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Archive for July, 2009

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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Just 2 colors of watercolor were used to create this illustration,

Just 2 colors of watercolor were used to create this illustration, Alizarin Crimson and Thalo Blue

I have been in the midst of a creative drought lately and haven’t had much time to create art. I was inspired by July’s dessert theme at www.skineart.com and I couldn’t resist creating a few raspberries, one of my favorite summer treats.

I used watercolor for this illustration in an effort to sharpen my skills. I am new to this medium and I have a lot to learn. I used a different approach on this piece in that I painted the darkest areas first and layered the lightest colors last. It was difficult to do with the tiny cells of the raspberries, and I found that I lost some of the sharpness of the dark areas as I progressed, so I ended up adding in a few dark areas at the end. The more I worked, the muddier it got, so I decided to quit while there was still some brightness to the image, even though I was not thrilled with the end result.

In an effort to learn more about how watercolors blend, I limited the color palette to 2 colors, Alizarin Crimson and Thalo Blue. I was thrilled with the range of colors I was able to achieve with just these 2 colors. I am looking forward to experimenting more with this.

This was  my first illustration in the new A4 sized Moleskine Watercolor Journal and I was quite pleased with the paper. It performed just like the smaller versions with one exception, the paper seemed to buckle a little bit more. I think this is more an issue of physics than a change in paper quality. The larger paper is the same thickness as the paper in the smaller journal, but because of it’s size, it feels less stiff. There was no more buckling than you would find with traditional watercolor paper, so I don’t consider it a problem.

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