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The Janus Sketchbook from Kunst & Papier

May 10, 2019
Click on the image to see an enlargement to read the types of pens I tested and the results I had. Shadows at the top of the page are from buckling under wet washes. This page was weighted when scanned.

I am currently not able to do lengthy, in-depth reviews like I’ve done in the past. But there were some items I have tested and not yet reviewed. Rather than sit on the information I’m doing short reviews that give my impressions and initial reaction to a product.

But you will read those points, in part, right on the journal page itself.

This is a page from the Janus Sketchbook from Kunst & Papier. It is sold as suitable for markers. 

I was interested in testing it because I use markers (the Montana Markers) and the paper is a heavy weight.

Specifications

I purchased the A4 which is 8-1/4 x 11-5/8 inches; portrait orientation; 112 pages.

It’s a sewn binding with a fabric covered spine and two naked gray binder’s boards for covers. This is great if you want to decorate your covers yourself. I provide tips for such decoration in this post link.

The construction is such that it opens completely flat at any point in the book. This makes it easy to work across the gutter on a complete page spread. It also facilitates more accurate scanning.

The paper is: a cold white, 150 gms, acid free, “long life” (their quotation marks), no chlorine bleach.

The maker lists it as a medium surface paper. That’s fair. It’s smooth enough for markers, yet has enough tooth that graphite and color pencil will also work on it well.

Reverse side of the sheet after painting with watercolor.

My Tests

I did a fountain pen (Platinum Carbon Black pigmented ink) sketch with watercolor on this paper because I do that on all papers when deciding whether or not to use them.

In the second image included in this post you can see the rate of buckling when using wet media.

Keep in mind the manufacturer doesn’t recommend this book for wet media. 

I found the buckling excessive. I can paint on it, but there are lots of other papers out there in commercially bound journals that I can paint on with more ease and greater fun. 

If buckling after painting bothers you I suggest this is not the book for you.

However, if you use markers this may be a great paper for you. 

I found that the Montana Acrylic Marker (water-based) went on easily. It did slightly distort the paper with a heavy application. 

Pens and Markers

Except for the Montana Marker mentioned about I tend not to use a lot of markers in my artwork, unless you count the felt-tipped pens that I use.

You will see the pens I tested on the first image of this post. I found that with the Faber-Castel Pitt Artist’s Brush Pen, which I consider a marker, if I held the pen tip for a short few seconds in one place it would bleed through the paper. (You can see those bleed through dots in the second image in this post, bottom center of the displayed left-hand page.)

The Faber-Castel Pitt Calligraphy Pen did not bleed through. I think this may be a factor of dryness in the pen, as it was older. Or the brush tip may put more surface area on the paper to allow ink to soak in.

The Pilot Lettering Pen 20 bled through when held in position for a couple seconds.

Holding the Uni Posca and other pens I use steady for a couple seconds did not cause this issue.

Holding a pen stationary for a brief moment (a few seconds) did cause a bleed through with the Pentel Pigmented brush pen (squeezy barrel). I did not test the dye-based Pentel Brush pen. Typically if the pigmented one bleeds through the dye one will also.

Tombow Dual Brush Pens are the other marker I often use. The brush tip creates a smooth line on this paper. Even when you hold the tip in place for a couple seconds the ink doesn’t bleed through the paper. (Caveat—I haven’t replaced my Tombows in a while so they may not be fully saturated with ink and I would test new pens in the back of your book before launching into use.)

Availability

I saw this advertised earlier this year. I don’t recall where. That led me to look for it at Wet Paint. I evidently purchased the only copy they had in stock. 

While I have found Kunst & Papier’s bare binder’s board covered sketchbooks in TONS of places, I have not found anyone who is carrying this MARKER version.

If you work in markers and this sounds like a useful book for your work you’ll need to research this or ask the company.

I can’t find my receipt and don’t know what I paid for it, but my recollection was it was over $20.00. That’s more than I like to pay for what is essentially a pen and ink and dry media sketchbook for me, since I don’t use a lot of markers. 

Other Points of Interest

Unlike Crescent’s Rendr paper this paper doesn’t have a “chemical coated” feel to it when you rub your fingers over it. It also doesn’t have strong odors when you wet it.

In the final image of today’s post you’ll see a detail of the forehead in this portrait. There water from the washes began to create a splotchy dot patter over the paper surface as water softened the paper. I used very little water, didn’t agitate in those areas until a prior wash was completely dry, and had no bleed through. However if you’re going to use watercolor, even a little on this paper, if you let the water stand in an area, this could lead to seepage.

I have to add that it is very fun to work with fountain pen on this paper. If that is your main tool I think you might enjoy this paper. It’s not plate smooth like some “for ink” papers, but the tooth is fairly smooth, so a clean crisp line is easily created.

Since this book is not suitable for my main working methods I’ll use it for pen and ink sketches at life drawing. 

In this detail you can see that washes or watercolor applied in glazes are possible on this paper, but you can also see that the water creates points where it soaks in, creating dots. See the text above.

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