Comparison – Wite-Out Vs. Liquid Paper pens (Shake n’ Sqeeze, Correction Pen)

Correction fluid is quite a useful tool and an art supply in its own right on some occasions. But those bottles are hard to lug around, and the brush tips difficult to manipulate to really cover what you want. Both of the major correction fluid brands have attempted to rectify this situation with pen applicators for their product. But how well do they really work in comparison? And how do they look head to head?

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Both are rather fat, pen-sized items at a little over 5 inches in length. Each is roughly cylindrical with a cap on one end, a squeezable bulge in the middle, and a posting step-down at the other end. The amount of fluid contained in each is surprisingly similar: being 7ml for the Liquid Paper and 8ml for the Bic Wite Out. But despite having only a slightly larger capacity, the Bic pen is noticeably larger in almost every way. It is a little bit longer, the tube diameter is about 125% that of the other, and the squeezable bulge extends out in two humps rather than the one of its smaller counterpart. Each one has a cap with an integrated clip, through the Bic one is translucent and more brittle-feeling than the LP which matches with the rest of the pen. The main color of each pen is an off-white, the differences of which mirror the differences in the colors of the fluids inside, with the Wite Out being a “warmer” and the LP being a “cooler” white. There’s a lot more information on the Wite Out pen, which is printed on a label wrapped around the bottom as opposed to the Liquid Paper which has just enough info printed directly on the plastic. And both pens have a strange “arrow” (triangle) pointing toward the tip molded into their plastic.

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Both pens are used in the same fashion: shake it up, remove cap and any little dried bits (there always is some, no matter how well you wipe it off), press down firmly, and then write with it like it’s a pen, squeezing and pressing to increase the flow when needed (then wipe the tip off and re-cap). Both do a pretty good job, but each has its own quirks. The Bic pen is harder to start as the tip is wider and the fluid dries more rigidly. It tends to cover nicely in one stroke but the width of that stroke is a bit unpredictable, and it’s pretty poor at “writing” on its own. The fluid is basically the same as the Wite Out quick dry (or regular), drying fairly quickly and smoothly over the paper, but noticeably sitting on top of it because it is a warmer white than the average piece of paper. The Liquid Paper produces a thinner line that is easier to write with, but can sometimes require multiple, finicky applications to really cover a mistake. The fluid does start to dry pretty fast, but it quickly becomes a bit “gummy”, and if you need multiple coats and aren’t fast enough this can easily lead to unsightly bumps in the finish. If you can get it down smooth, though, it blends in much better with the paper, being closer to the cool white of office copy reams.

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Both clips are serviceable when the pen is capped, with the Liquid Paper’s being a little weaker when clipping, but less brittle. As mentioned, both caps have posting stumps on the back. The Wite Out posts quite tightly and securely, while the Liquid Paper, even with no fear of falling off, seems a bit wimpy-er. Both pens have worked for me and not dried up over several months, and I happen to be in possession of another Liquid Paper pen dated 1989, which surprisingly still works (but not as well). I don’t know if that will apply to these new ones, but it’s a good omen. (The differences between the old and the new are minimal: the cap has had ridges added on the sides and a droplet shape on the clip, between the cap and body there is now a green band, that aforementioned triangle has been added, the applicator tip has been modified to add more metal, and the old has an applied label rather than material printed directly on the barrel).

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Neither pen is clearly better than the other, so it mostly comes down to personal preference. The Wite Out has: a larger capacity, a thicker line, simple application, and is easier to hold. While the Liquid Paper is: smaller, easier to start, and has a much more true-to-paper tone. If you’re just looking for a correction pen, you can’t really go wrong with either, so I wouldn’t go out of my way to find one or the other. As it stands, I’ll be using the Liquid Paper in my pencil case for on-the-go stuff and the Wite Out at the desk for when I need something more fine than the sponge applicator. And I think both’ll be lasting me a pretty long time.

