Sunday, March 29, 2015

Overnight Prints Postcard Review

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A few weeks ago, I posted what I was working on lately- mostly digital fanart pieces.  For someone who usually works with very immediate media like watercolor or Copics, media that leaves you with a physical piece when you're done, digital media is quite a switch.  Even though I'd completed quite a few pieces, I had nothing physical to show for it, and that was weird for me.  Of course, the whole point on working on those things was to have new merchandise for my convention table, and while you guys have seen a few glimpses of the new things, I'd like to show you guys something I'm really excited about.

Prints aren't necessarily a strong seller for me, at least, not at traditional print sizes.  This year, I introduced a set of dino mini prints that have been strong sellers, and I personally buy a lot of postcard versions of prints I like.  I wanted to introduce a cute large postcard print, and I opted to go with Overnight Prints, as I've worked with them in the past.

When browsing the site, I saw a listing for 25 5"x7" postcards, and I thought this would be a great starting point.  Unfortunately for me, the spot gloss option would not let me order fewer than 100 postcards, something which wasn't explicitly stated on the site, and was not mentioned in the reply to the query I sent Overnight Prints.  I did end up going with 100 spot gloss 5"x7" postcards, but I felt a bit like I'd been conned into it, and I wish the site would explicitly state what minimum orders you need to place in order to be able to purchase spot gloss.

Another issue I had with Overnight Prints is their proofing and holds system.  The preview doesn't accurately indicate issues with placement or sizing, and Overnight Prints will put a hold on your order if they detect an issue.  I'd sized my postcards to exactly the size I wanted to have them printed at, but there were still issues with my order.  In the end, the postcards I received have a small white margin at the top of the card, which wasn't visible in the preview.

On with the goodies, though!

When this white box from Overnight Prints arrived from Lousville, KY after much waiting, I excitedly tore into it.

And other than the top margins of white, I was really thrilled with the print quality.  So much nicer than my fairly decent Canon home printer can achieve, and it wont drain my ink pots.

I'd never done spot gloss before, but the process was fairly simple, and the results turned out really neat.

The back of the postcard has a modified sample of the space background Alex made, and while I had the option to do spot gloss on this side as well, I wanted to leave it blank so people could easily write on it.

I'm fairly satisfied with my postcard order, although I would've greatly preferred the option to order 25 before investing in 100.

I'll be introducing these postcards at MTAC this year, so if you'd like one, swing by my table!  I'm selling them for $2 each.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fude Pen Review: Offerings from Daiso

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Ah Daiso.  Growing up in the rural South, I never knew the joys of Daiso, although there were a couple Asian supermarkets that I frequented as a teenager.  At the time, I was too busy obsessing over anime and Ramune, Pocky and YamYams to even think about checking the stationary section.  Perhaps I could have started this love affair with the fude pen ten years earlier than I did, or maybe it would have been wasted on me.  Maybe I found fude pens when I needed them.

Anyway, back to Daiso.  For those of you who grew up under a rock, as I did, Daiso is a Japanese discount store, similar to a Dollar Tree in the US.  Most of the merchandise costs about $1.50, and the West Coast seems to have a few of them.  If you're an unfortunate soul who does NOT live near a Daiso (as I am, here in Nashville), Amazon can give you a taste of what you're missing out on, but of course, it's much more expensive.  You can also order from the Daiso store online.

Daiso carries just about everything, from kitchen supplies to stationary, and I definitely checked it out when I was in San Francisco last October.  It wasn't difficult to fill a handbasket, mostly with art supplies, and when I passed and endcap full of sign pens, I had to grab a couple.  Unfortunately, I can't link you to them from Amazon, as they appear not to be listed.  I also can't find them on the Daiso website. 

I purchased two brush pens at Daiso, both of them with larger nibs than I'm used to. 

