Saturday, April 18, 2015

All About Banners

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A banner helps your work stand out in a crowd, especially if everyone else in the crowd has banners.  A banner allows you to reach a potential customer from across the room, giving them all the relevant information- who you are, what you're selling, and what your art looks like.  As convention setups become more elaborate, the need for a banner becomes more pressing- it's easy to get lost when you're first starting out, especially when you're surrounded by people who've done conventions for years.

A banner is a good first investment in making sure your setup can compete with the big dogs, and it doesn't have to be expensive. 

Common Banner Sizes and Uses

3'x4' Poster Banner- If you don't have room behind your table for a standing banner, but have a curtain (like at MoCCA-fest), this might be a great solution.  In the past, we've clipped it to the curtain at MoCCA, as there's no easy way to display it standing.

Spotted in the Wild at: MoCCA-fest 2014

7"x3" Vertical Banner:  Great for half table displays that sit low on the table.  Often seen at indie cons and superhero cons, useful for promoting your comic rather than promoting you.  You'll need a stand for this, it's easiest to just buy the stand and the banner at the same time.

Spotted in the Wild At: Otakon 2011 (photo doesn't want to load), will have new banner above at TCAF 2015

6'x18" Horizontal Banners(buy a 6'x2' and trim it down, the unfinished edge won't be noticable):  For your whole table setups, used on either a pole display or wire grids.

Spotted in the Wild At: Anime Weekend Atlanta 2014, Mechacon 2014, Anime Blast Chattanooga (displayed on an 8' table)

2'x3' Horizontal Banners:  Great for half tables, both above your table or across the front.  You don't need a stand, but will need to set at least six grommets. 

Bottom of table display at Ohaoyocon, with 'studio' banner displayed above.  We had hoped this would help people differentiate between our halves of the table.  It did not.

Above table display with pipe structure for support.  This table layout was confusing to customers who assumed we were one seller.
Spotted in the Wild At: Ohayocon 2014, NOCAZfest (an indie con), Nekocon 2013

Places to Buy

BuildASign:  This is where all of my current banners are from.  While their print quality isn't photo quality, it's fine for a banner as people won't be closely scrutinizing your print quality anyway.  This printer is quick and very affordable, and I've gotten banners for as little as $10, with my most expensive banner (the vertical 3'x6') being $79 (technically like $65, I caught a deal from RetailMeNot that included free shipping) and includes the stand.  Still extremely reasonable.

VistaPrints:  My first banner came from here, but was before I started writing reviews, so unfortunately I can't link to one.  The print quality is really high, much higher than BuildASign, but I find VistaPrints to be too expensive considering how often I like to switch and update my banners.  I also ordered a stand for my banner, and from what I remember, it cost about $150 all included.

I believe you can order in person from the following places, and I think you can pick up in-store:

Staples:  Their banners seem expensive unless you catch a sale.  I've never printed with them.

Office Max/Office Depot:  I've never printed with them.

FedEx: Never printed with them.

Tips and Tricks

  • Don't pay for the banner printing service to set your grommets.  Invest in a grommet kit from Michaels, and set them at home!  This way, you're not only saving money, but you can put the grommets exactly where you want them.
  • For most banners, you don't really need a banner stand- you can hang your banner from an inexpensive and lightweight home built stand made of pipes, a photo backdrop setup, or your wire mesh cubes.
  • Order your banner at least a month ahead of when you'll need it, to make sure it arrives in time for your show.
  • Test out your setup before the show, in case you need to make any changes.
  • Watch sites like RetailMeNot and Slickdeals for sales that will help you save money when ordering your banner.
  • Banners that have grommets can be attached with zipties or ribbon. 
Alternatives to Printed Banners

I mentioned in the Artist Alley Essentials series that you could paint your own banner at home.  This really only saves you money if you have most of the supplies at home.

To Paint a Banner, You'll Need:

  • Length of Cloth slightly larger than what you want your banner to be
  • Acrylic Paints (the cheap stuff is fine)
  • Paint Brushes (stiff bristle brushes really work best here)
  • Thread, Needle, or Sewing Machine
  • Grommets
  • Color pencils
Begin by hemming your length of cloth on all four edges, so there are no rough seams.   While you don't have to do an amazing job, you should use thread that matches your banner.   Set your grommets.  If you don't have grommets, and know how to sew buttonholes, those work too.  Sketch your design out lightly with a color pencil.  Once you've figured out the basics, go ahead and darken it so you can see it better, refining details.  When you're satisfied with your design, you can start painting.  I recommend 'sketching' in your letters with a smaller brush, filling in the letters with your larger brush, and then adding details with the smaller brush once the paint is dry.

