Hello 2017!

Owl Ink | Hello 2017

 

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful New Year holiday :)

I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate and sipped a lot of tea, and now we’re back to busy days at work. While we’re still in the first week of the New Year, I thought I’d share a few of my stationery-related resolutions.

1. JUST. WRITE. IT.

I think one of my greatest struggles in blogging is spending too much time pondering whether a post is worth writing. There’s a lot of content out there, and a lot of material has already been covered… so a lot of ideas end up in blog post purgatory, where I somehow talk myself out of them (“but EVERYONE has reviewed Lamy Dark Lilac already, and it’s not even available anymore…”).

This year, I’ll try to get my posts out the door before that happens!

 

Owl Ink | Hello 2017

2. Send more mail

I’ve been in a long-distance relationship with my owlfriend for a while now, and at the beginning I would write to him frequently. As we’ve had more opportunities to visit each other, and he’s spent more time at home, my mailing frequency has decreased.

I have quite a stash of envelopes, including a box of colorful ones my friend left when she moved away, so I’m hoping to mail more joy this year. If you’d like to do a letter exchange, please let me know :)

3.  Don’t leave nibs in nib holders

They get rusty. And sad. Just don’t do it :(

 

Owl Ink | Hello 2017
Cute date stamp by Amy Tangerine 

4. Document the small things

I love scrapbooking, but I only document major events– mostly travels. After reading planner posts by The Gentleman Stationer, The London Parchment, and The Finer Point, I’m inspired to be more mindful about recording the minutiae of my days.

I don’t know how I’ll do this yet– the Hobonichi Techo is a tempting (yet intimidating) choice, but so is a blank sketchbook. I’m sure it will take some experimentation.

 

Owl Ink | Hello 2017
My new datebook and a vintage Parker Jotter ballpoint pen

 

Here’s to an amazing 2017!

Owl Ink Review: Zebra Brush Pens

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Zebra brush pens are highly regarded as some of the best brush pens for lettering beginners, and I’d say they deserve that reputation.

They are available in three tip sizes – extra fine, fine, and medium. I own all three, and compare them here.

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Extra Fine Brush

The Extra Fine brush is great for those who struggle with thin upstrokes. I think this is the most challenging part about learning brush lettering — I’m STILL figuring out how to be consistent with my upstrokes!

Because the tip is so tiny, even if you are a bit heavy-handed on the upstroke, it still looks fairly thin.

However, the Extra Fine tip size also writes a bit on the dry side. Just as gel pens with 0.3 tips tend to be scratchier and more skip-prone than 0.5 or 0.7, sometimes the ink flow just can’t keep up with the pen.

Fine Brush

In my opinion, the Fine brush is the juiciest of the three. It’s like the Goldilocks porridge of brush pens — the tip is wide enough for smooth ink flow, but still fine enough to easily create hairlines.

Medium Brush

I was not a huge fan of the Medium brush at first. Compared to the dainty Extra Fine tip, the Medium tip felt like a pair of clunky ’90s platform shoes. I kept getting “bottom-heavy” letters, which happens at the the transition between downstroke and upstroke.

However, with some practice, I found that it IS possible to get really nice line variation. It was just harder to achieve than with the firmer Extra Fine.


Pros:

Waterproof: One really awesome thing about these pens is that they contain waterproof ink! I ran a waterbrush over some scribbles and they stayed completely legible. Not even a smudge. I’m impressed.

Size Variation: With 3 sizes to choose from, I can easily pick the best for the project at hand — whether it’s a quote, an envelope, or a gift tag.

Cons:

Fraying Tips: These are designed as disposable brush pens and as a result, the felt tip does wear down pretty quickly :/ You can prolong the pen’s life if you write exclusively on butter-smooth Rhodia paper or marker paper, but understand that eventually your tips WILL lose their springy hairline-creating abilities.

Not Refillable: Unfortunately the brushes are not refillable. I’ve heard of people prying off the end cap and syringing black ink into the pen barrel to “refill” the pen, but I haven’t tried this myself.

However, that doesn’t mean you should throw out your dried-up brushes! You can create some pretty cool textured effects with a dry brush.

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review
California is about as dry as this pen right now #CAdrought

 


Verdict

Overall I’m a fan of the Zebra brush pens and would definitely recommend them to any beginning lettering artist. They are firm enough that the tips doesn’t squash easily under a heavy hand, but flexible enough to achieve dramatic thicks and thins.

Many experienced artists swear by these as well. Check out Matt Vergotis on Instagram for serious Zebra brush inspiration — he achieves amazing line variation with the Medium brush here.

