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Black Pen Comparison

With so many black pens out on the market, choosing the right one for your project can be confusing. Today I’m going to show you a few of my favorites and tell you a little about the advantages of each of them. This comparison will focus on my five favorite pens – Sharpie Ultra Fine Point, Copic Multiliner, Copic Multiliner SP, Zig Millenium (by EK Success), and Pigma Micron (by Sakura).

Here is a brief summary of each pen:

Zig Millenium:
Each of the markers features pigment ink that has been tested for archival quality. All are acid-free, lightfast, colorfast, waterproof, fade-proof, non-bleeding and smear-proof, once dry. The pens are available in a range of nib sizes and retail (in sets) for around $16.00.

Pigma Micron:
These pens contain archival ink for use in acid-free environments. They are chemically stable, waterproof, and fade resistant. According to the Sakura website, their should be no bleed-through or smears of the ink once it is dry. The pens are available in a range of nib sizes and retail for around $3.00. They may also be purchased in sets.

Copic Mulitliner and Multiliner SP:
These pens are pigment inks that have replaceable nibs and are refillable. According to the Copic website, the multiliners will not bleed when used with Copic markers. The same claim is made for the mulitliner sp. Both types of pen are available in multiple tip widths and retail for anywhere from $6.00 to $9.00 individually. They can also be purchased in sets.

Sharpie Ultra Fine Point:
Sharpie markers have a tough, resilient tip that produces a quick flowing, fast drying ink. Sharpie Ink resists water, and is permanent. The Ultra-Fine Point Sharpie has an extra-fine, hard nylon point for a 0.3 mm line width; they come in a variety of colors. These markers retail from $1.00 and up and are can be purchased individually or in sets.

The picture above is what each pen looks like when it writes on Georgia Pacific White cardstock. Each one of them can be used for writing, although I’d recommend the Zig Millenium or Pigma Micron. I chose the .01 width for those two pens because they are thin enough to use on handwritten notes as well as color fine detail images.  The Pigma Micron pens are specifically marketed for “fine point technical and artistic applications.” Sharpies will write on anything (paper and beyond – fabric, ziploc bags, containers, etc) and stay put – although they bleed through most paper. The Copics are lovely and smooth to write with but they do bleed through cardstock, so if you were writing a note to someone I would not recommend them. Of the pens I am focusing on today, the Pigma Micron writes the smoothest – it literally glides across the paper.

Next I used each pen to draw a small square. I wrote the name of each pen inside, gave it a minute (two minutes max) to air dry, and then colored them each with a Copic Sketch marker. I did not heat set any of them but I did “finger test” them to see if they were dry. The Copic Multiliner SP and the Zig Millenium are the only two that did not smudge or smear at all. The Copic Multliner only smeared a little bit – I have discovered that it just needs a bit more drying time because it is a wider-nib pen. The Sharpie marker not only smudged, it bled and mixed with the Copic ink. You should be able to see that about the word in the box. It seemed dry before I colored it. The Micron pen also smeared badly.

I next tested the pens out by making a Zentangle. If you don’t know what these are, here is a review of them I wrote awhile back. Included in the Zentangle kit are two Pigma Micron pens (remember I mentioned they were marketed for fine detail work). The tile is one that was also included in the kit. It is heavyweight, 100% cotton artist’s paper with a vellum finish. Starting at the top, I used the Zig Millenium (in the section that looks like a chart graph with circles), the Copic Multiliner (in the section with darkened semi circles around the edge), the Pigma Micron (in the section full of small circles and black space between them),  the Sharpie Ultra Fine Point (in the section with the white pipes and black spaces), and the Copic Multiliner SP (in the section that looks like tile flooring on the bottom). Each pen worked fine and none bled through the paper. Once again, the Pigma Micron out-shined the others in terms of detail work (it colored in the small spaces the best, and its black is the blackest one). The Sharpie marker leaked out a bit of ink when I stopped drawing – you can see that some of the white pipes have black line on them.

