Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Brush Pen Review: Zebra Brush Pen FD-302-Soft-Fine

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I think (THINK) this brush pen marks the last of the bunch that Jetpens sent awhile back.   I wanted to make sure they were all finished before I started releasing posts for my upcoming series, Affordable Art Supplies, where I peruse Walmart, Target, and the Dollar Tree for decent supplies.  It'll be awhile before the queue loads up more brush pen reviews, but I think I've done a pretty decent job of covering a lot of brushpen options, and I feel like this Zebra FD-302 is a good note to end on.
The Pen
The Zebra FD-302 is much narrower in body than many of the brushpens I've featured here, and is probably meant to be held the way one would hold a brush for traditional calligraphy or sumi painting- with your hand vertical and your grip light.  If you don't hold your brush this way when you ink, the FD-302 may feel a bit thin and difficult to handle.

The cap does not come with a clip, nor does the barrel come with a grip, but you can post the cap to the back of the pen.  There are no notches or barrel protrusions to prevent the pen from rolling off your desk, but I didn't really notice much of a problem while doing this test.

The Zebra Brush Pen FD-302 in Soft and Fine has a fairly large brush for it's size.

From Left to Right:  Kuretake Fudegokochi (Regular), Kuretake No. 33 (recently reviewed!), and the Zebra FD- 302 in Soft-Fine.
As you can see, the FD-302 is between the Fudegokochi and No. 33 in size, about the size of a Pilot Pocket Brush in Soft.  It's a little softer than the Pilot Pocket Brush as well, but not overly soft. 

Zebra Brush Pen FD-302: $4.95
Kuretake Fudegokochi: $2.80
Pilot Pocket Brush Soft: $5.00
Kuretake No. 33: $3.30

From left to right:  Kuretake Fudegokochi, Kuretake No. 3, Zebra FD-302

Unlike the No. 33, the FD-302 Soft-Fine doesn't really have anywhere for your hand to rest, so I tended to choke up on the barrel, which made it even harder to ink with.  You could solve this issue easily, as the FD-302 is about as thick as a pencil, so you could use your favorite pencil grip.

From Left to Right:  Kuretake Fudegokochi, Kuretake No. 3, FD-302

If you find the Kuretake No. 6 and the Kuretake No. 33 are too soft or too large a brush, the FD-302 might be a great solution for larger lines and more variety in lineweight.

The Field Test

The nib is VERY soft, which makes it a little difficult to use, given how narrow the pen's body is.  This can make for very expressive lines, if you can manage the fine motor control.

The Verdict

Some of the reviews on Jetpens aren't very positive, but this brushpen wasn't bad.  If I had a more gestural style, this pen would be pretty great.  As it is, I still really like it, but the size of the barrel makes it difficult for me to hold it unmodified.  I'll have to add one of my favorite pencil grips so I don't have to clench the FD-302 so tightly.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Walmart Art Supply Review Introduction

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As this blog is completely unsponsored, and I receive no financial compensation from companies to write these reviews, nor do I receive donations from manufacturers, I really depend on the goodwill of my readers.  If you benefitted from this post, please consider contacting Royal Talens with a link to this post and your thoughts.  I would also sincerely appreciate it if you sent me an email with your thoughts, questions, or thanks.

I've mentioned many times on this blog that I grew up in a small town 40 minutes or so outside of New Orleans, Louisiana.  When Luling got a Walmart, I was 14, and it meant that for many, the monthly trek to town just to buy groceries and household necessities was now greatly shortened.  At that time, I was already very much interested in drawing and in comics, and had received some art supplies as presents in the past, but for the most part, Walmart was the source of most of my highschool comic supplies.

At the time, buying art supplies online was something I couldn't imagine.  This was before Amazon sold anything other than books, before DickBlick and Jerry's really had websites, before Jetpens ever opened its virtual doors, and while there were dedicated art supply stores in New Orleans, they were far away, expensive, and I had no experience with the materials they sold.  Buying supplies from Walmart, mostly pencils, erasers, and sketchbooks, was feasible for me, and while my options weren't vast, I had more options than I would have had we not had a Walmart.

