Pen and Ink – reviews

Written with Pilot Parallel Pen

I think it has been quite a while since I have done any art supply reviews. The last time was the Palomino pencils, and that was quite interesting to do. I always learn new things too when I test out my supplies. I had been planning to do this review for a very long time, but never got around to do it. Well, I recently bought a new fountain pen, and decided now was a good time since I wanted to test it out with a new ink I just bought also.

What I love about fountain pens is that you can refill it up again and with good ink. It writes well, and most of the time, it does not dry out when you least expect it. It saves money in the long run, and leaves less of a carbon footprint. It is also becoming more and more affordable to collect. I wish I could buy a $100 fountain  pen, but I am scared to for many reasons – my main reason because I tend to lose things easily and that’s not cool when its $100. And the other thing is because I need to stop buying crap I don’t need.



The only fountain pen inks that I have is actually Noodler’s Bulletproof Black Ink (the bottle with the fish on the left), which is supposed to be great for fountain pens because it does not clog like it would with black India Ink. On the plus side, Noodler’s is an American company and is made in the U.S.A, which of course, I try to support. I bought it in 2008, along with my very first fountain pen the Lamy Safari. They have a great selection of stationery, pens, ink, and other craft things. They did stop selling the Noodler’s ink, so if you are interested in it, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Jetpens now stock other types of ink as well, and in multi-color. I’ve had this 3 oz. bottle for about 5 years, and I’ve only gone through half the bottle. I write and draw with this ink on a mostly regular basis — I have a lot of personal diaries, this ink has seen me through at least 3 journals all ready, and of course, my sketchbooks, letters to friends, and my dear pen pal. I’ve never had to buy a cheap ball point pen ever again, which thankfully, isn’t long-lasting and archival. I think at the time, I wanted to experiment more with permanent sketching because I wanted to be more confident in my lines — so I ditched the pencil for awhile (but I came back). The “bulletproof” name is because the ink is supposed to be resistant to UV lights and chemicals such as bleach, alcohol, and cleaners, and supposedly waterproof once dried on cellulose paper (which is considered paper, paperboards, and cardstock). The Lamy fountain pen was also so that I would write more. I’ve now become a pen snob because I cannot write with a crappy pen; it would make me angry.

Lamy Safari. There is a small indicator hole that lets you know when your ink is about to run out.
Lamy Safari. There is a small indicator hole that lets you know when your ink is about to run out.

The new ink that I bought is Platinum Carbon Pen Ink in a 60cc (2oz) bottle. I hadn’t realized it but I may have owned this in a small cartridge that went with my Platinum pocket brush pen I bought back in 2009.

Platinum Pocket Brush Pen
Platinum Pocket Brush Pen

The one in the cartridge when I used it with the brush pen had this sheen on it when it dried. It was indeed quite waterproof, I remember this much, I’ve used up all my inks and have since refilled my brush pen with the Noodler’s. Because I draw with my pens, I need waterproof type inks. This ink was considered to be quite black, so I decided to try it. [In actuality, Noodler’s is slightly darker than the Platinum ink. The only thing I have can compare between these two? Noodler’s isn’t particularly good with dip pens. It’s almost like it doesn’t bond with metal, it beads up like water on plastic, which used to be annoying on some occasions when I would ink a comic page, I never seemed to have enough in the little pen point reservoir. The carbon ink that I tested though, was perfectly okay with my Tachikawa pen holder and comic pen nibs.]

Higgins and Speedball are Black India inks used for dip pens. I use them for my pen and ink illustrations as well as for comics. The fountain pen inks would also be good for that too. Noodler’s would be good to just use as a black, solid filler.

Dr. Ph. Martin’s is also India Ink too. They tend to be deep, saturated colors, and would need water to lighten. Apparently, my friend who bought me these as a gift used it for her color theory class, which was different from me using gouache paints.


Paints like watercolor, but dries like ink — it is much more permanent than watercolor would be.


Daler Rowney acrylic artist ink is not india ink, its acrylic, but it is great because it has this glaze shine on top when the ink dries. It’s really nice. I don’t have black, I don’t think I would plan on purchasing it in the near future — though in all technicality, I could mix both of these together to give me a black. Also only meant for painting and dip pens.


fountain pens collection
Pens in this review.