Gold and Black Fude Pen

This is the larger of the two sign pens I purchased at Daiso.  It came in a plastic sleeve, and honestly, I'm surprised I don't have any photos of the wrapper.  The wrapper was written entirely in Japanese, and I pretty much grabbed it because it was fairly cheap and I thought it'd be fun to review some cheap Japanese art supplies.

The nib on this brushpen reminds me A LOT of the large brush nib for Copic's Multiliners.

It also reminded me of the Mitsuo Aida, so here's a side by side comparison of the two brushpens.

Field Test

Up to this point in the test, I was pretty impressed by how the Daiso brush pen performed, but I knew the only way to be certain was to put it through its paces.  I whipped up this sketch to ink:

And inked it fairly quickly.  This pen handles much like the Copic Super Brush Multiliner- it doesn't really pull fine lines, but it pulls decent chunky to fat lines.  This would be a good fill brush, as the ink is fairly rich, especially compared to the grayish ink of the Pentel Pocket Brush.

Red Chiyogami Fude Pen

This time I DID manage to get photos of the packaging.  For the record, the previous pen I reviewed had very similar packaging.

Not really sure what 'real brush pen in the sense of a felt-tip pen' means.  Do they mean the effect of a bristled brush pen in a convenient felt tip?

The pen is made of lightweight plastic, and feels a little cheap.  The red chiyogami is a sticker on the barrel of the pen.  The tip reminds me a lot of the Pitt pen's Medium brush tip.

And it handles a lot like a Pitt pen too.  I don't know if it has a reversible nib the way Pitt pens do.

Field Test

And surprise surprise, the Daiso pen handles a lot like a brand new Pitt brush pen.  Decently tight fine lines (if you have the motor control for it), can pull nice chunky lines as well.  I was a little afraid of mushing it into useless oblivion, so I didn't push it as far as I probably could have.

And here's the Daiso pen right next to my current favorite, the Kuretake Fudegokochi.  They're roughly the same size, but the Daiso pen feels cheaper.  Both have metal clips and plastic bodies, but the Fudegokochi has an ink indicator window that's never really indicated to me when the pen was going to die.

The bottom line is if you live near a Daiso, these Daiso fude pens aren't half bad.  Use them as your mainstay or pick them up when your favorites are outta ink and you're waiting for your order to come in, either way works. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fude Pen Review: Pentel Touch

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It's often inconvenient to be reliant on Jetpens for my inking tool of choice.

You guys might think with this recent batch of pen reviews, that I have a Jetpens sponsorship.  You might think, with all the praise I lavish on their merchandise, that they're paying me to say nice things.  I don't have a sponsorship, and I don't see a dime.  Everything I review from Jetpens are things I've paid for out of my own pocket, usually with money earned from doing commission at conventions, sometimes with donations made to the blog (thanks guys, by the way!).  So while I really like Jetpens, I don't have a particular loyalty to them, other than they are often the sole provider of the type of art supplies I like the best.  As an artist, it would be most convenient for me if major art supply stores like Blick, Pla-Za, or Jerry's Artarama started carrying more Japanese stationary and art supplies.

I try to order Fudegokochis in bulk, but there are times I run out, or the pen I have on me dies in the middle of a trip, or it explodes while I'm on the plane.   At times like this, it would be fantastic if I could pop into Michael's and buy a replacement, the way I can buy replacement Copic markers (at a premium!), or Sakura Microns.  (A caveat:  If you have a Daiso, their fude pens aren't half bad!  I have a review of a couple coming up soon!)  Sure, there are brush pens available in the US, but none with the snap and fine point that a fude pen offers.  And yeah, I can always ink with a brush, but fude pens play so well with my sketchbook.  Maybe I'm just spoiled, but it'd be super nice to be able to get fude pens easily on the east coast.

So I was excited when a friend sent me this Pentel Touch fude pen found at Boesner, a German art supply store.  Pentel is a Japanese brand that's often carried in American art supply stores, and if these fude pens are sold at German art stores, there's a chance we'll start seeing them in the US at some point.

