The Uniball Signo 207 is a staple pen. You can pick one up at any office, box, drug, or grocery store in the US. The multicolored sets are available at office supply stores across the US. A standard multicolor pack includes red, blue, and black. There are a total of 8 colors. 5 of those colors are only available in the 0.7 or medium point. The colors are identical across their range of gel inks, so if you want to sketch with a SIgno 207 then switch over to a Signo DX you can. This is great news if you want to sketch with these pens.
Uniball reports that the Signo 207 RT “forms an indelible bond in paper” and reports them to be “fade- & water-resistant, acid-free ink.” If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time you know what I think about acid free claims.* Fade and water resistance are much more important for those of us who use these pens for sketching. So a few things to note about these pens. The black is a solid everyday pen- great for writing, making notes, bullet journaling, and sketching. I’ve recomended it over and over and over again. It’s a great pen. Additionally so are many of the other colors. However, when you use these pens on good paper the ink doesn’t bond well with the fibers of the paper. So when you add water, or highlighter, it lifts and smears. I have found that this is much much worse with the colors, any of them. The black adheres the best of the lot, but every other colors I’ve tested with a variety of highlighters, smears. Adding water causes lifting and bleed of the ink.
Sketchbook paper with less sizing does well. My Leuchtturm1917 didn’t fare well. The ink smeared and I had to use a blotting sheet to keep the ink on one page. The colors are great for bullet journaling but not in a Leuchtturm1917.
Overall, I find the colors great for sketching and writing. I can use the bright red or orange for calling out a note or coloring a box. Further, the writing experience remains smooth and enjoyable from first to the last click. The ink is great on crappy paper, it bonds well but doesn’t drain out of the pen. I also enjoy these for sketching but the water-resistance of the colors is less than that of the black ink. Use the variety of colors combined with water with caution. Test first.
My wife picked up a 12-pack of these cheaply from Amazon a few weeks back. As we generally do with stationery supplies, she shared a pen with me. I immediately took it with me to work and put it through the ringer. My results are reported below.
As I’ve shared before a gel pen that lasts more than a week at my DayJob is a winner, the Bic Gelocity lasted for a week and a half. The ink flow is smooth and consistent without skipping. I did find that I’d get a blob here and there when I’d filled out a full page of forms. Blobbing was minimal and didn’t smear. I suspect the few moments of blobs would make this a non-starter for lefties. The ink does dry very quickly, within a second or two on the cheap work paper and a little longer on better paper.
I found the black ink nice and dark. I have not tested it for lightfastness. I did a wash of water over some lines and there was minimal lifting. With a longer dry period, there was no lifting of the pigment. As a result, this could be a contender for a great sketching pen for urban sketching.
I found the contoured rubber grip to be comfortable. The pen design itself is pretty benign looking reminding me of many other retractable pens- from the Zebra Sarasa to the Pilot G2. The clip design is useless. After a day of use, it was falling off the placket of my shirt, falling into my shirt and onto the floor. Annoying on many levels. An attempt to bend the clip back into a tighter configuration saw the brittle plastic snap. Even more annoying.
Overall, this is a great pen if you are working on an absolute shite paper at your workplace. The ink doesn’t sink super deep into the page, but it also doesn’t smudge once you write. The black is deeply dark and photocopies and scans like a champ. The nice flow means you can doodle for days and not feel like you are running out of ink. The refill absolutely drains to the last drop too. This is a great pen for cheap paper and doodling.
The Brandless brand is a simple set up- think Muji but American and with a focus on groceries. As a small upstart brand, they are interesting. Their schtick is that everything on their site is $3, and you qualify for free shipping at $30, or 10 items. They have frequent free shipping offers, so you can often get your goods at $3. The look of Brandless is minimalistic and simple. Labels are barebones and, I find them aesthetically pleasing. The pens are available in a 4-pack for $3. The package is a clear hard plastic box. The backside sports a white label with product info. Simple. The pens are semi-opaque white frosted plastic. The plastic is matte with a glossy white “Brandless” label printed in the middle of the pen. Simple. The cap is short and reminds me of many other inexpensive gel pens, specifically Poppin, but without the bright colors and carefully designed clip. The clip on the Brandless pen does its job, holding the pen to a notebook or the placket of a shirt. The cap is short. It offers a soft click as the pen is capped or posted. The pen posts easily and the cap stays in place.
