japanese-pens

2.2.17 Just a quick shot from my local stationery shop! I absolutely love it here and I keep having to forcibly remove myself. It’s right next to the green grocers so I walk past it every time I get vegetables! I honestly might see if I can get a job here because, having a studyblr, a know a lot about stationery. Xxx emily

So, I’ve watched the new interview with Yuzu and the thing I recognize from the video was:

The Pilot FriXion Ball 4 in White (I believe he’s writing with 0.38 ink):

No, I am not sponsored by Jetpens. 

I swear, Yuzu really loves the Frixon line from Pilot (as expected of Mr. perfectionist.) He’s been using them for a while and the earliest I can tell is from High School. And what’s not to love about this pen line!? You can make mistakes with your pen and erase the ink!

I, myself, also use Frixon pens, which are a saving grace to me because I make a ton of mistakes while writing. PLUS, Pilot manufactures some of my most beloved fountain pens, the Vanishing Point and the Custom 823.

QUICK NIB RUNDOWN!

There’s plenty to be said about each type of fountain pen nib you can easily find for sale, this post is just a nibble of what’s to come! 

Standard nibs are the most common, with the most straightforward design. The nib tapers down to a point, which has a small bead of tipping material welded on the underside that contacts the paper. The bead itself serves the dual purposes of providing longevity to the nib (it’s an alloy much more resistant to wear than steel) and also providing a uniform line no matter which way the nib is traveling. The end result is a pen with a reliable line width, the thickness of which is indicated by a grade of extra-fine, fine, medium and broad. This grading system is more of a courtesy than a science - widths are relative but not exact! You’ll find that Japanese pens have a finer grind than most western institutions, for example, so their fine might be more similar to a western extra-fine. If you’re interested in getting into fountain pens but don’t want to gamble on something exotic, this is generally the best nib to start!

When choosing a size, bear in mind that the finer a nib is, the more scratchy it tends to be on paper, while broader nibs tend to be smoother due to the larger surface area!

Nearly every fountain pen manufacturer out there produces pens with these nibs. Some like Pilot also offer the occasional extra-extra-fine and double broad, though you might have to dig deep to get your hands on one.

Stub nibs are like a standard nib that’s had its tip snipped off, leaving a broad, flat edge. Your downstrokes are as thick as that edge, while strokes to the sides remain quite fine. It’s a popular choice for calligraphy due to the character of these lines in cursive, but I’ve also found it spectacular for sketching! Conscious use of thick and thin strokes allow for much more depth than a standard nib, but just drawing without paying mind to it yields some gorgeously unpredictable and organic results.

You’ll almost always see stub nibs labeled by their widths in millimeters - from 0.8mm all the way up to 1.9mm. Most manufacturers offer 0.8mm or 1.1mm stubs on their flagship pens, but you may have to look to the likes of Lamy for stumpier ones, or Pilot for their absurd but amazing Parallel series, which are highly atypical but extremely fun and cap out at a whopping 6mm.

Brush pens are pretty self-explanatory! It’s a fountain pen with a bristly tip that tapers to a point, rather than a metal nib. When filled, the brush’s tip is constantly saturated with ink via the feed, so you can just keep trucking with your strokes instead of having to dip it over and over like a chump. Take it as you will, but brush pens do not typically feed particularly quickly. If you sketch with fast, long strokes like me, you’ll be left with some really dry, sad lines. On the plus side, however, you can get some great dry brush effects, giving you a range of textures and midtones that you won’t be able to get in any other kinda fountain pen. Given its soft and flexible tip, it has the broadest range of line variation and the most control over it on the fly.

There’s not a whole lot of nuance to brush pens, the market’s kinda cornered by two or three companies and there are really only two kinds of bristle material available: synthetic and weasel. Synthetic brushes are petroleum-based (plastic) and are eager to snap back into their original position, while natural hair is softer and more relaxed. The big players in brush pens are currently Kuretake and Platinum, though Pentel has a very popular entry-level in its Pocket Brush pen. 

Fude nibs are a personal favorite of mine - they’re kinda like stubs but perpendicular. It’s got a big ol’ ski-jump of a tip that can make some very broad cross strokes when pressed flat to the paper, and the downstrokes are thin. These pens are a bit harder to come by in the west, as they’re designed for more eastern calligraphy, but they still make for spectacular sketches! It takes a bit of getting used to, but you can get way more variation, with more control, than a stub with one of these. It also happens to look more brush-like with its organic transitions and sometimes-uneven ink distribution. If you want more acute control over your line width than a stub but can’t stand the speed of brush pens, a fude nib is a great middle ground!

If you’d like to get your hands on a reliable fude-nibbed pen, Sailor’s De Mannen series is easy to get a hold of, and I know Hero has a few on the market as well. My favorite company for fude pens, however, would be Duke! Their 209 can be gotten for around ten bucks and is a spectacularly solid pen for the price, oftentimes you can even get it bundled with BOTH a fude and standard nib. There’s also the Duke 551, labeled sometimes as the Compound Art Fountain Pen, and it’s head and shoulders above anything else on the market. Seriously, go take a look at that thing, it’s ridiculous.

