ABE // Architect’s Black pen Express


Hello! This is a little different, my first ‘list’ post!

Before I start, I gotta say, it’s a longer list than I thought it would be. I like to have a lot of variety on hand but not necessarily grab for all of them. I have my favourites of course, but I also just like collecting a lot of different kinds of pens to use for different occasions. I’ve divided the pens up by type, and then within each type I have my currently used, my thoughts and comments about the pens, and then a final comment on how often I actually use the pen.

Here’s my list, along with sample doodle or text using each one:


A. Gel Pen
Pen set 1: Hi-Tec-C Maica 0.3mm / Hi-Tec-C Slim 0.4mm (Ensso Uno) /
The Hi-Tec-C pens are probably my most frequently used non-fountain pen pens. The needle size fine line they draw are so precise and smooth that it’s hard to compete with their consistency and convenience. I’ve been trying to transition to using more refillable pens (ie not disposable except for the refill inside), so while I am still using the Maica extensively, the plan is to purchase the Hi-Tec-C slim refills to use in the Ensso Uno because I have been pretty happy with how the pen writes!

Frequency of use: all the time

Pen set 2: Uni-ball Signo 0.38mm / Pilot G2 0.38mm (Tactile Turn Mover)/
The Signo and Pilot G2 pens are pretty much the same to me, and offer a slightly different but very similar drawing experience as the Hi-Tec-Cs. They offer slightly more friction, so the way they roll on paper isn’t as smooth, hence I use them a fraction less than the Maica.

Frequency of use: often

Pen set 3: Pilot Frixion Point 04 /
This is a neat pen I got as a gift, an erasable pen! I used it exclusively in the first semester of first year of grad school (actually half the time I didn’t actually know it was erasable…) so much so that I bought extra refills and haven’t even gotten to the refill until recently. I don’t use the pen as much now, partially because I like a fuller true black ink more than this slightly greyed one (some kind of magic juice that allows it to be erased). I still like to whip it out every now and then though.

Frequency of use: low


B. Fineliner
Pen set 1: Copic Multiliner SP 0.1 / Sakura Pigma Micron 01, 03 /
Pen set 2: Uni pin fine 0.1 / Staedtler pigment liner 0.05, 0.8 /
I seem to have more variations than I thought, and I’ve had these for a long time, so it’s not that I haven’t found one that I truly like, but probably because everytime I set out to buy  pigment liners, I grab whatever is available. My go-to for the longest time has been the Sakura microns. They are the workhorse of pigment liners, and I’ve ground up the tips of so so many 005 and 01 pens during school.

More recently I’ve picked up the copic multiliner SP because I had a thought that I didn’t want to keep buying disposable pens (also why I like using converters instead of cartridges), so the refill idea really spoke to me.

I use these liners a lot less since graduating and since computers came along and we no longer had to draft all our projects at school. But I still use them for my sketches and doodles because they are waterproof and are incredibly easy to control. The tips when brand new are also super amazingly sharp and easy to control.

Frequency of use: semi-often

Pen set 3: Normann coppenhagen fine liner 03 / Pilot Fineliner (missing in the photo) /
These are the non-pigment fineliners that I have/use. I don’t actually use these that often, partially because they are not waterproof and because I have other pens I like using more. I picked up the Norman pen at a stationary novelty store. It’s not superp, nor do I have any idea what the ink or insides came from. But I like using it because the pen looks neat, and it’s yellow.

The Pilot fineliner, is literally the go-to architectural office pen (or probably any office pen), ALL the architect offices I’ve been to use them, ALL the architects I work/worked with use them. They come in Black, Blue, Red and Green (and probably more), but I see them used ALL THE TIME. Which is totally fine, they’re really great pens. I just don’t use them very often.

Frequency of use: low

C. Roller Ball
Pens: Baron Fig Squire / Tactile Turn Shaker (w/ Schmidt capless rollerball refill) /
This one is a relatively new one to my catalogue of black pens. I’ve used roller ball pens sparingly in the past but it wasn’t until I picked up the Baron Fig Squire that I really felt the greatness that is roller ball pens. From what I’ve read and experienced myself, this type of pen is essentially a happy medium between fountain pen ink, and a gel pen. The ink flow is excellent and smooth, just like a fountain pen. And yet you have the convenience of a regular pen — no inky messes, no clean-up maintenance.