The cap does not stay put if you clip the pen to your lapel or put it in your pocket. the cap will fall off. The good thing is that the gel ink doesn’t seem to bleed too badly into the fabric of your pockets but it is a danger. Don’t pocket carry if you like your pants. The refill is held in place with a rear cap that screws into place. When my pens arrived this rear cap was loose on two of the four pens. It was easily screwed down with my fingers. Once tight the refill doesn’t move or wiggle. It is quite an efficient method of holding the refill in place. I found that several of the refills weren’t as full as others. In use I find the pens quite comfortable, they have a slightly thicker body than other gel pens. They fit my hand well. If you grip your pens close to the tip you might find that the drop between the tip and body is uncomfortable. The ink flows smoothly and darkly without soaking through most of the pocket notebooks I use, or the crappy paper at my DayJob. They respond quite well to crappy DayJob paper but also in my Baron Fig confidant I use as my book journal.
Overall I quite like these pens. If you need something to get you up to $30 for your free shipping, this is a good opportunity to get some decent black ink pens for cheap.(These are also available in blue ink. Though I have not tested them.) Continue reading →
It is important to point out that this review is for the Inkjoy gel pen, not the ballpoint monstrosity that Paperhate also sells under the Inkjoy label. Which can I just say is the most confusing thing ever. They ought to drop the ball points out of the Inkjoy line up because they are not a joy to use- a blobby horrible mess.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the Inkjoy gel ink. I have several colors that I really enjoy- slate blue, black, teal, and blue. The res is too light for editing but some may like it. The green is nice too. The colors are great but do not match the color of the body well at all. The slate blue is many shades darker than the pen body. The teal is significantly darker as well.
Let’s talk about the shape of the pen… The pen body is long and thick. This will please many people who aren’t fond of skinny narrow pens, but if you aren’t a fan of girthy pens, you may find this one, uncomfortable. The exterior of the pen is coated is a rubbery and grippy coating. There are divots along the section of the pen you hold to further facilitate the grip. In practice I doubt these are necessary, as the rubbery coating is textured. There is a large translucent window where you can see ink levels. The sturdy clip is made of the same translucent plastic color matched to the ink. The clip could probably stretch over time but I’ve yet to have that happen. The ink inside is smooth, flows are a good rate, and flows from the moment the waxy blob is removed to the last drop of ink is gone. Every single pen I’ve uncorked and used has worked the same. At this point I’ve probably used a half dozen of them and have all the colors in my pen pack at work- and every single one simply flows smoothly every single time it is deployed. Paperhate knocked one out of the park with this ink formulation.
One drawback is that there isn’t even a semblance of these being waterproof or even water resistant. Somewhere around here I’ve got a few sample sheets of paper with water tests, the only thing left on most of the papers is the indentation of my original writing. Sad, because the black with a waterproof ink could be THE sketching tool.
Another drawback is that the flow of these is so heavy that I literally BLOW through them. In my post about the G2 I mentioned how fast I destroy one of the Inkjoy refills- I’ve gone through one in a week. The average is about a week and a half. It’s less if I am processing intakes and filling out a lot of paperwork. If I pick up extra hours it is on the low end.
At the end of the day, the InkJoy is a fabulous gel pen. It’s flow is smooth and the sensation of using it is superior to every other gel ink I’ve used. On less absorbent papers it lasts better, but if you use cheap paper be prepared to really blow through the refills. Refills are only available via Amazon in a few colors- specifically black, red, and blue. I hope someday that I’ll be able to get the slate blue in a refill form.
I purchased a 6 pack of Golden Mediums about a year ago and other than using the gloss gels I haven’t used them. The list price for 8 ounces is $13.49 and it comes in a tub. In the tub it is gray in color and looks much like cement.
I used an old discount card to spread it on my binder’s board. It lays down a very thick and heavy layer. I found it pretty difficult to lay it down thin. As I was laying it down on the board I had moments where I didn’t think it would stick. It’s a very dry gritty material. It does stick. It helps to work slowly. Because it is so gritty I would recommend using an old brush or a metal palette knife to spread it.
When dry it still retains that cement like look which could make a very cool texture in a journal. It retains its flexibility so it could be used on a journal page with no issue. It can be used as a base much like gesso but keep in mind it’s very gritty and its surface is much like 60 grit sandpaper. It’s very rough. When coloring my pages it wore holes in the rags I was using to apply glaze and color.
(On the left is the Golden and the Right Liquitex.)
This is a very intense texture gel that can definitely make a statement when used on canvas or page. It took a full ounce to cover an 8.5×11 inch page completely. The deep crevasses and graininess of it is very neat. With color added it’s even more interesting.
A quick comparison of the Golden Coarse and the Liquitex shows that the golden is muchmore coarse, the liquitex is more like 100 grit sandpaper where the golden is like 60 grit. The difference is noticable and visible.