There’s no doubt that the Sakura Permapaque Opaque Pigment Markers are very good markers. The chisel tip in these dual tipped pens are particularly great. But are they really opaque? Are they any competition for the growing segment of acrylic paint pens? We put the Permapaque markers to the test and tease out all the challenges and limitations of making an opaque, metallic colour marker for artists, and why it’s a very hard thing to do. Watch the episode to see what we discovered about modern art markers.
Reviewing the Sakura Permapaque Opaque Pigment Markers
Vishal: Hello and welcome to Stationery Test Drive where every week we look at stationery that’s cool and colorful and fun and this week we have the Sakura Permapaque Opaque Pigment Markers in several eye-popping colors. I’m Vishal.
Samir: I’m Samir.
Minjal: This is Minjal.
Vishal: These are markers that are permanent and opaque I’m guessing is the origin of the portmanteau ‘Permapaque’ ?
Samir: Opaque pigment markers which come with a chisel and a bullet tip and I believe they’re water-based and pigment based so that’s the mix.
Vishal: And from the esteemed Sakura company. Now we’re going to have an interesting time with this because these are not very new are they Minjal?
Minjal: I got these 3 or 4 years ago, so it’s been a while now.
Samir: Which is a long time in marker years.
Uni Posca Paint Markers vs. Sakura Permapaque Opaque Pigment Markers
Vishal: Yeah and in some ways these are not cheap markers, so you kind of hope that they last you a while. I know it seems absurd to say that your marker should last 4 or 5 years but we have had markers last 4 or 5 years. Now we’ve tested these out, of course, that’s what we do on this show called Stationery Test Drive.
Minjal: So for the test that I did, I’ve used these markers on a smooth paper. Now my observation was that when you use it on paper that is more textured, there is some amount of opaqueness that you can observe, which is not very apparent on smooth papers. But after having used our favorite by now, the Poscas, these are not really as opaque as one would wish they were.
Vishal: Talking about the Poscas, they have a defined opaqueness, if I may use that term. Don’t you guys think that as well? And the Poscas are expensive, let’s not kid ourselves.
If you’re living somewhere outside a first world country so to speak, like we are in India, there are import duties and all sorts of things that make these prohibitively expensive and in some ways investments because as stationery lovers we do like to invest our money and our time into something that is good and long lasting.
Samir: The ability to use something after months and years is very much a realistic expectation.
Vishal: The Sakura Permapaque Markers are good things but also maybe they’re not good enough in a world where the Posca exists. Is that more or less, are we in agreement with that because that was my take on it?
Minjal: Pretty much.
Samir: I think the problem with a lot of these is that they are being made in reaction to the Posca’s popularity.
Vishal: Because the Poscas were pioneers. They are a liquid paint marker almost, they don’t even call themselves what Sakura calls these markers – an opaque pigment marker. It’s terminology I’m guessing to weave around each other’s patents.
Samir: I assume that the Poscas were invented somewhere in the 80s, early 80s I think and since then their popularity has just grown and grown over the next few decades. Poscas are being made by Uni Mitsubishi Pencil Company. So now all of the other manufacturers who are in similar tools have obviously been trying to figure out something that can be called a paint marker.
And I guess we saw something like that with the Brustro a couple of weeks ago, this is Sakura’s try. The thing is that, I assume again it’s a patent thing but all of these people are going at it from a traditional marker point of view and there’s just limitations in that technology, to use a felt tip with a certain kind of pigment coming out of it.
Minjal: Yeah, the Poscas are actually acrylic paints in a pen form.
Vishal: In some ways they are better than acrylic paints in a pen form because the uniformity and the consistency that you get out of them is second to none.
Samir: Yeah, whereas all of these are still very much markers and don’t get us wrong they are great markers, they are just claiming to be something that they aren’t quite.
Minjal: So these cost roughly 200 plus rupees.
Vishal: Per, so that’s like 3 or 4 dollars per marker which is not nothing especially when you are maybe using them for a variety of uses or getting them as a set, that adds up. Yes you want to get premium tools but sometimes you just need one, even the Poscas, actually the nice thing about them is that I was able
to get my gold Posca just on its own because all I wanted was a gold.
Now the thing is after having seen the Posca gold, things like this, things like the Brustro, not as Goldy! And and that’s just a subjective thing.
Samir: You heard it here first folks, “Not as Goldy!”
Vishal: Speaking of things that are gold, Samir why don’t you settle something for us, which is the dress blue and gold or is it white and gray or whatever that particular internet kerfuffle was.
Illustration with Sakura Permapaque Opaque Pigment Markers
Samir: Speaking of gold versus blue dresses and also orange popsicles I made this.
