For the purposes of the comparison, I chose the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner, because it is water-based like the Letraset, and the Copic Multiliner because I think it would appeal to the same market as the Letraset Fineliner.
I used the 0.3 mm nib size pen throughout.
I’ve found that companies want you to know the good stuff about their product, so I went searching for specifications. This is what I was able to find about each pen.
(click on the pen name to be taken to photos.)
|Letraset Fineliner||Staedtler Triplus Fineliner||Copic Multiliner|
|Nib sizes: 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.7||Nib sizes: 0.3||Nib sizes: .003, .005, 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8, 1.0|
|Water-based, Pigmented Ink||Water-based Ink||Pigment-based Ink|
|Acid-free, Archival||Acid-free||Water-proof, Archival|
|Dry safe-Long cap time off|
|Long service life|
|Consistent Ink flow||Washes out of textiles|
Letraset Fineliner: The Letraset is the plain Jane of these four, being a basic black with white lettering. On closer examination, you’ll find a small window in the cap that allows you to see the nib. Cool. While the appearance doesn’t mean much once you have the pen in hand, I might well have walked past these pens in the store, while my eye was drawn to the more flashy competitors.
The barrel is round and well-balanced in my hand and the pen glides smoothly across the paper.
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner: This is long pen with a triangular barrel that feels a bit awkward to me. On the other hand, it does not roll off the table. A plus, and I do get used to the feel after a while. The pen is very smooth going across the paper.
Copic Multiliner: The Multiliner has a glittery charcoal color that is quite handsome. Unfortunately, after just a week of use, the white lettering is already starting to rub off.
The barrel is about the same length and width as the Letraset Fineliner, but the pen feels a bit harsher going across the paper.
Sorry for the pounds versus dollars, but I couldn’t find a dollar amount for a single Letraset Fineliner.
Letraset Fineliner: Around £1.65 each
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner: Around $1.00 each
Copic Multiliner: Around $2.00 each
And now, to the drawing tests!
I used Aquabee Satin-finish, a very glossy, and non-textured drawing paper for my tests.
I don’t think my scan shows it, but the Letraset has the darkest line and the Copic has the lightest line, even though all three pens are 0.3 mm.
The Copic wins in this category. I was able to smear it, but only slightly and only if I did so immediately upon laying the ink down. I was able to smear both the Letraset and Staedtler ink, but the Letraset was by far the most smear-able. But the Letraset dried faster than the Staedtler, so I found that I smeared the Staedtler more often.
NOTE: Smearability has a lot to do with the paper you are using. I consider these results to be worst case scenario all around.
And what about using the pens over color? I tried this three different ways. All three pens feathered a bit. The Staedtler was the worst, and the Copic the best.
1. The recommended way-laying down the color, and then using the pen.
2. Using the pen, and coloring immediately. Oops. Not recommended. (But you know I do it all the time, lol!)
3. Using the pen, waiting ½ hour and coloring. Better.
Overall? The Staedler has the most feathering, the Letraset has the boldest line, and the Copic has the least amount of feathering.
In conclusion, I don’t think you would go totally wrong with any of these pens. The Staedtler Triplus is weakest in performance, but it is mighty close given its price. The Letraset Fineliner will probably appeal to those who like a bolder liner, while the Copic Multiliner will be preferred to those who like a more delicate line.
I send you off with zentangles done with each pen to give you a better example of how they compare.