Review – PaperMate Flair Colors – Black, Blue, Red, Green, Purple, and Yellow

The Papermate Flair is a good porous-point pen; I’ve looked at both the black and red versions in the past. But they do come in a host of colors. I got the largest pack I could find, which seems to be exclusive to Sam’s Club, with 20 colors. And it’s so exclusive that I can’t find official color names for 4 of them. Those 4 will be in the last part of this series, the first 3 being Standard, Warm, then Cool. And now onto the colors.

Papermate flair colors part 1

Black – The black is a fairly standard black (most are): it’s deep and cool. It’s office-appropriate and moderately smear-resistant. While it does smear, it is readable after most spills.

Blue – A dark, office-type blue that is not a very natural color, but a pleasant one. It is legible and unintrusive. It lightens considerably and smudges when wet, but doesn’t erase.

Red – A dull (but still punchy) red, nice to look at, but a bit pinkish. It’s less glaring and hard on the eyes for grading and warnings than comparable pen reds, but similar to most marker reds. Is fairly smear resistant, but does lighten.

Green – A dark green, slightly darker than, say, a crayon green. It’s a deep, grassy, natural color. Noticeably different from the other, more common colors, but nothing that’ll jump out from across the room. It could be used in a liberal office. It smears and lightens quite a bit, though.

Purple – One of the more usual, pops-off-the-page purples. It is noticeable as a purple and isn’t the most natural-looking color. It stands out from dark blues, but could get lost in a page of dark inks. Almost no smudging on this one, though it does feather a lot when wet. It could be used in a similar office to the green one.

Yellow – A super-bright, stereotypical yellow. It’s almost illegible on white paper. It’s the most water-resistant after red and purple, but it all but disappears anyway. It hurts they eyes to look at for a long time (I’m not sure if it’s the brightness or the fact it’s hard to read) and isn’t a very natural-looking color. I wouldn’t recommend this one unless you’re coloring in books.

And that’s part 1 of my look at the 20 Papermate Flair colors. A good general assortment here, but nothing groundbreaking. Next week I’ll take a look at 5 of the more Warm colors in the set.

Review – Uni-ball Jetstream Bold

Some people search for the best of something. I never really looked at my collecting in that way. I just like using a variety of things, and for me I know that there’s no one perfect thing. But that doesn’t stop me from liking sites like TheWireCutter.com, which finds the best product in a given category for the average consumer. I was recently featured in their article about the best mechanical pencil (along with several other, well-known reviewers), and while I was talking to them, I thought I’d try out their recommendation for best ballpoint pen: the Uni-Ball Jetstream. If you read their mechanical pencil article, and my review of their pick the Uni Kuru Toga, this might seem familiar. I do understand why people like the pen, but I don’t like it so much, and here’s what I think of it.

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My particular Jetstream is the bold 1.0, and starting at the top it has a nice, beefy, chrome click button that is very satisfying to use. Down from that is the logo, size, and a solid clip that does its job. The majority of the barrel is rubberized, with the Jetstream logo in the top half in a hard-to-read, reflective plastic. There are slight divots on the section for grip, which actually flares out, instead of tapering in, making it quite large in the hand, and then an interesting-looking chrome cone that leads to the point. This cone does screw off and the pen is easily refillable.

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The ink itself is a nice, cool black that slides onto the page easily. There is an ever-so-slight amount of dry time, after which the ink is quite waterproof. While the ball does roll nicely and the ink flows smoothly, I still get blobs and stuttering, blobs being less frequent than with comparable pens, and stuttering much more frequent. This slight stuttering is hardly noticeable when writing, but is virtually the only feedback the pen gives. It is most definitely the smoothest ballpoint I’ve ever written with but I don’t feel like I’m in control of it when I’m writing. The stuttering is easy enough to overlook when the writing is done, though.

Overall it’s a well-designed, sturdy pen that I don’t want to write with. The point slides out from under me, and the thick grip cramps my hand after a while. It’s also extremely light, which makes me want to hold it tighter so as to not lose it. Still, the fit and finish are great, it’s very satisfying to hold, and if you want an “inexpensive” smooth ballpoint, it really can’t be beaten

Review – Zebra Sarasa Colors Black, Blue, Red, Navy, Mahogany

I’ve talked about the Zebra Sarasa before, and it’s an alright gel pen. The saving grace of many gel pens is that most come in a variety of colors at least partially unique to them, and the Sarasa is no exception there. Let’s take a look at a few of the colors.

