Just so you know, my first criteria in using anything in a class is that I must *buy* it for myself. I must buy it, try it and LOVE it.
Another criteria for a pen to be "good" for me is that it *must* write on (obviously, dried) acrylic paint without skipping, jumping or getting all gunked up!
Some Tips for Working with Pens and Markers (added 21 May 2014):
1. Make sure that your surface is completely dry if you're using acrylics or acrylic mediums.
2. If using watercolors or watercolor crayons, go over the surface (when you are finished and everything is dry) with a thin coat of gloss medium to seal the watercolors and give it a surface that has some tooth. Keep the application thin and you may have to work in small sections so that the watercolors don't mush around.
3. Keep an even hand. I've noticed that a LOT of folks are heavy handed with their pens. The ink should flow from the pens.
4. Keep a piece of scrap paper that is uncoated nearby so you can test your pens on it.
5. Test your pens on similar color/kind of paper before you use it on your artwork that way you can see if the color is what you want and if it does what you want.
6. Keep your pens capped and stored flat when not in use.
7. If you are using a paint marker, shake (always with the cap on) the pen and pump the tip up and down on scrap paper to get the ink flowing.
8. Keep the pens in a cool, dry place (away from heat or anything that will dry them out.)
Gelly Roll Glaze and the Gelly Roll Souffle Pens both from Sakura-
The difference between the Glaze and the Souffle is the glaze are a "gloss" finish. The souffle are a "matte" finish. They write on most surfaces (including glass, but I don't care about that, I just want to use them in my journals!) The Souffle will write and actually show up on virtually any background-I love them. Keep in mind though, with all of the pens, how they "look" on a page, depends on the background color and the pen color you are using. That means if you are using a red pen on a red (or pink or orange) background, the color will not pop or be as vibrant as if you were using a green pen, for example...
Another thing you need to know, the Glaze pens-there is a white pen and a clear pen. The clear pen is a "resist" pen -think of it like invisible ink, write with it, let it dry and then use a brush marker over it, voila! The white pen is a real white pen (the following is true for both the Glaze version and the Souffle version): it will write clear but dry white! It is a REAL white pen. It is the BEST white pen on the market, IMO. It's $2 of easy love.
Also another plus, you can paint over these pens! YAY!! They are permanent.
One thing: the slower you write the more "raised or embossed" the pens become. You have to write reallllly slow for them to be really embossed. I don't care about this feature of the pens. I just love the pens!!
The only thing I don't like about the pens: they don't label the damn pens. To find out which of the pens is clear vs. white, I have to hold the pens side by side to figure out that the cap that is the most opaque is the real white pen.
The other thing that I don't like about the pens: there aren't any new colors. C'mon, it's January 2010 (I was told that there's a rumor afloat that there may be 3 new colors debuting at CHA this year. Three? Ok, I'll be happy if it's true, but three? Really? With the whole line of COLOR in the Sakura pens and products only three?). WHERE are the new pens?!?! I'll never forget asking one of the "suit men" at CHA a couple of years ago if they were coming out with new colors. He looked at me strangely and said "Aren't the 20-something colors we have enough?" Um. Are you frickin' serious? No. Come on. Get off your lazy ass and come out with some new colors. NOW. please.
One thing, if you buy them, make sure you get the WATERBASED and NOT the oil based. I don't like using anything oil based. Nope, not for me at all.
Update September 2013: Molotow One4All Water Based Paint Markers-I LOVE these markers! They come in a wide variety of colors (forty) and have tips that you can change out! I tend not to buy them in colors that I already have in water based Sharpie paint pen form (especially since I already have a lot of those.) I *love* their extra fine tip (available in black, white and as a replacement/interchangeable tip to the 2 mm pen case.) You can also buy refills for the pens! What's not to love? It truly is an excellent marker.
Update on September 2013: It looks like the Lattes have also been discontinued. SNIFF.
Sakura Micron Pens-a huge favorite with illustrators. Again like the other pens, they come in nine million colors but I love BLACK. I do like these pens but the tiny nibs give me a hard time on acrylic paint so watch the nib sizes. I love how the pens are permanent, crisp and intense with color. I love how they are also waterproof that I can paint over them or use my Neo Art crayons on them. Watch the nib size though on acrylic paint...tiny nibs tend to skip and gunk up on the paint...the bigger the nib size the fewer problems you should have...
