Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fude Pen Review: Pentel Touch

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It's often inconvenient to be reliant on Jetpens for my inking tool of choice.

You guys might think with this recent batch of pen reviews, that I have a Jetpens sponsorship.  You might think, with all the praise I lavish on their merchandise, that they're paying me to say nice things.  I don't have a sponsorship, and I don't see a dime.  Everything I review from Jetpens are things I've paid for out of my own pocket, usually with money earned from doing commission at conventions, sometimes with donations made to the blog (thanks guys, by the way!).  So while I really like Jetpens, I don't have a particular loyalty to them, other than they are often the sole provider of the type of art supplies I like the best.  As an artist, it would be most convenient for me if major art supply stores like Blick, Pla-Za, or Jerry's Artarama started carrying more Japanese stationary and art supplies.

I try to order Fudegokochis in bulk, but there are times I run out, or the pen I have on me dies in the middle of a trip, or it explodes while I'm on the plane.   At times like this, it would be fantastic if I could pop into Michael's and buy a replacement, the way I can buy replacement Copic markers (at a premium!), or Sakura Microns.  (A caveat:  If you have a Daiso, their fude pens aren't half bad!  I have a review of a couple coming up soon!)  Sure, there are brush pens available in the US, but none with the snap and fine point that a fude pen offers.  And yeah, I can always ink with a brush, but fude pens play so well with my sketchbook.  Maybe I'm just spoiled, but it'd be super nice to be able to get fude pens easily on the east coast.

So I was excited when a friend sent me this Pentel Touch fude pen found at Boesner, a German art supply store.  Pentel is a Japanese brand that's often carried in American art supply stores, and if these fude pens are sold at German art stores, there's a chance we'll start seeing them in the US at some point.

The Pentel Touch sent to me has an all black body with sparkly glitter embedded in the plastic, which definitely makes it stand out amongst other fude pens.  It's available in a lot of colors on Jetpens, and I'll be reviewing their 12 Color Bundle soon (purchased AFTER I tested this pen, worry not!)  On Jetpens, individual Pentel Touch pens are an affordable $2.50, though I don't know how much it cost at Boesner.

The Pentel Touch's tip is about as fine as my Fudegokochi, and the nib has a plastic sheath.


For a heavyhanded person like me, the Pentel Touch is a bit sift, but capable of a variety of lineweights.

Field Test

The Pentel Touch was a lot of fun to ink with.  It moves smoothly on the paper and dries quickly.

I really hope that we'll start to see fude pens in the Western mass market sometime in the near future.  If you see a Pentel Touch in a store near you, don't hesitate to add it to your inking arsenal.  They're a fun, lightweight pen from a brand many of us are familiar with.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fude Pen Review: Uni Mitsubishi Pure Color-F Double-Sided Sign Pen

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Sadly, you wouldn't know this by looking at my sketchbook, but I love color.  I admire artists on Tumblr who post colored sketches, or sketches that feature color accents, but for sketches, the most I usually can muster is non photo blue and black ink.  I'm hoping to find some colorful pens that'll help me change that.

It seems like I have an interesting relationship with Jetpens.  When I order products singly, I end up loving them and have to buy more.  When I buy a set, I end up getting burnt.  This is not Jetpens' fault, it's mine- I'm too impulsive in purchasing new art toys.  Unfortunately, the Uni Mitsubishi Pure Color-F Double Sided Sign Pens proved not to be the exception to this sad rule.

I splurged and bought the 18 color bundle, lured in by the variety of bright, inviting colors.  When my package arrived, I was so excited.  Just look at these pens, they look fantastic!

Unfortunately, my excitement ended shortly after uncapping.  These are not fude pens at all!  I'd misunderstood 'sign pens', which also refer to fude pens, to mean the flexible calligraphy pens.  The Pure Color-F pens have hard nibs on both ends- I had hoped that at least the smaller nib would be flexible.

To these pens' benefit, they tend to be fairly true to the color of the pen itself.