This isn't a defense or advertisement for Walmart by any means.  This is admittance that for many of my readers, many of the kids I talk to at cons, ordering supplies online isn't a reality for them at this time.  Therefore, I feel like it's my duty to revisit my roots, and review some of the art supplies Walmart has to offer.

A caveat:  Your Walmart will differ from mine in what it carries.  You may have a Walmart with a much larger selection of art and craft supplies than my Walmart carries, or it may have a much smaller section.  For this post, I scoured the back-to-school section, the kids' art supply section, and the crafts section for supplies I hope will pass muster.  There are a couple exceptions:  I purchased Crayola watercolors and Crayola markers.

 I feel like those reviews will be the most interesting, because they'll support one of two theories:  A good artist can make good use of any materials provided OR Bad materials fight the artist, and make it more difficult to produce work.  Of course, I could just be a terrible artist who's work has been gilded by years of using great supplies, but somehow I think that after years of testing art supplies,  I'll probably struggle to compensate for the Crayolas' weaknesses, but hopefully figure out a few strategies to make the best of these products.  I hope to share those here, and maybe inspire a new generation of young small town artists to keep pushing, despite limited access to materials.

What I Went In Looking For:
  • Pencils
  • Inking Pens
  • Erasers
  • Watercolors
  • Markers
  • Paper

What I Saw

Rows of cardboard school supply display

The same ol same ol Crayolas in the kid's art supply section

A row of rollerball pens and mechanical pencils in the office supply section

And a little taste of actual art supplies in the crafts section

And hidden in the office supplies, a desk organizer to wrangle your supplies, should a pencil case not suffice


This would be fine for storing your brushes upright, and has trays to hold erasers and spare pencil leads, as well as tapes, thumbtacks, or paperclips.

What I Purchased:

  • Crayola Watercolors
  • Crayola Markers
  • Marker Paper
  • Small Sketchbook
  • Mechanical Pencils
  • Pentel White Vinyl Erasers
  • Generic Neon Eraser
  • Daler Rowney Watercolors
  • Daler Rowney Watercolor Brushes
  • Pencil Case
  • Triplus Fineliners
  • Flair Fineliners

    This isn't even the final shot of everything, because I went back to Walmart to better flesh out the 'inking' category.

What I Skipped:

  • Canson's XL Paper (I have this at home, I use it for Gizmo Granny pages, it's a perfectly fine watercolor paper that does require stretching beforehand for best results)
  • Watercolor palettes (I actually purchased two sets from this Walmart earlier in the week for mini watercolors.  Pretty much all palettes of this type are the same, they all work fine, it doesn't matter where you buy them, so buy the cheapest you can.  A 10 well round palette, which is my go to palette, was $0.97 each or a set of three different palettes was $3.47)
  • Crayons (I've never been proficient with them)
  • Color Pencils (same as above)
  • Cardstock (I use cardstock for commissions, it works fine as a marker paper as well as a lighter weight substitute for Bristol.   This is fine for beginners)

What I Spent:

So I also bought a couple books, a small bag of Kit-Kats, and a cat collar, which are things you probably wont be purchasing.  Without these, my total would have been:

Pencil Pouch- $3.97
Pencil Sharpener- $0.47
10 Piece Brushset- $4.47
Watercolors (Crayola)- $1.97
50 count super tip Crayola Markers- $6.96
"Art Craft" (Marker paper?)- $3.94
Sketchbook- $4.47
Triplus Fineliners 6 Pack- $5.97
Pentel Eraser-$1.46
Neon Eraser- $0.26
Daler Rowney 12 Piece watercolor set- $7.97
2 pack Pilot Precise V5-$3.64
10 piece mini paint set- $1.00
Papermate Flair Ultra Fine point 8 pack- $8.64
Mechanical pencils 2 pack with refills and erasers-$3.97

Total- $47.55

Keep in mind that some of these are redundant- I purchased three different watercolor sets, three types of fine liners, two brands of erasers, and I neglected to buy watercolor paper or cardstock, because I already have both, so your cost may vary.  I also didn't factor in tax, which is about 10% in Louisiana, so I really paid about $53 for all of this.

