So, you’re out and about, you’ve just finished your last pocket notebook and are looking for a new one. You happen across one. It’s got 80 sheets of thick sketch paper and is only a couple bucks. It even looks kinda nice in its faux-leather binding. Is this small Escalada journal a good buy? Let’s see.
We’ll start with the binding. It’s surprisingly good, it flexes well and doesn’t break under standard usage conditions. The binding, as well as the cover is of course cardboard covered in faux-leather with a slightly unattractive sheen. This layer holds up alright, though it does start to peel and rub off at the corners which is very unsightly. It also gets gummy in high temperatures and begins to take the shape of whatever is next to it, so where the elastic band is there will be a permanent set of grooves. But it hasn’t melted or gotten sticky in the time I’ve used it and I live in the middle of the desert.
The paper is 80 sheets of 74 lb drawing paper. It’s thick but flimsy, it feels as if it’s falling apart sometimes and ink bleeds through and can be easily seen on the other side in some cases. Yet I have had no instances of marking on the next page. It has an easily visible grain and does at times warp ones drawings, mostly pencil though and not very much. The roughness is a bit unsightly to me but that’s just personal preference. Despite the flimsy feeling of the pages they are very stout and remain ridged most of the time. They resist bending, however I feel that if they did bend they would soon fall apart.
It’s an alright pocket sketchbook. It’s cheap, both in price and manufacturing, but it does do its job well enough. Just carrying it in a bag or a case won’t do much harm to it, especially since it only has eighty pages and can be run through fairly quickly. However, if your life is a bit more rough and tumble than most this is not for you, it will look ugly shortly and fall apart not long after. It does best if you’re looking for a notebook to store in your bag or somewhere on the cheap and don’t have too much preference as to the quality of the content you put in it.
So, you really need a red technical pen. You’ve heard good things about Microns, but you can’t find them in red at your local store. You instead find a red Royal Langnickel Nano-Liner pen. Is it a good substitute for a micron pen? Let’s see.
First off, the body of the pen is not sleek. It is grippy as a result but feels a bit rough on the hand. All necessary information is printed on the side and is fairly hard to rub off, though it can be done more easily than with other pens. The metal clip on the cap does its job well and the number on the top is easily visible and rub-resistant.
The ink is a bright red, unmistakeable for any other color. It’s brighter than most other red pens and would most likely have to be diluted to even begin to simulate reality. It is permanent and a bit more liquid than most technical pens. It bleeds through thin paper with ease and pools at starting and stopping positions. With card stock it works just fine, but with a heavy grain paper the line tends to seep out and become wider. Precession drawing is difficult, even with the 02, which would seem to make a line as big as a Micron 05. However, for large sweeping motions this pen seems right at home, just don’t push to hard and destroy the nib.
So, is this pen an adequate replacement for a Micron? Certainly not! It does have several good points: large amounts of ink are good for long, and sweeping lines, but less so for the precision drawing it is marketed for. It does do the drawing job better than a standard office pen and is cheaper than a Micron. I think it’s really up to personal preference as with all art supplies, but one should really try a Micron first before checking this pen out.
When one is being an artist, one must get ideas. But sometimes one can’t get them to the drawing board immediately: they may be working on a project, or about to fall asleep (like that ever stops artists), or have and actual job to do, or just be out and about. During these situations sticky notes come in handy. Now, sticky notes are one of the rare instances where to entire set of products aren’t just called the name of the largest brand (Kleenex for tissues, Oreos for stuffed cookies etc…). Sticky notes are everywhere, you can find them at almost any store for fairly low prices. So is it worth paying a little more to get brand-name 3M Post-It Notes?
I would say yes. First, for the obvious reason that they are more adhesive than most other brands. I know that sticky notes are made to be easy to peel on and off, but I still want them to stay where I put them (I’m convinced that the T.V. shows use glue to hold their sticky notes on those boards). Second, they’re a great size. I hate those thin, flimsy sticky notes, and the ones that come in different shapes are annoying to place and serve no purpose. Any bigger and they would be cumbersome, any smaller and one couldn’t write on them. Now I do realize that other companies make their sticky notes in the same size, but the quality is lacking, which is the third reason I like 3M Post-Its. The quality of the paper is unmatched in any other sticky notes to my knowledge. You might not think it matters how good the paper is on a sticky note. But being able to simply write something and stick it somewhere without having to worry about the paper or your message being damaged is a great thing.
So yes, 3M Post-Its are worth it. They are better than the competition in every way one would want a sticky note to be better (and they make awesome bookmarks). They stick, write, and place well and are a must have for any office and artist.