The Master Pencils Union No. 84 Pencil Review

My latest flea market find is a red/blue Union No. 84 pencil from The “Master” Pencils Ltd, the English pencil company that also created the Golden Master pencils that I reviewed in the past.

The Union No. 84 is an oversized pencil, with a red and navy core. I love the choice of font for the imprint: it looks clean and professional.

The pencil is thick, built like a children’s pencil, and so the cores are extra large as well.

The navy core, almost black in appearance:

Finding a sharpener that can sharpen this pencil was a challenge. You’ll need one that’s designed for children’s pencils, yet is high quality enough to handle wood that has toughened over time, and a core that is still soft and brittle. I went with the M+R double brass sharpener Nr. 0603. Beware of the red core when you sharpen this pencil, as it can stain your hands.

Here’s the Union No. 84 next to the Caran d’Ache Bicolor 999, the golden standard for red/blue pencils. You can see their size differences quite clearly.

The navy tip of the pencil:

The red tip of the pencil:

The red tip of the pencil was much softer and more crumbly than the navy tip, but even though I was worried about it, it didn’t break with use.

I tested the Union No. 84 against the Bicolor 999, and discovered a few interesting things. The Union’s blue is indeed a shade darker than the Bicolor’s but it’s not as dark as I would have expected. The red shades of both pencils are virtually identical. The Union feels more like a pencil than the waxy Bicolor, with more feedback, and more shading possible when some pressure is applied. Both pencils erase poorly, but the Union erases better than the Bicolor, particularly the Union red, which doesn’t stain the paper.

I tested the pencils on a Baron Fig Confidant, my go-to pencil testing paper, and erased them with the Maped Technic 600.

The Master Union No. 84 is a lot of fun to draw with, beyond being useful for highlighting and correcting text. It feels like a proper pencil, and not a waxy crayon, and it shades enough to allow for doodles like this one:

The Union No.84 is great and fun, and so was the Spiderman movie. I highly recommend them both.

Advertisements
The Master Pencils Union No. 84 Pencil Review

Moleskine Time Blue Limited Edition Review

Every once in a while Moleskine comes out with something completely new. About a year ago it was the Time limited edition notebooks: a new format of notebook, with thicker paper, and a distinct new design.

This is the Blue Time notebook. Each one has a different colour theme (blue, black, green and brown), a different motif embossed on the cover in foil, and comes in either ruled (lined) or plain (blank) pages.

The Time notebook is thinner than a regular Moleskine, but feels substantial because of its thick chipboard covers. This is a notebook clearly designed to sit on your desk and not be bashed around in your bag, as the covers bruise and stain easily.

The Time notebooks have 140 pages of 100 gsm white, acid-free paper. They are themed around old ornamental motifs and paper making techniques, and so they feature marbled paper for their endpapers.

The spine is fabric covered, and the pages are set and sewn like any Moleskine notebook, so apart from the very first and very last page, they all open flat.

The foil emboss/deboss on the cover is beautiful and understated. The Time notebook features an elastic band and a back pocket, but no ribbon bookmark. Perhaps Moleskine thought that the index and numbered pages are enough.

I love the transparent band, and the way they dealt with the “In case of loss” area on the front endpaper.

The marbling effect on the endpapers is gorgeous, even though it’s a print and not actual hand marbled paper.

Again, someone bothered to align the pocket and back cover prints. Well done.

Since the first page of the notebook doesn’t open flat, Moleskine just put a blank page with a title there. I wish they would have done another throwaway page like that after the last page, but they didn’t.

The index! Two pages, and suitable for people with tiny hand writing and short titles for their pages. It’s a nice idea, though.

The pages of this notebook are numbered, and… fountain pen friendly. Not sort of fountain pen friendly, actually, deliberately fountain pen friendly. This is a notebook “for precious thoughts” after all.

I deliberately tested this notebook with juicy, italic and stub nibs, and it handled it like a champ. The paper shows some shading, though not as much tomoe river paper, obviously, and fast drying times. If you use nibs that lay down a lot of saturated ink there will be a tiny bit of bleed through and some show through, but for medium or fine nibs you likely won’t encounter this issue.