Minjal: You’re finally gelling with the kids and doing things that they do.
Vishal & Minjal: Yes! Well, it’s guns and women and the controversial dress!
Samir: I believe the official term these days is bad girl art. If I had only left the gun out it would
have been good girl art, for some reason, I don’t know!
Vishal: But tell us about using the Permapaque.
Samir: I used the Permapaque, thankfully from the very beginning, just by looking at them and looking at the way the felt nibs were I kind of got into it thinking that I would use it like a marker. And I think that’s the thing, if you go in with that expectation, it’s fine. I went in wanting to do kind of a comic illustration
kind of look, where you can see the marker look of it.
What I found very interesting about this pen is that I could get the marker look that I have at these edges and things like that which are purposely left open to have that look but I could also get. And again this orange is probably my favorite marker.
Vishal: It’s the closest to something let’s say layered?
Samir: Yes and that’s what really works with the orange because I think more than the other inks I had a pencil drawing under it and you can still see a very faint version of that pencil drawing and the way this semi-opaque is the best I can say about it, semi-opaque orange fits on top of that, it really gives
it this kind of three-dimensional look which is great.
Vishal: It does look a lot like advertising marker art and comic art.
Samir: It almost looks like a gouache on top of a pencil drawing, which is a great look.
Vishal: Whereas that blue, while it is beautiful, is also all over the place.
Samir: Yeah and that’s the thing. The problem I found with these markers is that the colors work in inconsistent ways. Once I got through the blues I kind of figured out that okay I can kind of layer them to get a darker tone, so I used that to shade this part of the dress. But the point is that I think the opacity of these markers varies widely between the colors, that’s the other issue.
Calligraphy with Sakura Permapaque Opaque Pigment Markers
Vishal: Speaking of tight things that vary widely, Minjal Kadakia!
Minjal: I don’t know about that intro.
Vishal: This is your test drive which as a calligrapher I think you are well set for chiseled abs and chisel tips.
Minjal: There’s a script called Neuland which you’ll may be familiar with.
Samir: The digital version of Neuland was one of my favorites when doing design projects in college. So I’ve used it a lot but I do not by any stretch of the imagination have the skill to write it by hand.
Minjal: My experience with, I used the broad, chisel tip and you know it’s not entirely opaque, but yeah sure, for lettering it’s not half as bad!
Vishal: It’s pleasing, certainly the pigments are pleasing, there’s not too much of a bleed even on paper like this. The chisel is at least in some of these is quite a nice solid chisel.
Samir: There’s a sharpness to the edge which is not as common as you’d like.
Minjal: And what you can do is you can use it like this to get a flat line, you can use it from the side to get a slightly thicker line, and a rounded line almost, and you can also use it like this to get a really hairline
Vishal: Oh that is brilliant and did you use the other side, the bullet end?
Minjal: I used the bullet end to fill colors in the counter forms. And if you can see, like you mentioned, it
pulls off the paper.
Vishal: Yeah, it pills, it balls, it sort of takes some material with it, which is not always good.
Minjal: I don’t know if this is to do only with this particular marker or is that like also something that the Posca does?
Vishal: I think the Posca’s also did it from what I remember but not too bad. In the sense that we kind of try to stick to similar papers, similar grades of things and the Posca in some ways it sort of applies itself more rather than pills away.
Samir: The Posca’s use a medium that’s a lot more liquid, so it almost works similar to correction fluid or something where it kind of flows out and covers the paper.
Figure Drawing with Sakura Permapaque Paint Markers
Vishal: We will get back to correction fluid and speaking of which here is my test drive made with the Permapaques. I had a problem with the blue but it was not too much of a problem and it may not even show up on camera. But basically I stuck to figure drawing.
I did a test on this with the chisel tip orange which I thought would give me an interesting line and it did but it was not good for this subject. Maybe if I was doing something more stylized, more graffiti-like it would work.
Here I needed more organic line weights, things that could taper, things that I could flow easily and for that the chisel tip is actually pretty good. It’s a big fat marker so you can kind of like hold it and almost like scribble with it rather than sort of pushing it into place.
It moves quite well, that’s actually an important thing when it comes to markers because a lot of the time, like you are pulling smooth lines. What isn’t just right and I hope this shows up on camera is these are two different colors, two figures, two different colors. They are done in the same session with the
same pen, but she’s blue and she is green. And I was not expecting that.
This is the same chisel tip, the same chisel end and yes this is supposed to be a metallic blue marker but I didn’t expect it to be so pronounced over the same sheet of paper in the same session. This I only noticed afterwards and now that’s a question of is it because it’s too old, is it because it’s just built that way?
Minjal: I think that probably is to do with metallic colors themselves?
