emnotes Notebook Review #emnotes #notebooks #review

Today I'm reviewing and giving away an emnotes unruled notebook.  I was sent two, one with a chipboard cover and one in a soft cover black.  I chose the chipboard version for review because I felt it would be the easiest to customize and I am giving the black covered notebook away.

The Giveaway has ended.

One of my examples is a step-out for my Fantasy Landscape series. You can find that at the beginning of the Performance section.

The emnotes is a simple, unassuming notebook that is put together by hand in the U.S.A.  It isn't fancy, or meant to be used for great works of art, but it built to hold together when carried during travel.

 From the website: "Things that often go unnoticed like page brightness, the type of binding to hold the notebook together, and whether it can survive a bike ride in an overstuffed backpack... yes, we thought of that too."

Weight: 90 gsm (24 lb) similar to copy/multipurpose paper
Format: Blank
Color: White, 96 brightness
No. of Pages: 80 sheets/160 pages
Size 8.5 x.11 (approx. 8 1/4 in. x 11 in with space taken by the double wire binding)

Type: Double-wire binding
Construction: Black, plastic-covered wire
Size: 9/16 of an inch in ring diameter

Both of the versions shown here, have four covers for extra sturdiness.  The emnotes is also available in white, cream, royal blue, and cherry red soft covers.

Front Cover:

  • Black version-soft vellum type soft cover cardstock
  • Chipboard version-medium heavy chipboard

The outside back cover is heavy chipboard:

  • Black version-dyed black. 
  • Chipboard version-undyed   

The inside front and back covers:

  • Black version-black cardstock
  • Chipboard version: Light chipboard

Elastic band
Black version has an envelope in the back

Look & Feel

All the emnotes notebooks have four color-matched covers, with undyed chipboard for the chipboard version and black covers for the black version.  The two inside covers are light-weight, the front cover is medium-weight and the back cover is heavy-weight.

Neither cover has any print or embossing.

The chipboard version cover is chipboard, and has the slightly rough feel of that material.  It is suitable for writing and doodling and strong enough to hold up to gel medium, and having ephemera glued onto it.

The black version, that I'm giving away, has a soft vellum-like cover that feels leathery to the touch. The black cover is unassuming but nice.  However,if you are into customizing it would easily be possible to do so.

Left as is the black is prettier, but the chipboard is more easily customized, and the black will pick up more dust and fingerprints. It should be easy to wipe off, though.

The notebooks have an elastic band and it fits just about right to keep the book securely closed without bending or cutting into the covers or the paper.  The grommets look sturdy and well-set into the carboard.  I didn't see any wear or tear around them on either notebook.

Outside cover grommet             Inside cover grommet

The double- wire binding is plastic coated.  It allows the paper to slide over it easily.  The holes are a square-cut and well fit.  There won't be undo stress on the paper that might lead it to wear away.

There is some room for the paper to slide.  If you intend to glue clippings, notes of ephemera on the paper, this will leave some room for expansion.  It does mean that the edges of the paper and the covers do not stay flush and even, but that's pretty common for wire-bound.

The wire-binding allows the book to lie back completely flat, or for it to be folded back for easier holding.

On the website, the emnotes 24 lb paper is compared to copy paper in terms of weight and that is about correct.  It is white, not brilliant, but might be hard on the eyes in some lighting, as white paper tends to be.  However, that white also makes writing or art colors seem brighter.

The paper is smooth, both to the eye and to the touch.  It isn't slick, but there isn't a lot of tooth.

The thinness of the paper does allow show-through with bold, dark ink.  There is none with pencil, only a little with ballpoint.  The only medium I used that had significant bleed-through to the back was the alcohol marker, and that was expected.  I'll discuss this further in the Performance section.

I held one page between my fingers in just about the middle, and shook it as hard as I could, seven or eight times.  There was no tearing, and no wear of the paper around the wire-binding.  Some wrinkles did form where I was held the page.  A couple of days later, I couldn't find the page where I held it, because the wrinkles had weighted out.

The black cover version of the emnotes notebook also had this envelope in back.  It's a thin black paper, in a square shape, and has a fold-over flap to help keep things inside.

Marker & Artist Pen - Tombow Dual Tip/ Fudenosuke Hard-tip/Pitt Artist Pens/Stabilio 88
I'll probably devote the majority of my emnotes notebook to drawing my step-outs.  The paper is fairly thin, and I took advantage of this by drawing my shaggy tree on another piece of paper with a dark ink, and large size nib.  Then I put the drawing underneath the step-out page and used it as a guide to keep each step about the same size and lined up with the rest.  That is always the hardest part of doing a step-out - making the steps regular for better appearance.

I used several artist pens for this step-out.  They were all fiber-tipped except for the plastic-tipped Fudenosuke.  I was able to get a fine, crisp line with them all, and there was no feathering (ink spreading out in feathery lines) or expansion (ink continuing to spread after pen is lifted from paper) of the line.

