Thanks to following a bunch of lettering artists on Instagram, I recently found the Marvy Uchida brand of markers and pens. I will say, it’s a good thing I had seen other artists using them, because the website is kind of a disorganized mess. If I hadn’t seen anyone else who had taken the chance and succeeded, I probably would have clicked away and never thought of it again. But I was intrigued with a lot of their products, and their prices are surprisingly reasonable, so I popped a few in my cart and took a shot. Perhaps consistent with the website design, I also didn’t receive shipping confirmation or anything. The markers did show up, though!
The biggest set that I bought was this 6-piece set of dual-tipped markers with one brush side and one fine-tipped side. I played around with them in my sketchbook recently to get a feel for them:
- The colors are so pretty! They’re not as saturated as the packaging would leave you to believe, but they coordinate really well. I foresee a lot of lovely experimentation and projects with these.
- The brush tip is very flexible. I’ve used a few different brush pens and almost gave up, assuming I was the problem. These pens showed me that I just didn’t have the right tool before! I can make thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes without the lines looking all wobbly or half-realized.
- The fine tip is lovely to write with. No complaints. The colors are just as pretty, and the writing experience is nice and smooth. I will use these not just for art, but to jazz up my daily planner with some shots of color.
- They’re more translucent than anticipated. Like I mentioned briefly above, I was expecting fuller color saturation from these. They’ll work well to add pops of color in certain pieces, but a project done fully with these markers would look like it’s missing something.
- They don’t blend at all. I was hoping to be able to make two-toned letters with these, but it just wasn’t working the way I could see it in my head. (See experimentation above.) I have my eyes on Karin Markers for this purpose, but it’ll take me a lot longer to decide I can drop $30 on markers than it did $8.
Overall, it’s a totally fun set to play with. If you’re looking for an affordable “in” to brush lettering, these do the trick nicely. You can take it from me that the website actually works!
I am on the hunt for a method for adding white, opaque ink to my artwork. There’s nothing like a white detail to bring an otherwise flat piece of artwork to life, and I love experimenting with dimension. The Uniball Signo UM 153 has been my first white ink experiment, which I chose based on a study of different product reviews on Amazon.
Below is a list of its pros and cons, based entirely on my own experience using it:
This pen is a white gel pen, so the ink sits on top of whatever else you’ve done instead of fading in or blending. It’s nice and opaque, which means it really pops on colorful or dark backgrounds. Here’s the first piece of artwork I made using the pen, which was super fun to create:
- Easy to Use
Because it’s a gel pen and not a paintbrush or a pen and ink setup, the Uniball Signo UM 153 is really easy to use. It’s great for making art in a house with toddlers, because I can pick it up and set it down without worrying about any cleanup. That earns MAJOR bonus points right now!
- Bright White
As you can see, the ink in this gel pen is a brilliant white. I can’t see any touches of cream or grey in this one, which is exactly what I wanted. Here’s another recent piece that shows off the clarity of its color:
- Uneven Flow
Unfortunately, this white gel pen does have its downsides. My main problem with it is that the flow can be really uneven, and I can’t figure out what I can do to make it more predictable. It’s also really hard to get any sort of coverage over a stroke that didn’t fill in well originally, so it’s not like I can just wait a bit and go back to fix it. Doing so can tidy an illustration up a little bit, but not completely. Here’s a closeup of a section of the moon and stars illustration that turned out less than ideal:
- Hard to Get Started
So far, the biggest factor in the pen’s flow rate seems to be consistent use. The more you use it, the better it works, but starting a drawing is a real bear. You can counteract this by scribbling on a scrap piece of paper before you work on your actual piece, but it’s still frustrating. Here’s another closeup of the drawing – I’d set the pen down for a while and restarted on this star, and you can see a definitely difference in quality of this section:
Where to Find It
If you’re intrigued, I found these pens on Amazon. That’s another pro – they’re very affordable!
I finally had time to play with my glass dip pen! If you read the newsletter, you know I received the beauty in the mail on my daughter’s birthday this past week. It wasn’t until tonight that I had a chance to actually pull it out and give it a test run.
As you can see, it’s a beautiful piece of art in itself. There’s a bit of a galaxy effect swirled in with rainbow coloration, making it fun to gaze at even when I’m not actively using it.
I was hoping this would be a new illustration tool because I absolutely adore pen and ink drawings. After my test run tonight, it seems as though my dreams have come true. I’ll run through some of the features here:
- Classic Dip Design: This isn’t a calligraphy pen since the nib doesn’t flex to provide stroke contrast, but you dip the pen in halfway up the nib just the same. It’s really as easy as it sounds.
- Smooth Ink Flow: Unlike a calligraphy pen, this glass pen didn’t blot the entire time I was using it. The ink flows off at basically the same rate until it runs out. It also takes a really long time to run out, so you don’t have to keep stopping to re-dip the pen. I made it more than a third of the way around this wreath filling in the needles before I had to dip again:
- Comfortable Grip: The pen doesn’t look very practical, but its decorative elements actually fit very comfortably in the hand while you’re writing. It reminds me a lot of the ergonomic crochet needles I bought recently, which are equally great at relieving stress in the fingers.
All in all, practicing with this glass dip pen was a great way to relax this evening after a trying day with the munchkins. One thing I did notice is that you can’t let the ink sit on the nib at all; make sure you go straight from dipping to drawing/writing, or it dries too much to flow once you do hit paper. I paused too long a couple times and had to re-dip before I could get started again.
The end result:
I’ve never been one to turn down the opportunity to draw a bird.
Product: Glass Dip Pen
Where to Find: The Postman’s Knock
If you end up trying a glass dip pen yourself, let me know what you think!