Review – Moleskine Pocket Softcover Notebook

I’ve already reviewed the Moleskine pocket notebook in hardback, but I’ve also used the softback version, and since there are a few key differences besides the obvious, I though I’d highlight them. So this is only half a review, if you want to know about the paper you can look up my other Moleskine pocket review.

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So the cover is obviously soft. It is a lot thinner and as such you can see the binding through it, especially on the back where you can see the attachment points for the elastic band. They are a bit intrusive and noticeable. The cover is blank aside from the name Moleskine stamped rather deeply into the back cover. The look is a bit like the regular Moleskine, but the pages are cut the the same length as the cover, and it looks a bit more shiny. The front cover can roll up on itself and then bounce back, but it never fully regains its former shape. The back is much less flexible due to the back pocket that comes Moleskine standard. The cover also feels almost moist and rubbery, and any minor scratches and such simply bounce out unlike the Rhodia Webnotebook. The softness does mean that the elastic band leaves very noticeable marks on the cover and sometimes the paper. The spine in contrast to the hardcover feels much more durable and able to stand up to long, continued use.

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Which style of cover is better is a decision you have to make. This one is flexible, easily fits in a pocket, and is harder the permanently damage than the hard cover, but it offers less page protection and stability for writing, so it’s give and take.

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Review – Layflat Dot Grid Composition

Sometimes lines don’t look right on drawings and grids are too intrusive. Dots can be easier to draw around and can give the general guidance that is necessary. If you want the added bonus of having a book that lays flat on your table or lap you might want to try out the Layflat Sketchbook Dot Grid Composition notebook.

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The cover has a static looking black and white style and and a black spine. There is a space to write a name and subject as well. The cover is very thin cardboard, the inside being plain white with a plastic coating on the outside. It is rather thin, and has a problem with the pointy corners getting dinged up easily. The spine does lay flat with a little prodding, though not as flat as a saddle-stitched binding, but flatter than any other types of composition books, and most other note books.

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The pages are thin as well, white with tiny grey dots at regular intervals. There are quite a few of the dots on a single page, though I don’t know how many. The paper shows through with almost every ink, though it does take a heavy amount to bleed through. Even a few fountain pens work. The corners get dinged up like the cover, and the individual pages are a lot easier to damage. The grid they form is easier to write with than many others and is fairly straight. Though many of the pages are not printed the same, so the dots are inconsistent. Each dot is made of several small dots so they are un-intrusive.

Overall it’s a good notebook for designs and sketches requiring general guidance. It doesn’t work well with larger fountain or brush pens, or heavier liquid ink pens. It can get dinged up easily, but it does lay flat. In the end it is a cheap and nice notebook. Though it has faults, it is reliable and of good quality. It’s good for students or casual designers.

Review – Pentel Sign Pen

A felt tip marker can be a useful art supply. If you want to use a high quality marker pen from a well established brand, and don’t need a particularly thick line, the Pentel Sign Pen may be the thing you’re looking for.

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The pen itself is black, fairly flat, combining the worst of matte and shiny blacks. The base has a small tan disk. It’s got a slightly hexagonal design, and both ends taper down to a cylinder. The cap is in the same design. The clip is a long piece of plastic, and it ends in a slightly sharp, shirt tearing, tip. The grip section tapers down to a metal holder and a thin felt tip.

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The ink is a nice black, and it is very black. The tip doesn’t seem to have much line variation. It looks about the same no matter the pressure. Using enough pressure to give variation would damage the tip. Tilting the tip can cause some variation. The ink is mildly waterproof. It does turn grey and does smudge heavily, though it doesn’t fully disappear and can in most cases be read.

So if you need a fine-to-medium point, water-resistant black marker, which sounds specific but really isn’t, this could be the pen for you. In my opinion it is more comfortable than a sharpie, and is a bit smaller, which is nice. It is a very good pen for line art especially on larger works.

Ultimate Pocket Notebook Showdown – Moleskine, Rhodia, Leuchtturm, Gibson, Wal Mart

Okay, enough with separate reviews, they have their place, but it’s time for an ultimate black pocket-sized notebook show down. We’ve got a couple slots for easy comparisons and five different books to do today.

Rhodia Webnotebook

Paper: Great, smooth, thick, fountain pen resistant, archival quality.

Cover: Faux leather, smooth, easily damaged but solid.

Spine: Hardy, doesn’t crease, folds tightly.

Other: Bookmark and back pocket, well put together. Elastic strap.

Size: 3.5 X 5.5

Notes: Has some minor bleed though issues, really dark yellow papers.

Price: $20

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Moleskine pocket 

Paper: Thin, bleeds easily, archival quality.

Cover: Pleather, hard cover, like a rock.

Spine: Nice, creaseable, starts to wear near the end of the books life.

Other: Book mark and back pocket. Elastic strap.

Size: 3.5 X 5.5

Notes: Yellowed pages.

Price: $15

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Leuchtturm 1917

Paper: Medium thickness, bleed resistant, but shows through a lot, rough paper.

Cover: Thin, a little flexible, but sturdy.

Spine: Creases easily, but is sturdy, paper could peel off.

Other: Back pocket, bookmark, elastic strap.

Size: 3.5 X 6

Notes: Numbered pages, table of contents, perforated pages.

Price: $12

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Gibson Markings

Paper: Dark yellow, little bleeding, some show through.

Cover: Thick, damageable, bends easily, has stitches around the sides.

Spine: Works well, but creases, is fragile, and can break.

Other: Back pocket, elastic strap, bookmark.

Size: 3.5 X 5.5

Notes: Not very smooth paper.

Price: $5

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Wal Mart Leatherette Journal 

Paper: White, shows through really badly, but doesn’t bleed easily. Not the smoothest.

Cover: Thick, ridged, but flexible, with stitching around the outside.

Spine: Alright, but could crack and fall off.

Other: Back pocket, elastic strap, bookmark.

Size: 3.5 X 5.5

Notes: Elastic strap came off after limited use. Cheap construction. Ink for lines was run off on some pages.

Price: $3

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Review – Pigma Graphic 1

So you like to draw things a bit larger, and technical pens just don’t get big enough. You don’t want to use a brush or something similar. You may want to try the Pigma Graphic in size 1.

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The body is identical to a Micron body. It’s tan and smooth, with most necessary information printed on it. It has a place on the back for the cap to fit that is color coded. The cap is nice and has a metal clip. On the top it says 1 to indicate the size. The top can rub off, though, with some rough treatment. The grip section is easy, kinda small but easy to hold onto due to it being textured.

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The tip is felt. It comes to a point that is about 1mm. It flows nicely, laying down a nice line with no inconsistencies. The point doesn’t have much flexibility, making the line very constant with could be a plus or a minus. The ink is the same black that all Pigma pens have. It is fade and smear resistant, with some waterproofness to it. It is also acid-free, making it archival quality. In other words: it’ll last as long as your paper does. The ink is also a very nice, true, dark black. The writing experience is smooth and easy.

To sum up, the Graphic 1 is basically a larger tip Micron. It does have a different type of tip, on which the point can be more easily damaged, but the base is more secure. If you like Microns and need something bigger this is a good choice. And if you like felt-tip pens and want a higher quality one this is certainly the pen for you.