Sunday, December 29, 2013

Product Comments: Fabriano Studio and Bimoji Brush Pen

12/29/13 Kuretake Bimoji brush pen, Zig marker, watercolor, Fabriano hot press 140 lb. paper
I was on my way to returning a DVD to Reckless, our neighborhood video rental store (yes, we still prefer to go there instead of using Netflix; it’s fun to chat with the friendly, knowledgeable staff about movies and get their recommendations) when I spotted this tree. Instead of being strung with holiday lights, it had only these huge red ball ornaments hanging from its very bare branches – a bright spot of color on an otherwise overcast, colorless day.

This sketch was the last in the signature of Fabriano Studio hot press 140-pound paper that I recently mentioned purchasing on a whim from, sight unseen (or rather untouched, since touch is usually a more discriminating sense than sight when it comes to paper). So it’s a good opportunity to make a preliminary report on it (I’m sure I’ll have more comments after I’ve used a few more signatures of it).

Fabriano Studio hot press paper
The paper’s hot press surface reminds me of Stillman & Birn’s Epsilon series of sketchbooks, which I tried out about a year ago. The Epsilon’s plate surface was like a smoothly polished floor that my fountain pen nib could glide across effortlessly, and I’ve been delighted with the same effect I get on the Fabriano Studio’s hot press surface. My sketch of “LeRoy, the Big Pup” at the Tacoma Art Museum was nothing but my Sailor pen and a light wash from a waterbrush, and the Fabriano was pure joy. Unlike the Epsilon, however, the Fabriano is made for wet media, so I can sketch and paint on both sides of a sheet with no show-through at all (which was a major problem with the Epsilon paper, especially when scanned). Markers also take to the Fabriano surface beautifully (I sketched the 1964 Porsche at the LeMay Car Museum with Zig markers).

I’ve only used it a couple times with watercolor, which is what it’s intended for, so I need to do several more examples before I can determine whether I really like it for this. So far, I’ve sketched the 1957 Corvette at the LeMay with watercolors, as well as Gabi’s exhibit at MOHAI, and the paper showed no warping. The part I don’t like is that the Fabriano surface has no texture at all, so watercolors take on the smooth, textureless look of markers without showing the subtle separation of hues that makes watercolors so lovely. The conclusion I came to about the S & B Epsilon is that I preferred using it with fountain pen and ink and markers rather than watercolor, and maybe that’s what I’ll conclude about Fabriano Studio, also. In any case, this impulsive paper buy is turning out to be a good value, since I work in pen and ink frequently.

Kuretake Bimoji brush pen, designed to look like a sumi-e brush.
While I’m at it, I’ll make a few preliminary comments about the Kuretake Bimoji brush pen that I picked up a couple weeks ago at our local Kinokuniya. I sketched the tree above with the Bimoji, which has a hard felt tip, not an actual synthetic hair brush like the Kuretake Fountain Brush Pen and Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers do, both of which I love. I generally avoid hard felt-tip markers because they produce that harsh-edged “marker” look. Call me a sucker for packaging, but this Bimoji is made to look like a traditional sumi-e brush and is designed to act like one, so I was compelled to try it.

The Bimoji's hard felt tip.
Although this sketch might not be the best example, the Bimoji does produce nice thick-and-thin lines (similar to my Sailor pens). What’s more, its ink is waterproof, so after drawing the bare tree’s limbs, I could use watercolor to paint the red balls. Having taken a class long ago in traditional sumi-e painting in which we had to grind the ink from sticks of soot and used traditional sumi brushes, I’ll say that this felt-tip pen is a far cry from that brush. OK, I’m a sucker. But the pen and the Fabriano paper were made for each other. 


  1. Interesting comments about the Fabriano and S&B Epsilon paper. I feel pretty much the same way about plate finish papers. I'm using a Zeta sketchbook (Epsilon's heavy-duty cousin) and while you can paint on both sides of the paper, the other things you mentioned remain true. It's a dream when you're wielding a pen and not so much when you're trying to do watercolors on it. I know some actually like it for watercolors, saying they like how watercolors float around on top of the paper. Like you, though, I find the results a bit 'flat' relative to something like S&B Beta sketchbooks. What to do...what to do :-)

    Cheers --- Larry

  2. I love the tree with the red ornaments and just the hint of the building behind it so it doesn't detract from the tree. Good thinking and sketching!

    Good review of the paper and the pen. It is always interesting to hear what others like/dislike about a product. Sometimes it makes me think I should buy something new. lol Dick Blick...I'm heading your way! I like seeing and touching things too, so I'm glad there are still a few art stores around even if they are a bit of a trip.


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