productivity :: balance :: freelancing :: notebooking

I really enjoy the certain colors of Sakura Moonlight gel pens that flow really flowily — hard to describe unless you’ve used them, but they blob out ink in a thick, (mostly) controlled fashion that allows for a pleasing coloring experience and a very vibrant, opaque result. (I find that the warmer colors flow better than the cooler ones. Maybe that’s me being weird, but try a bright pink versus a blue or green and tell me if you don’t agree!). The thing with these Moonlight pens is that they’re neon bright. And neon just really isn’t my style, when it comes down to it.

So, I’ve been eyeing this set of Sakura Soufflé pens for a while, thinking they probably flow the same pleasing way as the Moonlights, but are more subtle colors. After months of speculation, I treated myself to a pack. (I bought mine a national craft store chain I happened to be walking by, but they are less than half the price online).

Here’s my review

These guys, absolutely, are pleasing to color with. When I say color, I mean filling in letters or doodles or whatever. Small space of flat color. They flow better, and even more, than the Moonlights. They blob out the ink and it’s pretty controllable — but the blobs are fairly broad, so you have to be careful in tiny areas. Once they’re dry, you can go back over outlines with another pen and it will tidy up nicely.

Drying time

They take forever to dry. You have to be really patient, and also very careful of not sticking your hand in the wet bits. I’d say they take a good 10 minutes plus to dry. Once they do, you can go over them with other colors, more layers or other pens. Also, they go on far more vibrant than they dry, so it’s a little disappointing to watch. 

Puffy Ink

The ink is meant to be “3D” — and Sakura, apparently, intends you to use it on craft projects: scrapbooks, glass, wood, I’m not really sure. They seem to be very keen on the fact that these write on glass, which I can’t quite think of an application for, but perhaps I’m just not being crafty enough. I kind of like writing on paper. They do, even on paper, dry puffy. The more ink you blob on there, the puffier it gets. I’m not entirely sure of the utility of this, but I guess it’s interesting. Once dry the ink has a glossy sheen to it, as well.

Performance on Paper

This is not a science-y review. I didn’t test them on lots of surfaces. However, I did use them quite a bit in my Rhodia Webnotebook with satisfactory results. Where I colored a whole page, there are a few areas — where I used an ungodly amount of ink — that did bleed through. Where I kept it a bit more conservative, there’s a tad of show through, but nothing at all offensive. This notebook has 90gsm Clairefontaine ultra smooth paper. I think there’d be slightly more bleed through and show through and some dimpling (these guys write wet) in a Moleskine, Leuchtturm, or generic copy paper.

Colors

My dreams of subtle colors were both met and not met. Yes, these colors are quite subtle when they dry. But they are unequivocally pastels. Just as I’m not really a neon person, I’m not really a pastel person either. The palette is interesting, it’s a nice effect, but I was disappointed that the colors dried so much more chalky and pale than the saturated plastic colors of the pens’ caps.

The two shades of green are quite close to each other, though one’s minty and the other more a pastel jade-mint. The blue also not that far off, hue-wise, from the two greens. The yellow is incredibly pale — which is a nice novelty but very hard to see what you’re doing if you’re not in bright light (and I never am, it seems!). There are both a pink and a peach and the latter is really a kind of brown-pink. The lavender and orange are probably the meatiest colors in the palette. Not sure what that means, but I think it’s the case. Oh, and then, out of left field, they’ve included black and white. The white is great — being opaque, it does those nice white-on-top-of-colors things we all like. And since my notebook paper is ivory, writing or drawing in white does have a bit of function. I haven’t used the black extensively, as it’s like a sore thumb in the quiet palette, but I’m sure it has some utility.

In all the palette is pretty tight and pretty unique, but oh so pastel.  In a perfect world, Sakura makes me a line of jeweltone and neutral blobby gel pens.

Summary/tl;dr

  • Super fun to use and to color in letters and the like.
  • Expensive in store, but much cheaper at Amazon
  • Tight, limited pastel palette
  • Getting a white opaque pen in the set is a bonus (you can also buy them separately in 2-packs)
  • Puffy effect is interesting but weird
  • Take forever to dry and smudge until they do, so you have to be patient/careful
  • Yay, silly pens!

Also published on Medium.

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