The colors are always a bit off in the digital space

The colors are always a bit off in the digital space

First, Black. It’s a cool black that covers well. It works in an office setting and generally doesn’t get lighter even with minimal pressure. I’d say it’s black almost as soon as it gets on the page. The drying time is moderate and it’s water smudge-able.

Next, Blue.  The blue is quite dark, darker than most office-type blue colors. This makes it easier to read and more professional. It’s also natural looking, more like a deep sea-blue than an in-between blue that doesn’t really exist in nature. It’s the least smudge-prone of the bunch, but that won’t entirely stop it from lifting off the page.

Third, Red. It is a bland red, with no real pop to it. Though it is brighter than some of the competition, it isn’t really eye hurting. It’s quite noticeable and quite red but has no character — and no real flaws, either. It’s the color that fades the most when exposed to water.

Now, Navy.  Navy is a very deep, dark blue. It’s really almost black. You’d need a good light on to tell which one is which, though you could tell that black and navy are different colors with minimal light. It’s a wonderful dark color that is almost soothing and quite free flowing.

Finally (for this set), Mahogany.  It is really more like maroon. It’s a slightly purplish red which is also very dark and quite nice. It is much more noticeable than the navy, and still quite natural, giving an almost brown appearance from far away. It’s probably my favorite of the five, though the one with the fewest applications, and while you might get away with it at the office, it could be a hard sell. Unless you work for Texas A&M University.

That’s the five colors for this week. Next time I’ll be looking at the other five colors in the standard ten color pack.

Review – Uni-Ball Vision Elite Bold Black, Blue, and Red

When looking at the Pilot Precise two weeks ago, it occurred to me that there might be people who don’t have Pilot pens available, or don’t like them, so I looked into a different set of pens that have similar features. And I found the Uni-Ball Vision Elite Bold, in Black, Red, and Blue.

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The body and cap are simple and smooth, with a nice white-to-grey fade, a conical top, and a rounded bottom. The clip is metal with a few divots and is very tight. The top of the cap has the color of the ink and there are a few windows below to allow you to see the feed. On the barrel, the brand is stated twice and the model once, but there is no size information. Removing the cap exposes a transparent yet grip-covered feed, and the conical tip to a standard metal roller-ball point.

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The three inks aren’t too special in properties. The black is a thick, nice color. It is a warm black, fairly formal, etc. The bold line on all of these pens is enough to bleed through on cheaper copier paper, but the ink dries surprisingly fast. The blue is a dark blue, again fairly formal. It’s almost a navy or a blue-black color and it works well in most situations. I’d say it’d even work well for some artistic endeavors. The red is fairly bright and red, but it isn’t eye-hurting. It is a very deep, nice color, but it could still be considered aggressive. It is also good enough to have some artistic potential.

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The point is nice, and it writes smoothly, especially in the bold I have here. There is a lot of line variation, though, meaning drawing is a bit harder (or easier, depending on how you look at it). Like I said, there is some bleed-through, but not much. The writing is dry almost instantly from when I pick up the pen, which is amazing and leads to a much smoother writing experience.

Overall, the Uni-Ball Vision Elite is a great little roller-ball with quite a few office applications. The colors are nice without being overbearing, and the writing experience is fast and clean. Artistically they are limited, having little line consistency, but on the color side they have potential. They’re a nice set of pens.

 

Review – Pilot Precise v5 Black, Blue, and Red

Times are tough if one wants to write smoothly and precisely on a budget. Technical pens wear out fast, and fountain pens cost money and time to maintain. I use both, but sometimes I just want to write easily and precisely without all of the maintenance and hassle. This is where the Pilot Precise series of pens come in. Today I’ll be looking at the v5 set in black, red, and blue.

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The cap and barrel are simple and straight. The cap has nothing on it but a simple metal clip that does its job well but can bend easily. The barrel has the necessary info about the product and an ink window so that if ink starts to run low you can get a general idea. Removing the cap shows a transparent section and feed system, which is more for being cool looking than any sort of functionality regarding ink level. At the end of the section is a series of plastic step downs that lead to a metal rolling ball tip. At the bottom of the section is a small clear plastic window that allows one to easily see if there is little or no ink left in the pen. The transparent section and barrel are both a slick plastic, but provide enough surface area that slipping off or letting go of the pen is not an issue.