The Pentel Touch sent to me has an all black body with sparkly glitter embedded in the plastic, which definitely makes it stand out amongst other fude pens.  It's available in a lot of colors on Jetpens, and I'll be reviewing their 12 Color Bundle soon (purchased AFTER I tested this pen, worry not!)  On Jetpens, individual Pentel Touch pens are an affordable $2.50, though I don't know how much it cost at Boesner.

EDIT:  DickBlick carries the Pentel Touch in their online store, and may carry them in retail locations as well.  They offer both a brush and fiber tip.  In this review, I only cover the brush tip, but I'd also like to give the fiber tip a shot and see how they compare!

The Pentel Touch's tip is about as fine as my Fudegokochi, and the nib has a plastic sheath.


For a heavyhanded person like me, the Pentel Touch is a bit sift, but capable of a variety of lineweights.

Field Test

The Pentel Touch was a lot of fun to ink with.  It moves smoothly on the paper and dries quickly.

I really hope that we'll start to see fude pens in the Western mass market sometime in the near future.  If you see a Pentel Touch in a store near you, don't hesitate to add it to your inking arsenal.  They're a fun, lightweight pen from a brand many of us are familiar with.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fude Pen Review: Uni Mitsubishi Pure Color-F Double-Sided Sign Pen

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Sadly, you wouldn't know this by looking at my sketchbook, but I love color.  I admire artists on Tumblr who post colored sketches, or sketches that feature color accents, but for sketches, the most I usually can muster is non photo blue and black ink.  I'm hoping to find some colorful pens that'll help me change that.

It seems like I have an interesting relationship with Jetpens.  When I order products singly, I end up loving them and have to buy more.  When I buy a set, I end up getting burnt.  This is not Jetpens' fault, it's mine- I'm too impulsive in purchasing new art toys.  Unfortunately, the Uni Mitsubishi Pure Color-F Double Sided Sign Pens proved not to be the exception to this sad rule.

I splurged and bought the 18 color bundle, lured in by the variety of bright, inviting colors.  When my package arrived, I was so excited.  Just look at these pens, they look fantastic!

Unfortunately, my excitement ended shortly after uncapping.  These are not fude pens at all!  I'd misunderstood 'sign pens', which also refer to fude pens, to mean the flexible calligraphy pens.  The Pure Color-F pens have hard nibs on both ends- I had hoped that at least the smaller nib would be flexible.

To these pens' benefit, they tend to be fairly true to the color of the pen itself.

The caps post to each other, but are not interchangeable between sizes the way the Mitsuo Aida caps were.  The pen itself is fairly well designed, with small silver dots indicating the smaller nib, and larger silver dots indicating the larger nib.  Neither nib has any real give to it, and the larger nib is not designed to color large spaces.  It's similar to a bullet nib on many alcohol based markers, but the ink in these pens is not alcohol based.  Both tips are made of felt, and the nib sizes are .8 and .4 mm, which might make this an interesting choice for handlettering.

Field Test

I still held out hope that these markers would be compatible with my Kuretake Fudegokochi and my Eno Color Soft Blue lead, my sketching tools of choice.

Pilot's Eno Color is my current favorite non-photo blue lead, and it's available in .7mm through Jetpens.  It's buttery and a little crumbly for a mechanical pencil lead, not as waxy as other brands I've used, but it's still waxy enough that it can cause issues with ink drying.  It's always wise to test materials on a scratch sheet of paper before committing them to a project.

After I inked the sketch, I let it dry overnight.  I recommend this any time you plan on polishing a sketch- whether you want to add color or just remove your underdrawing.

The next day, I excitedly hit my sketchbook.

The mess of ink next to the word 'Fudegokochi' indicates that I laid down three lines of fude ink, then went right over it with the Color F.  As you can see, even though I waitied until the ink was 'dry', there's still a LOT of pick up with the Fudegokochi.  The yellow squiggles to the side are me trying to clean the black ink off the golden yellow Color-F, black ink that I picked up while coloring Kara's eyes.  These were inks that had dried overnight, so unless the Color-F was reactivating the Fudegokochi's ink, there should have been no pick up.