Soon after my Squire purchase, I got my hands on the Tactile Turn Shaker from kickstarter. While the pen comes with a ball point pen (which isn’t as terrible as I surmised initially), I switched it out for the same roller ball. It’s a smoother experience without any of the blotchy globs that come out of ball point pens, and the tactile turn clicky mechanism is excellent and convenient for a quick grab and jotting down notes.

Frequency of use: semi-often


D. Ball Point
Pens: Ohto needlepoint / Muji ball point pen /

I actually abandoned ball point pens quite a long time ago (probably since high school) because I just found better pens to use — biased I know. But of course, the ball point pen is probably the most universal go-to, fast & easy pen in the world (I’m not actually sure, don’t quote me).

I don’t actually hate the pen, but I have a few gripes with it. Primarily has to do with it being super leaky and blotchy. Maybe I’ve only ever owned really cheap ones and actually quality ball point pens don’t do that, but…I highly doubt it 😀

I bought the needle point a while back when I had easy access to jetpens free shipping (co-op in the states) and used all my overtime money on stationary. I used it for a little bit and then it kind of sat in my pen cup for the longest time. Occasionally I will pick it up (like I did recently for my planner doodles), and will have a lot of fun with it because the pen really feels like drawing with pencil sometimes. I can get some nice shading effects, and there’s a decent amount of control too.

The muji uses an almost similar infill, but it’s just a much lighter pen, being more wood than metal. I have found that it doesn’t leak as much as the needlepoint. And really the only reason I even keep these two on me is because they have the lowest leak rating of any other ball point I’ve used.

Frequency of use: low

E. Permanent Marker
Pen: Sharpie fine marker /
This is a sharpie. I don’t know anyone in my sphere who doesn’t know what a sharpie is or does. I don’t use these often at all, but during school I did enjoy using them on trace. Also I only tend to like the sharpie before the tip has been broken in.

Once in a while, using a new sharpie feels great, especially for drawing. The lines are crisp, the pen is easy to handle and there’s a lot of oomph you don’t feel with any of the other pens on my list — don’t ask me why, it’s a feeling. The feeling of resistance in a new tip gives me the most control when using.  Feelings are weird

Frequency of use: low


F. Brush Pen
Pen set 1: Kuretake pocket brush pen fine / Zebra pocket brush pen fine /
Pen set 2: Tombow brush pen / Pentel Pocket Brush pen /

I’ve been picking up lettering recently and it’s quite fun. There are a few different brush pens I’ve been trying out, each giving me a variety of results. The Pentel Pocket Brush pen is actually my favourite, despite it being the most difficult to control. The variation I can get with just varying levels of pressure are pretty awesome, plus the brush is durable and lasted me at least 2-3 refills (it’s refillable!)

The kuretake is probably the best for control, and gives a great fine variation between super thin and medium thick brush line. Lastly the Tombow is definitely one of the best pens for brush lettering as well as coloured marker-ing. (In fact I went and bought myself a stack of them in hopes that I will use them for a bunch of things…not going to say whether I have put them to good use yet…) The brush is on the thick end, and there isn’t as much control for a super thin line, but overall strokes are great with this one.

Frequency of use: often

G. Fountain Pen
Pens: Pilot Penmanship EF nib / Levenger L-Tech 3.0 M nib /
Saving the best for last! More of my ravings can be seen in my first review of the pilot penmanship with an EF nib. I use this pen the most for my comics and planner doodles. I made a note here that it’s not necessarily the best in terms of comfort or control, but because I just enjoy using fountain pens in general, I always tend to gravitate to this one.

For line weight variation, I inked my stealth Levenger L-Tech which has a solid medium nib. I haven’t posted a review for this pen on the bloggy yet, but it’s on the list of to-do!



So there it is

Go Canada!!


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