Review - Clairefontaine Goldline Multi-techniques Sketchbook #Review #Sketchbooks #Goldline

NEWS: Tomorrow (7/14/17),  I'll be reviewing another one of Exaclair USA's Clairefontaine products, the BD Comics Manga Storyboard Pad and I'll be giving away four of them!

Today I'm reviewing the Goldline Multi-Techniques Sketchbook. Recently, I was lucky enough to receive one to try out.  Exaclair, USA will be adding this book to their 2018 catalog and it's something to watch for.

Size: A6 / 14.8 x 21 cm / 6.8 x 8.3 in
No. Pages: 64 sheets/128 pages
Weight: 140 gm / 65 lb
Cover: Hardcover

Look & Feel
As with many of Clairefontaine's journals and sketchbooks, the Goldline won't shout at you across the room. It may not be flashy, but once you get closer, you may be drawn to its linen-textured cover and its neat and tidy look. It reminds me of old library books, without the paper slip cover, and when I work it in, I feel a bit as though I am creating a book of my own.

The cover seems black in some light, and dark grey in others.  I would love to see this in colors similar to old library books - olive green, burgundy, navy blue.  The only adornment is the debossed Clairefontaine/Goldline logo that is located on the lower left of the back cover.

The sound I get when flipping through is muted which should appeal to many, whether they realize it or not.  You could use this in an office setting where switching pages with a tinny sound might be disruptive.

The pages have a slight spring, but not enough to interfere with drawing or writing.

The paper is white, bright but not brilliant.  It feels smooth to the touch but, as I'll discuss further in the performance section, acts as though it has more tooth than you can see or feel.

The binding is sewn.  The stitching is neat and unobtrusive.  The width of the spine prevents you from folding it back on itself.

The cover has significant overhang, which may bother those who like their covers flush with the pages.

I've been sharing works done in this book for a while, so you may have already seen some of these examples.

Faber-Castell Big Brush marker & Micron Plastic Nib (PN)
Both the Big Brush marker and Micron PN pen moved freely and the line-work was smooth and bold. There was no feathering, show-through or bleed-through. I did get some streaking where I was filling in larger areas with black, so this paper could cost you more ink if you like lots of bold dark work.

This would be a great sketchbook for those into Zentangle, sketching, markers... pretty much anything to do with pens or markers.

Tombow Dual Brush tips 
Waterbased, fiber-tipped markers work well on this paper.  Even with heavy saturation there was no pilling of the paper, though the markers themselves pilled a bit.  The ink dried quickly, which meant no smearing, but there was some streaking.  I had no feathering, show-through or bleed-through.

Newbies might be frustrated with the streaking, but the lack of pilling will allow an easy fix by simply adding more color until the streaks are gone.  Fiber-tipped markers and pens probably won't last as long on this paper, but it shouldn't be a significant loss of usage.

The same thing happened with my watercolor example.  I was surprised to find that I could lift color nicely.  I expect that from actual watercolor paper, but don't often find it with paper meant for other media. The first few times I lifted, I was able to repaint over the area with only a slight loss of brightness. I kept adding and lifting until the paper finally pilled and I was not able to add more color in some areas, so I ruined my first attempt at watercolor in this book. This was after four or five times of lifting and painting, where many non-watercolor paper (and some watercolor paper) would not allow you to lift or repaint at all.

The paint flows fairly well, though you can get streaks just as you can with the pens. Being able to lift color means that you can soften some of the streaks.

The paper did curl a bit when the watercolor was first added.  It more or less weighted itself down by the time I was finished.

It's still not a paper I'd recommend for full watercolor painting, but great for watercolor sketches and fairly complex paintings.

Colored Pencil and Sharpie Marker
Possibly the greatest surprise in paper performance came when I used colored pencil.  Usually, with colored pencils you need to build up layers to get a deep, solid color.  In this case, I almost felt as though I was working with markers.  That could be a pro or con, depending on how you work with colored pencils.