Last but not least, flex nibs are pretty similar to a standard nib, but with the added ability to splay their tines and spring back to where they were before. This extra spring and flexibility means two things: a bit more bounce in day-to-day writing and some pretty respectable line variation. Unlike stubs and fude nibs, which rely on stroke direction for line variation, a flex pen gets thicker lines from added pressure while writing or drawing. The amount of pressure it takes is pretty considerable, though, so you can easily and comfortably use it as a daily writer.

Pens with flexible nibs were fairly common back in the day, so it’s a common sight in vintage fountain pens, but production of them has fallen out of favor in recent decades. Right now Noodler’s is the only reasonable peddler of new, affordable flex pens with their Ahab, Creaper, Konrad and Neponset series, so give them a look if you’re up for something that carries itself like a standard but offers some pretty juicy lines under pressure. Many fountain pens with gold nibs also have a notable degree of springiness/flex to them, most famously the Pilot Falcon, though they weren’t necessarily designed to be mashed into the paper like Noodler’s fare. Gold nibs, however, are a good subject for another post, so stay tuned.

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Don’t let this post fool you - there are many more types of nibs out there, these are just some of the most accessible, both in terms of learning curve and finding in an online store. If you’d like to know more about any of these, or if you feel like I excluded a notable variety, send me a message!

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Hi! Lots of people have asked me about what paper, sketchbook, pen, ink, etc that I like to use, so today I’m going to post pics of them, complete with their names/brands, and where you could purchase them. 😊 

WATERCOLOR PAPER/SKETCHBOOK 

  • Back-left: Arches watercolor paper - gummed block - hot pressed. The texture is very smooth. 
  • Back-right: Arches watercolor paper - gummed block - rough texture. 
  • Front-left: Global Art Materials Hand Book Travelogue - Large Landscape Front-right: Global Art Materials Hand Book Travelogue - Square 
  •  Where you can get them: all of them can be found in Amazon.com, Arches paper can also be found in online art supplies store such as Jackson’s

WATERCOLOR BRUSHES

  • Left to right: Cotman 111 Round, Cotman 666, Kuretake water brush (size Medium), Pentel Aquash size Small, Pentel Aquash compact size (the tip is size Medium) 
  • Where you can get them: Amazon.com, Jackson’s Art Supplies, I think most online art supplies stores sell them

WATERCOLOR PAINTS 

  • Top-left: Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Watercolor - Set A
  • Top-right: Holbein 14 colors set from Stickerrific (I chose the colors myself and they made the set for me) 
  • Bottom-left: Sakura Koi portable watercolor set Bottom-right: the box and plastic half-pans were from Jackson’s, the paints are mostly Holbein and Cotman. 

Where you could get them: 

  • Dr. Ph. Martin’s: I got mine from Amazon. 
  • Holbein: Stickerrific, you can also purchase the paints individually and in sets in online art supplies stores (again, I got mine from Jackson’s)
  • Sakura Koi: Amazon
  • Cotman: I got mine for free from a workshop, but Cotman paints is available individually and in sets in Amazon and other online art supplies store. 

INK, DRAWING PENS, NIB PENS, ETC 

  • Topmost: pen nibs, I use g-pen, maru pen, and saji pen. I bought mine from Stickerrific and from a shop in Rakuten.jp 
  • Below the nibs: pen holders I use, from top to bottom: Tachikawa pen holder, a generic black one whose brand I can’t remember, and Nikko maru pen holder. Bought from that shop in Rakuten. 
  • Bottle: Liquitex black acrylic ink. It’s very thin but intense, and it dries quickly. I always use it with my nib pens. 
  • Below, from left to right: Mono Zero eraser, Sakura eraser, Snowman drawing pen 0.1 and 0.05, Tachikawa School G-Pen size Fine and Extra-Fine, Sakura Gelly Roll white, Zebra Millipen (blue) 

Where you can buy them: 

  • Japanese pen nibs and pen holders: Rakuten, I think jetpens has them too. I think Stickerrific also sells some Japanese nibs and holders. 
  • Liquitex ink: Amazon (I think), artifolk.com 
  • Mono Zero, Sakura eraser: uhh I don’t know since I got mine from a local bookstore, but I believe you’ll find it in online stores if you google it. 
  • Snowman drawing pens: jetpens has them as far as I know. 
  •  Tachikawa School G-pen: Rakuten Sakura Gelly Roll, Zebra Millipen: jetpens

I used to think Unown were dumb. I mean, they still kinda are, but the Pokemon games and anime always portrayed them as these super mysterious glyphs and like the messages in their ruins were unreadable and had to be desiphered, but it took no effort for me to read them. As a kid, I thought they made it too easy. Then I realized the target was Japanese kids that might not even be aware that they’re all based on English characters. Imagine a Japanese kid with pen and paper and Google translate as they try to figure out what those messages mean in the ruins of Alph, translating each character then trying to translate a whole sentence, all that for some cryptic message that makes no sense.