Review – Sharpie Liquid Pencil Black

Want the bold line of a pen, but the correct-ability of a pencil? Well, good for you! Erasable pens have moved up leaps and bounds, and Sharpie has one, called the erasable pencil.

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The barrel of the pen is a clear plastic with the branding on it. The grip is a light rubber, but it is more smooth than grippy. The tip is a cone that leads to the tip which is retraceable with a click mechanism. The entire back third of the pen(cil) is the click mechanism, with an eraser and flimsily little clip. Sharpie is written on the clip, but small and indented. The mechanism is cheap, it simply sits on the back and doesn’t fit into place on the back, it wobbles and bounces while one is writing. It makes the pen feel unnecessarily cheap and plastic-y.

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The ink is black, but it is a bit thin and grey, though not nearly as grey as say, a pencil. There is nothing else particularly spectacular about it. It is fairly permanent, but it is less fade- and water-resistant than most inks, because of course it can be erased. And it can be erased. Depending on the thickness of the line it goes away completely, or to such a faint line that it is unnoticeable. It is truly a liquid pencil.

So it doesn’t exactly have the boldness of a pen, but it is more bold than a pencil, and it is erasable like one too. So if you were looking for a happy medium between the two, then look no farther. But if cheap-feeling construction and not-so-bold lines put you off, then I’d suggest looking elsewhere.

Review – Bic Disposable Fountain Pen Black

If you’re an artist or would like to become one you’ve probably heard that ballpoints are not a good art instrument. While this is not the case, there certainly are better ones. Fountain pens are generally accepted to give a better writing performance than ballpoints. And the Bic disposable fountain pen seeks to combine the smoothness of one with the convenience of the other.

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The body of the pen is a smooth torpedo in the classic fountain pen shape, though a little smaller. The cap has an easy-to-use clip attached solidly to the top that is both sturdy and tight. There is a partial ink window and logos along the otherwise silver-colored barrel, nothing else. Taking off the cap and looking at the (grip) section, the feed(er) is viewable though a clear tube. The section is much thicker than a ballpoint and easy to grip, though it may become slippery and has no lip at the end. The nib (tip) is steel and ground to a medium point. It is unspectacular looking.

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As for writing, it is very good. Most of the money you pay likely went into the nib and it shows. The pen writes smooth and effortlessly for the most part, but can be prone to feedback. The flow of the ink is good and it keeps up well. Speaking of the ink, it is surprisingly black, and unsurprisingly not waterproof. This ink will feather easily and take a moment to dry. I also don’t recommend using cheap paper, as the ink will bleed thorough, though not as bad as many bottled inks. There is a massive supply of the ink, though, so you won’t have to worry about this pen breaking your wallet particularly.

For a cheap pen ($2-4 a pen), this is a very nice one with a lot of okay ink. It writes well and draws the same. If you’re looking to experiment with fountain pens in your art or writing, and would prefer a slightly larger pen, this is certainly one to look up.

Review – Speedball Super Black Ink

Let’s get to inks. If you’re drawing you might want to try out some India inks. I’ve already taken a look at Higgins India inks, but today I’ll be looking at Speedball Super Black. The ink comes in a plastic half-cone container, that is fine for dipping as it is very wide. It is very full though and can be easily spilled at first, so be careful. The cap has a foil lining that isn’t very good and ink gets on the rim and underneath it constantly, so be careful when opening and closing as there may be ink where it isn’t supposed to be.

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Now on to the ink itself. It is black, and when I say black I mean black. It has virtually no greying even when applied in the finest or broadest of nibs or brushes. It goes on black, and it dries black. Though it is a warm black with a hint of yellow brown when applied very thin. It does dry fairly quickly, though not the fastest, and it doesn’t feather on any paper I’ve used, even in large amounts. It doesn’t bleed through the page, but it does have some show through and page buckling in larger dollops, so it should only be applied in one coat. It is quite water-proof as in it doesn’t even move when water is applied to it, though that is because it contains shellac which can clog up pens and brushes if not washed out properly. They recommend ammonia for that but soapy water applied right after use should do the trick if nothing else. It can also be diluted for washes etc, but because it is heavily pigmented this is not the optimal ink for the purpose as it could go bad quickly.

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Overall if you want a BLACK drawing ink and can handle the problems pigmented ink presents this is a fairly cheap ink that may just be exactly what you’re looking for.

 

 

Review – Pentel Sign Pen

A felt tip marker can be a useful art supply. If you want to use a high quality marker pen from a well established brand, and don’t need a particularly thick line, the Pentel Sign Pen may be the thing you’re looking for.

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The pen itself is black, fairly flat, combining the worst of matte and shiny blacks. The base has a small tan disk. It’s got a slightly hexagonal design, and both ends taper down to a cylinder. The cap is in the same design. The clip is a long piece of plastic, and it ends in a slightly sharp, shirt tearing, tip. The grip section tapers down to a metal holder and a thin felt tip.

