Monday 2 February 2015

The Gelato/Neocolor II War!

Hello Gorgeous!

PHEW! Well - better late than never, eh? A hectic but fulfilling weekend with much to do - including some lovely conversations with fellow bloggers and arty people, which was a welcome diversion. I'm working on some new projects, completing others and I've FINALLY figured out how to go about blogging 'art supplies'. Probably.

Yes, I know there's always a lot of interest in what art and craft supplies people use and how we all store them. I'm one of many who, when a new product comes to my attention heads straight to Youtube to see what reviews are posted, and often I find them invaluable. Initially, I'd planned a quick 'top ten' of my favourite art supplies, and sat down with a cuppa, pen and paper to make a list - oooo I love a list - and realised I was in trouble when I reached number thirty -five with no sign of stopping. Allow me to to demonstrate the problem with pretty pictures...(I'd offer up some interpretive dance but I feel that there's a largely redundant element to that...also it would distress my cat). There's paper:

That's a small selection. Notice how I've subtly added only three sheets of designer papers, thereby inferring that I have some level of hoarding restraint. This is a clever misdirection! Don't, whatever you do, look at the enormous brooding collection just slowly taking over the world from a very full bookshelf. Or two. And a drawer unit. And a few extra storage files and folders....Shhhh.....tell no one! LOOK IN THE COMPLETELY OPPOSITE DIRECTION - A BIG BEAR ON A UNICYCLE!  Excellent. That could NOT have gone better.....

Then there's a representative selection of art supplies and yummy smooshy stuff....

Hmmmmmm....... yeeeeaaaaahh......... Err. Here I set about to choose one of each brand or...thing... (my word-brain-face is on strike, bear with me....BEAR!) to represent a set, collection, hoard, whatever.... I got this far and ran out of space in the photo. The bear is now juggling.....look at the bear, look at the bear...

Then there's the textiles stuff, and felting supplies and lovely:

In fairness - I de-stashed magnificently when I had to move house. And some more since. But still....and now I feel that there's a de-stashed void....that could be filled with lovely fabrics...... But then if I did that I would have to consider perhaps balancing things out by thinning the herd of beads and jewellery supplies...

...which would be blatantly insane because these are soooooooooo pprrreeeeeeettttyyyyyyy!

Hmmmmm... It was at this point, having spent some time setting up the photos....teaching the Distraction-Bear to unicycle....and juggle.... that I figured I should maybe slow the whole thing down, breathe and possibly seek therapy..!  (The bear is wearing a Sombrero. Look at the bear. Dammit). It has to be said that my supplies have taken YEARS to collect and I'm VERY good at rooting out a bargain! Otherwise by now, I'd not only have sold my own kidneys, but would have been forced to go out, lurk in dark alleyways and harvest other peoples' as well!

So. Yes. SO, I've decided to break the 'favourite supplies' thing down to something -hopefully- more useful, starting with a comparison of soluble wax crayons. I can't possibly make comparisons all-inclusive as I don't own EVERY brand of everything, rather it'll be an honest opinion of brands I use and why I use them, giving little demonstrations or tutorials along the way. Is that good? I hope so! Here goes then!

Soluble Wax Crayons - Gelatos vs Neocolor II


There're a LOT of comparisons of Gelatos (from Faber Castell) and Neocolor II soluble wax pastels (from Caran D'Ache) - this is my take on the whole thing! When using them direct to the page they are two quite different mediums, for one simple reason: Gelatos, with their soft, creamy texture blend very well as a dry medium product whereas Neocolor IIs don't - they only blend when water is added. HOWEVER - once you use them BOTH as a wet medium, then similarities become apparent. I actually love them both. I use the two brands ALL the time and enjoy different properties and effects from each of them. It's worth noting that both products are ideal for mixed media work as they combine beautifully with pretty much any wet medium.

As with all mediums, you need to play and get to know them (girl-chat, Pictionary, watch a box-set, that sort of thing). They behave entirely differently on porous and non-porous surfaces (as you'd expect) and on a non-porous surface they will stay soluble until a fixative is added, something which is necessary if you want to add pen, or other detail medium on top of them.

