Tag: art supplies

Podcast: Ep. 8 Art Supply Posse “Color Me Pencil”

prisma-goldThis week on Art Supply Posse we talk about a topic near-and-dear to my heart and one that’s truly not to Heather: colored pencils. Listen to me try to woo her over to the not-so-dark side with the rainbow that is colored pencils. I try to entice her with ridiculously expensive Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils. Am I convincing? Decide for yourself.

(This week’s feature image provided by the awesomely talented Dan Bishop of Design Concussion and Karas Kustoms. He’s so rad he’s got a gold box of Prismacolors. Seriously!)

Pencil Review: Uni Arterase Colored Pencils 12-color Set

Uni ArtErase Colored Pencils

The Uni ArtErase 12-color Colored Pencil Set ($33) is considerably more expensive than the Prismacolor Col-Erase set I reviewed a couple weeks ago but when I saw it, I knew I had to try them. Uni Mitsubishi makes such amazingly high-quality graphite pencils and I love their red/blue pencils that it seemed worth considering the possibility that their erasable colored pencils might be worth the investment.

First of all, the ArtErase pencils come in a lovely tin box compared with the paperboard box that the Prismacolor Col-Erase were packaged. Not that I want a lot of fancy packaging, nor am I inclined to keep my pencils in a tin, but from the standpoint of the pencils being protected in transport and, having a useful and potentially reusable box, clearly Uni has the lead here. Uni also included a foam/plastic eraser in a hard plastic sleeve with the set which, while being only a couple dollars additional investment, is also a mark in their favor. And, it actually works. As opposed to the useless pink erasers on the end of the Col-Erase pencils, which are so useless I don’t think I even mentioned them in my review of the Col-Erase at all. I think those pink eraser top erasers are included on the Col-Erase pencils  are for decorative purposes only.

The ArtErase pencils are absolutely beautiful as pencil objects alone. I’ve come to expect this from top-tier Japanese brands but it should be mentioned, especially in contrast to the Col-Erase. The finish on each of the ArtErase pencils is lacquer smooth with perfect foil stamping, gold foil rings and a sparkly metallic, gold-dipped end that gives it a clean, sophisticated finish. The core of each pencil is thicker than the Col-Erase though I do not have a caliper to provide specific measurements. The ArtErase pencils have the look and feel of a Faber-Castell Polychromos rather than a Prismacolor Verithin, if that helps give you a better idea.

Uni ArtErase Colored Pencils

Once applied to paper (in this case, a Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook paper) it becomes clear how rich and creamy the leads on the pencils really are. They are much softer and creamier than Col-Erase pencils of comparable color. It’s most notable with the black pencils. The ArtErase black is considerably darker and inkier in color than the black Col-Erase. Where some Col-Erase pencils can feel scratchy on paper, the ArtErase pencils feel velvety. Even with how smooth and buttery the ArtErase pencils are, the only colors I could smudge with my finger was the black, brown and red. I could smudge the same colors in the Col-Erase plus the blue. The water solubility tests were also pretty comparable though the ArtErase, since the colors were richer, were prone to a bit more color spreading when wet.

Overall, the ArtErase pencils are richer, creamier and more luscious colored pencils when compared to the Col-Erase. They erase a little bit better than the Col-Erase and have softer, thicker leads. They are a bit more water soluble and are about as smudgeable as the Col-Erase. But the ArtErase are considerably more expensive. Presently, I have only found them through JetPens in the 12-color set so should you find that you like a few colors in particular, there are not open stock sources to replenish those. That said, the ArtErase are not at all scratchy like the Col-Erase and generally perform more like traditional artist’s grade colored pencils than the Col-Erase.

If you’re looking for an alternative for base drawings for animation, storyboarding, preliminary artwork or even everyday sketching and artwork, I think these pencils are far more versatile than the Col-Erase even with the more limited color range and the lack of open stock options. But they are more expensive. Buy once, cry once?


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Art Supply Review: Pfeiffer Art Supply Handcrafted Watercolor Paints

Pfeiffer Watercolor Pan Paints

I was really excited to be able to purchase the handmade watercolor pans from Pfeiffer Art Supply. They are listed as non-toxic and come in either half- or full-pans. Half pans are currently $6 each and full pans are $12 which is a very good price. There are currently 14 colors available in their line-up, each named after a bird. I purchased eleven out of the 14 colors as a few were sold out and I decided to skip the Crane White as I don’t often use white when I watercolor. Otherwise, I purchased almost the full range and I’m really glad I did.

Pfeiffer Watercolor Pan Paints

The pans came filled to the top and can have a strong magnet included on the bottom if you add a note in your order. Pfeiffer uses small disc magnets that are a bit thicker than the flexible sheet magnets I normally use on my watercolor pans but are much stronger magnets. It did make the Pfeiffer pans uneven in my watercolor kit with my other pans as a result though. If you plan on using this set independently it wouldn’t make a difference but since I ended up adding the Pfeiffer pans to my everyday watercolor set, the Pfeiffer pans ended up sitting a little higher than the others which I found a little distracting. In the future, I think I will have Pfeiffer send me pans without the magnets and I’ll use my own sheet magnets so all the pans sit at the same height.

Pfeiffer Watercolor Pan Paints

Now, let’s talk about the colors. The colors were actually quite bright and vivid. While the pans were dry, they wet easily and the colors mixed well. I was able to use just two colors in the palette to produce several additional colors I was concerned were missing from the pan like a more warm yellow, an aqua and a more indigo blue very easily while I was swatching colors.

The colors on this smooth paper had some light granulation. I have since used the paint on some more textured paper and its just as nice.

Pfeiffer Watercolor Pan Paints

In painting, the paint also re-wets easily making it easy to rework areas. I love the Heron grey. I don’t normally like black watercolor paint but this light neutral helps with soften and mute the brilliance of the colors to create more subtle tones. The Heron grey is great for doing a simple tonal sketch too.

#worldwatercolormonth day 5 peach iced tea @pfeifferartsupply #schmincke #handbookjournal

A photo posted by ana reinert (@wellapptdesk) on

I painted this sketch using a combination of Pfeiffer watercolors and Schminkes and used the Heron grey for the shadows. This was painted on Global Art Materials Travelogue Watercolor paper which is a cold press watercolour paper so you can see a bit more of the granulation and pooling of the colors.

Pfeiffer watercolors also mixed nicely with my other watercolors so its easy to add one or two colors to an existing palette if you don’t want to invest in a full array of colors. I’d recommend trying a few, maybe even whole pans since the prices are so reasonable. I really like the Macaw Blue, Cardinal Red, Goldfinch Yellow Ochre and Motmot Green as well as the Heron Grey if you’re looking for colors to start with.

There’s still lots of time in World Watercolor Month so what are you waiting for?

The Great Eraser Rub-Off Challenge

Eraser Off

After appearing on the Eraser episode of the Erasable podcast, I decided to fully test all the erasers (and then some) that were in the awesome CW Pencil Enterprise eraser pack as well as some of the erasers that were mentioned on the episode. Some were long time favorites of mine and others were new-to-me goodies so I thought it was time to do a side-by-side comparison.