I forgot to take a picture of the Pentel Parallel Pen, but I am too lazy to go back and do it. However, you can see it here:

In any case, the perk of this pen is that it is able to mix colors. You cannot, however, switch colors mid cartridge. You have to have more than one pen to create the effect of a color gradient. I didn’t realize this until after I bought it. But this pen is a pretty nice pen. It comes with a pen cleaner thing (creates a dropper effect), and this film that helps you clean inbtween the metal points to take out any paper that gets stuck. It came with red ink, but I found the color not to be good for using to write everyday writing with, so I switched to the Noodler’s ink. The default ink they give you, by the way, is not waterproof. The pen does not skip, and it writes well. The cap is a twist on, and the body is entirely plastic except the nib point.


The Kuretake Calligraphy pen comes double sided. I didn’t test this out, but it’s a calligraphy pen anyway. It comes in more colors, I happen to have purple, green, and black. I wish I had the spectrum, but I actually don’t write calligraphy all that often so…. It’s great for personal invitation, notes, crafts, and snail mail things.

ohto_poche_pen_capped_web ohto_poche_pen_web

Ohto Poche pocket Fountain Pen. I’ve got to say, for $25 this is a really good fountain pen in comparison to my Lamy Safari. It writes much, much more smoothly. It also closes to half of its original size, which is why it’s a “pocket pen.” It’s also metal, and I like how solid it feels in my hands. This pen comes in 4 designs, I happen to like the diamonds the best. It’s body is made completely of metal, I don’t see any visible plastic parts other than the provided ink Cartridge.


Pentel Fude Brush pen. I bought this at a Maido in San Francisco on a whim because I wanted to test out more brush pens. The tip is very stiff, and not flexible, but still writes with a brush feel. It is a very “clean” brush pen look. Good for writing in kanji in small lettering! It makes sense because the symbols can get small and hard to see with other brush types.


Platinum pocket brush pen, soft tip. It is indeed a soft tip. I love taking this out to sketch because I get so much energy from the strokes. The ink that I bought that came with it was waterproof, so I used it with markers. It works great as a sketch pen. It’s got a much more organic writing to it though. With a careful hand, the point can be rather small when writing or detailing.


Platinum preppy. I have a hate love relationship with this pen because its really cheap and it writes well when it’s not dried out. This pen dries out very easily though. You must always secure the cap on, or the ink will skip. That is terrible for a fountain pen. But I take this with me so I don’t have to worry about losing my other more expensive pens. It can be cleaned out though, if it dries out. Since it has a plastic body, it can crack, which mine has. The cap doesn’t fit tightly anymore because of this. However, it is refillable.


Tachikawa G-school pen. I bought this at APE con a year or two ago. I got to test it on site, and I really liked how I was able to create fine lines with it. It can skip however, it needs to be held correctly. The nib also eats paper, so you’ll need to pick at the lint sometimes. It’s got its uses though. I don’t use it regularly. The lines on this is very fine. The nib is suppose to imitate the G nib that fits into the Tachikawa holder.


Zebra pocket brush. This was my first brush pen, this really opened up my eyes to brush pens simply because the strokes are really organic, and it creates a nice taper. The point is inbetween soft and hard, so it is flexible. It’s also fun to write with, but because its non-refillable, I sort of use it infrequently.

Here is also what they look like in writing:


I’m also going to talk very briefly about bamboo dip pens, in case anyone was ever curious about getting them.


Essentially, what I did with these after I bought them was cut and sand away the tip into a point and turned it into a calligraphic pen.


It works like a dip pen, but its much harder to clean because of the wood’s porous’ nature.

Writing with bamboo dip pens

I don’t want to into this too much because the amount of time I took just to do the tests and then take the pictures has been long. This is probably the most time-consuming review I have done. I was almost going to combine this markers, since some of my markers are also brush pen-types too, but it’ll be too long. I’ll just do a review on markers another time.

I will also be reviewing multiliner pens.

Specifically, the Sakura, Deleter, Staedtler, Copic, and Tachikawa brands.




Ink Tests:

The results of my tests were pretty interesting to say the least. Most of my aforementioned inks are indeed waterproof… as long as you don’t smudge them whilst they are wet.


I used a 04 Liner Brush, and then I used a G-nib and Tachikawa pen holder to create the thin line strokes. My hands are sometimes not the most steady, so that’s why some of it appears a little bit wobbly.



I had to retry writing the Platinum carbon Ink, but it seemed to bleed on the paper for some reason. It did not bleed on other parts of the paper, it could be because I tried to stretch this paper, which is Smooth Bristol Vellum, and the paper did not dry all the way through. Because I tried on a different piece, same paper, and it did not bleed. So, I was almost disappointed, but no, it was probably the paper fibers not being normal.

I used my sakura electric eraser, using a blue refill, which is for pens — however, they no longer sell the blue refills. I suppose nobody really uses the blue refills; I haven’t really touched mine until today.

