19 August 2015

[art] Rotring Tikky Graphic – The Return Of The Rapidoliner, Kinda.

This makes me happy.

Does anyone remember the Rotring Rapidoliner? This is not to be confused with the iconic pen line Rapidograph, mind you, which, I understand, is still available (I have a set of steel-tipped Koh-I-Noor Rapidographs myself, these apparently being the American version of the Rotring pen system).

For those who don't know, there are these things called technical pens, originally developed to create a precise line for those who did drafting – technical drawings. They came in a range of sizes, and the tip … the nib … was a steel tube with a flat end. a wire, with a weight, ran through this tube, and the contact of the wire with the paper jiggled the weight and provided flow.

Tech pens are challenging to create are with, yet rewarding; they require skill, patience and finesse, and were ideal for people who loved obsessing over detail in drawing, like me. They had their flaws, though … they were touchy to keep clean, especially in the finest points, and unless handled with care, prone to leaking. One travelled with them at their own risk. They had a pocket clip on the pen top, but I found it inadvisable to travel with them in your pocket.

That was why the Rapidoliners were so cool. They were a disposable version of the Rapidograph, and while the refill seemed a tad wasteful (it actually took up most of the pen, which was just really a tube that enabled you to hold and cap the refill), it was a much, much more portable version of the Rapidograph and went just about anywhere.

About 10 years ago, I think, Rotring stopped making them. In the succeeding years, Stadtler, LePen, Pigma, Sakura and others started making hard-tipped markers with precise widths and archival pigmented inks, and I imagine that even the Rapidographs are starting to see a greatly-decreased demand. But when we are +Muse Art and Design during Hawthorne Street Fair and I asked what was new, they pointed me at the pen display and I saw one of these:

This, my friends, is the Rotring (they like to style it rOtring) Tikky Graphic pigmented ink marker. The look of the pen, with its brown barrel and its red band, spoke to me so loudly in design that I thought for a minute that Rotring was bringing back the Rapidoliner. Well, no, but that's cool. This is a high-quality, smooth-writhing, precise-line marker, with a well-balanced feel that's kind to the writing and drawing hand. The ink delivery system seems to be akin to the fountain-pen delivery system common in pens like the Pilot Precise line, and the ink is kind to the paper I wrote that on, not bleeding.

It comes in the range of line-widths you expect from a line of archival, precise-line markers, and it just has that great Rotring professional-look that I learned to love so very much.

So, no, the Rapidoliner isn't back and I don't expect it back anytime soon. But this is the next best thing, and a worthy successor.

If it's good enough for Shoo Rayner, an award-winning childrens' book illustrator from Britain, then it's good enough for my diary. In this video, the affable illustrator gives you a tour of the Tikky Graphic.

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