 

 

A quick little demo of yesterday's post

A video posted by Matt Vergotis (@mattvergotis) on

 

ALSO, an extra tip– if you live within close proximity to a Daiso (it’s like a Japanese dollar store), you might occasionally get lucky and find these brush pens in the arts/stationery aisle. The packaging differs sometimes, but it’s the same pen.

I hope this review has been helpful!

Here are some more of my own brush lettering samples :)

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

Owl Ink Review: Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

In my latest JetPens order, I picked up a super cute pen called the Kuretake CocoIro!

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

The CocoIro is a little pen that gets its name from the Japanese words for heart (kokoro) and color (iro). Supposedly, the name means “color of your heart”. A little cheesy, but sure!

The CocoIro pen actually consists of two separate parts: the refill and the pen body.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

Pen bodies are available in many charming colors like Duckegg Blue, Sunflower, and Kiwi. They definitely have a cute, Instagram-ready appeal! I am partial to neutrals though, so I chose Black and Warm Chestnut.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

Ink refills are available in a selection of colors as well. In addition to basic black, they also come in dark muted colors (sepia, bordeaux) and light cheery colors (mint, rose).

Assembly

To assemble the pen, you just remove the cap, stick the refill into the hollow body, and screw it in.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

One thing that slightly bothers me about this pen is the fact that the butt of the refill sticks out. I understand that Kuretake wanted to make the pen cute and compact, but why?? -_- It looks fine with the black pen body, but odd with any other color.

I deal with it by posting the cap and trying to forget it exists.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

Lettering Test

Here is the performance test of the two brush tips I tried: the bristle brush and the super fine brush.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

First I tried the “Super Fine Brush” tip inside the chestnut colored pen body.  I was actually quite surprised by how firm the tip was! Firmness is good though, as it allows for more control during those super-skinny calligraphy upstrokes.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

However, I did notice that pressing down firmly on the brush would cause it to become misshapen. I could reshape the brush tip by pressing it against the paper, but I imagine it might not withstand that sort of abuse for long.

I would compare the tip firmness to another Kuretake pen, the Fudegokochi Super Fine.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

Next up was the “Brush Type” tip inside the black pen body. This performed like any bristle tip —  pretty juicy but also capable of the dry brush effect if you write quickly.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

The ink, while black, is not SUPER dark. Kuretake also has no specs on the archival quality or lightfastness of the ink.

The tip is comparable to the Pentel Pocket Brush.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

Something interesting to note: the refills themselves are quite large, and the grip section is thick enough to be used on its own. Because you don’t necessarily need the pen body, I wouldn’t be surprised if some folks prefer using the refill alone.

Verdict

Overall, I really like the CocoIro! I don’t know why it has taken me so long to try it. They are very reasonably priced and I definitely see myself using them in future lettering and calligraphy projects.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

Pros:

  • Just so CUTE!!!
  • Lightweight, ergonomic shape
  • Affordable price
  • Refillable
  • Extra fine brush is nice and stiff for precise lettering
  • Bristle brush has nice line variation

Cons:

  • Butt of refill sticks out, looks silly
  • Super fine brush tip may wear out easily
  • Ink is not SUPER dark, more like off black
  • Matte surface texture picks up lint and stains over time

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Summer is here and that means… lots of pretty wedding calligraphy!

I recently created a set of 8 wedding-related calligraphy and watercolor graphics for a project, and thought I’d share 3 out of the set as a free clipart sampler.

They were created with brush pen on watercolor paper, scanned, and cleaned up in Photoshop. (side note: for a tutorial that covers how to clean up lettering in Photoshop, check out my post on How to Add Lettering to a Photo)

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

If you are anything like me, a LOT of your friends are getting married right now. Make some pretty art as a gift for the newlywed couple! You can also try printing them out onto cards or labels.

Here are some examples of art I made with these 3 clipart files. I had fun practicing my graphic design skills on these :)

All images are from Unsplash, my favorite resource for beautiful free stock photos.

Scroll down for the link to download these files!

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

You can download them HERE. Feel free to remix, modify, and alter these clipart files ~BUT~ personal projects only please– do not use them in anything you intend to sell.  I made these with my own time and I hope you can respect the creative process :) Many thanks and hope you enjoy!

 

Review: Canon CP910 Selphy Compact Photo Printer

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

We interrupt our regular pen and paper programming to bring you this gadget review: the Canon CP910 Selphy compact smartphone printer!

I’ve been wanting a compact, instant photo printer for a while now. I really enjoy scrapbooking, but I usually don’t print my photos right away. In the past, this has led to a backlog of scrapbooking entries… I fall behind, and then I’m very unmotivated to catch up.

