July 23, 2020

Design Hardware: Rhodia Notepad Review

Today I wanted to take a look at a rather undervalued resource for designing and prototyping: paper.

Although I do advocate for paperless work and paperless office (particularly when it comes to printing out Word documents for reading), in the initial stages of the design process paper is vital to keep your focus on what matters and not on pixels, line widths and shades of gray.

In particular, I started to appreciate the dotted notepads. They do not distract from the content as much as lined or graphed paper does but provide necessary guides when you want to achieve straighter lines or more symmetrical elements.

The drawback of using paper vs. anything digital is, of course, the need to get paper from somewhere. I usually try using cheap or even discarded paper (e.g. a reverse side of those printouts you might have littering your workplace), but with the home office situation my recycling initiative winded down significantly, plus I wanted to sketch in style.

I love hardcover notebooks, but they tend to be pricey, particularly for formstorming. So I embarked on the search for dotted pads that would not make me broke while having reasonable quality. My most recent find is the Rhodia notepad

Cheaper than most of the notepads, but offering a good quality of the paper and overall sturdiness. For the price, you will get 80 sheets of paper to use. The pages are easy to tear away if you want to put them up on the wall for dot-voting.

The cover is made of sturdy but flexible material and is designed to be nicely tucked over and under the pad. The drawback of this, however, is that after a while it refuses to stay closed.

In terms of thickness and marker bleeding, I have tested the pad with 6 writing implements:

  • Edding 400 permanent marker
  • Staedtler pigment liner
  • Generic gel pen
  • Stabilo Scribbi (kid's felt tip pen)
  • Stabilo OHPen (non-permanent marker)
  • Stabilo point 88 pen
Test subjects

The bleed-through was highest for the permanent markers, followed by equally low ghosting of the rest of the pens. I find this acceptable for the prototyping, as this ghosting is not disturbing, however, if you want a complete no-show, you will have to look somewhere else.

Test results: the reverse side of the page

Overall, I am happy with the quality/price balance and found Rhodia notepad a good match for my needs.

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