The caps post to each other, but are not interchangeable between sizes the way the Mitsuo Aida caps were.  The pen itself is fairly well designed, with small silver dots indicating the smaller nib, and larger silver dots indicating the larger nib.  Neither nib has any real give to it, and the larger nib is not designed to color large spaces.  It's similar to a bullet nib on many alcohol based markers, but the ink in these pens is not alcohol based.  Both tips are made of felt, and the nib sizes are .8 and .4 mm, which might make this an interesting choice for handlettering.

Field Test

I still held out hope that these markers would be compatible with my Kuretake Fudegokochi and my Eno Color Soft Blue lead, my sketching tools of choice.

Pilot's Eno Color is my current favorite non-photo blue lead, and it's available in .7mm through Jetpens.  It's buttery and a little crumbly for a mechanical pencil lead, not as waxy as other brands I've used, but it's still waxy enough that it can cause issues with ink drying.  It's always wise to test materials on a scratch sheet of paper before committing them to a project.

After I inked the sketch, I let it dry overnight.  I recommend this any time you plan on polishing a sketch- whether you want to add color or just remove your underdrawing.

The next day, I excitedly hit my sketchbook.

The mess of ink next to the word 'Fudegokochi' indicates that I laid down three lines of fude ink, then went right over it with the Color F.  As you can see, even though I waitied until the ink was 'dry', there's still a LOT of pick up with the Fudegokochi.  The yellow squiggles to the side are me trying to clean the black ink off the golden yellow Color-F, black ink that I picked up while coloring Kara's eyes.  These were inks that had dried overnight, so unless the Color-F was reactivating the Fudegokochi's ink, there should have been no pick up.

Although it was fun to doodle in color, there was entirely too much pick up between the Color-F pens and the Fudegokochi ink, pick up that makes the sketch look dirty.

I do not recommend these pens if you intend to use them the same way I've used them in this post.  They're fine if you're interested in doodling or decorating something that needs a little color, like your notes or your planner.

NOTE:  I am, of course, aware that I COULD be sketching with graphite, inking that, and then erasing if I wanted to color sketches in my sketchbook, but if I'm going to go to all that trouble, I might as well take it out of the sketchbook and finish it into something a bit nicer.  I simply wanted to find a way to add accents of color in my sketchbook that wouldn't require me to erase the non photo blue.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fude Pen Review: Sailor Mitsuo Aida Double-Sided Brush Pen

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In the past, I've reviewed fude pens in large batches, but since I've developed a pretty good idea of what I'm looking for in an inking pen, I'm better able to hone in on pens I think will work for me.  When I saw the double sided Sailor Mitsuo Aida on Jetpens, I thought it looked like a well rounded brush.  You have a fine tip for delicate linework, and a larger, 'medium' tip for fills and possibly thicker lineweights.  I was excited to give it a try, and the Mitsuo Aida did not disappoint.

At $4.45, the Mitsuo Aida is a little more expensive than most fude pens available on Jetpens, but it definitely has a lot to offer the comic artist.

The Mitsuo Aida double sided pen features a poem by the poet and calligrapher, Mitsuo Aida.  It comes in four different body colors, although the ink in all is black.  According to Jetpens, it's waterproof when completely dry, a feature I'll have to test out with my watercolors soon.  I'll probably edit this post with the results, so consider bookmarking it and revisiting in a couple weeks!

The package is written entirely in Japanese, so I had to rely on Jetpens for information regarding this interesting pen.  I tried to get some close up photos though, in case any of my readers are fluent and would like to translate this for themselves.  If you'd like to share your translation, feel free to leave it in the comments, and I'll add it to this post (with credit to you, of course).

The barrel of the Mitsuo Aida is a little thicker than the Kuretake Fudegokochi, but doesn't feel awkward or ungainly in my hand.

