Review – Escalada 3.5 x 5.75 Pocket Journal

So, you’re out and about, you’ve just finished your last pocket notebook and are looking for a new one. You happen across one. It’s got 80 sheets of thick sketch paper and is only a couple bucks. It even looks kinda nice in its faux-leather binding. Is this small Escalada journal a good buy? Let’s see.

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We’ll start with the binding. It’s surprisingly good, it flexes well and doesn’t break under standard usage conditions. The binding, as well as the cover is of course cardboard covered in faux-leather with a slightly unattractive sheen. This layer holds up alright, though it does start to peel and rub off at the corners which is very unsightly. It also gets gummy in high temperatures and begins to take the shape of whatever is next to it, so where the elastic band is there will be a permanent set of grooves. But it hasn’t melted or gotten sticky in the time I’ve used it and I live in the middle of the desert.

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The paper is 80 sheets of 74 lb drawing paper. It’s thick but flimsy, it feels as if it’s falling apart sometimes and ink bleeds through and can be easily seen on the other side in some cases. Yet I have had no instances of marking on the next page. It has an easily visible grain and does at times warp ones drawings, mostly pencil though and not very much. The roughness is a bit unsightly to me but that’s just personal preference. Despite the flimsy feeling of the pages they are very stout and remain ridged most of the time. They resist bending, however I feel that if they did bend they would soon fall apart.

It’s an alright pocket sketchbook. It’s cheap, both in price and manufacturing, but it does do its job well enough. Just carrying it in a bag or a case won’t do much harm to it, especially since it only has eighty pages and can be run through fairly quickly. However, if your life is a bit more rough and tumble than most this is not for you, it will look ugly shortly and fall apart not long after. It does best if you’re looking for a notebook to store in your bag or somewhere on the cheap and don’t have too much preference as to the quality of the content you put in it.

Review – Royal Langnickel Nano-Liner 02 Red Technical Pen

So, you really need a red technical pen. You’ve heard good things about Microns, but you can’t find them in red at your local store. You instead find a red Royal Langnickel Nano-Liner pen. Is it a good substitute for a micron pen? Let’s see.

First off, the body of the pen is not sleek. It is grippy as a result but feels a bit rough on the hand. All necessary information is printed on the side and is fairly hard to rub off, though it can be done more easily than with other pens. The metal clip on the cap does its job well and the number on the top is easily visible and rub-resistant.

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The ink is a bright red, unmistakeable for any other color. It’s brighter than most other red pens and would most likely have to be diluted to even begin to simulate reality. It is permanent and a bit more liquid than most technical pens. It bleeds through thin paper with ease and pools at starting and stopping positions. With card stock it works just fine, but with a heavy grain paper the line tends to seep out and become wider. Precession drawing is difficult, even with the 02, which would seem to make a line as big as a Micron 05. However, for large sweeping motions this pen seems right at home, just don’t push to hard and destroy the nib.

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So, is this pen an adequate replacement for a Micron? Certainly not! It does have several good points: large amounts of ink are good for long, and sweeping lines, but less so for the precision drawing it is marketed for. It does do the drawing job better than a standard office pen and is cheaper than a Micron. I think it’s really up to personal preference as with all art supplies, but one should really try a Micron first before checking this pen out.

Review – Bienfang NoteSketch Book

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.

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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.

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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.

Review – Imagine Plus 110-pound Card Stock

By: Austin Smith

After paper the new thing that one would most likely move on to is card stock, in this case Imagine Plus 110-pound 8.5″x11″ card stock. This stuff is a little more “advanced” and one could actually create “finished” projects on it. “Finished” being a subjective term.

110-pound card stock is obviously much thicker and heavier then paper. It takes pencil and ink well; heavy inking and even light painting also work well. The stock does buckle under water quite easily, though, so over-inking and water-based paints aren’t recommended. And painting on anything lighter than Water-color type paper could lead to buckling.

The stock itself is smooth, with enough friction to not go sliding around. Pencil is taken and erased well. Ink is quickly absorbed. The grain is noticeable at times but rarely affects the work that is on it. Heavy ink shows through, but the likelihood of someone seeing the back is negligible.

The size of the paper being 8.5″x11″ makes it a rarely seen art surface. The size, like that of copy paper, is simply unconventional. It is a good material for people just “graduating” into “finished” artwork.

While the stock is nice and useful, most will quickly pass it up for superior art surfaces.

Review – Office Depot 20-Pound Copy Paper

By: Austin Smith

When one is starting to review art supplies, it’s difficult to find a starting place. So I picked the thing all art is put on; paper. More specifically I’m starting with Office Depot, 20-pound copy paper. The kind of thing that everyone has access to. And the kind of thing you’re most likely to start making art on. (or at least preliminary designs)

20-pound paper isn’t that thick, take it off the table and you can see right through it (not clearly, but you can). It obviously won’t hold much and buckles almost instantly in moisture. Thus it won’t be useful for anything more then pencil or light ink. Although it being copy paper and 8.5″ X 11″ it probably won’t be what your finished piece is on.

 

The paper is slick, mostly, it’s got enough grip and texture to not feel glossy and go sliding around on you. It takes both ink and pencil very well. When using a good eraser, pencil almost completely disappears. The ink shows through the paper, the pencil does not. And the texture is fine enough that it is barely noticeable to the naked eye. Which is something good if you’re planning on creating a workable draft of something and not just sketching.

The fact that this type of paper is almost universal and its small size make it great for sketches and drafts. Its main limitation is that, aside from copy paper, its dimensions are almost never used. Most printed and official online “art” documents use different aspect ratios from copy paper, making it almost exclusively for drafts and amateur art projects (in the art world).

It’s always good to have some around, to sketch or to find out how things fit together, and it can always be scanned and posted on a Blog with ease. It’s obviously a starting material, but one that never really leaves the desks of experts.

It’s also really cheap, which is a bonus.