Yesterday I spent some time at the park doodling. I haven’t penned much in the past couple of years but it’s an activity I really enjoy and it helps me exercise the sort of creativity I don’t use when programming.
There is nothing quite like a fountain pen with a quality nib on it. I believe it was in my undergraduate years that I received my first such pen. Though I have never owned what one might call a “high-end” fountain pen, I have adopted a Lamy as a practical instrument and it does well enough for fun and profit.
Ballpoints have very little differentiation. They tend to fatigue me quickly as I struggle to apply enough pressure to get the solid lines I want. There are gel pens that make up for this, but they are clumsy and it’s harder to control their wide ink flow. The so-called “space pen” is a pricey improvement but still leaves one without pressure, width, and angle control.
Each nib differentiates itself on the width of the stroke, the flow of the ink, the flexibility or stiffness of the tip, and the reliability of operation. It’s the piece that draws ink out of the cartridge and directs it to the paper. Because the ink is wicked instead of pressed onto the paper it only requires a barely perceptible amount of pressure to get a solid line. Unlike the ballpoint, which digs a trench in the paper as it rolls and scrapes, the fountain pen leaves the paper virtually untouched (but painted) and that enables filling solid regions of color.
Paper quality doesn’t matter as much with a ballpoint whereas you can probably see some excessive bleeding in the print above that’s due to the paper being cheap (a freebie notebook thanks to the great folks at SiteGround).
Like having a pencil on paper, it’s about the feel, it’s about the texture, it’s about the blank canvas.