An Assorted (Yet Cohesive!) Paper Review

In this post, I outlined my initial impressions of four different Clairefontaine papers, which I received generously from Exaclair and bound into a short-term, multi-purpose book (what some people call a “journal”). I used this book during the last weeks of classes, as well as through the madness of Senior Week, and Graduation itself.

And it felt good (really good) to put this book aside after graduation– to start brand new, on a blank page. (What a handy metaphor, no?)

As it turns out, my blank page was on the other side of the country. But now I’m here in Colorado, and yes, I promised fuller reviews. So here we go.

Digital Color Printing Paper

Pentel Pocket Pen and ink on DCP Paper

First, to clarify: this paper isn’t meant for traditional writing and media. It’s for machines, and I’m sure it works superbly that way. But I’m not interested in machines (except, maybe, Leo Marx’s). I wanted to test a loose-leaf Clairefontaine paper– one that could be used for bookbinding!

This has perhaps been one of the few drawbacks to Clairefontaine products– they’re more like, well, office supplies than art supplies. So I really appreciate trying out some loose-leaf paper, which can be used as a raw material for a variety of art projects. The DCP paper is also available in a variety of weights (90 to 350 gsm), which allows for even more customization.

The short version: Use your fountain pens, markers, brush pens, and crayons on this paper; leave the paint and wet media alone. Water-soluble pencils/crayons/pastels have the potential to work well (perhaps if they’re more oil-based) but don’t overdo the water. Stephanie at Biffybeans did a review of this paper, and had similar findings.

Also, this is the time to experiment with bright colors. So channel your inner pop artist.

However, for whatever reason, I found that I did less art on this kind of paper. When I did draw, I used my Pentel Pocket Pen, which left beautiful, clean, high-contrast lines. Writing (in ink) on this paper was pleasurable, but the paper was too glossy to use a pencil, and the thinness also encouraged more minimalist approach.

Stamped! Notice the wet spot to the left; that's bleed-through from the drawing posted above

Ingres Pastel Pad

The first thing I thought about this paper was: Oh! This is just like the paper in the Exacompta sketchbook! Off-white, laid paper– which means that it’s textured on one side and smooth on the other. It’s true that there are a lot of similarities, but the Ingres Pastel paper is significantly thinner than the Exacompta paper, enough to be able to see wet media on the other side. There’s no bleed-through, though, and it performed similarly to the Exacompta’s thicker paper, with the exception of some show-through.

I used a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen on all three of these pages. Notice how the line is rougher than on the DCP paper. On the second and third image, I also used Caran D’Ache Neoart Watersoluble Pastels, which responded pretty well to this paper.

It’s definitely more friendly towards wet media than the DCP paper.

On another note, I actually used this paper for its intended purpose (!) (i.e. pastels). But I never took a picture, so that will have to wait.

Graf It Sketchpad

I like this paper. A lot.

It’s strange to review a regular sketch paper from Clairefontaine, instead of silky writing paper or specialty stationery.  And, as noted in my previous post, it’s a highly superior “regular sketch paper.”

So, it’s 90g/41lb, which is an excellent weight, and which allows for use of both dry and wet media (not too wet, though, it will still buckle eventually). The uncoated texture means that colored pencils and pastels perform well, and yet the paper is also smooth enough for fountain pens to perform well.

Force de Frappe reviewed this sketchpad and was, um, displeased with the aesthetics of the pad, to say the least. But lucky for me, I’m only reviewing the paper! ….which I ripped out of the pad, and bound into my book, thus avoiding the question altogether. (But for the record, I don’t think it’s that bad. The actual design on the cover is the only bit that annoyed me–seemed juvenile–but the color and texture were totally fine).

Calligraphy (Or, “Kalligraphie,” Pad)

I think I’ve decided I prefer the German spelling.

(On that note, I’ve never figured out how the German fits into Exaclair and its sub-companies. Like, how did Brause come into the picture?)

Anyways. This is, hands down, my favorite paper of the four. I actually feel a little giddy about it. And it makes me feel sort of immature and anxious about using it, because it’s SO nice that I don’t want to waste it.

(Sorry, had to blur out a section of text. Super-secret real-life, you know)

I love the off-white color and the large size of the original pad. It’s super-smooth, but not glossy or coated in the way that some other Clairefontaine papers are. Its smoothness is more, uh, sensual.


Anyways. Practically nothing bleeds through this, and it can definitely handle painting with ink, or water-soluble pencils/crayons, but I would still recommend staying away from straight-up watercoloring. This paper is a good partner for: India ink, fountain pens, brush pens, water-soluble crayons (like Caran D’ache), and water-soluble colored pencils.


  • Kalligraphie paper is sexy.
  • DCP paper is useful.
  • Ingres Pastel paper is solid, but forgettable.
  • Graf-It wins Best All Around.

3 Responses to “An Assorted (Yet Cohesive!) Paper Review”

  1. 1 TAO June 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks for the reviews. I like that last paper a lot from what you wrote.

  2. 2 Cole June 16, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Yeah, it’s quite excellent! I went back and re-did a calligraphy sampling of all my J. Herbin inks, which I’m about to post.

  1. 1 Inkophile’s Links for June, 2010 « An Inkophile’s Blog Trackback on June 15, 2010 at 11:21 am

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