And here is my favorite use for the Copic Multiliners – correcting my stamp mistakes. This is a very large image. The card measures 5.5 inches square. So it can be hard to get a perfect impression of the stamp. Down by her shoes, on the diamond shaped grid, I didn’t. It was very spotty. Before I colored with Copic Sketch markers, I used the Multiliner SP to draw in the areas that I missed with ink. It’s only noticeable if you really stare at it – see how a couple of the diamonds are a bit darker? That is because my Multiliner SP has a wider nib. The smaller the nib width the finer your detail work can be. This image sat uncolored overnight, and had no bleeding problems at all.

Each of these pens has its advantages and disadvantages. As a person who does different types of crafts – card making, scrapbooking, art journaling – I feel comfortable saying that all of them are worth having in your arsenal. I use all of them regularly – the Zig Millenium and the Pigma Micron for writing, the Copic Multiliners for fixing mistakes and adding to stamped images, and the Sharpie for art journaling and just about everything else around the house.

I’d love to hear from you! What is your favorite black pen?

Vendor Spotlight: Sakura

Reported by Heather Voinski

It’s no secret that I am attracted to pretty paper and things that are shiny and sparkle! Pens have really never been something that I have had a thing for. Until now!

Sakura of America has been in business since 1921, making artistic tools that are made to give everyone the “Power to Express!” They make everything from pens and pencils, to oil pastels and watercolors, and also adhesives and erasers. They were the first to create a gel-based ink in 1984. I jumped at the chance to check out the pens made by Sakura for myself.

The first product that I tried out were the Permapaque Opaque Markers. I was intrigued by them because I love to paint all kinds of things and really don’t like to wait for things to dry. I tried the pretty pink first on a chipboard box (according to the packaging, these aren’t made for chipboard, but I am always willing to give something a try).

I started my box and was able to cover it with color in about 5 minutes. By the time I was done it was already dry. I was able to apply my pretty patterned paper to it and it was complete in under 15 minutes. Love that!!


I then tried it on some grundgeboard shapes that I planned to use in a mini book. Once again it covered the grungeboard with ease and dried super quick!


My overall opinion is that I love these little markers, and that I need some more of them! I went on to cover 2 more chipboard boxes, and in under an hour had some cute packaging for my handmade Christmas presents.

The next product I tested out were the Gelly Roll Stardust Pens. These have become my favorite. These roller ball pens are pigment based and are archival quality ink. They contain “cosmetic grade, finely ground glass” that they give you just the right amount of shimmer that isn’t overly obnoxious.



They easily covered some grundgeboard letters. Once again, they dried in under a minute. They are going to make a lovely addition to my Christmas Album this year.

Stardust pens also makes a clear version, and I must say it is my favorite of all and will be a staple in my craft tool box! I used it to color in some pretty patterned paper.

Next up was the Pen Touch Silver Metallic marker. This is an easy to use archival quality ink pen that is odor-free and permanent on most surfaces.

I tested this pen out on the edges of the chipboard box I made and it worked like a charm at making my edges silver. The flow of ink was steady and made it very easy to do, even with my shaky hands.


I also used this pen on some mismatched chipboard letters that I wanted to use on a mini book. They were all a different color. I used the pen to color in my chipboard letters so they all looked the same. The coverage was excellent on the chipboard and they dried super quick!


Next I tried out Sticklers. I received a package of Silver outline stickers of hearts, butterflies, suns, and flowers. When I saw these they screamed cell phone embellishments. I got out my little phone and immediately applied some silver outlines to the front of my phone.

I then flipped it over and applied some cute heart shapes to the back. I filled in the hearts with Sakura Glaze 3D pens. These pens took a bit longer to dry than the other pens but it was definitely worth it. They dried to a smooth, 3D and shiny!!

These Sticklers have proved to be quite durable. I work in healthcare and clean my cell phone with alcohol prep pads at least 3 to 4 times a week. My phone and the stickers have been cleaned at least 10 times now and they havent budged!! Something I am really loving!

The last product that I tried were the Gelly Roll Metallic pens. These roller ball pens are also comprised of archival ink and go on smoothly. I’ve found that they give you a little more bling than the Stardust pens, but are still not too shiny or obnoxious.

