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Archive for July, 2009

The Ciak pocket, ruled notebook.

This review is the fifth in a series where I will test the paper in some of the most popular notebooks today, including Moleskine, Ciak, Rhodia, Markings by C.R. Gibson and Cartesio. I am posting the reviews in no specific order. I intentionally omitted the Leuchtturm journals because they are planning on changing to “pen-proof” paper in their journals in August, 2009, and in all fairness, I want to review their newest products. The pens I chose were based on what I had lying around my office, but my selections are similar to popular pens in the market today. I chose a fountain pen with a medium nib because it will lay down more ink and will be more likely to feather or bleed through the paper than a fine point nib.
Moleskine, The paper was tested in Ciak, Rhodia, Cartesio and C.R. Gibsons Markings journals.

The paper was tested in Moleskine, Ciak, Rhodia, Cartesio and C.R. Gibson’s Markings journals. All journals have light ivory colored pages that look very similar.

Please note that you may get different results using your pens than I do with mine. A lot of variables can come into play here including pen type, ink type, pressure used, nib style and environmental conditions, etc. I will do my best to be specific when possible and to include all of the relevant details.

The pens I am testing are:

  • Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen, 0.5 mm point
  • Sensa Ballpoint Pen
  • Staedtler Triplus Fineliner
  • Tombow Fountain Pen with Medium Nib
  • Tombow Pixie Ballpoint Pen, 0.7 mm point
  • Pilot Precise Grip Fine Point Marker
  • Tombow Dual Brush Pen, Fine Point
  • Marks A-Lot Dual Sharp Permanent Marker Fine Point (similar to Sharpie)

First Impressions

The Ciak journal is different than the other journals I tested in the following ways.

  • It measures nearly 4″ wide by 5¼” tall, so it is a little shorter and fatter than the others.
  • The heavy elastic strap runs horizontally around the cover, which is great for attaching a pen.
  • The cover is soft and flexible and available in a wide variety of colors including black, red, orange, yellow and blue.
  • The pages are heavier than the rest, so the paper takes up more room, although the journal is thinner overall than the Rhodia because of the Web Notebook’s thick covers.

Like other notebooks in this test, it has 192 page count, ribbon bookmark and ruled lines. While the notebook won’t lay completely lay flat when opened, it will lay almost flat and stay open on its own if you break it in by pressing it open and creasing it along the spine. The paper is the thickest of the 5 notebooks and has a small amount of tooth. There are 20 lines per page, so the ruling is a little wider than the Rhodia, Markings and Moleskine notebooks and the lines stop short of the outer and inner margins.

The paper in this journal was a top performer regarding bleedthrough and showthrough, a close second to the Rhodia Web Notebook. It is very receptive to wet writers and is fast drying, which is great for fountain pens and rollerball pens. There is more tooth to the paper than the Rhodia and Moleskine notebooks, but I think this is part of what makes the paper so agreeable to wet pens. The paper also produced the heaviest lines and rendered the strongest, brightest colors, more so than any of the others. The Marks A-Lot permanent marker did bleed through, but it bled on all of the papers in the test, so this was expected.

When using my fountain pen, the ink sank well into the paper and the dried quickly. There was some tonal variation that was equal to the variation on the Rhodia paper, but overall the ink color was darker and more intense. I liked the way my fountain pen wrote on this paper and found it satisfying the way the paper accepted the ink. I did not experience any bleedthrough with my Tombow Fountain pen nor any raised areas on the back.

Detail of ink comparison on the Ciak paper.

Enlarged detail of the inks on the paper of the Ciak journal. The ink color is saturated with excellent contrast, the best of all tested. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

The back side of the paper had some showthrough and there was small amount of bleedthrough with the Tombow roll pen and the Pilot Precise Grip at the end of lines where the ink pooled, but it would not keep you from using both sides of the paper. There was lots of bleedthrough on the Marks-A-Lot Permanent Marker, but this was a problem on every paper in this test including the top rated Rhodia. There were no raised areas on the back side of the page, not even on the ballpoint pens. This is worth noting for those of you who like writing on both sides of the paper.

