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  • Are rapidographs or similar tech pens worth it?

    I was considering grabbing some, then I noticed that they're a bit of an investment. Do you guys like them better than the throw away ones, like Microns? Are they worth the money?
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  • #2
    That's a good question, I'm going to be watching this thread to see what some of the pro level guys here say about Rapidographs. I've used Copic pens and Faber-Castell PITT pens, their brush pen is really good for inking. I've been meaning to get a set of Rapidographs, but they seem so difficult to clean.
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    • #3
      Depends a bit on how dependent you're going to be on your tools, how often you'll use them, and whether you want your work to last forever or just long enough to get the job done.

      Microns are pretty good, but I don't know how truly archival their ink really is... I don't know if I've got anything I inked with a Micron that's more than ten years old, and honestly I haven't even looked at that material lately, it could be going yellow or bleeding. or fading out.

      The nice thing about a Rapidograph is that you can use pretty much whatever ink you like, and if its taken care of properly that pen should last... well, pretty much forever, it's not a complex machine (though it has fragile parts). If you're inking at LOT, you'd probably spend less over the long term by purchasing ink alone rather than new pens every time (not to mention it's far more ecologically responsible). But cleaning them can be a pain in the ass, and all it takes is one day of clumsy cleaning with a hair-thin needle or accidentally leaving one where it's directly exposed to sunlight for an hour or so, and your expensive investment is ruined.

      In terms of performance, I think it's a pretty fine line. I used Rapidographs for about five years daily, and then Microns for about another six years, and then I switched up to digital and never looked back. I was happy with the performance I got from Microns, but I've always been firmly in the "this work only needs to last as long as it's needed", I never got into the resale market or cared much about the long-term viability of the originals.
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      • #4
        What

        As long as your clean them I recommend getting the Syringe to clean them sqeezes water through the tip =)
        Then you might want to pick up the book by Gary Simmons on Rapidographs it's dated but it's still good give you some ideas on how to take care of them and use them. If you take the time you can get some awesome results.

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        • #5
          As Tony The Tiger Would Say: Rapidographs ARRRRE GRRRREAT!

          Rapidographs can last for decades if cared for properly. InkThinker has some good advice above. I have never used anything other than ink designed for technical pens in my Rapidographs, so I am puzzled by some people saying they have used traditional inks.
          The only time I tested traditional inks was on a #4 pen (never used anyway because if you need a line that thick you should use a brush.) and that needle is still stuck inside the pen. I tried to pull it out with a pair of pliers and failed.
          In my opinion Rapidographs are well worth the investment. One thing I about them that I don't think I have seen posted here is that they are modular and therefore, you can cannibalize a bad pen to keep another pen going. For instance the #4 pen I destroyed with my experiment had a handle that replaced a #1 handle that had a crack in it. Everything except the needle and the part the needle fits into is exchangeable.
          Yes, you will have to develop fine finger movements to strip your Rapidograph down for cleaning and then reassembly; especially anything below a #1, but you are an artist. Fine finger maneuvers should not be a problem.
          Oh, yeah, one last thing. If you use only ink designed for technical pens you can ALWAYS clean your pens by simply leaving them overnight in a solution of KOH-I-NOOR Rapido-Eze Pen Cleaner! This solution is why my current pens are so old and still usable. I once left my Rapidographs unused with ink in them for over a year. Cleaned them the next day after an over-night bath.
          Last edited by CyberLord; 01-22-2012, 10:57 AM. Reason: Miss-spelled "Eze" as "Exe". :(
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          • #6
            Hmm...what I'm getting so far is that Rapidographs last a long time, but require painstaking maintenance, and their performance is similar to a Micron. I was hoping to hear that they are amazing to use, a real professional's tool that produces great results. I'm not convinced I need one just yet...

            Oh and as for the archival quality of Microns, it's no good. I have drawings I did from 10 years back, and the ink has yellowed badly. Maybe the paper is at fault too. Not sure.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Electronick View Post
              I was hoping to hear that they are amazing to use, a real professional's tool that produces great results. I'm not convinced I need one just yet...
              You have gotten great advice concerning Rapidographs. I've enjoyed using them for years.

              The next thing may sound like jerky comment, but it's not. I feel I get amazing results with a ball point pen, pencils, brushes, etc. I've gotten amazing results with ink on a tree branch. It's the artist that produces the results. The tool is only a vehicle to express yourself creatively.