Paper Signage:

While paper signage isn't ideal, it's better than nothing, and can be quite effective when used with other types of banners.  If you're going the low-budget route, poster boards with cute sketches on them are large enough to attract attention, especially if displayed high above your tabletop.  Posterboard cutouts of your characters can also be attractive and engaging. 

Convention Chow: Soylent

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I mentioned on my Twitter a few weeks ago that I'd be trying Soylent, and that it might be the meal solution many con-artists are looking for.  My announcement was met with enthusiasm and skepticism, after all, isn't Soylent green made of people?

All jokes aside, Soylent is an excellent meal replacement for those of us who can't get away from our tables long enough to grab a bite to eat, let alone eat it.  I recently took a thermos of Soylent with me to MTAC on Saturday and Sunday, and it lasted me from arrival (9:30 AM) until we left for the day (after 8:00 PM).

Some considerations before consuming:
  • Your batch of Soylent will last 2 days refrigerated
  • Soylent separates, so make sure you always shake it before drinking
  • Your Soylent will need to be kept cool during consumption, I bring mine to conventions in a thermos bottle.
  • The first time you drink Soylent, it may make you mildly nauseous.  If you drink it regularly, it won't bother you, but I wouldn't recommend your first time consuming it being at a convention.
  • Soylent isn't exactly a diet food, so please read instructions carefully.
  • Adding foods and flavors to Soylent will change it's caloric value, but will vastly improve the taste.

I'm not a big fan of Soylent on it's own, so here's my recipe for a tasty and filling Chocolate Banana Soylent Shake.


  • 2 Bananas
  • Milk
  • 1 bag Soylent
  • 9tsp honey
  • 3.5 tsp cocoa powder
  • half teaspon cinnamon
  • Water

Blend the bananas in some milk until bananas are fully blended.  Add in bag of Soylent, honey,  cocoa powder,cinnamon, blend until ingredients are mixed.  Pour into your Soylent pitcher, then add equal parts whole milk and water to fill pitcher.

For more recipes, check out the Soylent site, but I gotta warn you, I haven't tried any of these. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Finding Fude Pens in the US

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I've mentioned in prior pen reviews that while I love Jetpens, I wish fude pens were more commonly available in the US.  When I go to art supply stores, I always check around to see if any brands have made the witch to stateside distribution, and I'm usually disappointed.  Living in Nashville, my options are limited to overpriced Pla-Za and 40 minute drive Jerry's Artarama, so I took my search for American distribution online.


Upon casually browsing Pilot's English site, I can't seem to even FIND fude or sign pens, which is strange as I know they make several.  Searching the terms 'sign pen' and 'fude pen' didn't bring any enlightenment- while 'sign pen' did bring up results, none of them were the flexible nibbed pens fans of Japanese stationary recognize as 'sign pens'.  Similarly, nothing comes up for 'brush pen'. Does Pilot feel there's no need to bring their fude pens over because they feel there's no market?


Kuretake's English Site was annoying to navigate- I can't seem to actually click on any of the categories I'd like to explore, so I went to their Zig site instead.  While their Zig site shows that they make fude pens (they're included on the graphic for the 'Brushes' category), I can't seem to easily view their selection or order from the site.  Their separate online shop (UK) does have some interesting offerings including:

Zig Art and Graphic Twin
An Entire Section of Fude Pens
Zig CocoIro

The Zig site also offers some brush pens that I've never seen offered on Jetpens.  These include
Zig Cartoonist Manga Flexible Fine
Zig Cartoonist Manga Flexible Medium

Mitsubishi Uni

Uni or Uni-ball in the US, is as bad as Pilot's English site.  Although they have an interesting range of products in Japan, their American offerings are more limited- rollerball pens, pencils, gel pens, and their Jetstream line, none of which include brush pens.


I really couldn't find an official English site for Sailor, just several vendors who carry some of their fountain pens.


The Pentel English site is much better, and has a winder range of offerings.  Although their site advertises sign pens, it seems like they may be in the process of rebranding their sign pens to the Pentel Touch (which is still a sign pen).  I managed to find a few that didn't lead to a dead end, and would be interested in comparing the old and new iterations.  While we wait for Pentel to finish updating their English site, Pentel Touch is available through both Jetpens and DickBlick's  (search for sign, not Pentel Touch) online store.