The back side of the page has minimal showthrough and no raised areas. The fountain pen performed flawlessly and suffered no bleedthrough. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

The back side of the page has some showthrough and bleedtrough. There were no raised areas on the reverse side which makes using both sides of the paper a real possibility. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

I have to comment on the build and quality of this notebook. While it may not be relevant to how well the ink performs, it is great to use a notebook that looks and feels like a quality journal. The binding is tight, the paper is clean and the elastic strap is very durable. I have had a lot of different notebooks over the past few years and I have never had a problem with a Ciak journal, which is more than I can say with most of the others.

Pros

  • Clear text using ballpoint pen, water-based marker and fountain pen
  • Paper renders the richest, boldest ink colors of all tested with good ink saturation and contrast
  • Ink dries quickly and sinks well into the paper
  • High-quality materials and manufacture
  • Pale ivory color is easy on the eyes
  • Thick, acid-free paper with more tooth than most
  • Cover available in a variety of colors
  • Horizontal elastic strap can hold a pen along side of the journal

Cons

  • Some showthrough and bleedthrough on the reverse side of the paper
  • Feathering on Tombow Roll Pen

I love using the Ciak notebook especially with my fountain pen. I like the way the ink was accepted on the paper and that there were no raised areas on the backside of the paper. Because the paper is so accepting, I would imagine that a few fountain pens and rollerball pens will bleed through a bit depending on the ink you are using. If you use ballpoint pens or if you don’t mind experimenting with your writing tools, the Ciak is an excellent choice. It feels well made and has higher quality materials than the Moleskine or Markings journals.

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I have water lilies blooming in my backyard pond and I love them. They are the perfect subject for a watercolor illustration and they offer me another opportunity to play around with my art supplies. It’s time to break out the Moleskine watercolor Journal!

I chose the Moleskine Watercolor Journal because I love the way the paper handles ink, watercolor, marker etc, and I planned on using all of these mediums. It is also a convenient size and can be carried around in a purse or large pocket and the cover gives me a hard surface for sketching on.

I chose the Watercolor Journal from Moleskine becasue of the versatility of the paper.

I chose the Watercolor Journal from Moleskine because of the versatility of the paper.

My favorite part of a lily pond is the shiny edges where the lilies meet the water. Because of surface tension, this area is highly reflective and appears white to the eye. I made sure to leave these edges white as well as the area around the small rings created by a tiny bug that landed on the water’s surface.

I wanted to use bright, fresh colors for this illustration. In most cases, when water comes in contact with green plants, the result is bright yellow-green. So I used Caran d’Ache Neocolor II Aquarelles for the greens and blues to make the color pop.

Aquarelles are heavily pigmented sticks that look like crayons. The color goes on like pastels, but when you add water, they blend like watercolors. The color is slightly opaque and is similar to thinned tempra paint, but it is translucent enough to give a watercolor effect. The colors are intense and are brighter than my watercolors so I like using them when I want to make a bold statement. These are great to use outdoors if you want a watercolor effect but don’t want to carry brushes and water. Color the image while on site using the sticks like pastels and blend in the water later in your your studio or home.

Caran dAche Neocolor II Pastels are watersoluable and blen like watercolors.

Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Pastels are water soluble and blend like watercolors.

My set of Aquarelles are close to 20 years old and the colors are still intense. The packaging has changed since I purchased them, but they are still available online and in some art supply stores.

My set of Aquarelles are close to 20 years old and the colors are still intense and the blends are still smooth. The packaging has changed since I purchased them, but they are available online and may be in your local art supply stores.

The outlines were done using my favorite Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen. I wanted the edges to appear sharp and in my opinion, the Tombow roll pens are the best. The ink is waterproof so it won’t bleed or smudge when wet color is applied and the black is really rich. Because the pen is refillable, I can choose from a variety of point sizes and colors as my needs change.

If you have had experiences using the Aquarelles, I would love to hear about it. Feel free to post your comments!

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I have been waiting for this day to arrive. I just received my first shipment of Moleskine’s new Artist Collection planners which feature the playful artwork of Martí Guixé. The planners are covered in smooth leather which feels lovely and smells great. Kraft slip cases wrap each of the planners and feature the same design that has been printed on the planner. Very chic!

Moleskines Red Leather Weekly Planner from the Artist Collection. Artwork is by Martí Guixé.

