Monday, March 2, 2009

Review: Clairefontane Sketch Pad

Clairefontaine Sketch Book

From the Writer's Bloc website "Let your creativity flow in this sketch pad by Clairefontaine. Side wire bound pad contains 100 sheets of light grained ivory drawing paper. The 90g paper is acid free and has a medium tooth surface. The rigid backboard allows you to sketch just about anywhere. Size: 5 3/4" x 8 1/4". C96130"

Right off the bat, I want to talk about the cover on this sketchbook. The front and back covers are plastic. Inside the rear cover, there is a stiff cardboard. The front cover has a beautiful image, but it's partly see-through and I would perfer it to be solid, so it would prevent you from seeing what's on the first page. Another option would be for you to leave the first page plain.

In my opinion, the rear plastic cover is unnecessary, and I suggest that the rear plastic cover and cardboard liner both be replaced with a stiffer, thicker cardboard backing.

Clairefontaine Sketch Book

The double spiral binding is wide,

Clairefontaine Sketch Book

and it can make holding this book from the side rather awkward. (See above image.) If you are not working on a flat surface, you almost need to somehow secure the book - maybe with a large clip or rubber band.

Clairefontaine Sketch Book

Writing on this paper with a fountain pen is pleasurable, though while smooth, it does have a slight tooth that you might notice with EF nibbed pens. There was a very small amount of feathering, most noticeably with the .7 Cursive italic nib. No bleeding, but a tiny bit of see through with the same pen. (The PR ink tested with that pen is highly saturated. )

I also tried several fountain pen inks with calligraphy dip pens, and some of the inks fared better than others. Some wrote perfectly, others spread a lot. Keep in mind that fountain inks are water based and that a calligraphy pen will put more ink on the paper - which could result in feathering. Cretacolor calligraphy ink (black) worked just fine with no feathering or bleeding.

Groovy People

This was a light watercolor wash, with a Pitt Artist Pen used overtop.

022509 042

This image was created with Neocolor II Watersoluble Crayons. I drew the image and then washed over it with a Niji Waterbrush. Added the words with a .7 Cursive Italic fountain pen filled with Noodler's Red-Black ink.

Clairefontaine Sketch Book w/ Derwent Inktense

The above image was created with Derwent Inktense Pencils, then washed with the Niji Waterbrush. Pitt Artist Pen over top.

More Groovy People

More Derwent Inktense & Pitt Artist Pen.

Clairefontaine Sketch Book

Stabilo Markers - this paper also likes markers.

Watercolor Doodle

Simple watercolor wash. Holbein and Daniel Smith watercolor tube paints.

Clairefontaine Sketch Book

Clairefontaine Sketch Pad - Medium $6.60 I can't help but compare this Clairefontaine Sketch Book to my previously reviewed Canson Heavyweight Sketch Pad 100 Sheets, 96g 8½" x 5½"$3.25 at Blick

The products initially seem to be similar, but is the Clairefontaine worth twice the price? The format is different, one portrait and the other landscape. Both have double wire spiral binding.

While you might not be able to tell from these images, the Canson paper is white, and the Clairefontaine ivory. I always prefer off-white paper for drawing or writing.

To the touch, the Canson paper feels slightly thicker, (96g versus the Clairefontaine at 90g) but the Clairefontaine feels smoother. Write on both with a Lamy EF fountain pen, and the Canson is slightly smoother because the Clairefontaine paper has a medium tooth. (Which seems undiscernible to my fingers, but not to the pen. )

I've tried watercolor paints on both, and the results were fairly similar. It's not watercolor paper, but both can handle a light wash fairly well. With paper in the 90g range, you can expect buckling when you apply water to this paper.

Clairefontaine Sketch Book

Putting dry media to the papers, this is when I really started to see the difference. The medium tooth of the Clairefontaine was much more responsive to these Cretacolor Monolith Graphite Pencils.

Clairefontaine Sketch Book

And with these Faber Castell Goldfarber pencils. I had actually hated these pencils before I tried them on the Clairefontaine paper. It wasn't the pencils, it was the paper I had been using them on.

Clairefontaine Sketch Book

And with these Cray-Pas Oil Pastels. Less pressure was needed on the Clairefontaine paper to get what I felt were very pleasing results.

Clairefontaine Sketch Book

In this last example, my Prismacolor Colored Pencils were smooth on both surfaces, but smoother on the Clairefontaine - but for hard edges, it seemed like the Canson allowed for sharper definition. (Or maybe I just needed to sharpen my pencils.)

Overall, I really quite like the Clairefontaine Sketch paper, though I wish they would work a bit on the cover design. And yes. For my needs, I would pay the price for this sketchbook over the Canson. I just wish they were as readily available as the Canson's.

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