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11:25 AM


Eerything you need to know about pens and markers for your BuJo needs in India

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you must have heard about bullet journalling and how the trend has really been catching up in India over the past 3 years. 

On this very blog, I talked about the basic supplies, the different types of bullet journals, and how to get started with it all. What I still get asked a lot, is what writing tools and supplies I use, or can be used in a bullet journal. So, I decided to put together a full shopping guide of all the pens, paint, brush pens and inks you can find in India and have experience using.
This post is a shopping guide, so it's the links below are affiliate links, if you purchase anything I get paid a commission at no extra cost to you. 

First thing first, not all bullet journals are created equal

What you can use in your BuJo widely depends on the paper quality you have in your notebook. Your average notebook has 80gsm paper in it, that includes the Matrikas Signature Elite which is by far the most affordable quality journal available in India.
Then you have BuJo with premium thicker paper like the Archer & Olive, which is only available in India with Bigger Dreams. A&O is the most expensive book on the market, and while I love mine, I really understand that it's not in everyone's budget. If you are looking for thicker paper, Matrikas came up with a nice option : The Matrikas Signature premium, which comes with 100gsm paper. In comparison the Archer & Olive has 160 gsm paper, which puts it at par with sketchbooks. 

This means that things like watercolor,  and certain inks and markers will bleed through basic 80gsm paper, and it's not the paper being poor quality, it's just that thin paper can only absorb that much moisture before giving in. 

Let's talk brush pens! 

Brush pens have quickly become the pen of choice for bullet journal enthusiasts and hand letterers and the Rolls Royce of brush pens is considered to be the "Tombow Dual tips". There is no question about it, they are good quality, but they also are pricey. 
What people do not know though, is that even Tombows will bleed on 80 gsm paper if the color is a dark enough one. Some pigments, especially in the blue/red family tend to bleed a lot more easily through even the best quality thin paper. 

An alternative to Tombows are the Sakura Koi brush pens, they only have a brush tip, and a bit more compact and will do the trick nicely. The tip is a bit softer though, so it might fray a bit more quickly than the Tombows and some of the pigments, again in the blue/red family are VERY potent and will bleed a lot more easily on thin paper. 

My recent find and absolute favourite are the Ohuhu dual tips pens, they come with a brush pen tip and a fine liner tip. Which means you can use them to write in your BuJo on top of using them to write calligraphy text or color some of your illustration. 
I bought myself the 60 colors set which comes in a cute box, as shown in the picture above. They also sell a 100 colors set that comes in a beautiful zip case, and a more basic 36 colors set

As far as quality goes, the Ohuhu pens hold their ground against Tombows, they are cheaper, the quality is pretty similar, the brush tip is firm, and I tested all of them on my Matrikas Journal, the bleeding is minimal with the brush tip and non existent with the fine liner tip. 

Everything you need to sketch and write

Fineliners are pretty much the standard to write and ink your drawing in a bullet journal. For black ink pens, the Sakura Pigma Micron is the standard and you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't use it. It comes in several tip sizes so you can do ultra thin lines you wouldn't be able to do with a more basic fineliner pen. The also come in different colors, I tried a few, but I am not as much of a fan of the colored variants as I am of the black one. 
The black one doesn't bleed in the basic 80 gsm Matrikas, the pink pen from the same brand does that times. 

I tried all the most common brands, and even non brands of color fineliners out there : Stabilo, Staedtler, Maped...Quality wise all of them, including my Ohuhu fineliners which I mentioned in the brush pen paragraph are similar, there is not one brand that is so high above the other that I would recommend it above all others. 
If I really had to choose a least favourite it would be Maped because some colors tend to bleed through a tiny bit, and my favourite of all is Ohuhu simply because the whole 60 color set of brush pen / fineliner is hard to beat, it's value for money. 

The gel pen conundrum

Gel pens are another favourite among bullet journalists, and the standard seems to the the Gelly Roll, they come in a wide range of colors, and finish, but I only used the white one and frankly, I don't know what the hype is all about with these. They are not bad, but if you ask me, they do not deserve the attention they get, they are widely overrated and the price tag on them is really NOT worth it. 

I used Uni-Ball Signo in Gold, Black, Silver and White for years and I can buy them per piece at my local stationery shop. I actually lost count of how many Gold pens from the brand I went through over the years. 

Another lucky and very affordable find I did over the year was this huge neon and metallic gel pen set from a cheap Chinese brand that is sold by many vendors on Amazon, but that I picked up in my local art supplies store. The set is huge and I originally picked it for my art students, I ended up using the metallic gel pens a ton, and even bought just the metallic set a couple of time because I love writing with those in my BuJo.  Some of them end up having dry ink over time, but all in all they are very decent for the price. 

