Choosing a fine liner ink pen for your manga

Choosing a fine liner ink pen for your manga

Many brands are selling fine liner ink pens, with many different sizes. Therefore in this guide I will test some of them and give you some highlights on which fine liner pen to choose.

Fine liner ink pens

What is a fine liner ink pen

First, what is a fine liner?

A fine liner ink pen is a pen with a calibrated point size. This allows to draw lines of constant with, whatever the tilt of the pen.

The advantage is therefore that by using fine lines you will be able to get constant and homogeneous lines. But this advantage also means that your line will lack the expressiveness of a brush pen or a dip pen.

What brands are available?

Many brands are providing fine liners, under different denominations:

  • Sakura Pigma Micron
  • Copic Multi Liner
  • Staedler pigment liner
  • Tombow Mono drawing pen
  • Mitsubishi uni pin fine line
  • Molotow Basic Blackliner

I will review these brands and provide you some feedback regarding their use for manga drawing.

Which fine liner sizes to choose for my manga?

If you have a quick look, you will see that in addition to having many brands, you will also have a lot of different sizes.

0.05mm, 0.1mm, 0.3mm, 0.5mm, 0.8mm, 1mm…

The first question you might have is: Do I need all of them?

The answer is no, you don’t need to buy all of them. In a classical manga making activity 2 sizes will be sufficient, 3 at the most, but no more. These many sizes exist principally because these pen were initially used for technical drawings. Technical drawing relies on size variety to give legibility and texture, but this isn’t needed in manga.

As it is the case for dip pen, with G-Pen and maru pen, the best is two have one size for outlines, and one for fine details. Then, the exact size will depend on your drawing process.

If you are making classical manga drawing, using B4 / A4 / Legal size paper, my advice is to use 0.5 mm and 0.1 mm point sizes. These might seem to be big, but remember that your page will be reduced when published.

Comparison of the 0.5 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.1 mm and 0.05 mm fine liner ink pen stroke sizes
Different fine liner ink pen stroke sizes

If your intent is more illustration, and large size illustrations, where your page might be published full size or scaled up, then choosing finer ink pen might be more appropriate, like 0.3 mm and 0.05 mm.

You can try to go below 0.05 mm. But be aware that the tip of a fine liner can be fragile and split. And the finer the tip, the higher the risk of the tip splitting. The reason is finer tips can more easily get entangled within the paper fabric and are less resistant to pressure.

Testing protocol

In order to help you choose fine liners that fit your needs, you will find below some tests and comparison of various brands.

The test focuses on the following points:

  • Variety and price
  • Drying time and resistance to alcohol markers
  • Color resistance to erasing

Sakura Pigma Micron

Sakura Pigma Micron is surely the most well known brand.

Two Sakura Pigma Micron fine liners
The Sakura Pigma Micron fine liners

The Pigma Micron comes in the following sizes:

  • 003 (0.15 mm)
  • 005 (0.20 mm)
  • 01 (0.25mm)
  • 02 (0.30 mm)
  • 03 (0.35 mm)
  • 05 (0.45 mm)
  • 08 (0.50 mm)

Overall, the Pigma Micron are good quality with a good price (a bit less than $3 a piece).

The ink dries quickly when applied and keeps a deep black color. The tests show that as claimed they are water and alcohol marker resistant.

The cap is tight and the ink does not dry out.

Only remark is that the color fades slightly when rubbed with an eraser.

This is the brand I use personally.


Click on the image to se a set of Pigma Micron fineliners on Amazon

Copic Multi Liner

The Copic brand is most famous for their Copic alcohol markers. The Copic Multi Liner was introduced as a complement with the guarantee the ink will not bleed under the alcohol.

Two Copic Mltiliners
The Copic Multiliners

They come in the following sizes:

  • 0.03 mm
  • 0.05 mm
  • 0.10 mm
  • 0.30 mm
  • 0.50 mm
  • 0.80 mm
  • 1.00 mm

The Copic multi liners are very good quality but at a higher price (between $3.50 and $4.00 a piece).

The ink dries quickly when applied applied and keeps a deep black color.

The tests show that as claimed they are water and alcohol marker resistant.

The cap is tight and the ink does not dry out.

The color resists a bit better than the Pigma Micron when rubbed with an eraser.


Click on the image to see a set of Copic Multiners on Amazon

Staedler Pigment Liner

Staedler is a brand well known for the quality of its office supply. They have provided good for years in the domain of technical drawing.

Two Staedler pigment liners
The Staedler Pigment Liners

The Pigment Liner come in the following sizes:

  • 0.05 mm
  • 0.10 mm
  • 0.20 mm
  • 0.30 mm
  • 0.40 mm
  • 0.50 mm
  • 0.60 mm
  • 0.70 mm
  • 0.80 mm
  • 1.00 mm
  • 1.20 mm

The Staedler Pigment Liners are good quality but are a bit more expensive (well above $4.00 a piece, a bit less in pack).

The dries quickly when applied, but the color is more on a dark grey side than black.

The tests show that as claimed they are water resistant, but also alcohol marker resistant.

And as for other brands, the ink also fades slightly when rubbed with an eraser.


Click on the image to see a set of Staedler Pigment Liners on Amazon

Conclusion

Here is below the test I performed. As you can see, the 3 brand tested behaved well. They all dry quickly, but always be cautious the first minutes when you want to color your manga drawings.

You can find from top to bottom:

  • rapid stroke
  • slow stroke
  • vertical and tilted strokes
  • Alcohol marker overlay
  • Rubbed line using eraser
Tests of the Pigma Micron, Copic Multi Liner and Staedler Pigment Liner
Tests of the Pigma Micron, Copic Multi Liner and Staedler Pigment Liner

Overall, here is my ranking:

  1. Sakura Pigma Micron – Good quality and good price
  2. Copic Fine Liner – Very good quality, but a bit more expensive than the Pigma Micron
  3. Staedler Pigment liner – Good quality, but a single pen can be very expensive

This is it for this review. Do not hesitate if you have question or would wish me to give my opinion on some other brands. I will myself try to add some new tests when I will have the opportunity to find new fine liners.

See you!

Stef

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