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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Product Review - Rendr and Bee Sketchbooks and Graphik Line Painter Pens

First off, let me state that all reviews of products are my own personal opinion and experience.  The products reviewed are paid for out of my own pocket, unless otherwise stated.  Trust me, if anyone ever sends me anything to review, I'll certainly let you know.  Regardless, I will give you an honest opinion of my experience with the item.

That said, let's dive right in.

I found myself with a little bit of free time this week and decided to make the insanely long drive to the local Dick Blicks.  I haven't been for 18 months, as it is not only a long drive, but in a place that is a royal pain in the neck to get to.  Plus, I find them priced high, but they are the only game in the eastern third of the state.

I was excited to find a supply of new sketchbooks, which is something I will not purchase without putting my hands on it.  I want to feel the cover and the paper and test the binding.  I purchased a Bee Paper Company Professional Series Super Deluxe Spiral Bound, 9x6 in book.  The 93# paper feels great and says it is ok for wet and dry media.  I don't usually purchase spiral bound, as the spirals tend to smash or catch in your bag, or come undone.  It does allow for the book to lay completely flat, which means you don't have to fight the pages while you work.  The cover and backing are very heavy duty cardboard and support the book well.



I tested it with several pens and water wash and was very pleased at the reaction of the paper.  Only the sharpie marker, when held on one position for 8 seconds feathered and bled through the paper.  All other pens and washes remained on the working side and did not feather.



However, the wet media washes, did cause the paper to warp.  Upon drying it stayed that way.  It would have been a far more deluxe, professional sketchbook if they would have cut the 60 sheets down in number and increased the paper weight to combat that problem.

Near the checkout, I saw a turning tower of pristine black, hardbound journals, RENDR by Crescent.  I asked the cashier about them and she just raved about them. I balked at the $17 price tag for a 8.5x5.5 inch, 48 sheet book, but all in the name of science and art.  It boasts an all media rating, 110 # paper, and is acid free.  It also boasts that you cannot bleed through to the other side of the work, onto the back.  This makes all 48 sheets usable.  Online reviews of users say otherwise, but I thought I'd try it.  Challenge accepted.

When I got home, I cracked open both books.  I was immediately annoyed with the binding.  Forget laying flat, you have to fight to keep it open.  (Book lovers, turn away now.) You must break the spine at each page to work with this book.




The cover is oddly soft.  The material it is bound with is hard as a rock, like a textbook.  It's the covering that is odd.  It feels like waxy or greasy leather.  It's just odd.  It also mars easily and absorbs the grease off your hands.  Fingerprint end up everywhere quickly.

The paper feels like heavy duty copy paper.  It has little to no tooth.  Rumor has it that there is some kind of plastic between the layers to prevent bleed through, but it tears easily.  Although I was able to easily separate it into two layers, like two ply toilet paper,

On to the wet and dry challenge.  This paper turned out to be a nightmare.  It may not bleed through, but it is so absorbent that pigment or inks go where they want to, which isn't necessarily where you want it to go.  I tested the paper with a standard fountain pen, a uniball gel pen, a sharpie fine line marker, a micron brush pen, a micron .01 pen, and the new Graphik Line Painter pen (review below).




All the marks are lovely, but the paper is JUST TOO ABSORBANT.  Wet media just feathers like mad.  I did not have an issue, like other, with water media warping or bubbling the paper.

I did a squiggle test, line test, word, and then a dot test, where I held the point of the pen in one spot for 8 seconds.  The larger the dot, the more ink the paper was sucking from the pen.  The more fluid the ink, the faster it moved.  This property is also reflected in the start and stop points when you are writing.

All in all, I give it an, "EH" rating.  I was just too pricey to have to tiptoe around what materials work well and which don't with a sketchbook.


Neither book rings all my bells, but they are nice books.  For now I'll stick with the ones I make myself out of quality paper.


Interestingly enough, the Graphik pen did not flow and flow its ink out
when it was held in one spot for8 seconds.  Unless it was moving, the ink
did not flow.  I expected this paper to suck ink from that pen like a vampire
at a blood bank!
====================================

Now for the Grahik Line Painter Pen.

I LOVE pens.  In fact, one of my favorite websites is Jet Pens.  They get in all these amazing pens that you don't see anywhere else.  I have quite the writing instrument collection!  Anyway, near the register (I know, I buy candy bars on the way out of a store too.) Was a new display of shiny, plastic wrapped pens in a myriad of colors. 
 

Some of the pens were permanent, alcohol based pens, comparable to the micron line of pens.  The other end of the display held water soluble ink markers, which are permanent when dry!  Well that certainly sounded promising!   Draw and sketch and then go back and hit it with a wet brush or water brush and bleed and shade! SOLD! You could purchase individual pens or sets of pens.  The sets are numbered and contain different colors per set.  (I selected the .5 black.)

The pen puts down a thick, solid black line and was VERY smooth.  I was impressed.  I did a little doodle and went to the kitchen to fill my water pen.  I put pen to paper and... nothing.  It didn't do ANYTHING.  HUH.  I wondered if I grabbed one of the alcohol pens.  I checked.  Nope.  Hmmm.




I drew another quick doodle and immediately hit it with the water.  Woosh.  There we go.  But is only feather a little, like tiny trees reflecting on a smooth lake edge.  I was not impressed.  What if I put  down a really wet puddle and touched the pen to it?  It was pretty.  The ink flowed freely from the pen, creating a swirling oil slick looking effect on the water.  But what would it look like when it dried?  And HOW LONG would that take?

I decided on something in between.  Really wet paper, but not soaking.  I still couldn't drag enough ink from the line.  The same with drawing and moving with water. It all seemed hit or miss. 

Conclusion, this is definitely a special effects marker, NOT your go to water soluble sketchbook marker.  And yes, it stays put when dry.  Disappointed?  Yes, but I'll still find a home for it in my bag.

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