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Archive for July, 2009

The Markings journal by C.R. Gibson

The Markings journal by C.R. Gibson

This review is the third 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

At first glance, the Markings notebook looks similar to the Moleskine notebook. The cover is black, there is a vertical elastic strap, 192 page count, ribbon bookmark and the notebook will lay flat when opened. The paper is similar to the Moleskine’s in thickness and color, but the lines are different. The Markings journal has a large margin on the top and bottom of each page which gives you the impression that there is less writing space, but the lines are spaced closer together than the lines in the Moleskine. There are 21 lines per page, just one less than in the Moleskine.

The paper in this journal did not perform as well as the other journals overall, but it was fine with the ink from the ballpoint pens and Staedtler Triplus marker. These lines were crisp and clear, did not bleed through the page and had good contrast and depth of color.

I had the most trouble with the wet pens and markers on the Markings journal. There is a coating on the paper that caused the ink in my fountain pen to skip. The ink did not sink into the paper very well and had a tendency to set up on top leaving me with some streaky lines that I needed to go over a couple of times. The Tombow Rollerball pen and the Pilot Precise Grip marker had a small amount of feathering which was not an issue until I realized that these pens also bled through the back of the page. There was less contrast on these ink samples than in the other notebooks.

The Tombow Dual Brush Marker and Tombow Fountain pen had tonal variation on this paper, which could be interesting in the right situation. The color is darker at the end of a line where the pen is lifted from the page. I like this look and think it enhances the hand-written page, but it may not be for everyone.

Detail of the inks on paper in the Markings notebook.

Enlarged detail of the inks on the paper in the Markings notebook. The words from the ballpoint pens appear sharp and clear, and the colors saturated. The fountain pen sample has some streaking and there was feathering with some of the other pens. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

The Markings’ paper performed worst of all of the samples I tested regarding showthrough or bleedthrough. The back side of the paper had a lot showthrough and 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 is raised writing on the back side of the page on the samples from the Tombow Roll and Ballpoint Pens, Sensa Ballpoint pen, Tombow Fountain pen and the Pilot Precise Grip. The Staedtler Triplus Fineliner did not have any raised areas.

The back side of the page has lots of show through, especially on the darker, more saturated inks. On all samples except the markers, you can feel the text raised on the reverse side.

The back side of the page has quite a bit of showthrough, even on the ballpoint pen samples. On all samples except the Triplus Fineliner, you can feel a raised text on the reverse side. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

Pros

  • Clear, sharp text with ballpoint pens and the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner
  • Pale ivory color is easy on the eyes
  • Good for use with ballpoint pens and fine waterbased pens
  • Less expensive alternative than the other notebooks tested
  • Top and bottom margins could be useful

Cons

  • Heavy showthrough and bleedthrough on the reverse side of the paper limiting your pen choices
  • Writing with any pressure will push through leaving raised areas on the back side
  • Feathering on wet pens and markers
  • Coating makes using a fountain pen difficult, causing streaking and skips
  • Paper does not appear to be acid-free

Overall, I think the paper in the Markings notebook is fine for use with most ballpoint pens and some markers such as Staedtler’s Triplus Fineliner, just don’t expect too much from it. If you are using it to take quick notes on a day-to-day basis using basic ballpoint pens, it would be worth giving it a try. If you like using wet pens, such as fountain pens, roll pens or markers, you may want to use a Rhodia, Ciak, Cartesio or Moleskine notebook instead.

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I was able to write crips lines with all tested inks in the Rhodia Ruled Pocket Journal.
I was able to write clean lines with all of my pens in the Rhodia Web Notebook.

This review is the second 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 Rhodia notebook had the smoothest paper when compared to the other notebooks in the test. It provided the least resistance to my pens and all of the writing samples look crisp and clear. The surface of the paper feels silky when you run your fingers across it and it was a pleasure to write on. The paper is the second thickest in the test, the thickest was from the Ciak Journal. The color is pale ivory and is nearly the same as all the other journals. There are 22 lines on each page and the last line on the right pages includes a small logo in the lower right corner.