One brand I am thinking of trying soon is the Ohuhu Gel pens. After trying the brush pens, and having heard many raves about the alcohol markers of the same brand, I have a feeling those would also be quality pens. 

Paint and paint pens

All the supplies in this sections will not do well on thin regular BuJo paper. They are really the type you can use in your Archer & Olive or Matrikas Signature Premium journals which can take the abuse with a lot more grace. 

You can really just use any watercolor you want on thick paper, as long as you don't do wet on wet or keep the paint in a pool of water. I had one incident of watercolor from my Prima marketing set bleeding through my A&O, it's entirely my fault, I used too much water. 
I frequently use a metallic sheen gold water color palette in my A&O and I just love it, if you want a shimmery finish to some of you pages, you can go for this Starry watercolor set

I have experimented with gouache as well, I have a few Winsor and Newton tubes on hand, and I bought a cheaper, student grade set from Pebeo as well. With Gouache, you get the quality you pay for, so a cheaper set will not have the same finish as a more expensive brand, but for a bullet journal I would not recommend breaking the bank on artist grade gouache. 

If taking the paint out is not your thing, say hello to Posca Pens! The come in matte and metallic finish, and have different nib sizes, the smallest nib is as small as a fineliner tip, the bigger one can be used to paint bigger surface. They have liquid, water based paint inside, and you need to shake them well before each use. 
The paint coverage of these pens is outstanding, I particularly love my gold Posca pen.

Highlighters in the spotlight

The one thing you ABSOLUTELY need to know about highlighters is that they tend to bleed, some brands more than others. 
I have the whole set of Stabilo Boss Pastel tones, and they bleed even through my Archer & Olive. The reason is that highlighters in general have a high water content so that the pigment hitting the paper is diluted enough to let the text show through. You can minimise the damage if you remember to have a light stroke as you draw your line and not let the marker linger on the paper as the beginning or the end of your stroke, as those pressure points are the ones bleeding through. 

I've heard good things about Zebra Midliners  but haven't had occasion to try them just yet. I liked the big set to show you guys the color range, but they are also available in smaller, more affordable sets. If you have tried them, let me know in the comments below. 

What are you favourite bullet journal writing tools? Let me know in the comments, but keep it non spammy. 

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  1. Anonymous12:43 AM

    Just a simple pen and notebook. Bullet journaling is much more than beautiful spreads ,although kudos to those who are so creative. I know about bullet journals from some years but was always overwhelmed to make it look pretty. Then I read the book by Ryder who is the original bullet journal guy who kind of invented this ,it was an eye opener. Since many people read your blog I just wanted to share that you can check more about bullet journal on bis website and even his YouTube channel. Bullet journaling is much more simpler and therapeutic.

    1. Yes it can be as simple as jotting down events, tasks and appointments :-) I actually tried Ryder's way once a long time ago, but I am highly visual earning and have a visual memory, so I can't commit things to my memory if they are just plain lists. I had the same problem with a conventional planner, and with Google calendar.

      With a bullet journal with visually appealing spreads, I don't miss dates or events and stay on track with my tasks a lot better because the instant it's written in the spread I remember it.

      What I do to keep up with the weekly spreads is make them months or weeks in advance. Right now my 2021 BuJo has all the weekly spreads ready until the first week of June already. I keep the spreads basic but colorful and add to them as I fill them. Since I also have synesthesia and it causes me to see months in very specific colors, I use those colors in the spreads. In the picture above, you can see a weekly spread for May, in my mind a bokeh of light purple and specks of yellow is tied to the month, I see the color and I see the month, I see the month and the color pops to mind.
      So I use this visual stregth to my advantage, I can find a month in my BuJo very quickly with that color coding I and also remember an even I wrote on a certain date by simply remembering the color feel of the month.

      The Ryder method is the basic, purely utilitarian method for those who don't want to bother with a planner and need a system that is more flexible with dates, his method is frankly probably more suited to a male wired brain that log in tasks as they come, and then cross them, complete or postpone them as they go. I think if my husband were to keep a BuJo, his would look exactly like that.

      Most women have to keep track of a lot more things, and usually it includes events and appointments for the entire family, on top of trying to squeeze in time for themselves and try to keep track of other things in their lives like budget planning and expenses, periods, workouts...
      Before I switched to a BuJo, these logs were all over the place and I had to heavily color code things that went in my conventional planner. The BuJo makes it simpler because I can keep certain trackers separately and still have everything I need to run my life, my business, and my household all in one place.


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