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The tips of the pens write fairly smoothly. Older ones get a bit stiffer, but even on the extra-fine v5 they are never scratchy. The rolling ball delivers a nice “precise” line to the paper. Although it does have more variation than a technical pen in width, it has less than a standard ballpoint does, and it doesn’t blob. Like I said, writing is smooth: almost as smooth as a fountain pen, but not quite there. I’d say they are wonderful for writing (especially if ballpoints cramp one’s hands) but are not as good for drawing. Still better than a ballpoint, though.

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The three colors I have are Black, Blue, and Red: fairly standard colors with a fairly standard execution. The black is a warm black (this is an older pen, and Pilot may have changed formulas. The other two are brand new.) and noticeably less saturated than the thicker v7. The blue is quite dark, darker than most other Pilot inks, and quite work-appropriate. It’s almost a deep water blue, but not quite as dark as, say, Bic blue. The red is bright, bright to the point of being aggressive. Don’t grade papers with it unless you really want to say they’re wrong. It shows up almost from across the room and is quite a contrast to the deep red body of the pen. I’d say it has the fewest practical applications of the bunch. All of these inks are liquid-based and soak into the paper, meaning that they take a bit of moisture to run, but when they do they never stop. The red is the worst in this case.

In the end I’d say simply that these pens are great for writing, and all right for drawing. They aren’t the best but are great and ubiquitous for what they are.

 

 

 

 

Review – Faber Castell Black Velvet Pencil

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.

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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.

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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.

Review – Pilot P-500 Rollerball Pen

When I was a kid I loved the stationery section, and office supply stores were like candy stores to me. One day at one of these stores (Office Depot?) my parents bought me a pack of pilot P-700s which I loved and used for almost all of middle school and some of high school until they all got lost or dried up. I liked them so much I only did personal work with them and not any regular school work. Recently I found a P-500 (one size smaller) in a store and decided to see of they were really as good as I remembered.

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The cap of the pen is clear, with a little black bit in the top.There is a visible small black bit inside to keep it dry. The clip is metal and very tight, it’s got a ball on the end and very easy to slip into a pocket. It has a 0.5 printed on it to denote the size. The barrel has all necessary information printed on it (extra fine). There is a granite texture covering it with a clear end ball. The grip section is ribbed and very grippy for how slick the plastic is. There is a gradual slope to a very thin metal rollerball point. The section is clear making the ink supply visible.

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The line is an extra fine (0.5mm I’m guessing) and is advertised as being precise, which I have a hard time believing with any gel ink pen. Maybe it’s just my hand, but when writing or drawing with a gel or liquid ink pen everything just slides all over the place. This pen is no exception, though I will say that it puts ink where you tell it to put ink and nowhere else, and does it very consistently.

The inks color is black, almost the same as the pilot G2 black but a little warmer and a little lighter. It is a very good black for almost all writing and drawing purposes. It doesn’t cover well, but who uses an extra fine pen to cover anyway? The ink is very consistent and really nothing special in any of its properties otherwise. It flows as well or better than one would expect from a pen of this price-point.

Overall, these are great pens, both for writing and drawing, but they are not technical pens and cannot replace them for a finished product. They are comfortable to hold and smooth writing. Just better enough than other pens to justify their price. They are a good in-between or starting pen, but not to be used for a finished product.

 

 

Review – Sheaffer Calligraphy Maxi Kit Part 3 – Ink – Blue, Black, Purple, and Turquoise

Now onto the Sheaffer inks in the Sheaffer Calligraphy set, which I will do in batches as I get around to trying them out. I’ll be starting off with black, purple, blue, and turquoise.

Surprisingly Accurate Photo

Surprisingly Accurate Photo

First black, which is a plain black, really there is nothing special. It’s a cool black that is very dark, but is not as saturated as one would want a black to be most of the time. For calligraphy and drawing it is good for the most part (being non-waterproof) but I wouldn’t go painting a picture with it.