The other side of the page:

The paper is smooth, but not glass smooth, so it will work well with pencil if that’s what you prefer to use.

Moleskine doesn’t make the Time notebook collection anymore, but you can still find them pretty easily. I wish that this paper and format were available in other editions, or even in their regular lineup, and I’m glad to see that they’re still experimenting with their formats, not just with cover designs.

If you can get your hands on one of these notebooks and the format appeals to you, I recommend it.

Moleskine Time Blue Limited Edition Review

Sailor Jentle Ink Four Seasons Sakura Mori Review

I don’t use pink ink. My favourite ink colours are turquoise, teal, blue black, royal blue, and purple. I enjoy brown and green inks every once in a while. Black and grey inks are a staple in my collection. But pink ink? It’s a combination of two things that I don’t like: light coloured inks that are difficult to read, and inks on the red/yellow area of the colour wheel.

But a while back I got swept in the Sailor ink craze, and for some reason I decided to purchase a bottle of Sailor Jentle Four Seasons Sakura Mori ink.

P1010304.jpg

Sailor designed an ink bottle that has little chance of tipping over and spilling, and the box it comes in is beautifully designed, but… If you use oversized nibs, you are going to have a serious problem filling your pen, even with Sailor’s nifty little inkwell in ink bottle trick.

You see, inside the bottle Sailor places a little plastic inkwell. You fill your pen by turning the bottle upside down, and then the right way up. This forces ink into the plastic inkwell, and allows you to fill your pen even when the ink level in the bottle drops with use.

P1010305.jpg
You can see the bottom of the inkwell here.
P1010306.jpg
You can just see the edge of the inkwell within the ink bottle in this picture.

How is the ink itself? It’s darker than I thought, yet it isn’t a very saturated ink. There’s a bit of shading, and I think that’s part of what makes this ink readable. Take a look:

P1010303.jpg

This was drawn and written with a Pilot Metropolitan cursive italic medium on tomoe river paper. Sakura Mori is definitely a usable ink, in that it can be more or less clearly read (I wouldn’t use it on tinted paper), but it’s also definitely not for standard office use. It is a fun and cheerful colour, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed using it.

Will I buy 10 more bottles of various shades of pink? Not likely. I am glad, however, that I gave this ink a try. It put a smile on my face, and after all, that’s what this hobby is all about.

 

Sailor Jentle Ink Four Seasons Sakura Mori 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

Zebra Mildliner Review and Journal Comic

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.

Zebra Mildliner Review and Journal Comic

Franklin Christoph Antique Glass Model 66 and Robert Oster River of Fire Review

Every once in a while Franklin Christoph comes out with a batch of their pens in “Antique Glass”, a clear acrylic with a bit of a green tint to it that makes it look like an old coke bottle. The material is both minimalist and beautiful. It allows you to show off the ink that you’re using while still having a pen that has more character than a run-of-the-mill demonstrator. Franklin Christoph’s pens and the nibs that they use are excellent and very well priced. The result is that these limited runs having a waiting list (from which a 100 names are drawn), and there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to even get on that. I had to wait for two years until I was able to purchase mine.

The wait is worth it though.

img_0226

The Franklin Christoph Model 66 is a long and sleek pen that can’t be posted. The pen is light but still substantial, because of the extra acrylic in the finial. I was worried at first that it would be top heavy, but the Model 66 is perfectly balanced, and one of my favourite pens for long writing sessions.

img_0221

The Model 66 is a demonstrator pen that is built to be eye-droppered. Yes, you can use the supplied converter or cartridges, but what’s the point of having a pen that looks like this if not to eye dropper it? Franklin Christoph even supply the requisite o-rings and silicone grease, making it super easy to transform it into an eye dropper.

img_0224

The pen body is made of smooth acrylic on the outside, but is pebble textured on the inside. The result shows off the ink colour and the pen colour even more, but it also means that staining inks have even more surface area to stain. I decided early on to use only turquoise, teal, blue and green inks in this pen, as even if they stained the pen it would work well with its “natural hue”.

img_0225

You can see the greenish “antique glass” tint best in the cap.

