Noris colour


Pencils for score keeping

My ‘baseball pencil’ choice

Last month Josha from the Netherlands sent me an email. He is using pencils for the purpose of keeping score during baseball games. He wrote:

For baseball score keeping addicts, like myself and many others out there, there are three important things to a pencil:
1. lead must not smear
2. a good sharpener so you can use the pencil without sharpening too often during a match (which can take up to three and a half hours)
3. a good eraser.
(4th optional: a good red pencil!!)

Pencil (graphite) and no sharpener

Keeping all the requirements in mind my first idea for a graphite pencil is a Mars Lumograph in F. It doesn’t smear and will keep the point for a long time. I have written many pages of text in meetings with the Lumograph in F, without sharpening, so I think it should be able to survive 3½h of writing of score keeping.

Eraser

There is no eraser tipped version of the Lumograph, so I would take a dust free eraser with me. My favourite type of eraser. You can get them from Faber-Castell (in big and small), Staedtler, Tombow and many other brands.

Red pencil

Josha explains:

The red pencils are commonly used for tho things: number the strike-outs and underline red handed players. So they’re mostly used for writing numbers.

As a good red pencil that keeps the point for while I would go for the Staedtler Noris colour, made from Wopex material, or the Mitsubishi 7700. Both pencils have been covered in this previous blog post. Mitsubishi’s 7700 line was stopped, but luckily the red 7700 is still available.

As described in that blog post the Mitsubishi creates a darker shade of red on the paper (…at least when used with 1.8 N and an angle of 90° while moving along the paper with 25 mm/s. The pencils will behave differently under different conditions).

Mitsubishi 7700 #15 RedNoris colour, a similar shade of red
Sample:m15Histogram:
hbm15
Sample:ncredHistogram:hbncred

The comments from Josha’s Instagram account imply that he is selling notebooks he made for baseball score keeping. I don’t have further information and didn’t try to explore this further. I just liked matching the pencil requirements to real world pencils.


Mitsubishi 7700 vs Staedtler Noris colour 9

If blog posts had soundtracks this post would play Billy Ocean’s “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going” in the background1.

Today: a follow up of last year’s Noris colour wear and tear blog post, but this time I will compare the Staedtler Noris colour to another ‘hard’ coloured pencil: the Mitsubishi 7700.

Lexikaliker suggested that I should try the Mitsubishi 7700 after reading my first blog post about the Noris colour. He had previously suggested good coloured leads, I think it was after talking about redcircle leads, but knowing that I use coloured leads and pencils for writing he thought the Mitsubishi 7700 coloured pencils might be suitable as they are advertised as ‘hard’.

Staedtler Noris colour and Mitsubishi 7700

Mitsubishi 7700 and the price rise

I ordered my Mitsubishi 7700 in February 2015 and received them in March 2015. Back then I paid £9.82 (~$14.10; €12.90). You might have read in the news about what happened next, Lexikaliker covered this, too: End of last year Mitsubishi/uni decided to stop producing some of the 7700’s colours and prices have gone up a lot since then. Reminds me of what happened not long before that, when Hagomoro Bungu went out of business and people started hoarding their chalk ((At the time of writing a box of this chalk sells for £168.05 on Amazon.)). Well, the Mitsubishi 7700 has now more than doubled in price and the Amazon seller I bought from is currently selling a set of 12 Mitsubishi 7700 for £21.14 (~£30.30; €27.70). I wouldn’t be surprised if prices will rise even further.

 

Comparison

So let’s have a look at how the two toughies, the Mitsubishi 7700 and the Noris colour. I will compare the red and the (light) blue pencils. Since you are reading a stationery blog I won’t go into much detail, but would just like to point out that the Noris colour is an extruded pencil, so it is manufactured in  very different way to other coloured pencils and that will probably also mean that it will have different properties, too.

The setup

First I looked at how dark/colour intense the line is that these pencils leave on paper. To do that  I sharpened the pencils so that the point of both pencils is a conical frustum (a cone without the top). Both pencils’ points/frustum’s had the same top radii. This was achieve by sharpening with a Deli 0668 where I ‘dialled’ the point adjuster back. I then used a force of 1.8 N2 and a speed of 25 mm/s to move the pencils across the paper3. The pencil had an angle of 90°, so axial pen force = normal pen force. The paper was from a Brunnen – Der grüne Block, which I have used many times before on this blog.

Staedtler Noris colour and Mitsubishi 7700

Darkness/Colour intensity

As mentioned before I compared red and blue. As my Mitsubishi 7700 set has far fewer colours than my Noris colour set I picked a colour from the Mitsubishi set and then tried to find the closest corresponding match form the Noris set, based on the colour of the pencil’s body more than based on the colour of the point.

