Color Spree

Color Spree
My favorite color is "all of them." What's yours?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sakura Pigma Microns Colors and Giveaway Winner!

16 Colors Set of Sakura Pigma Micron Pens -- just like the black ones, in colors!

We also have a winner in the Sakura Pigma Micron Giveaway from last post -- Rose, please contact me at using the Contact form on my oil pastels site. That'll let you email me your snail address and email for email confirmation without posting it for the whole world to read in the comments thread on these reviews.

Since you mentioned that you've been doing more pen drawing lately, I know you'll really enjoy these even if it takes years for you to use them up! It takes a while, and the points don't mash down like some other waterproof pens I've tried. They are fantastic. Try the pen and watercolor style too, it's so easy to splash a wash on them afterward or do a loose painting, let it dry and add penwork details.

Just when things couldn't get any better, they got better. I've loved Sakura Pigma Micron pens for decades. They are my favorite disposable technical pen and in my hands, outlive Rapidograph technical pens by a matter of years at a fraction of the cost. I was thrilled to find out they came in color. I was even more thrilled when Sakura sent me a review set of all the colors!

I can't actually test how long they'll last but I trust that with the Sakura ink technology, they will last as long as my good black Pigma Microns. I had forgotten what a nice fine line the 05 pen has, because it's one of the heavier lines in the size range I thought it would be too coarse for the style of pen and watercolor art I wanted to use colors for. No way. It was fine and gorgeous, just right for being able to easily reproduce a painting with pen and wash instead of having lines too thin for the resolution on a scan.

The colors are all waterproof and produce a superb smooth line, without variation even if my pressure varies randomly. I don't really press that hard on them most of the time but with a technical pen, I want a thin line that has a consistent width no matter what angle I'm holding it or where on the curve I'm drawing. If I wanted an expressive thick-thin line I'd use a brush pen or fountain pen. When I want control, I turn to Pigma Microns.

Naturally on the swatch tests of all the new colors, I also did a doodle to see how they behaved with a wash sloshed over them. I chose the maroon or dark red color, not sure what it's called, and drew some veins to create a leaf shape. Then washed over it with two shades of green Daniel Smith watercolors. Not a blur. Not a hint of a blur. These are in color and otherwise they behave exactly like every Pigma Micron pen I've used and loved.

Color tests with hatching in all sixteen colors. This is also a test of my scanner to see which hues will come up true on a scan. The very darkest brown looks a little more like black on the scan and the black looks browner than it really is, like the first two patches reversed. Other than that, the colors scan very true on a Canon Pixma MP620 multi-purpose scanner-printer.

Your scanner may vary. It's good to do swatch tests of any new art supply and then scan the swatch tests to find out how much fiddling in Gimp or Photoshop you'll need to do in order to make your art come out looking true. I was delighted to find that the yellow pen scanned true. Sometimes my scanner drops yellows, just doesn't show them, but the yellow ink is strong enough to come through loud and clear without turning green or orange in a scan. Very useful to have a yellow pen that scans true!

It would not surprise me if I could do color labels and stick them in bottles of alcohol or formaldehyde. Useful if you're a scientist and want some color coding possibilities in your labeling. For artists, that means you can try different thinners when combining penwork with oil washes. You can get an easy oil wash by using thinner with any brand of oil pastels and treating them like pan watercolors or oil paint in a stick, which gives a different effect than watercolor but can be very dramatic. If you use a transparent color, Pigma Microns will hold their line and stand up to it.

Well, let's test that with the odorless thinner right now, since I've speculated about it. The literature says alcohol won't disturb the line... what about Winsor & Newton Sansodor? I'll use the same maroon pen that I did on the sample leaf before.

Just as I thought -- Sakura's Pigma Micron ink does not dissolve in Sansodor odorless oils thinner. Which means you can use thin oil washes with penwork, or use oil pastels or oil sticks with a wash and still have your penwork visible. I'm not sure I'd want to put penwork over an oil painted layer since it might clog the point, but I'm not willing to sacrifice a pen to the destructive attempt. Most pens won't go over an oil painted surface because the ink just won't stick to the oil. But if you do the penwork first, this technique works as well as transparent watercolor... in colors, in twice the range of Prismacolor's Archival Markers.

I bought those several years ago. I found that the color Prismacolor Archival Markers do stand up to washes, come in fine clean lines, and were very handy for this sort of pen and watercolor technique. However, several of my color pens are now empty, they do not last as long as the Pigma Microns do. That's the main difference, also the Sanford Prismacolor product only comes in eight colors -- red, blue, green, orange, purple, brown, sepia and black.

Smaller point sizes in colors are available in Pigma Microns as well, if you want to do very fine details or very small labels. Colors in Pigma Micron fine points 005 and 01 include Rose, Red, Orange, Purple, Green, Brown and Blue, plus of course black in all sizes. Sepia is also available in a four pen set with three widths and a brush pen. Dick Blick now carries all of the colors and sizes available, something I'm very happy about since I prefer to shop at Blick. That's probably where you'll find the best price on them, they tend to be price leaders in everyday prices and sometimes on sales as well.

Here's an example of a serious pen and watercolor painting I did yesterday with the 16 color set of Pigma Microns. The line was fine enough on size 05 that I had no problem at all using the Claudia Nice style of pen and wash detailed realism. Penwork in colors always has a different, richer look than just doing black penwork with watercolor washes. I shaded it accurately using all the warm colors and most of the blues, browns, black and violet, the only colors I didn't use in this example were the greens because they weren't needed.

Conch in Sand
5" x 7"
Sakura Pigma Micron Color Pens size 05
Derwent watercolor pencils
Photo reference by Lisilk on for May Watermedia Challenge. If you haven't been to the site you should know there are millions of gorgeous reference photos available free and royalty-free to members. It's free to join, an exhilarating forum.


  1. Robert, thank you! I sent you a pm on WC. I am thrilled and honored. :)

    Big hugs :)


  2. Gorgeous penwork, Robert! I have only ever done one or two coloured pen sketches as they were such hard work. Love the varied textures in yours!