The challengers:

The tools:

The papers:

Eraser Off

The first phase of this experiment was to test each eraser on the smooth, everyday paper. I chose Leuchtturm1917 which is a warm white, smooth paper. I wanted to test three “everyday pencils” as well as three colored pencils that might be used by people who might want to add color, sketches or more creative elements to their notes or everyday notes.

Eraser Off

For regular graphite, most of the erasers were acceptable. The Koh-i-noor Thermoplastic Hexagonal “throwing star” and the Kohi-noor Pebbles were the least effective on the Leuchtturm1917 but for daily writing, they were acceptable. The Staedtler Mars Plastic, the Tombow, the Sakura and Pilot Foam and the Campus Plastic all performed above expectations for graphite erasing.

Eraser Off

What was most surprising to me was that the Foam erasers by Sakura and Pilot usurped by beloved Staedtler for the best eraser when erasing the colored pencil markings from the smooth Leuchtturm paper. And the unusual and rare-as-a-coelacanth pink Campus Plastic Eraser also did a better-than-average job of erasing both graphite and colored pencil too. Not that I’m biased against pink erasers but it was pink and scented or at least swee-smelling so I wasn’t expecting it to be a top-performer too. The Koh-i-noor Pebbles did a good job of erasing the Col-Erase on the Leuchtturm which was a bit of a surprise.

Eraser Off

In an effort to be completely thorough, I also decided to test the erasers on the toothier Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook paper which allowed some erasers to really shine where others had a lot more challenges. The Pebbles struggled on the textured surfaces but the Tombow Mono, Campus Plastic and Staedtler Mars Plastic all did well. The Sakura Foam and Pilot Foam erasers did quite well too.

Eraser-off eraser challenge on #stillmanandbirn alpha sketchbook paper.

A video posted by ana reinert (@wellapptdesk) on

The Pebbles struggled on the textured surfaces but the Tombow Mono, Campus Plastic and Staedtler Mars Plastic all did well. The Sakura Foam and Pilot Foam erasers did quite well too.

 

Eraser Off

The finalists: Tombow Mono and Pilot Foam.

Runners-up: For toothy paper, Staedtler Mars Plastic. For smooth paper, Koh-i-noor Pebbles.

Most likely to smell good: Campus Plastic Eraser (could not decide if it was scented or not but it smelled sort of sweet).

Still coolest looking: Koh-i-noor Thermoplastic

DISCLAIMER: Some items were sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Other items I purchased myself. Please see the About page for more details.

Podcast: Episode 6 of Art Supply Posse: Cats-up & Bullying

Art Supply Posse Ep.6This week on Art Supply Posse, Heather and I discuss surviving bullying, being brave, making art, Sketchbook Skool and a backlog of follow-up. And we still didn’t get to it all!

This week’s artwork was created by my lovely co-host, Heather Rivard using her new Schmincke watercolors. Pop over to the web site to listen to the whole episode, get the iTunes subscription link and leave feedback about the episode. Thanks!

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Pencil Review: Prismacolor Col-Erase 24-Color Set

Prismacolor Col-Erase Pencils

While researching other artist’s recommended drawing tools, I found several who recommended Prismacolor Col-Erase and since I tend to favor the Prismacolor Premiers but had never used the Col-Erase, I thought I’d see what the appeal was.

Most artists mention a preference for the Col-Erase, not because they actually erase very well but because they do not smudge so the lines they put down stay where they put them and the lines are light enough that if they ink over them, when they photocopy or scan their artwork, the original pencil marks don’t usually show up if they use a light color like light blue or non-photo blue.

Prismacolor Col-Erase Pencils writing sample

Generally speaking, I found the pencils to be very smooth to use while they also maintained a point quite well in use. Some colors were harder and required a little but more pressure to show up than others. For example, the Carmine Red was much softer than the Vermillion. Why? I don’t know. But for laying some underlying sketches, these pencils didn’t smudge like a graphite pencil does.

With a standard white plastic eraser like a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser, I was able to erase some of the marks but not all of them. The eraser included on each pencil is a pink rubber eraser which worked abysmally. Its purpose was clearly to look classic only.

The pencil marks made by Col-Erase are also water soluble so if you plan to use the pencils in combination with watercolors, the marks will move but depending on the colors you choose, it could enhance your artwork rather than muddy it like graphite might.

The Col-Erase pencil marks did not smudge as much as graphite. Certain colors were more prone to smudging like the black, dark blue and brown but the lighter colors did not smudge without serious effort or a burnishing tool.

Prismacolor Col-Erase Pencil Sketch

These little drawing were done along the margin of the page after I did the eraser tests so the heads are no bigger than small coins so the sharp points of the Col-Erase pencils do allow for fine details and quick doodling.

Did I mention that the 24-color box I purchased was acquired on Amazon for $10.96? Cheap. Hard to resist at that price. Its actually cheaper to purchase the whole box than to buy these open stock. Most art supply stores sell these individually for about $1 or more per pencil. Even Dick Blick sells the 24-pencil set for $11.50.

If you’ve never tried the Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils, the price point is low enough that a box of 24 is well within most pen-and-pencil addicts’ range. Their good point retention and loyalty by the comics illustrations and animation industry should be reason enough to peak your curiosity.

Once again, CJ is hard at work. This time, as a photo assistant. She's holding my light bounce... but not very well. She decided it made a better car bed.
Once again, CJ is hard at work. This time, as a photo assistant. She’s holding my light bounce… but not very well. She decided it made a better car bed.

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Podcast: Art Supply Posse Episode 5

Woot! Episode 5 of Art Supply Posse is live and we are getting better. Heather got it edited and posted by noon today!

This week is part two in our on-going series on markers. We discuss brush pens — the whys, the types and the what-fors — plus Heather gets her first “big girl” pan watercolor set and we try to figure out the difference between pigment, dye and ink.

Enjoy! And now you can leave comments on the Art Supply Posse site too! Don’t forget to jam out to our new theme song.

Podcast: Art Supply Posse Ep. 4 You So Fine(liner)

Marvy Le Pen Array

This week we cover a fair bit of follow-up, our first #askasp questions, and the first part of our multi-part series on markers, starting with fineliners. And we got a theme song!

Listen and download the whole episode at ArtSupplyPosse subscribe to the podcast via iTunes (or your favorite podcast catcher) Be sure to leave a review on iTunes as it helps other people find it.

Post your questions to #askASP on Twitter or send your questions and comments to hello@artsupplyposse.com.

Borden & Riley Mini Sketchbook Review

Borden & Riley Mini Sketchbook Pads

After doing the Art Supply Posse podcast last week about sketchbooks, I stumbled into my local art store, Artist’s and Craftsman, and found the smallest spiral sketchbook samplers so I grabbed all the varieties that had in stock to try out. Borden & Riley makes my beloved-but-discontinued favorite 100% Cotton Rag Rough Marker Paper that we used for lettering so I was interested in trying out some of their other papers. I picked up the #880 Royal Sketchbook($3.84), #234 Paris Paper for Pens ($2.33) and #15 Tuppence Sketch Bond ($2.33, size not shown on web site). Each book was spiral bound at the top of its diminutive 2.5×3.5″ size. The Royal Sketchbook (90lb) and Paris Paper for Pens  (108lb) had 20 sheet and the Tuppence Sketch(70lb) included 50 sheets.

