Sunday, 18 September 2011

Pens, Pens, oh...

...and a few more - PENS!!!
(Long post coming up)

As someone who has never out-grown the love of 'colouring in' it is not surprising that I have a pen or three (hundred plus). Over the years I've dabbled with numerous colouring mediums from water colour pencils to oil pastels, acrylic paints to water colours, felt-tip pens to markers.

I became intrigued by the wonderful colouring of images that appeared in craft magazines and couldn't understand how folk could use 'felt-tip' pens without getting streaks...then I learnt about alcohol ink markers. That was when I first found out about Copic pens - I was amazed by what folk could do with them but at about £5 a pen I couldn't justify spending that sort of money on 'posh' felt-tips so I stuck with the odd Zig pen and my Inktense water colour pencils as my main colouring tools.

A visit to Ally Pally for the Big Stamping & Scrapbooking show put paid to that and I came home with a dozen starter colours in the Ciao range (I hadn't known that there were different ranges). A chat with my local craft shop and they agreed to stock them. By adding a couple of pens a week I was on my way. Then I found another store (closer to home) had them as well so my collection grew even quicker...then I found Promarkers and the collecting continued.

To-date, I have a complete set of Copic Ciao, Promarker and Aqua marker pens.

As I got used to the colouring/blending techniques I found I was using the Copics far more than the Promarkers because I actually prefer the brush-style nib that they have. I also find it easier to see the colours I want because the caps are coloured - the Promarker caps are all black so it is difficult to identify a pen quickly.

Recently two new ranges of pen have hit the crafting world; Spectrum Noir (marketed by Crafters Companion) and Flexmarkers (a new member of the Letraset family). I'm not an 'on-line' shopper as I like to see, and where possible, try before I buy. Nowhere locally was stocking the 'Noir' but my regular store were going to have the Flexmarkers - which arrived in time for Members weekend...30% off Yipeeeee!!!
I was going to be good and only buy sets 1 & 2 as they contain the very pale colours but when faced with all four sets and the thought of taking advantage of the members discount...some how all four packs found their way into my basket **rollseyes**
The Flexmarkers are being released initially in colour themed sets. The 6pks have hit the stores and the 12pks (containing the rest of the range) will be available sometime in October. I understand that they will be sold individually some time in the not too distant future...great for those colours that get used more than others.
As you can see from this section of the leaflet, the range is introducing a number of paler shades that haven't been available in the Promarker range.

So I now have the first 24 shades and have had a play - what do I think of them?

They colour beautifully. As a lover of the brush-style nib over the bullit-style I have to say the flexible tip suits me down to the ground. It is precise but flexible, enabling (in my opinion) far more ease of blending. The shades that have been released - especially the very pale ones - work extremely well with the Copic shades. The pens are 'fatter' than the Copic Ciao so are more comfortable to hold (I'm prone to cramp due to mild arthritis in my wrists) and although the caps are the same grey colour as the body of the pen, the colour code and shade are stuck on the very ends of the caps so you can see what colour you are grabbing.

On the down-side; the caps are not that easy to get off and I can see problems occurring with pens drying out if they are not snapped back on properly. Storage could be a problem as Letraset still only do the wallets that hold 24 pens and they are quite bulky. The marketing blurb claims that the blister-packs that the pens come in are designed to be carry cases but again they are bulky and being that plastic that is normally used for blister-packaging it is easy to cut your fingers on.

On the whole...I love the pens and am willing to struggle with the caps as the additional colours extend the range of shades that I have.

Will I buy any more...I think I will be buying the rest of the range as and when they are released.

Will they replace my Copics...never! They will enhance.

Pricewise they are on a par with the Copic Ciao so are slightly more expensive than the Promarkers but for those folk that can't justify the £5+ for a pen like the Copic Sketch I think these are a great alternative and will mix & match with the Ciao pens beautifully.

If you made it all the way to here, thank you for ploughing your way though my rambling. If you have tried these pens I'd love to hear what you think.............


The Crafty Elf said...

Not tried them but you've offered some pretty great advice here for anyone considering purchasing them.

Sandra said...

I'm a pro marker fan if I'm honest, but I won't be trying the new ones, I'm very happy with what I love :)

Enfys said...

Super review. I'm going to send a link to Simon Hodges of Letraset, he will find it makes interesting reading. I love the new flex markers, was quite happy with the bullet nib, but I just adore the pale colours. thanks for your nice comments about my makeover :)
big hugs
En xx

Lynn Stevens said...

Well Toni, you seem to be the expert on the subject. I hadn't heard of the new pens yet, heck I still don't own any copics! LOL
Sad I know!
I'll be on the lookout!
hugs Lynn

Sue said...

Will look out for them, i also feel the same way about the "brush" tips and cannot get on with the pro marker "bullet" tips. Like you I LOVE my copic ciao pen and so far, have not found anything in that price range to beat them - Thanks