Review – Yellow Dollar General HB No.2 Pencils

By: Austin Smith

All right, on to the art-making things. Let’s start with pencils, specifically HB or No.2 pencils. The ones I’m reviewing today are from dollar general and are 10 cents apiece. So they’re the cheap, starting pencil.

The pencils are small and light, roughly 6 and 3/4 inches to start, with about a half inch eraser. The wood is cheap, it’s splintery and rough. The paint is applied poorly, with parts flaking off and wood showing through, but it does its job and the letters are easy enough to read. The eraser is all right, it erases, but not all the way. Usable for sketches and writing. The eraser is hard and sometimes smears the graphite instead of erasing.

But that is all roughly cosmetic. One can get other erasers and the paint does its job. It’s really about the graphite. And that’s hard to screw up. HB’s are a fairly hard pencil, really medium, leaning to the soft end. They’re easy to draw with and give a large amount of control. The lead is not brittle, and stays in its wooden case. The pencil is suitable for sketches and of course writing like its main use in schools.

The wood being cheap makes it difficult to sharpen, making it lean more to one side or the other, the lead is also slightly off center. It’s cheap, but usable.

This pencil is a nice cheap way to sketch. And is useful in creating a draft for a sketch to be inked later. It being cheap it is available but it is also cheap, not the best pencil available. It does its job but it’s nothing spectacular.

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Review – Imagine Plus 110-pound Card Stock

By: Austin Smith

After paper the new thing that one would most likely move on to is card stock, in this case Imagine Plus 110-pound 8.5″x11″ card stock. This stuff is a little more “advanced” and one could actually create “finished” projects on it. “Finished” being a subjective term.

110-pound card stock is obviously much thicker and heavier then paper. It takes pencil and ink well; heavy inking and even light painting also work well. The stock does buckle under water quite easily, though, so over-inking and water-based paints aren’t recommended. And painting on anything lighter than Water-color type paper could lead to buckling.

The stock itself is smooth, with enough friction to not go sliding around. Pencil is taken and erased well. Ink is quickly absorbed. The grain is noticeable at times but rarely affects the work that is on it. Heavy ink shows through, but the likelihood of someone seeing the back is negligible.

The size of the paper being 8.5″x11″ makes it a rarely seen art surface. The size, like that of copy paper, is simply unconventional. It is a good material for people just “graduating” into “finished” artwork.

While the stock is nice and useful, most will quickly pass it up for superior art surfaces.

Review – Office Depot 20-Pound Copy Paper

By: Austin Smith

When one is starting to review art supplies, it’s difficult to find a starting place. So I picked the thing all art is put on; paper. More specifically I’m starting with Office Depot, 20-pound copy paper. The kind of thing that everyone has access to. And the kind of thing you’re most likely to start making art on. (or at least preliminary designs)

20-pound paper isn’t that thick, take it off the table and you can see right through it (not clearly, but you can). It obviously won’t hold much and buckles almost instantly in moisture. Thus it won’t be useful for anything more then pencil or light ink. Although it being copy paper and 8.5″ X 11″ it probably won’t be what your finished piece is on.

 

The paper is slick, mostly, it’s got enough grip and texture to not feel glossy and go sliding around on you. It takes both ink and pencil very well. When using a good eraser, pencil almost completely disappears. The ink shows through the paper, the pencil does not. And the texture is fine enough that it is barely noticeable to the naked eye. Which is something good if you’re planning on creating a workable draft of something and not just sketching.

The fact that this type of paper is almost universal and its small size make it great for sketches and drafts. Its main limitation is that, aside from copy paper, its dimensions are almost never used. Most printed and official online “art” documents use different aspect ratios from copy paper, making it almost exclusively for drafts and amateur art projects (in the art world).

It’s always good to have some around, to sketch or to find out how things fit together, and it can always be scanned and posted on a Blog with ease. It’s obviously a starting material, but one that never really leaves the desks of experts.

It’s also really cheap, which is a bonus.