Review – Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen Brush Manga 6 Color Set

I’m not a Manga artist. And I usually don’t use color in my art. Mostly because it’s hard, like using brush pens is hard. What I’m trying to say is that my perspective on this particular set of art implements might not be the view of the average person who might find them very useful. With that said, let’s take a look at this set of Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens, the Manga 6 Color Brush set.

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The pens themselves are fairly plain. There is an indication of the size (“B” for brush, in this case) on the top of the cap. The cap has a set of groves running around it with a shiny finished top and clip. The clip is the same piece of plastic as the cap and does its job in an unspectacular way. The body is straight until the very end, which protrudes as a fluted section for posting, at which it’s effective. The body contains all of the needed information in several languages, which makes it seems a bit too crowded, but I can’t really complain. The section is slightly textured, which is wonderful; it isn’t slippery or uncomfortable. After that is a tapering section for the cap seal and the brush point itself. The cap seals and holds well onto this point.

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The brushes themselves aren’t of the bristle variety, but are more like a flexible porous point. This makes them much less finicky, and better for a disposable item like this one, as they would wear out faster than a bristle brush. Their flexibility is nice, going from a medium point to one several millimeters wide with relative ease, and they can be bent to some pretty severe angles without any long-term damage being done. The amount of ink they lay down is good. It increases with the pressure on the tip, and makes a full line. At times it skirts on “not enough”, and layering will definitely change the color significantly. Sharp turns with the lighter colors will leave a darker area on the corner. On office paper this amount of ink will bleed though, especially at the ends, but on cardstock there is barely show through.

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The six colors themselves are a decent selection, but not great: Dark Naples Ochre is a nice, natural looking yellow. Orange glaze is a bit pale and not really a color that is found in many places. Pink Carmine is a bit too dark and is hard to use. Purple Violet, besides having a redundant name, is dark and pleasant, but again not very natural. Phthalo Blue is a great looking lake or ocean blue, but is a bit dark for most uses, and Permanent Green Olive is quite dark and olive, which is more suited to deeply forested areas or jungle than to plains or some more common areas. Still, the colors interact with each other very well, and they dry fast, but do mix on the paper, meaning one can get interesting color combinations while still having their pens keep relatively clean.

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Overall, the set is a good set to introduce oneself to the Pitt artist brush pens. It has a nice simple selection of colors that allows for experimentation and can be used for the base of a larger set. But I certainly wouldn’t consider it a complete set for creating an art work. Many more colors would be needed, and more tailored to one’s specific purpose. For instance, there is very little here to make skin tones with, which would be very important in Manga. They’re very good pens, but the set is incomplete.

Addendum: I failed to mention the water/smear proofing of these pens when I first completed this post. Both of which are very good. When interacting with other inks or materials the lines generally stay solid, which is good for resilience but bad for blending. When hit with water the lines don’t move, but they do bleed a tiny bit of pigment.

 

Review – Expo Ultra Fine Red, Green, and Blue

Last week I looked at the Ultra-Fine Expo markers as a whole, and the black color specifically. This week I’ll look at the more common colors in most dry-erase ranges in this size and brand, and see how they work.

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Red- The color red is a problem with many pens, and dry-erase markers are no exception. The red goes on smoothly enough, and is one of the thinner “sticking” inks. The lines it makes are solid, but the shading and their thin-ness is more pronounced. The color is also quite washed out and pink, which I’m not really a fan of, but seems to be a theme in reds.

Green- The green is one of the thicker and smoother colors. The lines are bold and solid. But the color, while pleasant, is also washed out. While it is definitely in the green spectrum, it’s more of a sea-green or something similar.

Blue- And finally the blue. In writing characteristics, it’s more of a mixture between the other two. The lines aren’t as bold or thick, and it’s not quite as smooth as green, but more so than red. The color is the most true and least shading of the bunch. It goes well with the black, and is easy to read even from far away, though it isn’t too dark.

The first set of colors is standard, and while lackluster, they get the job done. I can’t really complain as they weren’t created with art in mind, but rather for ease of use and low odor, which they have. Next week I’ll take a look at some of the less-standard colors available in the lineup.

