Color Spree

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

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen

Emu in Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and watercolor
7" square on watercolor journal

Sorry for the long delay in posting. Life happens and I fell behind on a number of things. Today's new product is the best of its kind - with just one caveat.

The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen takes a long learning curve!

I bought this pen three or four months ago. I had enormous trouble controlling it at first. The point is not the same as my Tombow dual tip brush pens or even my Winsor & Newton Watercolour Markers, Pitt Artist Pen brush tips, Pigma Micron brush tips. It's exponentially more sensitive with a much finer tip - and so it's much more sensitive to pressure. Much more likely to flow thick when I want thin or flip off into another direction with an unexpected tremor.

Cat sketches from last May when I first got the pen.

The lines are a lot rougher in the ones I first did with it. I couldn't control them as well and sometimes overcompensated, made the whole line too dark. I started penciling under anything I did with it.

I recommend this pen wholeheartedly. The tip is unlike any other brush pen. It's actually a very fine brush with hairs and the best tip of any round brush I've played with, comparable to the best sable rounds. It has real hairs and the ink is of course proprietary but waterproof, archival and black like the better Pigma Micron brush tips and so on when absolutely new.

It hasn't worn down despite a lot of sketching. The main thing is, don't expect great results on first use. Practice with it. One great exercise is to try lettering freehand with it - do a text in your art journal and don't worry about botched letters or unbalanced ones. I still occasionally get too-thick lines in my monogram signature as I get used to its unparalleled sensitivity.

I bought it because James Gurney recommended it - and thankfully, he mentioned that it was super sensitive and took a while to really learn.

What I didn't realize was that in learning to control this pen, my overall pen work would become so much better. I've spent decades relying on the clean lines of Pigma Microns and Rapidographs, technical pens with a mechanically smooth line. The expressive thick-thin lines are coming into my work more now on this scale now that I've got the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

It's about $15 and the cartridge packs are reasonable too. Much more like a fountain pen than the usual disposable brush pen. Of course it'd make a perfect writing instrument for someone using Chinese or Japanese traditional scripts, most brush pens originated as writing pens for Asian calligraphy. But this one really tops the list for fine detail and sensitive control of line.

Educate your hand and invest in one!

Asian Leopard Cat
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and Watercolor ATC

The Asian Leopard Cat ATC was a breakthrough that made me realize just how powerful this pen can be in my illustrations. I deliberately let myself use very small marks and pointed strokes, made the fur shaggy, used strong marks and light marks deliberately to create the animal's markings without hard edged shapes. The results stunned me. This cat would not have been so natural or illustrative without the perfect point on the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

Expressive lines are harder to learn than smooth line work and cross hatching, but once you get it you'll never turn back! i still haven't used up that first cartridge either, done dozens of these drawings and renderings without a skip or a blotch. Letting it sit for a few days capped doesn't make it blob or choke either - as always my supplies rotate and I can go a week or two without using it, then decide I need line work again.

So if you like brush pens, get a Prismacolor or Pigma Micron or Pitt Artist Pen brush tip just to start and then get one of these to upgrade. Keep the thing in your pocket, sketch with it often and don't expcet perfect results until you start getting them. Penciling first so that while inking you concentrate on line control rather than design helps a lot while learning - the Asian Leopard Cat and Emu were penciled first. But now that I'm more used to it, I've begun doing quick cat gestures without penciling again and gotten good results! They will come! Just be patient with yourself and make yourself use it often till they do!

For an easy, introductory brush pen, get a black Tombow Dual Tip for notans and thumbnails, then add a gray or two for value studies. The larger brush tip is a bit more forgiving and will also help you avoid extraneous detail in preliminary drawings. I find I tend to do more detailed drawings if thumbnailing with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen due to its size and fineness but it fills in black areas well and can create halftone textures by hatching. Thumbnails may become another good practice activity if you hatch your middle tones.

The pen is available at Dick Blick and probably other art supply stores and I got cartridges at Amazon, so that's a convenience.

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