Have we all had an epic weekend so far? Hopefully we're all looking forward to either a fun night out or an equally enjoyable relaxing night in. For today's post I have a product review for you. It's been a while - I've been neglectful! The product under scrutiny is the Derwent Graphik Line Painter range of watercolour medium pens -
This range is a fairly new release from one of my favourite manufacturers so it was fairy inevitable that I'd buy some. The pens ship in sets of five pens tucked into a fancy wallet.
I got quite excited and bid on four sets on ebay - and won two of them, which was cool.
Before I do the pros and cons, you might find it useful to watch the promo video on Youtube -
So.... Firstly, although these are called 'paint pens' they contain a water soluble acrylic type ink, VERY similar to the Magic Color acrylic inks.
They're fairly quick drying, and once they're completely dry, they won't dissolve if you then add water or another wet medium, so you can layer them easily and with a good result, given that the ink is quite sticky and thick and holds its colour well.
The pigment also stays true when diluted - however it does dry slightly darker than the initial brighter application in common with many other acrylic or watercolour products. When water is added, the ink changes from opaque to translucent to virtually transparent depending on how much it's diluted. The colours stay true even when applied in layers (as long as you allow the ink to dry between colour applications) and when used as a blendable wet medium, the colours also mix as well as any other acrylic ink.
Like I said, these are marketed in a very gimmicky way....they're cool 'trick' pens. They're designed to produce a good number of impressive effects - and they do. HOWEVER - for the first time EVER, I'm not 100% happy with a Derwent product! Sorry, Derwent! These pens collect a number of excellent ideas, attractive to really any artist, but I feel like, somewhere along the line, quality has almost taken a back seat in order to push the product out before the niggly problems have been effectively ironed out. And I'm not even being picky here... it's just practicality.
Firstly, in order to get the ink to pool around the nib in order to achieve the blobby and spattery effects it's essential to press down on the nib and hold it until the ink collects. This DOES work, BUT it seems that some pens need to be angled very slightly to achieve the desired pooling and the nibs, though sturdy, WILL bend as a result. Once bent, they can't be fixed and it affects the ink flow and control and puts paid to using them as advertised. This doesn't happen to EVERY pen, but two out of ten of mine have done this and I know I'm a careful person with things like this. Not awesome.
Nextlyness, once the ink is flowing well, some pens seem to lose the facility to moderate the flow which means that those pens can no longer be used for fine lines or small designs as the ink will basically just 'blob' randomly onto the page. That really shouldn't happen. Four out of my ten pens have been like this right from the first use and two others are following suit. That's not good odds.
Lastly, there's not a massive amount of ink in the pen and SO far there's no indication of whether they can be refilled. This would not be an issue if the pens were cheaper BUT the price to content ratio seems disproportionate in my opinion. I can pick up a bottle of Magic Color ink for between £3 and £4....and there's a LOT of ink in those things. They go a looooong way. If Derwent brought out similarly priced refill bottles then THAT would make the pens a better investment, so long as they sort out the nib glitches and flow control.
To sum up, I do like these pens AND the ink. The colours are vibrant and they do produce cool effects. BUT - they're VERY expensive for a flawed product, and the number of glitches make the price even more unrealistic. I picked my sets up cheaply - and if I had a few pennies spare and won a cheap auction I'd probably take a punt and pick them up again, just for fun, but as an investment at full price they're simply not worth it as the design stands.
I have loved using inks for years and the idea of having them in convenient pen form is still tempting, but in all honesty there's nothing I can do with these pens that I can't do equally well - or better - using my bottled inks, brushes and nib pens.....more reliable and more cost effective. Actually - probably more versatile if I think about it.
I like to end a review on a positive note, so what I WILL say is that this particular ink formula is super when creating attractive layered backgrounds. There's a distinct difference in the dried surface of undiluted ink and the diluted. One is slightly shiny and looks almost dimensional and the watery effect produces a more matte finish. The combinatiom does give the illusion of depth and is a definite plus! The fact that the ink dries permanently means that it accepts the application of other layers exceptionally well, and the bright colours can be a boon when working with translucent media.
I had a play - I couldn't do a review without having a play now, could I? Huh? VOILA!
and Jacksons indian ink -
The birds are coloured with my Caran D'Ache Neocolor II crayons -
It was fun just to play with the colours. I did a couple of these sketchy colourful testers in my sketchbook and thoroughly enjoyed it despite the pens being a little unreliable. The translucent effect of both the inks and the Neocolor IIs is more apparent in the next one -
This is my third and final play with these colourful things of loveliness -
I think that the effects the pens produce are excellent - as long as the pens work properly - but I stick to my statement that these are a great product IF you can pick them up at a BARGAIN price and IF you can work WITH the flaws. Keep an eye out on ebay or Amazon and hopefully the art fairies will work their magic.
I hope that was helpful? I've added links to the pics where relevant so that you can possibly source some of the listed products. If you have any questions just leave them in the comment section and I'll reply asap - or just stop by to say 'hi!' Thank you for visiting and being awesomely YOU! Sending love and hugs from Shroo :) xxx