Pens and inks for watercolours

For something different, some art supply geeking. For most of my watercolours I use some pen for line work, either drawing the lines before the paint or using them afterwards to add definition. Because I want the lines to stay put, the inks I default to are waterproof inks. I use fountain pens and fine liners. In the fountain pens I use DeAtramentis Document inks (Black, Fog Grey which is more a deep blue with some grey and Brown…though it’s a tad warm for me, so I need to experiment with mixing a cooler brown). Though these inks are waterproof you still need to wait for them to dry (not long) before adding paint (or for the paint to be dry if adding lines afterwards). The laws of physics establish that if you add wet paint to wet or damp ink you’re going to get some blurring. Some people do ink and wash where they use non waterproof inks and wash it out with water to add the colour and shading to their drawing but I haven’t played around with it much.

Here’s a pic of my current pens in my sketching pencil case

My sketching pens

Left to right:

Lamy Safari (EF nib). This is probably my favourite pen. Lamy’s are cheap, tough and have nice nibs that are swappable so you can use different widths etc. I own several Lamy’s in different colours (I use an F usually for writing). Pro tip, it’s cheaper to buy Lamy nibs online from overseas usually than from Aussie retailers. The pens themselves I’ve seen from $30-49 Aussie from Aussie retailers so shop around. I use the stainless steel Lamy nibs, one day I might lash out for a gold one.

Lamy Joy (EF nib). The Joy is sold as a calligraphy pen with some calligraphy nibs but the nibs are compatible with the normal writing nibs. It’s longer than the Safari so has a different balance and is still nice to write with. I bought this to experiment with calligraphy but it mostly sits in my sketching pencil case with a different colour ink and a writing nib).

Pilot Metropolitan (F nib – Pilot is a Japanese brand and Japanese nibs run finer than German nibs. Lamy is a German brand) – this is another nice solid beginner fountain pen that writes really nicely. In the US they’re about $15-20 dollars. Here they seem to be about $60 Aussie. I bought mine online from the US before the exchange rate tanked. These days you’d need to do the math to work out if it’s any cheaper. I usually have Fog Grey in this one.

Sharpie Pen in Fine. Found at Officeworks for Aussies and I’m assuming Staples etc for US folks, I’ve never had an issue with it bleeding as long as you stick to the let it dry rule and I find the nib is tougher than some of the other fineliners which seem to wear out faster if working over paint.

Faber Castell Pitt fineliner in Fine. Found in art/stationery shops (maybe Officeworks/Staples). I also use the Sakura Micron .05 but prefer the Pitt I think (mostly for nib longevity again).

The next pen I’d like to add to the collection is one with a more flexible nib (for more line variation). The cheapest options for a modern flexible nib in a fountain pen are the Noodler’s pens (overall cheapest option for flexible nibs are dip pen nibs but that’s not practical for out and about sketching for me, I’m not going to carry a bottle of ink around). I have a couple of the Noodler’s flexible nib pens (A Creaper and an Ahab from memory) but find them temperamental (though lots of people don’t). Need to keep playing with them. After that a flex pen is going to be at least $140ish US, so need to save the pennies.

 

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