SM.LT Art Authenticbook review

(cliquem aqui para a versão em Português da avaliação)

It has been more than a year since Lithuanian manufacturer SM.LT Art were kind enough to sponsor mine and Pedro Alves‘ workshops in a sketching weekend in Barcelona, and in the Winter Sketching School in Riga. It’s due time I reviewed one of their awesome products.

SM.LT’s Authentic Albums collection includes the Authentic Watercolor stitched sketchbook. This is a laid back piece of design, perfect for a relaxed sketch, for your daily practice, or for your long weekend away doodles. It’s lightweight, super portable and the A5 format is large enough for your wide angle sketches. In Portugal, it retails online at 4.99€ in Olmar.

Outside

The blue recycled soft cover makes the watercolor paper book stand out from the rest of the Authentic Albums collection.

Being made of cartboard, the cover is of course subject to staining, but that’s ok if, unlike me, you’re careful with your stuff. The good part is that you have a couple of blue extra “pages” for a different kind of art experiment. The soft cover can be challenging if you’re used to sketch standing up or without a hard surface underneath.

The cover and paper are cut simultaneously, so there’s no setback between them. The rounded corners of the sketchbook reduce damage, but the main feature preventing wear is the briefness of the sketchbook – the 24 pages that compose it go by pretty fast! So far, each of the three Authentic books I’ve used lasted only a month each. There’s little chance for any major wear or damage in such a short time.

Paper

The 12 sheets of 280gsm cellulose watercolor paper are bound by a red stitching line, visible in the gutter of the central spread. It’s a cute detail, kind of a red dotted line, letting you know that you’ve used up half of your sketchbook, maybe time to order a new one.

I’ve thrown my best and worse on this sketchbook, and the results are mixed. It’s a very good paper for your watercolor experiments, and you can get some vibrant tones out of it. It has a slightly rough texture – something like a rough pressed down grain – but smooth enough for fine nib pens to glide easily over it.

It opens completely flat, so you get a nice spread for an uninterrupted panoramic sketch. It sucks up the water pretty quickly, so you better be fast with the brush if you want the colors to blend. The use of intense colors causes the paint to transfer from page to page over time. So, be sure to scan your sketches soon after you finish them, as smudges will appear on the opposite pages of the stains.

Pros final count

  • Balanced cellulose paper for your daily fix of sketching and watercoloring.
  • Small enough to be exhausted in a short trip or a weekend event.
  • Portable and lightweight.
  • Very inexpensive.
  • Opens flat.
  • Friendly landscape proportions (taller than other sketchbooks)

Cons final count

  • Transfers intense colors from page to page, over time.
  • Cover subject to wear and tear in prolonged use.

Final veredict

I feel a sense of accomplishment when I manage to compile the sketches of a weekend away from home, or a professional event, into a single sketchbook. The SM.LT Authentic Watercolor Book provides that feeling! It’s a relaxed and brief, but competent watercolor sketchbook, that allows plenty of range in watercolor and sketching experiments. It’s well suited for fast sketchers, as watercolors dry pretty fast. I’ll use more of these in the future, no doubt.

Avaliando o SM.LT Art Authenticbook

(click here for the English review)

Já passou mais de um ano desde que os fabricantes Lituanos SM.LT Art gentilmente patrocinaram as oficinas de desenho minhas e do Pedro Alves, num fim-de-semana em Barcelona, e na Winter Sketching School de Riga. É já tempo de avaliar um dos seus espectaculares produtos.

A colecção de Authentic Albums da SM.LT inclui o caderno cosido Authentic Watercolor. É uma peça de design descontraída, perfeita para desenhos relaxados, para a prática diária, ou para um fim de semana fora a desenhar. É leve, super portátil e o formato A5 é grande o suficiente para desenhos panorâmicos. Em Portugal, está à venda online a 4.99€ na Olmar.

Exterior

 O azul da capa de cartolina reciclada destaca o caderno de aguarela dos restantes cadernos na colecção Authentic Albums.

Sendo de cartolina, a capa é, claro, sujeita a manchas e sujidade. Mas isso não é problemático se, não como eu, forem cuidadosos com as vossas coisas. A parte boa é que se tem um par de “páginas” azuis extra, para uma experiência artística diferente. A capa mole pode ser desafiante se estiverem habituados a desenhar em pé, ou sem uma superfície dura por baixo.