Borden & Riley Sketchbook test tools

For each paper test, I used the same assortment of pens, pencils and markers on each paper to get a comparison to how they performed and then did a doodle specific to the type of paper. Let’s go!

Borden & Riley Royal Sketchbook

The Royal Sketchbook was the book I had the most hope for because it had thick, creamy stock with some texture to it. The paper was warm white, almost ivory and reminded me immediately of the many multi-media sketchbooks I’ve tried like the Canson XL mixed media, the Strathmore mixed media and the Stillman & Birn Alpha paper. I immediately wanted this paper in a larger format. It was worth the $3.84 test to determine I wanted more of this paper.

Borden & Riley Paper For Pens

I’d always heard mention of the Paris Paper for Pens as a good option for calligraphy, dip pens, lettering and such so I was definitely interested in seeing how this paper felt. Its a very smooth, bright white stock. Its touted as being bleed-proof and I got no show through on the back of the stock except with the teal blue Spectra Marker which is an alcohol marker like a Copic. So, I wouldn’t recommend this paper for Copic-style marker drawings but it held pen, fountain pen and flex nib line work cleanly. The smoothness of the stock was really interesting too. I look forward to experimenting with it more and trying a variety of brush pens. I Was able to add some water to my watercolor marker color  and pencil but it did not move as easily as it did on the Royal Sketchbook paper. It did create some interesting effects though.

Borden & Riley Paper For Pens

These were some additional fountain pen tests on the Paris Paper for Pens. Some standard writing with a fine nib Franklin Christoph as well as some flex writing with my Waterman.

Borden & Riley Tuppence Sketchbook

And the last book I tried was the Tuppence Sketch which had the lightest weight paper. Once I’d tried the other two, I knew that the Tuppence was definitely the budget/dry media paper of the three. The grey PITT brush lines showed through a bit to the back and even some of the black pen from the “#” was starting to show through so this is definitely lightweight budget paper. The watercolor pencil did not move at all and the paper started to warp when water was added. When I did the larger sketch, I started to give up because the W&N watercolor brush markers didn’t move as smoothly as they do on more receptive paper so I kept adding more water which just made the paper buckle and the show through on the back is really bad. I pretty much abandoned the drawing at that point. Were I more inclined to do straight pencil sketches, I think this paper would be just fine. There’s a nice tooth to it — not so much that it will chew up your pencils but enough to hold some pigment and color. I might go back and try some colored pencil and graphite drawings on this paper to give it a second chance but I tend to prefer paper that can take at least a little bit of water media.

Borden & Riley is not one of the larger artist paper producers but they make good products so its worth checking with your local art supply shop to see if they carry them. I’m hoping that Artist & Craftsman will get a wider selection of their products in stock soon. I’d love to have a full sized Royal Sketchbook and a goodly-sized Paris Paper for Pens pad to use as well. Can never have too much paper, right?

 

 

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Art Supply Posse Episode 1: Let’s Talk About Sketchbooks, Baby

Review: Crescent Rendr No Show Thru Sketchbook

Crescent Rendr No Show Sketchbook

The Crescent Rendr No Show Thru Sketchbook 3.5″x5.5″ ($10) was something I wanted to try in hopes of finding a good multimedia sketchbook. I got the small size to sample at first before investing in a larger version. Crescent also claims that the sketchbook lays flat as show on the wrap included with the book.

The sketchbook has a flexible, soft touch paperboard cover and a perfect binding. In looking closely at the pages, the paper looks like there is a black core in the middle of the white sheet to create the bleed-proof quality.

Crescent Rendr No Show Sketchbook

Was the paper bleed proof? Yes, but any wet media, including watercolor markers, liquid ink applied in any volume, brush pens filled with liquid acrylic or ink, caused the paper to buckle and curl severely. I tried adding water to Winsor & Newton watercolor markers to blend the color and the color wouldn’t move. So there is another aspect to this paper that changes the property of some materials as well. The watercolor marker absorbed into the paper and made it impossible to manipulate those markers with water. I got a little movement with water soluble pencils like a Stabilo ALL but mostly, I found the paper frustrating. Sure, most material didn’t bleed to the reverse but the curl and buckle was so bad I couldn’t really use the other side of the sheet anyway so bleed through didn’t really matter by the time I finished a page anyway. At least for the types of art materials I use.

Crescent Rendr No Show Sketchbook Crescent Rendr No Show Sketchbook

As for the claims about lay-flat, I found in the small 3.5×5.5″ size, the book did not lay flat at all, even after trying to bend the pages and cracking the spine. I ended up having to use a clip or hold the book with my hand. Maybe the larger book lays flat more easily but the small pocket-sized book did not lay flat and then after I used it, it did not close either.

Crescent Rendr No Show Sketchbook

Overall, I found this particular product quite frustrating. I looked online to see if anyone else had reviewed it. Notebook Stories agreed with my findings: bleed proof but curls with wet media. On Amazon, I found reviews that suggested that if you use a lot of alcohol-based markers like Copic Markers, then you might have a better experience with this paper but that fountain pens feather terribly. So, this is definitely not for fountain pen users or watercolorists. If you do a lot of marker illustrations, I would be more inclined to recommend traditional marker paper which is translucent but designed to withstand alcohol markers. If you want to use a wider range of mixed media (from pens to ink to graphite) and wet media (watercolor, markers, etc), I’d recommend Strathmore Mixed Media, Canson XL Mixed Media, Stillman & Birn or one of the artist’s sketchbooks from Seawhite of Brighton. I’ve written reviews about the Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal and the A5 Starter Sketchbook pack if you’d like more information.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Notebook Review: Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal A5

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

After my positive experience with the Seawhite of Brighton Starter Sketchbook, I decided to take the Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal out for a test drive. This is their best effort to replicate a better Moleskine Artist’s Sketchbook and they did it. First of all, its a true A5 size. Second, on Amazon, its priced at $12.50. Third, the paper is 130 gsm cartridge paper. And it has 128 pages.

While the Moleskine Artist’s Sketchbook claims to have heavier weight paper, it repels most liquid media making it entirely unusable for me since I like to add watercolor to my sketches. So… after quite liking the 140 gsm paper in the Starter Sketchbook, I was willing to accept a slightly lighter “cartridge paper” to have a light water-receptive paper for sketching at a reasonable price.

The Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal cover is a slightly flexible hard cover like the Moleskines and the rounded corners too. Its not a stiff cover which makes it firm enough to support your writing or drawing but not overly stiff. I have other sketchbooks with stiff covers and square corners that could double as weapons. The Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal also has a sewn binding and will lay flat with a little training.

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

The paper in the Artist’s Travel Journal is a warm white which is quite pleasant compared to the bright white of the Starter Sketchbook. I immediately went to it with pen and ink and watercolor and while the paper did waffle a little bit, it did not resist the paint nor did it pill. WIN.

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

I tested an assortment of fountain pens with good luck as well, though the paper did absorb the ink a bit more than Rhodia or other paper more specifically designed for writing. I didn’t have any issues with splining or feathering except with a rollerball and then only very minorly. Felt tip and fine tipped fountain pens behaved well on the paper making it a good book for art journaling, mixed media and dry sketching with light wash or ink.  Its definitely not watercolor paper but it can withstand a little bit of water and wet media. Enough to be a big step up from the Moleskine Sketchbook.