Moleskine's Red Leather Weekly Planner from the Artist Collection. Artwork is by Martí Guixé.

The small, red weekly planner is available at www.journalingarts.com, and hope to have them all up on the site by week’s end. If you are interested in ordering one, but it is not listed on the site yet, drop me an email at cynthia@journalingarts.com and I would be happy to put an order together for you. I have the following Artist Collection planners in stock and ready to ship:

  • Small Red Weekly Planner
  • Small Black Weekly Planner
  • Large Red Weekly Planner
  • Large Black Weekly Planner
  • Small Red Daily Planner
  • Small Black daily Planner
  • Large Black Daily Planner

The Large Red Daily Planners are on order, but I haven’t received these yet. I plan on doing a review on these shortly, so be sure to check back soon.

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The Moleskine Volant Color a Day Daily Planner Set.

The Moleskine Volant Color a Day Daily Planner Set.

The paper in the Moleskine Volant Daily Planners set appears to be the same as is in all of the other Moleskine planners. But many of you have asked about how well the paper holds up to ink, so I ran a quick pen test on the paper to see what pens would work best. The pens I chose were based on what I had close at hand, but my selections are similar to popular pens in the market today. I chose a fountain pen with a medium nib because it will lay down more ink and will be more likely to feather or bleed through the paper than a fine point nib.

Please note that you may get different results using your pens than I do with mine. A lot of variables can come into play here including pen type, ink type, pressure used, nib style and environmental conditions, etc.

The pens I tested:

  • Tombow Ballpoint Pen
  • Tombow Fountain Pen with Medium Nib
  • Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen, 0.5 mm point
  • Staedtler Triplus Fineliner
  • Tombow Dual Brush Pen, Fine Point
  • Pilot Precise Grip Fine Point Marker

These are scans of the pen and paper test. The first page is the front of the page and the second is the back.

I used a variety of pens on the thin paper in the Moleskine Volant Daily Planner.

I used a variety of pens on the front of a page in the Moleskine Volant Daily Planner.

There was a small amount of bleedthrough on the ink samples from the Pilot Precise Grip, Tombow Rollerball Pen and the Tombow Fountain Pen. The fountain pen bled only where I lifted the pen and it was minimal.

On the back side of the page there was a small amount of bleedthrough on the ink samples from the Pilot Precise Grip, Tombow Rollerball Pen and the Tombow Fountain Pen. The fountain pen bled only where I lifted the pen and it was minimal.

The results were predictable, and in line with the results many of you have had with other Moleskine planners. The paper is thin and had a substantial amount of show through with the inks in my test. Three of the pens had a small amount of bleedthrough including the Pilot marker, Tombow Rollerball Pen and the Tombow Fountain pen. The Pilot marker was the worst offender and had the most bleedthrough. The fountain pen had only a tiny amount of bleedthrough that occurred at the end of letters before I lifted the pen where there was a slight amount of pooling.

Final thoughts

I imagine that some of you will have problems with bleedthrough on the paper in the Moleskine Volant Daily Planners if you are using wet writers such as fountian pens and rollerball pens. Using a ballpoint pen or other fine line, water-based marker should work beautifully without problems other than some showthrough. The medium nib Tombow Fountain pen I used had only minor bleedthrough that I could live with, so there are probably other fountain pens that will be OK on this paper. But because of the great variety of fountain pens in use today I will not give it the thumbs up for use with all fountain pens or with other wet writers. However, I can say that a large variety of ballpoint pens and fine point markers will give you satisfactory results.

If you have had success with your Moleskine Planner and a fountain pen or rollerball pen, I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment with the details of your specific planner and pen so that others may benefit from your experience. Thank you!

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I wanted to take advantge of the Moleskine Squared Notebooks gridded format, so I created this illustration of my daughter running on the beach using Prismacolor colored pencils.

I wanted to take advantage of the Moleskine Squared Notebook's gridded format, so I created this illustration of my daughter running on the beach using colored pencils.

Ever since I first saw the squared pages in the Large Moleskine Squared Reporter Notebook, I wanted to play with the grid and create a pixelated abstract of sorts. The little squares beg to be colored in. I decided to do this with my new Prismalcolor Colored pencils because I haven’t used them all that much and I thought the large range of colors would would be better than a small set of markers.

