This blog post is brought to you by my Ko-fi supporters! Thank you so much!
This is part 2 of my June 2022 Paletteful Packs blog post (it was getting too long, so I had to split it into two parts). Below you can read about my thoughts on the supplies from the June 2022 pack and you can also see what I drew with them! (Some of the pictures were available for my Ko-fi supporters in Early Access release)
The initial tests
When you’re facing a blank sheet of a new paper and a bunch of new art supplies with an intention to “draw something” it can be quite an overwhelming feeling. You can overcome it by “taming” the supplies and the paper – familiarize yourself with them, if you don’t know them, or just start scribbling, so you can start enjoying the process of creating, rather than just expecting good results from yourself.
That’s exactly what I did this time, too. I started with sharpening the Tombow Mono pencils and it resulted in the first note I wrote down for this blog – the pencils sharpened without any issues. It might seem trivial but I’ve had in my life many pencils that weren’t easy to sharpen at all! Either the wood was too hard or too soft and it was falling apart. But neither was the case here – the Tombow Mono pencils seem to be of at least decent quality.
The next thing to do was a quick try of all the supplies on the Lenox paper. I must admit I was worried about using this paper. The sheets are very thick but I usually prefer papers with different textures and colours (either whiter or more yellow), so I was expecting either major issues with the paper or at very least – not liking it.
And it seems like it was just another thing I was overthinking (I tend to do this a lot), because the paper works very well with the pencils. Because of its “tooth“, they leave a grainy texture (the softer the lead, the bigger the grain), so if you don’t like it you may want to either smudge the grain out or just choose a smoother paper. During the tests, I learned that adding a harder pencil layer on top of the softer one – smudges the grain and evens out the pencils’ textures.
As I mentioned earlier, the paper pad arrived a bit damaged – it had slightly squashed corners and the cover was separated from the pad inside, but this actually proved to be more functional than expected – it was much easier to take the paper out from the cover and draw on the first page, rather than wrapping the cover on the back of the pad.
A thing to note is that the paper is thick enough to take a considerable amount of fixative without bending. Quite a useful feature when working with very soft, smearable pencils or similar media!
The real test of the paper came when I started erasing the pencil lines. It tought me it’s something you should always check before using paper you may end up erase things from – this paper is easily damaged by erasers! You have to be very careful while erasing your sketch – even soft rubbing the Legion Lenox paper with a kneadable eraser (which is supposed to be incredibly gentle for any kind of paper!) was damaging it.
Surprisingly, the eraser in the Sakura Sumo Grip pencil was wiping out the pencil traces incredibly good and didn’t destroy the paper at all! This eraser is very “rubbery” in touch and reminded me a lot of a Pentel Hi-Polymer eraser so I tried that eraser too and… I was right, it worked exactly the same – erased the pencil very good without destroying the paper.
The Tombow Mono Zero eraser is quite hard so I was very careful with using it from the beginning, but it was actually much gentler to the paper than I anticipated. Still, with less careful usage it would scratch the paper’s fibres off so it’s best to use this eraser for its intended purpose: refining details.
Erasing-wise the best one was the one in the Sumo Grip pencil, the kneadable eraser also performed quite well and the worst one was the Tombow Mono Zero eraser. They all performed progressively worse on softer pencils but the order of their effectiveness was always the same.
I decided to first try out all the pencils by drawing 3 sketches with them: the first one with Sakura Sumo Grip Pencil, the second one with Tombow Mono pencils and the last one with the woodless pencils from Art Alternatives. That would let me “feel” the pencils and familiarize myself with them on a slightly higher level.
First sketch – Sakura Sumo Grip Pencil
I generally prefer automatic pencils over the traditional ones so I did enjoy drawing with the Sumo Grip pencil. It’s very comfortable to use – it’s thick and has an anti-slide rubber layer near the tip so you can keep a firm grip on it no matter what.
What I didn’t like about the pencil was the lead. There was nothing wrong with it, I actually think it worked very good and it has a good quality, I just prefer thinner leads, 0.3 – 0.7, while this one is 0.9. Additionally, it was too soft for sketching – I think its hardness is around B-2B and I’d prefer it on HB.
Even though the pencil didn’t have my preferred features, drawing with it was very pleasant. The paper’s tooth worked incredibly good with the pencil almost like they were meant for each other!
The erasers also performed very good with the pencil, especially when used how they were intended to – Mono Zero for the details and the kneadable eraser for gentle removal of the shading or softening shadows and lines.