I was quite pleased by how well the paper in the Rhodia Web Notebook performed. The words on the page appeared sharp and clear and there was no feathering that I could see. The depth of color was average compared to the rest, but there was till plenty of contrast for good readability. Because the paper is so smooth, the inks went down clean without drags, skips or picks and was a joy to write on.

There was an an interesting effect that occured on the Rhodia paper that did not occur on any of the other paper samples. The words and lines written with the fountain pen have more tonal variation. The color is darker at the end of a line where the pen is lifted from the page. I like this look and think it enhances the hand-written page, but it may not be for everyone.

Detail of the inks on paper in the Rhodia Web notebook. The words were sharp and clear and the colors remained saturated.

Enlarged detail of the inks on the paper in the Rhodia Web notebook. The words appear sharp and clear, and the colors saturated. The fountain pen sample has quite a bit of tonal variation, which is an interesting effect. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

The Rhodia Web Notebook paper performed best of all of the samples I tested regarding showthrough or bleedthrough.  The back side of the paper has almost no showthrough and no bleedthrough with exception of the Marks-A-Lot Permanent Marker which bled through every paper in this test. There is a small amount raised writing on the back side of the page on the Tombow Roll and Ballpoint Pens, Sensa Ballpoint pen and the Pilot Precise Grip. The fountain pen and marker samples did not have any raised areas.

The back side of the page has a minimal of show throughwhen compared to some of the other journals in the test.

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.

When using wet pens, such as the Tombow Roll Pen and the Tombow Fountain Pen, the inks dried slightly slower than expected. This can cause smearing if you are a lefty or if you are impatient. It shouldn’t be a problem if you are a righty as long as you don’t rush things.

Pros

  • Clear, sharp text with no apparent feathering, even when using a fountain pen and markers
  • Thick paper has very little showthrough and minimal bleedthrough
  • Super, smooth paper accepts ink without skipping
  • Pale ivory color is easy on the eyes
  • Good for use with ballpoint pens, roll pens and fountain pens

Cons

  • Heavier paper makes the notebook slightly thicker than the other samples tested
  • Writing with heavy pressure will push through leaving raised areas on the back side
  • The ink from wettest pens including fountain and roll pens dry slower than in other journals
  • There is a logo in the lower right corner of each page

Overall, I think the paper in the Rhodia Web Notebook is the top performer of all of the notebooks I have tested so far in regards to pen and ink. The paper is incredibly smooth and is heavy enough to prevent most showthrough and bleedthrough. Thick paper does produce journal that is a little bit thicker than some of the others, but this won’t be a problem for most people. A large variety of pens will work well on the paper although this may vary somewhat depending on your pen and ink choices. If you use a wet fountain or roll pen, this journal may be the best choice for you if you want to avoid showthrough and bleedthrough.

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I just listed Ciak Black Multicolor Journals at www.journalingarts.com. These journals have pages sectioned into 8 different sections of 32 pages each for easy organization that looks great. The paper is fountain pen friendly and acid free. More colors to come soon!

Ciaks Multicolor Journals have 8 color-coded sections of 32 pages for easy organizing.

Ciak's Multicolor Journals have 8 color-coded sections of 32 pages for easy organizing.

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I was able to write crips lines with most inks in the Moleskine Ruled Pocket Journal.

I was able to write fairly crisp lines with all of my pens in the Moleskine Pocket Journal.

This review is the first 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 Moleskine notebook has fairly smooth paper with little tooth. The paper is the second thinnest, the thinnest being that from the Markings journal from C.R. Gibson. The color is pale ivory and is nearly the same as all the other journals.

Overall, I am surprised by how well the paper in the Moleksine notebook performed. It displayed the second best color depth, with the Ciak paper being slightly more saturated. The words written on it appeared sharp, but less so than those on the Rhodia Web notebook paper. There was little, if any, feathering. I’ve heard complaints about the paper in the Moleskine journal feathering badly, but the notebook I tested did not. Even the fountain pen ink appeared sharp, and the inks went down clean without drags, skips or picks.

Detail of the inks on paper in the Moleskine Pocket Ruled notebook. The words were sharp and clear and the colors remained saturated.