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Review – Sharpie Clear View Stick Highlighter

I would imagine that somewhere within the companies that produce writing implements there is an R&D department or team, whose task it is to come up with new products that will sell and grab market attention. I would also imagine that this job is fairly difficult at this point. Not only are physical writing implements perceived as being on the way out, but those that are around have been honed for decades to be exactly what the markets are looking for. In other words, I’m not entirely sure the motivation behind “improving” highlighters with the Sharpie Clear View highlighter was actually an intention to make the product better. But maybe it does. Let’s take a look.

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The main bodies of the pens are a matte plastic matching the color of the ink. They’re more ovular, rather then entirely cylindrical, and they taper down to the end more in one direction than the other, making their ends appear squished (or chewed on, like the ends of many pens I’ve seen). Underneath the cap is a shiny black plastic section that is slightly more slippery than the body but doesn’t really impede use. This tapers down slightly and from it protrudes a very angular, chisel-shaped felt highlighter tip. Inside this tip is a similarly shaped piece of clear plastic that both holds the tip in place and allows the user to see through it. The cap is made of a frosted plastic to allow one to see the special tip through it and the packaging, while being soft enough to not shatter easily (like many clear plastics would). It has an integrated clip and posts securely, but with a strangle wobbly feel from the “squished” rear.

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The three colors that come in the package are your standard highlighter colors: pink, yellow, and green. Each is quite bright and visible, but doesn’t block whatever is being highlighted. Green is the darkest, and is a color almost unusable in some highlighters, but here it is serviceable, if my least favorite because of the “shading” pools that tend to form at the start and end of a highlighted line. Pink is slightly better at this, and of course yellow trumps both in the visibility of words beneath it, its own visibility (in good light), and lack of shading. Sharpie’s smear guard is still working as good as ever and most inks can be highlighted without trouble (but some water-based inks are more unhappy about it than others). And then there’s the main feature. After using it, I don’t get it. It is technically possible to see through the highlighter so you know what you’re highlighting and when to stop. But if you didn’t know that going in what were you thinking? And the angle you have to hold the pen at to see well isn’t a very comfortable one. I mean, I can’t fault it for “not working”, but I just don’t understand how it’s supposed to be used. It doesn’t make anything easier or better, it’s just there.

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If you’re looking for a set of highlighters, these work, and if you find them at around the same price as normal highlighters (the price fluctuates) I’d say get them (it doesn’t hurt). But I wouldn’t go out of my way for them, or pay much more. I can’t see their gimmick as anything more than that, and it doesn’t work for me.

Review – PaperMate “Write Bros” Mechanical Pencils (48 pack)

PaperMate isn’t exactly known for making the most high quality products in the world. But for the most part they do make products that get the job done in an inexpensive and readily available way. And that philosophy is very apparent in the 48 pack of “Write Bros” mechanical pencils, which generally sells for as little as a 2 pack of more well-regarded pencils. Are these the perfect solution for someone looking to supply a group on the cheap/keep losing their own, or are they too fragile to be worth it?

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The bodies are similar in size to a normal wooden pencil, but a bit shorter at just over 6”. Molded in a slightly pearlescent plastic and one of 5 average colors, they have a ribbed grip section for the last inch and a half of the barrel, followed by a cheap-looking frosted plastic cone that is screwed onto the end and from which protrudes a small plastic “lead-pipe” and lead from inside that. Near the back of the pencil, there is an exposed click-advance mechanism with an integrated pocket clip that moves with activation. On top of that is a small white eraser, which can be removed to expose the lead chamber and allow refilling. Oddly enough at this price point, the item can be further disassembled by unscrewing the frosted cone on the front, at which point the entire advance mechanism will essentially fall out of the back of the barrel. There is nothing useful that can be done from this point, but it is interesting to look at.

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Performance is so-so to average. The 7mm HB lead is what you would expect at the price, a bit scratchy and softer than advertised (prone to breaking). The clip technically does its job but I wouldn’t count on it, and the plastic is brittle enough that it would easily snap. As far as erasing goes, the eraser is superb, but it is a small size and virtually vanishes when put to its task. The feeling of the click mechanism is unsatisfying but inoffensive in any way other than it feels like it will quickly break.

