Tag: tachikawa

Tachikawa Jet Black ink

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m always on the quest for the perfect black ink. So I bought a few inks from JetPens along with some other things I needed. And– BAM– I found an incredible ink: Tachikawa Jet Black.

First off, as the name implies, the ink is satisfyingly black. Yet you can say that about a lot of inks. The thing that immediately blew me away about the Tachikawa Jet Black was how smooth it was and how thin the resulting lines were. Many inks are a little recalcitrant or a tad gummy. I personally find this annoying when I want to get working. I like immediate flow and that’s why I’ve always returned to Speedball Super Black. But Super Black has a tendency to feather on certain papers. Tachikawa Jet Black doesn’t feather at all. At least not on any paper I’ve used it on yet. More than that, it keeps its integrity and so allows for thin drawing lines.

The other thing about it, is that it comes in a cool bottle. The interior has a rounded bottom, so there are no corners for the ink to hide in. I haven’t gotten to the end of the bottle yet, so I can’t attest to how well this works, but it seems like a really clever design. Also, it follows the Japanese tradition of having a slogan in English that is grammatically correct, but… odd. Not something a native speaker of English would be likely to say. “World starting from the pen.”

Overall, I am really impressed by this ink. I’ll keep using it and see how it holds up over time. Sometimes the behavior of inks weeks after I open them changes my feelings about them. We’ll see. But for right now, I love using this ink. It’s so easy to draw with.

the pros:

  • deeply black
  • smooth flow
  • allows for thin lines
  • does not feather on any paper I’ve tried
  • well-designed bottle

potential cons:

  • slow drying time
  • builds up on nib – requires consistent cleaning

Here’s the JetPens link.

Four nib review

I needed to order some new Brause 511 nibs, so I decided to get a few others and try them out just for fun. Here’s what I got and what I thought…

bank of england ledger nib

The Bank of England Ledger Pen is a larger nib. It has a solid feel and reminded me a lot of a G pen, though stiffer than the Tachikawa G. It’s a nice nib and easy to use, and it feels like it would last a long time. It’s not as expressive as I like in a nib, but it feels strong and reliable.

cito fein lines

cito fein nib

I love Brause nibs and the Cito Fein is no exception. This nib has a gold finish and a solid, smooth feel. I’m considering using this nib as my standard lettering nib. It has a fairly small line, but allows some nice line variation. Yet it’s so solid that it’s easy to keep the line from modulating if you don’t want it to.

tachikawa school pen lines

tachikawa school pen

The Tachikawa School Pen creates a very fine line. It is a solid nib that doesn’t allow for a lot of line modulation. If you are looking for a reliable fine-line nib, this may be the one for you.

vintage hunt 100 lines

vintage hunt 100

As I’ve said before, the Hunt 100 used to be my preferred nib but has given me the most headaches of any nib. So when I saw that Paper & Ink Arts had a vintage version of the nib, I decided to see if it was any different. Basically, the metal feels a little stronger, but it’s the same Hunt 100. This nib has the most incredible flexibility, making it capable of some extreme line modulation. But it’s also a pain in the ass. The tiny tines tend to catch on the paper and it is finicky, not always wanting to work even though it was a brand new nib. So no, I won’t be going back to the Hunt 100 any time soon.

j. herbin belle epoque

I also purchased a J. Herbin Belle Epoque pen holder. I didn’t really need a new nib holder, but this one looked nice and I really like the J. Herbin Perle Noir fountain pen ink. I have to say, I really like this holder. It is a bit heavy, which I prefer. So many holders that I have tried recently have been very light, which makes drawing feel odd. I like a little heft to my drawing tool and this holder provides it. So if you want a really solid nib holder I highly recommend the J. Herbin Belle Epoque. It fits mid-sized nibs, like the Brause Cito Fein. The BOE Ledger fit, but the nib was so big it didn’t fit snuggly. The Hunt 100 also fit, but was so small that it was a tad loose.

My previous post about nib comparisons.

And my post about G pens.

And my discussion of nib holders.

I got all of these nibs through Paper & Ink Arts.

G Nibs: a comparison

The G nib is probably the most fabled nib among people interested in the creation of manga. So what is a “G nib” exactly? Basically, it’s a Japanese-made pen nib that has cuts in its shoulders that make a “g” shape. This nib is large, but capable of creating fine lines for its size. It is also slightly flexible, making line modulation possible, but at the same time it’s stable and so feels solid and capable of lasting a long time.

As of this writing, three makes of G nibs can be obtained in the U.S.: the Nikko, the Zebra, and the Tachikawa. So which is the best? As with anything, it comes down to personal taste. But let me run through the three versions and tell you what I think.


Nikko G

The first G nib I ever purchased was the Nikko G. The metal of the Nikko feels a bit tinny and is the lightest of the three G nibs. When drawing, it feels a bit stiff and tends to be capable of less line modulation than the other makes. If you are new to dip pens, this may be a good thing because that stiffness would make it easier to control. However, it’s a tad scratchy. I personally love a nib with a smooth feel on the page. Overall, this may be an okay G nib if you are a complete beginner, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a more experienced pen-and-ink artist.

Zebra G

This is the second G nib I tried. Straight away, I noticed that it offered a much thinner line than the Nikko. Its line is even slightly thinner than the Tachikawa’s line. It is more flexible than the Nikko, but shares its scratchiness. Overall, I think the Zebra is better than the Nikko. Still, I don’t like the feel of it on the page.

Tachikawa G
I don’t know if these only recently became available, but I only got a pack of the Tachikawa nibs a little while ago. The Tachikawa is closer in color to the Nikko, but looks more like brushed steel than tin. While its line may not be quite as thin as the Zebra’s, this is the most elastic nib of the three. It swells much more easily, which I like. Overall, the Tachikawa feels much smoother than the other two G nibs. It’s simply the easiest to draw with. So if you’ve got a firm hand with pen-and-ink, this is definitely the one I’d recommend.

Final thoughts

While all these nibs are flexible, and the JetPens guide even warns people that they may be too flexible for some people, I find all the G pens to be pretty stiff. Yes, they offer some line modulation, but for years I used the Hunt 100, which is the squirrelliest nib out there. So I’m used to the other end of the flexibility spectrum. These days, I tend to use Brause nibs, especially the 511. These nibs tend to be more flexible and just flow better. So while the G nibs are perfectly fine and are pretty easy nibs to use in terms of skill, I find them limiting. I just feel cramped and stiff when I use them. Again, this is a matter of personal taste and my own nib using history. I just don’t want people to think they have to use G nibs just because their favorite manga artist does. They are not necessarily the best nibs out there.

Buying the nibs

These nibs are now easy to buy on-line. Both JetPens and Paper & Ink Arts have all three makes.
JetPens: Nikko, Zebra, Tachikawa. Paper & Ink Arts: Nikko, Zebra, Tachikawa.

If you buy these in a store, let me offer a warning about the packaging. Not only is it in Japanese, it can be a bit misleading. For instance, the Zebra G nibs can come in a package that says “IC Comic.” The Tachikawa package doesn’t have any English on it at all besides the letter G. Still, in both cases you can just look at the nibs themselves. All three makes have their names embossed on them in English.


Lastly, here’s a similar comparison of the nibs, but with a focus on using them for calligraphy (spoiler: the author agrees with me about the Tachikawa).