Archive for the ‘Marker Reviews’ Category

Ecosystem's Sketchbook

Ecosystem's Artist Sketchbook was illustrated using permanent markers and pens.

The first assignment of a journaling class I have been attending was to find a journal to decorate and claim. Since I knew I would be creating an art journal, it was time to break out a bright orange Ecosystem Sketchbook that I received as a review copy from the folks at Ecosystem. I struggled with committing to a topic for this journal, but ultimately decided to create an affirmation journal, which supported my desire for more creativity in my life. Since most of the artwork I do is created by hand, I decided to use the image of a hand on the cover to be the central theme.

I chose this sketchbook for a couple of different reasons. I was enamored with the unusual texture and bright color of the cover and I have been wanting try some different mediums on the bright white sketch paper.

For this review, I am focused on using different pens and markers on the sketchbook’s cover, which has a matte finish that feels similar to the texture of an eggshell. By touch, I suspected it would be a good receptor for permanent markers.

Hand illustration

I did the original illustration on translucent paper and then transferred it to the sketchbook's cover using charcoal on the backside of the image.

I drew the illustration on translucent layout paper so I could transfer the image to the cover rather than drawing directly on the cover. This gave me more freedom to create and enabled me to throw the paper away if I didn’t like it. It also gave  me a chance to experiment with the design. Once I had an illustration I was happy with, I turned it over and rubbed charcoal on the back of the image where I could see the lines. The charcoal became the transfer medium I used to get the illustration to the cover. By placing the illustration on the cover and drawing over the lines of the original drawing, the charcoal was pressed into the cover and the image was transferred.

Ecosystem sketchbook illustration

The finished hand illustration after it was transferred to the cover.

I started by inking in the black lines over the charcoal lines. I did this to preserve the image because I was concerned that I might smear the lines as I added color. I experimented with different markers, but ultimately ended up using the Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen because of the rich, black lines. I used a piece of paper between my hand and the cover to minimize any smearing.

Inking the lines on the hand illustration.

I used a Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen to ink the lines because of the rich, black color. By using a slip-sheet between my hand and the cover, I was able to minimize smearing and keep my hand clean.

Next, came the fun part, adding color with pens and markers. I used several different markers and pens on the cover and had different results with each. All of the pens had permanent ink and longer drying times than you would experience when using a porous paper. Using  water-based markers on the cover resulted in beading ink, poor coverage and smearing, so I did not include these in the test results.

Prismacolor markers on the cover of an Ecosystem Artist Sketchbook

The Prismacolor markers were my favorites because of the crisp, clean lines and smooth color in large areas.

Sharpie Fine Point Markers – The lines laid down nicely, but as they dried, the lines looked thinner and less saturated than when wet. I found as I added more color with the Sharpies, the wet line would remove any color below. This made it difficult to get a smooth area of color, but this may be due to the tiny size of the nib rather than a problem with the ink.

Berol Prismacolor Permanent Markers – These were my favorite markers on the Ecosystem cover. The color went down saturated and stayed saturated once the ink dried, even when using the fine nib. The lines created by the fine nib were crisp and clean . The larger nib laid down saturated color and I was able to create smooth areas of color. I used this marker for the colored areas on the illustration.

Pilot Precise Grip – This pen created lines that were crisp and clean and I used it to go over the black lines I originally drew with the Sharpie. They still weren’t as black as I would have preferred, so I decided to go over them with my Tombow Ultra pen.

Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen – Once the illustration had been outlined and the color filled in, I went over all f the black lines again with the Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen to clean things up. The ink is permanent, although it is not a marker like the others. The Tombow produced very saturated lines that were a bit thicker than the fine point markers, and I loved how black the ink was. The ink did take longer to dry than the markers, so if you use this pen, you will need to give it lots of time to dry or you will end up with smears.

Overall I was quite happy with how the permanent markers performed on the cover of the Ecosystem sketchbook. I would imagine that most permanent markers will work well and would be interested in trying Copic markers in the future.

Ecosystem Artsit Sketchbook Cover art

The final illustration. I left room for a title once the journal is complete.

