar with fountain pens, this one will make sense. This refers to how much ink comes out when making marks, similar to how we refer to a nib as "wet" or "dry."
  • Saturation: Another common term with fountain pens. This refers to the coloration of the ink. In the case of a black ink, a saturated ink will create a deep, dark black on the page, whereas a not-so-saturated ink will make a gray or brown shaded black mark.

Now, with that out of the way, let's take a look at these 5 pens.

Kuretake Disposable Pocket Brush Pen, Fine

The Kuretake brush pen is a fine felt tip pen that is really easy to use. It's disposable, which means that once the ink dries up, you throw it away. The barrel is a sparkly dark blue color with gold text. The cap sits firmly on the pen when closed.

  • Tip type: Felt.
  • Firmness: I think this pen errs on the side of firm, but you can get some decent variation if you press hard enough.
  • Fineness: Fine
  • Elasticity: The tip returns to its original shape immediately.
  • Ink flow: Very good ink flow, as it requires the slightest pressure to put ink on the page.
  • Saturation: Very dark saturation.

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen, Soft

Of the felt tip brush pens in this pack, the Tombow is my favorite. I love how it writes, even if it isn't so pretty on the outside. This pen also comes with a handy little lettering guide, but I honestly haven't found much use for it. The body is a dark gray color with white text and lots of little graphics.

  • Tip type: Felt.
  • Firmness: I'd call this a medium because you can get a bit of line variation fairly easily.
  • Fineness: Fine to medium.
  • Elasticity: The tip returns to its original shape almost immediately.
  • Ink flow: Very good ink flow — requires almost no pressure to make a mark.
  • Saturation: Very dark saturation.

Zebra Disposable Brush Pen, Super Fine

The Zebra, even though its called "super fine," is very similar to the Tombow. You can get a decent amount of line variation, but it doesn't write as well as the Tombow. It's an excellent pen, but just a couple marks behind the Tombow. The body looks very similar to the Kuretake — dark sparkly blue with gold text, so it's very easy to confuse them.

  • Tip type: Felt tip.
  • Firmness: Firm to medium, but not as soft as the Tombow.
  • Fineness: Fine with the ability to reach medium.
  • Elasticity: Returns to original shape very quickly.
  • Ink flow: Very good ink flow, but a tad drier than the previous two.
  • Saturation: Very dark saturation.

Pilot Pocket Brush Pen, Soft

Ah, the Pilot brush pen. Of the broad, "lots of variation" group, this is my favorite. The pen is black with gold Japanese lettering on the body and red lettering on the cap. There isn't a word of English on this pen, so I only know it's the Pilot from a process of elimination.

  • Tip type: Felt.
  • Firmness: Very soft.
  • Fineness: Capable of making fine to broad lines easily.
  • Elasticity: Returns to original shape fairly easily, but might need some help after making broad lines.
  • Ink flow: Exceptional ink flow for such a wide tip.
  • Saturation: Very dark saturation.

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen for Calligraphy

Of the bunch, this is the only bristle tip pen, and it's a hoot to use. This one takes the most practice and patience when using, and it's absolutely not suited for writing. The pen body is black some minimal silver text on the cap. Also, of the bunch, this pen uses an ink cartridge, so you can refill it after its empty.

  • Tip type: Synthetic bristles.
  • Firmness: Soft — very soft.
  • Fineness: Medium to broad. You can get an insane level of variation from this one.
  • Elasticity: Needs help returning to a medium point. It likes to stay pretty broad when making lines.
  • Ink flow: The ink flow is "good enough" for most things, but it's not nearly as good as the other 4.
  • Saturation: The saturation also leaves something to be desired, as the lines can look a bit brown on the page.

Conclusion

All in all, this sampler pack is a great way to break into the brush pen genre. For me, I still feel like I have no idea how to use these properly, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the heck out of them. I don't consider myself an artist, but these pens make me want to draw, and for that I'll eternally love them.

If you're curious about brush pens, I highly suggest you start here.

Posted on April 1, 2015 and filed under Tombow, Pentel, Kuretake, Pen Reviews, Pilot, Zebra, Brush Pen.

Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen Review

The main reason I keep a product wish list is to keep track of product prices and know when to pull the trigger when I see a good deal. The orange Pilot Custom 74 had been on my radar for ages, and when Pen Chalet had a good deal on them on the podcast back in November I bought it live on the show. $135 to the door made me a happy camper.

The Custom 74 lived up to every expectation I had, and then some. The decision to go with the orange barrel was an easy one. I love demonstrators, and this one is a beauty. The smoke colored section and rounded ends were a surprise too. I obviously knew it came like this, but I had no idea how much I would enjoy this feature.

As easy as the color choice was, nib selection was another thing. Medium nibs normally aren’t my first choice, but recent experience with two other Japanese M nibs led me down this path. This size may be the perfect all-around writing nib. The ink flows as the line remains sharp and clean. Start writing and you can just disappear into the flow.

The 14k nib is a beauty too. I’m a huge fan of Pilot nibs, both in the looks and performance department. This Custom 74 was perfect right out of the box. The large capacity CON-70 converter it ships with is a nice added bonus.

The best thing I can say about the Pilot Custom 74 is I already want another one. That seems to be a recurring theme with me and Pilot. The Violet barrel is now on the wish list, just waiting for another good deal.

Posted on February 16, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Pilot.

Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki Ink Review

I finally take the favorite ink of Myke Hurley for a spin, thanks to a kind reader (Hi Lori!) who sent me a sample of Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki many moons ago. I'm a fan of orange, and orange inks, but Fuyu-gaki isn't going to make my primary ink rotation any time soon.

My feelings on this ink are hard to pinpoint. It's a nice, perfectly fine ink. It behaves wonderfully, as every Iroshizuku ink I have tried does. The orange is bright, but doesn't exactly pop. Nor is there much shading. It moves from medium orange to red, but it's not hugely obvious. It's good, but doesn't knock my socks off.

This is where ink samples come in handy. I'm glad I got to try it before committing to a bottle. Myke drinks the stuff, but my little vial will keep me stocked for a while. Oh Sailor, why did you have to discontinue Jentle Apricot with no valid replacement???

Posted on February 13, 2015 and filed under Ink Reviews, Iroshizuku, Pilot.

Pilot V5 Hi-Tecpoint Cartridge System Roller Ball Pen Review

Image via JetPens.com

Image via JetPens.com

(This is a guest post by Johnny McClung. Find more from Johnny at the awesomely-titled blog Johnny Anypen and on Twitter.)

The Pilot V5 Hi-Tecpoint is the latest in the Pilot V5 line of pens. I have enjoyed these pens since I bought my first capped Precise V5. I was so excited when I first saw the new Hi-Tecpoint had a cartridge! Now, I could use practically any color in my favorite pen.

The standard black that comes with the pen seems to be the same ink as I have come to know and love. It may not be exactly the same, but the performance was equal, if not better than the Precise V5 retractable.

I'd like to thank Mr. Dowdy for agreeing to send me a Pilot CON-20 converter to see if it would work with the Hi-Tecpoint. In addition to the Pilot cartridge, I put ink in the standard cartridge to see if that would work. Although I have yet to try it, this pen could be converted into an eyedropper. The O-rings available at Goulet Pens fit around the barrel of the Hi-Tecpoint. And the barrel held water. With a little Silicone grease, I think this pen would work.

I had some trouble cleaning out the black ink which may be inexperience on my part and not a reflection of the pen. I received my ink order before the converter arrived so I tested out the standard cartridge first. I did have some trouble getting the ink down the feed, but eventually, the wonderful Diamine Emerald ink shown on the paper. When the converter arrived, I transferred the ink over to the converter and used it. With this push converter, I found it much easier to get the ink down the feed.

This is an excellent $3 pen and with another $3 you can pick up a CON-20 converter and have a superb pen in any color you choose. Since Pilot's cartridges are proprietary, this converter should work in most other Pilot cartridge pens.

I have seven more sample vials of fountain pen ink that I am just dying to try out in this pen. Highly recommended.

Posted on February 5, 2015 and filed under Guest Post, Pen Reviews, Pilot, Hi-Tecpoint.