Neocolor IIs are probably the biggest initial financial investment if you're buying a tin assortment. However, they're incredibly long-lasting, and their versatility means that they're a true asset to mixed media work:

This is my set. I've had them for over two years or so and use them regularly - as you can see, they last pretty well! More colours are available, which is fabulous, and they CAN be purchased individually from art shops. They're heavily pigmented so the colour stays true even when water is added. They have a high opacity and good coverage, blend easily and are lightfast. And gorgeous, don't forget gorgeous!

Gelatos, from Faber Castell are ALSO highly pigmented and are an equally superb product - it's Faber, they don't do crap. This is my collection, in various stages of use -

Again, more colours ARE available, shipping in sets only. The larger sized crayons are called 'Double Scoops' (aaawww) and can be purchased individually. I suspect that these are so popular because the sets are far cheaper than a big tin of Neocolors. However - crayon-to-crayon, the Gelatos ARE more expensive and although they do stand up to a LOT of use, they have nothing near the longevity of Neocolor IIs. They blend well directly onto the page without water. They have a lipstick-like consistency, whereas Neocolors are far more like a traditional but quite creamy wax crayon to use. When water's added to Gelatos, they become quite transparent, especially on a non-porous surface. The colours can be altered, blended and moved until fixative is added although they take a little more work than Neocolors, (which can actually be quite useful).

Other brands are available - the ones I have are Staedtler Gel Crayons and Pilot Gel Pens. The Staedtlers are VERY buttery and have good opacity, but have quite a muted tone once water's added.

Equally, the Pilots are very VERY creamy - slightly greasy looking - and again become muted when watered down. Here's a quick comparison of all four brands -

Gelatos and Neocolor IIs both transfer smoothly (the others leave lumpy bits which have to be smooshed down) and hold their bright pigmented colours best when diluted.  Note that only the Neocolor IIs DON'T allow dry blending.

When it comes to wet-blending any of them, the value of a quality, highly pigmented crayon becomes apparent. I chose two colours that clash horribly, but I had them in all four brands and it shows pretty well that again, the Gelatos and the Neocolor IIs hold the colours, retaing elements of orange and green when diluted, unlike the more muddly Staedtlers and the fairly raw Pilots.

The Gelatos and the Neocolors ARE an investment, but although the other cheaper brands can be fun, the quality of these two products makes them well worth every penny. If you like the look of them then I'd recommend buying maybe just a small set of each until you know which you prefer. I love them both and I'm glad I have them. So far, the Neocolor IIs at least are in my top 10 arty products!

To compare the two brands a little better - I think - here's a quick little project: a double-page spread using Gelatos on the LEFT page and Neocolor IIs on the Right page so that you can see the similarity in results. I chose a useful art journal, some old scrappy book pages, and a sheet of that designer paper, which I crumpled because I love that texture and adhered to the page using matte gel medium paste (Claudine Hellmuth 'Studio')

A bit of rippy-teary paperness....I like it! I cut some wibbly easy, slightly random shapes out of the book pages and went glue-crazy with the matte medium again, pasting the pieces down then sealing them over the top with a thin layer of the same gel.....a quick and easy collage:

Speeding up the drying with my trusty hairdryer. Just look at the STATE of it! I still use that to dry my hair with! Ah well.....farewell, shreds of dignity..... I chose colours from both brands that matched each other as closely as possible:

One of them's a bit stumpy - doesn't bother me as the other half's still in the tin! I coloured each side in crayony scribbles - nice quick, messy fun!

The left, Gelato side is more buttery looking whereas the right Neocolor II side is more like a traditional wax crayon. I added a little (just a little) water and dried the pages. I then used my fingers and a small brush to gently move around the areas of colour until I was happy with the result:

It was a lot easier to remove the Neocolor II colour from the page surface, which was made non-porous by using the gel medium. It took only the tinest amount of water and a light brush touch to almost completely remove colour from selected areas, whereas the Gelatos required a little more effort.

Once this was done, I added more colour. This isn't always possible to do by using the crayons directly onto the page. The previous layer acts like a slippery resist so it's better to either make a little 'palette' by colouring a small amount of crayon onto a spare piece of paper, or your craft sheet...

...or alternatively simply taking colour straight from the crayon -

I added brighter colour and some more definition, also removing excess colour in some areas as I went along to allow for contrast and to allow book text and paper patterns to show through.

When I was happy with the colour detail, I made more palette squares to my spare paper and added a little more water which created an ideal constituency for the making of splatterage....heh heh heh....

