Review – INC PenMark Permanent Markers

As someone who bolts to the stationery section of every store I enter, every once in a while I just have to dive into one of the budget options there (I say that like cheap crap isn’t something that I have innumerable piles of). And if you do this at Dollar General you’re very likely to end up with something made by INC, a brand I’ve looked at before that produces writing utensils that function. Is their current foray into permanent markers, the PenMark, any good?

IMG_9897IMG_7158

The bodies are a simple design. The body is a cylinder with a foil label that has minimal information printed on it. The cap mostly continues this cylindrical motif until its end, when it slants off at a slight angle. The clip is plastic and unsurprisingly molded into the cap (for safe keeping). At the other end there is a hexagonal step-down for posting, which the cap nicely clicks onto. Underneath the cap is a series of 3 step-downs that lead to a metal tube with a small, stiff felt-tip.

IMG_2808IMG_4286

The performance is as to-be-expected. They smell like permanent markers, and the line stays like permanent markers. The ink causes a lot of bleeding and feathering, even on high-quality paper; the result is a line considerably thicker than the “ultra fine point” stated on the package. The colors are all pleasant and readable, with the exception of yellow, which is, like most yellow, essentially useless, and they do stick to the paper and remain vibrant once applied. Water has no discernable effect on the markings, but alcohol does start to break down the dye/pigment. The lines will break down and feather under regular rubbing alcohol, and bleed through increases tremendously, but during my tests the lines actually remained legible.

IMG_7823IMG_6563

If you’re looking for an assortment of permanent marker colors on the cheap, these technically fulfill that requirement. The bodies are cheap, the nibs are brittle, the ink bleeds and is more-than-likely not archival quality. But they provide a mark that is suitably permanent on household materials (paper, tin cans, and plastic containers; they will fade, but they will leave behind a water-resistant mark) in a skinny, portable body which fits anywhere your average pen will, with a clip that holds them in place.

Advertisements

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.

photo-90

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.

photo-92

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.

photo-93

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.

photo-91

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 – Poquitos Part 1 – Yafa Ballpoint and Pencil

Some things are better small, and the Yafa Poquito, being one of the first pens I got, proved that to me. It was exceptional for my small hands at the time. But how does the set compare now?

20150113-225904.jpg

The Yafa Poquito pens have metal bodies that come in various colors. The top of the pen is a bit of a rounded-off cone, and the top of the pencil has a small steel button. The clips are tight and almost identical, with the pen’s being pointed, and the pencil’s being round. The bodies of both utensils taper from the middle to each end, with the center band being separate in the pen and attached to the mechanism in the pencil. The metal tip of the pencil is also part of the mechanism, whereas in the pen it is part of the body. The bodies are quite solid, but the paint will wear off with time and a bit of use. Consider getting a silver or brass one to fix that if you mind.

20150113-225910.jpg

The pencil takes .7mm lead, and what it comes with it fairly standard, sometimes broken in transit. The mechanism is easy to use and quite sturdy. It would stand up to a bit of abuse. There is no play once the lead has been extruded, it doesn’t have “shocks” as it were, but the mechanism is separate from the pen body, and this creates a squeak now and then.

The pen is a smooth-writing fine cartridge. It is a ballpoint so there are occasional globs and hard starts. If left out for some time, the pen will be quite hard to start, but in this case a while is so long a time that one would expect it to. When it does flow, it is very smooth, and has almost no issues. It is not quite black, and waterproof, as most ballpoint blacks are.

The Poquitos pack quite a bit of punch for their size, being less than 4 inches long (and they still manage to fit relatively comfortably in the hand). And while they do have some flaws, they are far from from deal-breaking for having a pen or pencil there when you really need it. They serve best as backups and are miles ahead of small pens that don’t allow one to comfortably hold them or have very little ink. I’d say that in that category, Poquitos are at least worth a look.

Review – Micron Red, Blue, Purple, and Green colors

I have reviewed several Micron pens in the past. But in case you were wondering if they could add a little more color to your life, here are some Micron Colors in .05.

It is an eight-pen set of colors from Micron that I’m looking at. It includes black so that’s out. The first four colors I will look at are what I call the ‘standard’ colors. They are red, blue, green, and purple.

I have already talked about the blue and the red so I’ll cover those quickly first. These pens are larger than the ones I reviewed previously so the ink is a bit more saturated. They aren’t as glaringly red and blue as before, but they are still some of the brightest and most vibrant of their colors on the market, aside from the awful nano-liner. Getting this large also makes them more prone to bleed-through, of which there is a slight hint in the blue.

Next we have the purple, which, in the Micron style, is a very aggressive purple. It is very deep, and in low lighting could be mistaken for black. It is very highly saturated, and changes little to none when applying pressure for some time to just tapping it on the paper. Amazingly at this darkness it isn’t very prone to bleed-through.

Finally the green. This is, surprisingly, a fairly sedate green, falling in the middle of forest and lime. It is unmistakably green, but rather unremarkable. It doesn’t jump like the other inks in this set. It just sits there, making it rather like greens in real life which you have to look closely to appreciate. Again, surprisingly enough this color is the most prone to bleed-through in the entire set, even writing fairly fast it leaves dots on the other side of fairly thin paper.

micron color test 1.1

So overall the ‘standard’ colors in this Micron package are great. They’re not really the best for sketches of nature or the outside world, but for labeling and organizing they are great. For example, different color parts in a schematic. It’s nice to have colored pens around and these hold up the Micron standard. I can definitely find a use for them.