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

The Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal includes a ribbon bookmark and a gusseted pocket in the back for scraps and momentos as well so all the details are still there. And there’s the vertical elastic. To the untrained eye, no one will know its not a Moleskine unless you tell them. And I would because this book is just better.

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

I did a second round of testing because I was feeling it… and with ink, watercolor and colored pencil, I was still thrilled with the overall performance of the paper. Yes, I got a little waffle after it dried but nothing terrible, all things considered. I slapped the elastic around the cover after everything was dry and hopefully that will help flatten things out over time.

Seawhite Travel Journal A5

And in my second round of pen tests, I added in more everyday pens like Fineliners, a Pilot G2, some gel pens and a Pilot Precise. I guess I was worried I was feeling too cocky about the sketchbook being good for me but maybe not right for someone else.

Now, I feel fairly confident that if you’re looking for something MORE than just writing paper — that you want more than a Leuchtturm 1917 or Rhodia Webbie because you want to sketch or do some pen and ink or markers or watercolor, the Seawhite Artist’s Travel Journal is a good option. Its not the top tier. Its the everyday sketcher. Its a notebook that  doesn’t make me feel like I’m messing up the “good notebook”. Its a “work” book. It good enough to get the bones of a sketch or idea down, capture my everyday adventures and get banged around in my bag. Does that make any kind of sense?

Review: Seawhite of Brighton A5 Starter Sketchbook

Seawhite of Brighton A5 Sketchbook

On the neverending hunt for the “perfect paper” for a notebook or sketchbook, I will try just about anything I stumble across on the internet. One such find is the Seawhite of Brighton A5 Starter Sketchbook set which I found on Amazon. The small set of three A5 booklets with simple black covers and 40 pages of 140gsm (approx. 80lb) “cartridge paper” were too good an option to pass up. First, they fit perfectly into my Chic Sparrow Creme Deluxe A5 Black Beauty Traveler’s Notebook cover. “A sketchbook in my planner/notebook kit? Yes, please!” And second, the paper was listed to be heavy enough weight to withstand ink and light washes which is my sweet spot for day-to-day sketchbook needs. So I invested the whopping $10.95 for the set and waited impatiently for the books to arrive.

Seawhite of Brighton A5 Sketchbook

From the exterior, the booklets feel like Moleskine Cahier or other small cardstock cover cahier. The black cardstock cover is not super heavyweight but is enough to provide protection and add some stability to the paper inside. The paper itself is a crisp bright white and the weight seemed like a good option for pen and ink with enough tooth for pencil and other materials.

I did a little research to determine what exactly “cartridge paper” is, a term not familiar to most folks in the US. Cartridge paper is a heavyweight paper originally used for making gun cartridges and later used by artists and printmakers and they kept the term. Its often compared to Bristol board though maybe not quite as thick. So, in the future, if you hear the term “cartridge paper” you have an idea that the paper is meant to be a bit more upscale than standard copier paper even though it doesn’t sound like it.

Seawhite of Brighton A5 Sketchbook writing sample

Because of the small size of the sketchbook, I was actually able to basically use a whole book before writing up a review rather than just a few small pen tests so I feel like I got a particularly good feel for the paper. In standard writing tests, I didn’t discover any problems. Gel pens, felt tips and fountain pens all seemed well-behaved with minimal bleeding or showthrough. If you like to use a wide nib pen and don’t mind blank pages (you can always use a guide sheet to keep those lines straight!), the Seawhite of Brighton paper might be a nice addition to your stationery cupboard.

Seawhite of Brighton A5 Sketchbook paper

Viewed from the reverse of the writing sample, the only show through was the Pilot Envelope pen and a bit of the panda drawing but it was not enough to keep me from drawing on the back side of the page later.

Seawhite of Brighton A5 Sketchbook

What I really wanted to test was when I introduced more art making tools like watercolor, ink, and colored pencil, which are my favorite portable media. What I came to discover is that “light wash” was the key with watercolor or the paper did start to buckle a little bit but it did not pill. So, by the time I had filled the booklet, the paper was a little waffly but there was not any bleeding of color through to the reverse from the watercolors or anything like that. Just potential puddle spots because the paper waffled a little bit.

Seawhite of Brighton A5 Sketchbook

Seawhite of Brighton A5 Sketchbook

I used the book to do a lot of color tests with some new watercolor sets that I’ll do lengthier reviews about in the future but it was nice to have a small book to keep all the swatches together and be able to flip back and forth and see color depth and granulation differences quickly and easily.

I still prefer a little bit heavier weight paper in general for my mixed media sketching but its the trade-off point between cost, portability and need. Some days, I’m just scratching out ideas, doodles and color chips and I don’t necessarily need 200gsm watercolor paper for that. The Seawhite of Brighton 140gsm paper is definitely a step up from the standard paper found in most black art sketchbooks in US art supply store that is usually closer to 65-70lb (96gms+) and much less conducive to any sort of wet media like ink or watercolor or even juicy markers.

Seawhite of Brighton offers their paper is other sketchbook configurations at fairly reasonable prices via Amazon. Or if you are in the UK, you may want to check out their direct website and find a local stockist.

 

Fountain Pens for Sketching

Fountain Pens for Sketching

I’ve been spending a lot more time lately using my pens and inks for sketching, so I thought I’d put together a post about which tools pens I’ve found work best for these tasks.

Whenever I go down one of my creative rabbit holes, I do a great deal of research. One of the best pieces I found was Liz Steel’s 7-Part Fountain Pen Sketching article. Part Two: Why Draw With a Fountain Pen was my favorite!

To that, I’d like to add my own personal experiences, though I don’t have nearly Liz’s experience and authority from the drawing perspecitve.However, if you are hoping to do more drawing and sketching with your fountain pens or wanting to purchase (or set aside) a pen in your collection specifically for drawing, these are my recommendations. You don’t need all of these, one or two will more than suit. You may want to have one filled with a waterproof ink and one with a water soluble ink or one with black ink and one with brown or blue ink or your favorite color for sketching.

What I’ve discovered is that a lot of the best sketching fountain pens are not necessarily the most expensive fountain pens. You may already have several of these in your collection that have been set aside as your collection has expanded and repurposing these pens as “sketching pens” may give them new life and new purpose, and you, a new hobby.

Fountain Pens for Sketching
From top to bottom: Lamy Joy, Sailor Desk Pen, Rotring Art Pen and Platinum Carbon Desk Pen

Pens
Platinum Carbon Desk Pen (or Sailor Desk Pen)
The Platinum Carbon Desk Pen ($9.60) is available with a super, fine Japanese nib and ships with one cartridge of Platinum Carbon Black ink which is waterproof. I used my PCDP almost daily and it took almost six months to run through the first cartridge. Because of the fine nib, it uses ink very economically. I even used it to fill in areas, write notes, doodle and sketch but since the lines are so fine, the cartridges last a long time. So, this sub-$10 investment will last you quite awhile.

Because of the fineness of the nib, the pen performs on almost any paper stock from lightweight sketching paper to heavier weight watercolor paper without a lot of feathering or bleeding issues. I occasionally ran into issues on toothy paper as the fine nib can pick up fibers in the tines. This causes some momentary clogging but a wipe with a tissue will usually remove the fibers. This usually only happens on cold press watercolor paper, at which point its best to switch to a felt tip pen or wider nib that is less likely to catch on the fibers.

