I got these 3 fountain pens recently and this is my review on how they function as pens for drawing. You will notice that all these pens have long tapered ends. This seems to be a common design among desk pens. Desk pens are pens that can be kept nib down into a holder on a desk. But these ones come with caps so you can carry them around in your bag. The tapered ends resemble the ends of paint brushes and I believe it helps the balance when writing or drawing.
The Rotring Art Pen isn’t marketed as a desk pen. But the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen and the Platinum KDP-3000A are called desk pens. You can buy the desk stand separately if you wish.
I will review each pen separately, then do a comparison.
ROTRING ART PEN
On the back of the box there is a Swiss address so I’m guessing it is made in Switzerland. The pen comes in a really nice metal box. In it, there are 5 ink cartridges and the pen. The pen has a metal clip and the rest is plastic. It has a nice matt texture and feel to it. The cap is a pull off cap and clicks into place when you put it back on.
You can buy a Rotring convertor which is not included with this pen.
As an artist, I like knowing that my pen can be disassembled for cleaning because I like using waterproof inks like Noodler’s Black and Platinum Carbon black in them. This pen is easy to take apart. By grabbing hold of the nib and feed with my fingers, I can easily pull the nib and feed out.
The pen comes with an extra fine (EF) nib. But this being a western pen, the nib is more like a Japanese F nib. The tip is slightly balled but not too much. I’ve noticed that when a fountain pen nib has a big round “ball” shape at the tip, the pen will be very smooth, but you won't have crisp line feeling when you drawing. You can’t really feel the texture of the paper as you draw. It will be like drawing with a polished glass ball. This pen has only a very slight ball so the line feels and looks pretty crisp yet it is also smooth. It feels like a well-made sturdy nib.
When pressure is applied to the nib, the line can go about 3 times wider but it requires a lot of pressure. It isn’t made to be a flex nib. It’s just slightly soft.
Look closely at the feed and you will notice 3 slits instead of 1 or 2 like in most pens. This is good as it keeps the ink flowing nice and wet. This is not a dry pen.
Drawing with it:
As I said, the nib is more like a Japanese F. The line is thin but not that thin. On an A5 piece of paper, you can put a decent amount of detail before the page looks crowded. But you can’t draw too small with this pen. Better for bigger drawings. The pen is well-balanced. The ink that comes with it is NOT waterproof. But not a big problem. I will fill it with Platinum Carbon Black if I want waterproof lines. And since it can be fully dissembled for cleaning, I wouldn’t worry about clogs.
CARBON DESK PEN
Comes in a simple plastic packaging. The pen comes with an EF nib as well. The cap has a hexagonal part to it that keeps the pen from rolling off the table. It is a pull off cap and when you put it on, it stays in place because of friction. The body of the pen is polished plastic.
The words “Carbon Pen” is printed on the side. Why "Carbon Pen”? The pen is designed to contain Platinum Carbon Black ink. It is a specially formulated pigmented ink for fountain pens where the pigments are small enough so it won’t clog a fountain pen. But since the ink is fast drying and waterproof, there is a chance that it will eventually clog the channel of the pen. So this pen has a wider channel (the slit in the feed) than other pens so there is less chance of ink getting stuck while in the pen.
The pen comes with a cartridge of Platinum Carbon Black.
You can buy a Platinum convertor for this pen. If you do, then you'd probably want to be a bottle of Platinum Carbon Black too. It’s one the blackest inks out there and being waterproof, it is very useful for drawing with wash. A bottle can lost for a long time so don’t be daunted by the price.
It’s easy to take apart for cleaning so even if the pen clogs, there is no worry. Here is a good step by step video by Sbrebrown on how to do it :
Being a Japanese EF, it is finer than the Rotring Art Pen. The nib does not have a ball shape at the end. It is just rounded off at the tip. You could describe this as a needlepoint nib. It is not scratchy. But depending on the paper, you use, you will be able to feel the bumps on the paper. Most artists prefer feeling the texture of the paper as they draw. This is different from having your nib catch onto your paper as you draw. That’s not the case here. It is smooth for a needlepoint nib.
When pressure is applied to the nib, the line can go about 2 times wider. But it requires a lot of pressure. It isn’t made to be a flex nib. It’s just very slightly soft.
The feed is blue. And as mentioned, the channel is slightly wider, so that the Platinum Carbon Black ink can flow well. But this would mean that the line width would be slightly thicker than if the channel wasn’t widened.
Drawing with it:
It’s pretty good. Balanced. It delivers a crisp thin line. Ink was dark and waterproof. It is finer than the Rotring pen. Yet it wasn’t fine to the point where I thought I had a pen that was really special. I didn’t go “wow”. That’s because a couple weeks earlier, I’d bought another pen- the one below.