Review – PaperMate Flair Colors – Black, Blue, Red, Green, Purple, and Yellow

The Papermate Flair is a good porous-point pen; I’ve looked at both the black and red versions in the past. But they do come in a host of colors. I got the largest pack I could find, which seems to be exclusive to Sam’s Club, with 20 colors. And it’s so exclusive that I can’t find official color names for 4 of them. Those 4 will be in the last part of this series, the first 3 being Standard, Warm, then Cool. And now onto the colors.

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Black – The black is a fairly standard black (most are): it’s deep and cool. It’s office-appropriate and moderately smear-resistant. While it does smear, it is readable after most spills.

Blue – A dark, office-type blue that is not a very natural color, but a pleasant one. It is legible and unintrusive. It lightens considerably and smudges when wet, but doesn’t erase.

Red – A dull (but still punchy) red, nice to look at, but a bit pinkish. It’s less glaring and hard on the eyes for grading and warnings than comparable pen reds, but similar to most marker reds. Is fairly smear resistant, but does lighten.

Green – A dark green, slightly darker than, say, a crayon green. It’s a deep, grassy, natural color. Noticeably different from the other, more common colors, but nothing that’ll jump out from across the room. It could be used in a liberal office. It smears and lightens quite a bit, though.

Purple – One of the more usual, pops-off-the-page purples. It is noticeable as a purple and isn’t the most natural-looking color. It stands out from dark blues, but could get lost in a page of dark inks. Almost no smudging on this one, though it does feather a lot when wet. It could be used in a similar office to the green one.

Yellow – A super-bright, stereotypical yellow. It’s almost illegible on white paper. It’s the most water-resistant after red and purple, but it all but disappears anyway. It hurts they eyes to look at for a long time (I’m not sure if it’s the brightness or the fact it’s hard to read) and isn’t a very natural-looking color. I wouldn’t recommend this one unless you’re coloring in books.

And that’s part 1 of my look at the 20 Papermate Flair colors. A good general assortment here, but nothing groundbreaking. Next week I’ll take a look at 5 of the more Warm colors in the set.

Review – Papermate Eagle

All pen companies have a simple, cheap round pen. Bic has the round Stic, Staples has its… pen, and Paper:mate has its Eagle. And it’s the Eagle I’ll be looking at today.

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The body of the Eagle is nothing spectacular.  It’s simply a semi-transparent cylinder which tapers down slightly just after the section to a tip/refill insert that can technically be removed, but which shouldn’t be because replacing it would be as expensive as replacing the pen. The cap is a standard friction fitting affair, which covers the tip so ink doesn’t get everywhere, and has a clip that’ll keep it in your pocket for a little bit, though I wouldn’t trust it. The information printed on the side of the barrel is minimal but works.

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The writing is surprisingly smooth for a ballpoint, at least for the red one I’m using. I guess they’re just getting better over the years. The ink is the same color as in the Paper:mate Write Bros pens. It’s fairly dark and unaggressive as far as reds go. And it’s waterproof almost instantly, though I wouldn’t wager on it being fade resistant. Writing comfort is minimal, as one still has to push down a considerable amount when compared to liquid or gel pens, and there is no grip other than the plastic of the barrel. But it’s still quite tolerable and causes no excess discomfort when writing.

Overall it’s a fine office pen.  It works, and it’s cheap. It’s sturdy and fairly reliable. Is it great? No. But they’re fine for what they are, and virtually indistinguishable from similar Bic pens. If you lose a lot of pens, or need to get some for students or coworkers, these should do just fine.

Review – Scotch Plastic Tape

Sometimes you don’t want clear tape, whether it’s to obscure, or to label by color, or the transparency just doesn’t matter to you. Scotch has also got you covered in that area with its plastic tapes, so called because they are made out of plastic. The roll I have happens to be red, but they come in all sorts of colors.

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Really this can just be rated by its stickiness, and as such this review will be short. It is suitably sticky, if you have something that needs to be stuck temporarily or is quite light it will get the job done. It is as strong, but less adhesive than, the average electrical tape, though it’s possible it could serve that purpose. What it’s really great for is labeling things. It sticks quite nicely by itself and can be used as a color code or is easily written on with most writing utensils, though it could smear easily. When it comes off it leaves little to no residue, and can potentially be reused, though only a few times.

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It’s a good tape, not a life-depending tape. It does the job of the regular transparent tapes while being less see-through and easier to pull off.

