The Blinkety-Blank Supposedly Waterproof Pens

Preparatory to doing a large page in another sketchbook, I did some tests in my Gamma sketchbook with various pens and watercolour washes. I was also testing a sheet of Aquabee transfer paper.

The transfer paper was supposed to be “easily” erasable but wasn’t. It also smudged in places I wasn’t tracing and was generally frustrating. I can’t use my lightbox for tracing in a sketchbook, so thought this might work. Blah, it has to go, but I only paid $2 for it. Back to tracing on the back of a design with a pencil and then flipping it to transfer by going over the lines. Low-tech but it works and makes a fine, erasable line.


As far as the markers go:

Staedtler Pigment Liner – not waterproof.
Pro Art Markers in various sizes – bled through the paper; not waterproof. Grrrr, what a mess.

Micron – not bad with light washes; does not discolour the watercolour.
Faber-Castel PITT – the best I thought although if applying water over it it will get a faint smudge; does not discolour the watercolour.

I only have three PITT pens and can’t seem to buy them in a regular store any more, but at least it’s something to work with. I only have two sizes so can’t get a really thick and thin line variation.

I might have to fire up the dip pen and try to get the feel of it again. I have lots of different nibs for it, some with reservoirs, but the last time I used it I knocked over a bottle of gold ink which made quite a mess. I also found a packet of dried walnut ink that you can mix up with warm water for an ink. I doubt if it’s waterproof but it might make a nice background wash or antique-y looking text with a dip pen. I’m not sure either of these inking solutions is practical for a sketchbook; I can see myself blobbing ink everywhere and knocking containers of ink all over a page that took me two hours to work up. It’s not the sort of thing that is practical in a travel journal.

This is why a test sheet is worth it, you can figure these things out and be confident in the materials you do end up using.


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4 Comments on “The Blinkety-Blank Supposedly Waterproof Pens”

  1. Roseanne Dix Says:

    Jude when tracing – try this – rub the back with a pale soft pastel – it traces well and also brushes away cleanly. And here I am TRYIN G to find non-waterproof pens/pencils. SEND THEM !!!!

    • JJ ColourArt Says:

      I wish I could send them.

      I can see where having them run would be great for smudging in some shadow, but it’s like having a hidden menace in the drawing for me.

      I will experiment with the pastel idea. Pastels and I don’t get along too well, I always seem to smudge everything in the wrong place. I use pastels to decorate tuckboxes for card decks and then varnish them so they don’t rub off.

  2. ironwing Says:

    I was sold on Pigma Microns years ago when they first came out. “Oh wow these are a GIFT FROM THE PEN GODS!!! I’ll never go back to crowquills or rapidographs again!” Since then I’ve tried various imitator brands, but in my experience the Microns are still the most waterproof, bleedproof, and lightfast. I’ve used them with egg tempera washes and with water-soluble colored pencils.

    • JJ ColourArt Says:

      Okay thanks Lorena.

      I tend to like a slightly lighter line in brown or sepia rather than black, so I’ll try to find some Microns in those colours. The good thing is that Micron pens are everywhere, so easy to buy.

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