Tuesday, June 16, 2015

trying out the new Limelight sketchbook

I love trying out new stuff for sketching, so when I was presented with the opportunity to try out a new sketchbook, I gladly said yes. The Limelight Sketch Book from Star 360 Philippines in A5 size has rounded corners, 100 leaves, and I think 80gsm of smooth, cream-colored plain paper. The one here is the black version with a green elastic strap to keep it closed. There's another version, a grey one with an orange strap.

Front, without the label

Back, with the sticker.

The sticker peels off easily and leaves no residue. :)

A closer look at the elastic strap. It's got good tension.

It has an expandable inner pocket! I put Urban Sketchers leaflets in pockets just in case someone comes along and asks about what I'm up to (or, what on earth are you doing under the scorching heat?).

Inside, creamy paper. I wasn't able to take a photo of the binding but the sketchbook lays down flat, which is good for me, because it makes sketches easier to scan. The Limelight Sketch Book also has a ribbon marker.

Whenever I have my hands on new paper, my usual concern is "Will this hold watercolor?" because ink & wash remains to be my favorite 'technique'. When I saw and felt the paper of the Limelight Sketchbook, I got a bit sad, because I immediately knew it's not for watercolor. Light washes/touches of watercolor yes you can apply, but you can't "play" with wet media on this paper. So if you're into heavy washes, best manage your expectations considering this sketchbook's limitations. I do hope Limelight comes up with a sketchbook with thicker, watercolor-friendly paper soon--especially now that so many are getting into arts and crafts. ;)

Anyway, I still wanted to try out how the paper holds ink so I'll know which ones I can use with the sketchbook, and how, so I took out the big guns got my pens and set to work. Here are the results.

The thin paper is no match for markers, but holds other ink types well, even fountain pen ink (with no visible feathering).

Okay, so I did try watercolors (Sakura Mat). Just a light wash, but the paper (as expected) crumpled/wrinkled depending on the volume of water. Still, the paper is fab with dry media.

My calligraphy sucks; I just don't have the discipline for it, which is why I'm sticking to sketching (haha). I tried out China ink (the one with the elephant) and Ideal drawing ink with a Hunt 56 nib. It's probably my lack of fine writing skills, but the feathering and bleed-through on this page say nope, that's too much ink for this paper.

At the bottom I quickly sketched my trusty electric fan using my Kuretake ZIG Brush Pen No. 22 and a waterbrush filled with diluted Hero ink (to make grey) to see how that combo works.

See, I told you I used too much drawing ink.
The electric fan sketch was okay, with minimal wrinkling on the grey-washed portions.

I've taken the sketchbook with me last week to Plaza Lawton and the Kartilya ng Katipunan Shrine in Manila, where Urban Sketchers Philippines had an Independence Day sketchwalk. I drew some of the sketchers who participated that day. My initial drawing was done on location using a pencil; I added watercolors at home.

You really can't 'play' with the watercolors with this paper--as soon as you lay the brush down, the color gets absorbed instantly, and you can't dab and swirl. I made a few shadow errors I couldn't correct anymore--oh well. Using watercolors is a bit tricky with this sketchbook, so keep this in mind and you're good to go! (Or use colored pencils instead.)

Wrinkling behind where watercolors have been applied.

Overall, the Limelight Sketch Book is definitely something I'll use again for location sketching and practice drawing. It's really good, lightweight, and has paper that can work with a lot of materials. Plus, that expandable inner pocket is really handy. Personally I would skip using pages back-to-back considering the materials I work with and the (light) weight of Limelight's paper, but for pencil and other light/dry media work, the pages can be used one after the other without a hitch.

Hmm, I wonder if they'll come up with watercolor-friendly sketchbooks soon? :)