I bought this from a store in Singapore. I threw away the packaging before I could shoot it. The pen looks quite like the Carbon Desk Pen but it has a gold coloured tip at the end. It also came with a small 14k gold nib. The body is made of polished plastic similar to the Carbon Desk Pen and it is longer.
The store also sold the steel nib version, called the DP-1000AN. If you are price conscious and practical, go with the DP-1000AN. My friend bought it and the line width and feel is exactly the same. The store owners says that the gold nib is very slightly more flexible but I could not tell the difference.
This is my friend's DP-1000AN nib
This is the KDP-3000A nib
(The nib looks silver here because of the lighting. It is yellowish.)
You can buy a Platinum convertor for this pen.
Although taking this pen apart was quite similar to the Carbon Desk Pen, I had to use a hairdryer and a lot of grip and strength to unscrew the front section of the pen. Once it was off, It could always be screwed out easily after that.. Do this carefully The feed looks different from the Carbon Desk Pen and there is an inner part (not seen here) of the feed that cannot be removed. But for the most part, it can be cleaned easily.
The nib is not the same size as the Carbon Desk Pen. Not interchangeable as it is slightly smaller. The tip of the nib is a needlepoint as well. No ball-like shape. Just a tiny rounded edge. This is also a Japanese EF but the line is much much finer than the Carbon Desk Pen. The line it produced made me go “wow!" It’s rare to find a fountain pen at the price range (with a gold nib) that can give a needlepoint line like this. It gives a crisp needlepoint line. You will feel the paper texture even more with this pen. But that is to be expected with truly needlepoint nibs. It’s certainly not a bad thing. I like the feel of it.
When pressure is applied to the nib, its super thin line shows line variation pretty readily. It’s not super flexible but you will see some line variation when you draw normally with a little pressure. The line width can go up to 4 times the width if you apply a lot of pressure. Still, it’s not a flex pen. It’s just soft.
This is also called a "desk pen" from Platinum but it isn’t specially designed for Platinum Carbon Black (PCB) ink. The ink channel isn’t widened. However that does not mean you can’t use it in the pen. You will just have to wash it more often if the ink dries in the pen. I’ve used PCB in the pen for a while now without problems. My only slight concern with its feed is that I can’t reach that inner part of the feed to wash it out if ink gets caked in there. It seems sealed. But I could possibly use a thin wire or something to prod and slowly clean it if need be.
Drawing with it:
I like drawing in my small A5 sketchbook. So drawing with a needlepoint line allows me do add a LOT more detail in a small space. An A5 sketchbook feels like an A4 sketchbook with this pen. Suddenly, I want to explore hatching and filling everything with these crisp thin lines, slowly building up a texture made of lines as I fill a page. And suddenly, all pens are not as fine any more!
One downside to this needlepoint nib is that it doesn’t write as well on rougher papers eg. bumpy watercolour paper. And if you are using PCB ink which is a thicker ink, the pen might seem to skip a little on bumpy papers. This pen is best used on smooth paper. Then, there should be no problems.
Another downside to this nib is that if I use Noodler’s bulletproof black in it, it doesn’t come out very black because the nib lays down the ink so thinly. It’s like the ink is thinned down so it appears grey rather than black. And it’s not because it was diluted with water left in the pen. When I use PCB, the line is much blacker.
Here are how the pens compare with each other. These lines were drawn with minimal pressure. When it comes to crisp extra fine line, the KDP-3000A comes in tops with flying colours. Second is the Carbon Desk Pen. 3rd is the Rotring Art Pen.
This is how the line widths compare with common gel pens out there. The KDP-3000A is finer than ever a 0.28 Uniball Signo DX. The Rotring Art pen is about a broad as a 0.38 Uniball Signo DX.
I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
Of all these pens, I thoroughly love the KDP-3000A. Get this pen or the cheaper DP-1000AN if you want to explore drawing with really needlepoint crisp lines.
The Carbon Desk Pen and Rotring Art Pen are also very good fountain pens and a worthy alternative to more expensive fountain pens. Good option if you have a tight budget or are new to fountain pens and want a quality product that will serve you well. I wasn't too excited over these two pens as I already have other pens that can produce a similar type of line. So if you already have fountain pens like a Century 3776 or a sailor 1911, you really don't need these pens. Really;)
PS: For those new to fountain pens, never ever use indian ink or acrylic ink in fountain pens. They will ruin your pens. Only use ink that says "fountain pen ink" on the bottles.
Rotring Art Pen: http://www.amazon.com/Rotring-ArtPen-Extra-Sketch-S0204980/dp/B000CSCHE2...
Platinum Carbon Black: http://www.amazon.com/Carbon-pigment-PLATINUM-Fountain-INKC-1500/dp/B002...