|CMYK 4-color ballpoint|
A unique, unusual multi-pen crossed my radar recently. You already know how much I love multi-pens as well as experimenting with CMYK color mixing. It will come to no surprise, then, to learn that when Nina Johansson showed it, it took me about three seconds to go get one: a CMYK four-color ballpoint pen!
|Lightweight plastic body|
|An unfortunate name.|
Made in China for a company with the unfortunate name of SuckUK, the pen came in packaging with a useful color mixing chart.
The very lightweight plastic barrel has three color selectors, and the clip selects black. The ballpoints are equivalent to a Bic medium point. I’ve used quite a few multi-pens, and I must say that the CMYK’s selection mechanism is one of the worst ever. The clip lever feels wobbly. Sometimes it takes multiple tries to get the selectors to engage, and sometimes they get stuck. When changing colors quickly in the middle of a sketch, clumsy mechanisms are annoying. Granted, Bic 4-colors are cheesy, too (one of the best multis mechanically is the Uni Jetstream 4 & 1), but a Bic typically costs a few bucks – not 16.
|Clumsy color selectors|
I’d forgive a clumsy body, however, if the inks were good (as is the case with Bics). Cyan and magenta are reasonably close to C and M process colors, but the yellow is a bit too cool – or maybe just muddy. Occasional orange or brown streaks appear. Although I expect ballpoint ink to be somewhat blobby (and my favorite oily Bic ink definitely is), the yellow is especially blobby.
|Test swatches in Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook|
|1/7/22 CMYK ballpoint in Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook|
In my mixing test swatch, the purple, red and red-orange mixes aren’t too bad, but the green is off, and I blame the faulty yellow. Wanting to mix the secondary triad in a test sketch, I quickly gathered a bright green mug, orange scissors and a purple Nemosine fountain pen. The purple was easiest to mix; the green the most difficult. The biggest challenge, though, was the ink quality, which flows unevenly with lots of blobby bits. It also doesn’t have the pencil-like, pressure-sensitive quality that makes it enjoyable to build layers with Bic ink. So it turns out that the company name is appropriate.
Too bad – such a cool, innovative concept! If only Bic would steal it and put its fabulous, unique ink formula into its cheesy but reliably cheap body.