Something happened a few weeks ago that has never happened before: a company reached out to ask if they could send me some sketchnoting materials to test out.
Not surprisingly, I said “yes”!
That company is JetPens, and here’s what they sent me:
- The Maruman Mnemosyn N180A Imagination Notebook
- The Pilot Bravo! Marker
- The Uni Posca Paint Marker (Medium Point) – Black
- The Uni Posca Paint Marker (Medium Point) – Khaki Green
Let’s put pen to paper and see how these materials look and feel.
The Warmup Test
As a first test of these materials, I decided to go with my standard three-part warmup that I go through prior to a note-taking session: drawing random shapes, writing the alphabet, and then drawing a few icons:
That warmup gave me the opportunity to get a feel for both writing words and drawing images.
The Smear Test
I then jumped into test number two: the smear test. Smearing can be an issue when you’re taking notes in real time and you’d like to be able to move fast and all over the page.
The combination of pen tip, ink style, and paper style all come into play to determine how easy it is to smear the marks you’ve made.
My First Impressions
After a bit of experimentation with each tool, here are my first impressions.
The Maruman Mnemosyn 180
This looks and feels like a professional notebook. Classy cover and overall design. I like the lightness of the grid marks – they’re there when you need them but easily ignored when you don’t. I like that it’s spiral bound, which allows it to lay perfectly flat on the table without having to hold it open with a hand or elbow. I also like that the pages are perforated so that you can pull out an individual page as a clean rectangle (and leave behind those annoying dangling strips from the coils). I’m excited to continue using this notebook for real-time sketchnoting (and see how other pens and markers do with it)!
The Pilot Bravo
I think that this marker has potential for small-scale sketchnoting. I like how bold it is and how smooth it feels to make marks with it. As you can see above, smearing is an issue, but I think that’s partially due to the paper I was using – the sheer finish of the paper contributed to the time that it takes for marks to fully dry. I plan to continue experimenting with this marker for real-time small-scale sketchnoting.
The Uni Posca Paint Marker
I’m pretty inexperienced with paint markers like this, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt! I enjoyed the medium tip size and how it felt to make marks – there’s more resistance compared to smaller pens or markers, which can give you a greater sense of control. Since it’s a paint marker, smearing is more of an issue. For that reason I like the idea of using a tool like this for sketchnoted posters, but not real-time sketchnoting.
I hope that you found it useful to see my first reactions to these new materials. As a closing note, remember that the perfect pen and the perfect notebook don’t exist. It’s all about making the best use of what you currently have available to you.
So grab whatever you’ve got nearby and keep on sketchnoting!
Getting Started with Sketchnoting
Want to start building your own sketchnoting skills? Let me send you a free sample of The Verbal To Visual Notebook! You'll get the full introduction and the first 18 practice activities so that you can get your feet wet with visual note-taking. This will also sign you up for my weekly newsletter in which I share new videos and other sketchnoting resources (you can unsubscribe at any time).