Saturday, August 30, 2014

The people and places in my head this August

Drawn while at a shopping centre with Ollie and Von. Somehow, what I saw and experienced in real life seeped into these pictures. Osmiroid75 with sketch nib + brush pen + photoshop(gradient map)

Sumi brush and ink + wash + photoshop(gradient map)

A bird in my brother's house.
Osmiroid75 with sketch nib + watercolour  / Naka-ai SEF elastic + photoshop

Ballpoint / Dewent blendable colour pencils

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Learned this from my Urbansketcher friends- Put guaze in a small botttle. Then soak it with Sumi ink. It keeps the ink from spilling out and accidentally dripping around. I can take it out anywhere I go. And using a sumi brush I can paint on the go by dipping in the bottle. No mess. It also works with bamboo pens.

Ackerman Pump Pen Gen 8 review

A pump pen ( is a pen that allows you to use those wonderful dip nibs without dipping in ink. An invention like this seems to promise increased convenience because you won't need to spend time dipping in a bottle of ink. And if you want to bring it out of the house (to a cafe, for example) you don't have to carry an extra bottle of ink with you. A bottle of ink is heavy, could spill, and it could get messy. Additionally, this pen allows you to use any kind of ink, even acrylic ink or indian ink in it because it isn't made like a fountain pen. It's just a barrel with a rubber button that pumps ink down to the nib.

This is the 8th version of this pen. The inventor, Charles Ackerman, is quite the tinkerer. He is excited about improving his pens and is always finding out how to make them better. As a person, he is friendly and nice to chat with. That is the impression I get from email exchanges with him. His pens are always in a state of flux as he makes them himself. One batch of pens might have different parts from another batch if you buy them a few months later, even though it is the same model. His pen business is home-run and he attends to it when he isn't working. He has gotten many bad reviews online due to missing pens in the mail and very delayed delivery of his pens. Sometimes, his pens are reported to arrive with missing parts. It is common to have no reply from him when emailed. But even with all these bad points, he does have his followers. There are people who still enjoy his pens.

The new Gen 8 Ackerman Pump Pen (or Pump pen senior) comes in a very decent package. A nice improvement over his previous packaging. The price is US$19.95.

The pen body seems to be aluminium. It doesn't feel very premium. Mine has a small dent in it. The words on the body spells Ackerman Pump Pen. It has a different font from the packaging. I personally prefer if the pen didn't scream the brand name.

The main feature of this new model is the reservoir that you can pull out from the back. That way you can easily know how much ink is left. And it's a lot easier to fill. However, the reservoir was practically impossible to pull out with my bare hands. It is friction fitted very tightly. I had to use pliers and some cloth (so I would not damage the plastic.)

The cap is also friction fitted. It was pretty tight too. But not as tight as the reservoir.

My pen came with a Gillott 303 dip pen nib, feed and section to match the nib,

I was rather disappointed that the plastic on the Gen 8 model looked poorer in quality than the Gen 7 model. It looked like cheaper plastic or just bad machine work. I expected a newer model to be an improvement. But this was a step back.

I filled the pen using an eyedropper.

I stuffed the reservoir into the pen from the back.

I made sure there was no gap between the tines. With or without the pump pen, if the tines are not together, the nib will not write. (Neither will a rusty nib)

With fresh ink in the pen, I pumped and pumped some more. I counted 50 full pumps + 8 shakes. Then ink started flowing to the nib. This is how to get the ink flowing when you first start. It takes awhile. Perhaps the shaking helped more than the pumping to initially get ink flowing to the nib.

It did work pretty smoothly. Once the ink was dispensed from the reservoir to the nib, the nib performed as a dip nib would. Flex was great. I could draw for quite a bit before I had to pump again. When the ink started to skip a bit, I did half pumps. When I observed a drop of ink starting to form around the nib, I'd stop pumping and continue drawing. Not a bad experience. Sometimes, the skipping could be due to the nib rather than the pen. Some dip nibs are just more fussy than others. Eg. A Gillott 303 nib will be a little more fussy than a G-nib.