This is the Gelato page:

aaaaand this is the Neocolor II page-

There's not a great deal of diffence is there? I think the Gelatos are actually slightly more vivid, but not a lot. To add further detail, I needed to add a good layer of fixitive, as pens and such simply skid across - or through! - the waxy colour. My 'fixatif de choix', as it very much were, is Chestnut 'satin acrylic lacquer' -

- it's just my preference. It has a good, clean finish and doesn't dissolve water-based/soluble media. A good spray of that and I could add text and detail using my Uni Ball gel pens....  Left Gelato side:

and right Neocolor II side-

"Life doesn't always offer up calm moments...
sometimes you need to close your eyes and make your own"

So that's that then. A quick and easy journal page using Faber Castell Gelatos and Caran D'Ache Neocolor II soluble wax pastels. They are very different mediums to work with but the result when adding water is a remarkable similarity in appearance.There's a better colour coverage with the Neocolor IIs thanks to their opacity, but visually, that's about it I think. I reckon the Neocolor IIs are generally more versatile and better value for money in the long run, but the Gelatos are excellent fun - I find I tend to grab them first when my arty muse is off on a wander. Quick, easy, blendable, soluble - top notch stuff!  If you have a few spare pennies or have a birthday coming up, I'd recommend that these products hit your wishlist - I think you'll enjoy them.

Ok- that's it for this post. I need to clear away all the stuff I photographed - I've made a mess again! - and pay the juggling Distraction-Bear his wages or he'll get grumpy and eat me. Has this been helpful? Let me know and say hi in the comments - it's AWESOME to hear from you! It's 1:30 am on Monday (ugh) here as I type this and head off to proof-read my ramblings and I'll be back in no time with journal-type stuff for you. May your day be fabulous, may the sun shine, your feet be warm and may something beautiful and wonderful bring an unexpected smile to your face! See you soon - big hugs from Shroo :) xxx

*  *  *

My Grandparents and li'l baby me with stripey socks on asunny day at the park. My poor Grandmother looks juuuust a little uncomfortable perched up on that tree stump!


  1. Wow, this is a great review, I've got some neocolours lurking , untouched for years, so I will get them out and have a play. I need prompts like this to get going, last week it was the parallel calligraphy pen. Have you got one of those?

    1. Hee hee - we all have those arty supplies lurking.... this year I'm REALLY going to make an effort to use some pastels...I avoid them! Hope you grab those Neocolors and have some fun with them - they're so lovely to use!

      I saw that parallel calligraphy on Dede Willingham's Youtube channel ( a couple of weeks ago - it does look spectacular! It's sooooooo long since I've done any calligraphy but I tell you, it's tempting! Sending big hugs - Shroo:)xx

  2. I loved seeing how the pages came together. I have a very small set of the neocolours languishing unused in my art supplies cupboard. I'll have to break them out and have a play

    1. Hi Christine! Thanks for the lovely comment - it's surprising how easy it is to make something look uber arty with neocolors or gelatos. I think they're both really accessible and fun right from the get-go. Hope you're gonna dig yours out and have a play? Mebbe in your new journal - which will be posted out to you in the morning (along with a couple of little extras!) Big hugs from Shroo:)xx

  3. Good morning, this was an amazing article with loads and loads of information-thank you for this. Have you ever written an article in Cloth Paper Scissors-if not you should!! they ask for articles from artists all the time-hugs

    1. Hello lady!! How ya doin? Thank's for the commenty *shuffles feet* awwwwww shucks!Me? Write an article? With MY random babble? I'll have a look at Cloth Paper Scissors - that sounds very cool. I'm a-workin' on that book cover - I'll let you know when I get somewhere (gimme a day or two) as I'd appreciate your input, what with you knowing WAAAAAAAY more about textileness that me! Sending hugs from me and the Colonel - Shroo:)xx

    2. great! sending hugs back-me and Miss Calico

  4. Love to see all your stuff-- and a wonderful spread!
    Lovely vintage photo!

    1. Thank you! I'll find any excuse to play with Gelatos and Neocolors....honestly! I'm so weak-willed! They're so preeeetttyyyy! Big hugs from Shroo:)xx

  5. What an awesome comparison and awesome completion!! I don't use either gelatos or neocolours nearly enough, apparently.

