May 7, 2013

Review: Le Pen + Le Plume Pen Sets

The good people at Marvy Uchida asked me to review their line of Le Pens + Le Plume, which was a pleasure since I've used many of their products for years.

* PS : Here are 2 more lines I love by Marvy Uchida:  DecoColor Paint Markers  /  Fabric Brush Markers

◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇ LE PLUME Brush Pens ◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇

◉ Alcohol-based ink, soft brush tip, permanent, 141 colors available
$3 ea. / sets of 6 for $18 ea.  BUY IT HERE

PROS: Very beautiful array of colors, dries fast, 
CONS: May bleed easily, tip may be too soft for some

NOTES:  Not good for the super detailed-oriented, but can get beautiful skin tones and blends well. Lovely variety of shades, good lifespan, great on heavy papers. Grade: A-

◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇ LE PENS Permanent Markers ◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇

 writes on most surfaces, permanent + opaque, 3 tip sizes
◉ about $1.50 ea.   BUY IT HERE

NOTES: The Fine tip isn't as smooth as the Drawing pen w/ the same size tip, but it's great for times you don't want to use your nice stuff. Fine Tip: B- / Medium Tip: A+ / Broad Tip: A+

◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇ LE PENS Drawing  ◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇

◉ Permanent technical drawing pens, available in 7 tip sizes
 about $2 ea.   BUY IT HERE

NOTES: The smaller tips are close enough to be indistinguishable (0.05 vs. 0.03) but they dry fast, have a solid life span and can take a good amount of abuse.  Technical Pens: A  / Brush Pen: C-

Be careful applying the blender, put too much and it will actually take color away, depending on the look you want.

Try blending colors on their own by applying them together, while the first layer is still fresh.

^ Here is a close up of some layered doodles.  Some of the colors sit very nicely on top of each other, and they naturally blend a bit even without the clear blender.

^ You can see here (above) the second layer of light red (on the nose and cheek bones) didn't add to the color but rather pushed it away, forming those strange rims.

I'd recommend (with all alcohol-based products) to test out your layered colors on scrap paper first!

^ Only the Le Plume brush pens used until this point (above), then finished with technical pens (below)

The Le Plume pens went over pencil nicely, remember that the softer lead you use, the more graphite will get smudged around by the alcohol in the pen.

The skin tones layered really well, although you can see above in one example it didn't work out as expected.

The colors are vibrant, and although my husband said my studio smelled like a bar, I couldn't really tell ...?  Maybe you guys will smell them but I really wasn't bothered by it.

If you are to control your color application these will take some getting used to, you can see in the example above in the right corner I tried blending my strokes together.  Two stacks of short strokes were a bit tricky to blend smoothly.


Bottom line:  If you are a control freak, these pens will bother you.  They will blend a little bit, the tip needs to be used gingerly and they take a little bit of finesse.

Who are these for?  These pens would be excellent for the kind of person that loves to add a bit of color to their sketchbooks, putting down nice grays over some comic artwork, and for those of us who dig brush pens.

I really enjoyed these guys a lot, they have beautiful colors and a good lifespan.

My recommendation: start with buying maybe 2 colors that you really need such as a light gray and another shade you use often.  Try combining them with different pens you own, test them out on different paper weights, and see if you like them!

On to the Drawing Pens!

The Le Pen Drawing Set is a really handsome one, isn't it?

These were really great, excellent line quality, I loved the long, silver tip holder that balanced well against a ruler.

They dried fast and held up well to erasing pencil underneath.

My only issue is actually with the brush pen, not the fine point pens at all.

The brush pen really wasn't for me.

It is a felt brush tip instead of fine hairs, so you can see in the example below it just doesn't hold up to the line quality of the Pentel Sign Pen.

If you aren't using this particular brush pen for fine work, it's not bad to have around.  But I used it to do sketches at Free Comic Book Day this weekend, and it was worn down noticeably after just one full day of vigorous use.


Bottom line:  If you are a control freak, you will love these. 

Who are these for?  These pens would be excellent for the kind of person that does fine, technical work, or even lettering comic pages.

I liked these more than my Microns, actually, but personally I'd pass on the brush unless you don't use brush pens often and need to round out your supplies.

My recommendation: You may not need the 0.03 and the 0.05, because they are both so similar, but it depends on the kind of work you do.  These are great for inking machines or other man-made objects in comics, or even just jotting down notes in your Moleskin!

On to the Permanent Markers!

I really liked these guys, too, especially the Medium + Broad tips!

In fact, I loved them, even though they were quite heavy and bled a bit.

But that's what they do, they are super opaque, juicy, heavy permanent markers! They work on lots of surfaces, dry fast and are great for marking up stuff.  

These are really solid pens, I liked how they felt in my hand, and don't leave that maroon shine thing after it dries.


Bottom line:  These totally give Sharpies a run for their money

So how are two similar pens different?

You can see here how the Drawing Pen has a smoother line than the Permanent, but you can write on my surfaces using the Permanent one.

So thanks for reading!  

I'll have one more review of Le Pens up soon, stay tuned!


  1. I'm so glad you reviewed the Marvy Uchida pens! I found them recently at Jerry's Artarama website, and I wondered why they weren't as popular as the Sakura Pigma or Copic lines. I'm doing a post on Japanese pens for manga artist (where to buy outside of Japan, how much are they, discounts available for artists) for Jade's Escape ( Can I link your reviews on Japanese pens, including this one, to my post? Thanks!

  2. What are the best pens for doing lineart/inking?
    Adult coloring book

  3. Thank you for the recommendations. I want a set of Le pen drawing pens.