Faber-Castell


Epic fail: Using a Faber-Castell Converter in a Super5 Fountain Pen 2

I’m currently using my Super5 with the 0.7 nib a lot, but I made one mistake: I filled a Faber-Castell converter with the Aurora Blue-Black ink without checking first whether it fits. Well, the converter is too long to fit, but luckily you can remove the end caps of the new Super5 fountain pens1 ..so I have been using the Super5 without the end cap for the last weeks.

The new Super5 without the end cap

Somehow the Super5’s 0.7 nib makes me write quite differently: the writing is a bit bigger with letters being more condensed, not as tall. Well, it makes for an interesting change.

I can’t complain about the paper I’m using either. It’s from one of Rad and Hungry’s old subscription boxes, the Swedish one from maybe five years ago. Excellent paper!

  1. The purpose of this: So that you can create different colour combinations, e.g. a white pen with a red end cap, etc. []

Traces of graphite – Paul Kidby

It’s time for another Traces of Graphite blog post. All the previous blog posts in this series were Disney themed (Barks, Rosa and Fecchi), but this time the blog post is Discworld themed.

Paul Kidby‘s very impressive pencil point from my previous blog post made me want to find out more about the pencils he is using to create his drawings.

Paul Kidby’s pencil (image © BBC Scotland)

Luckily Paul was kind enough to answer my questions. Here is a little insight into his pencil use.

Bleistift Blog:

Thank you very much for agreeing to answer these questions.

Could you please introduce yourself and your work and tell us where people might have seen your work?

Paul Kidby:

Hello, my name is Paul Kidby and I am an illustrator based in the UK. I am best known for being the writer Terry Pratchett’s artist of choice to illustrate his best selling Discworld series.

Drawings for Discworld books (© Paul Kidby 2017, all rights reserved. http://www.paulkidby.com )

Bleistift Blog:

In the Terry Pratchett documentary, you can be seen with a hand-sharpened Castell 9000 with an impressive pencil point. Could you tell us which pencils and lead grades you use and how you use them? What other tools do you use to create your incredibly detailed work?

Paul Kidby:

When I draw I use Faber Castell 9000 series in lead grades 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H 2H, 3H, 4H. My favourite is F & H. I don’t use 3B & 2B & B very often because it can make my work go smudgy – so I save them for areas where it needs to be very dark.

I also use Derwent stumps for blending and Faber Castell perfection 7056 pencil erasers which I can sharpen to take out accurate highlights in my drawing. I sharpen my pencils with a Swann-Morton DS2902 scalpel with 10A surgical blades, I then sand the pencil point using a Derwent sanding block.

Paul’s pencil drawer, including his scalpel (© Paul Kidby 2017, all rights reserved. http://www.paulkidby.com )

I draw on a white smooth surface – eitherSchoellershammer illustration board or Bristol Board.

Bleistift Blog:

That is great. Thank you very much! Could you please explain to non-artists why you sharpen the pencil to such a long point? Is it so that you have more control over the pencil, or does it help to see the drawing better, e.g. the pencil doesn’t cover the view of the image so much?

Paul Kidby:

I sharpen to a long point because it gives me better control.

© Paul Kidby 2017, all rights reserved. http://www.paulkidby.com

I would like to thank Paul Kidby for answering my questions.

With the colouring book craze of recent years going on his Discworld colouring book seems like a great idea (Paul Kidby’s shop (signed artist’s edition), Amazon US, AmazonUK).

One last bit of information : Paul Kidby also told me that he is inspired by the delicate pencil work of Ingres from the early 1800’s.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: Mme Victor Baltard and Her Daughter, Paule, 1836

 

 


Paul Kidby’s pencil 2

This weekend saw the BBC airing their Terry Pratchett documentary Back in Black.

In the documentary Paul Kidby, the artist responsible for most of the fantastic Discworld artwork, can be seen with a rather impressive, hand sharpened pencil point on a Castell 9000. I think it can certainly compete with the longest pencil points I have seen in use. It’s even longer than the one on the James Bond cover.

Paul Kidby’s Castell 9000 (image © BBC Scotland)

In the documentary you can also see Rob Wilkins, Terry Pratchett’s former assistant, signing books with a Lamy Vista filled with green ink. Nice.

Rob Wilkins’ Lamy Vista (image © BBC Scotland)

If you are in the UK you can watch the documentary on BBC iPlayer for another 28 days.


Faber-Castell at Insights X 2016 1

After the quick interruption to my Insights X posts (I just had to post about October’s Pencil Pot of the Month, so that the post is on time): let’s continue with all the cool stuff from Insights X and move on to Faber-Castell.

Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time for me to look around at their stand as much as I would have wanted to, so this is not a in-depth as I would have liked it to be.

Perfect Pencil

Faber-Castell did hand out goody bags to everyone from the blogger group and I am quite happy that this included the green (Castell 9000) version of the Perfect Pencil. You might remember that I lost mine after years of use. This summer I bought a new green one in Müller, a German drug store chain. They sell them for around €8. Even though I got one again since summer it’s nice to have a spare one (the one from the goody bag) – just in case I lose it again. In my opinion the Castell 9000 version of the Perfect Pencil is by far the best product Faber-Castell is selling (but I also love their dust free eraser).

Magnum Perfect Pencil

There were also some Perfect Pencil related news: there’s a new Magnum version of the Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil, but Sean has already mentioned this a few weeks ago, so it might not be news to you.

Pixel-it

One of the new line of products Faber-Castell presented was the Pixel-it line. My guess is that if adults want to be kept busy with colouring books then children want that to. Faber-Castell thinks that with normal ‘connect the dots’ pictures you often know in advance what the final result will be.

fabercastell-pixel-1

This reminds me of a scene from Red Dwarf with our favourite Scouser. This video should hopefully start at the right scene (7 minutes 44 seconds in).

With these new Pixel pictures you don’t draw lines but colour squares / pixels that make up the picture. The colour you are supposed to use is printed as a number in the square, which solves the problem of making it too easy to recognise the shape of the final picture too soon. I think it is possible to recognise some shapes, before starting to colour the picture – especially if there are areas of colours represented by a single digit number next to areas represented by a double digit number, but the surprise doesn’t get spoiled as much as with connect the dots pictures.

fabercastell-pixel-2

Here’s a magnification of the picture above so that you can see how the numbered pixels look like:

fabercastell-pixel-3

Karl Box

The centrepiece of Faber-Castell’s stand was the Karl Box. They were so proud of it, they also presented it at the entrance of the trade fair1. It contains a selection of Faber-Castell pens and has been created together with Karl Lagerfeld. It’s limited to 2,500 and the price is 2,500, too – €2,500 that is.

Faber-Castell Karl Box

Other items

I was quite excited to see Insights X branded Grip 2001 pencils. Unfortunately they were not part of the goody bag.

insightsx-grip

In the press pack I saw that Faber-Castell has also released

  • new pens in their Ambition range with a good looking guilloche pattern,
  • white, grey and black pencils in the style of their Grip 2001 pencils, but the dots looking like crystals, similar to the Staedtler pencils with crystal dots,
  • different, new sets of coloured pens and pencils
  •  and new colours for the Grip 2010 and 2022 pens

Except the Magnum Perfect Pencil, mentioned above, Graf von Faber-Castell has also released

  • desk accessories made from leather
  • a very good looking pen roll made from leather
  • ‘Limited Edition Heritage’ fountain pens

uni-ball / uni / Mitsubishi Pencil

This might not be well known outside the German speaking countries, but in Germany (maybe even more markets, I don’t know) Faber-Castell is distributing uni-ball products. I am not sure when this started, but when I was still living in Germany uni-ball products didn’t have the Faber-Castell logo printed on them. Now they do, so I am not sure whether the cooperation is just more obvious now or whether there was no cooperation in the past.

uni-ball

For the Insights X that meant that Faber-Castell and uni / Mitsubishi Pencil were next to each other. Faber-Castell also included uni-ball products in their press releases. This included the ‘Trend’ version of the uni-ball Air, a pen I was disappointed with, mainly because of the false claims in their UK advertising. Well, those claims about producing fine and broad lines are the same in Faber-Castell’s press release, but at least they don’t seem to be the big selling point for Faber-Castell. Faber-Castell also presented the uni-ball Power Tank Trend – the advertising seems to indicate that this pen is similar to a Fisher Space Pen.

When I asked at the uni / Mitsubishi Pencils stand about pencils I was told that they don’t do pencils in this market and therefore don’t have any here. Maybe not selling pencils in this market is part of the agreement they have with Faber-Castell? Who knows.

Outside Insights X – Karstadt

The most exclusive Faber-Castell products were not at Insights X though, instead I found them in Karstadt, a department store in Nuremberg’s city centre – just opposite Staedtler’s shop.

I wonder whether Faber-Castell thought something along the lines of ‘If Staedtler has a shop in the city centre we also want to make sure we have a big presence in Nuremberg, the closest city to our headquarter’. Well, what I saw in Karstadt were the most expensive Graf von Faber-Castell products I have seen in my life.

Here are some of the highlights.