Although it was fun to doodle in color, there was entirely too much pick up between the Color-F pens and the Fudegokochi ink, pick up that makes the sketch look dirty.

I do not recommend these pens if you intend to use them the same way I've used them in this post.  They're fine if you're interested in doodling or decorating something that needs a little color, like your notes or your planner.

NOTE:  I am, of course, aware that I COULD be sketching with graphite, inking that, and then erasing if I wanted to color sketches in my sketchbook, but if I'm going to go to all that trouble, I might as well take it out of the sketchbook and finish it into something a bit nicer.  I simply wanted to find a way to add accents of color in my sketchbook that wouldn't require me to erase the non photo blue.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fude Pen Review: Sailor Mitsuo Aida Double-Sided Brush Pen

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In the past, I've reviewed fude pens in large batches, but since I've developed a pretty good idea of what I'm looking for in an inking pen, I'm better able to hone in on pens I think will work for me.  When I saw the double sided Sailor Mitsuo Aida on Jetpens, I thought it looked like a well rounded brush.  You have a fine tip for delicate linework, and a larger, 'medium' tip for fills and possibly thicker lineweights.  I was excited to give it a try, and the Mitsuo Aida did not disappoint.

At $4.45, the Mitsuo Aida is a little more expensive than most fude pens available on Jetpens, but it definitely has a lot to offer the comic artist.

The Mitsuo Aida double sided pen features a poem by the poet and calligrapher, Mitsuo Aida.  It comes in four different body colors, although the ink in all is black.  According to Jetpens, it's waterproof when completely dry, a feature I'll have to test out with my watercolors soon.  I'll probably edit this post with the results, so consider bookmarking it and revisiting in a couple weeks!

The package is written entirely in Japanese, so I had to rely on Jetpens for information regarding this interesting pen.  I tried to get some close up photos though, in case any of my readers are fluent and would like to translate this for themselves.  If you'd like to share your translation, feel free to leave it in the comments, and I'll add it to this post (with credit to you, of course).

The barrel of the Mitsuo Aida is a little thicker than the Kuretake Fudegokochi, but doesn't feel awkward or ungainly in my hand.

Unlike later double sided fude pens I've tested, the caps can post on either end of the pen.  According to Jetpens, the tips are 'fine' and 'medium', but to me, it feels more like a 'medium' and a 'large'.  The smaller tip has a lot of give, and is a lot of fun to ink with.  The larger tip is a lot like Copic's large brush multiliner, and is capable of pulling very fine lines if you have a delicate hand.

The caps post to each other, insuring you don't lose a cap while you ink.

Below is a sketch I inked with the Mitsuo Aida.  This pen is a lot of fun to ink with, and is quite capable all on its own.  I've added this versatile pen to my every day carry.

If you're looking for an all-in-one brush pen or fude pen for your on the go sketching, the Mitsuo Aida is a strong choice for your everyday carry.
Watercolor Field Test
The evening I wrote this post, I sketched up a little doodle of Kara on watercolor paper.  I inked it, let it dry overnight, and erased the graphite pencil using a Mono eraser.  Inking on watercolor paper DID remove some of the ink, but that's to be expected given the nature of inking on watercolor paper.   The resulting lineart is no more faded than a lineart inked with a brush and India ink would be after erasing.
The Mitsuo Aida handles just fine on watercolor paper, and there wasn't any spidering or feathering of lines.

I taped down my little piece of watercolor, and applied a wash of just water to see if the Mitsuo Aida would run.  As you can see, the ink stayed fast.
And here's the finished piece.  As yall can see, Mitsuo Aida fude pens are indeed waterproof, making them fantastic for inking sketches intended for watercolor.
My verdict?  I love this pen!  Especially now that I know I can use it with watercolors, I love it even more.  I'm so excited to really get to play around with these when things start winding down over here.