For fast, expressive drawings: flex or music nib?

To answer this question from Todd (who tweets as togotooner), I drew as fast as I could with different nibs.

Nib comparison

Nib comparison

The Platinum music nib was the easiest to draw quickly with. It was also the one that had the least line variation. The 1.5 mm Pilot Parallel pen was easier to draw with than the 2.4 mm. I found myself fiddling with the Sailor Fude, so that took more time. The edges of the cursive italic nib would sometimes catch on the paper, so I had to be more careful. The Waterman flex nib produced the most line variation. While not speedy, it wasn’t as painstakingly slow as I thought it would be.

For flat nibs (the spectrum of stub to music to crisp italic), rounded edges and generous ink flow aid nimbleness and a looser, more expressive drawing line. In general, the sharper the nib, the more difficult it is to draw with. With practice, though, the hand should get used to the “drag,” and compensate accordingly.

The tools you have dictate the solution. If you don’t have a bucket for water, you use your hands. If you have a pencil, you shade with the pencil on its side. If you have a 0.05 Pigma Micron, you crosshatch to make shadows. If you have a fine flexible nib, you bear down hard for a thick line where the shadow goes. If you have a Pilot Parallel Pen, you rotate the nib so its entire surface touches the paper.

I prefer fine flexible nibs for drawing quickly. Next in line would be Pilot Parallel Pens. Each kind of nib has its own lovely result, so learning how to use them can improve anyone’s library of drawing styles.

(Adding another comparison shot for Khaled.)

More samples

More samples

  • togotooner

    Leigh,..THAT was fantastic!!! You’re the best! I love the examples that you presented here. If I had to choose from the 6 you so generously offered there, I would have to say the Waterman Flex and the Vintage Duofold Cursive Italic struck a chord immediately. Now,…I’m just basing that on my personal preference for how that translates into my drawing style.

    Honestly,..I think I could live with all of those results and in certain applications would actually favor the Music nib over the others and the Parallel 1.5mm in other instances.

    I guess the best answer to my question is basically what you eluded to. Just try them all and have fun with it. See where it takes me. It can only make me more diverse with the ability to employ different styles.

    Thanks again Leigh!

  • James Park

    the flex nib one does look the best!

  • Jon Buller

    I like your cartoon, but the punch line could use some work.

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  • leighpod

    You’re welcome. Anytime. 🙂

  • leighpod

    Bwahahahaha! 😀

  • leighpod

    It’s the hairlines, really.

  • Khaled

    hi there,

    just a quick question, if you don’t mind..

    In your comparison of the drawings, you mentioned the music nib was the fastest but that it had the least variation. How would an elastic music nib on the Nakaya compare? would that be the best compromise between line variation and fast expressive, and wet linework?

    PS. I love your drawings!

  • leighpod

    Hi Khaled, Nakaya’s elastic music nib draws just like the Platinum music nib, only wetter, and with a little added spring from the cutout shoulders. Hmmm, will post a picture.

  • bsodmike

    Hey Leigh, love the sketches… one of your best posts…!

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  • yuweesh

    Hi there! I noticed you used Pilot Parallel Pens? Did you get them here in the Philippines? Can’t seem to find them anywhere here. We actually own a local school and office supplies store here in our province and our Pilot suppliers can’t get these stocks for me. So bummed, so far my option is buying online and from another country.
    You’re work’s great by the way!