Second sketch – Tombow Mono J pencils
The 2H pencil proved to be very good for sketching but that wasn’t a surprise for me. Drawing with it didn’t scratch or scar the paper otherwise. I absolutely loved the nice and clean lines I was able to get from the 2H pencil. It was also very good for very soft shading but because of the pencil’s hardness you can’t really get deeper shadows from it and if you try – you may destroy the paper.
When I started shading the sketch with the 3B pencil I noticed it leaves a texture of much bigger grain than the 2H pencil and I did not like this texture difference. I found a way around it though: I put very thin 3B pencil layers and I sort of blended them with 2H pencil layers on top of them. Depending on the depth of the shadow in some places I had to repeat the process several times, but I think it was worth it – this sketch became my favourite of the three I’ve made for this exercise.
Third sketch – Art Alternatives woodless pencils
Before starting working with these pencils, I needed some preparation.
First of all, as I’ve mentioned before, one of these pencils arrived with a broken tip and I’ve decided to use that one for my sketch and use this opportunity to also check how well these pencils sharpen… And as it turned out – it’s not an easy task. I had to put a lot of effort into the sharpening process. I think the problem is in the wordless feature – sharpened wood has more texture to it but the lead is smooth and slides in the sharpener. At least sharpening the broken pencil created a lot of graphite dust that I decided to use later, for shading.
Another thing to figure out was how to be able to quickly grab exactly the pencil that I need. These woodless pencils have a very nice, elegant design but this design makes them look indistinguishable from each other – the only difference is a tiny hardness symbol at the end of the pencil, which you don’t really notice when you reach for the pencil. So to speed up the process of choosing the correct pencil I added a thin stripe of masking tape to each pencil – to softer the pencil, the wider the stripe.
And lastly, I didn’t want to worry about the round pencils rolling off my desk, falling on the ground and breaking, so I attached a small rubber band around each of them. The band prevents the pencils from rolling and doesn’t add too much weight to the them.
With such prepared pencils I could finally start drawing!
The pencils weren’t very good for sketching or light shading because of their softness. Because of this feature you also have to be careful while erasing them – I suggest first gently removing the dust from the top layer with a kneadable eraser to prevent smearing, and then using your preferred eraser for further removing the shading.
The graphite dust from sharpening was difficult to control, so the first shading layer which I used the dust for was quite uneven, but it was a great base for further pencil shading. I smudged it with a soft watercolours brush which I also used for removing eraser shavings from the drawing.
- Lenox Cotton paper is slightly off-white, in a light ivory shade. It’s fragile and you have to be careful with using erasers and masking tape on it. The best erasers to use on it are the high polymer ones. The tooth gives the drawing a nice texture but the softer the pencil, the bigger the grain of this texture, so you may want to even it out. The paper is thick so you can use fixative without worrying about bending it.
- Art Alternatives woodless pencils are very soft so they will work well for deeper shadows. You may want to prepare them first to make your work with them more effective.
- Sakura Sumo Grip automatic pencil 0.9 can work good for sketching but the lead might be a bit too soft for that. The pencil is thick and has a rubber anti-slide part, so it’s comfortable to hold even for bigger hands.
- Tombow Mono pencils are regular pencils of high quality and I encountered no problems with them – they were pleasant to use, didn’t have broken leads and performed exactly as expected.
- Tombow Mono Zero eraser is very nice for refining details but the rubber in it is quite hard so it may destroy the fibres of more delicate papers.
- Lyra kneadable eraser is very good for removing shadows and softening them. You can easily shape the eraser to get some special effects with it.
For my final artwork, I decided to use the second Paletteful prompt, “Cup”. I used a reference photo but with a small twist – I added a Ko-fi logo on the coffee because the supplies I’ve used for the artwork I could buy thanks to my lovely Ko-fi supporters!
I planned to use all the pencils for the artwork but it quickly turned out that the most effective was using only four of them:
- 2H for sketching, light shading and smudging the softer pencils,
- Sumo Grip – for medium shadows and details
- 3B for deeper shadow and fixing the darkest areas
- 6B for the deepest shadows.
I also used graphite dust for the second layer of the shading, after marking the shaded areas with the 2H pencil. For smudging the dust and the pencils I used the same watercolours brush as before for the sketches.
And here is my finished artwork!
Now that was a LONG post! Thank you so much for reading it all! Leave a coffee emoji in the comment if you’re reading this, I’m curious how many people have actually managed to get through my text wall 😀
Thank you for your support and see you in the next post!