Saturday, August 03, 2013

Bienfang and Pentel Watercolor Brushpen Mini Review

Sometimes, in order to properly review a product, I need to create a sketch to simulate actual working conditions.  And sometimes while reviewing and testing products, I'll use a bunch of new things, all of which I'm not really sure about, and just hope for the best.

Today's review is one such a review.

I've been looking for a spiral bound watercolor sketchbook, for, ya know, sketching.  While moving, I found a small, black, hardcover sketchbook by Master's Touch.  The paper inside felt like thin watercolor paper, so I thought I'd give it a spin for my watercolor brushpen review.

I don't remember where I bought this sketchbook.  I don't remember what I paid.  But I do know that this sketchbook is like drawing, and painting, on toilet paper, and it'll probably be making it's way to my donation bin in the very near future.

Heaven forbid this is your first time reading this blog.  If so, I must apologize- the resulting test piece is just awful.  I'm going to be a terrible artist and blame her tools for this one.

So, a mini review of the Master's Touch sketchbook, since I went to all the trouble of using it untested.

At first glance, it's pretty decent.  The pages move smoothly on the coated double spiral wire, the holes are large enough that it doesn't get stuck on first flip.  The cover is thick and fairly sturdy, and rather than chipboard on the back like most sketchbooks, it's the same black board.  Personally, I've never really been a fan of hardcover sketchbooks, but I suppose at the time I purchased this, I was significantly impressed.


 The interior paper  is a flecked dark grey paper with this fantastic Master's Touch logo in black.


The pages have a fair amount of tooth to them, although they're pretty thin, and are perforated for the quick removal of failed drawings.

Because the paper is so thin, it tends to bleed through the paper, although bleedthrough bad enough to ruin following pages is rare.



Given my recent experience with this sketchbook, I would not buy, or use, again.

I didn't have any particular image in mind when I started this review, so I just did a generic Kara drawing.




I tried to erase my construction lines as I went, otherwise the face would've been nothing but smeared graphite, but the soft paper of ths sketchbook doesn't want to release eraser shavings.


Because I wanted to test these brushpens in a near field environment, I limited my supplies- clean water in my watercolor cups, a small palette, a spare brush.


I wanted to apply a wash, so I dipped my watercolor brushpen into clean water on my palette.  Usually I'd worry about water being drawn up into the brushpen, but I applied gentle pressure to release some of the ink.



The paper buckles pretty fast, and takes a long time to dry, probably because it isn't actually watercolor paper.


I went into my still wet wash with one of my yellow watercolor brushpens (made by Bienfang, a scholastic grade of art supply) to intensify the color a bit.  I then applied water on top, hoping to blend it out, but it didn't really want to budge.


Because I didn't have a fleshtone, I had to mix my own.  Bienfang yellow, Pentel's red and brown.

A little darker than what I usually mix (sepia and cadmium red), but it works when diluted sufficiently.


One plus of this awful paper is that the colors didn't really bleed into each other, although the paper was still damp.


Subsequent applications of color didn't really darken the skintone too much.

 Application of brushpen's ink straight to page.  These pens don't rework easily, and don't want to blend out.  The brown separates into a greyish brown when water is applied on top.


Applied water on top of the red on the flowers, and it bleeds, but doesn't really blend.


Conclusion:
These pens are probably fine for sketching like one would with ink, but the end result of attempting to use them as field watercolors is depressingly amateur.  I recommend purchasing a pocket set of pan watercolors.