The PCDP was designed to accommodate the waterproof ink and its a budget-priced pen so if it did get clogged beyond repair, it would not be the end of the world. So far, mine’s been a little trooper and it really is the one pen that is almost always in my bag.

The longer length of the pen is a little challenging for portability but I’ve seen that some people have trimmed down the length a bit and filled in the end with epoxy or putty. The cap was not designed to be a long term solution so its an aesthetic mismatch but the functionality of this pen outweighs its looks.

If you prefer to use bottled ink with the PCDP, be sure to purchase a Platinum Converter ($6) or a Platinum Cartridge Adapter ($2) since Platinum uses a proprietary cartridge system.

I also have a Sailor Desk Pen which is similar in design with a weird, peachy cap that doesn’t match as well but was also designed to be used with Sailor’s Nano permanent inks. The Sailor Desk Pen is harder to find these days but if you already have one and were wondering what to use it for, it would make a great sketching pen. Sailor Nano cartridges are available packs of 12 ($10) in UltraBlack and Blue-Black which could potentially last you six years if you draw as often as I do, maybe only three years if you’re more prolific. Or you could buy a whole 50 ml bottle of the Nano Ink for $33 just be sure to grab a converter too ($8.25) because Sailor also uses a proprietary cartridge and converter system.

Rotring ArtPen
The Rotring ArtPen ($21+) was one of the first modern fountain pens I ever bought. I found it in an art supply store and used it for years before I knew that there were other options available. I just kept going back and buying the Rotring black cartridges and using the pen to draw and write with until it ran dry. I still have it and I still fill it regularly since it takes standard European cartridges and converters. I’ve filled it with both water soluble and permanent inks, I’ve let it sit for months so inks dried in it and then soaked it for days to try to resuscitate it. It has continued to survive for decades now. It has proven much heartier and durable than all the Rapidographs and Isographs I’ve had put together.

It has the same long tapered shape as the PCDP so it has that arty “paint brush” feeling. Mine has the EF nib making it great for sketching and probably is responsible for starting me on my love affair with fine nib pens but its available with a variety of nib sizes including calligraphy nibs.

The cap has a firm click to close it and was actually designed to be capped unlike the PCDP and the Sailor Desk Pen so while its a bit more expensive, its a fully thought-out pen. The Rotring is probably the most universally usable option since it take standard European cartridges and/or converters and the nib sizes are based on the European measurements with the widest range of nib sizes available of all the options I’ve listed.

Lamy Joy
The last option on my list of traditional fountain pens is the Lamy Joy ($28) available in white and black. It too has the long tapered shape of a paint brush but can only be purchased with a calligraphy nib (1.1mm, 1.5mm or 1.9mm) initially so it you like the look and feel of a classic Lamy Safari but would like to have a long, tapered shape for sketching, you’ll have to purchase a separate nib (approx $11) making the Lamy Joy the most expensive option.

Lamy also requires either proprietary ink cartridges (none of Lamy’s inks are waterproof) or a Lamy LZ24 converter ($4.70) in order to use bottled inks. If you’re like me, you have a stash of Lamy Safari fountain pens and can probably liberate a converter but if you’re planning to use waterproof inks in your Joy, you may want to be sure not to mix the converter you use with the Joy with the one you use with your Lamy 2000 with the 14K gold nib… just in case.

I recently purchased a Joy and replaced the calligraphy nib with an EF steel nib and filled it with Platinum Sepia Pigment ink. I purchased the still-available, limited edition white model from last year but its also available in black with a red clip or a slightly higher priced black with aluminum cap.

I had not been a great lover of the Safari in the past. Its a good solid pen but not one that made my heart palpitate. The Joy, however, touches me on another level. I think the longer length gives it better balance and weight in the hand making it feel a bit more substantial and using it more like a drawing tool than a writing pen made me less bothered by the grooved grip. I find the Joy more comfortable to draw with than I’ve ever found the Safari to write with. I may go back to the Safaris and consider them as drawing pens at this point. Honestly, I haven’t touched another pen since I started using the Joy. I want to buy another one just to have two different ink colors loaded up simultaneously. I have never felt this way about a Safari before. I am a changed woman.

Fountain Pens for Sketching
I did a few quick sketches with each pen on Stillman & Birn Alpha paper using waterproof inks as labelled.

Inks
Platinum Inks
Platinum Carbon Ink has become my go-to ink for permanent black ink I’ve been using my PCDP almost every day for six months and found the Carbon ink to be a well-behaved, dark black. I had little issues with it drying in the pen, even with the fine nib and it being tossed around in my bag, used on all sorts of paper stocks from copier paper to toothy cold press watercolor paper. I had more issues with the pen getting jammed with paper fibers on toothy papers over waxy pencil or other materials than I did with the ink drying in the pen. I’ve gone ahead and purchased a bottle of Platinum Pigmented Sepia ink which is also permanent and I think will make a lovely alternative to black for drawing. As mentioned earlier, Sailor’s Nano Inks are an excellent alternative as well if you are looking for cartridges to match a Sailor pen or find a good deal on the Nano black bottled ink.

DeAtramentis Document Inks
Liz Steel is very fond of DeAtramentis Document Inks for the range of colors available and she has had great success with flow in some of the less expensive pens using the DeAtramentis Document inks so they are definitely worth a look. Jane Blundell has some amazing mixing charts using DeAtramentis Documents Inks that make me want ALL THE COLORS. I’m hoping to try some of them out and pick up a few bottles when I’m in Atlanta.

Several other brands make permanent inks worth experimenting with if you have some around. Diamine has their Registrars ink and Noodlers has several Bulletproof inks. Though I’ve read through some blogs that have found the Noodler’s inks to be troublesome in some instances for drawing. But if you’ve got some, why not give them a whirl?

Fountain Pens for Sketching
I watercolored over my drawings to show the waterproofiness of the inks.

Any water soluble fountain pen inks
For everyday sketching, any standard (water soluble) fountain pen ink will work on just about any drawing paper. Most sketchbook paper starts at about 60lb and should handle a F or XF fountain pen nib loaded with just about any fountain pen ink just fine. On slightly heavier mixed media papers like Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media, Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook or similar paper that is labelled for ink, light washes or mixed media, you can add a little water to your drawing and move some of the water soluble ink around to create some wonderful watercolor-like effects without a lot of tools. Citizen Sketcher has some amazing examples of this in action and totally makes me want to try this myself.

Other resources:

Review: Winsor & Newton Watercolor Markers (and Giveaway)

Winsor & newton Watercolor Markers

I was super excited to try the new Winsor & Newton Watercolor markers ($4.50 per marker, 6-color set for $27 and 12-color set for $51). I have loved the Sai Watercolor Markers so much I basically have two sets: one for work and one for home so I was definitely ready to try a different brand. It was time to get professional!

Physically, these are chunky pens, comparable in size to a Design marker or other larger professional marker. They are smooth cylinders but the bullet cap on one end has a notch to keep the pens from rolling off the table. It’s recommended to keep these markers stored flat to keep the ink inside evenly distributed between the tips so I’d recommend if you are inclined to own a set of six or more, to keep them in a pencil or cigar box to keep them flat and less inclined from rolling away.