Review – Zebra Sarasa Colors Black, Blue, Red, Navy, Mahogany

I’ve talked about the Zebra Sarasa before, and it’s an alright gel pen. The saving grace of many gel pens is that most come in a variety of colors at least partially unique to them, and the Sarasa is no exception there. Let’s take a look at a few of the colors.

The colors are always a bit off in the digital space

The colors are always a bit off in the digital space

First, Black. It’s a cool black that covers well. It works in an office setting and generally doesn’t get lighter even with minimal pressure. I’d say it’s black almost as soon as it gets on the page. The drying time is moderate and it’s water smudge-able.

Next, Blue.  The blue is quite dark, darker than most office-type blue colors. This makes it easier to read and more professional. It’s also natural looking, more like a deep sea-blue than an in-between blue that doesn’t really exist in nature. It’s the least smudge-prone of the bunch, but that won’t entirely stop it from lifting off the page.

Third, Red. It is a bland red, with no real pop to it. Though it is brighter than some of the competition, it isn’t really eye hurting. It’s quite noticeable and quite red but has no character — and no real flaws, either. It’s the color that fades the most when exposed to water.

Now, Navy.  Navy is a very deep, dark blue. It’s really almost black. You’d need a good light on to tell which one is which, though you could tell that black and navy are different colors with minimal light. It’s a wonderful dark color that is almost soothing and quite free flowing.

Finally (for this set), Mahogany.  It is really more like maroon. It’s a slightly purplish red which is also very dark and quite nice. It is much more noticeable than the navy, and still quite natural, giving an almost brown appearance from far away. It’s probably my favorite of the five, though the one with the fewest applications, and while you might get away with it at the office, it could be a hard sell. Unless you work for Texas A&M University.

That’s the five colors for this week. Next time I’ll be looking at the other five colors in the standard ten color pack.

Review – Pentel EnerGel X Retractable Gel Pen 0.5 Red

Some brands can have very confusing product lines. And in the world of writing instruments, Pentel is great with product and poor with names. Today I’ll be taking a look at the Pentel EnerGel X 0.5 Retractable pen in Red. This is not to be confused with any other pen in the EnerGel line, because they all have completely different bodies, though you’d likely be able to expect the same performance.

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There really isn’t much to say about the body of the pen: it’s a transparent cylinder. The grip kinda works, but it isn’t the best. It’s much more slippery than some other grips. The clip is a bit plastic-y but does its job, although I wouldn’t trust it too much. The click mechanism is nice, solid and loud, nothing wimpy about it. And, strangely enough, the pen unscrews from the top to refill and not around the section.

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The tip of the pen is quite thin. There is a cone, but it stops a ways from the actual point. Writing is quite smooth. Occasionally there is a skip but there are no burps or blobs. The line is quite consistent as well. The red color is quite bright, but manages to not be an eyesore. It isn’t really useful for anything but marking errors or as a distinguishing color, but it does look nice. It is water-resistant, but does smear (though it’s still readable) and I suspect that it would wash almost entirely off after major water exposure.

All in all, I’d say that this is a decent pen. They cost a bit more than similar gel pens, and the writing is a bit better. I’d say it’s definitely a step up writing-wise from a Pilot G-2 but a step down in ergonomics. It’s consistent and smooth line makes it a joy, and if that’s what you want I’d say give it a shot.

Review – Uni-Ball Vision Elite Bold Black, Blue, and Red

When looking at the Pilot Precise two weeks ago, it occurred to me that there might be people who don’t have Pilot pens available, or don’t like them, so I looked into a different set of pens that have similar features. And I found the Uni-Ball Vision Elite Bold, in Black, Red, and Blue.

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The body and cap are simple and smooth, with a nice white-to-grey fade, a conical top, and a rounded bottom. The clip is metal with a few divots and is very tight. The top of the cap has the color of the ink and there are a few windows below to allow you to see the feed. On the barrel, the brand is stated twice and the model once, but there is no size information. Removing the cap exposes a transparent yet grip-covered feed, and the conical tip to a standard metal roller-ball point.