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The ink is a nice black, and it is very black. The tip doesn’t seem to have much line variation. It looks about the same no matter the pressure. Using enough pressure to give variation would damage the tip. Tilting the tip can cause some variation. The ink is mildly waterproof. It does turn grey and does smudge heavily, though it doesn’t fully disappear and can in most cases be read.

So if you need a fine-to-medium point, water-resistant black marker, which sounds specific but really isn’t, this could be the pen for you. In my opinion it is more comfortable than a sharpie, and is a bit smaller, which is nice. It is a very good pen for line art especially on larger works.

Ultimate Pocket Notebook Showdown – Moleskine, Rhodia, Leuchtturm, Gibson, Wal Mart

Okay, enough with separate reviews, they have their place, but it’s time for an ultimate black pocket-sized notebook show down. We’ve got a couple slots for easy comparisons and five different books to do today.

Rhodia Webnotebook

Paper: Great, smooth, thick, fountain pen resistant, archival quality.

Cover: Faux leather, smooth, easily damaged but solid.

Spine: Hardy, doesn’t crease, folds tightly.

Other: Bookmark and back pocket, well put together. Elastic strap.

Size: 3.5 X 5.5

Notes: Has some minor bleed though issues, really dark yellow papers.

Price: $20

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Moleskine pocket 

Paper: Thin, bleeds easily, archival quality.

Cover: Pleather, hard cover, like a rock.

Spine: Nice, creaseable, starts to wear near the end of the books life.

Other: Book mark and back pocket. Elastic strap.

Size: 3.5 X 5.5

Notes: Yellowed pages.

Price: $15

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Leuchtturm 1917

Paper: Medium thickness, bleed resistant, but shows through a lot, rough paper.

Cover: Thin, a little flexible, but sturdy.

Spine: Creases easily, but is sturdy, paper could peel off.

Other: Back pocket, bookmark, elastic strap.

Size: 3.5 X 6

Notes: Numbered pages, table of contents, perforated pages.

Price: $12

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Gibson Markings

Paper: Dark yellow, little bleeding, some show through.

Cover: Thick, damageable, bends easily, has stitches around the sides.

Spine: Works well, but creases, is fragile, and can break.

Other: Back pocket, elastic strap, bookmark.

Size: 3.5 X 5.5

Notes: Not very smooth paper.

Price: $5

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Wal Mart Leatherette Journal 

Paper: White, shows through really badly, but doesn’t bleed easily. Not the smoothest.

Cover: Thick, ridged, but flexible, with stitching around the outside.

Spine: Alright, but could crack and fall off.

Other: Back pocket, elastic strap, bookmark.

Size: 3.5 X 5.5

Notes: Elastic strap came off after limited use. Cheap construction. Ink for lines was run off on some pages.

Price: $3

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Review – Pigma Graphic 1

So you like to draw things a bit larger, and technical pens just don’t get big enough. You don’t want to use a brush or something similar. You may want to try the Pigma Graphic in size 1.

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The body is identical to a Micron body. It’s tan and smooth, with most necessary information printed on it. It has a place on the back for the cap to fit that is color coded. The cap is nice and has a metal clip. On the top it says 1 to indicate the size. The top can rub off, though, with some rough treatment. The grip section is easy, kinda small but easy to hold onto due to it being textured.

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The tip is felt. It comes to a point that is about 1mm. It flows nicely, laying down a nice line with no inconsistencies. The point doesn’t have much flexibility, making the line very constant with could be a plus or a minus. The ink is the same black that all Pigma pens have. It is fade and smear resistant, with some waterproofness to it. It is also acid-free, making it archival quality. In other words: it’ll last as long as your paper does. The ink is also a very nice, true, dark black. The writing experience is smooth and easy.

To sum up, the Graphic 1 is basically a larger tip Micron. It does have a different type of tip, on which the point can be more easily damaged, but the base is more secure. If you like Microns and need something bigger this is a good choice. And if you like felt-tip pens and want a higher quality one this is certainly the pen for you.

Review – Prismacolor Premiere 4 Pen Black Set

Some people don’t like Microns, or they just can’t get them. There are alternative technical pens for those, fortunately. There is a set that is even sold in WalMart: The Prismacolor Premier 4 pen set.

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The body of the pens aren’t particularly nice. They are black with an abundance of text. The cap is short with a thin metal clip. The cap is hard to grip and kind of ugly, as it fits on tightly but is hard to remove. The cap can be posted, but is also hard to remove there as well. The section of the barrel that is covered by the cap is short and hard to grip but not uncomfortable. It is slick.

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This set has 005, 05, chisel, and brush tips. They lay down a nice black line. They are archival quality, so they are fade-resistant and acid free. The ink flows smoothly, with the occasional hiccup that happens in all technical pens. The 005 and 05 have a similar size and tip feel to Microns. The chisel is a nice tip, but it is a bit weak and seems like it won’t take much abuse. The brush seems more like a long marker than a brush, and it is not very flexible. It does have quite a bit of line variation, though, when you really push it hard. It’s just more difficult to use.

