Friday, 26 August 2011

ZIG Links

Introducing.... ZIG Links!

Every week we come across so many blog posts, articles and pictures that are so amazing it would be rude not to share them!  So we're starting a new Friday feature of ZIG Links, sharing the best links we've come across in the past week.

Hope you like these...

No clouds in the sky – Emma Williams 

Yoda time lapse video with artist Jim Welz -  Dominic Draw Techniques 

ZIG Clean Colour for cardmaking -  Vera W. Yates 

Ghosts of times past - Kim Dellow, Crafty Makes  

Calligraphy, to learn or not to learn? -  Dee Paramour 

ZIG Art and Graphic Storm - Ksenia Romantshenko 

Ink Links from Jetpens - The Pen Addict  

Kuretake Spotlight - Miria Molinari

Bling and Sparkle Challenge  - Jaine Drake  

Kuretake Art & Graphic pens - Sarah Hurley

"Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world."  - Emma Williams

ZIG Painty and Baseball - Lisa Day

Kuretake Art - Flickr group  

Dear Santa - Anna's Craft Cupboard 

New Hobbycraft store! - Northampton Chronicle

Kuretake-fest! - Crafty Boots 

Thanks for all you do - Handmade by Angelica 

Sketch - Blog de Laury

Got an amazing link? Want to see if it can make next weeks ZIG Links list?  
Email or tweet me (@kuretake_zig) with the link and look out next week to see if we've featured it.


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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

ZIG Scroll & Brush pens: The Basics!

What's so great about ZIG Scroll & Brush pens?

And, they're part of the ZIG Memory System range of markers which means that they're....
  • Acid free
  • Pigment Ink
  • Lightfast
  • Archival Quality
  • Photosafe
  • Waterproof
  • Non-bleeding

So ideal for cardmaking, scrapbooking or anything you want to last the test of time!

They also come in 48 Colours and are blendable with any of our ZIG Memory System markers.

The Scroll tip....

The Scroll tip is an indented calligraphy tip that creates a solid break in writing.

Well, they're double ended markers and extremely versatile!  They have a notched scroll tip for calligraphy writing on one end and a flexible brush tip for rubber stamping and brush lettering on the other. So, two pens in one!

What can you do with the Scroll tip?

Blend the tips!...

ZIG Tip! If you have a selection of ZIG Memory System markers, but not the colour you need in the Scroll and Brush pen, no problem!  Just blend the colour that you want onto the Scroll tip the use as normal and it will write in the new colour!  To change back to original colour, simply dab onto tissue or use until the original colour returns.

The tips can be blended with other ZIG Scroll tips, or any marker in the ZIG Memory System 

To blend your pens, hold them vertically, and without applying any pressure, allow the ink to flow into the pen below.  The longer you hold the pens together, the longer the 2nd colour will last on the tip! 

Try it on one part of the Scroll tip, to create effects like this...
Calligraphy lettering & flowers...

The Scroll end is a calligraphy tip so you can do the same lettering, flowers and motifs using the Scroll & Brush pen as you can with the ZIG Calligraphy marker tip. The scroll effect 

Use the scroll tip to edge your paper....

gives a really different look to flowers and flourishes, especially when you start blending!

Just remember to keep the Scroll tip at an angle of 45 degrees when doing lettering or calligraphy flowers, start from the middle working outwards and turn the paper each time you do a new petal.

ZIG Tip! I actually found the Scroll tip a real help when learning to do Calligraphy, it's slightly less forgiving if you don't hold it at 45 degrees which gets you into the habit of holding it at the correct angle!

 Simply place the paper in the slot of the Scroll tip and drag the pen down to create a defined edge for your projects......

Kim Dellow "Smile"

Create borders...
Use the Scroll tip to create borders for your cards and scrapbook layouts.

The Brush tip...


The Brush tip is a flexible and versatile tip, great for rubberstamping, brush writing and simple motifs.

What can you do with the Brush tip?

Blend the tips.... 

You can blend the brush tips by simply painting one colour onto the tip of another....

Create simple flowers...

Simply push the brush tip down to create a petal effect, turn your paper and continue to add petals until you have a little flower!

Here's some I did earlier, they're super easy so give them a try!

Brush Writing...

The brush tip is of course great for Brush Writing!  When doing brush lettering, you use the side of the tip and don't be afraid to apply pressure as this is when you will create the thickest lines. 

