Monday, January 11, 2016

Target Art Supply Review: ek tools Calligraphy Pen Set and e.k. Tools Journaling Pen Set

This post is one of a series of posts that feature art supplies I purchased from the Kenner area Target while I was in town for Mechacon.  It was inspired by the fact that kids, teens, and 20 somethings don't have many options for quality and affordable art supplies in the New Orleans area (and yes, I AM aware that there are art supply shops there, I've shopped at several of them, and they're greatly overpriced given their lackluster stock).  So I wanted to see what I could get at Target, put what I buy through its paces, and let you guys know how these supplies fared.  As almost always, I purchase these materials out of my own pocket, and one of the ways you can show support and appreciation is to give me a tip in my Paypal (sidebar right).

This will be a two part review of both the e.k tools Calligraphy Pen Set and the e.k. Tools Journaling Pen Set.  If you're interested in only the Journaling Pen Set, please feel free to scroll until you reach the second large heading.

General Information about e.k. tools

e.k. tools is part of e.k. success brands which also represents labels like Inkadinkadoo, Jolee's Boutique, K&Company, Laliberi, American Girl Crafts, Martha Stewart Crafts, Dimensions Crafts, PaintWorks, Perler, and Sticko.  It seems like e.k. tools also owns, or at least distributes the Zig Memory System in the US.  Zig is an imprint of Kuretake, so this may explain why I couldn't find my old favorite, the Zig Memory System Fineliners, when I was shopping for the Walmart Art Supply Review series.  You can find even more of e.k's lettering and calligraphy tools on their site, or you can order your own (and help this blog!) with the Amazon links below.

You can check out a variety of e.k success's products on Amazon here.  I'm having difficulty finding e.k's non Zig-branded pens on Amazon, but you CAN find them on the e.k success site.

e.k. tools Calligraphy Pen Set

NOTE:  I am not a calligraphy, and my only real training in calligraphy and handlettering came from a single course at SCAD.   I do use handlettering for my own projects, such as sassy buttons and title headers, but I am by no means an expert.

  • 6 colors
  • Two nib sizes per pen- 2.0 and 3.5 mm
  • Caps are triangular to help prevent rolling.
  • Waterproof
  • Archival quality
  • non-bleeding
  • non-toxic
  • $11.79 for the set on Target.com


The Packaging

Not blister packed, reusable if you open the package carefully, as the cardboard can be slipped in and out out of the clear plastic.  This makes the pens a bit bulky for travel, but works fine if you keep them at home.








The back of the box says

Use these elegant calligraphy pens for special engagements and announcements.  Use calligraphy tip and fine tip for details.  Waterproof, archival quality, non-bleeding and non-toxic.



The cardboard insert slides out from the plastic front, making the packaging more reusable than a clamshell would be.



The Pens



This set came with six colors- pink, red, black, blue, purple, and green.  The pen body has a really pleasing shape that is thinnest in the middle, and wider at the two ends, giving the pens a baton-like appearance.  Caps don't post, so hold on to them.



The body of pen is printed with nib diagrams that indicate the size of the nib at each end, as well as the shape of the nib.  The ek tools logo, 'calligraphy pen' and 'conforms to ASTM D-426' are also printed on the pen body.  Pen body is fairly matte, and body shape makes cap removal easy.




Color name is not printed on barrel, but cap tops and nib collars indicate ink color within.  I found the colors to be fairly true to those on the caps, with the green being a bit more teal and the pink being a bit more hot.  As these are twin tipped pens, they should be stored horizontally for even ink distribution.

Compared to Other Calligraphy Pens


From top:  ek tools calligraphy pen, Zig Calligraphy Pen 3.0, Sakura Graphic 2.0, Marvy Calligraphy 5


Of the four calligraphy pens, only the Kuretake Zig Calligraphy pen features a protective metal sheath around the felt tip.

Comparison of two largest calligraphy felt nibs I currently own, Top:  Marvy, Bottom, larger end of the ek tools Calligraphy pen

All nibs seem to be made of felt.  None of these pens are refillable or offer replaceable nibs.

Waterfastness Test

2.0mm nib used for immediate test, 3.5mm used for 24 hour dry time test.



Ink is not immediately waterproof, but if allowed to dry for 24 hours, ink will be waterproof.

Copic-fastness Test

Ink is not immediately Copic-proof, but if allowed to dry for 24 hours, ink will be Copic-resistant.

Field Test- Lining and Panel Borders




When run against a straight edge, both ends produce a fairly consistent line with minimal skipping or stopping.  As the ink is archival, waterproof and alcohol marker proof (after 24 hours) these pens would make a fine choice for producing the lines needed for page and panel borders (the reason I buy calligraphy pens).


Field Test- Calligraphy


Note:  I'm pretty mediocre at handlettering and calligraphy, take my opinions on this with a grain of salt.

Step 1:  Outline with non photo blue lead

Step Two:  Go over with large end of e.k. tools calligraph pen (green)


Step 3: Outline smaller 'do' with smaller end of pink e.k. tools calligraphy pen.


Step 4:  Repeat step 1

Step 5:  Admire your work

The Verdict

My primary use for these calligraphy pens would be panel borders, and for my use, these are really neat (although I only need black).  As these pens are double sided, you get two border sizes per pen, and they can withstand time, water, or alcohol marker.   I personally found them difficult to letter with, but calligraphy and hand lettering are skills I struggle with, so your experience may differ from mine.  I did think they were a bit pricey, but they seem well made and fairly well designed.

These aren't true calligraphy pens in the traditional sense, if you're interested in that, you might be out of luck at Target, but DickBlick has you covered.

