Discovered these babies at the Cass Art store in Glasgow last week and had to have. The pens were sitting on the stores demo section or I wouldn’t have even considered them. My little one was playing with the other paints so I gave them a go and was intrigued.
The pens can be bought separately, in a tin of 6 or 12 (they may do a set with more online). I got the set with 6 because I thought the colours were pretty good: ivory black, sap green, yellow ochre, prussian blue, alizarin crimson and cadmium yellow.
The pens are double sided, a fine point and a brush point. I have to say I was more taken with the brush point but in actual fact I suspect the fine point may be more useful.
The pens were quite expensive – £16.95 for the 6, but after trying them I was so impressed with the amount of pigment that comes out and the watercolour effect I thought it was definitely worth it. The fact you can buy singles for a few pounds is good as it means you can build up a set slowly based on the colours that you actually want (although unlike some sets, I think the selection is pretty good). My favorite colour is the prussian blue, the pigment is so strong when you dilute it with water.
The pens do have their limitations, they are just pens after all, so you will be left with a kind of outline effect. I think it’s a case of working out how to utilise this and change your practice a bit. I fee they are also very useful to use along with standard watercolours (or anything other water based media come to think of it).
The good thing about these pens is that you can keep rewetting as much as the paper will take. The darker the colour the harder it is to lose the original pen mark so you need to keep this in mind when drawing.
My first attempt at a drawing was a bit of a disaster! I didn’t expect the pigment to run quite as much as it did which resulted in a bit of a blobby mess!
In the right hand photo I went over the dark tones with the black again once the paper had dried. Although painting is a bit of a mess, it allowed me to experiment and see how the pens work. As with watercolours, you have to allow sections to dry before working on the adjacent section or it will bleed – simples.
I was pleased by the lovely big cauliflowers though so if you are careful you can create similar effects to standard watercolours.
My next attempt went a bit better, I did a quick sketch of my daughter’s face when she was deep in concentration, colouring in. I tried to leave the sections that only had shadows. Then I added the water with a fine brush that the last time. I was also more careful with the amount of water I added.
I like the way this one worked, the only thing was the outline that was left around her face. It would have been nicer if the water had blended this a bit more into her hair.
Next I tried a sketch of Bass Rock from a photo.
I was quite please with this too, it was useful to be able to use the fine point to put in the thinner cracks in the rock, something that would have been harder with standard watercolours.
Overall I’m very pleased with my buy. They will be really useful to take out and about for quick sketches. I also want to try them next time I’m working in watercolours as I think they will be great for inserting detail and dark tones.