 A good place to start is to do a few flicks to get a feel for the brush tip....

I learnt to do my Brush Lettering by watching some of Martha Lever's video tutorials on YouTube, you can find them here


The flexible Brush tip can be used directly onto rubberstamps or you can use the brush end to colour your stamped images. 

We love this video tutorial from docrafts which shows how to use the Brush tip with rubberstamps as well as some other great techniques with the Scroll & Brush tips....

There are loads of really simple little designs you can do with the Scroll & Brush pens, here's some I've done today (and if I can do them, you definitely can!)

Flowers with the Brush tip... 

And the easiest of them all...hearts with the Brush tip!....

Why not have a play and see what you can come up with?


"To You" using the Scroll Tip by Kim Dellow

ZIG Scroll & Brush pens aren't just for craft! 

California based artist Arlen Dean uses the brush tip for his amazingly detailed work.  We'll be featuring more of Arlen's work on the ZIG blog soon.

"Stare" by Arlen Dean

Also Comic Artist John Mccrea uses the brush end of the Scroll & Brush pen to ink his work, check out his blog post and find out how his does it.

Need a bit more help?

  • We've got some downloadable practice and idea sheets on our website 
  • Check out our A-ZIG book which will get you started with calligraphy in no time!  More about this book on our Calligraphy blog post.

A-ZIG Calligraphy book - a must have starter book for Calligraphy!

  •  Check out Martha Lever's fab video tutorials with loads of different ZIG pens

How else do you use your ZIG Scroll & Brush pens? We'd love to hear!

Send me an email with some images of your Scroll & Brush artwork and we'll be sharing some on the blog soon with some prizes for the best ones!

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ZIG Tip! As with all double ended pigment markers - they must be stored horizontally! This is to keep the ink flowing nicely from both ends. 

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Aliens, Dr Who and Kuretake ...must be the London Film and Comic Con 2011!

The world of pens takes me to many interesting places that I've never been before, and when we had the opportunity to sponsor the Artists Alley at this years London Film & Comic Con (LFCC) we jumped at the chance to take ZIG pens somewhere new!  It was Kuretake's (and my own) debut at a film and comic convention so we really had no idea what we would see, or who we would meet....

Steph and I with the Storm Troopers at the Kuretake booth!

The London Film and Comic Con is the UK's largest comic, movie and manga/gaming event and it's held at Earls Court annually.  It was great fun, so many people dress up in incredible costumes and the atmosphere was brilliant. We had a booth and sponsored the Artists Alley, an area where artists of any skill level can chill out, draw (with ZIG pens of course!) and meet other artists.  Whatever they draw can then be pinned on the wall and at the end of each day the organisers pick a winner.

Kuretake Artists Alley

The Artists Alley was buzzing all weekend and there were some amazing entries to the daily competition....

Competition wall

I never get tired of seeing someone pick up one of our pens and draw something amazing and unexpected with it!....

Incredible hulk with ZIG Kurecolors

Sketching with Kurecolors
Manga with ZIG Brushables

 A lot of people dress up for LFCC and there were many interesting (and some rather frightening) visitors to the ZIG booth!......


Me and the amazing remote controlled R2-D2. So wanted to take him home!

And of course we had some lovely customers at the booth too...


As part of the Artists Alley, a blank comic strip was created , the empty comic boxes were then filled in by visitors to the Artist Area....

Over the course of the weekend it got filled up with witty, colourful artwork....

Have you been to the LFCC before? If not, there really is something for everyone! A big crowd pleaser is the famous actors who attend to do signings, talks and pose for photos with fans.   

Karen Gillan, Christopher Lloyd, Alex Kingston & Derek Jacobi

Dr Who seemed to dominate the LFCC this year, with the hugely popular appearance of Dr Who actress Karen Gillan.  I have to admit I'm not really a Dr Who or SciFi fan (sorry!) but I am a huge Prison Break fan and got to see actor Robert Knepper who plays Theodore (T-Bag) Bagwell which was cool, and Corey Feldman from the Goonies, one of my favourite films ever! So that made me happy. You can see the full list of actors in attendance at this year on the LFCC website. There were loads!

There are also some great videos on YouTube covering the event.