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Basically you get what you pay for, which in this case is not much. Even PaperMate didn’t bother putting a name on these pencils (I call them “Write Bros” because that’s what’s on the box and online, but the items themselves only say “Paper:Mate”, and “0.7mm”). But there isn’t much terribly wrong with them. If they are intended to be essentially “disposable” mechanical pencils, they succeed. Each has two leads (though many of mine were broken and thus less useable) and an eraser, enough to be useful, but little enough that the poor and brittle construction will be able to survive that use. They don’t seem to be meant to be refilled, as they aren’t worth the trouble, and being used much more would likely result in broken clips and eventually mechanisms (but it is a possibility for a little bit). And putting aside environmental or frugality concerns they are an inexpensive and relatively comfortable way to provide functional pencils to a lot of people, or many pencils to one particularly careless person.

Review – Bic 4 Color Original Pen

For as much as they are almost “looked down” upon in the world of writing implements, and for as cheap a product as they are, Bic pens are very sturdy and reliable line-making machines, with newer ink formulations making them smoother than any pen in the price range seems to deserve to be. Their simple and effective designs have endured the tests of time, making the Cristal ubiquitous, and others, like the 4 color pen, an oddity many have toyed with and some people swear by. Is combining 4 pens into one really necessary? Probably not. But does it have convenient uses for those who still write thing down? Let’s take a look.

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The body of the pen is quite simple, with a retro vibe that probably comes from the design being relatively unchanged from its introduction decades ago. The main barrel is a light blue (or orange for the fine version) cylinder making up 2/3 of the length that begins to taper as it gets closer to the writing end. On top of this is a black band, which connects to the white top. This top section has a very “angular” molded-in plastic clip, a lanyard hole/rotary telephone dialer on top (rather intrusively), and 4 slots in which 4 plungers of different colors sit. When one of the plungers is depressed, a pen tip of a corresponding color pokes out of the front. Unscrewing the blue portion reveals that the mechanism here is quite simple: the 4 ink tubes (with tips) are situated equally distanced from each other inside the barrel. When one pushes the plunger, an ink tube is moved forward and bent via the barrel taper to come out the hole in the center, and a catch holds the plunger down until depressing another one causes it to spring back up. Unfortunately, the way things are constructed, the ink tubes are not replaceable, so if you run out, you’re stuck. The only other thing on the body is the Bic logo and “made in France” molded into the side of the white upper portion. It’s nice that it won’t rub off, but it doesn’t give you very much information to go on.

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The performance is decent. The inks are quite smooth for a ballpoint, and don’t cramp the hand too much, but there is more blobbing than I would like and some of the lesser-used colors (like green) often have startup problems from dried ink on the tip. Despite being a shiny plastic, the pen holds well in the hand. Being a bit larger than your average pen to accommodate 4 ink tubes, it has more surface area to hold on to and it isn’t slippery. It might not fit in some smaller pencil holders, though. I’ve taken a look at the more common Bic colors before, and they aren’t changed here. All are a bit more wimpy than I would like, especially the green, followed by the red, but they go down well and are recognizable while having the standard ballpoint advantages like being water-fast. The clip is pretty bad if you ask me, having almost no flex, but it will probably do its job.

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For art, this pen probably isn’t worth considering unless you’re challenging yourself. But for those that like stay organized with different colors in their planners, need a red pen and don’t want to keep track of 2 pens, or don’t want to run out of ink on the fly, this is a pretty good option. It’s got a nice retro feel if you’re into that sort of thing (understanding that it’s a little unprofessional) and even through it’s disposable, the materials are quality enough it won’t fall apart on you. For someone like me, who carries around 4 pens in 4 colors this might be a lifesaver. It’s not the end-all pen, but it’s a nice office-weight pen, designed to be inexpensive and get things done, which it does quite well at.

