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pen reviews

  • Artline Drawing System Pen 0.5mm

    Artline drawing system pens are made by Shachihata, established in 1925 initially producing stamp pads. The company has developed over the years, regularly releasing a variety of markers & writing instruments.


    Drawing system pens are amongst their best sellers, the Artline Drawing System 0.5mm was launched in 2011 & is ideal for technical drawing, graphic design & illustrating. Despite computer aided design systems becoming common place, drawing boards can still be found in the offices of engineers & architects with some claiming that clients prefer to see hand drawing as it gives a more realistic view, as you'd expect there are still many that think there is a place for both so my guess is this type of pen will be around for some time.

    The Artline 0.5mm drawing system pen has a friction proof plastic nib enabling a consistent line to be achieved. The metal collar & sleeve makes these pens well suited to use with stencils & rulers as well as sketching, drawing & writing.

    Other features include

    • Water Based Pigment Ink
    • Xylene free
    • Conform to British Standards & RoHS (Restriction of Use of Hazardous Substances)
    • Fade Resistant

    When it came to using this pen I was disappointed that I couldn't post the cap, this made it feel really short & uncomfortable in my hand. I took the opportunity to try my hand at a touch of stencilling....OK a little more practice is needed on my part but this drawing pen did complete the task in hand.


    On the positive side the cap was well fitting over the nib, snapping firmly to prevent the nib drying out & it has a sturdy metal pocket clip. The grip was basic consisting of a few rows of narrow lines, but it did prevent my fingers slipping.

  • Uni-ball Insight UB-211 Rollerball Pen 0.7mm - Review

    On a dark grey day picking up a bright pink pen was no great hardship, although putting pen to paper & producing an interesting read to an old friend proved a little more difficult so I decided to write this review instead.


    The pen in hand is a Uni-ball Insight UB-211 Rollerball in wine, the 0.7mm tip writes a fine 0.5mm line & its available in 6 colourful shades.

    The barrel is colour coded with the ink & has a transparent grip section & window down the full length of the pen which oddly I've seen referred to as an inkometer. Whilst useful for keeping an eye on the ink level this pen is refillable so there's no reason to worry about running out mid sentence. On the subject of the refills, they are pretty much the entire pen, when replacing them all that remains of the original is the cap & sleeve below the (non existent) grip which doesn't seem very eco friendly, so can't second guess Uni-ball's reasoning there. I can't say the Insight has much of a grip either, all that prevents my fingers slipping is the ledge leading to the tungsten carbide ball. The cap is pink & has a fairly firm pocket clip with black edging.

    As for the writing experience it proved to be as smooth as expected with all the benefits of Super ink with its outstanding resistance to light, water & chemicals, you can be sure that anything you sign your name to will remain secure. This rollerball also has the Uni-flow ink system regulating a steady flow of liquid ink which delivered a bright pink line on the page & although it appeared wet it didn't smudge. There was no blobbing or skipping & it didn't bleed through the paper.

    So to conclude on the positive side the Uni Insight didn't skip, there was no blobbing & the ink stands out on paper. The downside for me was the lack of grip, which did cause a little strain after a while also the refills replacing almost half of the pen, in fact given the price of this Insight I probably wouldn't bother.

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  • Uni-Ball Vision Elite UB-205 - Review

    The vision elite range of pens offer a consistent flow of liquid ink for a smooth writing experience. The unique uni-ball super ink is airplane safe, water resistant & of archival quality.


    I have always liked rollerballs, they have been around since the early 60's having been designed to give the convenience of a ballpoint giving the effect of a fountain pen.

    Having reviewed its counterpart the UB-200 some while ago I now have a Uni-Ball Vision Elite UB-205 poised as I prepare to put pen to paper to write an old fashioned letter.

