Leuchtturm1917 Sketchbook Review

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).

Advertisements
Leuchtturm1917 Sketchbook Review

Property Damage: A Deleter Neopiko Line 3 Review

Property Damage

I have been using the Deleter Neopiko Line 3 felt tip pens for a while now as my journal comics pens, just to try them out. 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.

The cat logo is cute.

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.

Property Damage: A Deleter Neopiko Line 3 Review

Dare to Dream: Eurovision 2019 Tel Aviv Euro Village

A quick sketch on location of the Eurovision 2019 Tel Aviv Euro Village as it was filling up.

Leuchtturm1917 Sketchbook, Super5 0.7 fountain pen and Rohrer and Klingner Lotte ink.

Dare to Dream: Eurovision 2019 Tel Aviv Euro Village

Tombow Object Rollerball Review

In the early 2000s the Tombow Object fountain pen was one of the recommended beginner fountain pens on the market. That was in the pre-Pilot Metropolitan and pre-TWSBI days, when the beginner fountain pen choices were pretty sparse. I have the Tombow Object fountain pen and I’ll review it at a later time, but a few years ago I saw its rollerball counterpart on clearance sale, and so I risked the purchase.

I’m not a rollerball person, since they tend to behave like the worst of fountain pens (ink spreading, feathering, bleeding through and leaking out of the pen) without the good parts (line variation and versatility in ink colour). But the Tombow Object rollerball intrigued me because it shares the same body as the Tombow Object fountain pen but is significantly cheaper, and so I was hoping that even if it turned out to be an annoying pen to use, I could just use it as a way to get some colour variety with my Object fountain pen.

And why would you want that, you ask? Well, just look at that anodization:

The hairline on the body is just a smudged drop of ink. 

The Tombow Object is a metal bodied pen (brushed aluminum body and cap that gives it a great texture) with a plastic section and a steel clip. That gives it some heft, but still keeps it light enough to be comfortable to use both capped and uncapped. There’s a satisfying snap when you cap the pen, and it stays on very securely. The tip doesn’t rattle or wiggle around, and the clip does an admirable job of being a good pocket clip and preventing the pen from rolling about. The pen has a beautifully designed taper on both ends that gives it a bit of character, and an unobtrusive “Tombow” and “Japan” printed in white on the cap. Although this colour is called gold, it’s a coppery-gold, close to a champaign colour you can sometimes see on cars.

The appeal of the Tombow Object has always been the fantastic anodization colours that were offered, each one really vibrant (except for the silver, which was boring). As you can see from the photo above, like all aluminum pens, it can be dented and nicked. This is probably a pen that you want to keep on your desk and not bashing around in your bag or pocket.

Another reason to keep this pen on your desk is that it tends to leak. There’s a slip mechanism in the cap that both prevents the ink from drying out and from leaking beyond the tip of the pen, but as you can see in the photo below, you need to be careful when you start using the pen where you grip it, or just accept ink stains on your fingers (or keep a paper towel at hand).

The pen uses a proprietary Tombow Object refill, which is always a shame. I wish that I could just pop in any fountain pen ink cartridge in there instead.

The slip cap also allows you to easily post this pen, although I don’t recommend it. For one thing, it isn’t necessary as the pen is long enough as it is, and for another, because the pen leaks into the cap you’ll just spread ink on the pen body.

It’s ink test time! Here’s a sampling of how the Tombow Object rollerball behaves on different kinds of paper:

Clairefontaine Back to Basics A5 notebook (90 gsm, fountain pen friendly paper)
Reverse side of Clairefontaine Back to Basics A4 notebook. 
Leuchtturm 1917 Reporter notebook.
Reverse side Leuchtturm 1917 Reporter notebook.
Baron Fig Confidant notebook
Reverse side Baron Fig Confidant notebook
Field Notes 50#T paper (Firespotter).
Reverse side Field Notes 50#T paper (Firespotter).
Moleskine 70 gsm paper (Antwerp Blue Denim). 
Reverse side Moleskine 70 gsm paper (Antwerp Blue Denim). Note: there was less bleed through the more this pen was used (you can see in the Object and in my review of this notebook) but there was still significant show through. 

None of this is great, but to be frank, this is generally in keeping with rollerball behaviour, and one of the reasons that I really don’t like the Retro51 Schmidt rollerball refills. The Object behaved best on the Clairefontaine paper, and even displayed some fetching line variation. It’s still a “one side of the page only” type of pen though.

As for the cap-and-body switching hack, it only partially works. You can take the body of a Tombow Object rollerball and switch it with one from a Tombow Object fountain pen, but the plastic insert in the cap that prevents the ink from drying up or leaking is incompatible between models. The pen just won’t snap shut with the “wrong” type of cap.  It does still allow for some crazy cap/body combos, but that a whole different ballgame.

So would I recommend this pen? It is beautifully designed, looks great, is comfortable to use and you can find it on the secondary market for the price of a Retro51 or slightly cheaper. The enormous downside to this pen is that it uses a proprietary refill (I have not yet tried to hack it to see if it can accept other refills). So if  you like this pen I would recommend stocking up on those refills, because Tombow might not offer them for sale forever. The Tombow Object and the Tombow Egg which use them have both been discontinued for a few years now, which is a great pity.

Tombow Object Rollerball Review