Measuring colour intensity seems to be more complicated than expected, at least for someone like me who doesn’t know what he’s doing. I scanned the paper on my scanner with 2400 dpi, turning off all auto settings I could find and used the ‘linear’ settings for the colours. I then looked at the file with a graphics editor. The HSB values used for my Pilot neox Graphite blog post don’t seem useful here and only looking at the red and blue values alone seems slightly unfair as a different shade of red or blue might actually be darker for the eye but contain less red or blue, but it’s the best I got for now.

Visually the lines left by the Mitsubishi 7700 look darker than those from the Noris colour, but lets see whether we can measure this. I looked at a 150 pixel * 25 pixel area from each line to look at the histogram.

Come on you reds4

Let’s compare the reds. The numbers at the top are for the red channel only. Lower numbers mean it’s darker,  but the numbers are purely based on the red channel, so a shade of red that is different to the RGB red will provide numbers that should be used with caution.

Good that there’s no publication bias at Bleistift. Quite boringly the numbers confirm how it looks like anyway: the Mitsubishi creates a darker shade of red on the paper (…at least when used with 1.8 N and an angle of 90° while moving along the paper with 25 mm/s. The pencils will behave differently under different conditions).

Mitsubishi 7700 #15 RedNoris colour, a similar shade of red
Sample:m15Histogram:
hbm15
Sample:ncredHistogram:hbncred
Come on you blues5

Next up: the blues. I compared Mitsubishi’s #8 Light Blue to the closest Noris colour match.

Again, the Mitsubishi looks darker, but this time the numbers seem to contradict how it looks like. They seem to indicate that the blue colour of the line left by the Noris colour is a slightly darker blue. I am not sure why this is. Maybe other find the Noris colour’s line to be of a darker blue? It could be down to the Noris being a closer match to the RGB blue or to the fact that something makes the human eye/brain perceive the #8 Light Blue as darker, even though it isn’t. This time the numbers are for the blue channel.

Mitsubishi 7700 #8 Light BlueNoris colour, a similar shade of red
Sample:m8Histogram:

hm8

Sample:ncblueHistogram:

hncblue

Wear and tear

Let’s look at how hard these pencils really are. If they are to be used for writing they should keep their point as long as possible. For this I have done a similar test as in the Noris colour wear and tear blog post. I wrote a line of text with a freshly sharpened pencil, using the Deli 0635‘s 17° angle, while trying to keep writing angle and pressure constant.

Mitsubishi’s #15 (Red) started with a

  • horizontal width of 0.3 mm and a
  • diagonal width of 0.1 mm

and ended with a vertical width of 0.5 mm.

Mitsubishi’s #8 (Light Blue) started with a

  • horizontal width of 0.3 mm and a
  • diagonal width of 0.1 mm

and ended with a vertical width of 0.4 mm.

The Noris colour red started with a

  • horizontal width of 0.3 mm and a
  • diagonal width of 0.1 mm

and ended with a vertical width of 0.4 – 0.5 mm.

The Noris colour blue started with a

  • horizontal width of 0.3 mm and a
  • diagonal width of 0.2 mm

and ended with a vertical width of 0.4 mm.

The Noris colour seems to have kept the point slightly better, but the numbers indicate that for both brands the red pencil didn’t keep the point as well as the blue pencil. As this second test was not done using a measured force it might very well be that the actual pressure used was different.

The lines produced by constant force support the idea that the Noris colour keeps the point longer, but on the constant force lines it looks as of the blue pencils, especially the Mitsubishi, was worn down more.

Staedtler Noris colour and Mitsubishi 7700

Conclusion

Coloured pencil are nowhere near as good at keeping their point, so they are not great for writing (surprise, surprise), but some are better than other. The Noris colour keeps its point better, but the darker lines seem to indicate that the Mitsubishi 7700 is a better choise. It is a shame that the Noris colour pencils are not labelled by colour, that would have provided another way of selecting equivalent pencils to match the 7700’s colours. In the case of the Mitsubishi 7700 vs the Staetdler Noris colour you might just pick a darker shade of red or blue for the Noris colour and get similar levels of darkness as you do from the 7700.

I had fun writing this blog post, but I realise this is not everyone’s cup of tea – the DelGuard blog post with a pressure diagram wasn’t very popular at all, so I will try to limit these kind of blog posts in the future.