Second purple, a color that has no place in a calligraphy set (something that can be said about every color that isn’t black, in my opinion). The purple is a nice deep purple with lots of shading in wider lines, though the shading doesn’t offer a great amount of variation. I personally wouldn’t use this for calligraphy and would have a hard time finding a use for it. But it is very pleasant.

The blue, Sheaffer blue, like all pen maker blues is very simple: a dark blue without much shading that does well with writing and okay with calligraphy. It is a fairly standard blue, non-waterproof and it almost looks like a ballpoint pen. Like I said, though, it is a bit darker than some others, so you might want to look into it if you want a darker blue.

Finally turquoise, which again I don’t understand being in this set. It is a very bright, nice color. It has some shading (which I’m not too fond of) but overall is fairly bland. A nice sky or Caribbean sea color, but not one for calligraphy but for daily writing in my opinion. You wouldn’t want to color a turquoise rock with it either.

That’s it for this time, It may take a few weeks, but I’ll look at the rest of the colors sometime in the future.

Review – Papermate Inkjoy Black, Red, Blue, and Purple

In my tradition (now) of taking a look at the uses of standard office supplies in art, I’ll be looking at the Papermate Inkjoy pens and their different colors. Today will be the standard colors of black, red, blue, and purple.

inkjoy inks 2

Not Entirely Representative

Papermate tends to make standard colors, and their black is no exception. One of the deeper Papermate blacks, the Inkjoy black is nice and constant, though is a bit blue-greyish. Not quite black, but very good for a ballpoint pen.

The red is also fairly standard. It’s light, but not light enough to say it’s pinkish. It is very subdued and pleasant, not as aggressive as most reds, making it a bit more natural.

The blue is very deep, but not very saturated. In low light it still looks blue, but one wouldn’t mistake it for a sky blue. Again, like the red, the low saturation makes it look less aggressive than some other hues. It’s got a very nice, watery feel to it.

And finally the purple, which again is deep but not saturated. It is unmistakably purple but not very aggressive. Unlike the others, though, this leads to a less natural look as most natural purples are deep and aggressive or light and flowery. This one is in between, which means it would be at home on your papers but not in artwork.

Overall, Papermate did a good job with these colors for the workplace. They definitely weren’t designed for art, though they could be worked in. Not superb but good enough. We’ll see what the next four have in store.

Review – Pilot G2 Colors – Black, Blue, Red, Green, and Purple

I don’t believe I have talked about G2 Pilot gel-pens before, I will do a full review later, but first I want to talk about most of the different colors that they come in. I have collected 15, and will split them into three groups, the first of which is the “normal” colors of black, blue, red, green, and purple.

ink tests

Starting with the black: it’s black, there is literally nothing special about it. It is a bit of a warm black, and it goes on smooth. It doesn’t have any magnificent qualities, it is just an all-around black.

Now for the blue, which is a fairly dark but basically standard blue, very similar to the black. It is probably one of the darkest standard blue pens available, and it is a fairly cool blue, like a deep lake. Again, though, it has nothing particularly special to offer.

The red is a medium red, which is a bit different. Most companies go for either an eye-bleedingly light red, or a deep red that is much more pleasant. As far as reds go this is in the middle, but it certainly isn’t neutral. It has no tint of pink, and is most definitively, starkly, red.

The green is surprisingly dark for a standard green. It’s almost a grassy color, and not the light, lime-ish color most other companies associate with green (it’s like the cherry flavor of pens). It is definitely green, but is unoffensive and pleasant. It sticks out, though, making it seem like one of those “replace red because it hurts people’s feelings on grades” pens (I’m no psychologist, so I know nothing about whether that is good or bad, it’s just what I thought of). I think it’s nice.

And finally the purple, which is the black sheep of the normal colors. It is a light, almost violet or deep rose color. It is warm and goes on a bit less smoothly than the other colors here. I really don’t like it, it’s just far too light, and it doesn’t go with the deep other colors at all. It really won’t stick out on a paper either, so it’s just kind of there, it has no natural color akin to it, so it has limited art utility as well.

Overall these are a very good set of office colors, and if you’re just looking for some smooth-writing different colors that aren’t too wacky, I’d look here first. But they do all have limited art potential, so you may want to delve further to get just the right color in that case.