Commercially Made Journals—Hand•Book Journals: An Updated Review (Part 3)

February 2, 2015


Above: Pentel Pocket Brush Pen sketch in my 8.25 x 10.5 inch Hand•Book journal. Pink Montana marker for background with washi tape on the left side. (And no I wasn't sick yet. I didn't get sick until the 21st. I'm just silly in my journal sometimes.

Today is Part 3 of a 4-part review of Hand•Book Journals (the drawing ones, not the watercolor ones they make. If you want to read my review of the Hand•Book watercolor journals you can do that here. I am not a fan of their watercolor journals.)

You can read Part One which talks about some basic issues I have with them and the paper quality here.

You can read Part Two which talks about my experiences using wet media in them here.

You can see other artwork that I've posted from this test journal, throughout December 2014 and early January 2015 (I finished my test journal on December 31, 2015). You could do key word searches in my blog's search engine. Not all the pages are posted yet as there is a bit of a delay, but you can enjoy  things like this nifty self portrait of me done in my test journal,  and this other fun sketch about hair.

Both of the images linked in that previous paragraph actually lead me to my topic for today LINE.

141220_ManinBlueLeft: Contour drawing of a man using the Pentel Pocket brush pen in the same tester book. That's Montana marker for color in the background and eyes (15 mm tip) and you can see I was having so much fun making lines on this paper I had to spend time on the hair, and then draw in some lines in the background. Addictive.

Line is something that the Hand•Book journal's paper is suited to, especially if that line is made with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen or its other Pentel brush pen cousins.


Left: Another Pentel Brush Pen (fine point pigment Colorbrush) contour sketch, with Golden High Flow acrylics in the background (applied with a 15mm Molotow marker—the High Flow is very streaky on this paper.)

If you click on any of the images in today's post you will be able to see the line detail in a larger version of the image. You will also be able to see another issue with the Hand•Book journal paper: it isn't thick enough to be opaque when using bold pens like the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. You can see drawings from other pages showing through. (Now of course when you are scanning you can put a black card behind your sheet and minimize this but I wanted you to see the show through. This is different than bleed through. The ink isn't seeping through here it is simply showing through. If that's a problem for you than you won't like these books.)

141220_ManonGreenDetailLeft: Here is a detail view of some face lines from the "green background" image.

If you take a moment to click on the detail image you'll be able to see some of the fun you can have with a real brush pen on this paper. You can work with dry brush strokes by speeding up (or using an almost empty pen, but it's easier to just speed up; or if you are using one of the squeezy Pentel brush pens you can simply not squeeze and get a drier brush look). 

The texture of the paper provides not only a pleasant resistance but a nice break up of the lines. 

141230_FinchesLeft: Bird Sketches made with a Faber-Castell Pitt Calligraphy Pen. A little orange color pencil is added on one sketch.

And just so you don't think that brush pens are all that work on this paper, I've added a calligraphy pen sketch too. The paper loved that pen as well. It's quick to create drawings with lots of gesture and line character. Again you can make the texture of the paper work for you when attempting a range of shading between saturated (lower beak) to light shadows, chin.

I also worked a bit with my Staedtler Pigment Liners and they love this paper as well. None of those pages are scanned however.

So if you're a pen user who doesn't need smooth paper, but enjoys a bit of texture in the page there is no doubt about it—a fun paper for working with pen. 

Note: I didn't use a dip pen on this paper. Based on my other trials and the heavy hand with which I sometimes deploy my dip pen I didn't think it was worth it. I know that my technique would catch and pull at the fibers in the paper. If you've a light hand with the dip pen you may get away with it on this paper. I would avoid any dye-based color inks however, and stick with pigmented inks. It was always the dye-based products that were the most likely to SEEP through in my tests.

I also didn't test rubberstamp ink on these pages—I just realized that now. I think if you stay with pigmented stamp inks you might be OK, though you'll have SHOW through because of the weight of the paper.

I think that it might have been fun to do some Gelli Arts Printing Plate printing in this book, like I did in my 2013 fake Journal and of course if you did that with acrylics like I did you'd be beefing up the paper with a "barrier" layer of sorts. I think it could be fun. Sadly my shoulder situation prevents me from doing any printing right now.

Tomorrow I'll finish up my review with one more post. You'll probably see pages from this journal off and on for another couple weeks or so as I share those images—but I won't be buying another journal like this any time soon. I need something more versatile and wet media friendly.

  1. Reply

    This post is so great. Art supplies are crack.

    I wanted to investigate colored pencils seriously and as anyone knows who has researched this route: the great light fast ones are $$$$$$$$. I found a respected brand with very high light fastness overall that is not so known in the US and reasonably priced. And every payday, I get a few of the really $$$ ( LUMINANCE ) as a kind of work incentive!

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