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Posts Tagged ‘Colored Pencils’

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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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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I have been experimenting with a few illustrations done with Prismacolor Colored Pencils and I noticed that different paper yields slightly different results. The differences are most apparent in smooth blended areas of color, but there were a few other differences as well I thought worth noting.

Color blends were created on the paper in a Moleskine Sketchbook, Plain Notebook and Ciak Sketchbook.

Color blends were created in a Moleskine Storyboard Notebook, Plain Notebook and Ciak Sketchbook. The top of each blend was creating using heavy coverage and lots of pressure, while the bottom portion of the blends were created using light pressure.

The Tools
I used  four Prismacolor colored pencils in the red-orange tonal range to simulate a color blend you might have when illustrating things from nature such as berries or flowers. The notebooks I tested were the Moleskine Storyboard Notebook, Moleskine Plain Notebook and the Ciak Sketchbook. On each blend, I drew with lots of pressure at the top of the blend and with very little pressure at the bottom. I wanted to see how blends using different pressure would look.

Four colors were used to simulate a color blend you might find in nature.

Four colors were used to simulate a color blend you might find in nature.

The Moleskine paper in both journals was ivory in color and the Ciak Sketchbook was nearly white. The paper in the Moleskine Storyboard was the thickest, with the Ciak Sketchbook just slightly thinner. The Moleskine Plain notebook had the thinnest paper. Note: that the paper in the Storyboard Notebook appears to be the same as the paper in the Moleskine Sketchbook so I would expect similar results with Moleskine’s Sketchbook.

After creating the blends in each journal, the first difference I noticed was the color. The whiter, brighter Ciak paper yielded more intense color that overall appeared cleaner than the paper in either Moleskine notebook. I am assuming that the ivory color of the paper was the primary reason, but the Moleskine Plain notebook appeared the dullest of all. This really isn’t a problem because the Plain notebook is more of a writing tool than a sketchbook. The color is still good enough for most uses.

The next thing I noticed was the look of the blends. The paper in both Moleskine journals is coated, so the blends created with lots of pressure did not go down as nicely as the blends on the Ciak Sketchbook. Because the paper is smooth, the wax of the pencils tended to bunch up on the edges or where the colors overlapped and I even had a small amount of color flaking in the Storyboard Notebook in the densest areas of color. In the lighter portions of the blended areas, the difference was not so pronounced, but I did prefer the paper of the Ciak Sketchbook and Moleskine Plain notebook because both papers have a little bit of tooth for smoother, more consistent transitions. Note: Be careful when using lots of pressure with your colored pencils in the Moleskine Storyboard Notebook or Sketchbook. The strokes I drew with the most pressure actually developed a shine or a burnished look. This could be interesting as an artistic touch when done intentionally, but it wreaks havoc with smooths transitions.

The paper in the Ciak Sketchbook is bright white and has a little bit of tooth to it. I found I preferred it for smooth blends using the colored pencils.

The paper in the Ciak Sketchbook is bright white and has a little bit of tooth to it. I found I preferred it for smooth blends using the colored pencils. The colors appeared the brightest and the waxy pencils performed in a more predictable manner.

The paper of the Moleskine Sketchbook is thick, smooth and has a coating on the surface. While this is great for pens and even graphite, the slick surface is not ideal for waxy colored pencils. Areas of heavy coverage had a tendency to buch up and even flaked a bit where the color overlapped.

The ivory paper of the Moleskine Storyboard Notebook is thick, smooth and has a coating on the surface. While this is great for pens and even graphite, the slick surface is not ideal for waxy colored pencils. Areas of heavy coverage had a tendency to bunch up and even flaked a bit where the color overlapped. Edges where color faded completely tended to be coarser than those on the Ciak. The coating on the paper creates tiny, pale specks on the paper leaving areas where the pencil did not cover well, similar to the issue I had with the Moleskine Sketchbook in another review. These are hard to see in the photos but appear as tiny white pinholes in the color.

The Moleskine Plain notebook resulted in the dullest color, but I preferred the colored pencil blends to those done in the Moleksine Sketchbook because the paper has a slight tooth to it. The same pale specs appeared on this paper that were evident on the Moleskine Sketchbook. I think this might be due to a coating that is put on the paper.

The Moleskine Plain notebook resulted in the dullest color, but I preferred the texture of the colored pencil blends to those done in the Moleskine Storyboard Notebook because the paper has a slight tooth to it. The same pale specks appeared on this paper that were evident on the Moleskine Storyboard Notebook, but overall they are not too distracting.

Final Thoughts

While any of these journals are great for general sketching, I preferred the Ciak Sketchbook for using with colored pencils. The blends are smoother and it was easier to achieve more natural looking transitions. The paper is similar to what you would find in a traditional sketchpad and the paper is brighter, giving you cleaner, more accurate color.

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I came home from a big box office supply store the other day with a few goodies. The most exciting was a huge set of 120 colored pencils by Prismacolor. I had not used this brand of colored pencils before and they were on clearance, so needless to say I had to have them.

I’ve been inspired by my dog Frosti lately, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do a quick sketch of him using my new colored pencils. I am in the process of finishing a mini album of him using a Moleskine Japanese Album, so this is where I would do my first drawing with the Prismacolor pencils. I won’t do a full review in this post, but will do one sometime in the near future using a few different notebooks with the pencils.

Frosti rendered in Prismacolor colored pencils in a Moleskine Japanese Album

Frosti rendered in Prismacolor colored pencils in a Moleskine Japanese Album

The Japanese album has a smooth, thick paper, not ideal for colored pencils, but acceptable. Paper with a bit more tooth would be preferable because the pencils are somewhat waxy and would blend better on a paper with more texture. The areas where I used a lot of pressure ended up appearing somewhat shiny and have a burnished look. This is not usually how I like my pencils drawings to look, but it could be interesting in the right situation. I also noticed some tiny off-white specks, similar to the ones I discovered on the paper in the Moleskine Sketchbook. These specks do not take color very well and I am assuming that they are the result of a coating on the paper and have nothing to do with the pencils.

I was pleased with the selection of grays in the set. A good variety of both warm and cool grays in both light and dark tones would be perfect to render my furry, white dog.  There were a lot of interesting colors in the set including some metallics and fluorescent colors. While not much use for this illustration I can see using them in some other illustrations down the line. I found myself using the darker pencils first, getting lighter as I went along. I was able to blend the darker colors and smooth them out by using pressure with a light gray or white pencil. This created a nice softening effect and was easy to do with the smooth surface of the paper. Maybe this smooth paper wasn’t so bad after all.

If you look closely in the dark area of the eyes, you can see small specks of off-white where the color was not accepted. This is something in the paper and is not a problem with the colored pencils.

If you look closely in the dark area of the eyes, you can see small specks of off-white where the color was not accepted. This is something in the paper and is not a problem with the colored pencils.

By the time I had finsihed the illustration, I was comfortable using this combination. I can’t wait to do a few more of these in some other notebooks.

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