I Test the COLOR Ink Tombow Fudensuke Pens

December 20, 2019
Test page is in a Canson 180 sketchbook. Mark Williams as “Father Brown.”



In November an email blast from Jet Pens mentioned Tombow Fudenosuke pens were available in COLORS!!!!

I ordered a set of 10 (which includes a black—you can see the list of colors on my test page at the right. Click on the image and you can cycle through enlargements.)

I’ve done several sketches with them and they are a lot of fun—especially if you’re already comfortable using the Tombow Fudenosuke HARD tip black pen that’s been available for ages.

I actually prefer the Tombow Fudenosuke SOFT tip in black so on  my test page I reminded myself to check if they had the colors in soft tip. As far as I can tell from a quick Google search the colors are currently only available in the hard tip. (But they are available through a number of vendors).

What Do I Think About These Pens?

I think all the colors are really light, even a bit wimpy. I’d prefer a brown ink that is more sepia. I’d like a purple that is royally rich. I want a red that is saturated so intensely that you can put down a huge range of values.

I think that the grey, orange, and cyan are just right—if what you like to do is sketch in those colors and then build black lines on top (as many comics artists like to do), or simply leave them as is for studies. 

I’ve also found that the black ink versions of these are very easy to out run—i.e., I sketch so quickly with them that the ink doesn’t feed the tip fast enough and I get lighter or spilt lines. I actually don’t mind this in this pen because the tips, either soft or hard, have a nice feel to them when I’m working, and I like “dried out” pens, so if these look a little dried out to start that’s fine by me.

For other folks this might be a problem?

When you’re working in color and the colors are light, it’s going to be a problem for everyone. Just be prepared. You’ll have to test them to see if they lay down the amount of ink you want; I also suspect they will dry out quickly like those with black ink.

Detail of my sketch using the orange marker. Around the collar I went in with the red marker just to see if I could beef up the value range.

What is great about these pens is their FINE line, that can still have some shape and variation to it depending on the pressure you apply. You can see this in the detail of my sketch.

Best of all for me, the color ink pens have no odor (neither do the black ink versions in this pen line).

Other great things about these pens: they are listed as pigmented, fade resistant, and water resistant.

I haven’t had time to do a lightfastness test on them and I don’t see that I would use them for final art so I won’t be doing that. You decide if testing matters to you.

But water resistance does matter to me and I tested that. Like the black ink pens in this family the color ink pens are also water resistant. Go ahead and lay on your washes.

I tested the pens on the smooth surface of the Canson 180 sketchbook as well as some watercolor papers. They are great on the hot press papers and break up a bit much on the cold press textured papers.

Color pencil and ball point pen artists who like to mix multiple colors through overlapping hatching might really enjoy these. And people who letter will enjoy them for smaller scale lettering.

For me they will remain simply a sketching/doodling tool unless I fall in love with them in that unexpected way that can happen to any of us at any time…

I’m not expecting it, but I’ll have fun using them up. At this point, when they are used up I don’t think I’ll rebuy them—unless I find I love them for lettering. 

    • Tina Koyama
    • December 21, 2019

    Thanks for this review. I, too, like the black soft tip Fudenosuke, so I’ve been curious about the colored ones. I’m surprised that they’re water-resistant — most colored markers are not. Maybe one of the lighter colors like pink or orange would be fun to use alongside black — like two values. Too bad the colors aren’t sold individually (at least at JetPens).

    1. Reply

      Tina, I think most people if they are going to use water-resistant color ink markers are going to still go for Faber-Castell’s Pitt Artist Pen line.

      Tombow’s color line is too limited and whimpy. I think they are fun to outline lettering with, any place you need a fine tip, but the more I draw with them (and I did more last night) I find they are only useful for me if I want to do a contour drawing in orange, like the one shown in the post, or the blue (which is very much a cyan) and then use black ink over to finesse the lines. The tips of these pens are too fine and not juicy enough to be used to fill in values in a smooth and even way without more work than it’s worth. Again the FC’s would be better for fill in.

      I know these will find a following that will put them to good use, but I’m not really sure who will be in that following, so I’ll look forward to seeing what they do with them.

      As for singly available, I seem to remember looking somewhere and seeing them available singly. If it wasn’t Jet Pens (because you checked) it might be Blick or Jerry’s. I have been sleep deprived lately, however, so I might have imagined it. If I see them singly somewhere I’ll drop you a note.

    • Nan
    • December 21, 2019

    I have a set and I have been disappointed with them as well. I use them for shadow lettering and not much else – except for the black and gray.

    1. Reply

      Nan, thanks for letting me know. I think lettering is what they are most useful for too. I’m glad you’re getting to use the black and gray. Thanks for writing in.

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