Unlike later double sided fude pens I've tested, the caps can post on either end of the pen.  According to Jetpens, the tips are 'fine' and 'medium', but to me, it feels more like a 'medium' and a 'large'.  The smaller tip has a lot of give, and is a lot of fun to ink with.  The larger tip is a lot like Copic's large brush multiliner, and is capable of pulling very fine lines if you have a delicate hand.

The caps post to each other, insuring you don't lose a cap while you ink.

Below is a sketch I inked with the Mitsuo Aida.  This pen is a lot of fun to ink with, and is quite capable all on its own.  I've added this versatile pen to my every day carry.

If you're looking for an all-in-one brush pen or fude pen for your on the go sketching, the Mitsuo Aida is a strong choice for your everyday carry.
Watercolor Field Test
The evening I wrote this post, I sketched up a little doodle of Kara on watercolor paper.  I inked it, let it dry overnight, and erased the graphite pencil using a Mono eraser.  Inking on watercolor paper DID remove some of the ink, but that's to be expected given the nature of inking on watercolor paper.   The resulting lineart is no more faded than a lineart inked with a brush and India ink would be after erasing.
The Mitsuo Aida handles just fine on watercolor paper, and there wasn't any spidering or feathering of lines.

I taped down my little piece of watercolor, and applied a wash of just water to see if the Mitsuo Aida would run.  As you can see, the ink stayed fast.
And here's the finished piece.  As yall can see, Mitsuo Aida fude pens are indeed waterproof, making them fantastic for inking sketches intended for watercolor.
My verdict?  I love this pen!  Especially now that I know I can use it with watercolors, I love it even more.  I'm so excited to really get to play around with these when things start winding down over here.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

What I've Been Up To Lately

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 These days, I've been doing a lot of my work digitally.  This is due to the somewhat acquisition of a Surface Pro 3, a tablet computer that features a N-trig digitizer (stylus) that works almost as well as the Wacom Intuos 4 I've used for years.  Being able to draw directly on my screen means I don't need to lug a graphics tablet around, and it means I can do everything from comic rough corrections to coloring where ever I'd like.

At first, I had issues with the side of my hand activating unwanted Photoshop functions, but I made a solution out of a white cotton glove.  I snipped all but the pinkie finger off and it was ready to go.  This cheap solution works fine, but the glove's already getting worn out, and I may end up investing in one of Jetpen's SmudgeGuard gloves soon.

Although I'd like to do fewer conventions this year than last, I do want to introduce some new things to my table, and I thought a few fanart pieces would be a fun way to do it.  The below examples were inked with a fude pen in my sketchbook, but the rest is digital.  My friend, Alex Hoffmann, did the beautiful space backgrounds.

Completed Pieces

Akane Tendo, Nattosoup, digital art, digital coloring, art from the Surface Pro 3, digital coloring with the Surface Pro 3, Becca HIllburn

Bulma Briefs, digital coloring, digital art, Nattosoup, coloring with the Surface Pro 3, Becca Hillburn

cyclops girl, cute cyclops, kawaii cyclops, monster girl, cute monster girl, digital art, digital coloring, coloring with the surface pro 3

Sailor Jupiter, Makoto Kino, fanart, Sailor Moon fanart, digital coloring, Nattosoup, Becca Hillburn, coloring on the surface Pro 3
cute witch, kawaii witch, digital art, digital coloring, surface pro 3, coloring with the surface pro 3

Usagi Tsukino, Sailor Moon, Serena, digital coloring, digital art, coloring with the Surface Pro 3

There's lots more under the cut!

Monday, February 23, 2015

January and February 2015 Sketchdump

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I'm finally closing in on the sketch backlog I'd had since November, which is both relieving (since I hate scanning) and a little disappointing. 

This sketchdump includes the blushing meme that's been going around Tumblr, inked doodles, and facial sketches reffed from Humanae, which I'm going to do for the entirety of February.  There's also stuff I've left out at this time, but will post when it's entirely finished.  I've also left out my hourly comics day comic, as that's been already posted elsewhere.