    This pen has a hard black plastic barrel, matching the ink colour. The transparent textured grip is handy for keeping an eye on the ink level. The well fitted cap has been designed to avoid a child choking & has a colour coded section to identify the ink & snaps on nicely. There are a series of three oval shapes on the metal clip which although sturdy I didn't find it very flexible making it difficult when I wanted to attach it to my notepad.

    My writing experience was positive, the 0.5 tip writes a fine 0.4mm line & the Super Ink lived up to my expectations having read that the science behind it means it's

    • Fade resistant - ensures long lasting colour that doesn't fade over time even in bright sunlight
    • Resists Solvents making it tamper proof & providing security against document fraud
    • Quick drying – due to low viscosity means risk of smudging is reduced
    • Smooth fast, fatigue free writing – as the ink delivery system lubricates the rolling ball as well as putting ink on the page
    • Airplane Safe – no risk of leaks during changes of pressure in-flight

    As I came to the end of my rather long letter I didn't have any of the aches or pains sometimes experience after gripping a pen too tightly, the writing was smooth & relatively tidy for me, although it was written at some speed. This leads me to the decision to leave this particular Uni-ball well within my vision ready & waiting for my next writing session.


  • Sharpie Professional Marker - Review

    Since turning their focus to markers 50 years ago Sharpie have produced markers for a range of uses. The Sharpie Professional is a permanent marker that apparently lasts 50% longer than standard Sharpies.


    I have a Sharpie Professional Marker in black. The grey plastic barrel has yellow rubberised inserts which make for a non slip grip & the oval shaped design of the cap & barrel mean they won't roll of working surfaces. There are 3 small raised squares positioned either side of the cap. These are in line with the yellow rubber section & make it easy to remove the cap if wearing gloves.

    These markers have a versatile chisel tip that writes a 1.5 & 5.3mm line width. Designed for professional use, these Sharpies work on most surfaces & are suited to rough conditions so I'd expect to find them in action in warehouses or on building sites.


    • Can be used on wet, oily & non porous surfaces
    • Water & fade resistant
    • Last 50% longer than standard markers
    • Quick drying ink
    • Oval shaped barrel
    • Cap is easy to remove
    • Non Toxic

    I usually like to add a written sample in the reviews but found it a bit difficult on this occasion. As I doodled I noticed that the ink did bleed through several pages, but as they're designed for more heavy duty work I doubt that will be an issue for most users.

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  • 3 Popular Stabilo Colouring Pens

    Colouring has always been a popular activity for kids.With the trend for adults using the pastime for therapy we thought we'd feature 3 Stabilo Colouring Pens, suitable for artists & kids alike.

    Stabilo Trio Scribbi Felt Pen


    With its push resistant thick tip the award winning Stabilo Trio Scribbi is almost indestructible making it ideal for the young budding artist just starting out on their first work of art. With its triangular ergonomic grip & chunky barrel the Scribbi helps children get a tight grip of the pen. They write a 1.5 - 2.0mm line & there are 12 vibrant washable colours to choose from.

    Stabilo Pen 68 Fibre Tipped Pen


    The Stabilo Pen 68 is great for underlining or colouring large areas. The fibre tipped nib writes a 1mm line & the cap can be left off for up to 24 hours before drying out. These pens have a push resistant tip that allows the odourless water based aquarellable pigment ink to flow evenly. Aquarelle is one of oldest forms of painting, this technique can be used to create a transparent washed out blurred look. The Stabilo 68 range is huge with 46 colours to choose from including 6 fluorescent shades.

    Stabilo Cappi Colouring Pens - Wallet of 12


    The ergonomic grip on the Cappi Colouring Pens is ideal for little hands & the tube shaped design prevents them from rolling away easily.

    These fibre tipped pens write a 1mm line & as well as coming in a handy wallet. The Cappi has a ringed cap making it easy to tie them together, it can also guard against them slipping through small hands. They are a child friendly colouring pen with ventilated caps just in case they are swallowed & the ink can be washed away.

