I was surprised when I first wrote with them. I'd definitely say these fit more into the realm of art supplies rather than writing tools. The ink wasn't quite what I expected from something called a gel pen--they remind me more of pigment or paint pens. The ink is thick and coats the paper, maintaining a glossy, raised surface even after drying. Drying takes quite a long time. When I used it to fill in areas in my journal, it wasn't a sit-and-wait-for-dry-time ink, but a get-up-and-do-something-else-while-you-wait dry time. The ink also can dry out on the tip of the pen, and sometimes requires wiping away, so it doesn't clog the flow or drag on the page. When the pens are left uncapped or set aside for a length of time they can require some priming to get started again. I also ran into issues when I tried to go back and write over the ink when it was partially dry. The tip would scrape away the old lines and make a general mess of things. But as long as the lines were totally dry, they could be layered safely.
Once I adjusted my expectations of these pens, I really enjoyed working with them. The flow is good, the ink has great coverage, and they write on a number of surfaces, like plastic, glass, metal, photos, or dark paper. They work great for drawing highlights or writing overtop of other media like watercolors or color washes.
The pen bodies are very well constructed. They're a sturdy white plastic with a flared snap cap. The cap helps stop the pen from rolling and also has an easy-to-see ink color swatch at the top. It also snaps to post securely. The body is decorated with a clear plastic wrap that's printed with the branding, a gold filigree pattern, and a floral mark that also indicates the ink color.
There isn't a grip section. They have a long conical tip in the same white plastic as the body, and a metal rollerball point. It feels fine to hold the pen back on the body, but I'd definitely prefer a defined grip section. Still, the pens are clearly not designed for long writing sessions, so grip comfort isn't a huge consideration.
Ultimately, I was disappointed to not have a standard gel ink in these lovely color sets. I do still use them fairly often, but the dry time is a bit of a deal-breaker when it comes to everyday use. They are very pleasant as paint pens, but the product name is misleading. There's nothing wrong with the product itself--it's just another reminder of how product names shape users' expectations--and how a good product can bum you out if it's not what you were looking for.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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