Walmart Art Supply Review: Staedtler Triplus Fineliners

I've already reviewed the Papermate Flair Ultrafine set, as well as the Pilot Precise V5 rollerball pen, so now it's time for my final contender in the inking area- Staedtler's Triplus Finelineres.  These pens are sold pretty much everywhere- Walmart, Office Max/Depot, Michaels, and of course, Amazon.  If you're interested in picking up a set for yourself, why not use my Amazon Affiliates search link to check out what they have?  You can also get a set similar to mine by using the link below:

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Staedtler Triplus Fineliners

The Stats
  • Porous Point Pens
  • Plastic, reusable, easel style case
  • .3 mm
  • Triangular barrel
  • Metal clad tip
  • Dry Safe:  Can be left uncapped for days without drying out
  • Water based ink colors
I had a big pack of these when I was in high school- lured in by the myriad of ink colors that came in my set.  I can't say I was very good at inking with them-the issue was probably a combination of the pens and my own inability, it seems like after all these pen tests, I could ink with just about anything. I decided to buy a 6 pack at Walmart and put them through their paces to find out.

The Packaging

A bit surprisingly, these pens didn't come in any sort of blister pack, or double packaging.  Just this reusable plastic easel case.

Right off the bat, I have to admit that I really liked the plastic case they came in then, and I still really like the case.  It's a fairly slim, reusable plastic case that can be easily converted into an easel, to aid in grabbing pens.  The pens slide right into place, with their caps just on the outside of the clear plastic packaging.  This case is fairly sturdy and attractive, and I wish more pen companies offered cases like this.  It reminds me of the Mitsubishi Uni set I reviewed recently, except that the bodies of the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners are more like normal pens, and have basic pen features we've come to expect. 

The Pen

So for those of you unfamiliar with Triplus Fineliners, these pens feature a triangular barrel that isn't supposed to roll off your desk.  They also feature color coordinated caps and end posts.

These pens also promise that they are dry safe, meaning you can leave them uncapped for long periods of time and they'll still work.  Although this isn't a feature I intend to test, I can say that I have the same set of 30 from my undergrad days somewhere in my current studio, and when I checked them a couple years ago, they still worked.  So dry-safe also means 'probably wont dry up from lack of use'.

Like many fineliners, these come with a metal sleeve around the nib, to protect the nib from getting crushed.

While its a little difficult to see, the caps are pretty indicative of the colors inside the pens, at least with this small set.

The Field Test

I'm going to do a number of field tests, to give these pens as fair a fighting chance as possible, including my regular 'inking over non photo bluelines', inking over pencil then erasing, and trying these out with a couple types of markers- waterbased and alcohol based.

Inking over Non Photo Blue

Staedtler Triplus Fineliners, technical pens, Walmart, pens from Walmart
Scan of inktest

I have some notes written on the side of my tests, but if you can't read my awful handwriting, I'll go ahead and transcribe that.

  • The triangular body, which prevents rolling, takes some getting used to.
  • The tip is very fine, I'm used to a .5-.8 for inking at this size, this is more like a .3
  • It took repeated strokes for me to get the lineweight I wanted
  • The Triplus Fineliners handle like most technical pens.
  • The pen's shape made it hard for me to pull the sort of lines I wanted.
  • It takes me much longer to ink with fineliners and technical pens.

These pens are not my ideal, but they handle similarly to some of the pens I've reviewed from Office Max, including the Flair and Tul.

Inking over Graphite and Erasing

Triplus is at the top.
For those of you who can't read my handwriting, like myself, my notes:

Inks over graphite ok, no noticable nib staining.  Immediate erasing causes the red ink to smudge.  Graphite erases cleanly with no smudging after 24 hour dry time.

Water Tests- Immediate Application

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.

Triplus is in the middle, all pens were tested on Strathmore Watercolor Paper

Water Test- 24 Hour Ink Dry Time

Triplus is in the middle

Even after allowing the ink to dry for 24 hours, significant pigment migration still occured when water was added.  These pens are ALMOST like watercolor pens, and could probably be used as such, something I'd like to investigate at a later date.

Copic Test- Immediate Application

Pens were tested on Fluid's Hotpress watercolor paper, which has a smooth finish.

Immediate Copic application causes the ink to smear somewhat, although not as much as with other brands.

Copic Test- 24 Hour Dry Time

Although after 24 hours, they are MUCH more prone to smearing, so it's probably more noticable if you use a Colorless Blender or a light color that allows the smeared color to stand out.

The Verdict

If you like to do lineart that utilizes a wide variety of colors, but don't plan on adding color to your lineart traditionally, Staedtler's Triplus Fineliners might be a good choice for you.

In the end, if you plan on doing work with markers (waterbased or alchol based) or watercolors, the Precise V5, the Papermate Flairs, and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners are not recommended.  None of the Walmart pens are waterproof OR Copic-proof.  If you are looking for pens that are water and Copic proof, I recommend Copic Multiliners for technical pens, and Sailor's Mitsuo Aida for brushpens.  These colors do come in bright, fun colors, a multitude of set sizes, and are easily available, so given how inexpensive they are, there's no real reason not to have them in your studio if you like to create colored line art, enjoy doodling, or are into journaling/planner keeping.