This is a pen that I used to use back in my polytechnic days, when I was still working towards a diploma in architectural technology: the Pilot DR Pigment Ink Drawing Pen.
It is a great pen to use, and it has been around for umpteen years. I recently searched around for it, and discovered some competitors as well.
It worked well as a temporary or emergency replacement while doing technical drawings, and even worked somewhat on tracing paper (I think it’s known as vellum elsewhere?). But after I graduated, and slowly drifted away from the industry, my Pilot pens ended up sitting in a box as I don’t fancy them for normal day-to-day writing.
I recently rediscovered them, to my joy, while clearing my room of some junk and opened the above-mentioned box. Since I picked up the journaling habit this year, and have been trying out watercolours (thus requiring a water-proof pen), this came in very handy after I picked them up from Tokyu Hands.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
So first, the pen. The Pilot pen comes in 5 nib sizes: 01, 02, 03, 05 and 08. I currently own the 01 and 02. The pen is covered in a very cool-to-touch smooth matte plastic. There’s a functional plastic clip on the cap. There are grooves on both the cap and the body, where they meet when the pen is capped. On the cap, it’s purely ornamental. On the body, the grooves exist where most people would grip the pen, and serves as a non-slip element, since the plastic is very smooth.
The name and model of the pen is imprinted in both English and French. Why French? Je ne sais pas! But Japan / Japon is also printed on the pen, so I must assume the pen is made in Japan. The words printed are “Pilot DR Pigment Ink Drawing Pen” and “Pilot DR Encre A Pigment Marqueur a Dessign Resiste A La Lumiere Et A L’Eau”. If my kindergarten French fails me not, that means it’s resistant to light and water.
The sizes of the pen are only shown on the top of the cap, as you can see below.
The ink is very black and the pen writes very consistently. However, with these pens, I mentioned that I didn’t like them as an everyday writer. I can’t describe the writing experience as ‘not smooth’, because it is a smooth and consistent writer. It’s just a very dry and squeaky experience, and I don’t like that, being more inclined to the smooth wetness of gel inks. Those of you who have used the Sakura Pigment Micron should know what I’m talking about.
I use them mainly for just random sketches, or when I am trying to draw something, trying, just in case I decide I want to watercolour them at a later stage.
I haven’t been doing much watercolouring lately, but as you can see, the Pilot DR Pigment Ink doesn’t budge at all if you water-colour on top of it.
If you grew up in Singapore or Malaysia, you might know of this brand Saintograph. I have no information on them, but they are a local (Singapore, Malaysia or maybe Taiwan) manufacturer of stationery and related items. A recent visit to a local stationery shop landed with these two Saintograph DP54 Drawing Pen. They are slightly cheaper than the Pilot, so I picked up the 05 and 08 to try out.
The Saintograph pens are made of slightly cheaper, and rather tacky, plastic. They aren’t that nice to the touch as the smooth Pilot. They are slightly narrower in size. The nib sizes are similar, coming in 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8 and I believe they stretch to a 1.0.
Writing experience wise, the Saintograph is surprisingly smoother, still as dry, but not as squeaky as the Pilot. Perhaps it’s because I’m using the thicker nibs, so it might not be an apples-to-apples comparison.
Now, these pens are obviously a similar product to the massively popular Sakura Pigment Micron pens and the Copic Multiliner Pens. I do not own either of these pens, but I have tested out samples at the art supplies store. With that very short sample, all I can say is all these pens offer a very similar writing / drawing experience. All of them also claim to be light -proof and water-proof, which I can vouch for for the Pilot pens.
Would I recommend these over the Sakura and Copic ones? To reiterate, I don’t own either type, but, if you are on a budget but looking for water-proof drawing pens, I highly recommend these over both Sakura and Copic. In Singapore, the Pilot DR Drawing Pens go for about an average of S$2. The Saintograph ones are of a similar price range. In stark comparison, the Sakura Pigment Microns are around a range of $3, and the Copic Multiliners are between $3 to $4 (I don’t have the exact prices unfortunately).
But if you are seriously into your craft, both Sakura and Copic have even thinner nib sizes of 003 and 005, which I have to admit are amazingly fine.
The prices above are stated for Singapore only. I did a quick check and surprisingly (a) Jetpens doesn’t stock Pilot drawing pens with pigment ink (only oil and water-based ink pens), and (b) Sakura Microns seem to be actually cheaper in some of the online stores. I have no idea about this weirdness, so you will have to rely on your judgement or research to get the best drawing pen possible!
Do you know of any other types of drawing pens? Let me know, I’d be interested to try them out too! Leave me a comment below and tweet me @scribsnstat