At the beginning of me exploring brush pens, I stuck to synthetic bristle or natural hair brush pens. Things like the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, Kuretake No. 13, Kuretake No. 40, the Pentel Pigment Brush Pen, and eventually the Platinum CF-5000. I personally love the control of a bristle brush, and finding the perfect one for work on the go drawing and inking filled my pen based passions for a few years.
Hard tip brush pens, on the other hand, I rarely seeked out. My first was the Faber Castell Pitt Brush Pen, but since the tips always got so grimy after the first 10 minutes of use, it tainted my opinion of all hard tip brush pens. Also a pro tip for Pitt brush pens: you can pull out the tip and rotate it to get a fresh second side, if you didn’t know.
The Akashiya Sai ThinLine Brush Pen Extra Fine, Sumi Black just sucks. It has no redeeming qualities: it's way too dry, it's ink capacity is low, it's tip turns into a ragged mess quite quickly. The only good thing about it is that you only wasted about 5$.
There are a lot of brush pens out there that look similar to this design: a bristle brush tip, and huge barrel, which doubles as a replaceable ink cartridge. It's a bit of an odd design compared to the more fountain pen-like brush pens, in that you have to squeeze it to push ink into the feed area. These pens aren't nearly as nice to look at, but it's currently my favorite brush pen. This is a utilitarian, function over form brush pen, and it's one of the cheapest of the refillable bristle brush pens by far (usually around 6$ on Amazon or $8.25 on JetPens). If you don't have one of these pens, I suggest you grab one.
Non Photo Blue Lead (or Non Repro Blue Lead) is a bit of a legacy item as far as art reproduction is concerned. The benefit of its use would be that you wouldn't have to erase, because the camera taking a photo of your black and white inked illustration wouldn't be able to pick up that color of blue (Xeroxing either). We can use this tool today with scanning in our work, it just takes an extra step. Above is a before and after of an image with the non photo blue lead on the left. On the right, I just dropped the saturation of the cyan channel down to 0 and bumped the lightness all the way up, and poof, it's gone. There's a few other ways to do this, but the point is there is still a reason to do this today (though most artists now print their non photo blue layouts). In this round-up I am comparing 5 different non photo blue leads, and seeing which is king.
Note: Originally the illo sketchbook 8"x8" different rating, but in retrospect and with more use, I have made an adjustment to it's final score. Read on to see the change.
The illo sketchbook 8"x8" honestly has some of my favorite paper in a sketchbook. For quite a while, I was looking for a hardback bound sketchbook that had bristol board. To no avail. Such a thing really doesn't exist. Strathmore's Visual Journal line has both a smooth and vellum bristol, but it's wirebound, not many pages, and the cover is ugly as sin. Everything there is a bit of a compromise, so, I'm not really into them. But this, this is so close to perfection.
(aka Timo) is a comic creator, designer, and illustrator living in Durham, North Carolina. He has his BFA in Studio Art from East Carolina University with a concentration in Illustration. He hates speaking in the third person.
© Copyright Timothy Weaver 2019