I love cute Polaroid-style cameras like the popular Fujifilm Instax, but I realized that it isn’t the most cost-effective. Because the photos are printed the moment you click the shutter, you waste film on shots of people blinking or being caught off guard.

A phone printer provides the advantage of letting you review your photos, select the best shot, and even edit in your photo editing app of choice.

Comparison

I sifted through dozens of reviews and unboxing videos, ultimately narrowing the selection down to three choices: the Polaroid Zip, Instax Share, and the Canon Selphy.

Polaroid Zip

Pros: Small, ultra-pocketable size for traveling. Convenient sticky backing for instant use in scrapbooks or journals!!

Cons: The device is expensive, and so are the special ZINK paper refills.

(Side note: for a fantastic and very detailed review of this printer, check out Priya’s review of the Polaroid Zip on her blog, The London Parchment!)

Fujifilm Instax Share

Pros: Super cute and trendy polaroid frame. Photos print in retro-style color.

Cons: Also expensive due to special polaroid cartridges. Color accuracy is poor (if you aren’t specifically looking for the retro fade effect)

Canon CP910 Selphy

Pros: Most affordable and offers the best color accuracy. Takes a variety of refill sizes (postcard and smaller)

Cons: Not very portable, slow printing time, and must be plugged in to operate.

With all of the above pros and cons in mind, I chose the Canon. I bought in on Amazon, and it arrived a few weeks later.

Unboxing & Setup

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

The Canon Selphy arrives in a box that includes the printer, power cable, ink cartridge, warranty card, film paper, and instruction booklet.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

Setup is pretty simple — plug the cable in, insert the cartridge, load the film paper, and you’re ready to go! I had it up and running in less than five minutes.

First, plug your printer in. Then, unwrap the cartridge and pop it into the printer body. There is a specific orientation that it goes in, but it’s not hard to figure it out.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

Load the paper into the tray. Be careful not to touch the paper, or your photos will have fingerprints! The paper tray snaps securely into the front of the printer.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

The paper tray has a lid, which protects the paper from dust when not in use. I keep the lid on most times, but when you are ready to print, flip the top cover where it says “Open” to expose the paper.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

To connect your smartphone to the printer, navigate to your Wi-Fi settings. You’ll have to enter in a password, which is included in the setup documentation.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

The only way to print from your phone is to download Canon’s specific printing app, Canon PRINT. It’s free on the iOS app store.

Side note: Here you can see the other photo apps I use.  Would you be interested in a blog post about my favorite photo editing apps? 

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

The app interface is pretty clunky and could use some work, but it is relatively easy to use. You can select multiple photos at a time, which is pretty convenient.

As a test image, I used the InstaCollage app to make this quick collage of a cactus shop that I visited last month!

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

Performance

The Canon Selphy printer runs on dye-sublimation technology, which uses heat to transfer colored dyes onto the photo paper. It does this in four passes: yellow, red, blue, and a shiny clear coat.

With each pass, you can see the image emerge. Four passes may seem slow, but it is actually quite fast! So fast that I didn’t capture the printing process in time for the cactus photo, so I did another test with a collage of my recent hiking trip.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

I was pleasantly surprised by how accurately the Canon Selphy printed the colors shown on my phone screen. The colors would probably be more crisp with an actual printing service, but I thought it was very close. There was slight blurring, but only around text or borders– such as the caption and frames that I added to the collage.

Once the picture is done, it can be picked up right away. Because of the clear coat, you don’t have to worry about touching the paper now– the photo will be completely dry and ready.

Ok, back to the cactus photo.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

You can see that there are two perforated bands on either side of the photo– I believe this extra paper is for the printer feed. Simply fold at the perforations, and they snap off easily. A slightly toothy edge is left, but it doesn’t really bother me.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

What did bother me was that parts of my collage were cut off with the perforations, but I think this was due to the dimensions of my collage app and not due to the printer itself.

You can then clip the edges with a corner rounder, or cut it into any desired shapes!

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

Overall, I am very happy with my purchase! It may not be as novel as the cute polaroid-style instant snapshots, but it is great for my needs.

With an instant printer, I am encouraged to document my life more frequently. I already use my phone as my main camera, and now I have a quick and easy way to make my own prints that are ready for scrapbooking!

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

You can find the Canon CP910 printer on Amazon. Apparently the CP910 model I just reviewed has been replaced by a newer model, so it is actually cheaper now!

These are not affiliate links and I am not connected to Amazon in any way, I just bought this for myself and wanted to share it with you all.