Vishal: We had the same problem with the Brustro Metallic Markers also.
Samir: Yeah I think the thing we found with the Brustro brush pens was that it seemed to be giving out the the silver gray metallic effect of it from one part of the nib and the pigment color part of it from another side.
Vishal: Yeah you can sort of see that in yours, at an angle maybe you can.
Samir: I mean it’s no way as textured as we were getting with the Brustro but again I have to say like this is meant to be a gold, it’s not gold.
Vishal: There’s a reason whey the Poscas are so sought after, so well-regarded, expensive, as well. Because you can get stuff out of the Uni Posca that you cannot get out of the Sakura Permapaque. And Sakura makes wonderful things.
Minjal: The Sakura Gelly Rolls which we have covered earlier.
Vishal: The Gelly Rolls, we love those. Those are white and they’re wonderful and maybe the Permapaques are really good when they’re new but 2 or 3 years down the line, which is let’s face it a realistic amount of time for you to have a set of markers. Not everyone is using markers every day all the time especially not in this world where there is so much stationery.
About Sakura Color Products
Samir: I think Sakura very rightly kind of brands themselves and prides themselves as being a manufacturer of some of the best coloring materials and they have reason to do that. They started in the 1920s or 30s as crayon manufacturers and we’ve mentioned this in our episode about the Camlin Oil Pastels.
Sakura was the one who invented the oil pastel because they wanted it to be more colorful than a crayon, they are the ones who then went on to do the Pigma Microns which we will cover in a future episode, which also come in colors. And then of course went on to invent the gel pen.
So I think to some extent Sakura got to the 2000s and realized that there was one entire category of markers and coloring things which they kind of didn’t have a presence in, that being the paint marker. And in some ways maybe the Sakura Permapaque is an early attempt and knowing them they will make it better.
Minjal: I believe again this must be targeted at the bullet journal crowd or just lettering artists because as a lettering artist you are not very concerned about the color that you’re eventually putting down unless it is a final commission piece. You’d be okay with some variation.
Vishal: Yes, that is true and some variation can be interesting. It’s just not always the variation you want
which is the thing.
Samir: I think most of these and it’s the same thing we’re finding with a lot of these markers is I think the problem is not with the marker itself but it’s just being sold as the wrong thing because that thing might
be popular at the moment.
I’d say that if you’re looking for something that is a paint pen that works across a whole bunch of surfaces there’s no contest – go for the Uni Posca.
Vishal: And I should mention that these Uni Poscas that I have, the gold one and this white one, were brought at the same time, 3 or 4 years ago, and they have not been used even as much as this. I use them very sparingly, sometimes 8 months, a year would go by before without using them.
Samir: I think if you’re looking for something that gives you the look of a marker which you can see Minjal’s kind of leans into with the lettering and I have done that with these kind of edges, you can’t get that look with a Uni Posca.
Vishal: No, it’s different, it’s a paint marker. So yes if you’re looking for a good chisel tip marker, the Sakura Permapaque can totally be on your list.
Samir: And I believe they’ve slightly changed the logo now it looks different than this and they’ve also made the pointed tip thinner in the newer version.
Vishal: So it’s closer to then this type of Uni which is 1.3 mm.
Samir: Which is why I said knowing Sakura and their wonderful track record of the things they’ve invented and developed this will keep improving over time.
Vishal: And we hope to keep improving our show and every week we will be back with other things and other improvements and not so improved things. You can follow us at the links that are on screen right now as well as at Inky Memo which is the brand that runs all of this of which Stationery Test Drive is just one thing.
We are all to be found doing our own things including test drive every day and every night and every time in between on the internet and beyond. We will see you next week with another test drive, more test drives, more markers maybe. We should try other things now that we’re on this run. If you have a marker that you really like and yes we’ve never really tried the Copics, we’ve never tried those kind of markers.
Minjal: Copics are very expensive!
Samir: The problem with markers is that we all know they have kind of a limited lifespan.
Vishal: The chisel tip of the Sakura Permapaque is extremely good, that’s one thing to really recommend for it. The right color that chisel you can get something great. And that’s all from us for this week, we’ll see you next time. I’m Vishal.
Samir: I’m Samir.
Minjal: This is Minjal.
Get Sakura Permapaque Paint Markers
1. Sakura Permapaque 20 Pcs Dual Point Paint Markers Set – Assorted – https://amzn.to/3OitXtw
2. Sakura Permapaque Opaque Dual Point Markers, 4 Pcs – Basic Colours – https://amzn.to/3Y8FK1I
3. Sakura Permapaque Paint Markers – Assorted Metallic Colors – Dual Point Markers Pens – https://amzn.to/470Y557