Review by Tina Koyama
“Play your notes, to hear the sounds of pencil on paper.” It’s hard to resist an invitation like that! Under the MD Paper Products name, Midori makes understated pens, notebooks, letter-writing paper, planners and other products. It also makes colored and graphite pencils to match that muted esthetic. Today I’m reviewing the colored pencils (6/$12); the graphite pencils are coming up soon.
Made in Japan, the three colored pencils (two pencils per color in the set) – light gray, light blue, coral – coordinate beautifully with Midori’s delicate palette. The matte-finish, semi-hexagonal barrel is very pleasing (soothing, even) to touch. As with all Midori products, the branding is subtle – “MD Paper Products” in small, black block letters.
My favorite design element is the unpainted – but not unfinished – end. The very slightly convex cut reveals the well-centered cores. Like the rest of the pencil, it’s a sublime yet distinctive touch.
Since I’m somewhat spoiled by top-notch colored pencils, I didn’t have high expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised. Harder than Prismacolor and softer than Faber-Castell Polychromos, the MD pencils have a slightly waxy feel rather than creamy. The swatches show consistent layering in a relatively smooth Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook.
Coral and light blue are not colors I would typically choose to sketch a cow, but what the heck – it’s a good way to stretch my color imagination. Pigments apply well, and the pencils are pleasant to use (and to hold! I love the matte finish). For the sketch, I used a toothier Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook, and the pencils are soft enough to show the paper’s texture easily. (I used a graphite pencil for the cow’s details.)
If you’re not into sketching or coloring, these pencils could be also used for highlights or notations that don’t sear the eyeballs. In fact, I would love to see Midori expand the palette just a bit wider. We have plenty of small colored pencil sets in the standard rainbow – how about a set of 12 including more understated hues? Like a pale mint (Ana would surely want one of those), delicate rose and lavender? I’m ready for a unique set like that.