by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.
For several months now, I have been on a search for color pens to add a splash of color to my sketchnotes. What I thought would be a simple task, proved to be more difficult than expected. There are hundreds of brands/varieties of colorful markers and pens; however, I had specific requirements:
and most importantly
My first purchase was a 24 set of Sharpie Permanent Markers, Ultra Fine Points. I chose them for the variety of colors available and on first use, really liked them. That is until I turned the page and discovered the bleed. And the bleed was severe, I’m talking artery cut severe, even on a page in my Moleskine Art Plus Sketchbook that has a 165 gsm/111 lb paper weight. I was a bit bummed that I had ruined a page in my sketchbook (see image below) and quickly decided to continue my search.
Sharpie Permanent Marker bleed.
The next pens I chose were the Sanford Sharpie Fine Point Pen Stylo, Assorted Colors, 12-Pack. After a few trials, I found that they wrote well, and more importantly, had little to no bleed, even on thin paper. I used the Sharpies for several weeks and while I found they were good pens, I was very disappointed with the variety of colors (limited to 12) and the lack of a carrying case. I could purchase a case; however I would rather invest that money in a set of pens that include more colors and a case.
A red Sanford Sharpie Fine Point Pen Stylo
I decided it was time to go to the experts. I’m a new listener to the PenAddict podcast. During a recent episode, the hosts, Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley mentioned their Slack channel. I sent a tweet to join over to Brad Dowdy. Within a few hours, I was a Slack PenAddict team member. I posted my need to the online community and received several recommendations.
The pen set that caught my attention was the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pack of 20. Admittedly, the first thing that caught my eye was the included flat case (you can see a complete set of unboxing images at the end of this post); however, upon reading several reviews, it was obvious I should make the $25 purchase and give them a try.
The first thing I tried upon opening the box was to compare the bleed between Staedtler Triplus Fineliner to the Sanford Sharpie Fine Point Pen Stylo. I grabbed a Post-it Note and made a quick drawing of a drop of blood and filled it in using the new Staedtler pens. Next I used the Sharpies and made two more drops. You can see a comparison in the images below.
The front of the Post-it Note with my first marks using the Staedtler pens.
The back of the Post-it Note. As you can see, the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens do bleed a bit. Let’s compare this with the previous pen I was using, the Sanford Sharpie Fine Point Pen Stylo.
Adding a couple more blood drops using the Sharpie pens.
The bleed result.
There is less bleed with the Sanford Sharpie Fine Point Pen Stylo than the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens; however, the bleed is small enough that I am confident there will be no bleed in my Moleskine Art Plus Sketchbook. The images below confirm this.
On this is first page of the Moleskine Art Plus Sketchbook, I used the Staedtler Triplus pens. Let’s flip the page and see if there was any bleed.
Not a drop of bleed, even within the areas where I lathered on the ink quite heavily.
As readers know, I like to summarize my reviews with bullets. Here’s the good and the bad for the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens.
For anyone who wants to add a splash of color to their notes, I highly recommend these pens. The range of colors is the best of any set I have found and the exceptional case is simply an added bonus. Even though there is a bit of bleed on thin paper, I am willing to overlook this flaw due to the other excellent features. The Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens are now my go to pens and have won a permanent spot in my should bag next to my favorite all-purpose utility pen, the Pilot Precise V5 RT.
For those interested, I did a quick series of unboxing images.
Opening the Amazon box.
The pens in their original packaging.
Original packaging removed.
I removed the label on the front and the back of the packaging. It’s easy to do and does not leave any residue.
Opening the set for the fist time.
Bending back the attached top to configure the built-in stand.
Pens ready for use using the built-in stand. When I use these during meetings, I receive lots of questions. Be prepared!
The pen holders are slotted so each pen returns to the case properly seated. They slide in and out of the case quietly.
Close up of the tip of the .3mm pen.
Have any questions or comments? Drop them in the comments below. I am also interested in your alternatives and/or experiences with these pens.