The paper took many layers of colored pencil without waxy build-up, to the point that I was able to do some light sgrafitto, which is scratching lines into your pigment (unfortunately, it doesn't show in the scan).  I was also able to erase quite a bit of color, which most papers won't allow.  In another colored pencil drawing that I'm not showing here, I kept erasing and re-coloring until I couldn't add color anymore, and ruined the drawing.  It took me quite a while to do that, convincing me that this is a sturdy paper.

Zebra Z-Grip Ballpoint Pen
Oh my.  I can't express how much I like this paper for ballpoint.  In the past, I liked the results I got using ballpoint colors over a coffee wash, so I decided to do that for my test.  I used a light wash, dipping my fingers in the coffee and smearing it over the areas that I wanted I wanted darker.  This was a good test to see how the paper handled the wet medium as well.  There was a slight rippling near the binding, but that was it.  

I increased the complexity of my experiment by using liquid frisket to mask off the whiskers and little white hairs on the kitten.  And then I got busy with real life and didn't get back to the drawing for weeks - literally.  Anyone who uses frisket will tell you this is risky.  The longer frisket stays on, the more likely it will tear the paper when you try to rub it off.  However, I had absolutely no problem removing it.  I use Pebeo Drawing Gum and I do think it is one of the easier friskets to remove so I'll give it some of the credit, but the paper also matters.

I used Zebra Z-Grips, which are average pens, and usually I have the usual ballpoint problem with ink skipping and have to clean the tip and wait a few seconds before continuing.  I did not have this problem in the Goldline, I think because the paper has enough tooth to keep the tip clean.  The ink went on smoothly, and is brighter than I've found on other papers I've used.  There was no show-through or bleed-through even in the most saturated of areas.

One of the other common occurrences with ballpoint drawings is that the pen tip debosses the paper.  I did not get any debossing on this paper.

I may well devote the rest of my copy to nothing but ballpoint pen drawings.

Fountain Pen
I used several fountain pen nib types in drawing a fantasy landscape, and had no feathering, no show-through (unless you hold it to the light), and bleed-through only occurred where I saturated wet-into-wet. I really laid the color in, working at it until the paper pilled.  It took some doing for that. It does pill more easily than a smooth paper like the Rhodia, but that was expected.  The ink dried quickly, even the wetter inks and I had zero problem with smearing. The colors came out bright, and the line-work stayed crisp, even with the pilling. 

The actual experience of using the fountain pen is not as pleasurable as it is on smoother paper, because there is a slight drag.  I suspect the hand would tire more quickly.  I don't think it would get bothersome unless you were writing or drawing with a fountain pen for a long time. 

Alcohol Markers (Bleedthrumanade)

Front of page: I colored with markers first, then drew my design/Back of page: I drew my design using the color that bled through from the front. 
Unless a paper is specially treated, there is always bleed-through with alcohol markers.  I expected maybe 75% percent with lots of white spotting based on the thickness and texture of the paper.  What I got was almost 100% bleed-through, complete saturation, with the color being only slightly more muted on the back than on the front.  This was perfect for doing one of my bleedthrumanades.  I did protect the underlying page or I would have got color there as well.   I consider this a good thing, but if you don't want bleed-through, this is not the paper for alcohol markers.

The colors are bright - almost brilliant.  There was no feathering or pilling.

If I don't devote my copy to ballpoint drawings., I will devote it to bleedthrumanades.

Fountain Pen users might find the pen drags a bit, but should like the results they get.  The issue with streaking might also be an issue for some, but it is easily controlled with the right technique.

The Goldline will work well for almost any medium, with the limits that any mixed media paper would have, and handles watercolor and colored pencil better than most. I was especially pleased with the results from using ballpoint pen and alcohol marker.

Although quietly elegant, the Goldine is also a workhorse.  If you want a good mixed media sketchbook with a quiet elegance, this is your book.  I believe this will be a great addition to the Exaclair USA line.

Disclaimer: I received my copy of the Goldline Multi-Techniques Sketchbook in order to give feedback on it, but was not asked to write a review.  I received no other compensation.