              I've seen artists use Rapidographs in ways I've never thought of and haven't been able to replicate. That doesn't diminish the fact that for me, I've gotten the results I wanted out of them.
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              • #8
                Hopefully I wasn't implying that I wanted Rapidograph pens to make me a better artist. I was just wondering if they offered something different or more refined than throw-away pens, since they cost so much more and require extra effort to maintain.
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                • #9
                  I do have a Rapidograph, myself, and I actually really like it. I was apprehensive about it, initially, but it won me over pretty quickly. I use mostly my Rapidograph, my Pitt pens, and Btushes with my India Ink.
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                  • #10
                    The big difference between Rapidographs and throwaways is the ink quality. Other than that the results are pretty much the same, though Rapidographs tend to snag more on textured paper than throwaways for me (I'm pretty heavy handed when inking) I preferred the feel of their tips on bristol over microns.

                    I used to use them back when I also used nibs but I don't have the time anymore. As soon as you can't spare the time for regular upkeep, they're not worth it.
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                    • #11
                      Good point about being heavy-handed. If you're used to a felt-tip tech like a Micron or Pitt, it's worth knowing that a Rapidograph or other steel-tip tech pen requires only the lightest touch, and pushing down will not only groove the board, it's not really good for the nib.
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                      • #12
                        Rapidographs are better, but they also require more maintenance. They're a hassle to keep clean, and to keep clog-free. If you don't mind doing a little extra work to keep them clean, they're the way to go. If you want to buy Rapidographs, I'd go with the set of 7 offered by Koh-I-Noor. Dick Blick has a good price on a set: http://www.dickblick.com/products/ko...idograph-pens/




                        If you want a more stress free life, I recommend that you go with Pitt Pens over Microns. Pitts have a better quality ink that doesn't fade and smear as much as the Microns do when you erase pencil lines from beneath. That's been my experience. The Microns Pens offer the smallest points though, so if you're someone who likes to do micro-surgery when you draw, you might want to take that into consideration. I've never needed a smaller point than the Pitt Extra Fine when I draw, so those work fine for me.

                        I own an awesome set of Rapidograph pens, and I used to use them back in the day. They work marvelously, but I'm a guy who doesn't mind the hassle of cleaning them when I'm done with them. I treat them gingerly. I haven't used them too often in recent years though, because I have succumbed to the convenience of disposables. I usually buy packs of the Faber-Castell Pitt Artists Pens from Dickblick.com. If you buy Pitt pens from stores like MICHAEL'S, etc, you're going to be paying more than TWICE what they cwill cost you online, so I recommend order them--four or five packs at a time. I usually buy

                        -Black, Fineliner set of 4 (which comes with a Extra Fine, Super Fine, Fine, and a Medium pen), or

                        -Black, set of 4 (which comes with a Super Fine, Fine, Medium and one Brush pen).

                        Currently either four pack will run you $5.88! Compare that with Michael's, where you'd pay $10-13 for the same set!

                        Dick Blick ordering page: http://www.dickblick.com/products/fa...t-artist-pens/

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                        • #13
                          Thanks a lot for all the info everyone, and thanks for the links Loston. Very helpful. I think I may pick one up and try it out - it sounds intriguing. Also I gotta check out these Pitt pens - never even heard of 'em.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Electronick View Post
                            Thanks a lot for all the info everyone, and thanks for the links Loston. Very helpful. I think I may pick one up and try it out - it sounds intriguing. Also I gotta check out these Pitt pens - never even heard of 'em.
                            The Pitt Pens have been around for a few years now. Here's an ink sketch of Mysterio that I drew on regular copy paper with Pitt Artist Pens and Pitt brush pens. Even on inferior paper like copy paper they don't tend to bleed very much:



                            One of the coolest things about the Pitt brush pens is that you can refill them with ink! Like all brushpens, the point will fray after some usage, but a Pitt brush pen actually has a reversible nib (point). Yep. There's a SECOND brush point hidden inside! Just take your fingers or tweezers or whatever and pull out the nib and you'll find that there's another point on the other side of it! Just slip the brush point cylinder rod back with the new nib facing outward. The black brush pen is this way, as are all the color brush pens. How's that for sharing a little Pitt Pen secret? lol

                            Last edited by Bruce Lee; 01-24-2012, 07:21 AM.
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                            • #15
                              I have to put another recommendation in for the Pitt brush pen. It doesn't really feel like a brush but it is fun to draw with. It is somewhere between a Sharpie and Copic Marker in terms of paper response, and the black in is very deep.

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