This is a fountain pen review for artists. If you have been drawing for awhile, you probably already know that you don't need a super expensive pen to do a great drawing. Any cheap pen that can make a mark on paper can do the job. Yet, if you are like me, after playing around with cheap tools and owning them all, you might be curious to see if those expensive pens really make a difference. Do they really help you draw better? Do the lines look more beautiful?
I'd heard that Sailor nibs are one of the smoothest in the world. I even went down to a fountain pen store to compare for myself. Sure, all of them deliver lines on paper, but i found that it WAS true. The sailor pen with the 21k gold nib with the numbers 1911 on it was the smoothest among the other brands that were there. The nib skates across the paper very very smoothly. The other pens I tried were decently smooth but I could still feel the friction and drag on the paper. This pen was definitely smoother. And the difference was pretty significant.
I also noticed that a few artists use the Sailor 1911. And they all rave about it. Here are exhibition pieces done by artist Choo Meng Foo with the Sailor 1911 fine nib (https://www.indesignlive.asia/articles/in-review/events/Choo-Meng-Foos-T...) So finally I ordered mine from nibs.com and because I draw with a very light pressure, they adjusted the pen so it writes on a very light pressure.
I won't go into how nice the pen looks since most artists are more interested in how it performs. But I will just touch on the length and balance. The Sailor 1911 Pro Gear is a short pen. But that is perfectly alright because once you put the cap behind, the length becomes like a regular pen and the balance is great. In fact, the cap completes the balance of the pen so you have to put the cap behind. If you prefer a slightly longer pen, you can get the torpedo-shaped Sailor 1911 standard black version or the 1911 Realo. The 21k nib is the same. Only the body is different. Pretty much, stick to the 21k nib that says 1911 on it. The other nib versions may not be as smooth as this one.
When I got the pen and tried it, the nib was as I expected. Exceptionally smooth! I would say it is the smoothest pen I have. So what's the advantage of a smooth nib? One, you can draw much faster because there is less friction and resistance. Two, with this nib, you can move your pen easily in any direction on the paper. Three, it makes drawing a delight. The balance and thickness of the pen also adds to the delight.
I think that's the advantage of a high-end pen vs a cheap pen. It makes drawing a lot more pleasurable. And since drawing involves my emotions, the pleasure of drawing with the pen keeps me in a state of enjoyment and that translates into better drawings. So I would say, in this regard, it does help me draw better. It also makes me want to find every excuse to draw more.
This was the pen loaded with Pelikan black ink. It is semi-waterproof. So if you don't use too much water it won't bleed much.
Does a smoother pen always mean a better pen? Not necessarily. It is a matter of preference. Some artists like scratchy pens where you can feel the paper. This is for those who like to have that skating feeling when drawing. If you order this pen and it appears scratchy, you should send it back to Sailor for a smooth one. Fountain pen stores do that and you should too, since you are paying for the smoothness.
Do the lines look more beautiful. You can see for yourself. This pen produces nice consistant lines. Because mine was adjusted for light pressure writing, the ink flow was increased by a bit. Therefore, the lines of this pen is slightly fatter than if you were to get an unadjusted pen directly from Amazon or a shop. I wish I hadn't adjusted it. I now think that a thinner line would be better for drawing. The default setting, if you are presented with the option, would be medium pressure, medium flow.
Everyone has a different preference for the thickness of the lines. For me, I might be happier with an extra fine nib because I like thinner lines which are more crisp. But it will not be as smooth because the thinner the nib goes, the more scratchy you can expect it to be. And of course, if you get a medium, it will be very very smooth.
Take note that the type of ink will determine the width of the line. More flow-y inks (wet inks) will give you a thicker line and less flow-y inks (dry inks) will give you a thinner line. So there is still some room to adjust the line width you want.
Here is a line comparison with other non-fountain pens.
There is one thing you can do with this pen (just like most other fountain pens). You can write on both sides of the nib. The regular side gives you the fine line and the reverse side give you a line that is much thinner. So if you combine the lines from both sides of the nib, you will get a combination of thick and thins in your drawing. And the reverse side is pretty smooth as well. Not as smooth as the regular side but still pretty smooth.
As an artist, you might want to add wash over your drawings. In that case, you could try Platinum Carbon Black. It is waterproof and very black. But you will have to wash your pen perhaps every 2 weeks to just to be super safe. For people new to fountain pens, NEVER put indian ink into your pens. Only use inks that say fountain pen ink on the bottle.
This pen is definitely one of my better pens. I do recommend it if you want a good non-flex fine nib fountain pen for drawing. It is the smoothest pen for drawing and writing that I own. The flow is consistant and never skips (stops flowing) even after I have stored it for awhile. And the balance for drawing is very good. That is what you would be paying for – perfect flow, smoothness and balance. But I would consider the extra-fine version if I had the choice again. Best to test the pens out at a store before you order one online. Or just buy the pen at the store. Higher prices at the store but with a bit more customer service.
As mentioned above, the Sailor 1911 comes in a few versions. The difference is in the body of the pen. Special material bodies will cost a lot more. But the nib is the same. Make sure the nib is the 21k gold nib and not the 14k gold nib. They might feel different. The nib comes with 2 different platings- Gold and Rhodium (the silver colour) This is purely for aesthetic reasons and do not affect the performance of the nib.
Here are a few pens on sale on Amazon. The versions might change do to availability.
Below are direct links to the pen on Amazon:
- Sailor Professional Gear Fountain Pen Colors (Ivory Fine)
- Sailor 1911 Large Black ST 21K Gold Rhodium Plating Fine Point Fountain Pen
- Sailor 1911 Large Black GT 21K Gold Fine Point Fountain Pen
Here is a wider range of the Sailor 1911 series