    1. Hello epic lady! Thank you for your commentyness! Honestly I'm so hooked on Neocolor IIs it's a therapy situation! One of the best purchases I ever made! Them and the lemon drizzle muffin I had last week. The muffin really didn't last very long though! Sending hugs - SHroo:)xx

  6. Hi Rachael thanks for visiting my page earlier. This is a great blog you have here, full of inspirational ideas.I tend to be a bit boring in what I paint, its cheap acrylic paint on cheap canvas but I've always quite fancied getting into more mixed media stuff. :-)

    1. In fact i am so inspired...............I decided to open up my old art blog


    2. I'm so glad you're back to blogging - and that you've opened your painting blog. And having seen your work, the word 'boring' is SO NOT something that can be applied! I find your work to be so CONNECTED - I love it. Sending hugs - Shroo:)xxx

  7. I just picked up some soluble wax crayons at the thrift shop but I haven't experimented with them yet.

    Popped by from GYB.

    1. Thank you so much for visiting from GYB! Ooooooo.....soluble wax crayons....ooooooo...You'll love them! Looking forward to visiting your blog - Sending hugs from Shroo:)xxx

  8. You got me well and truly hooked on Neocolour ii's. My Dad keeps buying me desk easles for birthdays/Christmas. (I think he thinks arty = easle) I sold the last one and bought a tin about half the size of yours. Now - when he asks if I use my pressie, I truthfully say ALL the time. At the moment I like making little squares on my old metal dish and using them as watercolours but still have so much experimenting to do.

    This was SUCH a useful comparison - for some reason I thought gelatos were like felt tip pens. Don't know why!

    Believe it or not my patterned paper stash only just fills two 12x12 rub boxes. And my paints fit into two shallow drawers. I need to know where you find your bargains! :P Mind you - I love seeing everyone else's hoards of stash - curse that bear distracting my attention! I particularly liked when The Colonel sat on his shoulders and juggled his kitty toys!

    x x x

    1. Thaaaaaaat's right.....blame me!!! Like you can resist lovely arty farty things when they wink cheekily at you from a pooter screen or shop shelf.....yeeeeeaaaaahhhh.......WHATever!!!!! I like the idea of selling that easel to get them...they're not a cheap purchase but SO worth it! You am genius!

      We'll not discuss the paper......bear....see the bear.... the bear now tap dances! Shhhhhhh!

      Big enormous hugs from me and The Colonel! xxxxx

  9. At last!!! A simple thing but now I know what gelatos are. I have seen them demoed but the fundamental issue of what I've actually been looking at has never been addressed. Thanks so much for this!!

    1. I'm REALLY glad I could help! I'll always say that Gelatos are well worth having and I think they're more versatile than a lot of people give them credit for but it's always tough to set out on a buying spree without as much information as possible.

      Anyone reading these comments - you need to visit this lady's EPIC blog! It's so bright and full of colour and talent, you'll LOVE it -

      Thank you so much for stopping by! Sending hugs from Shroo:)xxx

  10. I love this post! I have been trying to decide between these two products and bought a small pack of gelatos to try. I know you posted this a while ago but just in case you check back I have a question: have you ever tried water-soluble crayons compared to soluble pastels? I bought a basic pack of Steadler just to try before spending the big bucks and realized they are not the same! Thoughts? The little info I found says they do not blend as easily as the pastels. Thanks! ❤

  11. Oh thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for working on this review!!! I have 32 *ahem* Gelatos that were given to me by an extremely generous friend for my birthday last month. I LOVE them. They are so much fun to work with and I just, just love them.
    Anyway, a friend has the Neocolor IIs and another friend has th Prismascolors that are like these and I was researching, as I am wont to do when considering fairly costly art supplies, and your article was the first thing I read. I will stick with my Gelatos and enjoy the heck outta them.
    Oh, and I LOVE your writing style (hee hee.) I haven't read anything on your blog before but I will be following now!

  12. What a delightful read! It felt like you could be my new best friend 😋 Thank you for the thorough comparison between these two. Not only was it helpful and practical, I walked away with a smile.

  13. Thanks for the great post. Decisions, decisions. Big tin of neo-colour maybe.

  14. Thank you so much for this!! I am really tired of reading "non-biased" totally biased reviews and videos. This was such a breath of fresh air and I loved the artwork. So creative!