Welcome to my Chameleon Pens review.
These were the pens included in this month's Scrawlr Box.
I'd heard of them before, and looked into buying some, but ultimately never did as I wasn't sure enough that I'd like them to justify spending the money.
They are about on-par price wise with Copic markers.
(The chameleon pens official store has sets of 5 for £24.99,
The copic official store has individual pens for £4.99)
Here is your basic Chameleon Pen:
Here is your basic Chameleon Pen:
I will compare them mainly to copic markers, as copics are generally considered the highest standard for artist markers. Although I don't use them commonly myself, I do own some copics and have used them before.
(Short video review, and demo of them in action!)
Physically, Chameleon Pens are much bigger than any other marker I have ever used. Or even seen. Not in width, but in length. In width they feel like a chunky paint marker. The extra blending pen attachment on the top of them makes them really long. This in turn makes them hard to store if you dont have the specially made package they are sold in.
I find it also makes them inconvenient to carry around. Lots of other reviewers seem to think they're more portable, due to the fact that the blender is attached, so in theory you need less pens. That's completely understandble, if you have a pencil case long enough for these, maybe they are easier to carry than other pens. Personally though, I don't have any pencil case or even makeup bag that these fit in. I find it easier to just carry a selection of smaller markers, and include a seperate blender pen.
The chameleon pens are perfectly round, so they will roll away from you if not in a container. Most markers are an irregular shape, or have notches on the barrel somewhere to prevent this. The shape is very aesthetically pleasing, and comfortable to hold.
How do they draw?
Drawing with them is very slow. These pens are very much made for one specific purpose, and that is to colour a small area in a monochrome gradient. I think if you were into doing those for-adults colouring books, they'd be great. They are really made for that kind of thing!
Trying to do bigger and more complex areas is a hassle.
You have to stop every few seconds to re-fuse the pen, and you can't guarantee that the dilution will be the same every time, so it's very easy to mess up the gradient if you have a large area to work in.
Colour blending is very limited. You can layer colours on top of each other, but it's not easy and it doesn't always work. If you layer light colours, you'll see results, but you can't layer dark colours or dark over light or light over dark to change the effect like you can with any other marker.
Layering also involves knowing how long to fuse each colour to make it blend out at the same rate as the other colours. There's no exact science to that process either, so it's pretty much just trial and error every time. Not really what you want if you're working on an origial artwork.
You really are stuck with just the light to dark blend that comes in that one pen. Which is fine if that's all you need. It's just that with colouring, there is more to shade and tone than just a single colour lightened and darkened. I'd honestly say these pens are not for shading at all. They're for very specific gradients.
Replacement Nibs and Ink refills:
Like copics, chameleon pens can be re-filled and you can change the nibs. The replacement nibs seem to be cheaper than replacement copic nibs which is nice! The downside, is that you don't get optional nibs, because the ones in the chameleon pen are very specifically chosen for their purpose. Also, because of the shape of the blender part, you really need the specially made tweezers and the specially made ink injector and so on in order to refill them.
Whereas with copics, you can get those kinds of tools if you want them, but you can also just pull the old nibs out with your fingers and pour the ink in by hand if you want.
The replacement chameleon nibs look very much the same as the copic ones, and seem to come in larger quantities for less money. I don't know if they would actually fit, but if they do, that could be quite a neat saving! The price difference probably means they are poorer quality, and would wear out faster, but if you can buy more of them at a time for less then it might not matter if theyw ear out quickly.
According to the official sites, Chameleon ink refills are £6.99, and will re-fill the pen 8-10 times. Copic refills are £6.50 and refill the pen 12 times. It seems like copic are a better deal in refills, but chameleon pens are bigger and may just hold more ink at a time, and run dry slower.
The chameleon pens site doesn't list the colour inks for sale individually though, only the blender solution. There is a "delux pack of 20 refill inks" for over £100, but that'd involve you buying the full set of pens in the first place. Maybe they'll list the colour refills indiviually later.
the chameleon pens webite offers print-outs of colouring pages for you to try, but be aware that unless you have a lazer printer these will not work with the alcohol based ink in the pens. Printer ink will melt if you try and draw over it with these pens. Not a problem if you have a lazer printer though!
They are a nice idea, although it comes off a little gimmicky.
They're really not a replacement for traditional blending and shading methods.
I think they'd be great for small-area colouring books, but they don't work with my style and I will not by buying a full set.
I hope you found this review useful!
If you have any points to add, or any questions please leave a comment and I'll get back to you.