These calligraphy pens are approximately $2 each, compared to the Yatsumoto calligraphy pen set (3 sizes for $4.64, or $1.54 per single sided pen), or the Itoya double sided calligraphy pens ($2.19 each, 11 different colors available) or the Zig calligraphy sets (4 pens- $9.43, 6 pens, $14.14, 8 pens- $18.86, 12 pens, $28.29 on DickBlick)

Additional Video Resources







Although these are the Zig double sided calligraphy pens, many of the lettering and doodling tips are applicable to these markers.

ek tools Journaling Pens

  • 8 pens
  • Single sided
  • .45mm tip
  • waterproof
  • archival
  • non bleeding
  • acid free
  • $12.79 on Target.com


The Package





Back of the package:

Use these metal tipped pigment ink pens for everyday writing and journaling.  Waterproof, archival quality, non-bleeding, and acid free.
Strange that they don't mention stamping, inking, or doodling.



Same type of packaging as the Calligraphy pens- so vaguely reusable, but not really travel-worthy.

The Pens



The pack comes with 8 colors- blue green, sepia, magenta, black, blue, purple, red, yellow.  Color variety isn't bad, not necessarily colors you would easily find in Copic's Multiliners, at least not offline. Pens are comfortable in the hand, feel like a standard size, and body has a matte finish that makes them easier to grip.  The slightly larger, flared out cap is easy to grab and pull, and the cap fits on the pen securely.  Felt tip has a metal sleeve.  Ink flows freely, but doesn't seem to leak.



Pen design is attractive- ink color isn't listed on barrel, but the post, cap top, and the band where the cap meets the body are all representative of the ink color.  Body printing has ek tools logo, pen size (.45mm), a diagram of the tip, 'journaling pen', and 'conforms to ASTM D-4236'.




The inks inside are fairly similar to those on the post, collar, and cap, and fairly similar to the colors in the ek tools calligraphy pens.   These pens handle much like other fineliners and technical pens, so I hauled out a few of my regulars for some comparison photos so you can see how these stack up.

Compared to Other Fineliners and Technical Pens


Colored technical pens and fineliners.
From left:  ek tools Journaling pens, Copic Multiliners, Sharpie Pens

From top:  Sharpie Pen, Copic Multiliner, ek tools Journaling pen, Alvin Penstix, Sakura Micron, Copic Multiliner SP, Pitt Pen S

From Top:  Sharpie Pen, Copic Multliner, ek tools Journaling Pen, Alvin Penstix, Sakura Micron, Copic Multliner SP, Pitt Pen S

From top:  Sharpie Pen, Copic Multiliner, ek tools Journaling Pen, Alvin Penstix, Sakura Micron, Copic Multiliner SP, Pitt Pen S


Waterfastness Test



Not immediately waterproof, applying water directly will cause bleeding.

Allowing ink to dry for 24 hours makes it waterproof.

Copic fastness Test

Not immediately Copic-proof, applying Copic immediately will cause smearing.

Allowing ink to dry for 24 hours before applying Copic ink/blender will make it Copic-proof.

Field Test- A Inking over Non Photo Blue



Although I've really moved away from using technical pens since I've found a Copic-safe brushpen (the Sailor Mitsuo Aida), it's difficult to find brush pens in stores like Target and Walmart, and many artists use technical pens regularly for their art.  These pens are pretty similar to other .5mm technical pens and feature a felt tip with a metal sheath.  The ink color is not written on the barrel of these 'journaling' pens, but the collar, post, and cap all have plastic that indicates ink color fairly accurately.






The Verdict

Not bad, but not outstanding.  Each pen is approximately $1.63, compared to pen stock Microns ($2.32, 16 available colors- priced on Dickblick) or Copic Multiliners ($2.79, 9 total colors, priced on DickBlick), but is only available in one size, and are not available openstock.  These work well as technical pens, and are Copic and waterproof, so if this is the only option available to you, you're doing pretty well.

BONUS!  Calligraphy Pens and Journaling Pens Combined Copic Test

Note:  This test was completed in the Up and Up sketchbook purchased for the Target Art Supply Review Series

Creating borders with both ends of the ek tools Calligraphy pen





If the edge on your ruler is damaged or has divots, the quality of your line will be compromised and skip.

Colored Lineart





 I allowed the inks to 'rest' overnight, for best results with the alcohol markers

Rendering with Alcohol Markers


Erase lineart completely and apply first layer.












Although I had some difficulty erasing all of the graphite from under lighter colors like yellow, I had no issues with alcohol markers smearing or reactivating the inks used in the Calligraphy or Journaling pens.

Final Overall Verdict

These pens are fine for creating panel borders in a variety of colors, or if you wish to do colored lineart.  They are not available open stock, or in other sizes, so if you're actually interested in starting a collection of supplies, rather than emergency shopping, I recommend hitting up your local Michaels and picking up Multiliners or Microns in a variety of sizes.   For the Journaling pens, the colors are similar to those offered in Sakura Microns, but the price is slightly better, so if you're looking for a set of bright .4mm technical pens, the Journaling pens are a fine choice.

I was surprised that Target carried e.k success products, and while the Kenner Target's selection was limited, it makes me want to re-examine what my Walmart had to offer more carefully.


As this blog is completely unsponsored, and I receive no financial compensation from companies to write these reviews, nor do I receive donations from manufacturers, I really depend on the goodwill of my readers.  If you benefited from this post, please consider contacting ek success with a link to this post and your thoughts.  I would also sincerely appreciate it if you sent me an email with your thoughts, questions, or thanks.  The only way I can write content that you enjoy is if you let me know what works for you, and what you want to read.

Thanks for reading. Check out these products.