I used my Prismacolor colored pencils becasue of the large range of colors.

I used my Prismacolor colored pencils because of the large range of colors.

The image I wanted to duplicate, is one on a photo I have of my daughter when she was about 10 years old,  trotting along the beach near Jekyll Island. To help me with this illustration, I scanned the photo into Photoshop and I reduced the resolution to about 5 pixels per inch, which would give me a similar grid as the Moleskine squared Notebook. I used this scan to give me a range of colors for the illustration. I was surprised by how many variations of like colors this would require and I was glad to be using the colored pencils. I had a much larger choice of colors than I would if I had used markers which would have turned to mud and would have required lots of layering.

This was harder than it looked. Even though I had lots of color choices, none of the pencils matched the flesh tones I needed and I found that I had to blend all of the colors to some degree. The waxiness of the color made this a bit difficult at times, mostly due to the small area I had to work with on each color. In most cases, I started each pixel with the closest color and layered from there, using the lightest color last to smooth everything out.

To keep things stratight in my minds eye, I had to color one horizontal line of squares at a time.

I worked in a linear direction to keep the patter clear in my mind.

To keep things straight, I had to work horizontally, one line at a time square by square. Again, this was challenging because the colors were so similar and I found myself frequently getting lost.

Detail of the colored squares. Getting the colors smooth was almost impossible using the colored pencils. I think I would have liked the more intense look of markers, but there were too many color variations to make if feasible.

Detail of the colored squares. Getting the colors smooth was almost impossible using the colored pencils. I think I would have liked the more intense look of markers, but there were too many color variations to make if feasible.

In the end, I am glad I used the colored pencils, even though the colors didn’t blend as smoothly as I would have liked. The image took on a waxy gloss which feels lovely to touch and gives a softer appearance than another medium would have. I think there are lots of interesting things that could be done on squared paper and I am looking forward to trying more illustrations which push the concept even farther. If you have some art you’d like to share that you created in your Moleskine or other squared notebook, email me at Cynthia@journalingarts.com. I would love to see it!

Final abstract of my daughter done with colored pencil in a Moleskine Squared Reporter Notebook.

Final abstract of my daughter done with colored pencil in a Moleskine Squared Reporter Notebook. By squinting, you can see that it resembles the original photograph.

To keep things stratight in my minds eye, I had to color one horizontal line of squares at a time.

To keep things stratight in my mind's eye, I had to color one horizontal line of squares at a time.

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The Cartesio pocket, ruled notebook.

The Cartesio pocket, ruled notebook.

This review is the forth in a series where I will test the paper in some of the most popular notebooks today, including Moleskine, Ciak, Rhodia, Markings by C.R. Gibson and Cartesio. I am posting the reviews in no specific order. I intentionally omitted the Leuchtturm journals because they are planning on changing to “pen-proof” paper in their journals in August, 2009, and in all fairness, I want to review their newest products. The pens I chose were based on what I had lying around my office, but my selections are similar to popular pens in the market today. I chose a fountain pen with a medium nib because it will lay down more ink and will be more likely to feather or bleed through the paper than a fine point nib.
Moleskine, The paper was tested in Ciak, Rhodia, Cartesio and C.R. Gibsons Markings journals.The paper was tested in Moleskine, Ciak, Rhodia, Cartesio and C.R. Gibson’s Markings journals. All journals have light ivory colored pages that look very similar.

Please note that you may get different results using your pens than I do with mine. A lot of variables can come into play here including pen type, ink type, pressure used, nib style and environmental conditions, etc. I will do my best to be specific when possible and to include all of the relevant details.

