Check out my video for a review of the Bureau of Dragons. You can head over there and submit an application for yourself or to gift to a friend, player, Dungeon Master, or whoever you deem potentially deserving.
As a follow up of a prior post, this is a more comprehensive study of two sets of pigment based drawing pens and 4 different types of paper. The focus for this is in the hand drawing of RPG maps.
TL;DR: The Sakura pens on Canson paper is definitively the best when you compare side by side. however, if you are only using the thinner pens, the Prismacolor pens is very close in quality.
- 0.5 mm mechanical pencil
- 0.7 mm mechanical pencil
- Prismacolor Premier pens
- Sakura Pigma Micron Pens
- Epson WorkForce 840
- Routine “office quality” printer paper: Universal Multipurpose Paper
- Low Quality Graph Paper: Office Depot Graph Paper
- Routine Quality Graph Paper: Ampad Evidence Quad Dual-Pad
- Better Quality Graph Paper: Canson Foundation Series Graph & Layout Paper Pad
- Adobe Photoshop
- Apple MacBook Pro 2017
- GridMaker iOS app for creating any type of graph paper you need for printing
- Imported through Adobe Photoshop on a MacBook Pro running High Sierra
- Kind: Black and White
- Resolution: 600 dpi
- Format: JPEG
- Image Correction: None
- Unsharp Mask: None
- No modification to image except to add text for which paper (probably should have just written it). Then saved with embedding color profile as jpg with Quality of 10, Maximum, Baseline Optimized
Regarding current prices, the above materials are linked to product pages.
Click on images to view a larger version to see the detail.
And then a scan of the back of this printer paper:
Office Depot Graph Paper
Scan of the reverse of this Office Depot paper:
Ampad Graph Paper
Scan of the reverse of this Ampad paper:
Canson Foundation Series Graph Paper
And for the scan of the back of the Canson paper, I want to mention that with the naked eye, you can barely see any bleeding on the 08 Prismacolor pen. The scanner shows a lot more than what you can actually see.
I had some ideas regarding using pencil and couldn’t get all the variations I needed, so didn’t complete that idea.
I should have included a separate row using a dye ink pen like the Sharpie Ultra Fine Point to demonstrate the accentuate how much better these pigment based pens are.
Regarding the feel and utility of the pens. I like the Prismacolor pens best. This may be subjective, but the inner ink cartridge doesn’t jiggle like the Sakura pens do. Also, the caps on the Prismacolor pens snap to the back end better whereas the Sakura ones fall off sometimes. In a very small way the Prismacolor feel like they grip a little better. The Prismacolor pens come in a simple but nice little box whereas the sakura pens are in a package that isn’t any good for keeping them in. And, lastly, I like black… so the Prismacolor pens just look cooler.
There are many more different variations in thickness for the Sakura pens, if you need something specific. For example, the 003 pen. (see this listing for the other versions too)
In regards to value, with the sets that I am using, the Sakura set costs $4.38 more than the Prismacolor pens, but does come with one more pen. So, for a cost per pen ($1.59 for Prismacolor vs. $2.06 for Sakura). If you want really cheap and don’t care about bleeding (didn’t show here, based on prior experience), get the 12 packs of the Sharpie Ultra Fine Point pens for $0.51 per pen and I’d guess that a dozen pens will last forever.
The Office Depot graph paper is noticeably lesser quality than either the Ampad or Canson paper (via Amazon) AND costs twice as much.
The cost/value/quality of ‘printer paper’ is going to vary widely and so is a little difficult to compare. The cost for the Ampad and Canson graph paper is very reasonable, but could be limiting if you are using quite a bit of it.
If you are scanning these, the Canson paper has thinner/fainter lines than the Ampad, which makes it much easier to remove with post-processing. The custom graph paper I am making using the GridMaker app is a smidge thinner than the Canson, but overall the quality of the Canson paper is much much better than printer paper.
I’ll have to do a separate post regarding using the GridMaker iOS app. There are many options to customize your paper. But in short, it is free to use for making basic graph paper with a small logo on the bottom. For $0.99, you can unlock the capability to make hexagons, which allows you to make isometric paper. And then, for $0.99 you can remove the logo (and make titles, etc.), which isn’t necessary, but is nice to remove. After making any paper you like, you can save as a PDF for future use however you want.
I notice less bleeding with the Sakura Pigma pens compared to the Prismacolor. This is evidenced by looking at the reverse scans of the paper that shows more ink on every paper used. This is most pronounced with the thicker pens. Bleeding is still evident with the thinner pens (005, 01), but still noticeable. I am unable to really show this here, but this is most pronounced on the reverse side of the Canson paper, where with the naked eye, you practically can’t see any bleeding through with the Sakura pens except on the corners of the hex (where lines cross) with the 08 pen.