Besides the Pentel Touch, Pentel's English site lists many pens that would be interesting to comic artists and illustrators. These include:

Black Color Brush
Sign Pen Brush Tip
Aquash Brush with Pigment Ink
Metallic Brush Pens
Pentel Pocket Brush and refills
Sign Pen Multi Color Pack

Unfortunately it seems for those of us who aren't fortunate enough to live in New York or San Francisco, areas blessed with Kinokuniya, Daiso, and Japanese stationary stores, we'll be ordering our Japanese stationary supplies online from sites like Jetpens.  Some stores like Jerry's Artarama occasionally carries little known (in the US) Asian art supplies, so if you have one local to your area, they are well worth checking out.  If you have a locally owned art supply store, they may be willing to place orders for you, or take stock recommendations.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Art Supply Review: Six Shades of Grey

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After noodling about with Copics in my sketchbook, I was curious about other pens that could be used to add a little life to my sketches.  You guys have probably already read my review on the Mitsubishi Pure Color-F sign pens, so you know how some of my ventures have fared. 

I ordered the Pitt Brush Pens in Shades of Gray because I've used the green super brush in the past to shade my work in conjunction with fude pen inks, and was fairly satisfied with the results.  I figured if I liked how these worked, I could add a new dimension to my sketches.  You can get the set of six for $15.50 on Jetpens.

A look at the pens

Pitt makes a variety of brush and technical pens that many comic artists utilize for inking.  One of the selling points of the Pitt brush pen is the brush tip, but it's quick to fray.  Many artists salvage their still-full pens by sharpening the brush by flipping the nib.

I don't use Pitt Artist Pens often enough to justify flipping the nib, but if I started using Pitt pens to tone, that nib salvage technique might come in handy.

 The ink in Pitt Pens is India Ink, which is waterproof once fully dried.  Although it's available in a wide variety of colors, I was mainly looking for toning, not color.  If you're interested in colored toning, Jetpens offers a number of sets sold by color family

The Shades of Grey set comes with six brush pens- three cool greys and three warm greys.

The Field Test

Unfortunately, preliminary tests of the fude pen's ability to withstand Pitt Pen application were disheartening, and I abandoned the idea of using the pens AFTER initial inking, despite having prepared a test and allowed it to dry overnight. However, after noodling with the Fudebiyori pens (post to come!), I realized there's another way to handle gray toning- tone first and ink after!

Pitt Pens Revisited

So for this to work, you need to start with an uninked lineart.

I'll be using the cool greys for this test, so I went ahead and pulled them from the reusable plastic wallet the Pitt Pens came in.

I begin by filling in the lightest area of tone.  Unfortunately, the lightest cool grey is both pretty dark and pretty warm for a light cool grey.

I then started to fill in the next layer of tone with the medium grey.

The ink used for the Pitt Pens works well for layering, which makes the lightest grey's dark hue even more unfortunate.  With the right distribution in hues, you could theoretically achieve a huge spectrum of grey with just these six pens, but since the lighest pen is already very dark, it's difficult to tone many skintones and lighter shades like whites and yellows.

Finally it was time to apply the final layer of grey with the darkest pen in the cool grey spectrum.

To tighten things up, I inked over it with my Kuretake Fudegokochi.

And added some highlights with a Signo white gel pen.

The Verdict

Pitt Pens really don't need an introduction from me- they're commonly available in the US at a variety of stores in a wide array of colors.  They're a popular choice amongst artists, and are an affordable option for those looking for a convenient way to ink.

Although Pitt Pens don't seem to be fude-safe, if you ink with them first, you can achieve impressive results.  If you're looking for an inexpensive way to liven up your sketchbooks, Pitt Pens are a great choice.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Toning Sketches with Copics

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I admire artists who have sketchbooks that are more than just black, white, and non photo blue.  I love toned sketches, I love unexpected splots of watercolors, accent colors, judicious use of washi tape.  My mind doesn't necessarily work that way naturally- my sketchbook is for sketching, if I want to do something more, it leaves the sketchbook, but I'd love to add some variety to my sketchbook.

Certain sketchbooks are better suited to mixed media than others, and while I've never done formal tests or reviews on sketchbooks, I have my preferences.  I prefer Blick Sketchbooks to Strathmore (heavier paper, better tooth), and I use Strathmore Multimedia sketchbooks for marker tests.  I'm not really a big fan of Moleskin sketchbooks, but I've seen a lot of artists use them for exciting multimedia sketches.  In the future, I'd love to test out different sketchbooks, but that requires more dedication to a paper I might end up hating than I'm willing to commit right now. 

