Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Review: Tombow Advanced Lettering Set #Tombow #Lettering #ExaclairInc

Recently, I was sent a Tombow Advanced Lettering Set to try out.  I found it to be tres cool, and spent my beach vacation playing with it. I thought I'd let you know what is included in the set, and what I found out about how they work.


The set includes:
    • flexible brush tip for big, bold letters  
    • fine tip for detail
    • Ideal for coloring, fine art, illustrations, doodling, journaling, hand lettering and more
    • Water-based
    • Blendable
    • Odorless
    • Tips self-clean after blending
The Tombow Dual Tip Brush pens have a large flexible nylon tip on one end, and a hard nylon-tip on the other.  This gives you a great deal of range in your strokes whether lettering or drawing.  The broad tip is also excellent for coloring in large areas.  The addition of the two Fudenosuke and the twin-tipped Mono marker gives you much the same range on a smaller scale.

Although the word 'pens' is used in the name, these are listed under markers on the TombowUSA site.  The large flexible end acts more like a marker, while the hard fine tip is more like a pen, so you can call them either one and not be totally off-base.

I've used Tombow Dual Tip Pens for many years and have always loved the clarity of the colors.  While there are only four colors in this set, there are 96 colors available altogether. There is a warning on the site that recommends you use higher quality paper to keep your tips in good shape, but I've always found them to be quite sturdy, more so than some other brands I've tried.

They don't smudge easily, and drying times vary according to the paper.  The drying times are fast though.  If you give them even a few seconds to dry, they won't smudge.  However... the colors are easily reactivated.  That is, if you go over them with another color pen or the blender, or even water, they will become wet again, and you can smudge the color at this time.  You can use this to good effect to get blended or lighter color, but you do need to be aware of it so you don't do it by accident.

The blending pen allows you to:
  •  achieve lighter tints of one color 
  • seamlessly blend two or more colors
  • create new colors by mixing inks
  • shade by picking up color on the paper
  • create a glassy or marble look by using the blender without color
There are some downsides to using the blending pen.  The downsides will vary according to the paper and you can control them to an extent with technique.  All in all, I think the downsides are worth the effects you can get.
  • it can make the paper pill
  • it can make color bleed-through to the back
  • it takes color from the lines, so that you may need to redraw some of them
  • if you apply new color too soon after using the blending pen, the new color will feather
    • You can use the Dual Tip colors over these immediately
    • smudge-resistant (drying times differ according to paper)
    • odorless
    • waterproof 
The Fudenosuke Brush pens have plastic tips.  I don't find too much difference between them, though the soft tip is more flexible and allows you to vary widths in a single line more easily.

The ink from these pens dries so fast.  I haven't used them on as many papers as I have the Dual tips, but I think it would be hard to smudge them on any paper.  They do reactivate slightly when you use the blender pen.

Although the ink is dark, it does not bleed through the paper.  It is waterproof, and resistant to the blending pen, though it

The ink is very black.  In the waterproof test I show further down, I added words from a Pigma Micron PN, which also has a plastic tip, so you can see the difference in ink colors. The Fudenosuke ink is MUCH darker.

I very much enjoy using these pens for tangling and sketching.  You can get a wonderful wood-cut look with them, and truthfully I use them more than I use the Dual-tips.  In tandem with the blending pen, you can get some smooth shading effects.
    • bullet tip and fine point
    • Long lasting permanent black marker
    • Draw over ink with other markers instantly
    • MONO smudge-proof pencil for sketching lines
The Mono twin tip permanent black marker has a hard plastic tip on one end and a hard nylon tip on the other end.  Neither are flexible, so line widths are even, making them great for out-lining.  They ink doesn't smear, and you can use the Dual-tips over it immediately.  However, it is very wet ink and bleeds through to the back, much like an alcohol marker.  It does have some smell,a so if you are sensitive that way, I'd try to find one that I could smell before buying one.

I suspect that I won't use this marker pen very often because it does bleed through.  I may use it when I'm using other alcohol markers.
  • MONO Drawing Pencil 4H
    • High density graphite
    • Break resistant
    • Smear-proof
    • Long lasting
Sorry.  For some reason, I cannot make blogger take my scan of the Mono Drawing pencil.  Since it is a 4H (the U.S. designation that indicates the hardness of the graphite), it is fairly hard, but the lines are not scratchy.  They erase easily, but on some papers you may get a permanent indentation (this is true of all 4H pencils). If bought separately, these pencils are also available in 2B, 2H, 3B, 3H, 4B, 5B, 5H, 6B, 6H, B, F, H and HB.
  • Mono Plastic Eraser removes guidelines without damaging paper or ink drawings

The plastic eraser does a decent job of removing the 4H pencil lines without pilling, pilling, tearing, wrinkling or smuding the paper.  It pills itself, tiny, tiny bits of the eraser falling off as you go.  For this reason, the eraser doesn't accumulate grime, but you'll need to do a little clean-up after using it.  The amount will probably vary according to the paper, but I haven't tried it on many yet.  It seems to work as a good plastic eraser should, with the pilling being bits, not chunks.

I took the Tombow Advanced Lettering Set with me for a week at the beach.  I brought my Rhodiarama Dot Grid journal to use.  It's a great paper for these pens/markers and the dot grid is great for lettering (though I ended up drawing far more than writing, lol).  I ended with pages of examples.  Too many to show in this one post, so I'll be posting the drawings for a while to come!

I need to practice my lettering more! Now I'll have the chance.


I did a waterproof test by painting a swatch over each of the inks after giving them a day to dry (luckily, I had a page that I screwed up that I could use for this).

The dual tip ink reactivates and blends with the watercolor paint.  I'll be playing around with this effect, you bet!

All the other pens are waterproof, though the color of the ink dims.  Unless you want that to happen (good effect to imply depth), you'll want to watercolor first, then use the Fudenosuke or Mono Twin.

I needed to test to see if the Micron PN was waterproof (it is), and thought it would be of interest for you to see the difference in the black inks.


I used all the pens in this drawing.  I discovered that if you use the blending pen with no other color, it changes the Clairefontaine paper, giving it a sort glassy, marbled look.  Scribbling color or cleaning off your blending pen in these areas increases that marbled look.

This was my initial test page so I kept pushing, blending and re-adding color and blending until finally the paper started to pill.  It took quite a bit  for that to happen, so I don't think it will be an issue for most.  If it does happen, you are probably over-working your drawing.

The colors from the Dual tips blend nicely, and you can stretch the color out to create cloud-like halos that are quite appealing.

The ink for the dual pens does dry fairly quickly, and you can get streaks.  As usual, you can use this for shading and detail by watching the directions of your pen strokes, using the side of the pens to reduce the overlap of strokes, or working in circular motions.


I used all the pens again, this time trying to hone techniques that I learned from the first drawing.  I focused on my shading.  I also added a few highlights with white acrylic pen, though I prefer the highlights I achieved by just leaving the white (ivory) of the paper.


In this drawing I focused on the cloud-like auras you can get using the blending pen and came up with the idea for a couple of new tangles, that I'll post on Thursday.


Overall, I really like this Advanced Lettering Set.  If I could make changes, I think I would like a yellow Dual Tip.  It would increase the possibilities for creating new color tremendously.  I wouldn't mind if it replaced either the Cherry or Magenta, since they are both in the reddish range, or maybe the black Dual Tip, since you do have the Fudenosuke and mono pens for black.

There is a plethora of ideas, tips, tutorials and techiques on the TombowUSA website, icluding some 

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