How this is going to work

I'm going to review each supply on its own, the way I normally review art supplies.  I'm not going to cut any slack when it comes to quality, though I will keep in mind availability, since that's the point of this series.  I'll probably link related reviews (both on this blog and on others) to help you guys with your decisions. 

Once the Walmart Art Supply review is finished, I'll start my Dollar Tree and Target reviews, as well as a Walgreens mini review, so if you're interested in cheap art supplies, keep watching this blog.

Disclaimer:  As with many of my review posts, I purchased these supplies out of my own pocket.  If you enjoy these types of reviews, or benefit from my experience, please consider donating to my Paypal, or purchasing something from my online shop.  One of the BEST ways you can show support for this blog is to purchase a copy of 7" Kara Volume 1, and if you buy it from the shop, you'll receive a sketch and one of the two Kara wooden charms shown in the Ponoko post.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Technical Pen Review: Tul

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So I started writing this post about the Tul Fineliner, and when it was almost entirely written, my computer crashed and I did something unthinkable for 2015- I hadn't saved it.  I like to draft my posts in a notepad before copying them over th Blogspot, and this was one that just didn't make it.
In an ideal world, I'd source my pens and pencils from a variety of places both online and brick and mortar.  When I lived in Savannah, GA, the DickBlick on Broughton Street always provided new materials to test (that I paid for myself, of course), but Nashville, TN doesn't have quite as many opportunities for art supply novelty.  In a way, I think that's great, as my experiences are probably more similar to that of my audience's.  Sometimes we have to take what we can get, and sometimes that means we're buying drawing and inking supplies at Office Max or Office Depot, because that's what our town has.

I purchased this Tul Fineliner from my local Office Max while I was having prints made for Mechacon 2014 (link), and it's been floating around my desk ever since.  I've used it often for writing, but I'd initially purchased it to test it as an inking tool, and I've finally gotten around to doing just that.

Accoding to the Office Max site, Tul is an Office Max brand that was designed in 2006, and it seems like other stationary bloggers are enjoying the brand overall.  OfficeSuppliesJunkie has several of the Tul line (which includes a variety of pens, mechanical pencils, and highlighters).  From The Pen Cup also took a look at a variety of Tul products, and I'm definitely interested in purchasing a Tul mechanical pencil and seeing how it stacks up to my usual go-tos. I have the Tul fineliner (also referred to as a marker by some) and the Tul rollerball, and I'll be demonstrating the fineliner in this post.

The Pen

The felt tip on the Tul resembles other commonly available technical pens intended for inking. The felt tip is encased in a metal pipe, to protect it from too much wear and tear.

The Tul felt tip is bulkier in the hand than most technical pens, and has a rubberized grip to help with extended use.

The cap posts to the back, and has a plastic clip.

Compared To Technical Pens

Since I purchased this pen to test it against technical pens, I pulled several of those out for comparison purposes.  For the most part, I no longer ink with tech pens- I prefer fude pens and brush pens.

Photo taken by Nattosoup Studio for purposes of review
From Left to Right:  Tul Felt Tipped Pen, Copic Multiliner, Koh-i-noor Rapidograph, Pitt Pen S, Sakura Micron
 The Tul Fineliner seems to have a .5 nib, although that's not marked on the body of the pen.  Of the technical pens I own, the Tul Fineliner is the only one with a rubberized grip.  The Copic Multiliner and the Koh-i-Noor Rapidograph pen bodies are about as thick as the Tul Fineliner.