A capa e o papel são cortados simultaneamente, portanto não há disparidade de medidas entre eles. Os cantos arredondados do caderno ajudam a reduzir danos de uso, mas a principal característica que protege o caderno de se degradar é a sua brevidade – as 24 páginas que o compõem enchem-se num instante! Até agora, cada um dos três Authentics que usei duraram apenas um mês. Há pouca possibilidade de grandes danos ao caderno em tão pouco tempo.

Papel

As 12 folhas de papel de aguarela de celulose com 280g/m2 são cosidas por uma linha vermelha, visível na espinha do spread central. É um detalhe giro, como se fosse um tracejado vermelho, que nos avisa que já vamos a meio do caderno, e que talvez seja altura de encomendar mais um.

Atirei-lhe com o meu melhor e o meu pior, e os resultados são mistos. É um papel muito bom para experiências de aguarela, e conseguem-se tons vibrantes. Tem uma textura ligeiramente rugosa – algo como um grão grosso espalmado – mas suave o suficiente para que canetas de aparo finas passeiem sobre o papel sem percalços.

Abre completamente, portanto consegue-se uma boa dupla página, para um desenho panorâmico ininterrupto. O papel absorve a água rapidamente, de modo que é melhor ser-se bastante rápido com o pincel, se quisermos misturar cores. O uso de cores intensas causa alguma transferência de manchas de página para página, piorando com o tempo. O melhor é digitalizar os desenhos pouco tempo depois de se acabarem, porque as páginas irão ficar manchadas ao longo do tempo.

Contagem final dos prós

  • Papel de celulose equilibrado, para a dose diária de desenhos e aguarelas.
  • Curto o suficiente para se gastar numa viagem ou evento de poucos dias.
  • Leve e portátil.
  • Muito barato.
  • Abre totalmente.
  • Proporções ao baixo muito convenientes (mais alto que outros cadernos).

Contagem final dos contras

  • Transfere cores intensas de página para página, ao longo do tempo.
  • Capa sujeita a gasto e danos com uso prolongado.

Veredicto final

Tenho um sentimento de realização quando consigo compilar os desenhos de uma viagem de fim de semana ou um evento profissional num só caderno. O SM.LT Authentic Watercolor Book permite isso! É um caderno de aguarela breve e descontraído, mas competente, que permite um grande alcance em experiências de desenho e aguarela. É mais dado a desenhos rápidos, uma vez que a aguarela seca rapidamente. Irei, seguramente, usar mais destes cadernos no futuro.

Hahnemühle Watercolor Book review

(cliquem aqui para a versão em Português da avaliação)

Oh boy, I feel like a kid about to tell someone else about his favorite toy! Where to start? Maybe by saying Hahnemühle‘s Watercolor Book (HWB) is one of my favorite sketchbooks ever!

It comes in three sizes: portrait and landscape A5 and A6, plus a bulky landscape A4. This review is about the A5 landscape, which retails at 12.83€ at my local art supply store.

Outside

The hard cover is furbished in a dark grey synthetic fabric that has a slightly rough texture, which is quite practical, as it reduces the chance of the sketchbook slipping from your hand, while sketching or transporting it. It has a black elastic band that keeps it closed, the customary red ribbon page marker, and features the Hahnemühle’s rooster logo embossed in the back cover, center bottom.

The corners of both the cover and the paper are rounded, to prevent wear, and the paper sets back from the edge of the cover around 3-4mm, which grants additional protection to the paper edges. The whole sketchbook is quite robust. I’ve used a HWB for as long as six months, carrying it around in the backpack, without a hint of wear on either cover or paper.

Paper

Inside, 40 bound sheets of excellent 200gsm, fine grain, watercolor paper, await your scribbles. The endsheets are in the same kind of paper, so you can actually start sketching right from the back of the cover – I use the endpaper to write down my name and contacts, in case of loss.

One thing that stands out immediately is that the HWB lays completely flat when open. There’s no better way, aside from quality paper, to entice a sketcher to use a sketchbook than a fully openable spread of paper!

The paper is quite robust, and can withstand serious water. I use both wet-on-dry and wet-on-wet watercolor techniques, and this paper holds its ground quite competently, allowing layering as well as color mixing. It sucks up the water moderately fast, just long enough to mix colors and lead the pigment where you want it.

Using quality watercolors on this paper really pays off, as it preserves all the glow, intensity and transparency that you’d get in higher grade paper. It’s still cellulose paper, so don’t expect the same behavior as in cotton rag (i.e. no more than two to three layers). It wrinkles ever so slightly with the excess water, but nothing that would hamper the quality of your work.

