Over the holidays, my kids got a hold of my art supplies and managed to demolish my favourite brush pen. It was a Kuretake No. 8 Fountain Brush Pen. Not an expensive one, but it was next in line after the ubiquitous Pentel Brush Pen as my favourite pen. This was over the Holiday season, so I decided to treat myself to a new pen.
I picked up another Kuretake, as I really really like it as a brush pen. If I want some fairly consistent lines with a little bit of character, this is my go to pen. If I want something with a lot more character, it’s back to basics with the Pentel. But what else would I get? The Kuratake, while a fine pen, is fairly inexpensive. I could justify another pen for the right money.
Thumbing though my Instagram, I noticed someone mentioning their love of the Sailor Fude De Mannen pen. Fude pens are strange ones. It basically looks like a standard calligraphy dip or cartridge pen that’s been broken backward. It’s supposed to look that way. It mimics the look of a fude brush for Chinese calligraphy. So you find them mainly in China or Japan. Here in the West, they get used a lot by urban sketchers. With the funky bent nib, you can get a bunch of different line weights depending on how you hold the pen. Why carry 3 or 4 pens around when all you need is one?
Different lines weights can be achieved by holding the pen in different ways. Even holding it upside-down!
The Sailor pen wasn’t really available at the time. And it would have cost three times the price of the pen to get it to arrive even close to the holidays. Until very recently that seemed absurd. With the delays in today’s shipping it almost makes sense. Almost.
Instead, I found something cleverly called Black Forest Fountain Pen Bent Nib Metal Fude Pen (Fine to Broad Size). It seems this came all the way from China (as do a lot of fairly cheep fude pens). I didn’t really piece that together until it arrived. And fairly timely. Thankfully, the pen seems to be fairly well made, if a bit on the heavy side for me. As of this writing, this particular pen now seem unavailable. But other fude pens can be had.
I love it. The pen has a bit of flex, though still a little stiff, so the stokes can have a bit of character to them, with variable thick and thin lines. And with a little bit of getting used to, a nice variety of different overall pen strokes can be made. From very thick lines to very scratchy, thin lines (you have to hold the pen upside-down for that). My one complaint other than the weight, is the amount of ink this pen puts down. It is a lot. And according to my research, I am not alone in that assessment. Fude style pens like to put down a lot of ink. Thankfully, it came with a converter, so filing it with my ink of choice was no problem. I do find that the very thickets lines tend to break up a bit, so if you are looking for a clean, thick line you either need to be very careful with your lines, or go over them with a finer pen for some clean up afterwards,
Some quick samples of sketching with the dude pen. Note, these were some fairly small skates on some rough paper. Hardly finished work, but I like some of these characters!
And also please note. A lot of very cheap fude pens are made in China. Westerners freak out when they see these and then think they can get a $4 dollar fountain pen. It seems these are basically the equivalent of a cheap Bic or Papermate pen. So pen enthusiasts tend to be disappointed in them because these pens really aren’t going to be very good writing instruments. This particular pen I bought was around $20 Canadian, and the Sailor is generally priced around the same. I would consider that to be the base price for a decent pen like this. They also go into prices straight into the stratosphere, and are well beyond the grasp of this humble Graphic Designer.
I’m looking to do a lot of fun work this pen!