What I Used for Inktober 2016: Prismacolor Premier 0.005 Fine Line Pen vs Dollar Store Gel Pen

River sketch - Inked with the Prismacolor Premier 0.005 fine line pen

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Welcome back to my Inktober supplies review series!  Last week, we started with the blue sketch pencils by Caran d’Ache and finished up with a sneak peek (?) of the inking for today’s post.  Here’s the picture inked with today’s tool, the Prismacolor Premier 0.005 XtraFine Line pen:

River sketch - Inked with the Prismacolor Premier 0.005 fine line pen
Inking traditionally is always a little nerve-wracking for me, so I’m pleased it turned out this well!

Here’s a close-up of the pen:

Prismacolor Premier Fine LineBut. . . I made a mistake.  The whole point of this series was to review the items I used last Inktober, right?  Well, last October I didn’t have a Prismacolor 0.005 pen.  I mostly used a dollar store gel pen instead.  This pen, in fact:

Dollar Store Gel Pen. Photo by River.Oops.

Well, as the picture is already inked, I thought hey!  We can do something fun, and compare / contrast the Prismacolor pen with the dollar store pen!  \(^u^)/

The Short Version: During Inktober, I was quite content with the dollar-store pen.  Turns out, cheap art supplies work well, too!  But overall, I would go with the Prismacolor Premier pen as it is colorfast and smear-resistant.

I put both pens through their paces with fine lines, wavy lines, cross-hatching, stippling, and smear tests:

Prismacolor Premier 0.005 pen vs Dollar Store gel pen test page
The light was changing. Sorry for the shadow lines! Hopefully it’s still legible. 🙂

From the first, we can see that both pens are designed for fine lines.  They would work best for outlining, detail work, and anyplace you want a consistent line.  Neither would work well for varying line weight or shading with flat, smooth colors; that’s out of  their job description.  It would be interesting to shade a black-and-white drawing using crosshatching or stippling, though!

Like in this picture! Shaded only with the gel pen.

Differences: The Prismacolor Premier 0.005 pen has a thinner and more consistent line.  The dollar store gel pen is closer to 0.007 or 0.009 in width, I think. Also, the gel pen has a tendency to “skip” and blot at times, leading to less consistent lines and a lot of frustration.  (How did I make it through Inktober with a skippy gel pen, you asked?  With patience and going over lines as many times as necessary. . . . orz)

The last test I made was the smear test.  As I like to color my traditional artworks, it’s important to have ink that won’t smear when colored or painted.  After letting the inked lines dry for a few minutes, I tested both with a water-based Tombow marker and an alcohol-based Promarker.  Let’s have a close-up on the smear test:

The Prismacolor Premier pen is clearly the superior with this test.  Since it was designed to be used with the Prismacolor markers, the ink is colorfast and doesn’t smear at all with either the water-based or the alcohol-based pigment.

The dollar store gel pen, on the other hand, does smear slightly when colored over.  It isn’t as obvious in the photo as it is in person; hopefully the close-up gives you a good look at the smearing.  The thicker the line, the more likely it will run and muddy up the colors.  That may not bother you, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.

Have you seen some of the Cheap Art Supplies Challenge videos on Youtube?  They prove that cheap art supplies don’t equal lousy art, and likewise, expensive art supplies don’t make stellar art.  I’m often amazed by these videos, and they helped me resolve to not be taken in by cool marketing and buy the most expensive supplies just because.  However, the smear test drove home an important point to me: While expensive art supplies do not make the artist, having the right supplies makes the job easier.  And at ~$6 USD for the Prismacolor Premier pen, I consider it a worthy investment. . . at least compared to the dollar store gel pen. 😛  I’d still like to try some other fine line pens, but for now I’m satisfied with this one.  UPDATE 2/2018: It looks like the price has increased to about $6 per pen as of February 2018.

That about wraps up my thoughts on these two pens!  If you have any more questions, let me know!  Next Tuesday we move onto coloring and shading.  See you then ~ !


5 thoughts on “What I Used for Inktober 2016: Prismacolor Premier 0.005 Fine Line Pen vs Dollar Store Gel Pen

  1. That comparison is fascinating – and your drawings are amazing!! Looks like a worthy investment…and you make a great point about beautiful art being able to come from cheap materials. ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Claire! 😊

      The more art I see, the more apparent it becomes that a tool’s price tag doesn’t always reflect on its quality, or the beauty of the end result. It applies across fields, too – some of the cutest amigurumi or coolest afghans are made with economical yarns like Red Heart Super Saver. What matters most is the heart that the artist / crafter puts into it, no? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s so true – nicely said! It’s a good comparison with the budget yarns…just because it’s less expensive doesn’t mean a talented artist can’t make something beautiful out of it. ^__^

        Liked by 1 person

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