About five years ago when I was stocking shelves in the stationery section at my retail job, I came across some packets of Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens. I had never really used any markers, aside from those cheap ones they give you in primary school, but I’ve always found Faber-Castell products to be of excellent quality, so after my shift finished, I went and bought the Landscape pack.
Over the following years I accumulated more of the pens, including two more colour sets (Shades of Grey and Terra) and some outlining sets in black, sanguine and sepia. Though I used the black sets regularly for my manga illustrations, I never really did much with the other colours until recently.
The Black, Sanguine and Sepia packs come with a variety of tips and sizes, ranging from a tiny 0.05mm (or thereabouts) to a bolder 1mm tip. The packs also include a brush tip pen, which is the same as the tips on all the other colours (as far as I know, all colours besides what I’ve already listed are only available as brush tips). There are 48 colours in the range, which can be purchased in boxes of 24 or 48 or smaller packets of 6-8 like the ones I have.
PITT Artist pens are waterproof, so they’re good for pen and wash sketches where you want a bit of solid colour and not just a black outline. The packet says they are also lightfast (some colours more than others), though I haven’t done any sort of lightfastness testing with these so I can’t confirm it.
All of the packets of brush tip pens were still perfectly usable, even after sitting in my drawer for about five years. The first set of black pens I got lasted through several years of regular use until they inevitably began to run out. Unfortunately when I went to replace them, the first two packets I bought contained four completely dried up and useless pens. I got my money back and bought another set elsewhere a few weeks later, but had the same problem. Even when I eventually got a packet with working pens, two of them stopped working within about a month, even though I’d had the lids on at all times and had only used them for one or two small drawings. I’m not sure if this was just bad luck or if it was to do with the way the retailers were storing them or if it was a quality issue with Faber-Castell’s manufacturing, but it was very frustrating and disappointing, especially because the pens aren’t particularly cheap at $20-25 for the packs of 4-6.
This is a character illustration I did for the interactive narrative in my PhD project. The outlines were drawn with a black PITT pen and then watercolour was used to colour them in. As you can see, the black did not run or muddy the colour, which makes them excellent for illustrators. You do need to let them dry for a minute or two – if you draw your outline and wash over it straight away, it will run a bit – but it dries a lot faster than traditional ink applied with a brush pen.
I did this little landscape sketch in a few minutes, just to get a feel for what the coloured pens are like when they are used for a whole drawing rather than just outlines.
If you like doing any sort of illustration or sketch work, you’ll find a use for these highly pigmented marker pens. Just make sure you test them either before buying or as soon as you can after buying them so you can get your money back if they don’t work, and always ensure that you clip the lids on tightly. The coloured brush tip pens are great fun, but in terms of black manga/illustration pens, I prefer the Sakura Pigma Microns (which I will review in a later post).
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