Wednesday, October 1, 2008


At long last I have found it... The perfect blue-line pencil!

I like sketching in blue-line. Its easy to drop out during scanning and you don't notice the pencil lines as much so there's no ink/pencil confusion during the inking process. But the problem is that most blue pencils are terrible.

Prismacolor makes almost all of them. Oh, they work, in that they are blue and they are pencils, but the leads are, for lack of a better term, greasy. They're soft, lay on thick, smear easy, and worse: they repel water, and thus, ink. So you go through the process of inking something, but the ink doesn't stick. It fades when you go in to erase something or it just beads up.

I found a better blue-line pencil, though it took buying one each of all the blue line pencils offered by an online art supply store (it wasn't that extravagant, they cost about 50 cents each and there were only three varieties). Of the three pencils I obtained:

Pencil 1 is a Prismacolor Verithin 761 1/2 Non-Photo Blue/Bleu Inactinique. Same old story. Greasy, thick, soft as my midsection. Practically worthless!

Pencil 2 is a Prismacolor Copy-Not 1298 Non-Photo Blue. Getting warmer... this is an actual hard-lead blue-line pencil! The telltale sign is that this pencil has a real eraser on the end... one of the crappy pink ones. This pencil was made for architects rather than artistes (in my experience the architects get all the coolest supplies). On normal paper, this thing would rock. Sadly, I don't use normal paper for most of my sketching. I've fallen in love with a #234 Paris Bleedproof pad from Borden & Riley... the pages are like velvet and ink doesn't bleed on them, at all... but our Copy-Not's lead is too hard to leave much of a mark at all on the almost tractionless surface of the page...

Pencil 3 is our winner. It is a Staedtler Non-Photo-Blue 108 30 / 0 31901 10551 8. First off, its from Austria... which means it was made with that sort of Schwartzineggerian Knockoff of German efficiency. Its sales barcode is printed right onto the pencil in negative space between white lines for Genius' sake! No crappy sticker wrapped around the haft for this pencil! Moreover, the lead is the perfect balance of tone and hardness. No greasiness, not to light, not too dark and the line quality is beautiful.

All hail the new king of blue pencils!

As an aside, I've been considering posting art to the blog. Would anybody want to see that?


Spiritual Smart Aleck said...

Dear Trent,
I just googled "Prismacolor Verithin Bleu Inactinique," and that led me to your blog.
You find the 761-1/2 too greasy, but my husband, who is a cartoonist, loves this one the best and I was searching for it online. Where do you find it for sale?
I bought a bunch of 1298s for him, but they are too hard for his liking.
And where do I find the Staedler (sp?) so I can run that by him and see if he likes it?
It's pretty hard to find a blue line pencil, especially when I'm not the artist!

Trent Troop said...

No problem, I bought the pencils at

Spiritual Smart Aleck said...

Thank you! And in answer to your question, my husband and I would love to see your art on the blog!