Review – Plaid 10 Detail Brush Set

Well, while perusing my archives, I found a review of Testor’s plastic cement. And that is when I realized I have a whole set of Modeling stuff that I would count as art supplies. So today I’ll be looking at some of those, starting with one of the cheapest and most universal things, a Plaid 10-piece detail brush set.

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This will be general and cover only the quality of the brushes and not the individual brushes themselves, which might be covered in future installments. First off, the bodies are made of cheap wood that is poorly painted with quite good lettering telling you what everything is. There is a brass-colored section near the end, and some very ugly orange bristles pointing out of it. The section and body are quite sturdy for their thickness and not at all slippery, but not too nice in the hand either.

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The bristles themselves are all right. As previously stated, they are an ugly orange, which doesn’t really matter too much. They are synthetic and have a bit of pop to them, which I like, but others might not. At first they are quite soft and strong, but they may easily become frayed and bent. This is more of a problem with individual bristles and not the brush as a whole. This makes it difficult to get a good edge when you paint, until you cut the offending bristle out of the brush. The brush’s life is likely shorter than most brushes (considering they are sold in Wal-Mart), but, honestly, for the price they work very well. They get floppy pretty quick (which some people might prefer) and they do wear out shortly after that. But they have a lifespan the I’d expect for the price, and getting a 10-brush set this cheap is incredible. They’re even relatively hard to stain.

Overall, if you need only limited detailing done on paintings, or are looking to start painting models and miniatures, this is a great starter brush set. One might want to upgrade to a well-know brush brand later, or even to hair brushes, but for a starter set these are excellent.

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Review – Crayola Twistables Crayons

Now, crayons are impractical for most art types, usually because they are fragile and fiddly. What if these two problems were fixed, and crayons were easy to take and use anywhere? What would their value be? Well, Crayola has a set of twistable crayons which have plastic bodies with a twist action, so let’s take a look.

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First off, the crayons come in a quite nice plastic-and-card-stock carrying case, which, while handy, seems like it would fall apart rather quickly. And, just for me personally, I would want to store these somewhere else, but have a problem throwing plastic things away so I keep them in it.

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The crayon barrels are made of plastic and have Crayola and Twistables written on each one, with no indication as to color, though the body is see-through so the color is fairly apparent. Near the tips is a tapered and grippy section which works quite well, especially since the rest of the body is very slick. At the other end is a twisting knob which operates easily and can be used to both push the crayon out and retract it.

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That’s almost all there is to say. The crayons themselves are nothing special, they’re just kept in place by a plastic tube and screw. They are, of course, for kids so they are bright and not very natural. They are also non-toxic, which is a bonus. They stay alright on the paper, but not as well as more “professional” crayon and oil pastels.

So, overall they are better crayons, but they don’t change what Crayola crayons really are. Which is good for the people who use Crayola crayons. They aren’t particularly serious art supplies, and that’s fine. For more advanced things I’d recommend picking up one of the larger cases with more colors rather than the standard 10 pack I got. Past that there really isn’t anything special about them.

Review – Pilot Easytouch Pro

While not necessarily an art supply, the Pilot EasyTouch Pro claims to use a hybrid ink formula to make a smooth writing, quick drying, waterproof ink, which sounds super handy. Let’s see what it’s all about.

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First the body of the pen features a “modern design”. The tip is a metal cone similar to most click pens. The grip is nicely tapered and flares out at the end. The barrel is fairly straight, but with a little engraving and minimal information. The clip is simple, and tight, with a “modern design”. At the end is a click button and a strange cutoff design. The click mechanism works well but has a grating sound.

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The ink itself is a slightly dark black, but really more of a grey. The tip is medium and there are no options. It does flow quite easily, with very little pressure on the paper. It isn’t as smooth as a fountain pen, or even a gel pen. It does offer some line variation when one presses harder, and it becomes considerably blacker when one does so. It dries fairly fast, though not the fastest. All of this is quite nice until at some points when one is writing (especially when one has just started) a large blob of ink spills out of the point and bleeds though the paper. This is not really unusual for a ballpoint, but the amount and the bleed through make it quite a problem. It’a not really a problem when writing, but a problem when doing anything else.

So overall, this is not a drawing pen, but a writing pen, and not a long writing pen either, because of blobbing, but if one merely wants to sign a paper, or write one page it is quite a smooth-writing fine instrument.

Review – Palomino Blackwing Pencil

So I’ve reviewed some pencils, and I believe it is time in my pencil-reviewing career to take a look at the reproduction of the “greatest” pencil of all time: The Palomino Blackwing.

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The body of the pencil is unique, which really is something to say about a pencil. The main body is a fairly standard hexagon shape, but painted in a nice, less-standard matte black. The Palomino Blackwing name and logo is printed in gold, with a gold band around the back. No indication of hardness is presented. The eraser holder starts off normal, but flares out into a rectangular shape with a metal insert that holds the eraser and makes it replaceable. This eraser holder is fairly smoothly finished, which is also unconventional. The erasers themselves are fine, they get the job done but they aren’t perfect, especially if they have to deal with the amount of lead this pencil puts on the paper.

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Now to what really matters: the lead of the pencil. It is fairly soft, but not the softest. From what I can gather it’s about a 3 or 4B (a few bits softer than a no.1 or no. 2 pencil) and boy does it glide. It’s likely one of the best flowing pencils I’ve ever used. Even for this hardness it is noticeably smoother than others in the same area. But it does sacrifice its point for this. The pencil just never stays sharp, and it can go from a fine (almost) line to a very broad line very fast. The softness also makes sharpening harder as the end never gets quite as sharp as I’d like it to be as it keeps breaking off. I suspect that the Blacking will be reduced to a stump in short order because of this, and the eraser likely never be used to its fullest.

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Overall I’d say that the Blackwing is a superb pencil, but just not my type. It is well constructed, has convenient ideas and is super smooth. But I prefer more precision in my writing and drawing and need a finer point for that. I’m also no a fan of the darkness that softer pencils provide. I like being a little more in control and a little bit lighter. That said, the shading is amazing and the tonal range is phenomenal. It wouldn’t be my greatest pencil of all time, but I can see how it would easily be someone’s.