New Art Supplies from London Graphic Centre

LondonGraphicCentre_Art Supplies

A few weeks ago the London Graphic Centre very kindly sent me some new art supplies to try and I thought you might like to see what I received. I haven’t had the time to try them out properly yet but these are my first impressions.

Paper

Fluid Watercolor Block

As you probably know, I use watercolour paints a lot in my work so I was excited to received this hot press watercolor block from the brand Fluid. I’ve never actually used a block of paper before but the idea is that the sheets are glued together *almost* all the way around, meaning that the paper should stay nice and flat while you work on it. When you’re finished working, you find the tiny gap in the glue and run a sharp knife around the edge to remove the top sheet.

Watercolor Block

This paper is 300gsm, acid-free and feels lovely and smooth. I’m a big fan of smooth, thick watercolour paper so I’m sure I’ll enjoy using this.

Winsor and Newton Watercolour Pad

I also received this Winsor and Newton watercolour pad. This one is cold press paper, which means it has some texture to it and again, is 300gsm.

Winsor and Newton Cold Press Watercolour Paper

I was convinced I hadn’t tried the Winsor and Newton watercolour paper but I actually have a tiny spiral bound sketchbook which I’ve used for one or two urban sketches and the paper is really nice to use and takes watercolour washes very well.

Ink

Tombow Pen

Tombow pens are really handy and they have 2 different nibs – a brush nib at one end and a finer bullet nib at the other. They’re not something I use every day but I find them quite useful for quick sketches.

When I did the One Week 100 People challenge I found this was the best pen for loose, fast sketches, especially the finer nib. It doesn’t drag and because it’s a bit thicker than a standard fine liner, it forces you to be less precious about the outcome.

All Kinds of Pencils

Derwent Pencils

During my current 100 Day Project I’ve started using coloured pencils combined with watercolour paints so I was really excited to receive this selection of pencils by Derwent. I love their watercolour pencils and lately I’ve loved playing with the Inktense range, so I know that I’ve got some really high quality pencils here.

I haven’t tried Derwent’s Procolour or Coloursoft before but I really like the look and feel of both of them. As the name suggests, the Coloursoft makes a nice soft, almost grainy texture, while the Procolour is slightly more waxy so it will be interesting to compare them in a bit more detail soon.

Derwent Pencils
Derwent pencils from top to bottom: Procolour, Graphic 2B, Inktense, Watercolour, Pastel, Coloursoft

I didn’t know that Derwent made a pastel pencil. It feels almost chalky to use and I’m already trying to think of ways to incorporate it into my work.

Graphite

Derwent 2B Pencil

Very occasionally I make pencils drawings but usually the only time I usually use graphite pencils is for sketching outlines or making rough sketches before I start a final piece of work, but this Derwent¬† Graphic pencil may convert me. For a 2B it has quite a light coverage and doesn’t smudge easily so I think I’ll get along with this one very nicely.

Derwent Mechanical Pencil

One thing I had been thinking about buying is a good quality mechanical pencil, partly for the convenience when out and about, and partly for achieving a consistent pencil line without having to sharpen it. This Precision pencil, also from Derwent, looks really nice. It has a 0.5mm lead and a full metal body which suggests to me that it should be sturdy and long lasting.

Watercolour Stick

Winsor and Newton watercolour stick

Something else I haven’t tried before is this watercolour stick from Winsor and Newton. It feels almost like a wax crayon and goes on to the paper in that sort of way too. But then when you add water over the top it transforms into a lovely watercolour wash. I’m wondering if I could use it in my 100 Day Project and I think they’d be really handy for urban sketching too. A few of these and a water brush could be a very practical part of a sketching kit.

Gouache

Caran D'Ache Gouache

I also have 2 colours of gouache from Caran D’Ache. I love the watercolour pencils I have from Caran D’Ache but I didn’t realise they also made gouache so I’ll be interested to see how this pan and tube compare to other brands I’ve used.

Watercolour Pencils

Winsor and Newton Watercolour Pencils

Finally, I have this set of 12 watercolour pencils from Winsor and Newton. The label states that they are ‘premium artist quality’ and highly pigmented. They go onto the paper very smoothly and certainly seem to produce a vibrant wash when water’s added so I’m very keen to start using these regularly alongside my Winsor and Newton paints (and paper!).

A big thank you to London Graphic Centre for adding to my stash of art supplies. If you’ve used any of the things I’ve mentioned here I’d love to here your thoughts about them and if you’d like to see a more detailed review of any of them, please let me know!

 

Review: Back Pocket Notebooks

Back Pocket Notebooks

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been testing out the Back Pocket Notebook. Although it’s not specifically a sketchbook, I’ve been using it for some lettering and drawings to see how it compares to sketch specific books.

To summarise, if you’re looking for a good quality, robust little notebook to carry around, I would definitely recommend the Back Pocket Notebooks.

Back Pocket Notebooks Back

I have a set of 3 Kraft Plain Notebooks, each of which contain 18 sheets or 36 pages of 120gsm paper and a stapled spine.

Back Pocket Notebooks Spine

At first glance they reminded me of the A6 Eco Starter Sketchbooks from Seawhite of Brighton. The Back Pocket Notebooks are slightly smaller, measuring 9 x 14 cm. The paper isn’t quite as thick as the Seawhite cartridge paper but there are more pages than the Eco Starter and the paper has a nice smooth surface, which I really appreciated when using fine liners and markers.

Back Pocket Notebook Inside

Although it’s described as a ‘plain’ notebook, I think that refers to the cover because it’s pointed out on the band holding the 3 notebooks together that the paper inside is actually cross grid. It’s similar to dotted paper but each ‘dot’ is a tiny cross. I’d never used that kind of paper before but it was kind of handy for keeping my hand lettering straight!

Back Pocket Notebook Felt Tip

The paper in the Back Pocket Notebook is perfect for either pen or pencil. I used a few different fine liners and felt tip pens, and the only pen that bled through to the other side of the page was the Copic marker. But Copic markers seem to bleed through almost all paper in my experience so this wasn’t a surprise or a big deal. I covered some large areas with Koi brush pens and even with the darker colours the dots on the paper do show but that may or may not be a problem for you. It didn’t bother me because I wasn’t trying to create a finished piece of artwork.

Back Pocket Notebook Gouache

I was able to apply a light wash of watercolour in the Back Pocket Notebook without any problems and the paper took gouache quite well too. The paper does buckle with both watercolour and gouache but even some dedicated watercolour paper does that so, again, this wasn’t a surprise or a problem for me.

I’ve carried the Back Pocket Notebook around in my bag and it’s stood up well to that without getting damaged so far. I wonder if rounded corners might make it a bit more robust in that respect if you were carrying it around in your bag or pocket every day.

The Back Pocket Notebooks are excellent quality, and the size means that they’re really easy to carry around without adding lots of extra weight or bulk. I wouldn’t use them to replace a dedicated sketchbook but as somewhere to keep notes and ideas, make simple line drawings and practise hand lettering, the Back Pocket Notebook is an excellent option and, as the name implies, highly portable too!

Thank you to Justin at Back Pocket Notebooks who gave me this set of Kraft Notebooks to test in exchange for an honest review.

New Art Supplies: Fred Aldous

Art supplies

I first discovered Fred Aldous when I was using Copic markers on my daily people drawings, because they sold the colours I wanted at really good prices. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s a ‘real life’ Fred Aldous shop in London (if there is, let me know!) but that just means that I spend a lot of time browsing their website.

I stocked up on a few new things recently and thought I’d let you know what I bought. Incidentally, more “New Art Supplies: Fred Aldous”