I have bought these in every color but I only really use the black. They are a nice crisp, permanent, vibrant black. My preferred tip is the "brush" pen. Love how you can paint over them once dry, too. They now come in a big fat size, too which is fun! It also comes in paynes grey-love!!!!
Update: September 2013: Faber Castell Pitt Pens recently came out with a Big Brush pen in WHITE. It's not a truly opaque white and it's only available in a bullet tip but it blends beautifully and adds that hint of white where you need it. I also tend not to use these a lot though I know a lot of folks who LOVE the Pitt Pens. I haven't been using them lately.
KOH-I-NOOR Rapido Sketch Pens-
****MY FAVORITE BLACK PEN OF ALL TIME.*****
These aren't anything new. These pens have been around for a long time. Out of all of the refillable pens on the market (that includes the Rotring pens which are fun to use-love those tips, but the ink isn't dark enough for my liking and I haven't experimented with it yet finding other cartridges for it), this one of is my most favorite. I love the black India ink that comes with the pen (yes, I have used other inks with the pen as well. I do prefer some inks over others and it mainly depends on the colors I want and the ink consistency). I own a few of these pens (including the Rapidograph pens) for the difference in tip sizes. The .35 is my favorite tip size. It's a fine, detailed line. I've been hesitant to recommend this pen here because of all of the maintenance that is recommended in taking care of the pens. Um. I'm lazy. I'm the first one to admit it. I've had this pen for months now and I haven't cleaned it. I use it almost daily. I've had to fill it a few times (easy to do-fill it about a third of the way, not all of the way!). I do keep the pen stored flat. There is a ton of information on the web about the care and upkeep of this pen (cleaning it often, being careful not to drop it, care of the tip, don't take the little wire out, etc...) that I'm not going to get into here. Google the pens and you'll find it. What I love about the pen though is the consistency of the line, the thin detail writing, sketching and drawing I can achieve with it. It doesn't skip and it hasn't failed me yet. I love using it with a good permanent, waterproof ink. If you use it filled with a good ink, you can write on dried acrylic paint with it! It's one of my favorite pens and I rarely leave home without it. Well worth the money. Look around because I've seen it in all price ranges from $25 to half the price.
Update: September 2013: Whenever I want a black pen, 99.9% of the time, I reach for my Rapidosketch pen.
Updated and revised May 2014:
Some Tips on the Rapidosketch:
1. Make sure that you only fill the pen a 1/3 of the way.
2. Do NOT press hard on the tip or else you will break it! Write normal and the ink should flow.
3. Have a rag handy. Fill the well only 1/3rd of the way. Sometimes (especially after refilling it) you may need to wipe the top of the pen off with an old rag.
4. Keep the pen flat when not in use.
5. When you need to screw the cap back on (or the other bits of the pen after filling it), gently twist and screw it back together until you can't twist anymore. Don't force it or over twist it or else it can crack.
6. I can't stress enough that you have to be careful with the tip. If you have a heavy hand, practice and be gentle with it. The ink should flow from the pen.
7. I never clean mine. I just make sure that I use it a lot (every few days.) I've had the same pen for years and have never had a problem.
8. Have a piece of uncoated scratch paper nearby to test the pen if it gives you problems. Sometimes just gently rolling the tip around as you write on scratch paper helps.
9. The Rapidosketch ink works on paper, dried acrylics and acrylic mediums, tape, transparencies and more.
10. If I could only recommend one black pen, this is it.
Pentel Metallic Brush Marker-Another pricey pen but well worth the $9! These pens last a long time. I like them for several reasons-it's a good, solid ink. If you write with it, it pops off the page (no fussing to try to "see it"). The brush tip-oh it's just yummy and soft-it flows and moves and glides across the page. It doesn't smell. I am a big fan of non-toxic art supplies and the fact that this doesn't smell nor does it come with a warning label about potential health problems are big pluses to me! I've been using these pens since they came out and if you're looking for a great metallic pen with a brush tip, look no further.
Keep the pens flat-like they are laying on a desk. This is the best way for most pens to be stored... I know they look pretty in your special cup with the caps up facing you, but be forewarned, over time the ink will drop to the bottom of the pen and you can kiss it goodbye. How do I know this? It happened to me. Nine gazillion dollars worth of pens that I could just toss in the trash. Keep 'em flat. Keep the covers on 'em. Use 'em up! Love 'em!
Empty Montana Markers Full of Candy Colored Goodness
Pen and Marker Tips