So, last week I reviewed the Cretacolor Monolith all-graphite pencil. This week I was going to review the General’s Woodless pencil, but I realized how similar they are, so I will simply be talking about the differences in the two.
The General’s pencil had (I have an older one) an inferior set of markings on the side that wore off quickly and easily. If the newer versions have a similar ink I’d say this is a downside as you can’t see what you’re using. The outer coating is a darker color, which has no real effect except aesthetics. And the back end is a bit more flat.
Is the quality the same? I can’t tell for sure, as they both seem the same, but if I must hazard a guess I’d say that the General’s pencil is a bit more fragile. But for all I know they could be made by the same company.
All in all I’d have to say that if you were going to pick between the two it might not even matter. Whether or not your local store (or where you shop most) carries them, and the color are the two biggest factors I can think of. Really it’s just a toss up. (But don’t actually do that: the pencils might break!)
There are always new things to be done with old inventions. They could just be a novelty, or improve the invention quite a bit. And when searching around for pencils, one may come across the all-graphite pencils that have been around. Today I’ll be looking at one type of these, the Cretacolor Monolith.
Well, the body of that pencil is nothing to talk about, really. It is all graphite with a thin finish and white text giving standard supply information. There is also a bar code. Really, there is nothing to talk about as all of the pencil is the same material.
It isn’t particularly fair to say that I’m just reviewing the pencil in this case, as the pencils will vary highly based on the grade of graphite used. I believe they all have the same hard graphite and finished outer shell. But my particular pencil here is a 9B which is very very soft indeed and means that this particular pencil has trouble keeping a point and wears down very quickly. On the other hand, it can be used to create a magnificent array of shading effects. I have had no problems with snapping, even with the points, but I wouldn’t expect to drop it and have a complete pencil come out of it. They do feel quite fragile. There is also the waste factor from sharpening the pencil, especially when it has been well used, will lose a lot of graphite (I’m not sure what this means when compared to all of the wood lost in standard pencils but I thought it worth mentioning) This can be avoided by sharpening the pencil by using it on its side as a shader. Using the pencil in this way also creates a marking area that is larger than almost any other art supply until one gets to brushes.
Overall a graphite pencil has its special uses, most notably with coverage, but is also fragile and not entirely unique. It’s like a charcoal stick that is much more well-behaved. So I would say it is worth a shot to try one and see if you like it. If you’re prone to using only the point of a very sharp pencil this might not be for you. But if you want flexibility in line width and color (especially with a softer pencil), then this might do some amazing things for you.
If you’re at a second hand place, or a garage sale, etc, and looking for art supplies, you might wonder wether or not a discontinued item you find is a good thing to pick up or not. This might be the case with the Faber Castell Velvet pencils, of which I am covering the black ones here.
The body of the pencil is nice and round. Its a fairly solid piece of wood with a wonderful grippy, but unintrusive coating. There is a simple eraser on the end, which, if it has been stored poorly or even suboptimally, will quickly become useless. The size of the body is slightly thicker than many other pencils, making it easier to handle and more comfortable to write with. On the side, over the black all information is stamped into the side, with some covered in gold.
The lead itself is a soft number 2. It shades well, and writes smoothly. Really, it is a very middle-of-the-road lead. It has nothing particularly special. It is of average diameter and isn’t prone to breaking. It is quite good for sketching, but might require several other supplemental pencils.
Overall I’d say that if you’re looking for a decent all-around pencil and can find these cheaply, they’ll do the trick. They aren’t up to the super-high-quality standards of modern Faber Castell products but they do work very well. They are more comfortable than most other inexpensive, school-like pencils and can do just a little bit more. Check them out if they seem reasonable.
Looking for a porous-point pen, and none of the standard ones are doing it for you? Maybe you might want to look at the Pentel Finito porous-point extra fine pen.
The cap is all plastic, with a clip molded into it that does the job, but isn’t spectacular in any way. Inside is a small piece of plastic that covers the tip and is held in place by a spring, keeping a tight seal on the tip. This is visible through the clear plastic of the cap. The barrel is a black-covered plastic and has all necessary info on it. The grip section is clear and through it one can see the fins of the feed and a small bit of the ink reservoir. The grip section is very smooth and can easily become slippery. After a small bit of metal tapering, there is an extra-fine porous point at the end.
The ink is fairly black, and fairly standard, not really permanent or fade-proof. The point does spew a lot of ink out: in fact, I would tend to call this pen a fine rather than an extra fine point due to the sheer amount of ink it leaves on the page. This makes the line considerably wider than just the point of the pen. This gushing also leads to points of bleed-through that are not seen in higher-quality porous point pens like Sharpies or Microns.
Overall I’d say the Finito is a mediocre pen that has no purpose as an art supply. There are many pens out there that do what this pen does better, and for the same price. If you want a pen that gushes, or will not dry out for long periods of time this pen may be worth a look, but I’d try something else first.
A while back I reviewed the Papermate Flair pen, and I was going to say that this was a review of the red version of the same pen; but really I intend this as a continuation of the last review after some more use, and as a review of the red color for the pen.
I can confirm that the inner cap will keep the tip dry for extended periods of time. The clip is very difficult to use and is easy to get bent out of shape. And while the black pen has a problem with the color rubbing off, the red has no such problem.
The red color itself is more of a pinkish, and it’s kinda washed out. The line for the medium is spread out enough that it is very noticeable as a not-quite red. It isn’t very aggressive, so if one was grading papers and such and wanting to use something that didn’t offend the viewer, this would work. However, as far as I can see there are no other practical applications. Perhaps marking on technical drawings, but again there are easier and better solutions. Using the pen on a very absorbent paper will make a much deeper color, so that is an option.
Overall the Flair is still a great pen, but I wouldn’t recommend the red color as it is not a very strong red, or a good covering color.