One of the worst things about different types of notebooks is that they vary in the page setup. Some have lines, some graphs, others are blank. Even the lined ones vary in the ruling between the lines. And what if you want to make a note on a sketch? Sure, you can just write it somewhere on the page, but it never really looks right, does it? Likewise with drawing on lined paper. Or what if you want to draw a diagram with a description. It will never go in any space you have left on the page, especially if it’s a long one.
Well, Bienfang appears to have those people covered with the NoteSketch Book (all in different fonts so you remember it better). But we have to start with the covers first. The front cover is a nice card stock, heavy and not likely to rip out. It can take a mild beating, regular use is easily handled, but abuse isn’t. The back is cardboard and quite nice. It is light but strong, and will support drawing on ones lap or holding it in front of a subject. The paper inside is a little over half blank with the rest being roughly college ruled lines. It’s nice, but as thin as printer paper. It will only take pencil or technical pens before bleeding and wrinkling. Of course, for its intended use this is no problem. This also helps keep the book slim and it easily fits into most bags. They come in a variety of page sizes but those are all virtually identical, with the page size you like being the only deciding factor.
Personally I can’t go anywhere without one of these. I don’t use them much at home, but on the road or just outside they are perfect. I don’t know about anyone else, but I only bring a pencil and a pen when I’m out, so any drawbacks from thin paper are negligible. And the ability to write notes and have space for it fits what I do. I love having a set aside space to put my thoughts or the story behind a drawing. If thats what you like to do, or you like to draft or draw diagrams that require explanation, this is the book for you. If thats not your thing, then this may just not interest you.
If water color trays aren’t your style, there are of course other options. Like the Bienfang watercolor brush pens for example.
The pens come in a dozen colors and with a blending pen. The colors are roughly two of the standard assortment: two greens, two yellows, two reds, two blues, an orange, a brown, a black and a purple. They vary in shades enough to make them unique from the standard assortment of bright crayola colors, but they still aren’t the most natural of colors.
They come with the color separated from the brush like most brush pens. One must remove a ring to expose more thread that the cap can screw into to connect the two. The design is one of the best I’ve seen but leaves no room for more color. Once a pen is used fully there is no option but to discard it. The color must also drain into the brush before use and the body of the pen must be constantly squeezed to keep fresh color in the brush. But this is common on many cheaper brush pens and is no real problem.
The brushes themselves are nice and tend to keep a point (once they are full of color). They do have a tendency to have a problem with the cap but that may just be me having a problem putting them back on. The color is applied in nice, smooth strokes if the brush is full and does layer and blend as expected. They are rather muted, though, and are hardly distinguishable from similar colors in the set until multiple coats are applied. Even then it is hard to tell the two reds or yellows apart. The color is also not true water color and is resistant when dry and stains clothes, so one should be careful when using it.
If one likes the watercolor esthetic but does not want the hassle of the tubes or trays, I’d say this is a good replacement. It does not, however, have all of the benefits of full water color. It is pleasant looking and nice to use but simply cannot capture the full water color appeal. I personally have found very little use for full water color and only a little more for this. I am not a fan of using either, but if you find that you are in need of a watercolor look, I would recommend a look.