Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pen Review: Marvy Le Pen

My search for colorful, sketchbook-approved pens led me to Pla-Za, one of Nashville's two art supply stores (the other being a Jerry's Artarama in Antioch, a 30 minute drive).  I'm not really a fan of Pla-Za, as they're a chain that charges independent art supply store prices, and their selection is fairly limited.  In addition, their staff has a tendency to pester a browser with constant inquiries as to whether one needs help, and considering art supply stores are a near religious experience for me, I'd rather be left to wander unharassed.  So I don't usually go to Pla-Za, but since I was downtown getting my Tennessee driver's registration, I decided to pop by and take advantage of a paper sale they were having.  And of course, whenever I enter an art supply store, I can't just go straight to the relevant section- I ALWAYS make detours to the sketching supplies.

This time my detour brought me by Pla-Za's pen selection, which primarily consists of technical pens (Sakura, Copic Multiliner), some brush pens (Pitt, mainly), acrylic (like Montana), and some markers.  These colorful Marvy Le Pens caught my eye, as they were in sunset colors, and I thought they'd be a fun addition to my sketchbook arsenal.

Marvy Le Pens are fairly cheap, I think each pen cost under $2, and the construction reflects that.  Le Pens have a plastic nib, and feel light in the hand, especially when compared to more substantial pens.  The Marvy website doesn't specifically recommend these pens for drawing or sketching, so I can't penalize them for not holding up against technical pens like Sakura Microns or Copic Multiliners.  These pens are perfectly fine for writing and doodling, and have decent ink flow.


 
As you can see, the nib is pretty tiny.  When inking over non photo blue lead, the ink picks up a bit of the lead, but not enough to cause staining.  You can still see the lead beneath the inks, but it's not unattractive.  Inking over graphite might permanently damage the nib, however.
 

I gotta be honest, I don't get how people can do dynamic lineart with technical and finepoint pens- it's so labor intensive and there are often better options available.  When it comes to colored lineart, the Marvy LePen selection is pretty extensive with 18 colors to choose from including a pink so hot it doesn't photograph properly (it looks downright neon in these photos!)  I don't know how well Le Pens scan or reproduce, however, so what you see in these photos may not represent what they're capable of.


Marvy Le Pens play decently well with Signo white gel pens, and aren't a bad pick if you're looking to add a little pop of color to your work.

 
Fude Pen Test
 

 
If you immediately try to color with the Le Pens, they'll smear the fude, but if you wait a couple days, they're fude-safe, making them a good choice to add small pops of color to your sketches.
 
The Verdict
 
If you already like inking with technical pens, Marvy LePens are a fun addition to your inking arsenal.  If you're like me, and vastly prefer the flexibility of fude pens, Marvy Le Pens make great writing tools, fine doodling tools, but aren't really a viable option for sketching.  They come in a wide range of fun, bright colors, and are a fantastic way to liven up your planners and notebooks.