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Archive for June, 2009

Two new, 2010 Moleskine planners are now available for purchase at http://www.journalingarts.com in soft and hard cover styles. Be the first to get one for the new year. Find them at: www.journalingarts.com/planners/moleskine-planners. More planners to follow in the next few days, so be sure to check back often.

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I just received a large shipment of 2010 12-month Moleskine Planners. While I have not gotten them listed at www.journalingarts.com yet, I can take orders with same day shipping via Paypal or by phone. If you would like to be one of the first to have the 2010 planners, email me at cynthia@journalingarts.com and I will take your order directly. I expect to have the line of 12 month planners listed on the site by the end of the week, so be sure to check the site later. The 18 month planners are on their way and expected to be in stock any day.

Moleskine 2010 Soft Cover Pocket Weekly Planner.

Moleskine 2010 Soft Cover Pocket Weekly Planner.

Weekly planning format with week-to-view on the left page and a ruled page for notes on the right.

Weekly planning format with week-to-view on the left page and a ruled page for notes on the right.

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I came home from a big box office supply store the other day with a few goodies. The most exciting was a huge set of 120 colored pencils by Prismacolor. I had not used this brand of colored pencils before and they were on clearance, so needless to say I had to have them.

I’ve been inspired by my dog Frosti lately, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do a quick sketch of him using my new colored pencils. I am in the process of finishing a mini album of him using a Moleskine Japanese Album, so this is where I would do my first drawing with the Prismacolor pencils. I won’t do a full review in this post, but will do one sometime in the near future using a few different notebooks with the pencils.

Frosti rendered in Prismacolor colored pencils in a Moleskine Japanese Album

Frosti rendered in Prismacolor colored pencils in a Moleskine Japanese Album

The Japanese album has a smooth, thick paper, not ideal for colored pencils, but acceptable. Paper with a bit more tooth would be preferable because the pencils are somewhat waxy and would blend better on a paper with more texture. The areas where I used a lot of pressure ended up appearing somewhat shiny and have a burnished look. This is not usually how I like my pencils drawings to look, but it could be interesting in the right situation. I also noticed some tiny off-white specks, similar to the ones I discovered on the paper in the Moleskine Sketchbook. These specks do not take color very well and I am assuming that they are the result of a coating on the paper and have nothing to do with the pencils.

I was pleased with the selection of grays in the set. A good variety of both warm and cool grays in both light and dark tones would be perfect to render my furry, white dog.  There were a lot of interesting colors in the set including some metallics and fluorescent colors. While not much use for this illustration I can see using them in some other illustrations down the line. I found myself using the darker pencils first, getting lighter as I went along. I was able to blend the darker colors and smooth them out by using pressure with a light gray or white pencil. This created a nice softening effect and was easy to do with the smooth surface of the paper. Maybe this smooth paper wasn’t so bad after all.

If you look closely in the dark area of the eyes, you can see small specks of off-white where the color was not accepted. This is something in the paper and is not a problem with the colored pencils.

If you look closely in the dark area of the eyes, you can see small specks of off-white where the color was not accepted. This is something in the paper and is not a problem with the colored pencils.

By the time I had finsihed the illustration, I was comfortable using this combination. I can’t wait to do a few more of these in some other notebooks.

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Illustration created in my Moleskine Sketchbook with Staedtlers Triplus Fineliner Pens

I found Staedtler’s Triplus Fineliners while I was browsing my local big-box office supply store. I was initially attracted by the well-designed packaging and selection of colors, but was intrigued by the claim of  effortless writing. I brought the pack home with me for a test run in a Moleskine Sketchbook.

The Basics

After opening the package, I discovered 20 pens, triangular-shaped and very light in weight. The points measures a tiny 0.3 mm, great for fine detail. The silver-gray pens are attractive with a colored cap that snaps on to the back of the pen. According to the packaging, these pens can be left uncapped for hours without drying out. I didn’t get to test this theory, but I can confirm that the pens remained wet after I completed this illustration. The plastic case looks modern, is protective and can be tilted up, giving you easy access to the pens when working. So far, so good.

There are 20 Triplus Fineliners packaged in a case that doubles as a pen stand.

There are 20 Triplus Fineliners packaged in a case that doubles as a pen stand.

Inspired by the fine point of the pens, I decided to create an image of a rope. Thousands of tiny threads would be a good test for the fine point and would give me an idea of the durability of the tip. Since I tend to illustrate with a heavy hand, I smash tips pretty quickly and am always looking for pens that can handle pressure.

The fine point of the Triplus Fineliners were perfect for thousands of lines in theis know illustration.

The fine point of the Triplus Fineliners were perfect for drawing thousands of lines in this illustration. The points remained firm even after hours of use.

The pens were good performers, producing crisp, bright lines and the tips were firm, but not hard. The ink dried quickly and there was no problem with bleed through in the heavy pages of my Moleskine Sketchbook. I did also test these in my Moleskine planner to see how they would perform with thinner paper. I am pleased to say that the pens did not bleed through, But because of the translucency of the paper, you could see a muted version of the line on the backside of the page which is pretty typical for a Moleskine. Blending was easy and the colors were compatible with each other. I was most impressed with the durability of the tip. After drawing thousands of lines, none of the tips were crushed and the pens still drew wet lines without drying out.

Each point measures 0.3 mm and is perfect for fine line sketching.

Each point measures 0.3 mm and is perfect for fine line sketching.

It was quite easy to sketch with these in the beginning, but as time wore on, the corner of the triangular shape started to dig into my finger. It may not be a problem for most of you, but this did bother me. This is a minor complaint when compared with the benefits.

