Is it the most beautiful? No.
Is it classy? No.
This pen is all about function (and memories of that 64 pack of crayons with the sharpener on the back). Need to sign a check? No problem. Color a restaurant placemat? Easy. Highlight a passage in a book? Choose fluorescent yellow, pink or orange.
I use many nice pens, but the one I carry with me every day in my sketchbook, is the Pentel Super Multi-8 PH803. Why? Because, “form follows function.”
Not much larger than a standard Pen, Pentel managed to pack in 8, yes you read that right, 8 pens or colored pencils into a normal sized barrel. You may use any combination of pens or pencils in the 8 slots.
Pentel only offers red, blue, and black ballpoint pen refills, though, so if chartreuse is your thing, you’re out of luck (unless you don’t mind customizing a refill – see below).
The colored pencils are high quality, neither dull nor scratchy. Instead of sketching with Pentel’s included black colored pencil, I substitute my favorite Koh-i-noor 4300/24 2mm lead. It’s not really necessary, but I’m likely more finicky than most.
The pen does have a couple of minor drawbacks:
- There is no .5 mm mechanical pencil option, only 2mm graphite, same diameter as the colored pencils. But, oddly enough, even as an architect, I never use mechanical pencils. I can’t remember the last time I used an eraser, either (it doesn’t have one, btw).
- The pen refills are basic ballpoints specific to Pentel. No other refills fit. I cannot express how much I loath ballpoint pens (I prefer gel ink that doesn’t skip or need scribbling to get it started). Yet, with a little effort you can customize a standard D1 Pen refill by simply trimming it with a wire cutter (you could try using your teeth, but unless you’re the tall dude from that James Bond film, I’d consult your dentist first).
The kid’s version below (PH158) is a third the cost, more colorful, but otherwise exactly the same functionality. You have to purchase the ballpoint refills separately because this one only comes with colored pencils. It makes a great stocking stuffer.