These are all artist pens with dark ink and it is not surprising that there was show-through.  People who draw or write with these type pens would probably only use one side of the page.

Pitt Artist Pens and Pigma Micron PN
Staying with artist pens, but using color I did an entire page with Pitt Artist pens, which are fiber-tipped and have India Ink.  The colors were nice and crisp, and while you can see the colored area on the back of the page, it is only as a slightly darker tint.  The colors themselves neither show through nor bleed-through.

I used a plastic-tipped Micron PN for the line-work and there was no feathering, or expansion.

Ballpoint Pen - Zebra Z-Grip / Pentel Vicuña
I think the paper really came into its own with the ballpoint.  I used two ballpoint brands that are fairly cheap and found in most stores.  I was able to build up layers and get everything from a fine coverage to a dark value.

I had a little trouble with the blue ink spitting, but I think it was the pen because none of the other pens did so.  I had no trouble with the ink skipping.

Ah, I do love illustrating sheep.  So much texture and they've go so much baa-a-ad attitude.

Alcohol Markers - Spectrum Noir Illustrator / Copic Markers
Alcohol marker will bleed-through just about any paper that isn't specially treated or extra heavy.  In fact, I've made a practice of using that for drawing bleedthrumanades (a play on lemonade - got lemons, make lemonade, got bleed-through make bleedthrumanade).

The markers I used for the sky were almost out of ink, but I was pleased with the effect that I was able to get with them.  The colors were rich, but not brilliant.

Bleedthrumanade Front

Once I finished with the front of the page, I turned it over and switched to my Fudenosuke hard plastic-tip pen to draw on the back.  The amount of bleed-through was probably about 80%.

Bleedthrumanade Back

Pencil - Zentangle pencil
Usually, I do a colored pencil example, but I knew from the smoothness of the paper, that it would be somewhat slick for the lead.  More people would be using the paper for graphite pencil so I went with that instead.

Drawing with pencil is a bit different from writing with one, since you are going to cover such a large area, and try to build up the coverage to get dark values.  Using a harder lead, like the school pencil 2H, would work better for writing because the harder point would push deeper into the paper.

I used the graphite pencil that came in a Zentangle© kit.  It's fairly soft, probably a 4B.

The paper was a bit slick, as I thought, with little tooth to grab the graphite and hold it.  I was able to build up values with some work, but I'm sure the graphite will wear away after a while.

On the other hand, it was very easy to erase.  This would be a great paper to work out your composition, or ideas because you could try them out, and erase what didn't work without leaving greasy marks.  You do need to hold the paper taut to keep from wrinkling it.

Chipboard Cover - Gel Medium, Drywall Tape, Gold Embossing Medium, Acyrlic Paint, Sharpie Paint Pen and Sharpie Permanent Ink Pen

The chipboard front cover held up quite well to the gel medium and drywall tape.  It did curl a bit as the medium was drying, but flattened quickly when placed under heavy books for an hour or so once completely dry.

The emnotes has no capitals in the title.  That seems to fit the philosophy of the notebooks - simple and unassuming.  They are plain but nice to the eye, and can be customized something flashier is desired.

The paper is thin, similar to copy paper, blank, with no ruling or other formatting.  Not meant for great art, but I managed to do some nice work on it.  There is some show-through and that might be a problem for some, but it's nice to write or draw on.  For my taste, it works best with ballpoint pen and artist pens.

The paper resists tearing, but can be wrinkled easily.  I found that most wrinkles evened out for the most part.

A good sturdy notebook for on-the-go people, for working out ideas and compositions.

Emnote notebooks can be found at the emnotes website.  Shipping is free for ground service, within the U.S. for now, international shipping is calculated during checkout.

What Is the Prize?  One winner will receive an emnotes notebook with black cover as pictured above. 

How to Enter? CLOSED.  Cut and paste these words: 'I want to win an emnotes notebook' into the subject line of an email, and send it to me at  LifeImitatesDoodles [at] gmail [dot] com. (replace the words enclosed in [ ] with an @ and delete the spaces).

When does the giveaway start and end? CLOSED.The giveaway starts on 6/6/17 at 06:00 AM PST and ends 6/14/17 at 11:59 PST.  I'll notify the winners on 6/15/17, by responding to the email they sent as entry.

Who Can Enter? This giveaway is international.

Who is Giving Away the Prizes? emnotes offered me one notebook, and sent two when I asked about holding a giveaway.  I want to thank Edwin for his generosity.

Disclaimer:  I received these two emnotes notebooks from emnotes for the purpose of this review and giveaway.  I was allowed to choose the covers that I wanted.  I'm excited about hosting this giveaway, but tried not to let it influence my opinion, and all opinions are my own.  I received no other compensation.