For my more recent adventure in multimedia sketching, I kept to my favored Blick Sketchbook, but pulled out my Cool Gray Copic Sketches.  I've noodled with fude pens and Copics before,  usually on cardstock.  At that time, and for this test, I've let the Kuretake Fudegokochi ink dry overnight before erasing the nonphoto blue lead, to prevent smearing and to ensure that the ink is able to dry fully before the eraser picks up some of the carbon.  Not waiting long enough before erasing can lead to your ink picking up, leaving your lineart looking gray rather than black.  You should at least wait an hour before erasing, whenever possible.

I do know that Copic Multiliners ARE Copic marker safe, and that Sakura Microns are supposed to be alcohol based marker safe as well, and while those have their place, I really prefer inking with fude pens.

The Original Lineart

Erasing Those Bluelines

Preparing to Tone


At the time, I was displeased because there was some smearing with the Copic Sketch smearing the fude ink.  I think this happened because my Copic was running dry- they have a tendency to really muddy a piece if they're too dry because the brushes will pull rather than glide.  I'll revisit this technique after I've had a chance to test and refill my marker collection.

And I just darkened her eyes and hair with a Pentel Pocket Brush once I'd finished toning.

Using Copic markers to tone sketches is a fun way to add a little color to your sketchbook, or to more fully render an idea.  As long as your ink is waterbased, it SHOULD be Copic-safe if you've let it dry fully, but you should always test ahead of time to make sure.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Pen Review: Pilot Bravo

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My relationship with Pilot is only just begining.  Recently, I reviewed Pilot's Pocket Brush in both Soft and Hard, and while I wasn't entirely bowled over by Pilot's lineup, I was certainly willing to give more of Pilot's products a shot.
While at Pla-Za recently, I spotted this Pilot Bravo! in the pen display, and decided to give it a shot.  A quick uncapping at the store revealed a tip that MIGHT be fude like, and I figured I'd give it go.  Part of me really hoped that the Bravo! was a step towards art supply stores like Pla Za offering a wider range of art supplies, including Japanese stationary supplies.
Unfortunately, the Pilot Bravo! is not a fude pen, and unfortunately it does not mean we're going to start seeing fude pens in art supply stores (although the Pentel Touch, which IS a fude pen, is currently available at DickBlick, if you happen to have one in your area).  This tip, which looked like it MIGHT be flexible, really isn't, and there isn't much variation in the lines it produces.  Even pushing fairly hard, it provided too much resistance to give me a heavy line.

The Field Test

The coincidence of Kara's disappointment in the sketch and my disappointment in this pen was totally unplanned, but pretty apt.  If you're looking for a cheap, easily available fude pen, this isn't your answer.

The Pilot Bravo! makes for a decent doodling or writing pen, especially if you want a thick lineweight.  It's available in three colors- Black, Blue, and this 'Red' (which is really a pink).  The Pilot website claims that it wont bleed through paper (though it's probably difficult to read double sided notes written in this pen on looseleaf), and won't dry out even if left uncapped, but I don't plan on testing that.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Fude Pen Review: Pilot Pocket Brush Hard

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After being delighted with the Sailor Pocket Brush Soft, I hastened back to Jetpens to order its sibling, the Sailor Pocket Brush Hard

I had hoped for a brushpen that featured a larger, slightly stiffer nib, something between a Fudegokochi Regular and a Pilot Pocket Brush Soft.  What I received was a fude pen roughly the size of a Fudegokochi in terms of nib, but much stiffer than I had expected.

The Pen

Not surprisingly, the Pilot Pocket Brushes look very similar.  Both are made entirely of plastic and feature a felt nib.  The Pilot Pocket Brush Soft has a black plastic body, while the Pilot Pocket Brush Hard has a dark blue body.  You can't tell the difference by sight, unfortunately, unless you're in a well lit room. 

The Pilot Pocket Brush Hard has a little more writing on the body, but as you can see, even in this fairly well lit photo, the body looks almost black.  As a pen, the Pilot Pocket Brush Hard looks pretty similar to other fude pens such as the Kuretake Fudegokochi.

