Loew Cornell Simply Art Fine Tip Marker $5.99/ 4 pack @ Joann's
I was doing some comparison shopping for my upcoming class on pen and ink drawing and I stumbled upon the Loew Cornell Fine Tip 4 pack at Joann’s for $5.99. They claim to be water resistant and non- bleeding. One look at the package and you can tell they are clearly a knock off of Pigma Micron pen put out by Sakura. The short cap, metal clip, and cap post on the end of the pen gives it away.
The markers are sold in a blister package with some claims and suggestions. The first claim is that they are water resistant. The second they won’t bleed. The back of the package suggests that you can use them with watercolors and other markers. I’ll get to these claims shortly.
The pens have a matte black barrel that is comfortable to hold. The pen is very lightweight. The cap posts securely to the back end of the marker with a satisfying click. While writing with the marker I found the ridge where the nib section meets the barrel to be quite sharp and uncomfortable. I suspect that this will be the main reason I stop using these markers.
While writing I found the fiber tip to be quite smooth on all pens but the largest, .08, and that nib was dry, as if it had dried out in it’s packaging or was out of ink. The sketching experience was not bad at all, the line was smooth and consistent for each tip. There is no line variation unless you switch pens. The ink is black but seems to gray out as it dries, leaving behind a dark gray line rather than a black line.
An additional flaw is that the cap is the only part with a size designation and it’s easily missed so caps could easily be put on the wrong pen. The barrels are only marked with the Loew Cornell name.
As for the water resistance, they are, sort of. I found that a lot of the ink lifted with a fast brush over with water. Leaving behind a strong gray area in any spot that was damp. There was a LOT of bleeding that would discolor any watercolor wash applied over it. This also washed out the lines. I went over my test area with another brush load of water and worked the area with the brush, nothing that would be called a scrub, and with a soft brush. The thinnest lines lifted almost completely and black lines were left grayer than before. The gray that is left is a very nice color. Knowing that these create a wash like this is actually pretty useful, one could throw these into a sketch kit with a waterbrush and get some pretty nice sketches with a wide range of tones of gray.
All in all these aren’t a bad value for $6 as long as you take the negatives into consideration- the grip itself, that one of the 4 pens I got wasn’t working properly, they are kinda water resistant, and that only the cap is marked for size. On the good side of things, you get 4 markers that write a lot like a Micron for a lot less, make wonderful washes, are all black and write pretty smoothly.
I’d recommend these for anyone who is interested in trying out this style of pen- very fine fiber tip. I don’t think these will sell you on the style though, they are too uncomfortable to write/sketch with for long periods of time…. Though a nail file might take the sharp edge off the grip area… Might try that, if I do I’ll let you know all about it. I want to suggest these for kids, but I don't want people to assume that I'm saying they are only for kids. I guess I'd say these are good for older kids- teenagers who are sketching for art class, or are writing or for someone who wants to test this style of pen out. you won't get the same performance as you would with a Micron but it's a good point to start.
UPDATE: I have been using these in SOME of my cowboy sketches and I've found them far more comfortable to sketch with than I'd have expected. We're not talk ing 2 hour long drawing sessions, more like 15 to 20 minute drawing sessions. I amend my previous statement about them being uncomfortable to being mostly comfortable for sketching. Add to that the blending capability when water or ink is added really adds an other level of darks to my gray ink brush pen. I'll need to test it and see if it's lightfast before I suggest it for anything other than sketching.