The advantage of the Winsor & Newton line of Watercolor markers is:

  • The markers have two tips: a fine bullet tip on one end and a flexible brush tip on the other.
  • Most of the colors are true lightfast watercolors in marker form. I found this chart on the W&N site. Since the marker colors are numbered on the cap to align with the professional watercolors, all of the markers receive either an AA or A rating for lightfastness. By W&N’s ratings that is “permanent or extremely permanent color”. I enjoy using the Sai watercolor brushes for sketchbooks but I do not know the lightfastness and therefore do not use them in artwork or pieces that might be exposed to light nor would I recommend them to other people for work that might be displayed.
  • The W&N watercolor marker colors are super pigmented which means they can be blended and toned with water or blended with each other to give a wider range of color options.
  • The pigment colors in the markers are the same as those used in W&N watercolors so the markers can be mixed with the paints and vice versa. The colors will blend, mix and combine seamlessly.

Winsor & newton Watercolor Markers

The brush tip end is definitely my favorite. It is great for brush lettering styles and painting. Its a great way to get some quick marks on paper for making art on the go. You can even touch the tip of a waterbrush to the tip of the marker to lift color from the marker and transfer it to the waterbrush for softer color and a more washy, color effect.

Winsor & newton Watercolor Markers drawing test

I tested the Winsor & Newton Watercolor markers on Strathmore 500 mixed media sketchbook paper . The first swatch on the left is straight from the marker brush tip, the next swatch is one stroke with the brush tip. I let is dry for a minute or so and then I went back with a paintbrush loaded with water to see how much I could move the paint around. As you can see, some colors moved more than others. The hearts were done by touching a waterbrush to the marker tip and transferring the color to the waterbrush for a lighter color. The final dot was done by dabbing one dot of color from the marker onto a wet water circle for a wet-on-wet effect.

I found out, after I did my samples, that the markers can be rubbed into a non-porous dish like a white plastic, ceramic plate or mixing tray and then mixed or thinned with water to create additional colors and values. I’ve been playing around with this to get a wider, more complex range of hues and make the markers a fun way to play.

Even though the photo above shows a palette of pan watercolors, all the color was actually done with W&N watercolor brush markers, I just forgot when I took the photo. Oops!

The W&N watercolor brush markers are an interesting addition to any art kit. I wouldn’t say that they would ever replace  or usurp my pan sets but I like carrying one or two colors with me for line work or quick sketching. They are definitely good for travel and portability.


The GIVEAWAY: I’m going to give one lucky reader a set of 6 colors of the Winsor & Newton Watercolor Markers in a metal storage box thanks to the generosity of JetPens. The colors included in the tin are: Alizarin Crimson Hue, Cadmium Yellow Hue, Ivory Black, Prussian Blue Hue, Sap Green, and Yellow Ochre. (Note: In some cases, the colors included may vary from those listed.)

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite watercolor paper or brushes to use If you’re new to watercolor, tell me your dream set-up. One entry per person.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Wednesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your real email address in the comment form (not in the comment!) so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US readers only this time.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ask The Desk: Art Supply Review Blog/Podcast

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@peariyard on Twitter asked:

Anybody know of an art supply podcast a la /? Or maybe a blog?

If this isn’t a question after my own heart!

First, as far as I know, there is no podcast but I think someone should remedy that situation ASAP. And then invite me to come talk about stuff regularly. Let’s nerd out about watercolor paper, water soluble markers and acrylic high flow paint!

As for blogs, there are lots of options out there, some more current than others and some tailored towards more specific types of art making than others.

If you’re into watercolor/street/travel/portable painting, then definitely check out ParkaBlogs. He keeps an extensive set of reviews of watercolor pan palettes, sketchbook reviews, book reviews and lots of videos. Extremely extensive. Another great resource for travel/life/street painting is Liz Steel. Again, she focuses on a lot of portable supplies but she has a penchant for fountain pens and inks so she’s definitely “our people”.

Roz Wound Up is a great resource for an assortment of supplies for travel/portable drawing and sketching materials. She has a great list of links to people she likes along the lower lefthand side of the blog as well which is worth a click through.

Rob’s Art Supply Reviews has not been updated in awhile but he has a lot of standard materials listed like pastels, Neocolor crayons and papers that are still entirely relevant and available. Broke For Art on Tumblr used to be quite active but its got more Q&A nowadays. There’s still a lot of good content to peruse though if you’re on the hunt for something in particular.

Fellow pen bloggers Biffy Beans and Inkophile both keep tags for their art supplies reviews so they are good resources for some products as well. I have a tag for art supplies as well for any occasion when I review something that leans more “art supply” than everyday writing or office supply.

And of course, there are tons of videos on YouTube to peruse as well if there’s a specific product you are considering someone may have made a video trying it out. Don’t forget that sometimes Amazon reviews, or reviews on individual online art supply shops can also be helpful. Good luck and leave a comment if there’s a specific product you’re looking for information about.

Review: Van Gogh 12-Color Travel Watercolor Set

Watercolor travel set mess

Upon request, I decided to come clean about one of my other obsessions: travel watercolor sets. I’ve been compiling sets for about a year, not including super budget (sub-$20) sets, and have included the picture above as proof of my collection addiction. I just love watching the colors bead off a brush onto paper. And those little individually-wrapped pans of watercolors are like candies to me. I can’t resist them.

However, I sort of hit the “watercolor set overload” this fall and I didn’t do much with them for a couple months. Then a couple weeks ago I got a wild hair and bought a new set. Why? Buying a new travel set of watercolors is not unlike buying a new fountain pen, and sometimes its just the pick-me-up I need to get me back into the habit of using the ones I already have. I bought a relatively inexpensive Van Gogh 12-color set (approx. $25 from my local Blick art supply shop).

Van Gogh Travel Watercolor Set

The Van Gogh set comes in a locking, white plastic box that is about 4×6″ in size and maybe an 1.5″ thick. Its a bit larger than the more commonly used Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketchers Pocket Box but what I discovered once I started using the Van Gogh kit was that it contained, not one but, two layers of mixing trays.

Van Gogh Travel Watercolor Set

The paintbrush that comes with the kit is a pointed #6 synthetic travel brush which I originally dismissed as likely to be an inferior freebie brush but it turned out to be a very good little brush. The point is quite good and makes it easy to get a good crisp edge. Also the end of the brush can be used to wrench out the mixing tray to reveal the open well below.

Van Gogh Travel Watercolor Set

The end of the brush can also be used to wrench out the individual pans of watercolor should you wish to remove them or need to replace them. That alone is reason to keep the brush, even if you are not inclined to use it for painting. I ended up loving how much water it held and how fine a point it has maintained. I’ll be curious to see how long it lasts.

Van Gogh Travel Watercolor Set swatches

In swatching the paint colors I was quite pleased to see how clean and vibrant all the colors were. The twelve colors included really are quite sufficient for most painting needs. I love that the set includes an opaque white  for mixing and adding highlights. I know adding white to watercolor is heresy but sometimes its the shortest distance to the color I want. I also love that the set includes Payne’s Gray instead of a black.

