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Left: A quick sketch of Tad Lincoln with a "pancake" on his head (hey, I'm adjusting to my new glasses prescription and why is the hat shaped that way anyway!), from a Brady photo. Read below for more details.
In the samples shown today I'm working on Hahnemühle's Nostalgie, which is a smooth sketch paper. I love working on this paper with Pentel Pocket Brush Pens.
I found that over time, not just my glasses, but the pen was frustrating to use. It's stiffer than I would like in a pen if I'm going to do this type of work. And it shows in my sketch, where at times I just start scribbling.
Here's the thing, and I never fully realized this about myself until right this moment, but I'm a pen twirler. You can see what I mean in sketches like the one I did at the Bell Museum of the Borrowing Owl, or, also at the Bell, a sketch of a Gyrfalcon. I'm pretty happy twirling my good old Staedtler Pigment Liner on edge so that I can get thick and thin lines. Don't get me wrong. In a perfect world I would travel everywhere with a dip pen. But when you have a tendency to spill ink, that's not really possible, or rather advisable.
So while the world complains about the flex of their pen nibs I've sketched merrily along with my SPLs, safe and content in the knowledge that their ink is also waterproof and my watercolor washes, which are coming up in seconds, will be fine over the lines I just made.
Do I twirl when I use a dip pen? I use a dip pen in the studio a lot and frankly it isn't pretty what I do to the nibs. What I do know is that nothing I've ever tried is as flexible as a dip pen nib. They are the contortionists of the pen world.
So what I have to say about the Tachikawa Linemarker A.T. fountain pen has to be tempered by the knowledge that I'd really rather be drawing with a dip pen. (That's disclosure.)
Yes, I still believe they are less stiff than the Rotring sketch pens I've used. Is it a lot less stiff, nope, I wrote as much the first time. But there is something rough feeling for me about this pen, that upon longer use over a couple sketches on a variety of papers I find unsatisfying.
I couldn't locate my 05 so I had to work with my O3. I hadn't worked with it for several days. I found that it actually stopped flowing easily, i.e., I would be drawing along and then there would be no ink. I literally had to shake it and scribble elsewhere to get it to flow again.
I also found that when I would slip down on to the edge of the pen (the first step of twirling) I would lose the ability to make the mark I wanted.
Here's the thing—if you like to scribble or if you like to do repeated lines with the same pressure, going back and forth in opposite directions (which most dip pen nibs are not designed for) then you are probably going to love this pen. You will find a sweet spot and just ride it out.
I have to admit that in doing the sketch above I frequently would hit a sweet spot and then lose it just as quickly. I'd rather go back to dip pens. (Maybe I miss the ink on my fingers?)
To create thicker lines with the O3 over the course of the drawing I had to press harder than I would if I were twirling my SPL, or if I were using a dip pen. But I could get line variation as you see on the side. Not dramatic, but noticeable.
What I found frustrating about the pen on longer usage was the tendency to "dry out" and skip, and the inability to allow me to twirl even a little—any attempts at twirling resulted in broken lines like those seen in the bottom left of the detail image above.
But what is fun, as I pointed out above, is that you can scribble like crazy with no repercussions in regards to your nib.
Next, I'd like to say something about the question of waterproofness (is that a word?). This can best be said in the caption to the image below.
Left: another sketch on Nostalgie. A shows some of the broken lines I get if I try to twirl the pen. (My bad.) B shows a water wash over a dark area of ink. You can see that there is some bleeding of the ink from the line, but it is very minor. C shows watercolor that went to and touched thin lines around it and on no sides could you see any bleeding. D shows some minor bleeding at the base of the area where there is the most ink, but even the thick stroke at the top left of this area didn't bleed.
You'll all remember my constant refrain, "It's Not Waterproof until It's Waterproof." On all of the papers that I tried this pen, it showed a fair degree of waterproofness (if I weren't late for an appointment I'd go look that word up).
You will have to experiment with the papers that you like most to use.
I'll continue using these pens at my desk, for a while longer, to see if I warm up to them more. They have positive characteristics and some negative ones, based on how I draw. I know that for other folks these might very well be their dream pen. If you want the convenience of a fountain pen that has some flex and has pre-filled cartridges that carry ink you can wash over with watercolor, this might be just the pen for you. Keep it simple. You won't know for sure until you try one out. (If you twirl, I'd say stay with what you're using.)