I have too many pencils which I don’t take the time to use. Inspired by this episode of the Pen Addict podcast I decided to literally do a random draw: I randomly drew a pencil from the pile, and then I randomly drew something with it. Today’s pencil: the General’s Pacific 365 #2.
It’s a classic looking #2 (or HB) pencil, with for some reason three or four fonts on the barrel, depending how you count the numerals. It’s made in the USA, out of California incense cedar, and has a little red thing on the top that looks like an eraser, but trust me, I wouldn’t try to use it as one.
The green foil imprint quality is not great, with the “Pacific” imprint chipping the pencil’s coating. The coating itself is pretty thinly layered, but the core is perfectly centred and sharpens like a charm.
You can see the available shades that the General’s Pacific is capable of producing in the closeup of the sea turtle above. If you’re looking for a #2 writing pencil that could do for a quick sketch in a pinch, the Pacific ought to do the job. It doesn’t smudge and holds a point very well.
I erased a word between the “S” and the “LATIONSHIPS” on the left side of the closeup above. It erased out pretty well, even though the writing was dark and done with some pressure.
The phone above shows you the maximum darkness I was able to produce with the General’s Pacific. It’s not bad, considering that this is clearly not a pencil made for drawing, but one made primarily for writing.
If you’re buying from CW Pencils and are looking to add a workhorse cedar pencil with a fondness for fonts to your order, the General’s Pacific is a pretty good choice.
Leuchtturm1917 entered the busy sketchbook market about a year or two ago, with a lineup of A6, A5 and A4 sketchbooks with white 180 gsm paper.
The covers of the Leuchtturm1917 sketchbooks come in a wide variety of colours, which is a rarity in this market. Usually you find sketchbooks in black, or maybe one or two other colours, but Leuchtturm has decided to offer these in all the colour options available in their regular lineup.
The sketchbook contains 96 pages of acid free 180 gsm paper, and it opens flat. There’s a note in the back packaging that says that the paper is colourfast, and shows a sketch made with a fineliner and markers. More on that later.
There’s a place to write your name and address on the front cover. I recommend writing your name and email address instead. It’s more practical, and more secure.
There is a back pocket. I don’t really think that it’s necessary in a sketchbook, but it’s nice to have.
Leuchtturm offers two unique things with its sketchbook. One is the offer to personalize it with an embossing of your choice. During last year’s Urban Sketchers they personalized the sketchbooks that they gave away as part of the symposium’s package, and the result is very nice.
Now for the heart of the notebook, it’s paper. The pages lie flat with a bit of coaxing, and are thick and substantial. You have to really layer down markers for them to bleed through, and there’s no show through, meaning you can use each page on both sides.
So how does the paper behave? It depends on the medium. This sketchbook excels at dry media (pencils, couloured pencils, conte crayons, etc).
It’s pretty horrible with wet media, including fountain pen ink, watercolour washes, and ink washes. The paper buckles, shows off colour poorly, turns into a grainy mess, and and the ink feathers and spreads. I wouldn’t recommend it even for the lightest washes. All the vibrancy of my schminke watercolours turned into a muddy mess here (the sketch was done with a medium nibbed fountain pen and R&K Emma SketchINK):
Even with fineliners you’re going to have spread. If you like sharp lines, find a different sketchbook.
Again, even from a bit of a distance you can see the spread. That’s just a shame, because if the paper was a little less absorbent then this would be an excellent sketchbook.
This brings me to my frustration with the picture on the back end of the paper band, the one showing a tiny marker and fineliner drawing. This is my experience using markers and fineliners on this notebook:
There’s no option to layer or blend the markers, but that’s OK. This isn’t marker specific paper after all. But even for casual use, or just for use with fineliners/brush pens this paper isn’t great.
So do I recommend this sketchbook? It depends. If the way it looks makes you want to use it, then yes, it’s a notebook for you. I’ve been using this sketchbook for my journal comics mainly to test it out. Will I continue using it? Only because I already have a body of work in it. Otherwise, there are better options out there, ones that aren’t only pencil great, but also work with pen, ink and light watercolour washes (the Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbooks come to mind).
I am on a quest in search for a white, waterproof pen that reliably lays down a thin, opaque line. You’d think that this wouldn’t be so hard to find, but this combination (opaque-and-thin-and-waterproof-and-reliable) has so far proven to be elusive. The closest so far has been the Uni-ball Signo Broad UMR-153 white gel ink pen, but it tends to dry out and blob, so it is far from perfect.