A heavily scaled down version of the test sheet

A heavily scaled down version of the test sheet


Prices: Dates as explained

Exchange rates: January 2016
As usual: open the images in a new tab/window to look at them in full resolution.

  1. Please hum along if you like. I assume that won’t infringe any copyright. []
  2. With less force the lines would have been quite light. You do need to use quite a bit of force when you want to write with coloured pencils. []
  3. Actually, the pencil was stationary ;^) and I moved the paper. []
  4. No, I don’t follow football, but couldn’t resist. []
  5. No, I really don’t watch football. []

Noris colour wear and tear 4

Introduction

Here’s my first follow up post about the Noris colour, the coloured pencil made using Wopex material, which has been mentioned in a previous blog post. I bought my set of six Noris colour for £2.49 (~$3.76; €3.46) on eBay. There are also sets with 12 and with 24 pencils available.

As explained earlier I have been looking for a coloured pencil, one that is suitable for writing, for quite a while now. The Noris colour is one of the best pencils for this purpose I have seen so far.

The Noris colour pencils have arrived

The Noris colour pencils have arrived

 The test

Now this is not a scientific exploration of how fast the lead will wear down, I have neither equipment nor experience, but just to give you some rough idea what I did:

  • The average normal pen force used to write the sample lines was approximately 1 Newton. I don’t know the average axial pen force. There was obviously a lot of variation as I wrote by hand – with more force being used for downward strokes. As you can see the point broke a few times. It would be great to have a pencil hardness tester, like the Elcometer, to make these tests more objective1.
  • All pencils were sharpened using the Deli 0668, i.e. with an angle of approximately 20°. The Deli was dialled back one full rotation (360°) do avoid creating a point that will break too easily.
  • The paper used was from a Brunnen – Der grüne Block (previously seen in this post)
Old and new Noris coloured pencils. The old ones didn't take part in the comparison.

Old and new Noris coloured pencils. The old ones didn’t take part in the comparison.

Before

All pencils, the Noris colour, the Eberhard Faber 1410 and the Noris club 144, had an initial line thickness of 0.1 mm – 0.3 mm (vertical / horizontal variation).

 

After

The point of the Noris colour wore down the least. After one line of writing the line variation was 0.3 mm – 0.5 mm.

The point of the Eberhard Faber 1410 wore down the most. After one line of writing the line variation was 0.5 mm – 0.6 mm.

The point wear of the Noris club 144 was in the middle. After one line of writing the line variation was 0.3 mm – 0.6 mm.

noriscolour-comparison

 

Conclusion

The Noris colour performed best. Subjectively the point felt better than what the numbers suggest, but then the Noris is also the pencil that left the lightest mark. The Eberhard Faber 1410which wore down fastest left the strongest marks on paper.

Despite the light marks the Noris colour is in my opinion the best pencil for writing or marking. It is also easy to erase.


Price Noris colour: February 2015.

I bought the Brunnen notepad in August 2011 in McPaper, Schweinfurt (Germany) for €1.19 (~$1.29; £0.86).

I bought the Noris Club pencil in 2008 from Woolworths went they into administration. I don’t remember the price.

I bought the Eberhard Faber pencils in 2010. More information about them can be found in this blog post.

Exchange rates: March 2015.

  1. They’re actually supposed to the the surface you scratch with the pencils, not the pencils themselves. I guess I should either start a Kickstarter (think potato salad) to try to get my hand on a pencil hardness tester or try to build my own one. []

Is this it? 15

This is not a Noris and a Tradition.

This is not a Noris and not a Tradition.

I’ve started my search for good coloured pencils, i.e. coloured pencils that are suitable for writing, many years before I started this blog. Eventually, my dissatisfaction with coloured pencils led me to coloured leads for mechanical pencils – though marginally better than coloured pencils coloured leads aren’t great either and the only hard ones I found so far are so poor you can’t enjoy writing with them either.

noriscolour-packaging

…but then Lexikaliker gave me new hope with his article about the Paperworld 2015 and his confirmation that you can use the new Wopex coloured pencil, the Noris colour, for writing. An extruded lead might have very different properties – maybe….

…maybe this is it. Maybe this is the holy grail of colour pencils!

...camouflages right into the desk environment

…camouflages right into the desk environment

Two days ago, on Tuesday, I ordered a pack of six Noris colour from eBay and they have arrived this morning, two days later. It really has been a great stationery week for me. Earlier this week I got a package from California and this morning I got one from Canada as well as the Noris colour mentioned earlier. So many things to try out.

I hope my journey of many years to find a nice coloured pencil, suitable for writing has come to an end. I will report soon.

noriscolour-overview