Blog 6-30-17 – About Face

Well here I am, back a little more than a month after the last update to give another one, as is custom for this type of thing, and I’ve made a decision that has been a personally difficult one to make. When starting, and during, my hiatus I was very adamant about not only it being a temporary thing, but something that would eventually “disappear” as I would work to make up all the content I had missed postin when I was on it. It’s more than a year later now, and while I have been working to catch back up, I haven’t been seeing the returns I’ve hoped for. My original intent was to just power through this section, creating both my backlog material and moving forward into new stuff. But, as many people who try to finish large project know, something like this creates a mental block. The sheer amount of things you are telling your brain it “has” to do dissuades your brain from doing those things, and as it puts them off, they only get bigger.

While I have been making some headway in this “power through” area it hasn’t been as much as I had hoped, and my “re-warm-up” phase has been much slower than expected, All the while things I was “supposed” to do kept piling up, and it got to the point where my mental resistance to moving things forward was preventing me from getting back up to speed. Looking at things now, it could potentially take me years to catch back up on a reasonable schedule (especially for a person with a house, job, and schoolwork). If I wanted to catch up by the end of 2017, I would have to do more than triple-time on my work, and that just isn’t coming from a person who wasn’t able to keep “regular time” for the last year. And extending that deadline only increased the mental block. Devoting that much time to catching up makes the brain think it’s failing, and that just isn’t good for work.

So the decision I’ve made is to “give up” on the idea of catching up. And that has been a possibility from the start, but it was shunned by my more optimistic side. Now the idea’s still there, and maybe sometime in the far-off future when I’m being super productive I’ll be able to go back and catch up on everything or something close to it, but right now I’m going to focus on what I can do next. Nothing is going to stop getting made at this point. In fact, I intend to increase my output, but I won’t be re-instating the schedule and might even make up a new schedule sometime in the future. My current new goal is to get myself back to putting up at least one thing a day, but none of this will be trying to make up for lost time, and there will likely be many new projects introduced.

And even though this has been a difficult decision for me personally (doing this essentially makes my last year a creative failure), I know that both my few dedicated followers and those many on the internet just passing by really just want more things they can read/view to enjoy, and that me making nothing for months at a time isn’t what they came to see, nor is it satisfying “artistically” for me. This will hopefully end up with a better arrangement for all of us, and allow for my various sites to improve.

I always want to thank everyone who has viewed (liked, and commented on) my content, and I appreciate the patience of those of you who have stuck with me. I’ve got a lot of cool ideas and new projects in the works that soon we can hopefully enjoy together.

-Austin

Dragoncompany.org   Artsupplycritic.com   Dragonfunnies.com

Mini Review – Peruvian 2B Pencils

At this point, I’ve gotten through the reviews of most of the non-U.S. purchased products I’ve received. But down at the bottom of that list are these simple little nameless pencils that came from Peru in what I understand was a larger bundle. And I’d like to take a quick look at them before moving too far beyond.

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The body is your standard yellow, hexagonal fare, without a ferrule or eraser at the back, replaced with a white band and then a black “cap” of paint. The only other adornment is “2B” stamped in a gold color. They come pre-sharpened, and thus a little shorter than your average pencil, being around 7”.

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The lead is a 2B, so it’s a little softer than your #2 HB’s, but it’s far from too soft, and the difference is really hard to tell. That probably stems from it not being a very well refined graphite, making it more toothy and gritty than one would generally expect from this hardness of pencil.

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The build quality is work-able, with the wooden body being quite sturdy, and the absence of an eraser making things easy. There is some variance in how well the lead is centered, though, making sharpening sometimes difficult. In the end they’re what you’d expect from a cheap no-name pencil, but they get the job done.

Review – Crayola Crayons (120 Crayon Box Part 3 – Greens, Yellow, and Oranges)

And now it’s time for part 3 of this series (that is taking longer than expected) looking at all of the colors that come in the Crayola crayons 120 box set. This time it’s greens, yellows, and a few oranges; let’s take a look.