The triangluar shape was comfortable for me at first, but after extended use, a corner started to dig into my finger. This may not be a problem for most people, but it was for me.

The triangluar shape was comfortable for me at first, but after extended use, a corner started to dig into my finger. This may not be a problem for you, but it was for me.

The Pros:

  • 20, 0.3 mm fine point tips for detailed sketches
  • No bleed through, even on the thin paper in a Moleskine planner.
  • Quick drying on the page
  • Tips won’t dry out after leaving the caps off for hours
  • Great color selection
  • Case angles up for ease of use
  • Durable tips won’t crush under pressure
  • Triangular shape, ergonomic design

The Cons:

  • Triangular shape may be uncomfortable for some
  • Line can be seen through backside of thin paper, although there is no bleed through.

Overall, I was impressed with this set of pens and would use them for any detailed work I might have in the future. I would not recommend them for large areas of color, however because of the fine point.

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I wanted to be able to keep a pen with my soft cover Moleskine notebook, but I didn’t want to over stretch the elastic or have the pen sticking up above the notebook where it would get knocked around. I also didn’t want to add something ugly to the notebook which would decrease my enjoyment in using the journal. My solution was to cut a slit in the front and back covers and glue in a decorative piece of leather to hold the pen along the spine of the notebook. I know, it’s not the most creative hack, but it works well and is super simple to do. I chose leather for my hack because it is strong and won’t fray on the edges, but you could use fabric, vinyl, tyvek or other interesting material as long as it wont tear of fray.

Moleskine Hack: Adding a pen slide to your soft cover notebook.

Moleskine Hack: Adding a pen slide to your soft cover notebook.

I started by deciding how large I wanted my leather to be. It needed to be tall enough to keep the pen from moving around, but short enough to keep stability in the covers of the notebook. The width needed to be wide enough to glue the edges on the inside of the front and back covers and to allow space for a pen to slide along the spine. For my use, the leather measured 4 1/8″  wide by 3 1/2″ tall. This gave me a 1/2″  by 4″ long glued area on the inside of both covers and created a pen slide that was snug, but still permitted the pen to slide in and out.

I cut the leather to fit the notebook and pen with enough extra to glue into the inside of the Moleskines covers.

I cut the leather so it would wrap around the notebook and pen with enough extra to glue into the inside of the Moleskine's covers.

The slit on the covers needed to be about 4″ high, which was a little bit larger than the leather giving me room to slide the leather in without puckering. The cuts were made 3/4″ in from the spine on both sides. When making the cut on the back cover, I put a piece of cardboard between the back cover and the expandable envelope to prevent me from cutting through the envelope.

I cut slits in the Moleskines front and back covers that were 4 tall and 3/4 away from the spine. The slit was centered vertically so they would be at the same height on both sides.

I cut slits in the Moleskine's front and back covers that were 4" tall and 3/4" away from the spine. The slit was centered vertically so they would be at the same height on both sides.

A completed slit in the back cover. I used a piece of cardboard between the envelope and the inside of the back cover when cutting this slit to avoid cutting through the envelope.

A completed slit in the back cover. I used a piece of cardboard between the envelope and the inside of the back cover when cutting this slit to avoid cutting through the envelope.

When I glued the leather in place, I decided it was easier to glue the leather into the back cover first because the position of the envelope in the back cover leaves little room for your fingers to move around. Next, I put the pen in place on the spine and wrapped the leather around it and through the slit on the front cover. Once the leather was snug around the pen, I glued it into the front cover, closed the journal and placed a heavy book on top until the glue dried.

Finally, I slid the leather through the slit in the front cover, made sure the pen was snug and glued it into the front cover. A heavy book was placed on the journal after I closed it until the glue dried.

The end result is an attractive journal with a pen holder. If you don’t want a pen slide, but you need a place to stash a few extra business cards, the 4″ slit is just the right length and can be used on both front and  back covers. If you use the slit on the back cover, your business cards will slide right into the packet on the inside of the back cover.

a 4 slit is just the right size to slip a small stash of business cards.

A 4" slit is just the right size to slip a small stash of business cards if you prefer.

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Frosti was sleeping next to me while I was watching a movie. He looked so cute while he was sleeping that I just had to capture it on paper. I started with a pencil sketch, which eventually turned into a pen & ink rendering.

Frosti in his normal state, sleeping at my side.
Frosti in his normal state, sleeping at my side.

I decided to sketch in an unfinished Moleskine Japanese Album I started years ago. The paper is ivory in color which I thought would be a nice backdrop for crisp black line. No surprises with the paper, it was smooth and accepted the ink well without feathering or bleed through. Even though the paper is similar to the paper in the Moleskine Sketchbook, it does not have the same coating as the sketchbook. The paper is more porous making it a better choice for washes or watercolors.

I sketched the illustration in a Moleskine Japanese Album that I had started years ago.

I sketched the illustration in a Moleskine Japanese Album that I had started years ago.

The plain black cover of the Japanese Album lends itself perfectly for customizing. I pasted a photgraph of Frosti on the cover to illustrate the albums contents.

The plain black cover of the Japanese Album lends itself perfectly for customizing. I pasted a photograph of Frosti on the cover to illustrate the album's contents.

The format of the Moleskine Japanese Album is unique. It consists of 60 zig zag pages that allow you to create long visual stories or extra wide landscape illustrations. In this case, I am using it as a small photo, memory album of Frosti. I would like to explore this more in the future as the backdrop for a panoramic illustration or even an animation sequence. More on that later.

The zig zag pages in the Moleskine Japanese Album are great for creating a continuous photo or art story.

The zig zag pages in the Moleskine Japanese Album are great for creating a continuous photo or art story.

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