Review – Caran d’Ache Sketcher (Non-Photo Blue Pencil)

Pencils are a nigh-indispensable tool for the artist. But usually, especially with ink work, they need to be erased, and that can be a hassle. It’s a lot of work, it risks ruining the drawing (or paper), it takes time, and it becomes harder to correct later. But oftentimes the final work is either a duplicate of the original, or more work is done over inked lines, meaning that using a pencil that simply doesn’t show up in the reproductions saves time and work by not needing to be erased. Non-photo blue pencils were used for this purpose as many image replication processes (mainly cameras and photocopiers that were used to duplicate artwork for printers) have a hard time transferring it, and they still retain a place with modern scanners that will be able to pick the color up, but do so in a way that the image can be easily edited to omit it. But is it really worth it to get a new different pencil like the Sketcher from Caran d’Ache?

photo-264photo-258

The pencil is as basic as one can get: made of wood and hexagonally faceted to limit rolling, one end is sharpened the other has a metal ferrule connecting the body to an eraser. The body is a pleasant blue color mirroring the color of the lead and on one facet neatly stamped and inked in white is all of the relevant information. It looks and feels very much like a standard #2 pencil.

photo-266photo-267

The eraser is well done; it erases cleanly and is dense enough to not float away far faster than the rest of the pencil. The lead is hard to place in hardness; it feels softer than a standard HB but it has a more waxy quality (characteristic of colored pencils) that makes it give a much harder line. So it writes somewhere harder than HB and wears somewhere below. The line it produces can go from very light to surprisingly dark, but even at its most dark, it is barely visible in scans and can be easily isolated and removed. But it is only a tool for pure ink drawings, and its use is limited in other senses. If one were to, for instance, lay a wash over it, it would be harder to isolate and almost impossible to be rid of on scans, and it resists being covered by lighter washes. And if one were to erase before laying down a wash they would find that the ink laid on top of the pencil is cut down severely, with the entire line becoming grey and having several holes that are almost white, basically where the ink adhered to the pencil and not the paper (this effect is present, but much less severe, with standard graphite pencils). A similar set of problems would be encountered by someone wishing to put color down. So using a pencil like this would necessitate an additional step between inking and coloring/washing where the inked drawing is reproduced and tweaked to eliminate the blue (and potentially other errors).

photo-268

I’ve also had a bit of an issue with the lead being soft enough to break inside the pencil. It hasn’t been severe, but it’s worth noting.

photo-265

So am I converted to the blue pencil? Not quite. I really like it, and for a specific type of work-flow it is perfect, but that work-flow isn’t mine. I color/wash my original drawings, and I don’t see that stopping unless I get big enough that I can hand it off to someone else. So the pencil has very little use inside my work environment. I do use it now and again, but it also wears down quite quickly, and having to use a sharpener just drives me back to my mechanical pencils. That being said, it is a well-made pencil that does its intended job superbly. If you need to reproduce or scan in original inked artwork and don’t want the hassle of erasing, I would say this is right up your alley.

Advertisements

Review – Bic Stic Colors Pink, Purple, Lime, and Light Blue

The Bic Round Stic is an iconic pen. Not so much as the Bic Cristal, but still quite well known. It is a fairly robust pen, but usually one of few colors. The pen usually comes in the four standard colors: black and RGB. With some hunting, though, one can find more exotic colors, like the ones I will be talking about today: the pink, lime, purple, and sky blue colors.

20140924-022123.jpg

First up is the pink, which is a nice color. It certainly isn’t hot pink, which I despise. It covers well and writes smoothly. It’s fairly dark but still quite pink, though not a very natural pink. It’s the kind that could really only be seen from an ink like this and not anywhere else.

Next is the light (sky) blue, which writes smoothly, but has many little imperfections in the line. It just doesn’t cover well. The color is fantastic, though. It can be a bit hard to see at times but it’s quite pleasant to look at and not particularly eye straining. It is most like the colors at the edges of a clear body of water or the sky closer to the sun, so rare, but not unheard of in nature.

A bit altered in editing

A bit altered in editing, but a good representation

On to the lime, which is by far the hardest to read of the group. And it has some startup and writing problems, though when you get it working it does write smoothly. On the paper, the green is so light as to be unreadable in many cases and can cause eye strain. Though I call it lime, it really is much lighter and closer to… well, nothing that I can think of.

And finally, the purple, which is the best in terms of pen quality. It has no startup issues, writes smoothly, and covers well. It is darker than the blue but not by much, and still would require a second glance to read from far away. That being said, it is a very pleasant color to look at and is great for use when a more standard office color is not necessary. The color would be a rare one to find in the wild, though.

Overall, for writing these pens are hit and miss, and for art they are also hit and miss. The purple and blue are the best. I wouldn’t even try to use the lime. If you’re looking for some way to make your writing more unique, there are other Bic sets out there for that (like an entire box of the purple) and the same goes for any type of art that you might be making, unless it requires some very specific colors

Review – Papermate Inkjoy Green, Pink, Orange, and Light Blue

In a previous entry I looked at the more standard Papermate Inkjoy colors, now it’s time for the less standard colors, like light blue, pink, orange, and green.

inkjoy tests 2

The light blue is a sky-colored blue. It is the hardest to read of any of the Inkjoy colors, though it is still fairly visible when not cluttered. It has a very natural feel and is very sky-like. It is very neutral anyway. It doesn’t look like a color that takes a stance, if that makes any sense. It’d make a nice color for both drawing and work.

Next pink, which thankfully isn’t a very aggressive pink. It’s definitely not hot, it’s more of a magenta color, but not quite. It is not a very natural color, though, as it doesn’t look like a rock or a flower. Might be good for a personal thing, or some corrections or something similar.

Third is orange, which I must say looks almost exactly like Pilot G-2 Orange, which I have previously reviewed. Subtle, but not very useful, perhaps flowers or the fruit, but it could be work-friendly, if you’re in a less formal office setting.

Finally green, which is a quite deep, more forest color. A very natural and neutral color. Again a fine informal office color, and a nice forest or swamp color. Though very limited in its natural colors. One of the least useful, but most usable, colors in the set.

Overall these four colors are unintrusive and subtle, with various office and home applications, but very little artistic applications save a few specific places.