To the left the Pilot Pocket Brush Hard.  To the right, Pilot Pocket Brush Soft.  For those like me who are not literate in Japanese, these pens are very easily mistaken
The Field Test

It's difficult to get expressive lines out of the Pilot Pocket Brush Hard.  It could be that this brushpen needs some breaking in, but sometimes with breaking in brushpens, your efforts wreck the pen and turn it mushy instead, as you've ruined the fibers that make the tip work as a brush.

The Verdict

While I'll defend the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft's $5.00 pricetag, it's much harder to justify that price for the Pilot Brush Hard.  Jetpen's reviews for this pen are all glowing, but considering that many other brushpens are at least a dollar cheaper, it's hard to see what the reviewers see in this pen. 

I found the Pilot Pocket Brush Firm much harder to handle than the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft.  If you're looking for a small nibbed fude pen with a lot of flex, look elsewhere, because the Pilot Pocket Brush Hard is a firm fude pen that doesn't have much give.  If you're heavy-handed and looking for a firm pocketbrush that'll fight your heavy handed inking, the Pilot Pocket Brush Hard may be worth your while, although I'd also recommend Kuretake's Fudegokochi in Super Fine, which $1.50 cheaper and much smaller.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Fude Pen Review: Pilot Pocket Brush Soft

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I"m sure I've tested fude and brush pens from Pilot before, but in the past, none have really stood out to me.  That changed the day I tested the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft.

I have to admit, I very rarely read the reviews on Jetpens BEFORE purchasing pens.  This would've saved me in the past (like buying the entire set of Akashiya Sai, which I promptly hated, or buying the set of the Mitsubishi Pure Color F, which was hugely disappointing), but sometimes there aren't reviews written for the pens I'm interested in.  Had I read the reviews for the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft prior to buying, it may have deterred my purchase- the reviews aren't necessarily scathing, but they don't sell the pen well either.  And the price tag, $5.00 for a single, non refillable plastic pen, isn't a strong selling point either, especially compared to cheaper pens.

However, I think the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft has traits that make it worth consideration, especially if you're looking for a fude pen that can handle large lineart with the same juicy lines that are usually reserved for smaller pieces. 

The Pen Itself

My Pilot Pocket Brush Soft arrived in this cardboard backed package- unusual since many pen companies have switched to the plastic sleeve.  I think this was sprobably just an older pen, leftover from before Pilot switched their packaging.

The Pilot Pocket Brush Soft features an all black, plastic body, including a moulded black plastic clip.  The all plastic casing feels a little cheap, but I appreciate that the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft offers a 'view window' of sorts.  When the ink starts to bleed into my Kuretake Fudegokochi's plastic 'view window', I know that it's about time to replace my pen. 

As you can see from this small test, the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft is capable of very juicy thick lines, as well as very fine delicate lines, making it a versatile pen.  At $5.00 and non refillable, I wouldn't use this pen for large black fills the way I use a refillable Pentel Pocket Brush.

Field Test

This brush pen handled very well for a nib of it's size.  Unlike other pens I've tested in the past, there were no tattered edges to the nib that would lead to light feathering- the nib was pliable and uniformly well inked.  As the pen is used up, this may change, but fresh out the package the pen works great.

Of the large brush fude style pens I've tested, the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft has the softest nib.  If you're heavy handed, you may prefer the Mitsuo Aida, which is a little stiffer, or the Tombow Dual Brush, which is more commonly available.

How it Stacks Up

From left to right:  Tombow, Pentel Pocket Brush, Sailor Mitsuo Aida, Kuretake Fudegokochi, Pilot Pocket Brush Soft

In this lineup, all but the Pentel Pocket Brush feature felt nibs.  Out of this lineup, the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft is the softest large nibbed fude pen, to the point where if you're heavy handed, it's be very easy for your lineart to go flat with an abundance of fat lines.  Given how soft it is, the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft is capable of both fine and thick lines, and requires very little pressure to transition between the two.  When inking, the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft has a bit of a 'rubbery' squeak to it, but it's not all that unpleasant, and it reminds me of inking with a Tombow.

Prices from left to right:

Tombow Dual Brush (DickBlick, couldn't find single black dual brushes through Jetpens)- $2.36
Pentel Pocket Brush (only refillable brushpen included in this series) (Jetpens) $14.00 (DickBlick) $14.85
Sailor Mitsuo Aida (waterproof) (Jetpens) $4.45
Kuretake Fudegokochi (Jetpens) $3.50
Pilot Pocket Brush Soft (Jetpens) $5.00

Given this (somewhat stacked, admittedly) comparison, the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft is not unreasonably priced, and it performs quite well.  I'll carry this pen in my pencil case and continue using it, and possibly amend this post when my Pilot Pocket Brush Soft has taken more of a beating.

