DrawBot – Pen Selection, Part II

I believe my next challenge, aside from better DrawBot calibration, is to find a good pen and paper combination.

This afternoon after I got back from a meeting, but before I went back to the office, I stopped off at an office supply store.  The local craft/hobby store near work didn’t have any really big rolls of butcher/craft paper – which was very disappointing.  Luckily, the office supply store had a slightly larger roll of white paper. 1

I really went there to check out the pens.  And, there were a LOT of these pens.  An entire side of one large aisle was devoted to pens.  However, since this was an office supply store, you could only buy these pens in office supply quantities for office supply amounts.  I was not about to drop $20.00 for a five pack of multi-colored pens only to find out that that style of pen just doesn’t work in a near-horizontal drawing robot kung fu grip.  I even checked out the pen refills, which were more reasonable – but the selection wasn’t there.

One thing I did while I was there was write down the name of every brand name pen manufacturer I saw.  Here’s the list I came up with:

  • BIC
  • Cross
  • Montblanc
  • Paper Mate
  • Parker Quink
  • Penatia
  • Pentel
  • Pigma
  • Pilot
  • Sharpie
  • Uni ball
  • Waterman

While I understand Montblanc and Waterman pens to be on the expensive side, I would gladly pay for a pen that “just worked.”  I would point out that the Pigma was no where to be seen at the office supply store.  This is a really nice quality art pen and I’m actually surprised I didn’t see any of them when I was at the craft/hobby story yesterday.

One other side note… while at that craft/hobby store I noticed fountain pens.  I’ve never tried to write with one, but I did wonder how effective they would be in a nearly horizontal orientation.  It could result in some very cool drawing effects.

But, for now I think I’ll focus on robot calibration for the moment while I ponder this move.  In the meantime, if you’ve got a pen suggestion, please let me know!

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  1. For slightly cheaper than the craft store too! []

13 Responses to “DrawBot – Pen Selection, Part II”

  1. John says:

    How about an astronaut pen? Probably more than your looking to spend but the write upside down or in zero gravity so they should be fine on its side.

  2. I have always used Pigma Microns but there are similar refillable pens by Staedler. There are no moving parts, the barrel is of uniform size and they leave a smooth, perfect line until the ink runs out.

  3. MakerBlock says:

    @Brad Barrish: I tried that exact model Sharpie, but it bled way too much for my slow drawing robot. I’ll have to try to track down that kind of gel pen! I’ve never heard of it before…

  4. MakerBlock says:

    @John: That’s not a bad idea! Do you know where you can find them?

  5. MakerBlock says:

    @Joshua Johnson: I’ll definitely check out the Staedler pens. A perfect line until the ink runs out is a high endorsement!

  6. Lee says:

    Fountain pens are beautiful to write with, but assume a natural writer’s slant. The ink contact patch is at the bottom side of the nib – the very tip is basically dry. I’d avoid those for drawbot.

    You might find Gel Ink pens not working very well, either, but they’re worth a shot. They tend to be very generous with their ink (which is why people love them), but gum up and leave blobs behind up in this kind of situation – especially when drawing very long lines in one direction. This normally doesn’t show up when you’re actually writing with them, as the direction changes so often.

  7. MakerBlock says:

    @Lee: I hadn’t known that about gel pens – thank you! Interestingly, the best results I’ve had so far are from a ball point pen – which I would never have expected.

  8. lanthan says:

    just tested: pilot G-2 roller pen, gel ink, medium tip labelled 0.7mm on fine grain drawing paper, doing TSP.
    I found the line intensity to be slightly inconsistent, parts very black, others with less ink. Not totally unpleasant effect, but not what was expected.

    So far, best results also with a Caran d’Ache ordinary ball point pen.

  9. TonyB says:

    I’d suggest something with a good hybrid gel/liquid ink, like the Uniball Jetstream. Hybrid inks offer smooth, bold lines that dry fast, but are not prone to bleeding or blotting.

    Ballpoints also would probably be good for a straight up orientation since they use a thicker paste ink that transfers easily and sticks to the page. However, they can be prone to skipping, especially if moved too quickly. And ballpoint ink just looks ‘bleh.’

    Any felt tip or marker type pen would likely not work well, since you would have quite a bit of bleeding/feathering and would get large blots at any pause points.

  10. lanthan says:

    I have had interesting results with felt pens on thin kraft paper, sometimes bleeding ink can be a desirable effect… even on the second sheet underneath.

  11. […] DrawBot – Pen Selection, Part II […]

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