Review – Sharpie Colors Part 1 Neutrals – Black, Brown, Slate Gray

I’ve taken a look at several of Sharpie’s products in the past, from their regular markers to pens and liquid pencil. But their main product comes in a large variety of colors I have not yet covered. I received a gift of a set of 24 Sharpie pens some time ago, but haven’t looked at them until now due to the fact that I didn’t know what the colors actually were. Sharpie and several other well-known pen brands are notorious for not having their colors easy to identify, so this series took more research than usual. I will say that I might not have identified all of the colors correctly, so if you see something that seems like it has been misidentified here, please leave a comment and I will reevaluate it.

With that said, let’s get to the pens.

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The first set I’m going to look at is the neutrals. There are only a few, which makes sense. But these are some of the most useful: they show on many surfaces, are not an eyesore in general, and are workplace appropriate.

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Black – Black is the gold standard Sharpie color (except for the actual gold ones) and it is very good. It is quite dark and professional. It does have a tendency to shade as most dark inks do, but if gone over a second time there are no problems. It’s pretty waterproof (they all are so I won’t mention that again), has almost no spreading or feathering, and is tied for the least show/bleed-through with navy. It’s a great, well writing color, but it can be a bit dry.

Brown – Next is brown, a color that doesn’t seem that popular (but I’ve ended up with a few, take that as you will). It is a very dark brown, distinct from black in even poor lighting, but it looks more like a gray in that case. It is also fairly dry, and thus feather- and bleed-resistant, though not as much as the black. It’s good for sorting, but not for art, really.

Slate Gray – I don’t know where the trend of having “slate gray” be standard gray started, but it continues here. This is a “just over the dark line” gray. It’s not a very natural color, and isn’t even something you’d really see in a city. It is very wet and really does feather and bleed, meaning it’s not the greatest for use on thinner paper. It is almost the same on both sides in that case, and it even goes through card stock a bit. I’d say it holds the title as wettest, and is just a boring color.

And that’s the neutral colors. They’re good for office use, and for sorting things by color, but for art applications they are limited. Next time I’ll take a look at a few of the blues Sharpie offers.

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Review – Tombow Dual Brush Pens Grayscale Set

Ink-washing is a great way to improve the look of ink drawing, but diluting India ink and using traditional brushes can be messy and a hassle at times. Gray brush pens certainly do help and the Tombow Dual pens have both a brush and marker tip to make using grays easy.

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On either end of the marker there is a cap. One is quite a bit larger than the other, in both length and circumference. Both have ridges for easy removal, and small inner caps to prevent what they’re covering from drying out. The larger cap also has a fin to prevent it from rolling too far on a desk. The caps are made in such a way the that larger cap can “post” over the smaller one, and the smaller one can post into the larger one. They’re both sturdy and work well. The section for the larger brush side is nice and tapering. It’s long and easy to hold. However, the one for the marker side is quite stubby and holding on the body is almost necessary. The body itself is plain: a cylinder with text, Necessary information is there and it works.

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The pack I have is a pack of five grays and a black. The black is fairly understandable and a bit warm. The other grays purport to be “cool” but do vary from cool to warm, in my opinion. Several of them are also far too dark to really be distinguishable, but that also is just my opinion. The N95 and N60 are the most distinctive. Being very light and easy to work with, and very warm, turning to green after a while, respectively. The 45 and 55 are barely distinguishable and the 65 is about halfway between true white and true black, but all three get very dark very quickly and none of the five easily make a smooth edge, they are too varied in color to do so. The colors are all acid free, making them archival quality. And while they are water-based and claim to be blendable, I find that once they absorb into paper or card they are almost immovable. They go on smooth, the brush has quite a bit of variance but can be fragile (it is a sponge-like and not a bristle brush) and the marker is quite consistent and rigid. They can be used for several large projects or quite a few little ones, but can’t be expected to last longer than any other felt-based markers.

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In the end, they are great for someone who is just trying to get a feel for the grayscale washed look but is frustrated with, intimidated by, or doesn’t have to time for mixing up one’s own wash. Some other supplemental brush pens might be needed to get the full effect out of the shading, but these are a good start and the double-ended aspect makes them more useful than similar pens.