Grav von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2015 Sanssouci Potsdam

Grav von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2015 Sanssouci Potsdam

Two Pen of the Year 2015 Sanssouci Potsdam. One of them will set you back €3,500.

And here’s the pencil that is worth more than my car: a Perfect Pencil for €10,000.

The white gold and diamonds Perfect Pencil. Only 99 have been made.

The white gold and diamonds Perfect Pencil. Only 99 have been made.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take more photos with my phone because a shop employee told me off, saying that I need a signed letter from management if I want to take photos of the expensive pens. Well, luckily my wife was able to take the photo of the €10,000 pencil with her mobile, but the employee watched us with hawk eyes2, so we didn’t dare to take a close up photo of the pencil 8^(

I was surprised to see that Karstadt didn’t sell any Pelikan or Staedtler products. I found that rather odd as other department stores like Kaufhof sell these brands.


As usual please open the links on the images in a new tab to see them in high resolution (otherwise you can’t see the €10,000 pencil well).

Please have a look a Lexikaliker’s aggregator Insights X post if you want an overview and read more Insights X posts.

  1. Hmm, somehow reminds me of the old Remington ad. []
  2. Suspecting we plan a heist to get the pencil out? []

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II 7

There were a few great blog posts about Faber-Castell’s Perfect Pencil on Sean’s (retired) Pencils and Music blog and the (also retired) Pencil Talk blog had a whole series of blog posts about the different versions.

I have used Faber-Castell’s Perfect Pencil for quite a few years now and have mentioned it a few times on this blog, but I thought the blog posts I have don’t pay adequate tribute to this great pencil, so here is a closer look (I don’t dare to call it a review) at the cheapest version available.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II

The Perfect Pencil II

Officially called the Perfect Pencil II, but sometimes called the Perfect Pencil junior (for example at Cult Pens while The Journal Shop calls it Perfect Pencil II) this pencil was released in 2007. There are different colours available (blue, red, black, blackberry – the article number starts with 18 29, followed by another number for the colour) and this pencil can be bought for £3 (~$3.95; €3.55) or less. I bought mine in Shanghai and I think I paid the equivalent of £2 or less.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II

Like the more expensive perfect pencils it can be used as

  • a cap to protect the pencil point, making the pencil pocket safe
  • as an extender to write more comfortable with short pencils

and it features a built-in sharpener.

It is best to be used with eraser tipped pencils and official refills are shorter than normal so that the perfect pencil fits in shirt pockets etc.

It’s not bad looking, but for my taste the Castell version is much better looking ..and less bulky, but also a few times more expensive, so more of a problem when you lose it (I lost mine after a few years of use).

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II and Animail envelope

The Perfect Pencil’s history

The first perfect pencil, the brainchild of Anton-Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell,  was part of the Graf von Faber-Castell line and came out in 1993. Back then the eraser was in the extender.

1997 Faber-Castell released more affordable perfect pencils (the Castell and Design versions are still available) and a year later the posh Graf von Faber-Castell perfect pencil changed to the more familiar version with the eraser under a small cap.

The perfect pencil line in 1997

The perfect pencil line in 1997

A very simple perfect pencil time line

A very simple perfect pencil time line

 

Here’s a video where I look at the Perfect Pencil II.

I suggest you click on it to open it in YouTube, you then get a higher resolution and you can play it with a higher speed on most devices (I like 1.5x). This video also looks at how products in China are marked (origin and date) and shows Shangching‘s Tomoe River notebook I use for diagrams in this blog.

Other manufacturers have released similar products.

Have a look at the Pencil Revolution’s review of Staedtler’s The Pencil and the KUM Tip-Top Pop Pencil.

More Perfect Pencils

If you want to move up to a more expensive version I recommend the Castell version, which can be bought for under £10 (~$13.15; €11.80). I have previously looked at the black edition of the Castell Perfect Pencil.

There is also the more direct successor available, the Perfect Pencil III, bulkier, but with a built-in waste box. The cheapest seller I found in the UK so far is the Journal Shop where it sells for £3.95.

If you like to read more about the perfect pencil: Here are more Perfect Pencils at other blogs

John the Monkey compared the Perfect Pencil II and the Castell version.

Lung Sketching Scrolls had a look at the Fun version seen in the image of the brochure above.

Pens! Paper! Pencils had a look at the Castell version.

Economy Pens had a look at the Castell version.

The Well-Appointed Desk had a look at the Perfect Pencil II.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II


Exchange rates: July 2016 (post-Brexit vote exchange rate)

As usual: please open the images in a a new tab to see the high-res version.

I would like to thank Faber-Castell’s Edith Luther for the additional information she has provided.