A couple hours later, I put it back in the plastic package (in case it leaked), kept it upright in my bag, and brought it out with me to a restaurant where I met my friends for dinner. While waiting for my meal, I took it out again. Ok a bit of ink mess. I also got ink on my hands. Perhaps it was caused by me leaving ink in the front section of the pen after my last use. Good thing there were napkins.

I started drawing the people in the restaurant.

Ok. The ink flowed. But it skipped more than the first try. Perhaps there was ink dried up on the nib or something. I wiped nib tips with a napkin and kept at it.

The skipping was a little distracting while I drew. But overall, I did manage to finish drawing a whole page. I did create a bit of ink mess. A bit of ink also seemed to have leaked out from the back of the pen.

I put the pen upright in my bag again. Brought it home. Pulled off the cap to write in my drawing.
The pressure from the tight cap caused ink to fly out onto my drawing.

This caused another mess at home. I used tissue to wipe the excess ink around the nib.

I decided to clean the pen out for the day. The reservoir was impossible to pull out. So I used a pliers and cloth. I hope I did not dent the pen using a pliers. There was ink outside of the reservoir as well so there was more mess.

Final thoughts:

Convenience: 2/10
Although I don't have to carry a bottle of ink around with me, I can't say that using this pen is any more convenient. I still have to deal with ink drops, excess ink, and leaks. I have to worry that the pen stays upright in my bag. And there is a very high chance I have ink stained fingers. It can be a waste of expensive ink. If I were to use a dip pen and a bottle of ink, I think I would have a much less troublesome drawing experience. And perhaps less distraction with the skipping.

Manufacturing Quality: 2/10
Although I admire independent inventors who make home-made things, I feel that they should also ensure that their products have a high quality. This pen has many flaws to it that could have been rectified before being put on sale. The reservoir should not need pliers to refill. Nor should it leak at all. The cap should not be so tight. The finishing of the plastic should have looked a lot more polished compared to the older model. If you like tinkering with pens, you might still enjoy this pen. But if you care about aesthetics and are used to the quality of fountain pens by established brands like Platinum or Parker, you might want to give this a miss.

Portability: 1/10
It is not recommended that you take this pen out of the house. It will almost always cause an ink mess.

Ink flow: 7/10
It worked well the first time. But it skipped more on subsequent use. Perhaps if you leave the nib in the pen for too long, ink dries on the nib and it doesn't flow so well? So perhaps it would help if I removed the nib from the pen whenever it is not in use. This will prevent the ink from drying on the nib or rusting the nib. Or perhaps it skips on subsequent use more because I needed to shake more ink to the front of the pen first. It's hard to tell. Like I said, it's a pen for tinkerers (with a lot of patience).

Performance: 6/10
It does the job of letting you draw and write longer without interruption. You could perhaps write for half a page, whereas a dip pen with a bottle of ink with one dip will let you write only 4-5 words. This is a major advantage of using the Ackerman pen over a dip pen. But you have to weigh the trouble of having some mess with this convenience. The balance of the pen is fine. It doesn't feel like an expensive pen. It seems like a tool that is made to just get the job done.

Shipping and delivery 3/10
This took 2 months to arrive after a few email reminders. But it did arrive. Charles Ackerman took some time to reply some emails. But generally, he did reply.

Would I use this pen tomorrow?
I enjoyed the flexibility of the Gillott 303 nib. But I didn't enjoy the extra stress and extra mess of using this pen. I would personally prefer to use the Gillott 303 as a dip pen (+ attached dip pen reservoir) with a bottle of ink beside me, even if I went to a cafe to draw. So no, I won't be using this pen tomorrow. Maybe another time, when I feel adventurous.

I think the best way to use this pen would be to use it on your desk. Fill it, draw with it, and wash it out immediately. That's the best way to use it without creating a mess and keep the nib from rusting. But then, if you are at your desk, why not just dip in a bottle of ink for a more hassle-free experience?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kinokuniya sketchwalk

Last time sketching at Books Kinokuniya (Ngee Ann City) before it moves to a smaller place this November.

0.3 Mechanical pencil, water soluble colour pencils, 1.3 Aristo mechanical pencil + a bit of photoshop enhancements.

Gloves, highways and more pooping

Jet stream Ballpoint + photoshop

journal entry from July