Staedtler Pigment Liner Review

I somehow managed to not review my favourite pigment/fine liner, despite it being one of the sketching tools that I use the most. While I know that the pigment liner from Sakura is more popular is stationery blogger circles, and Copic is thought to be the elite offering (it sure is in terms of price), Staedler’s pigment liners have been my go to pigment liners since I was a teenager, and they have always been the ones I compare all others to.

Pigment liner set bought at Cass Art in London

All pigment liners are expensive to purchase here, and Staedler is no different, which means that I always stock up on them when I go to Cass Art in London. This 6 pen set is always on sale, and you get a useful selection of pen widths. However, if you are just starting out, don’t buy a set – buy a 0.3 and a 0.5 and if you want to splurge add the 0.1 and the 0.8.

The full set: Calligraphy, 0.8, 0.5, 0.3, 0.1, 0.05

Whether you use Staedler pigment liners or ones from another brand (Sakura, Faber Castell, Copic, Uni-ball, etc), the 0.3 or 0.5 will likely be your base, bread and butter pen. I generally use the 0.3, unless I’m feeling shaky, I’m in a hurry and want to churn out sketches/illustrations, or I want to go for a dramatic effect, in which case I go for the 0.5 or the 0.8. The 0.1 is a pen that I use for the opposite effect – when I plan to use watercolour or an ink wash and I want the colour or wash to take precedent. The 0.05 is a pen that I used to use when I was younger and drew comics (it’s excellent for fine details), but I hardly ever reach for it now, unless it’s to work in small format with a colour wash of some sort following. It’s a fragile pen, so if you tend to lean on your pens, this one is not for you. How can you tell if you put a lot of pressure on your pens? Write a page with a gel ink pen and check the back of the page. Does it feel like braille lettering? Does your wrist hurt? Then you’re putting to much pressure to use this pen without ruining the tip, and you may have issues with the 0.1 tip as well. I used to write like that and it took some practice for me to be able to use these ultra fine tipped pens.

Line samples on a Moleskine pocket sketchpad.

So, why do I love the Staedtler pigment liner so much?

  • It puts down a consistent, black line. This seems obvious, but I’ve tried more than one pigment liner that puts down a dark grey or washed out black line and it’s always disappointing.
  • It’s a rock solid pen that won’t dry out, and has a robust tip. I’ve had terrible luck with Faber Castel and other makers where a capped (mind you, capped) pigment liner stopped writing reliably after a month or two. This has never happened with my Staedler’s, and I’ve had some for years.
  • The pen body. This is what makes the Staedler’s the best of the best in my personal opinion.
The Staedtler pigment liner’s pen body.

So, what makes the Staedler pen body so great? It’s a whole lot of small things that just add up. It’s light weight but doesn’t feel flimsy, and it has a matte finish with a subtle lined texture all around, so its easy to grip. It’s also a bit wider than many of its competitors, and unlike many of them, it has the pen width clearly marked on both the pen body and the pen cap. It also doesn’t have any sharp edges, which you’d think would be an obvious in pen design, but sadly isn’t. Finally, it caps and posts and uncaps with a solid click, and without having to apply a lot of pressure. You know the pen is capped and the pen is uncapped when you need it. And if you so care to uncap it with one hand, you can.

Here’s the 0.1 Staedtler in action. There’s a photo of the sketch I made after applying an ink wash (Sennelier Burn Sienna India Ink diluted in water and applied with a brush pen), and one of the same sketch after I applied blue watercolour.

Staedtler 0.1 pigment liner, and ink wash.
Staedtler pigment liner 0.1, ink wash and watercolour.

During a private tour of Nazareth last year (a present from my wonderful family in between chemo treatments), I met the guide’s young boy. His father told me that he wanted to be a clothing designer when he grew up, so I broke out my sketching kit and gave him every Staedler pigment liner that I had on me. His eyes lit up once his father explained what these pens were. If you have a budding artist, designer, sketcher, doodler in your life and you’re wondering which gift to give them, two or three Staedler pigment liners will always be welcome.

Drop + Marvel Black Panther Keycap Set Review

Drop is continuing its cooperation with Marvel and is issuing Infinity Saga themed keycap sets. The first set issued was of course, the Captain America one. Alas, it featured dark red modifiers with light red text on them, which is unfortunate. Next came the Iron Man set, which was better than the Captain America one but still too red for my liking. Third in line was the Black Panther set and it is gorgeous.

The set comes with a nice poster-like sleeve around the box that contains the keycap trays. It’s a nice added bonus, and something that you can easily cut out and display as a mini poster.

Outside wrapper with cool T’Challa themed art.

The box the keycap set comes in has the same design as the custom keycap that Drop sold before they started selling sets. It’s elegant and functional and I love the logo design on this.

Drop + Marvel debossed on the box.

The set itself comes in three trays, ready to easily assemble, and carefully packed so that the keys don’t move around or get scratched in transit:

Keycap tray with the clear cover and protective bubblewrap still on.

The first tray contains the purple alphas:

Purple alphas plus two spacebars in different sizes.

This is a full set that will fit practically any keyboard layout so there are a lot of “extra” keycaps here.

The second tray contains black modifiers as well as purple numpad keycaps and some extras.

Black modifiers and purple numpad keycaps.

The third and final tray contains the novelties (which are excellent) and more black modifiers. The novelties are T’Challa’s mask, necklace, a silhouette of the ancestor tree scene from the movie, and two Marvel logo keycaps.

Novelties and more modifiers.

The keycaps are doubleshot ABS and thick. You can see one of them compared to a keycap from the SA Dasher set.

Black Panther keycap on the left, Dasher keycap on the right.

Here are the keycaps on my Code TKL keyboard, without backlighting. Yes, I know that the spacebar is flipped. That’s how I use it.

Keycaps assembled 🙂

And here they are with backlighting:

I really like how elegant this keycap set looks like.

You can see the texture of the keycaps in the photo below. They are really fun to type with. I usually use SA keycaps, so it took me a minute or two to get used to smaller keycaps again. However, the MT3 profile is really comfortable to use, with the same feeling you get with SA keycaps of the keyboard coming to meet you. As with SA sets, the homing keys are just the same keycaps with a deeper scoop to them.

The keycap texture and a closeup of the sculpt on the keys.

Here are the novelties in action. The ancestor tree:

And the mask, logo and talon necklace keycaps:

I haven’t bought a new keycap set in years, but this one really called out to me and I’m glad that I purchased it. It’s elegant, understated but not pedestrian, and its a joy to use. I can only hope that future sets in this collaboration come out as well as this one.