I used these pens on the cover of a day planner that I made. The cover is acrylic with patterned paper underneath. I took a pen and started highlighting the patterned paper to made it standout. In the first picture I left a few of the green squares not colored in so you can see the difference.


The bunny below was also accented to stand out!

Pros:

  • Almost all of them are fast drying
  • Can be found at your local craft store
  • Variety of different products
  • Can be used on almost all surfaces

Cons:

  • Glaze pens do take longer to dry than the others

Overall, I had a blast trying these products made by Sakura. I believe them to be of the highest quality, and they will be staying right at hand in my craft area for use on projects. Have you ever tried these products? Do you think they are something you would purchase? As always, we love to hear you questions and comments!!!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight: Sakura

Reported by Rachel Johnson

I am dedicated to writing honest craft product reviews, so I must tell you the truth… I was already a huge fan of Sakura pens before I was assigned to review their products for Craft Critique. I have been using their Metallic and Stardust pens for nearly ten years and always have a pink or green one in my bag for crafty emergencies. I was very excited for this opportunity to review more of Sakura’s products.

Based in Japan, Sakura has been making quality “marking tools” since 1921. They invented gel ink in 1984, and in 2002 they invented the 3-D ink used in their Glaze and Souffle pens. Many of Sakura’s inks have been patented, and the company makes both mainstream pens and professional artist tools. In my opinion, Sakura Gelly Roll gel pens are the highest quality pens you can buy. Even the design and packaging of the pens is superb!


I received a wide variety of Sakura’s pen products to review, some of which I had never used before. My first step in trying out the products was to create a “glossary” of pen types on both white and black paper so that I would have a resource which could help me determine which type of pen I should use in different situations. I used thick, smooth card stock for my tests seen below.

Following are my observations of each type of pen.

Glaze: These pens create a thick 3-D line and their ink is slightly transparent. They create vibrant color on white, but most colors do not show up well on black. You can use the Glaze pens alone or with Sakura Stick-lers to create 3-D decorations on any surface (like cell phones, mirrors, etc.), and they create a cool stained glass effect when used on clear surfaces, like vellum paper. In my opinion, Glaze pens are not very good for letter or note writing. They take a while to dry, and can be a bit tacky once they do dry, so I suggest not stacking paper with Glaze ink on top of each other. You also sometimes need to wipe off the tip of the Glaze pens to remove excess ink.

Stardust: These are my favorite pens to use on white paper. They are super-sparkly, with glitter included in the ink (I mean, who doesn’t like a glitter gel pen?!). They are slightly transparent, but much more opaque than the Glaze. You can use them on black for decorative elements, or just to add a little sparkle, but they are not the best writing pen for use on black. Stardust’s gel ink is not 3-D, so it dries much more quickly than the Glaze ink. I like to use these pens to write letters and notes, but the ink is not archival, so you may not want to use them in memory books. Sakura also makes a clear version of the Stardust pen which you can use to add a touch of glitter anywhere!

Metallic: I think these gel pens are best for conventional letter writing – although they are much more than a conventional pen! The ink is silvery and shiny, but not glittery. They need practically no drying time, and leave a thin line. I personally like the sepia brown color as an alternative to a boring black pen. The Metallic pens show up silvery-opaque on black. They are also archival, waterproof, and fade-resistant – perfect for use in scrapbooks. All that, and they come with adorable glittery caps! Perfect!


Moonlight: I received the fluorescent Dawn Color Moonlight gel pens to review. They are opaque, luminous, neon colors that will glow under black light. The Moonlight pens are super smooth and fun to use! They look great on white, but are amazingly bright on black. They write almost like paint pens on many types of surfaces, even photos.

Souffle: These pens are a very unique product. They have a 3-D opaque ink that dries to a completely matte finish that almost looks chalky. I love the baby pink, teal, and charcoal black colors! For the best results, write slowly and allow a considerable amount of time (at least 5 minutes) for the ink to dry. The colors become more opaque as the ink dries, especially on black paper. Souffle pens work on nearly any surface, but they are most striking on dark colors. In fact, they are my favorite pens to use on black paper. They leave a cool raised line, but be careful; you can scratch the finish of the Souffle ink even when dry.

