Review of the Daycraft Signature Notebook - Part II

Shortly before the end of 2012, I won a Daycraft Signature notebook and wrote a review concerning the look and feel.  I had several things to do for the holidays and didn't have time to do my usual artwork tests.  

Now, I've done them!  

The first thing I did was customize the cover.  Normally I wouldn't have.  But Daycraft is located in Hong Kong, and the stamps and customs declaration on the package caught my eye. I took them off the package and glued them to my cover.

My prize was a notebook, so of course I had to try writing in it--even though I'll use it mostly for artwork.  Lines?  So what?  I don't let small things like that keep me from drawing!

Front                                                                                        Back of page
With each of the pens I used, I added a circle at the end where I really saturated the paper--circling slowly about 10-15 times-- so I could see how much would go through to the other side

For those of you unfamiliar with fountain pens, some inks are more free-flowing than others, and some fountain pen nibs allow a wider, thicker flow.  Either of these conditions or a combination of them create a 'wet' or, conversely, a 'dry' pen.  Obviously, if you have a wet pen it will saturate the paper and bleed to the back more easily.  I've tried to create a 'wet' situation with my circles for all the pens, even the non-fountain pens.

I don't think it shows in my scan, but there is some flecking--very tiny spots--from both of the Noodler's inks (the Roses was written with a brush pen and the Violet with a Lamy Safari), and the Preppy fountain pen left a fairly significant blot.  What this tells me is that if you draw in this notebook with solid coverage in one area, or let your fountain pen set in one place for several seconds--you'll get some bleed through to the back of the page.

However, the bleed-through isn't bad.  There is also some shadowing, but it wouldn't keep me from writing on the back of the page.  I wouldn't use a fountain pen to draw in this book, unless I intended to use the bleed through--something I often do!

There was no feathering, except for the Pigma brush pen.  I was traveling when I did this page, and hadn't realized that the brush tip had been bent.  I tested it on several other papers, and it's definitely the brush tip that's faulty.

All of the pens had slightly longer drying times than I usually find.  It was only by a few seconds, and the only ink I managed to smear was the Australian Roses in Black Swan.  It was very wet ink.  The upshot--you'll need to take a little care to let some inks dry.

Silver, Cedar & TortoiseShell 
The next thing I tried were Tim Holtz Distress Markers.  Past experience has shown me that possible problems might be pilling of the paper, fraying of the pen tips and bleed through to the back of the page where I saturate the color.   I did use a white gel pen to add small highlights, but the linework was done with the hard plastic tip of the markers, and the color was filled in using the brush tip.

There was some small amount of pilling (I'd be surprised if there weren't--it is a problem with these pens, but I love them anyway). but no fraying of the pen tips, or bleed through.

The color is bright.  The Distress Marker color range is somber, so they come out dull on some papers. In this Signature notebook they are as bright as I've ever seen them. 

Ye Olde Poet's Tavern
I like to take advantage of color that bleeds through to the back of the page (I call this a Bleedthrumanade-got lemons, make lemonade, got bleed-thru, make bleedthrumanade), and I decided to use the writing sample page.  Linework was done with a Micron pen.

Copic markers bled through with about 70% coverage on the back (the writing sample page being the back).  After the bright color I got with the distress markers, I was surprised that the Copic color wasn't as bright.  However, it was bright and dark enough that I could use both black ink art pen and white ink gel pen on the front equally well. The white ink doesn't show as much on the back, but that is pretty standard.  I was pleased with the range of effect and texture that I was able to achieve.

The paper in the Signature notebook is smooth, so I was surprised at how easily the color pencil pigment laid down.  I could have continued adding layers of color, but didn't need to, as the color fairly clung to the page.  Color pencil isn't my favorite medium for various reasons, but it may become my medium of choice for this book.

Linework was done with a Micron pen.

Cabbage Garden
This page was colored with Neocolor II wax pastels, and then blended with a Dove blender (a liquid that you can use in place of water to smooth out and blend water-soluble mediums).  The Dove is quite wet but there was no buckling or curling on the page.  There was some slight dimpling.  However, after lying closed for a couple of days, the page is almost completely flat again. 

The Neocolor II's are like a crayon, and look very like a crayon coloring when first used.  The Dove blender smoothed out the strokes almost completely and lightened the color significantly.  I haven't been using the Dove for long so I can't say if this is standard or partly due to the paper.

Storm Over the Nile
Even though the Dove blender is a wet medium, there is nothing wetter than water, so I wanted to see how the paper would fare with that medium.  Two other prizes I received last year were a set of Letraset Metallic Markers and some black & white Faber-Castell Gelatos.  I decided to give them a try.

The gelatos go on like lipstick smeared across the page,  Then you load a brush with water and dilute the color into a wash.  I let the wash drizzle down the page and set the book aside to let it dry.

With water, there was significantly more dimpling and some curl.  While the page has flattened considerably after being closed a few days, some of the dimpling remains.  Fair enough.  This is a notebook, after all.  While I wouldn't recommend using it for watercolor, I wouldn't hesitate to use it for light washes, myself.  I like the effects I achieved enough to put up with the dimpling.

I had no trouble adding more color with the metallic markers or doing the linework with a Micron art pen after the gelatos wash dried.  

 Picnic Interrupted
And I almost forgot.  I always have to see how the paper performs with just good old black & white.  I used a couple of Micron fiber-tipped art pens, point size .05 and .005.  I was able to get lots of detail and a variety of pen strokes, from barely there to a deep solid line.  The lines are not as bold or crisp as I normally look for, but you can build up the layers.  On the other hand, this allows very detailed wisping and tonal values.  

In conclusion, I'd say that the Daycraft Signature Notebook provides a sweet writing experience even for those who use a fountain pen (though it might not be their first choice).  For those who doodle or draw, the notebook holds up to a variety of mediums, and is suitable for both black & white and color.

There is a blank sketchbook in the Signature Series, as well (you can find my review here) that might be more suitable for the artist, but I won't hesitate to use this ruled notebook for my doodled flights of fancy!

Thank you Daycraft for holding your fantastic Advent giveaway and giving me the chance to review the A5 Daycraft Signature notebook!