You can’t really go wrong with the Prismacolor pens and there are some pros with them. However, if you are looking for the ‘better’ pen in regards to performance, it’s the Sakura. But, to break this down into 3 different use scenarios:
- If you are looking for the cheapest and easiest way to draw maps with pen and paper, go with the Prismacolor pens and a decent printer paper. This gives the added benefit of being able to print various types of graph paper. You really can’t go wrong with this combination.
- However, if you want a better quality, the Sakura pens are definitely better. Especially on a good paper, like the Canson.
- In the middle, is to spend a couple more dollars and use the Sakura pens and use the Canson (or the Ampad) paper when drawing on regular 1/4″ boxes, but then print up isometric or hexagonal when you want it (until I find a ‘high quality’ equivalent graph paper).
Hope this helps someone else. For me, it was a little fun to nerd out and learn something about pens and paper and to see what may work best for different purposes.
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This is a PSA of sorts. If you follow a lot of RPG Kickstarters, maybe you already know about this guy, Ken Whitman. For some reason, I didn’t know about him and his scams until just recently. And now the more I read about this guy, I am completely amazed. I’d seen a few of these, only posted a single $1 for the KODT KS (now I know why I never got that PDF…)
I guess I’m not surprised, some asshole out there was gonna be “that guy” and do something as easy as abuse the crowdfunding model. But like a lot of things, it’s the story that is the most interesting. This video kinda says it all and is hugely entertaining as well. Another source is this blog “Not Another Dime“. Lastly, Tenkar’s Tavern covers this guy a lot.
For a much more comprehensive study (to include comparing different papers), please see my updated post.
Click for the larger image. There is no processing; just a straight up scan.
I do believe I notice less bleeding with the Sakura Pigma pens. The Sakura Pigma set does cost $3.38 more (at this time on Amazon), but you do get one more size pen.
I like them both. The Prismacolor Premier set has a nice little box; nothing fancy, but is convenient. So, if you don’t need the 02 pen, want to save a couple bucks, and want a simple box, then the Prismacolor set is better. However, if you spend the little extra, I do think the Sakura Pigma pens are noticeably a little finer, but honestly a little difficult to see if not comparing side by side
One other note, I like the Prismacolor pens better in my hand. The Sakura Pigma pends rattle (I assume the ink cartridge inside) when you shake them.
So, like with a lot of things, some pros and cons for either one!
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There are many stories floating around the internet regarding the rise and fall of D&D (or at least, TSR). This graphic novel provides a very comprehensive overview of that story and does a bang up job of telling it in one enjoyable sitting.
This 136 page, black & white graphic novel, is a quick and easy read. Illustrated by Koren Shadmi, he does a wonderful job of reproducing all the characters. He further beautifully reproduces a very stylized rendition of all appropriate scenes; from Gygax’s Hawaiian shirts to the D&D books and even a perfect recreation of the 80’s D&D animated cartoon. Although the entire book is B&W, the color front and back cover are gorgeous.
Written by David Kushner, the book is broken down into 9 chapters and told from the perspective of the various figures in the D&D story. Of course, Gygax receives a considerable amount of this time and next off is Dave Arneson. Also included is a whole montage of the whole Satanic Panic from the 1980’s mostly told from the perspective of William Dear, the private investigator hired to find James Dallas Egbert III.
I’ve read quite a bit about the creation of D&D, with the various accounts regarding the contributing influences other than Gygax. This story, I think, does a good job of succinctly telling the story as I’ve come to know it. One where Gygax was certainly the visionary, however, Arneson is probably under-recognized as an instrumental creative force in D&D’s initial inception. Furthermore, the differences in the two’s early personalities are still seen today as a split between “rules light” and “rules heavy” styles of D&D play (although the book makes mention of Gygax moving to the rules light side later in life).
We see various examples of how D&D influenced a wide swath of geek culture (which is now “pop culture” in many ways). Then the story gets bleak in chapter 7 with what I’ve best seen referenced to as “The Ambush at Sheridan Springs“. This story is brief in this graphic novel. If you are interested in these sorts of things, then give this a read. It is long, but is a fascinating account of just how badly the Blume brothers and Lorraine Williams fucked everyone over and sank TSR like the RMS Titanic.
The story eventually picks back up again on a positive note as it leads into essentially the reason why I’m posting this right now. That is, the intersection of older players getting back into the hobby, rise of geek culture, what is called OSR, and the release of D&D 5e.
Lastly, chapter 9 is legitimately a little sad as it covers the deaths of Gygax and Arneson. I didn’t know a couple of the things mentioned here. For instance, I actually didn’t know that Gygax was a born again Christian. That’s really awesome and I’ll have to research this further.
This is a beautiful book. Very well written, telling a very good version of the story. One that tells some of the hard truths without minimizing at all the great contributions to the modern of storytelling which these artists brought to life.