    If you you're looking for some ideas or inspiration for the next colouring project why not take a look at the Win & Fun page.

    We hope you found our selection useful, please let us know if there is anything you would like to see in future posts we would love to hear from you.

  • Pilot Fineliner Pen SW-PPF - Review

    Fineliners are generally used for drawing & sketching, some people prefer them for writing & they are also ideal when working with rulers & templates.


    The Pilot Fineliner Pen SW-PPF is referred to as the original fineliner. It has a relatively slim barrel, the cap has a durable metal pocket clip & white end stopper. The plastic 1.2mm nib writes a 0.4mm line & is reinforced with a metal sleeve. Available in black, blue, red & green with the barrel matching the ink, the only distraction are the words Pilot Fineliner.

    When it comes down to looks this water based fineliner is more stylish than say the Berol Fine Line, just my opinion you understand. If I didn't know better I'd say that was down to having different markets, when I think of Berol its usually for children's pens & pencils. However Pilot claim they have many students as customers & that they target “through its sponsorship of student events” & Berol produce a wide variety products that they say are “suitable for both children and adults” so that puts paid to my theory.

    Moving on to writing, I usually prefer a medium tip but still found this pen to be a smooth writer that was comfortable to hold. Despite not having a specific grip (just a couple of steps between the tip & centre of the pen) my fingers didn't slip.

    I keep coming across the fact that the fine nib of these pens makes them ideal for writing with carbon copies. These words bring back memories of rows of ladies sitting pounding the keys of their typewriters. It's hard to imagine life in the office now without computers & photo copiers, but recall them I do & carbon paper was widely used, all very well until you made a mistake! I'd have thought the messy black stuff was now obsolete so was surprised to discover there are still a few companies making it.

    Anyway, as I don't have cause for using carbon paper & the only thing I draw are match stick men whilst doodling I can't see me making a B-line for the Pilot Fineliner, but horses for courses as they say it could be just what you're looking for.

  • Zebra Z Grip Max Gel Pen – Review

    Although gel pens are fairly recent as a product of the 80's, they have become very popular. I usually expect them to make a bold & vibrant statement due to the viscosity of the ink.

    Zebra Z-Grip Max Gel Pen

    The Zebra Z-Grip Max Gel Pen is retractable with a 0.7mm tip. They are available in 5 colours, for this review I'm using violet. The plastic barrel matches the ink, it is joined to a nice chunky rubberised grip with a shiny chrome coloured ring. The pocket clip & nib housing has the same metal finish.

    The Z Grip Max Gel has check safe ink that Zebra claim gives an easy glide performance, it's of archival quality & acid free. When it came to my writing experience I was initially disappointed. Having previously used a Z grip Flight & Z grip Max pens, although both ballpoints they provided a smooth easy write straight from the off.

    As I started my first paragraph with the gel version it proved to be far from consistent, it skipped leaving gaps in almost every word, much to my annoyance. Feeling it should be given a fair crack I persisted & lo & behold this Max Gel rose to the challenge. As the written sample shows, no skipping is evident.

    I found this pen very comfortable to use, my preference for chunky barrels & grips could have swayed it a little, but add to that the positive rattle free click when the tip is retracted & the vibrant colour of the ink I'll certainly be keeping this zebra close to hand.

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  • Pentel Superb Ballpoint Pen Review

    Described by Pentel as the original ballpoint the Pentel Superb is part of a large range of writing instruments brought to market by a company that have been making pens for over 60 years.


    The Pentel Superb Ballpoint Pen BK77 has a slim transparent barrel, the end cap & ball in the cap match the ink colour. The nib is encased in a bright sliver coloured housing. These pens have been designed in such a way that they apparently clean themselves every time the cap is replaced, the purpose of the ball in the lid maybe? There is also a handy pocket clip that hosts the branding.