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The three inks aren’t too special in properties. The black is a thick, nice color. It is a warm black, fairly formal, etc. The bold line on all of these pens is enough to bleed through on cheaper copier paper, but the ink dries surprisingly fast. The blue is a dark blue, again fairly formal. It’s almost a navy or a blue-black color and it works well in most situations. I’d say it’d even work well for some artistic endeavors. The red is fairly bright and red, but it isn’t eye-hurting. It is a very deep, nice color, but it could still be considered aggressive. It is also good enough to have some artistic potential.

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The point is nice, and it writes smoothly, especially in the bold I have here. There is a lot of line variation, though, meaning drawing is a bit harder (or easier, depending on how you look at it). Like I said, there is some bleed-through, but not much. The writing is dry almost instantly from when I pick up the pen, which is amazing and leads to a much smoother writing experience.

Overall, the Uni-Ball Vision Elite is a great little roller-ball with quite a few office applications. The colors are nice without being overbearing, and the writing experience is fast and clean. Artistically they are limited, having little line consistency, but on the color side they have potential. They’re a nice set of pens.

 

Review – Pilot Precise v5 Black, Blue, and Red

Times are tough if one wants to write smoothly and precisely on a budget. Technical pens wear out fast, and fountain pens cost money and time to maintain. I use both, but sometimes I just want to write easily and precisely without all of the maintenance and hassle. This is where the Pilot Precise series of pens come in. Today I’ll be looking at the v5 set in black, red, and blue.

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The cap and barrel are simple and straight. The cap has nothing on it but a simple metal clip that does its job well but can bend easily. The barrel has the necessary info about the product and an ink window so that if ink starts to run low you can get a general idea. Removing the cap shows a transparent section and feed system, which is more for being cool looking than any sort of functionality regarding ink level. At the end of the section is a series of plastic step downs that lead to a metal rolling ball tip. At the bottom of the section is a small clear plastic window that allows one to easily see if there is little or no ink left in the pen. The transparent section and barrel are both a slick plastic, but provide enough surface area that slipping off or letting go of the pen is not an issue.

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The tips of the pens write fairly smoothly. Older ones get a bit stiffer, but even on the extra-fine v5 they are never scratchy. The rolling ball delivers a nice “precise” line to the paper. Although it does have more variation than a technical pen in width, it has less than a standard ballpoint does, and it doesn’t blob. Like I said, writing is smooth: almost as smooth as a fountain pen, but not quite there. I’d say they are wonderful for writing (especially if ballpoints cramp one’s hands) but are not as good for drawing. Still better than a ballpoint, though.

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The three colors I have are Black, Blue, and Red: fairly standard colors with a fairly standard execution. The black is a warm black (this is an older pen, and Pilot may have changed formulas. The other two are brand new.) and noticeably less saturated than the thicker v7. The blue is quite dark, darker than most other Pilot inks, and quite work-appropriate. It’s almost a deep water blue, but not quite as dark as, say, Bic blue. The red is bright, bright to the point of being aggressive. Don’t grade papers with it unless you really want to say they’re wrong. It shows up almost from across the room and is quite a contrast to the deep red body of the pen. I’d say it has the fewest practical applications of the bunch. All of these inks are liquid-based and soak into the paper, meaning that they take a bit of moisture to run, but when they do they never stop. The red is the worst in this case.

In the end I’d say simply that these pens are great for writing, and all right for drawing. They aren’t the best but are great and ubiquitous for what they are.

 

 

 

 

Review – Papermate Flair Part 2 Red

A while back I reviewed the Papermate Flair pen, and I was going to say that this was a review of the red version of the same pen; but really I intend this as a continuation of the last review after some more use, and as a review of the red color for the pen.

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I can confirm that the inner cap will keep the tip dry for extended periods of time. The clip is very difficult to use and is easy to get bent out of shape. And while the black pen has a problem with the color rubbing off, the red has no such problem.

The red color itself is more of a pinkish, and it’s kinda washed out. The line for the medium is spread out enough that it is very noticeable as a not-quite red. It isn’t very aggressive, so if one was grading papers and such and wanting to use something that didn’t offend the viewer, this would work. However, as far as I can see there are no other practical applications. Perhaps marking on technical drawings, but again there are easier and better solutions. Using the pen on a very absorbent paper will make a much deeper color, so that is an option.

Overall the Flair is still a great pen, but I wouldn’t recommend the red color as it is not a very strong red, or a good covering color.