The Noodler’s ink smudged really easy when I tried to erase with my electric eraser. All the inks were taken away a little bit, but the least offended of them, was the Carbon Ink, Speedball and Higgins seem to be about the same, Noodler’s would have been all right if it didn’t smudge so easily. Although Dr. PH Martin’s held together about the same as the Speedball and Higgins too. I think the real test would have to be when I actually ink artwork. But good multiliners can retain inks well.

Erasing tests for the multiliner were as follows:

Sakura is always a great beginner set because it is always much cheaper than the others. But when I first started using them, I noticed how easy it was for the inks to be removed, even with a grey kneaded eraser. So I kind of knew this one would be the weakest of them all.

The second is the Deleter multiliner set. What I really liked about this set was that the smallest liner, is a size 003, that’s even smaller than 0.3. I used it a lot when I was in high school — like 2007, and it shows. I still haven’t used it all up, but most will begin to run out soon.

Staedtler is not the darkest ink here, but it also held together very well when being erased, its not really noticeable.

Lastly, the Copic multiliner didn’t really get removed much, but its pretty much the same as Deleter in steadfastness.

Although the Tachikawa G-School pen is not a multiliner, I feel like its in the same vein as these, just because I use them all for the same purposes for drawing and line art. I feel like it was difficult to see the ink getting removed much at all, and it was hardly noticeable.

Test Markers:


These were my test markers, one from each brand that I use.

Faber Castell Pitt markers are great blenders, and they tend to not need to have a colorless blender. I have not seen them being sold at all. These markers don’t bleed as easily, but they do a little bit less than Copic. This marker managed to strip away quite a bit of ink.

Copic is essentially, one of the best markers on the market. It doesn’t smell, and the colors are vibrant. They’re also really expensive. I’ve been adding more and more of them to my collection slowly over the years though. I just buy them 2-3 a year. I did purchase a Copic Ciao set because it was less expensive than the other marker sets.

Tombow, despite being referred to me by an instructor whom I really don’t have fond memories of, are also decent markers. I love the tips, which are brush tips, great for blending. Apparently though, as we shall see in my tests that they strip away the black inks.

Prismacolor Marker is my go-to marker for sketching and visual development thumbnailing and concepting. I still use these for value studies. Old school is old school. It’s just easier to see. I’m actually a lot better at seeing greyscale with these than on my computer… In any case, these were the least offensive for all the multiliners and even for the Hi-Tec-C pen, which is not waterproof at all, remained in tact.


Each of the brands had a different reaction to my test markers. The one that was the least affected by any of the markers was Copic. The multiliner sp is marketed as “Copic proof.” The Pitt and Tombow did manage to smudge the ink a little, but its hardly noticeable, and the lines remain clear.

Since the Pilot Hi-Tec-C is not waterproof, it didn’t hold together well. But actually, it remained pretty okay with the Copic marker, and the Prismacolor marker.

The others were almost always affected the most by Pitt and Tombow, whereas, least affected by Copic and Prismacolor. There is slight smudging with Copic on some, but for the most part, it remained legible. My ranking would be Tachikawa, Copic, Deleter, Staedtler, Sakura, Dang-A Fine Tech Pen (funny, its cheaper than the Hi-tec-c’s), and the Pilot Hi-tec C.

I test these out because when I go sketching, I like to have a multiliner with me and a set of markers from the 4 brands above to fill in color if I decide to add coloring to my sketches. I found out the hard way when I had a perfectly good sketch, and then smeared it because I forgot you can’t use marker on top. However, with most waterproof pens, it works fine with marker.


3 thoughts on “Pen and Ink – reviews

  1. Can you please advise how to use Noodler’s ink or any other ink with pilot parallel pen? I am filling a waterproof ink in convertor using a dropper, however it works sometimes, and other times the pen does not writes anything at all.

  2. Well, with all my pens, I don’t use any converters. I have a small syringe that I use to refill my cartridges when they go empty, which I refill with my Noodler’s or my Platinum Carbon Ink. I don’t use any other inks. So I am not sure if it could be converter that is causing an issue with the ink not coming out. You may want to run it under the sink with warm water also, because it might be clogged from the inside as well. Or also the nib too; I know my parallel pilot pen came with a little thin film/nib cleaner that you can use to clean out any papers that could get stuck in the nib. The ink could have possibly dried up, although this is usually from not using it frequently enough (But I feel like the screw top prevents it from getting dried out from not using it, because I don’t use mine as much). I think it may be the be converter, because I’ve never had problems with my pen skipping ink, or it could be the ink too if cleaning does not work. What kind waterproof ink are you using and its fountain pen compatible?

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