 

Jungle Green – Starting off, “jungle green” is what I can only describe as a “wet” green color. It’s not really blue-ish, but it just seems damp. The coverage is good, as most of the greens will turn out to be, but I’m just not sure how useful it would be for anything other than those weird sea-green shorts.

Pine Green – A theme with this first section of greens is going to be my wonder at why they were named that, and this continues the trend. While it is the color of some evergreens, I wouldn’t say this slightly-blue dark green represents pines. It covers kinda splotchy, but does make a good forest tree color, especially in the winter.

Jungle Green (Shamrock) – Now here’s going to be a little problem in this review; there is supposed to be another color called “shamrock” here, but instead I received a second “jungle green”. I do understand that this sort of thing is bound to happen, but I am a little disappointed and I hope it isn’t a common occurrence.

Asparagus – An unpleasant, yucky looking green that does indeed resemble some shades of asparagus (though not any I would be eating). It covers well enough and has much more shading ability than the majority of other colors in the set. Unfortunately its uses are quite limited and not on the nice side: like swamp yuck or vomit.

Tropical Rain Forest – Looking a little too blue for its namesake, Tropical Rain Forest is a deep aqua color. It covers fine and is a nice shading… well… shade. In tandem with other colors it works very well but little vegetation or really anything is around that will use it as a primary color.

Mountain Meadow – An oddly specific name for a rather plain looking green. Mountain Meadow is a slightly lighter and bluer color than regular “green”. It covers well in the normal range and has pretty standard green applications, though there aren’t any specific applications I can think of. It is a pleasant looking addition that adds some nice variation in shades (tints).

Forest Green – A color name that, along with “hunter green”, always confused me. This vaguely evergreen or dying-plant color covers poorly for a green and shades a little more than usual. While it isn’t a color that would be unused in the forest, it isn’t a usual main one and would be most at home coloring evergreens or parts of hunter’s vests.

Green – One of the standard 8 Crayola colors, Green is a very recognizable color with good properties. It’s nicely situated near the middle of the green spectrum and is suitable for all one’s foliage needs as well as for almost anything “green” made by humans. It covers quite well but has more pronounced darker spots than other colors in the area.

Fern – Vaguely fern-like, this pale green does a decent job of covering and highlights or lighter spots on plants. If I had been consulted I would’ve called it more of a “mint” myself, or “green army from Risk”.

Olive Green – Quite olive-colored (the green kind at least), and not really similar to military uniforms, I feel like Olive Green has a bit of a singular purpose. It isn’t the best at coverage and other than green-olives and pickles it looks a bit yucky.

Granny Smith Apple – Slightly darker in my experience than its namesake, Granny Smith Apple does resemble the famous apple skin and is a nice color to use in other plants or un-ripe fruits. It doesn’t provide the greatest coverage (being rather stipple-y) and will likely need a “support” color.

Screamin’ Green – And interesting name for a poor color, this neon lime green is an eyesore and not too great at coverage. Its uses would be limited to coloring neon signs, what one would write on black paper to make it “radical”, and perhaps radioactive waste. But I guess that’s more from a realistic perspective. Kids do like their neon.

Yellow Green – Much more green than yellow, Yellow Green is a light vomit-esque green color that covers decently but isn’t that pleasant to look at, though in the right light it could be the color of unripe fruit or changing leaves.

Electric Lime – The other neon green, Electric Lime is almost invisible on the paper and has very poor coverage. This is one where darker paper would be necessary and also the only use I could find for such a color.

Inchworm – Similar to Inchworms from children’s books, but not those from real life, this color covers well but has a bit of shading to go along with it. It could be used as a green highlight, for changing fruit or leaf colors, or, less pleasantly, for swamp muck in summer.

Spring Green – Another nearly invisible color that is much easier on the eyes. It is a vaguely green yellow that I could also call “autumn green” as it looks like grasses as they yellow in the fall or come back in the early spring. When colored in, it covers fine enough but has the consistency of grass and the green and yellow separate a bit.

