Sunday, September 27, 2015

Walmart Art Supply Review: Papermate Flair Ultrafine

I went into the Luling Walmart hoping to find Zig Millennium technical pens in the scrapbooking section.  These were the pens I used for inking comics back when I was in high school, and they've only changed superficially since then.  I wanted to see how they'd stack up against Copic Multiliner and Sakura Microns, the technical pens many comic artists currently use for inking, but unfortunately, my Luling Walmart didn't carry them, or really ANY technical or fineliner pens in their scrapbooking section, so I scoured their writing supplies instead.

The pickings were fairly slim- a lot of wooden and mechanical pencils, many rollerballs, but only a handful of fineliner or marker tipped pens that weren't Sharpies.  I ended up scouring this section on three separate visits, hoping that fresh eyes would turn up something new, and I found something new each time I looked.  On my third, and final trip, I finally found these Papermate Flair Ultrafine pens.

Not too terribly long ago, I reviewed Papermate Flair's Ultrafine cousin, the Papermate Flair with the porous point.  I pulled it out for comparison a little later on in this review, but Luling Walmart only had the Ultrafine version of the Flair.

These pens are pretty easy to get, you can find them at Walmart, Office Max/Depot, Target, Amazon, and even Jetpens.  Below is my Amazon affiliate link.  Your purchase through my link helps support this blog financially, so if you're in the market for Papermate Flairs, you should consider giving my link a shot.





The Packaging

The Papermate Flair Ultrafines I purchased came in two types of packing- a cardboard and plastic blisterpack, and a resealable plastic envelope







I really like when pen sets come with reusable packaging- I tend to keep my pens in them even if I have other storage options.  This sort of packaging is particularly useful to young artists who may not have a bunch of art supply storage laying around, waiting to be filled, and are just starting to assemble their own arsenal.

The basic stats
  • Felt Tip Pen
  • Set of 8 Colors
  • Waterbased Ink
  • Acid Free (on paper)
  • Metal reinforced point
  • Ultrafine tip
The Pens


I mentioned at the start of this post that I've already reviewed Papermate Flair's larger porous point pens.  That pen (dirty, because it's been kicking around my graphite covered pencil case) is at the top, the Ultrafine fineliners I'm reviewing today are below.



Left- Papermate Flair large point, right- Papermate Flair Ultrafine
As you can see at a glance, the porous point Papermate Flair differs significantly from the Papermate Flair Ultrafine pens.  Like most fineliners and technical pens, the Papermate Flair Ultrafine has a metal sleeve around the porous point (possibly felt) nib.  The nib on the Ultrafine is much much smaller than the Medium point Flair, and though the two pens share  body moulds, they are visually very different, as the Medium is a solid body color, whereas the Ultrafine introduces a silver body.


Both pens bear the Papermate Logo, and the size is denoted as either M(edium) or U(ltra)F(ine)


And ultrafine it is! 


Immediate Water Application


When writing pen reviews, I often don't test water-safeness- I assume most pens are NOT watersafe until I read otherwise.  For this application, I wanted to make sure I hit all the relevant bases, as these reviews are intended for artists just starting their collection, and they really need to get the most bang for their buck.

These tests were done in my swatchook, a Strathmore Watercolor Journal.

Papermate Flair Ultrafine pens are at the bottom of the three demos, and were not labeled.


Immediate water application causes the ink to run drastically, but the effect is almost like a watercolor marker or brushpen, and could be utilized for color application.  Most of the inks tested held their color even with water, and though all pen points were chosen as fineliners, and the marks made reflect that, the color distribution is generous.

These pens should not be used to ink work intended for waterbased markers or watercolors, unless you want the lineart to bleed into the coloring.

Water Application after 24 Hour Dry Time


Papermate Flair Ultrafine tests at bottom of page
Even when the ink has been allowed to fully dry over night, there is still significant bleeding when water is added.

Immediate Copic Marker Application

These tests were done on Fluid's Hotpress watercolor paper, which has a plate like smooth finish, but does not have the same clay coating that Plate Bristol has.



Copic marker was applied immediately after pen ink was applied.  I used a light gray so that you could not only see that Copic has been applied, but also see if any color migration happens with application.


There is slight, but worth mentioning, color migration when Copic marker is immediately applied over Flair's ink.



Copic Marker Application after 24 Hour Dry Time




I opted to use a Colorless Copic Blender for this test, so you could see how much the inks from Papermate Flair blend when Copic alcohol is added.



The Field Test- Inking over Bluelines













It's really hard to pull clean, straight lines with these pens, for some reason.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm trying to ink with them the way I would with fude pens, rather than the loose, hatchy style I usually use for tech pens, or if its the pens themselves.

I really, really don't like inking with these pens, but keep in mind that I've moved away from technical pens almost entirely.

Inking over Graphite and Erasing

Papermate Flair is at the bottom
I did three tests- a test to see if the graphite would stain the Flair's nib, or discolor the ink (top test), a test where I erased the graphite immediately after inking (never recommended, but sometimes a sad necessity), and a test where I allowed the ink to dry overnight before erasing.  If you can't read my awful handwriting, here are my notes:

Papermate Flair inks over graphite ok, with no noticeable staining.
Immediate erasing causes minimal smearing
Graphite erases with no smearing once ink has dried for 24 hours.

The Verdict

I think I like the porous point Papermate Flair better than the felt tipped Papermate Flair, as at least the porous point's nib has a little give to it.

These pens are great to doodle with, add a hint of color to your notes, but may be difficult to ink with.  They are not water or Copic safe, but you may be able to use this to your advantage.

These pens aren't really designed to be used for illustration or comics, and you may have some difficulty getting the results you want.

Thanks for reading. Check out these products.