Enlarged detail of the inks on the paper in the Moleskine Pocket Ruled notebook. The words appear sharp and clear, and the colors saturated. If you right click this image and select "view image" from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

There are some issues I have with the paper, however. The back side of the paper has a lot of showthrough. All but the ballpoint inks show through clearly, and the Tombow Rollerball Pen bled through a tiny bit. The Marks-A-Lot Permanent Marker bled through a lot, but I expected this because it is similar to a Sharpie Marker and it bled through all of the other papers in this test.

Because this paper is thin you can feel the the raised writing on the back side of the page. This holds true for all ink samples except the markers. If you write with moderate to heavy  pressure, you will have quite a bit of texture from the previous page popping through.

The back side of the page has a good amount of show through, especially on the darker, more saturated inks. On all samples except the markers, you can feel the text raised on the reverse side.

The back side of the page has a lot of showthrough, especially on the darker, more saturated inks. On all samples except the markers, you can feel the 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.

When using wet pens, such as the Tombow Roll Pen and the Tombow Fountain Pen, the inks dried slower than expected. This can cause smearing if you are a lefty or if you are impatient. It shouldn’t be a problem if you are a righty as long as you don’t rush things.

Pros

  • Clear, sharp text with no apparent feathering, even when using a fountain pen and markers
  • Rich, saturated ink colors
  • Smooth paper accepts ink without skipping
  • Pale ivory color is easy on the eyes
  • Good for use with ballpoint pens and other non-saturated inks

Cons

  • Darker inks show through the back side of the paper
  • Writing with any pressure will push through the back leaving raised areas on the back side
  • Some “wet” pens and markers will bleed through the back of the page
  • The ink from wettest pens including fountain and roll pens dry slower than in other journals

Overall, I can see why there are so many Moleskine fans. They make nice notebooks at reasonable prices that serve the masses. Crisp lines, rich color and smooth ivory paper are good things. Even thin paper can be a plus because it takes up less room than thicker paper, so the journals are thinner. If you use fine, ballpoint pens or fine point, water-based markers, the Moleskine notebook may work well for you. You can even write on both sides of the paper if the texture or showthrough doesn’t bother you.

You may be able to use some fountain and roller ball pens with the Moleskine paper, but these will show through to the back side of the paper and you may experience some bleedthrough with juicy writers. This will vary dramatically with different pen and ink choices, and will vary somewhat from notebook to notebook. Whether this is a problem or not is up to you. If you are a die-hard fountian pen user who won’t tolerate any showthrough or bleedthrough, you should consider another journal. If you use a fountain or roll pen, this journal may work for you if you are comfortable with showthrough and some minor bleedthrough now and then.

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In an attempt to learn more about how watercolor paint works, I did a quick sketch of one of my favorite places from a photo. I allowed myself 15 minutes to complete the image. The goal here was to work as fast as possible without detail. This was difficult for me. I am more comfortable creating art that is more literal or realistic in nature. Splashing down something quick and being able to let it go is not my favorite thing. I guess once I am more comfortable with the medium and can predict more accurately what will happen with the paint, I will be happier with my results.

Quick Watercolor Sketch of the River Banks at Jekyll Island.

Quick Watercolor Sketch of the River Banks at Jekyll Island.

The illustration was done in a pocket sized Moleskine Watercolor Journal. The small size limited the detail I was able to produce, which was helpful to my goal of working quickly. I can’t say enough good things about the Moleskine Watercolor Journal. It is a great tool for quick renderings and studies and is perfect for creating simple work when you don’t want to commit to a large scale project.

I would love to hear from those of you who have had a lot of experience with watercolor. Any hints, tips or suggestions are most welcome.

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Everyone needs a smile and you can get yours at www.journalingarts.com. Both journals are refillable and come with a small, ballpoint pen.

Fiorentinas Smile Journal shown in Black and Yellow

Fiorentina's Smile Journal shown in Black and Yellow

Fiorentinas Smile Journal is refillable.Fiorentina’s Smile Journal is refillable.

The Smile Journal has lined, acid-free paper.

The Smile Journal has lined, acid-free paper.

Clever snap closure and pen holder are functional and create an adorable design.

Clever snap closure and pen holder are functional and create an adorable design.

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I just restocked the 7″ x 9″ Fiorentina Journal Refills at www.journalingarts.com. Check ’em out!

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