Accessories

The elastic band is always useful as it keeps the book from opening inside the backpack, and. I also use it to attach a pen temporarily, so that I don’t have to put everything away when I’m carrying the book in the hand while walking just for a few minutes, or to fasten the pages in a windy day. Its elasticity lasts for three years and counting (that’s the age of my first ever HWB)

 

The red ribbon is pretty much useless to me, as the slight wrinkling the water causes on the paper usually shows me which page was last used. Nevertheless, the ribbon is so slim that I hardly ever notice it.

Pros final count
  • Perfectly balanced paper for casual indoor and outdoor sketching and watercoloring. Also used it for a few pro gigs quite satisfactorily.
  • Its cover material should be the benchmark for all sketchbooks around.
  • Portable, lightweight, resistant.
  • Excellent value for money
  • Opens flat
Cons final count
  • None I can think of
Final veredict

This sketchbook is a blast! A true piece of German engineering. It’s a deluxe canvas for your best sketches – I refrain from using it for experimental sketches, since I want to make each page count – and, if well used, makes your watercolor work pop right out of the pages! If there were to be a 100% cotton HWB in the future, I would definitely buy it.

 

Avaliando o Hahnemühle Watercolor Book

(click here for the English review)

Poças! Sinto-me como um miúdo prestes a falar a alguém sobre o seu brinquedo favorito! Onde começar? Talvez dizendo que o Hahnemühle Watercolor Book (HWB) é um dos meus cadernos favoritos de sempre!

É vendido em três tamanhos: A5 e A6 ao alto e ao baixo, e um volumoso A4 ao baixo. Esta avaliação é sobre o A5 ao baixo, vendido a 12.83€ na minha loja de artes local.

Exterior

A capa dura é revestida num tecido sintético cinzento escuro, que tem uma textura rugosa bastante prática, porque reduz a possibilidade do caderno escorregar das mãos durante um desenho ou ao transportá-lo. Tem um elástico preto que o mantém fechado, a fita marcadora vermelha do costume, e o logo do galo da Hahnemühle em relevo no verso, ao centro e abaixo.

Os cantos das capas e do papel são arredondados, para prevenir o desgaste, e o limite do papel está recuado entre 3-4mm em relação ao limite da capa, que garante protecção adicional às bordas do papel. O caderno é bastante robusto. Já usei um HWB durante seis meses, carregando-o na mochila, sem sombra de desgaste quer na capa, quer no papel.

Papel

No interior, 40 folhas cosidas de excelente papel de aguarela, de 200g/m2, grão fino, esperam os vossos desenhos. As folhas de forra são do mesmo tipo de papel, assim é possível começar logo a desenhar no verso da capa – Costumo usar o papel de forra para escrever o meu nome e contactos, em caso de perda.

Uma coisa que salta logo à vista é que a espinha do HWB abre completamente. Não há melhor maneira, salvo a qualidade do papel, para aliciar um desenhador a usar um caderno que um spread completamente plano!

O papel é bastante robusto, e consegue aguentar água à séria. Costumo usar técnicas de aguarela molhado sobre molhado e molhado sobre seco, e este papel aguenta-se competentemente, permitindo várias camadas e mistura de cores. Abosrve a água moderadamente rápido, mas é suficiente para permitir trabalhar as cores e levar o pigmento onde se quer.

Usar aguarelas de qualidade neste papel é recompensante, uma vez que ele preserva todo o brilho, intensidade e transparência que se esperaria em papel de maior calibre. Apesar de tudo, continua a ser papel de celulose, portanto não se pode esperar o mesmo comportamento que no papel de algodão (isto é, não mais do que duas a três camadas). O papel enruga um pouco com a água em excesso, mas nada que seja determinante na qualidade do trabalho final.

Acessórios

O elástico é sempre útil, já que mantém o caderno fechado dentro da mochila. Também o uso para prender a caneta temporariamente, para não ter de guardar tudo no sítio enquanto caminho durante alguns minutos em busca de outro desenho, ou para prender as páginas num dia ventoso. A sua elasticidade dura pelo menos há três anos (a idade do meu primeiro HWB). A fita marcadora vermelha é-me um pouco inútil, uma vez que o ligeiro enrugamento do papel me diz, de forma mais prática e directa, qual a última página usada. Mas a fita é tão fina e discreta que nem dou por ela.