The pens I am testing are:

  • Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen, 0.5 mm point
  • Sensa Ballpoint Pen
  • Staedtler Triplus Fineliner
  • Tombow Fountain Pen with Medium Nib
  • Tombow Pixie Ballpoint Pen, 0.7 mm point
  • Pilot Precise Grip Fine Point Marker
  • Tombow Dual Brush Pen, Fine Point
  • Marks A-Lot Dual Sharp Permanent Marker Fine Point (similar to Sharpie)

First Impressions

While the Cartesio journal has the same length and width as the Moleskine and Rhodia journals, it has a completely different look and feel . The sample I tested is red, but additional colors are available including orange, black and teal green. The cover is made from recycled leather with a pebbled texture and it’s flexibility lies somewhere between a hard and soft cover, which is very nice. The cover is thin, yet firm. Like other notebooks in this test, it has a vertical elastic strap, 192 page count, ribbon bookmark and the notebook will lay flat when opened. The paper is similar to the Rhodia’s in thickness and color and is thicker than in the Moleskine and Markings journal. There are 19 lines per page, so the ruling is a little wider than the Rhodia, Markings and Moleskine notebooks and the lines stop short of the outer and inner margins.

The paper in this journal was in the middle of the pack as far as bleedthrough and showthrough but there are some qualities about the paper that I think are worth noting. My wet pens dried quickly on the paper, and the inks had good contrast and depth of color. There is more tooth to the paper than the Rhodia and Moleskine notebooks which contributed to a tiny amount of feathering on the inks from the Tombow Roll Pen, Pilot Precise Grip and Marks A-Lot permanent marker. This was minor, though, and didn’t bother me.

When using my fountain pen, the ink sank well into the paper and the dried quickly. There was some tonal variation , but not as much as the variation on the Rhodia paper. I liked the way my fountain pen wrote on this paper and found it satisfying the way the paper accepted the ink. I did not experience any bleedthrough with my Tombow Fountain pen nor any raised areas on the back.

Detail of ink comparison on the Cartesio paper.

Enlarged detail of the inks on the paper in the Cartesio notebook. There was some minor feathering on the Tombow Roll Pen, Pilot Precise Grips and Marks A-Lot ink samples. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

The Cartesio was in the middle of the pack regarding showthrough or bleedthrough. The back side of the paper had some showthrough and there was small amount of bleedthrough with the Tombow roll pen and Pilot Precise Grip. The Marks-A-Lot Permanent Marker bled through too, but did so on every paper in this test including the top rated Rhodia. There were minimal raised areas on the back side of the page on the samples from the Tombow Roll pen, the Ballpoint Pens, and the Pilot Precise Grip. The other inks samples did did not have any raised areas.

The back side of the page has minimal showthrough. On all samples except the fountina pen and markers, you can feel a small amount of text raised on the reverse side. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

The back side of the page has some showthrough and bleedthrough. There was a minimal amount of text raised on the reverse side, only the Ciak journal had less. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

I have to comment on the build and quality of this notebook. While it may not be relevant to how well the ink performs, it is great to use a notebook that looks and feels like a quality journal. The binding is tight, the paper is clean and the elastic strap is durable. I have had a lot of different notebooks over the past few years and I have never had a problem with a Cartesio journal, which is more than I can say with most of the others.

Pros

  • Clear text using ballpoint pen, water-based marker and fountain pen
  • Ink dries quickly and sinks well into the paper
  • High-quality materials and manufacture
  • Pale ivory color is easy on the eyes
  • Thick, acid-free paper with more tooth than most
  • Good ink saturation and contrast
  • Pebble textured, recycled leather cover in a variety of colors

Cons

  • Some showthrough and bleedthrough on the reverse side of the paper
  • Feathering on roll pens and permanent markers
  • Only 19 lines per page

Overall, I like using the Cartesio notebook especially with my fountain pen. I like the way the ink was accepted on the paper and that there were minimal raised areas on the backside of the paper. Because the paper is so accepting, I would imagine that some fountain pens and rollerball pens will bleed through a bit depending on the ink you are using. If you use ballpoint pens or if you don’t mind experimenting with your writing tools, the Cartesio is an excellent choice. It feels better made and has higher quality materials than the Moleskine or Markings journals. The firm, flexible cover is more accommodating to use than the hard cover notebooks and is the only one in the test that is textured.

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When you spend $100 or more at www.journalingarts.com, Priority Mail shipping within the US is free. To get the free offer, add $100 or more to your shopping cart at http://www.journalingarts.com, enter your city, state and zip then click the “Get Rates” button. Your free shipping option will be displayed and is clickable. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at cynthia@journalingarts.com.

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