Guest signature books are a wonderful addition to portrait packages, for example, with engagement or senior photos. And guestbooks with some added design are all the rage, but the printing processes for these types of yearbook or story-book layouts make the signature part a little scary.
I thought I’d put some “Photo Pens” to the test and see how well they performed on luster photographic prints (as in the Finao playBOOK photo book) and semi-gloss press-prints (as in the Finao Ravebook press-printed book). I wanted to address some myths about press-prints vs. photographic prints and Sharpies writing on any surface. You might be surprised at the results…I definitely was!
The pens were ordered from Amazon.com and had the indication that they were “photo pens” or “photo markers”, acid-free, permanent, etc. I also threw in a micron drafting pen that was recommended in a fine art signature discussion on the web, a Sharpie “Pen” and Sharpie “Marker” and a regular Bic that I fished out from the bottom of my purse.
LET ME APOLOGIZE RIGHT NOW FOR SUBJECTING YOUR EYES TO MY TERRIBLE HAND-WRITING!!! My elementary school teachers would be so ashamed….
This is the playBOOK that features photographic silver halide prints:
This is the press-printed Rave:
were pretty consistent for both print types, which was the first thing that surprised me. I was under the same impression that I get from a lot of our customers: press-printed pages would be better for writing…NOT TRUE!
So myth #1 is BUSTED: Press-prints are not necessarily better for signatures than photographic prints.
I used both the Sharpie Fine Point Pen and Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker. The “pen” smeared where the “marker” worked pretty well, BUT I don’t think it’s acid free (possibility of discoloring or damaging print down the road) and it felt like it would dry up quickly and may not last through a lot of signatures. It also had a sort of “drag” that I didn’t like. Felt like it could grip & skip across the paper as you write.
Skip the Bic. Trust me. No, seriously…trust me.
The best pens
(of the ones I tested) for writing on the photo pages and the press-printed pages alike were the ZIG Photo Signature Pen and the ProMaster Archival Marking Pen.
Both of these pens had smooth action and ink distribution when they wrote. The ZIG’s ink distribution was a little more even and the color darker than the ProMaster, which is why I crowned it king. Otherwise, they both dried within 2-3 seconds so that they did not smear when I ran a finger across the text (not lightly) and did not transfer when I closed the pages and applied pressure. They seemed to work just as well on the press print as they did on the photographic print.
There was a second ProMaster pen that I had tested, but it didn’t fare so well. This is the ProMaster PhotoImagePro and not only did the ink seem to sit on top of the page rather than adhering (think beading), but it smeared terribly.
The last pens I tried were some Sakura Pigma Micron pens that were being chatted up on a discussion board about Fine Art and signing photos. These also smeared terribly and I would never suggest using these for a guestbook. However, I’m not saying that they wouldn’t be adequate to sign a work of art which is being left to dry and not being handled immediately. I have no opinion there.
Again, all of these options were available on Amazon, and the ProMaster Archival Marking Pen was actually sold by www.IdahoCamera.com who sent me a sweet little note with my order and I appreciated the gesture so I wanted to give them a shout out here and let you know that you can order from them directly in addition to through Amazon.
Now go, start designing your gorgeous guestbooks and don’t forget to post some pics of the finished product on your social sites and mention/tag us so we can see your works! AND if you have any more recommendations to add to this list, please feel free to leave a comment and share your experience!
A WONDERFUL customer emailed me today to let me know that he had found another winner and wanted to share it with you all as well. He writes:
I have found another pen that works absolutely perfect for the book. I tried it on one of my playBOOKS here and it dried instantly. I wrote my first name and then immediately ran my finger over it and it did not smear at all. The pen is called Slick Writer by American Crafts.#62001 black. Acid free,permanent, waterproof and non toxic. I would highly recommend it.
Thanks, Jim Petrosky, for the fantastic tip!!