Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fude Pen Review: Uni Mitsubishi Pure Color-F Double-Sided Sign Pen

Sadly, you wouldn't know this by looking at my sketchbook, but I love color.  I admire artists on Tumblr who post colored sketches, or sketches that feature color accents, but for sketches, the most I usually can muster is non photo blue and black ink.  I'm hoping to find some colorful pens that'll help me change that.

It seems like I have an interesting relationship with Jetpens.  When I order products singly, I end up loving them and have to buy more.  When I buy a set, I end up getting burnt.  This is not Jetpens' fault, it's mine- I'm too impulsive in purchasing new art toys.  Unfortunately, the Uni Mitsubishi Pure Color-F Double Sided Sign Pens proved not to be the exception to this sad rule.

I splurged and bought the 18 color bundle, lured in by the variety of bright, inviting colors.  When my package arrived, I was so excited.  Just look at these pens, they look fantastic!

Unfortunately, my excitement ended shortly after uncapping.  These are not fude pens at all!  I'd misunderstood 'sign pens', which also refer to fude pens, to mean the flexible calligraphy pens.  The Pure Color-F pens have hard nibs on both ends- I had hoped that at least the smaller nib would be flexible.

To these pens' benefit, they tend to be fairly true to the color of the pen itself.

The caps post to each other, but are not interchangeable between sizes the way the Mitsuo Aida caps were.  The pen itself is fairly well designed, with small silver dots indicating the smaller nib, and larger silver dots indicating the larger nib.  Neither nib has any real give to it, and the larger nib is not designed to color large spaces.  It's similar to a bullet nib on many alcohol based markers, but the ink in these pens is not alcohol based.  Both tips are made of felt, and the nib sizes are .8 and .4 mm, which might make this an interesting choice for handlettering.

Field Test

I still held out hope that these markers would be compatible with my Kuretake Fudegokochi and my Eno Color Soft Blue lead, my sketching tools of choice.

Pilot's Eno Color is my current favorite non-photo blue lead, and it's available in .7mm through Jetpens.  It's buttery and a little crumbly for a mechanical pencil lead, not as waxy as other brands I've used, but it's still waxy enough that it can cause issues with ink drying.  It's always wise to test materials on a scratch sheet of paper before committing them to a project.

After I inked the sketch, I let it dry overnight.  I recommend this any time you plan on polishing a sketch- whether you want to add color or just remove your underdrawing.

The next day, I excitedly hit my sketchbook.

The mess of ink next to the word 'Fudegokochi' indicates that I laid down three lines of fude ink, then went right over it with the Color F.  As you can see, even though I waitied until the ink was 'dry', there's still a LOT of pick up with the Fudegokochi.  The yellow squiggles to the side are me trying to clean the black ink off the golden yellow Color-F, black ink that I picked up while coloring Kara's eyes.  These were inks that had dried overnight, so unless the Color-F was reactivating the Fudegokochi's ink, there should have been no pick up.

Although it was fun to doodle in color, there was entirely too much pick up between the Color-F pens and the Fudegokochi ink, pick up that makes the sketch look dirty.

I do not recommend these pens if you intend to use them the same way I've used them in this post.  They're fine if you're interested in doodling or decorating something that needs a little color, like your notes or your planner.

NOTE:  I am, of course, aware that I COULD be sketching with graphite, inking that, and then erasing if I wanted to color sketches in my sketchbook, but if I'm going to go to all that trouble, I might as well take it out of the sketchbook and finish it into something a bit nicer.  I simply wanted to find a way to add accents of color in my sketchbook that wouldn't require me to erase the non photo blue.