Pen-touch Silver Metallic Marker: This is a very smooth, very opaque, silver paint pen. It is even completely opaque and shiny on black. Impressive!

Permapaque: These are opaque paint markers that are two-sided, with a fine tip and a chisel tip. They write on any surface and are archival, non-toxic, odorless, and waterproof. They work like permanent Sharpie markers, but are more opaque and write on black! They would make fantastic poster markers.

Quickie Glue Pen: This product is revolutionary! It is my favorite new product. It produces a smooth thin glue line, great for use with glitter. You can write out words or doodles and then coat with fine glitter for a detailed effect. I highly recommended this product if you like adding glitter to your designs! It is great for precision work and delicate or detailed paper craft projects, but it is not the most tacky or strong glue – it is not for gluing down large elements. Also, write slowly with the Quickie Glue Pen for the best results.


Once I had tried out all of the different pens, I went to work on a few craft projects using the pens as my main craft tool. Just as an example of how you can use many of the Sakura pens on black paper, I made a tag for a small gift using the pink Moonlight pen for the writing and the clear Stardust pen for the hearts and stars. The tag is simple, but I think it makes a strong impression because of the bright pink color.


Next, I created an 8″x 8″ inch scrapbook page. I was determined to create all of the embellishments and patterns from scratch using only Sakura pens. The only supplies I used for the page were plain white, purple, pink, and black paper and the range of Sakura pens seen above. I added a few sparkly embellishments to the page at the end, but everything else was drawn by hand by me.


I created the background ripple pattern using the pink Glaze pen on white paper. I made the long photo border using black paper and the purple Souffle pen, layered with the pink Stardust pen, pink Moonlight pen, and white Souffle pen. I drew the square photo frame using the black Glaze pen on purple paper with pink & purple Souffle accents. For the journaling element, I used the purple Metallic pen and the black Souffle pen. The word “family” was created using the Quickie Glue Pen and my own charcoal grey glitter. It was very simple to write with the glue pen and add glitter after I had written out the full word. The flower embellishments on the page were made using a combination of many different pens on different colors of card stock. It was fun to experiment with the different colors and textures!


Even though I sometimes frown at my own handwriting, it was was cool to create a memory page using only my creativity and doodling skills instead of simply buying patterned papers and factory-made embellishments. The variety of pen styles pushed me to expand on my decorative style and try out new techniques. I am happy with the result!


I continued my foray into making my own decorative elements by creating a Halloween card. I used only the handful Glaze and Souffle pens seen below to create all of the elements on the paper card. I like how slick and shiny the Glaze colors became, but it was a little bit difficult to fill in the large area of the pumpkin – some parts would start to dry while I was still filling in adjacent areas. The resulting finish is not as consistent as I would like. It also took quite a while for the different elements to dry, so I had to wait longer than usual to assemble the final card. Despite the slight frustration with the drying time, I am impressed with how vivid all of the colors on the card turned out, and am pleased to have created something unique.


I have always been impressed with Sakura’s pen quality, but their dedication to innovation is what really sets their products apart. After exploring the many varieties of Sakura pens, I know that there is a pen out there for any type of project I can imagine. I would highly recommend all of the Sakura products I have tried. However, it is important to read the pen descriptions and match the correct pen to your project in order to get the desired effect.

Pros:

  • There is an amazing variety of Sakura pen types and colors.
  • Many of the pens can write on almost any surface, including dark surfaces, glass, and metal.
  • High quality, “ice cream smooth” gel ink that stay viable for years (some of my Sakura pens are nearly ten years old!).
  • Permanent, water-proof, archival, and fade-resistant options.
  • Innovative 3-D inks (in the Glaze and Souffle pens) that add texture to your designs.
  • Fun and distinctive pen design – I love those colored caps!

Cons:

  • Some pens, such as the 3-D Glaze and Souffle, take a long time to dry.
  • Glaze pens don’t show up well on dark surfaces.
  • Not all Sakura inks are archival – check the packaging for details.

Have you used these or other Sakura products? Which are you favorites?

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!