    I've written about my preference for a squishy rubberised grip section in the past. Clearly these would not fit with the design of this ballpoint but they do have three very subtle panels that I can best describe as horizontal rows of lines. These did provide a resting place for my fingers but I didn't find the pen comfortable to use for long periods as I felt the need to grasp it tightly, resulting in cramp. When it came to the writing the Superb was smooth & the oil based ink certainly left a clean looking line on the page without clogging. The 0.7mm nib writes a fine 0.35mm line & I'd say it would be possible to squeeze a lot of notes into a small space if necessary.

    Looking through some of the reviews, quite a few people comment that the Pentel Superb proves to be very economical due to its long lasting ink. When it does eventually give up the ghost the pen can be refilled by simply unscrewing the silver nib housing, removing the refill & replacing with a BKL7.

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  • Edding 1255 Calligraphy Pen Review

    Although Calligraphy has been around for centuries the writing instruments used have come a long way since the quill pen. Modern day calligraphy tools include markers, these are popular as they are a handy instant option.


    The Edding 1255 Calligraphy Pen has a square cut fibre tip & contains a water based pigmented ink. This is resistant to water & light, with the added benefit of not smudging or bleeding through the paper.

    This disposable marker has a black barrel with silver branding & info, the lid, nib housing & end cap corresponds to the ink colour. Unlike some other calligraphy markers they don't have a defined grip section this doesn't make it easy to change the width of the text without adding more pressure. I imagine this could lead to a tired hand after a short period of time.

    A 2.0mm tip & steel blue ink was used for the written sample, the edding 1255 is also available with 3.5 & 5.0mm nibs in a choice of 5 colours.

    If you want to learn more about this ancient art, edding have a Calligraphy Training course that will take you through your paces with the help of videos, presented by their very own expert Birgit Nass. As well as the basics you will be given instructions on achieving different effects using letter height. There are also ideas on labelling a wine bottle & gift bag along with tips for writing on terracotta, metal & stone.

    Whilst computers can replicate many different fonts using desktop publishing there is still a call for the hand made form of this art because of its uniqueness, these edding markers can help you hone the skill.

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  • Uni Clipturn MSE 800 Multi Functional Pen & Pencil - Review

    A Multi-functional pen/pencil is likely to come in handy if you are one of those people that is always on the go yet needs a pen to hand, maybe you need to correct papers in a different colour or make notes that can be erased.


    The review of the Uni Clipturn MSE 800 Multi function pen/pencil. A multi pen with a clip that turns 360° Uni Clipturn MSE 800 Multi-function Pen & Pencil has black & red ballpoints & a mechanical pencil. The ballpoints have 0.7mm tips whilst the pencil uses 0.5mm leads, the eraser beneath the end cap is a useful addition. The clip on this multi pen will turn a full 360° enabling it to be fixed at any angle you like. There is also an eyelet should you want to attach a cord. The Clipturn can be refilled with Uni S7-L & standard 0.5mm leads.

    How does it work?
    This is a pen of the chunky variety, the barrel has a large black rubberised grip with a section in the middle that makes the changes, the rest is a metallic silver colour. It is easy to make your selection, simply twist the middle section whilst holding the silver area above the grip then line up the red notch with the black, red or 0.5mm text. To retract the nib just align with one of the black horizontal lines.

    Writing experience
    I was pleasantly surprised by the relatively fine line that the Clipturn left on the page, even though I knew it had a 0.7mm tip its appearance gave me the impression it would be wider somehow. This smooth writer was comfortable to use & the large grip meant that it was easy to write for long periods without tiring.

    How to refill
    Holding the centre of the pen simply twist the barrel clockwise & unscrew. I found I needed to pull the refill harder than expected which made me worry I'd damage the pen. This was probably made worse as I can be heavy handed & had read that some users complained about breakages. I needn't have worried as I found this multi pen to be pretty durable.

    When it came to replacing the refill that was a little fiddly but once I'd located the small holes a firm push was all that was required to secure it in place.

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