Green yellow – An aptly named green-tinged yellow; Green Yellow is quite light and hard to see. It covers fairly well but with subtle shading that is hard to see at first. It is a good green highlight color, a likeness for grass turning yellow in the fall, and the color of some pears or apples.

Canary – A very muted yellow that is probably the hardest color to see in this section. I wouldn’t say it’s very good at imitating its namesake, but it does cover decently. I would still have a hard time trying to find a place to use it.

Almond – Not a dead ringer for either of the colors I associate with the nut, this Almond color much more resembles the off-white inside than the brown outside. In the end, though, I’d probably call it a very white yellow, perhaps an “eggshell”. The consistency (and thus the coverage) is very smooth and the uses are very interesting: cream, or eggshells, or sun-bleached something (paper?), but it’s subtle enough that it likely won’t be used to its full potential.

Yellow – Another one of the classics, plain yellow is a surprisingly deep and saturated yellow. The coverage is very good, and the shade is only slightly unnatural. It works well for many flowers (dandelions, sunflowers, etc.) and summer clothes, though on its own it is a little overpowering, and it needs to be augmented with other yellows.

Laser Lemon – High in my category of less-than-favorite is Laser Lemon, a particularly hard-to-see shade of slightly-neon yellow. It’s nearly transparent and the coverage is hard to discern but I’d say it’s patchy. It would make an interesting highlight or sign color, but that’s being generous.

Goldenrod – Goldenrod is a vaguely gold color that is more like a darker version of the following Dandelion. It’s the darkest/deepest of the yellows and as such is a tad on the messy side and its inconsistency doesn’t help. It’s a useful color for shading, darker flowers, and perhaps older plastics, but I don’t see it coming out often.

Dandelion – A bit darker than the flower it’s named after, Dandelion is a nice strong yellow that isn’t particularly pleasant, but also isn’t very yucky. It’s got great coverage but the layer has some inconsistencies and darker patches. It still looks fairly natural and is easier on the eyes than many yellows, making it good for large patches of the color, bees, flowers, and many human-made items like raincoats.

Banana Mania – This one sounds like a disease from a comic book, and is a much more orange/peachy color than one would expect from a “banana”. In fact it would work well for small fruits like apricots and peaches in their various forms as well as skin tones, though not as well, since, while it does cover well, it covers unevenly.

Unmellow Yellow – Like Laser Lemon but a bit more yellow and less neon, Unmellow Yellow has a terrible name that doesn’t really evoke a color in my mind. This one is hard to see, and hard to find uses for, looking both unnatural and unlike many man-made objects. The best I can come up with is yellow on TV/computer screens and the like. It does almost look like it’s glowing with its decent but incomplete coverage.

Sunglow – The name here is a semi-accurate description for this morning-ish orange color. It’s very light, almost fluorescent, and covers quite poorly, but it is a good rising/setting sun or hot coals kinda color.

Atomic Tangerine – These names aren’t getting any easier for me, but this one is apt. This color has minimal coverage and a “neon” quality, but it is actually dark enough to see on the paper and would be vaguely reminiscent of a tangerine that happened to get irradiated. Low sunset or safety vests is about all I can think of here.

Macaroni and Cheese – I’m gonna call this one flat wrong, and if you have macaroni and cheese that looks like this it might be tasting a bit funny. This slightly brownish orange covers quite well but I have a hard time placing it. Maybe those orangish brick buildings or left-out grapefruit peel.

Neon Carrot – Very similar to Atomic Tangerine and perhaps a little on the light side for its name, this color has passable coverage and is hard to see, being both very light and lacking that punch the other neon colors have. Its uses are very limited and it just seems to lack purpose.

Outrageous Orange – A real safety vest color, this one has quite poor coverage and high shading, making getting an even “coat” almost impossible. It is a neon-ish color and would do well as the tape used by surveyors or blended into a sunset, but it lacks a natural look.

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And that’s another 30 colors down, and in my opinion they were a bit disappointing, and without many uses. Next time we’ll be finishing up the set with the final 30 from orange to earth-tones (much more useful) and taking a look at the included crayon sharpener.