I will be doing more reviews of the paper in this journal with different mediums in the future, so stay tuned. For more detailed information on Ecosystems sketchbooks and their complete line of environmentally friendly journals, please visit their site at: ecosystemlife.com.

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I reviewed the Fiorentina Journal refill a few weeks ago using pen and ink, but at the same time, I also did a quick test of the most basic art mediums in the journal and wanted to share the results.

Fiorentina Journal Refill Color Test

I tested some of my favorite artist mediums in a lined Fiorentina Journal Refill. The results were better than I expected for a writing journal.

I used the lined journal for the test rather than the sketchbook because there are times when you want to incorporate art into a written journal and it is good to know how well the journal will perform. Also, I plan on doing a review of the sketchbook refill at a future date, so this way I can explore both.

The most basic art supplies were used for the test, including those that are the most portable, to give you an idea of what can be done while you are traveling with your journal. I tested a few others, too, but wanted to focus on those that are easy to carry.

The mediums I tested:

  • Watercolor Paint
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Tombow Dual Brush Water-Based Markers
  • Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Markers
  • Pen and Ink
  • Ink Wash
  • Prismacolor Colored Pencils
  • Aquarelles Water-Soluable Pastels
  • Rubber Stamps & StazOn Solvent-Based Ink

Top Performing Mediums

The best performers were the Tombow Dual Brush pens, pen & ink, Sharpie Fine Point Permanent markers and the Prismacolor colored pencils. Each of these mediums went down smoothly without bleed through, show through or paper curl. The colors were clean and clear and the edges were sharp.

Fiorentina Journal Refill Artist Medium test.

Most of the mediums performed well and did not bleed thorugh the back side of the page. The wettest paints caused some bubbling of the paper which is visible in the photo above.

Good Performers

The paints were overall good performers with only one issue; paper curl and/or bubbling. There was no bleedthrough or showthrough on any of the paints. Watercolor and ink wash caused the most paper distortion, but not nearly as much as I expected. Only the wettest  areas bubbled and warped. The acrylic paint caused minor buckling when the color was applied thickly, but this disappeared as the paint dried. The water-soluble Aquarelles did not cause any paper distortion until water was added.

Fiorentina Journal Refill Artist Medium Test

Only the ink from the StazOn ink pad bled through the backside of the paper. This is not surprising since this ink is designed to be used on non-porous surfaces.

Poor Performers

The only medium that performed poorly was the ink from the StazOn solvent-based ink pad. The ink impressed on the page using the ink pad directly as well as from the rubber stamps did bleed through the page. This ink is designed to use on surfaces including plastic, metal, glass, ceramic and leather, so the fact that it bled through paper is no surprise. I would not recommend it for use on paper of any kind unless the bleed though effect is desired.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the lined Fiorentina Journal refill works fine for artist mediums with some limitations. If you limit your mediums to pen and ink, colored pencil, pencil, marker and light paint washes, it will be more than satisfactory. It would not be the best choice for use with wet paints if buckling paper bothers you.

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Those of you who love Staedtler Triplus Fineliners will be glad to know that Staedtler does guarantee their products and will replace them if they are defective.  They very quickly replaced my black fineliner that sprung a leak with 2 new pens. I just received my new replacements in the mail today. I am very pleased that they backed up their product and feel confident in recommending the Triplus Fineliners whole-heartedly. Way to go Staedtler!

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I opened the black fineliner this morning only to find it had a massive leak. It was a real mess and ink went everywhere. I have no idea why this happened, I didn’t do anything abusive or unusual. I have contacted Staedtler to inquire about their warranty. I thought it would be interesting to see how they respond. I hope they guarantee their pens and are willing to offer a replacement. If so, I might consider adding them to my store.  I will be sure to post the response I get from Staedtler’s Customer Service.

I opened my black Triliner to discover the pen had a massive leak. The ink did not come off easily from my hands and I imagine that it would not come out of clothing very well. If your Triliner leaks, be careful to keep the ink off of your hands and clothing.

I opened my black Triliner to discover the pen had a massive leak. The ink did not come off easily from my hands and I imagine that it would not come out of clothing very well. If your Triliner leaks, be careful to keep the ink off of your hands and clothing. I have contacted Staedtler's Customer Service and hope that they are willing to stand behind their products.

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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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