Sunday, September 3, 2023

White: Déjà Vu All Over Again


Yet again, but more hopeful this time.

Like many sketchers, I’ve been looking for a good opaque white pen for a long time. I did my first comparison back in 2013 when I was just starting out, and then I did another comparison in 2019. It’s useful both for small highlights and for occasional lettering on sketches, but it’s also an ongoing source of frustration.

The pen I’ve used most is the Sakura Gelly Roll (included in the 2019 review), but I wouldn’t call it my “favorite” – it’s just the least of the evils. All gel pens seem to have the common problem of working well until they don’t, and then they require vigorous tapping, flaming with a match, flushing with hot water, or any number of other solutions people have come up with to get the ink flowing again (none of which are convenient when in the middle of a sketch on location). The Uni Posca (also included in the 2019 comparison), containing acrylic paint instead of gel ink, has different issues of its own. In all cases, pens do better when they are used regularly instead of sporadically.

It seems like déjà vu, but I’m comparing white writing materials yet again – some for the second or third time! The options are still limited, so I keep trying the same ones over and over. However, with my discovery about how to store Posca paint markers, I’m newly optimistic about the 0.7mm “pin type” (if you shop for it, search for the product code PC-1MR; the other 0.7mm has a conical tip that’s slightly broader).

From my tests below, the Posca is easily the most opaque in this comparison group. My Uniball Signo, which I hadn’t used in a while, took a lot of tapping and scribbling to get the ink flowing again. I think it normally does better, but as you can see, it was having a bad day (which is exactly my point about gel pens). Although it’s too broad for lettering, I love the white Prismacolor when I want to softly highlight an area on colored paper, so it serves a unique purpose. I included it in the tests just as an opacity comparison.

Tests made in Stillman & Birn Nova sketchbook

Tests made on Boku-Undo watercolor and activated Museum Aquarelle watercolor pencil, both completely dry before applying white.

The Posca is the clear winner here, but it also makes the thickest line, which might be a problem for some lettering. So far, it has worked fine for sketching (as used for the chain-link fence in this sketch). Still a bit leery about storing it point-side down, I remain hopeful.

8/28/23 Maple Leaf neighborhood (Posca "pin type" used for chain-link fence)

1 comment:

  1. I always use the White Uniball Signo. It works better than most of what I've tried. I put one of the Posca pens in my cart on Amazon...will think about getting it.


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