The Verdict

This non-descript black plastic pen is easily mistaken at first glance for it's brother, the Pilot Pocket Brush Hard, but they're entirely different animals.  If you like fude pens, but find the nibs too small to pull the sort of lines you'd like, you should definitely give the Pilot Pocket Brush Soft a try.  The Pilot Pocket Brush Soft handles far better than  many other large nibbed, felt or rubber tipped brush and fude pens.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

A Fairytale Watercolor

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For a month with no conventions, March has been a busy month for me.  Between finishing Kamicon commissions, working my way through Magical Girl March (post to come), painting Gizmo Granny pages, and working on my 1001 Knights comic, I haven't really had much free time.  I've broken up the monotony of long days spent painting by reviewing a few pens, but for the most part, March has been a month of watercolors.

One of those watercolors was completed as a submission for an artist's table at ALA in San Francisco this summer.  For a children's illustrator like myself, The American Librarian Association's biannual convention could be an important step towards getting copies of 7" Kara Volume 1 (and hopefully subsequent volumes) in libraries across the country.  Of course, the first step towards exhibiting at any convention is submitting an application, and ALA required those submitting for their artist area to submit a piece of original art for their auction.  Their requirements were that the piece be either 8"x10" or 11"x17" and have a literacy or reading theme.  I didn't have anything that fit both the size and theme requirement (I work in a totally different ratio usually, as watercolor paper doesn't come in 11"x17" pads), so I needed to whip something up quickly for submission.

I opted to do an 8"x10" piece, which is unusual for me, and I chose to work in landscape as I have few pieces that work in landscape.  Below is the finished watercolor:

And beneath the cut is my process!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Fude Pen Review: Kuretake Fudegokochi Super Fine and Gray

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I dare say you guys probably know by now that my fude pen of choice is Kuretake's Fudogokochi, in regular, but until recently, I didn't realize that Kuretake has two other offerings in their Fudegokochi line- Super Fine and a Gray ink with a Regular tip.  Any of these three pens retails for $3.50 each on Jetpens, and I recently decided to splurge and give the gray and Super Fine Fudegokochis a shot.


The packaging on both pens is written entirely in Japanese, but it's fairly easy to tell which package belongs to which pen- on the front of each package is a little graphic demonstrating the pen inside.  I'm going to examine the Super Fine first, and compare it to the Regular Black Fudeogokochi.

On the left is a regular black Fudegokochi, on the right is a Super Fine Fudegokochi
 The Super Fine Fudegokochi looks a bit like it'd be an extra light gray pen given the body color. 

On the top is the nib of the Super Fine Fudegokochi, on the bottom is the regular nib.
 The nib of the Super Fine Fudegokochi looks like it'd produce a thicker line than the Regular, given that there's a larger nib and no plastic sleeve, but the material the nib is made of is stiffer than the Regular, and requires some pressure to achieve line weight variation.

Unlike the Super Fine Fudegokochi, the pen body of the Gray Fudegokochi does denote ink color, which would make it stand out from a penstand full of black pens, if Kuretake had a consistent color scheme for their pens.

The Gray Fudegokochi handles just like the Black Fudegokochi- there's no learning curb here.

From Left to Right- Super Fine Fudegokochi, Regular Fudegokochi in Black, Regular Fudegokochi in Gray

Field Test- Gray Ink

The Gray Regular Fudegokochi handles pretty much just like the Black Regular Fudegokochi- the nib has a lot of bounce and flex, and is capable of pulling both fine lines and juicy lines.  The gray ink has a tendency to reactivate the black ink and cause some smearing, and when inked over itself, will create a darker gray tone.  I do not recommend this as a toning pen.

Field Test- Super Fine

The Super Fine nib, despite looking like a larger nib than the Regular, is actually very stiff and a little difficult to ink with.   It's the sort of pen that benefits from a little breaking in before inking, but it may become mushy with regular use.  Because the nib is so stiff, the Kuretake Super Fine Fudegokochi may be best suited to heavy handed inkers who prefer delicate linework that does not feature much line variation.

Overall, the Gray Fudegokochi handles well, but I don't necessarily see the point of purchasing two fude pends when many brands carry 2-in-1 pens (I'll be reviewing some soon!), especially if you have limited space in your everyday carry.