In terms of design, this is a desk pen and is designed as one, so it has one flat side which keeps it from rolling off the table even though it’s a clipless pen.

There’s a wide variety of Jowo nibs that you can order with your pen, and I decided to pay a little extra for a Mike Masuyama medium italic nib. The nib is buttery smooth, and the feed keeps up with flow. This italic isn’t super sharp, which is a plus for me, and together with the large ink capacity that an eye-dropper pen offers, it’s writing heaven.

img_0223

The Franklin Christoph Model 66 Antique Glass with a Mike Masuyama medium italic (what a mouthful) is build to show off interesting inks. Although I would never use shimmering inks in it, it’s great for inks that shade or sheen. And Robert Oster is the king of sheening inks.

The River of Fire is a dark teal ink that has significant red sheen and a good amount of shading.

I felt like drawing a D&D map here, I don’t know why.

As usual with inks of this kind, the paper and nib affect how much sheen or shading you see. This nib is perfect for that, and the paper I used here is Tomoe River Paper, which brings out the best in every ink.

You can see a bit of the properties of the ink here, particularly the shading, but this ink really does have a lot of sheen. It’s just difficult to photograph, so you can only see a bit of the golden red that happens where the ink pools.

This is such a pretty ink. Look how much variation and interest it offers:

So, if you can get on one of the Franklin Christoph antique glass waiting lists, I highly recommend it. As for the Robert Oster River of Fire, I think that it’s a gorgeous ink, but it’s not unique enough in Robert Oster’s large ink offering. If you have something in the turquoise or teal shade in their lineup, then there’s probably no need to buy the River of Fire. If yo don’t then I recommend this ink since it’s wild and yet dark enough to “pass” in an office setting.

 

Franklin Christoph Antique Glass Model 66 and Robert Oster River of Fire Review

Moleskine Lord of the Rings Moria Limited Edition Review

A few years ago Moleskine came out with a series of rather plain Lord of the Rings limited edition notebooks. This year they’ve had a redo, and this time they’ve decided to invest a little more in the cover designs. The result is a series of notebooks that really does the LotR justice.

The Moleskine Lord of the Rings Moria limited edition is a proof that even if you choose grey as your colour scheme, you don’t have to create a dull product (I’m looking at you Blackwing volume 10).

Notice how even the font on the paper band has been changed to fit the LotR design sensibility.

Every little detail counts, including the choice of colour for the paper band (it just pops), and the Tolkien symbol on the spine.

I’ve decided to use this notebook as my next journal. You can check out just how many things I pack into my journals by comparing the two notebooks’ thickness. They’ve got the same page count (192).

The front cover features a drawing of the entrance to Moria, in dark grey on a light grey background. The drawing continues on the spine and the back. You can see members of the fellowship (in gold foil) standing in front of Moria’s gates, the monster about to attack from the lake, and the carving of the two trees and the entrance runes. A description of the scene is given in gold foil, also in the LotR font.

The back cover. You can see the gate rune to Moria in detail, and the Moleskine logo hardly at all. It’s just debossed into the cover. The elastic band matches the dark grey of the drawing.

Inside the front and back cover is some of Moleskine’s finest work in terms of endpaper design. The front features a sketch of the Misty Mountains and lands to the south and the east, and also the “In case of loss“. You can see Tolkien debating which name to use for various places.

The back includes a contour map of the Misty Mountains around Mirrormere. Again, the drawing is perfectly aligned with the back pocket (it might not seem so in the photo, but trust me, it is), a small but not trivial design feature.

This is a lined notebook, with a light grey ribbon. The paper works well with pencil, ballpoint, gel ink pen, fineliners and Noodler’s Bulletproof black.

The add on to this edition is also unique: an insert with the Cirth alphabet that Tolkien invented.

Inside the insert:

The B-side of the paper band includes a timeline for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, focusing on Frodo and Sam’s journey.

If you love the Lord of the Rings this edition is a no brainer —  I highly recommend it. Even for non-fans this is a very well designed, grey/red/black and white edition that proves that you can create beautiful things even with a limited palette.

 

 

Moleskine Lord of the Rings Moria Limited Edition Review