Towards the bottom of my swatching, I did some color mixing in an effort to test how cleanly the Van Gogh paints would mix and what range of other colors I could get. I was actually quite pleased at how easily I was able to make many of the colors, often mixing just two colors together. I do plan to do further practicing with mixing and color theory but I think the nicest thing about the Van Gogh set was that it is not overwhelming. I like trying to mix my own colors and the Van Gogh set does the mixing nicely.

All the watercolor color swatches

After doing some successful painting with the Van Gogh set, I was ready to pull out the whole mess of watercolors again to see what else I have and figure out if less is more or if more is more.

So I spent some time swatching out every pan and palette of watercolor that I had to see what I had. I have an array of Daniel Smith, Sennelier, Winsor & Newton (pan and tube) and Winsor & Newton Cotman (student grade). I also did some research online about what more experienced artists recommend for we are more novice with watercolors. In the end, I’ve decided to put the Sennelier paints aside for the moment as the colors tend to be darker and, when I swatched the colors, they looked almost opaque and a little streaky sometimes which I think would frustrate me as I’m painting, especially being as new to watercolor as I am. The Daniel Smiths, while lovely, are a little funky (some have sparkle or will dry two different colors so they are probably a bit too experimental) so I shelved most of those colors for later as well.

Van Gogh + supplemental set

In the end, I pulled out a few of the additional Winsor & Newton colors like the Opera Rose, Permanent Magenta, Turquoise, Cobalt Blue, Green Gold, and Burnt Sienna plus a black, and a couple Daniel Smiths and made my “supplemental palette” to have some additional colors to play with. I’ll probably keep these on my desk to experiment with in the coming weeks and depend mostly on my Van Gogh palette to get me practicing with color mixing. I have gotten so spoiled working on the computer over the years that I feel I’ve forgotten a lot of my color mixing and color theory skills. But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to mix that Opera Rose.

Supplemental Watercolor Set

If you’re considering a foray into watercolor painting, I think the Van Gogh set is a great option. The combination of good colors, a good assortment of palettes and a good brush make it a perfect starter set.


The Van Gogh swatches were done in a Strathmore 500 series Mixed Media Art Journal and the large page of swatches was done on a Fluid 100 hot press watercolor block.

Review: Koh-I-Noor Tri-Tone Colored Pencils

Koh-i-noor tri-tone colored pencils

After going off the deep end last year about Magic Pencils, I pretty much bought every variation I could find of the multicolor lead pencils. I’m just fascinated with this sort of pencil. One of the items I purchased was the 24-Color set of Koh-I-Noor Tri-Tone Colored Pencils ($29.47 on Amazon). Each of 23 pencils in the set features three different colors of colored pencil “lead” to create a tonal effect and then there is one blender pencil in the set to help blend the colors into a more subtle tonal variation, should you prefer to do that.

Koh-i-noor tri-tone colored pencils sample

The set comes in a nice tin though I tend to put all my pencils into jars immediately and either recycle the tins or store them because I find that art supplies that stay in tins don’t ever get used.

I thought this pencil set would be particularly appealing for coloring and sketching as it would provide a lot of color variation in a small set.

The pencils included a nice array of colors with a few shades of blues, greens, reds, yellows, oranges and some unusual ones with names like “ember,” “summer storm,” and “volcano.”

Koh-i-noor tri-tone colored pencils drawing sample

The pencils are not as soft and blendable as my go-to Prismacolor Premier but if you’re looking for a fun little set to travel with or to share with your kids, this might make a good addition to your collection. We keep ours on the kitchen table for doodling, notes and random scribbles.

Review: Leuchtturm 1917 Sketchbook

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook

I recently discovered that Leuchtturm1917 makes a sketchbook notebook with 180gsm paper. I am sure this is to compete with Moleskine’s sketchbook line but since many people find Leuchtturm1917 to be superior, I wanted to test their sketchbook out for myself. I purchased the A5 sized hardcover in classic black on Amazon.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook

The sketchbook version of the Leuchtturm1917 notebook features all the same details that the standard notebooks include like the ribbon bookmark, the horizontal elastic closure, the gusseted pocket in the back and a place on the front flyleaf for your contact information. The corners are rounded like the regular notebooks too which is not a feature usually found in artists’ sketchbooks.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook inside coverLeuchtturm1917 sketchbook pocket

Inside, the paper is bright white and smooth with just a little tooth. My first experiments included attempting to rub a lot of watercolor into the paper which was more than it could handle and the fibers started to pill. The paper was good and absorbent though, unlike the Moleskine sketchbook paper, and the inks and liquids stayed put and did not bead up or bleed. It’s actually nice paper, its just not sized for watercolors or a lot of heavy wet rubbing.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook writing test

I played with fine nib felt pens and the lines stayed fine and crisp. Watercolor brush pens were well-behaved too. So then I went crazy.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook pencil test

I tested out a whole page of pencils: Magic pencils and watercolor pencils and even added more water. The paper took water fine as long as I didn’t try to grind it into the paper.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook brush pen test

I took out all my brush pens and discovered more than a few of them had started to dry out but the Leuchtturm1917 180gsm paper handled the ink like a champ. Fat pens, skinny pens, wet pens, dry pens… it didn’t care.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook fountain pen test

Fountain pens, you ask? Loved them. Inks sat up on the paper and the colors were crisp and clear. This paper would be great for ink sampling since you could test both swabs and in pen on the same paper without it curling or warping, all in a neat book.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook gel pen test

I even had fun playing with my massive assortment of gel pens. The inks dried in a reasonable amount of time on the paper, even some of those finicky Gelly Rolls and the colors look great on the bright white.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook felt pen test

I kept playing with all my felt tip pens too, from wide brush style to fine Microns and they all performed equally well on the paper.

The Fountain Pen page is even on the reverse side of one of the other writing samples so you know there was no issue with bleed through or show through. So while the book is a bit more expensive than the regular Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, you will definitely be able to use both sides of the paper no matter what tools you plan to use.

The sketchbook pages are not numbered like the notebooks but I think that’s okay. In fact, I’d rather not have page numbers in the way of my drawings, especially if I might end up scanning the art in for a finished piece.

All in all, I really like the quality of the paper in the Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook and I like that it is so much more opaque than the regular paper. There’s only 96 pages in the sketchbook compared to the 249 pages in the plain notebook but being able to genuinely use both sides of the paper or work across a spread is a big plus.

Extended Review: Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor 36-color “set”

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor

A couple of months ago, I got the Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor 18-color set and I really liked them so I set about acquiring the remaining 18 colors to have the full 36 color range available. Luckily, JetPens sells individual full pans of the Gansai Tambi Watercolors for $2.50-$3 (depending on the color) so I was able to slowly add the additional colors. It was a bit more expensive than purchasing the full 36-color set but it tends to be sold out more often than not so buying the individual pans seemed like the only way to complete my set in the next year. So that’s what I did. Even so, $3 for a full pan is still much less expensive than many other brands of watercolors.

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor 36-colors

I placed the new colors in the lid of the original 18-colors box and tried to align the colors in the same spectrum as the original palette with the metallics at the bottom. Without the paper dividers like the original set, the pans slide around a bit but I’m thinking I might get a little OCD and make cardboard dividers for the lid to make the whole set-up a bit more stable.

You’ll see that, of all the individual pans I ordered, only one yellow was damaged in shipping. It shattered but it still works just fine. I think if I wet it really well I should be able to get it to sort of mold back into the pan but it doesn’t really bother me that much.

