How to use rapidograph pens

Written by m.l. browne
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Rapidograph pens are very popular with artists and architects because they can exercise considerable control over the width of the line of ink that gets laid down on the page. Rapidograph pens are composed of the pen nib mechanism, the nib holder and cap, and a plastic ink reservoir. Each pen is measured and labelled based on the millimetre width of the ink flow through the nib mechanism (for example .18, .25, .35, .50, and so on). Nib mechanisms consist of a stainless-steel tube that houses a needle-like filament that permits an even flow of ink when the nib touches a drawing or writing surface, and a feeder element that attaches to the ink reservoir. Rapidograph pens work well with drawing ink, pigmented ink (also known as India ink) and water-based fountain pen inks. Rapidograph pens come in refillable ink reservoir or ink cartridge models.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Rapidograph pen body, cap and reservoir
  • Rapidograph pen nib
  • Drawing, pigmented or fountain pen ink
  • Eyedropper
  • Paper towel
  • Ink cartridge (for cartridge fill pen)

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Instructions

    Refillable Rapidograph Pen Usage

  1. 1

    Unscrew the pen cap from the pen body, and unscrew the pen body from the plastic ink reservoir and nib mechanism.

  2. 2

    Unscrew the ink reservoir from the nib and set the nib mechanism aside. You now have four sections: cap, pen body, nib mechanism and plastic reservoir.

  3. 3

    Use the eyedropper to transfer ink into the ink reservoir. The ink should fill to between two-thirds to three-quarters of the reservoir.

  4. 4

    Screw the plastic ink reservoir back together with the nib mechanism, and reconnect the pen body back onto the nib mechanism.

  5. 5

    Hold the pen so that it is horizontal to the ground, and wrap a paper towel loosely around the nib to trap excess ink; then shake the pen gently several times to load the nib mechanism with ink. The nib mechanism will click (this is normal).

  6. 6

    Test the ink flow on a piece of scrap paper. If the ink does not flow smoothly, rewrap the paper towel around the nib and shake the pen a few more times to start the ink flow.

    Ink Cartridge Rapidograph Pen Usage

  1. 1

    Unscrew the pen cap from the pen body, and push the coloured tab at the base of the pen body so that the nib and cartridge are released.

  2. 2

    Remove the cartridge from the pen body and dispose of it.

  3. 3

    Insert the new cartridge into the pen body until it is secure.

  4. 4

    Hold the pen so that it is horizontal to the ground, and wrap a paper towel loosely around the nib to trap excess ink; then shake the pen gently several times to load the nib mechanism with ink. The nib mechanism will click (this is normal).

  5. 5

    Test the ink flow on a piece of paper. If the ink does not flow smoothly, rewrap the paper towel around the nib and shake the pen a few more times to start the ink flow.

Tips and warnings

  • Rapidograph pens require airtight capping and cleaning after each use to prevent ink clogging in the filament and nib mechanism.
  • Never leave ink in a Rapidograph pen for more than a few days. When you finish working with the pen, empty the reservoir and clean the nib thoroughly with warm water or commercial Rapidoeze pen cleaner to flush the ink from the feeder mechanism.

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