Friday, May 11, 2012

Product Review: Tombow Colorless Blender

As mentioned in the previous post, the Tombow colorless blender has the purpose of blending smoother transitions between solid areas of color and eliminating the streaky “marker” look. Although I haven’t been using the blender pen this way, I’ve been experimenting with using it as a wash mechanism instead of water with some interesting results.

5/9/12, Copic SP, Akashiya Thin Line, water

With water in a waterbrush – my usual wash tool with water-soluble brush pens – the flow of water can be unpredictable (although with practice, it’s easier to control), so I’ve sometimes lost the original line when too much water was applied. The firm tip on the Tombow marker makes it much easier to apply varying degrees of wash for shading, so the original line can be retained. I wouldn’t use it exclusively, since that firm, dry tip won’t give me an organic, gradient wash that is possible with water and brush. But sometimes I like the finer control that the Tombow blender enables.

5/9/12, Copic SP, Akashiya Thin Line, Tombow colorless blender

I’m not sure what the Tombow colorless blender contains besides water, but it does slightly change the hue of the ink being washed. For example, the ponytailed woman (who, unfortunately, left before I could finish her) was sketched with a black Akashiya Thin Line brush pen and washed with water. I used the same Akashiya Thin Line to sketch this man working on his laptop, but I used the Tombow blender for shading. I hope you can see it in the scan, but the wash has a slightly bluish cast compared to the water-only wash.

5/5/12, fountain pen, Tombow colorless blender
I don't see a difference in tone when the Tombow blender is used with a fountain pen (the baseball capped man): Both plain water and Tombow blender give black Mont Blanc ink the same purplish cast. (See my previous post for more examples of the Tombow blender used with a fountain pen.)

Whatever it’s made of, the Tombow blender dries instantly, which can be handy if you’re in a huge hurry to close the sketchbook (which I am, occasionally, such as when I suspect being “caught.”)

I’m planning to do a lot of traveling this summer, so flying with art supplies has been on my mind. One possible advantage of the Tombow blender is that it is a marker without a reservoir, so TSA would probably allow me to carry it on board without putting it in my zip-locked bag of liquids and gels. (Although I do recall an episode of “24” in which a villain carried explosives inside a highlighter pen and was able to clear White House security with it… was TSA watching? I’ll take the Tombow on my first flight and find out.)


  1. Wow, Tina, I've never had trouble with the TSA folks about my water brushes. Now my micro-fine crochet hooks I was using to make lace edgings on hankies... yeah, those got me into some hot water until I could demonstrate that they were NOT hypodermic needles. But I've always carried my pencils and brushes without a hitch. If you're really concerned, carry them in a pocket with some other pens in your clothing pockets.

  2. I remember when ordinary knitting needles were getting taken by TSA! I haven't had anything taken from me lately (knock on wood), but I always think about everything in my carry-on, just in case.

    - Tina


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