The Uni Do! Posca paint marker in white, extra fine (0.7) is a welcome addition to the white pen field. It’s waterproof, water-based (so not smelly like other paint markers), lightfast, and can be used on a multitude of surfaces. I’m going to focus its use on paper, but if you’re looking for a way to label a dark coloured object, this may be the pen for you.
The Do! Posca’s design is pretty well designed. The pen is narrow enough in diameter for you to comfortably use it like a regular pen, and the square cap keeps the pen from rolling off the table, and looks great. The pen body is much too busy for my liking, but that’s a minor quibble.
There’s a tiny metal ball inside the pen, and you need to shake it well before use to get the paint ink flowing. When you use the Do! Posca for the first time you need to prime it by shaking the pen thoroughly and then pressing the plastic tip in several times until the white paint flows. I had no problem getting the pen to start up after a good shake, but I’d recommend keeping it horizontally and cap it immediately after use.
The Uni Do! Posca doesn’t blob, and it’s excellent for small details. I wouldn’t use it to fill in large expanses of white, as it offers pretty poor coverage and doesn’t layer well. If you’re looking to use it for highlights, correction or detail work, this is the pen for you.
I drew this journal comic on a Clairefontaine Paint On Naturel A5 pad.
The Uni Do! Posca extra fine paint marker in white was available for a time at Jetpens, but now you can find it easily enough on eBay. If you’re looking for an opaque, extra fine, waterproof white pen, I highly recommend it.
I have been using the Deleter Neopiko Line 3 felt tip pens for a while now as myjournalcomicspens, just to trythemout. I didn’t bother buying all of the lineup (pro tip: you never need all of the tip sizes in felt tip pens), instead choosing to focus on the tip sizes that I would use the most.
First thing first: the barrel design. These are wide enough and light enough to be comfortable for long use, but otherwise the Neopiko Line 3 has a terrible design.
You can’t tell which pen is which without looking at the cap, which is a fatal design flaw in these kinds of pens. I normally use several felt tip pens at the same time, and can oftentimes accidentally cap one pen with another one’s cap. That’s no big deal with the Staedtler, Copic or Faber Castell felt tip pens, as you just look at the pen body when using them to know which is which, but you just can’t afford to make this mistake with the Deleter Neopiko’s. You won’t mix up the 2.0 with the 0.2, but try telling between the 0.3 and the 0.5 when you’re in the middle of a drawing.
Another design drawback is also related to the cap: it’s requires a lot of force to use. This means that you can’t easily cap it with one hand, and if you draw to any extent with felt tips you know how bad that is.
These two choices on Deleter’s part meant that when I was using these pens I had to change my drawing method, working not panel by panel as I usually would, but pen by pen. You’ll see what I mean in a moment, when I review each individual pen.
The Deleter Neopiko Line 3 comes in the following tip sizes: 0.03, 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8, 1.0, 2.0, and Brush. These are pretty common tip choices in this kind of pens, with perhaps only the 2.0 tip size being unique to Deleter. I recommend not buying the 0.03 or 0.05 because they are much too fine (in any maker), and skipping the 0.2, as these pens do allow for some line variation (as all felt tips do), so you won’t be able to tell the difference between the 0.2 and the 0.3 in use.
To showcase the pens in use, I decided to create a journal comic and show step by step how and when I use each of these pens.
The Deleter Neopiko Line 3 2.0 pen is what made me try out this pen lineup. It’s a fun and unique tip size that’s just perfect for comic borders or if you like big, bold lines in your drawings. This is the only pen in the Neopiko line 3 lineup that I recommend buying, despite the barrel design flaws.
The 0.8 tip size got very little use in my first journal comics with this set. Normally I would use this tip size for the panel borders, but I was using the 2.0 for that, so I had to remind myself to use it in other places. This is my least favourite of the lineup, as it was scratchy and gritty, and offered a lot of resistance, especially when drawing vertical or rounded lines. It was as if the tip had split, although in reality it hadn’t.
The 0.5 Deleter Neopiko Line 3 (wow to Japanese companies like long names for their products) is one of their most useful tip sizes. You can basically do with the 0.5 and the 0.1 for very fine detail, and the 2.0 for absolute fun, and you’re set for 99.9% of what you’d need for comic line work.
The 0.3 Neopiko is the second most useful pen in this lineup, and one that I used probably the most. If you don’t draw super small, it can probably even replace the need for a 0.1 tip pen for you.
As you can see, the 0.1 Neopiko Line 3 didn’t get much use in this comic, but when you need it, you need it. This is as fine as I would go, though, as already the tip is tiny and fragile, liable to break with too much pressure.
