Archive for July 30th, 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.


  • 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


  • 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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