Aside from the actors, there's plenty more to see at the LFCC, including stalls selling comics and collectables, Nintendo gaming stations, and professional comic artists at work.  We got to catch up with some of these artists, including John Mcrea

Artwork from John McCrea

John McCrea illustrates for Marvel and DC Comics, inking characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Hulk, Spider Man, Daredevil, Wolverine, Star Wars, Judge Dredd and the Simpsons! He's a Lucasfilm accredited artist and is a huge fan of ZIG pens! He uses ZIG Scroll & Brush and ZIG Brushables in a lot of his artwork.

We also met some new faces including Al Davison, an Illustrator and Manga artist. Al was an instant fan of our more traditional Japanese pens, including the Kuretake Brush Writer and we hope to be working a lot more with Al in the future.
Illustration by Al Davison

And we met Liam Shalloo, a comic colourist well known for his work on the Transformers brand. He uses watercolour to colour a lot of his artwork, and is now using some ZIG Art & Graphic Twin pens! 

Liam Shalloo

We took some work from our favourite ZIG artists to display at the LFCC, so a special thanks to Facundo Lopez and Alice de Ste Croix aka Destiny Blue for sharing your work with us! You can see their work in the background of many of these photos and you can check out their DeviantArt pages by clicking the links above.

The London Film & Comic Con will be back next year! Link up with the organisers, Showmasters, on twitter and facebook to find out all of the 2012 plans!

Were you at the LFCC this year?  If so, we'd love to hear your experience!...

Thanks for reading, 

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PS: Thanks Showmasters for the use of the images from your website!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Ever wondered where your ZIG pens come from?.....

Lot's of people know and love ZIG pens, but what do you know about Kuretake?


"Kuretake" in Japanese characters. As seen on our blog background!

How do you pronounce Kuretake?

The Japanese pronunciation is koo-reh-tah-keh

but in English we tend to pronounce it as kure-a-tack-ee

Who are we?

Kuretake is a Japanese manufacture of high quality inks, markers, and writing materials.  We were founded in Nara, Japan in 1902, where our Head Office is still based today.

Nara was the first permanent capital city of Japan, is steeped in history and home to some of Japan's oldest and largest temples. 

I was lucky enough to be invited to our Head Office in April, after we exhibited at the Japan Hobby Show.  We spent some time with our Japanese colleagues, got to look around the Kuretake factories and received some extra product training.  We also got to see some of beautiful Nara, which is such a huge part of our company's history. 

Our Marketing Manager Steph (left) and myself at Isuien Gardens, Nara. 

If you ever visit Japan, I strongly suggest you visit Nara, if only to visit Nara Deer Park, where the 1000 plus friendly deer bow to you! The deer are considered to be sacred, and guard the temples that are located in the park.

A deer in Nara park - very cute but very greedy!

Kuretake also has an office in Tokyo, and it's own range of scrapbooking stores, called DUO, located around Japan.  DUO shops sell Kuretake ZIG pens as well as a large range of other scrapbooking brands and products.  Kuretake is HUGE in Japan, and scrapbooking is extremely popular. Japanese scrapbooking is heavily influenced by US trends and the vast majority of the projects use English lettering, rather than Japanese symbols.

Japanese scrapbook layout

Kuretake and ZIG pens...

The ZIG Memory System is manufactured by Kuretake.  It's been around since 1997 and available in over 80 countries worldwide! We've worked with distributors in the past, such as EK Success, who distributed our products in the US but the ZIG brand is and always has been manufactured by Kuretake!

Kuretake are a market leader in the production of high quality inks, markers and writing materials.  We have some amazing facilities in Japan and are always working on new and innovative products.  We have the ability to bring a new product to market in a short time and are always looking for new product ideas, so if there is something you can't get hold of that you'd like us to try and make - please let us know!

ZIG Posterman factory in Nara

What else does Kuretake do?.....

As well as the ZIG Memory System, Kuretake manufacture a huge range of traditional Japanese inks, brush pens and other writing tools.  Not all of these products are widely available around the world, as they are very specialist, many being used for Japanese or Chinese writing.  It is however our intention to bring more of our Japanese ranges to the UK, Europe and the US.

Kuretake No. 13 - Fountain Hair Brush Pen

You can find many of these pens on the Jet Pens website. Jet Pens specialise in Japanese pens and art materials, and ship all over the world. 

Kuretake Manga Ink

So now you know where your ZIG pens have come from!

As always, we'd love to hear your views and see any projects you've done with our pens.

Dewa mata!  
(See you later)
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