The Deleter Neopiko Line 3 brush pen is useful for filling in black areas, and not so much as a brush pen. It’s very firm, offering very little line variation or brush-like qualities. The only reason to buy it is to get big areas filled with black that is identical in shade to your other line work.
So, is the Deleter Neopiko Line 3 a contender against the Staedtler pigment liner? No, not even close. It is, however, worth giving the 2.0 a go, and if your drawing method is already a pen size by pen size one, then you might want to give these a go. They are waterproof, marker and eraser proof (once dry), and archival.
I love highlighters, so long as they’re not the blindingly neon ones, as I find them distracting. So when JetPens first offered the Zebra Mildliner Double-Sided highlighters, I had to give them a try. Theoretically, like all highlighters, they are supposed to help you organize your notes. In reality they just add a little colour to my usual mess.
Highlighter pen bodies tend to be on the chunkier side, oftentimes square shaped. The Zebra Mildliners are just slightly thicker than usual pens, and very light. If for some reason you have hours of highlighting ahead of you, these ought to be pretty comfortable to use.
As their name suggests, these highlighters are double-sided. One size is a small chisel tip, and the other is an even smaller bullet tip. I had a hard time achieving coverage with the chisel tip in one go, but I’m not a stickler for these sort of things so it didn’t matter much to me. I was more interested in the Zebra Mildliner’s muted, and rather original colour palette.
This is a close up of the three Mildliner colours that I got: Mild Grey, Mild Orange and Mild Smoke Blue. None of these colours are standard: the orange looks more like a peach than a traditional orange, the mild smoke blue looks like a muted teal or a light blue black, and I’ve never heard of a gray highlighter before. It sounds like an oxymoron: grey highlighter. But here it is, and it’s pretty cool (no pun intended, plus it’s a warm grey anyway).
Apart from having fun with these in the journal comic above, I tried these on a variety of pens and inks. I’ve been using these highlighters for over six months now, but I don’t highlight over anything but gel pens normally. As expected, these behaved the best with fineliners (see the comics above) and with ballpoint pen. This being Clairefontaine paper may have made the Uniball Signo gel refill drying times long enough for the highlighter to smudge the text a bit even after a full minute. The Ohto Flash Dry is just a miracle refill, but the Noodler’s Lexington Grey just floored me. I never expected to see a fountain pen ink stand up to highlighter so well, so quickly, especially with such a broad nib and on this paper. Phenomenal.
The Zebra Mildliner Double-Sided highlighters come in 15 colours. I don’t recommend buying them all; find yourself a “standard” colour, a “wild” colour, and another that’s your favourite. Despite what I personally may think, you can have too many highlighters.
A box of these beauties was languishing together with other art supplies in a stall in London’s Spitalfields market. I saw the box, saw their name, “The ‘Golden Master’ Pencil” and I couldn’t resist.
Just look at this design:
Who doesn’t want “Silken Graphite”? Or “A High Grade Pencil in Hexagon Cedar”? I’ve rarely seen a company take such pride in a pencil, outside of the Japanese market.
British made, from an era where Britain made things — and in London, too!
The pencils aren’t really Golden Master HB, but 2B (a bonus from my point of view). They’re labeled as such on the pencil, and strangely enough as two Bs on the box. I’ve never seen 2B pencils labeled that way. I wonder if they printed six Bs for their 6B pencils. I doubt they’d have room on the box.
In any case, the pencils slide out of the box in a sort of cardboard tray that is pretty robust. It works just like an old Eagle Pencil box, and I wish that more modern pencil makers would use this design.
The pencil itself has a good coating of yellow lacquer that has withstood the test of time, and has “Made in England”, “Golden Master”, “Silken Graphite”, “Pencils LTD.” and the grade stamped on it in gold foil.
The hexagonal shape is sharper, has sharper edges, than more modern pencils do. It doesn’t cut into your hand, but you feel it, and I have a feeling that without the lacquer this pencil wouldn’t be as nice to use.
The pencils come unsharpened in the box, and they’re a standard pencil size. As you can see there’s no eraser and no ferrule, but I don’t mind that. I rarely use pencil erasers, but rather keep a block eraser on my desk, or scribble things out if I’m writing.
I drew a journal comic with this pencil. It’s very smooth and holds a point forever, but it’s not a 2B pencil in terms of darkness. It’s closer to a standard B, but there’s a chance that time has done wonky things to make the graphite lighter. It erases well, and every core in the box that I have is perfectly centred. If you can get your hands on these, I recommend giving them a try. They’re great pencils, and I wish that they were still in production today.