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Color Swatches I swatched all the colors in the order in which they appear in the palette on two pages of an A5 140gsm Seawhite of Brighton softcover sketchbook paper.I love the Pale Aqua though it is definitely a more opaque color than a traditional watercolor.  The Dark Pink is definitely more of a warm purple color when applied thickly which provides a wider range of violet colors. The Deep Violet is also a lovely addition to the palette as its a very deep, rich indigo violet. I was also very happy to add the dark brown to the palette as it added a deep neutral to an otherwise candy-colored palette of colors.

The metallics are a lot of fun. The silver mixes well with the other colors to create a range of metallics and the two shades of gold will be good for details and lettering.

I am definitely glad I have the full 36 colors because who doesn’t want ALL THE COLORS?

Overall, I find the Gansai Tambi paints to be a strange hybrid of traditional watercolor paints and a more opaque gouache paint. I can pick a good deal of paint and create an almost opaque color or thin with water for a more traditional watercolor look.

The prices for the Gansai Tambi paints is incredibly reasonable for the large pans, beautiful presentation and decent range of colors available for the prices. However, if what you are looking for is a traditional transparent watercolor than I recommend trying the Winsor & Newton Cotman set instead. While the set is not as broad, I think the colors will blend more easily to create a wider range and are more transparent. Also, the Gansai Tambi pans are definitely NOT a portable set. Between the paperboard box and the large size of the box, this set is definitely something to keep on your desk but is not convenient if you are looking for a set to use for traveling and/or urban street sketching.

If you like the idea of having both gouache-like painting abilities and watercolor effect, than the Gansai Tambi paints are a great option and the large pans make it much easier to use larger brushes. Because the sets come in cardboard boxes, you’ll have to devise your own mixing trays for blending colors and thinning the paint but an old plate or pan will work if you don’t want to invest in a watercolor mixing tray.

 

Review: Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent Watercolor 21- color set

Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent Watercolor 21- color set

Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent Watercolor 21-Color Set ($5.25) was a total impulse purchase. The price point was so low and sometimes I’m just a crow and require something shiny. Besides, I love watercolor sets. I knew this was not going to be the end-all be-all of watercolor sets because no watercolor set that sells for under $6 is going to rival the Daniel Smith tube paints I have which can sometimes cost $30 per itty bitty tube and are made from grinding up the horns of unicorns. Okay, not really but some are actually made from real ground-up gemstones so they might as well be unicorns. So, anyway… back to the 21-color pearlescent set from Yasumoto.

The set comes in a lovely plastic box which makes it perfectly portable and fine to share with your favorite junior artists. There is a slot to store your favorite brush in the case so you can keep it in the kit. I suspect my niece and I may one day paint many a My Little Pony with these.

Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent Watercolor 21- color set

I aligned my swatches with the colors in the pan so you can get a good idea how vivid the colors appear in the pans versus how they look when they are applied to paper. I used my Strathmore multimedia sketchbook for swatching and a Princeton Neptune synthetic squirrel #8 round paintbrush from Blick. I wet each color first before I swatched to give the pans time to rehydrate. However, the colors were still quite a bit lighter when I swatched them. They were quite luminescent though with lots of sparkle.

Overall, there seemed to be a lot of beachy colors: shell, sand, earthones and sea hues. There were not a lot of bright, fantasy colors. Everything was very subtle. The colors are quite pretty but they do not paint as bright as they appear in the palette.

The rinse water also had a lot of sparkle in it too so be warned not to cross-contaminate your rinse water with other paints.

Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent Watercolor 21- color set

In the end, I suspect I will use the Yasutomo Pearleascent colors as an accent with more vivid watercolors rather than as a standalone set. But its a fun little set and would definitely be a nice addition for the paint hoarders out there.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pens

Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pens close-up

The Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pens, available in SB, MB and BB, were something I discovered in a very roundabout way. I was reading Lisa Condon’s blog again and she was talking about more of the tools she liked yo use. I started clicking on links and next thing I knew, voila! I had these in my cart. They are longer than a standard Micron pen, more like a paint brush length and a bit more expensive at $3.90 each but the ink is fade resistant, archival and waterproof and I think the tips are a superior quality to the standard Pigma brush line so I think the upcharge is worth it.

Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen Tips

The tips of the pens are felt/foam/whatever-it-is and it is the springiest version of this material that I’ve ever experienced. Even with pressure, the points and edges spring back into shape quickly and easily. Making them fun to use and they keep their brush point shape. The point retention seems really good too though I’ve only used them for about a week so time will be the real determining factor here but so far, so good.

Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pens writing sample

These were so fun to draw with the range of line widths, even with the finest tip size was quite dramatic. The BB was big! If you like to work large or want to do something like calligraphic graffiti, this would be a great pen for it. Such fun. In my waterproof test, I had no issues with water but when I added the Sakura Koi Coloring Brush pens over the watered wet ink, I did get some running of the colors. I don’t know if this was a reaction from the ink in the Coloring Brush pens or the combination of the water, Professional Brush pen and Coloring Brush pens. That said, the Professional Brush pens were not affected by the water at all but did get some color travel with the other markers so you may want to do some experiments before using these pens on artwork just in case there are any other fugitive color reactions. My next experiments will probably be with actual watercolor paints and the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush pens. I think that would look great if the colors don’t bleed.

Overall, I love the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush pens and I look forward to seeing the longevity of the tips. So springy, I hope they last a long time!


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Koi Watercolor Brush Pens 12-Color Set

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

I was introduced to the Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens 12-color set ($27)  by way of Lisa Condon’s blog, Today Is Going To Be To Be Awesome. She had a post on her sidebar about her favorite tools to use for drawing and illustration and one of her recommended pens for sketchbook use were the 12-color set of Koi Coloring Brush Pens.

The pens are felt-tipped and shaped like a paint brush tip. The colors are bright, clean and vivid and are water soluble so they will blend together easily allowing the 12-color set to extend itself into a wider range of colors by blending the colors together.

If you do blend the colors together, be sure to have a piece of scratch paper handy because the colors will migrate from pen to pen and you’ll want to clean off any color transfer that might occur in the process though this can also create some interesting an unexpected results. Just be prepared.

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

The set comes in a plastic sleeve but I prefer to dump out all my pens immediately into a pen case or a cup so they are handy and accessible. If they are all locked away in a protective sleeve, I find they don’t get used which is a waste.  Rolling around on my desk, I wrote notes, doodled, colored and generally just enjoyed the bright vivid colors all week which was welcomed in the bleak January days I have to say!

The black pen in the set is also water soluble so I would not recommend using it as an outliner and then trying to go back and fill in with colors as the black will migrate. The word “KOI” on my sample has darker colors because the black started to creep into the center. If you want to do outlining in black brush pen and then use the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush pens instead which are permanent and then add color with the Koi Coloring Brush Pens.

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

I think these pens might spend a little time out with our coloring books this week and see how it plays there. I’d also like to add in a little light water brush to lighten the colors a bit and help to blend so that the colors will play even more like watercolor. I did try a water brush after photographing the samples and the colors do continue to blend even several hours later so these will definitely be lots of fun to play with. A very clean, portable way to use watercolors on the go! And, wow! Are the colors ever bright and clean and juicy!


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.