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Overall this set is a nice one, and it’s cheaper than most other technical pens. They are a bit uncomfortable, and the ink is a bit worse than some of the competitors, though they are quite nice. For the price of a little bit less, they offer just a little bit less. They work great and will serve admirably at their purpose. They just aren’t the best on the market.

 

Review – Rhodia Web Notebook Pocket

Well, it’s that time again, time to talk about a little black book. This one’s particularly good for fountain pens. It’s the Rhodia Web-notebook pocket black version.

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The dimensions are almost exactly the same as the Moleskine, with the exception of it being slightly thicker. The cover is a strange, and easily warped, faux-leather. It is quite pleasant to hold, and the spine sustains much less damage than with stiffer cover books. Not to say the cover is flexible, it is definitely hard, though the Moleskine still holds the record for notebook most like a rock, the Rhodia does have a little give in it. Also on the front cover is a stamped Rhodia logo and an elastic band holds it all together. The standard pocket in the back tops it all off.

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Inside there are the same number of pages as the Moleskine. The pages are thicker though, the first page is unusable and gives you their specks. They are slightly off white with a bit of an orangish tint. This version has them lines with thin grey lines and a slight margin on top. The paper is insanely smooth, as in the smoothest paper I’ve ever written on, right there with Clairefontaine, being made by the same company that makes sense though. It takes ink well, and it even dries relatively fast on there, though there are some problems with bleed through on broader nibs or wetter inks. It should be noted that the paper is different from the larger notebook paper.

So overall, if you have a fountain pen and need a notebook, this is a better choice for you than almost any other notebook on the market. Though if you’re drawing with flex pens or thick brushes be aware that you’ll still only be able to use half the pages in the book. Though bleeding onto the next sheet is something I haven’t seen. Are these the best pocket notebooks? It depends on what type of pen you’re using, and how much you care about the feel of your notebook, because this one does feel quite different.

Review – Black Papermate Flair Medium

Okay, so you want to ink a drawing, or maybe just sketch with a nice bold line, but you don’t have a technical pen. Either you can’t afford them or they aren’t available in the shops you have. Well, maybe you could try the Papermate Flair. The one I’ll be reviewing is the black, medium version.

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The body of the pen is a simple matte black. Sometimes this wears off and reveals a smooth body underneath. The ends are tapered, with a bulge in the middle. The name and size of the pen are printed in fairly high quality on the side. The clip is metal, works fine, but a bit tight, and has two hearts as decoration. On the top of the cap there’s a white breather hole. Removing the cap reveals a slick, tapered grip section. Despite this it is pleasant to hold because it flares out at the end, giving your fingers a place to rest.

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The tip is a nice felt tip. The medium is a fair bit wide, but is almost uncomfortable far from the grip. It writes well but sometimes has so much feedback that it seems to drag on the paper. Its ink is a nice black, though sometimes it can fade to a deep grey. It applies easily and consistently, having very little line variation, which is good if you’re inking something. The nib does feel like it can get bent out of shape fairly easily though, so be careful.

So really, if you want an impromptu inking pen, or something to sketch or make technical drawings with, but don’t have a technical pen, this is a fairly nice replacement. It isn’t as high a quality so it won’t last as long, but it it still a superb writing instrument and a very cheap alternative, even if it doesn’t have all the same quality features.

Review – Sharpie Black Retractable Pen

So you want to ink a drawing you did, but you can’t find Microns, or any other technical pen. You certainly don’t want to use a ballpoint. What do you do? Well, the Sharpie retractable pen may be an answer. The black version, to be precise.

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The pen itself is a shiny black that gets finger prints on it constantly, though it cleans easily. The body of the pen starts out wide and tapers toward the rear of the pen. Near the front is a rubberized grip section with some grippiness to it. Sharpie pen is written on the back near the clip in silver. The pen looks like it can be taken apart in several places, but it can’t.

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The clip is metal, it’s rather stiff and doesn’t easily go into or out of a shirt pocket. The click mechanism in the back for retracting the pen feels solid, but the plunger is loose and feels a little flimsy.

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As for the most important part: the tip. It’s a fine tip, with the standard very black Sharpie color. It puts down a fairly smooth line. I would compare it to a Micron 01 or that range, but it’s really slightly smaller. The tipping material is very stiff and doesn’t like to bend, which leads to less line variation but a longer usable life. It’s not a permanent pen, or at least permanent like the markers. It writes and sticks on most surfaces, but not on all, but it is very black on everything.

Overall is it going to replace a good technical pen? No, but it is very good for inking in a pinch or if you want a less-used line width in your art. It writes well, it looks good. The main problems for me stem from the fatness of the pen and the cheap-feeling mechanisms. Is it for you? Maybe. I’d recommend trying it out and maybe keeping a few around just in case.