Contagem final dos prós
  • Papel perfeitamente equilibrado para desenhos e aguarelas descontraidos de interior ou exterior. Também já usei satisfatoriamente o HWB para alguns trabalhos profissionais.
  • O revestimento da capa devia ser o padrão para todos os cadernos por aí!
  • Portátil, leve, resistente.
  • Excelente valor monetário.
  • Abre na totalidade.
Contagem final dos contras
  • Não me ocorre nada
Veredicto final

Este caderno é um espectáculo! Um verdadeiro produto de engenharia Alemã. É uma tela de luxo para os vossos melhores desenhos – evito usá-lo para desenhos de teste ou experimentação, porque quero que cada página conte – e, se for bem usado, faz as aguarelas saltar fora das páginas! Se houvesse um HWB de papel 100% algodão, iria definitivamente comprá-lo.

Hahnemühle Grey Book review

(Cliquem aqui para a versão em Português da avaliação)

For the second year in a row, I embraced the Inktober challenge. It was the perfect chance to test drive my brand new Grey Book by German manufacturer Hahnemühle. It’s a handy A5 portrait bounded sketchbook, with 40 sheets of light gray 120gsm paper. Closed, it measures 15.5cm by 21.7cm, making it easy to carry in a large jacket pocket, or a small bag or backpack. Open, it offers a surface of 29.7cm by 21cm (exactly an A4 sheet) to sketch upon. It comes with the usual Hahnemühle marking red ribbon attached to the spine, which I actually end up never using, but gives it a charming appearance to the sketchbook.

The beautiful dark grey dyed cover with sharp edged corners, mimics the texture of timber and it’s very lightweight, making the Grey Book easy to carry around. Hahnemühle’s logo is stamped in bas relief on the back cover, bottom center. Although my book passed the test of wear with flying colors (it was used intensively for a month and a half), the cover of one of my fellow sketchers Grey Book saw intense wear on the surface. It probably shouldn’t be your sketchbook of choice if you go on a rough ride, but it’s perfect to carry it around in your day-to-day life.

I didn’t treat it very nicely in the first few dates. To create a sense of contrasting light, shadow and deepness that my theme of choice – Game of Thrones – required, I aimed to get deeply inked pages in black (Platinum Carbon), white (correction fluid) and blue (Sennelier Indigo ink). This rough treatment took the paper to the limit. After the first few pages, it shouted the safe word “Bleed!” The heavily wet media, eventually bleeds to the next page, rendering another shade of grey to it (I knew I couldn’t write my way around this!) I had to forsake brushes and correction fluid and go for softer ink usage. Worth the try though.

I learned my lesson, and throughout most of the sketchbook, I used softer tools and techniques – a Pilot Parallel pen loaded with Platinum Carbon ink, a Kuretake Bimoji brush pen, a red Pilot V-Sign pen and a white Uni Posca, both brush and felt tip. All worked beautifully! No bleeds. No smears or smudges. Quick to dry. The artwork – line or stain – remained crisp and clear.

The Grey Book is an excellent training tool for working on the spectrum of light, midtones and shadows, because it puts you in the unusual place of having to work the extremities of this spectrum, while carefully preserving the grey background. I can easily see the Grey Book appealing to both beginners who will find it challenging and unusual but enticing, and experienced artists who will use it to test light and shadow in preparation of a larger work.

The paper texture is generally smooth, but with enough grain not to feel like satin and to make the user feel some friction and texture when sketching, which appeals to most casual sketchers, and also provides a competent surface for experienced artists to test new techniques and concepts. Be careful with the fingers though. I’ve stained almost every page just by gripping the sketchbook a bit too hard.

One feature that took me by surprise is the fact that the grey paper easily acquires the tint of the surrounding light. Depending on where you’re sketching or leafing through the pages, the atmosphere around the paper optically affects it in a very noticeable way. You can be sketching on a yellowish warmer grey paper, or a blueish, almost violet cool grey. That makes for an unusual but very gratifying sketching experience!

A downside of the Grey Book is that it doesn’t open to a completely flat surface along the spine, unlike the Watercolor Book, which kind of hampers sketching across the seam. Still, it’s flatter than most hardbound sketchbooks I’ve used before.

Pros final count:

  • Awesome texture and paper
  • Awesome cover look and feel
  • Powerful light-shadow training and experimentation tool
  • Chameleonic gray paper
  • Portable, lightweight, resistant

Cons count:

  • Bleeds when wet media is heavily applied
  • Stains easily from gripping fingers
  • Open spread isn’t completely flat in the gutter

Final veredict:

Christmas is coming! The Grey Book makes for a great and affordable gift (8.34€ in my local art supply store) for either an experienced artist who can test future works based on midtones or just wants to try out a different surface to work on, or a beginner sketcher, who can benefit a lot from the educational potential of playing with the midtones, highlights and shadows.