From Left to Right:  Tul Felt Tipped Pen, Copic Multiliner, Koh-i-Noor Rapidograph, Pitt Pen S, Sakura Micron

Of the technical pens I own, the Rapidograph functions more along the lines of a roller ball pen, as it doesn't have a felt tip, but a little ball in the metal pipe to facilitate drawing and writing.  Both the Copic Multiliner and the Koh-i-Noor Rapidograph are reusable- with the Copic you can replace the nib and the ink cartridge independently, the Rapidograph needs to be cleaned and have it's ink bladder filled.  My offhand recommendation is that if you're just getting into inking, skip the high-maintenance, expensive Rapidograph in favor of something that's easier to maintain.

Price Comparison

Tul Fineliner- Estimated price $2.00 (based on experience and an educated estimation based on prices on the OfficeMax site)
Copic Multiliner SP (metal body)- $9.20 (Jetpens)
Copic Multiliner (disposable plastic body, not shown)- $2.79 (DickBlick)
Koh-i-Noor Rapidograph- $33-$39, depending on size (Jetpens)
Pitt Pen (S)- $1.99 (DickBlick)
Sakura Micron- $2.32 (DickBlick)

Tul Felt Tip Vs Tul Roller Ball

When I purchased my Tul Fineliner, I also bought a Tul Rollerball (my OfficeMax had a sale on their in stock Tul products, so I grabbed what I could), and I've fished it out for easy comparison.
Left Tul Fineliner, Right Tul Rollerball
 The Tul Rollerball features a metallic finish on the cap, but a more translucent body, whereas the Tul Fineliner has a translucent cap but a metallic finish on the plastic body.

Both pens have sturdy metal caps and rubberized grips.

The Field Test

The Tul Fineliner handles just like a technical pen- similar to a Copic Multiliner or a Sakura Micron.  Just like a technical pen, the Fineliner has no give, so if you want lineweight variation, you're going to have to go over the linework a few times.  For me, this is frustrating- I'm used to relying on my wrist and my fude pen to give me the lineweight I want, and I find going over the same lineart several times just to varied lineweights to be boring.  Once you go fude, you never go back I suppose.
With that said, the Tul fineliner isn't bad at all, and if you're in a pinch (say you forgot your drawing supplies before a big convention), it'll definitely do the trick. 

The Verdict

The Tul isn't a bad last resort for inking, and it's a fine pen for writing.  I use mine in my planner, as the ink is dark but doesn't bleed through.  There's also a roller ball version of the pen, which is also fine for writing, but I don't really recommend rollerball pens for serious inking.  Tul makes a few colors, although nothing really fancy or exciting


Office Max/Office Depot/Tul no longer seem to make the Tul Fineliner, as I can't find it on the Office Max/Office Depot site, nor on Amazon.  I suppose they were phasing them out.  I also can't find them sold openstock, only in packs of various sizes.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

PSA: People Cannot Create in a Vacuum

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People cannot create in a vacuum.

In 2014, while attending Louisianime, a young attendee came up to my table, super excited because THE Nattosoup decided to attend his local con that year.  Apparently, he'd read all of my alcohol based marker reviews, and he ended up behind my table, chatting about the life of an artist whenever he felt overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the show.  I was touched that he was so excited by my attendance, and happy to oblige his request (obtained with his grandmother's permission) to decompress in the safety of my banner's shadow.

Last year, right before MTAC, Keicai (@caideleh on Twitter and Tumblr) notified me on Tumblr that she was planning on attending MTAC based on my glowing recommendation from the year before.  She'd read my blogpost and had decided to make the drive from Indiana to Tennessee with a friend in tow to share a table.  Not only did she contact  me on Tumblr, but she made it a point to come up to me on Sunday and chat, which really meant a lot to me.

This year, at Mechacon, Angelle (@Stark_Alchemy) a clay artist who I met at Louisianime the year before, came by my table to say hi, catch up, and check out this year's merch.  I was happy to catch up with her, and glad that she came by to say hi.

These moments of connection, which are sadly rare, really mean a lot to me, and are a big part of why I created this blog in the first place.  At the time, about six years ago, I was still learning so much about art and draftsmanship on my own, and my biggest resources were the /ic/ board of 4chan (yeah, sorry), the Creative boards on Something Awful, and Conceptart.org.  Although there were tutorials online on DeviantArt, and the critiques on CA were very useful, most of the information I found was through PDF copies of then out of print books- The Famous Artist Course, the Famous Comic Artist Course, the Andrew Loomis drawing books, Burne Hogarthe, and my favorite, the Glen Vilppu Drawing Manual.  I started this blog shortly before I started my graduate courses at SCAD, and have kept writing about all sorts of art and comic related topics since.

Throughout the years, I've had a couple goals that have always just been out of reach.  For one, I've always wanted this blog to be a small source of income, given the long hours I spend on each post, and unfortunately, despite even the most recent additions, it still costs me money to run this blog, rather than at least paying for itself.  Another of my goals for this blog was to use it to help build a community for my work by providing useful information in a searchable space, another goal that is still woefully out of my grasp.

I have been frustrated with the lack of reader interaction for a couple years now, and I've been wracking my brain with ways to change that.  I've tweeted a lot about this topic, as well as the topic of blog sponsorships a lot on my Twitter, hoping that someone might suggest something novel as a way to remedy these two big elephants in the room.  I acknowledge that people do occasionally comment on this blog, but I must admit that the addition of Google Comments instead of my old Captcha comment system leaves me not only unable to reply to comments, but unable to even access them.  Until I can solve this issue, if you'd like to say something, please email me, or tweet me about it (please include the link, so I know what you're talking about specifically).

I would also like to come up with a compromise of interaction that works for me and works for you guys, so if there's any system you prefer, please let me know in an email.  Would you prefer to chat on Twitter, over Instagram, or send asks through my Tumblr?  Please do let me know.  I have a poll up on the sidebar, and you can vote for your favorites.  It's heartbreaking to have written for so long, to have had so many readers, and so many page views, and to still have such limited engagement with the people I supposedly write for.

My reality:

I work from home in my apartment in Nashville, TN.  I don't have any friends here--I'd moved for a job, and now that that job has ended, I'm paying my rent through savings and the money I make doing freelance and conventions.  The friends I do have are far away--we do chat online, but it's often very shallow conversations, and I do my best to hide how depressed I am. I don't want people to worry.  I work upstairs, in a room dedicated as my studio, and very often only leave the room during the day to use the bathroom or grab a bite to eat.  I juggle out of state conventions, helping to maintain How to Be a Con Artist, writing posts for this blog, convention commissions, freelance work, and comics.  I generate a lot of content, much of which is shared here or on my other social sites, and I often hear very little response, which is incredibly discouraging.  I feel like I have been trying to create in a vacuum, guessing at what people would be interested in reading.

I attend dozens of conventions every year, put on several panels, and meet hundreds of people, but I still feel like I have very few friends, and I'm incredibly lonely.  When people do chat with me, it's usually to ask a question, ask for help, or because they need encouragement.  I do my best to encourage and inspire others, but it often leaves me absolutely drained, as I have limited sources of encouragement on my end.   I have written this blog for six years, and while I've seen my audience grow substantially, I haven't enjoyed the benefits of a larger audience   Even though I've formed or helped form a couple groups--How to Be a Con Artist, and Western Shoujo Artists, these have not had the social benefits I'd hoped for.

This isolation is killing me, and it's gotten to the point where writing this blog, and never hearing any sort of feedback, is detrimental to my emotional health. I spend a lot of time and money writing, and one of the main reasons I started this in the first place was to build relationships, help establish credibility and relevancy in my larval career, and to help form a community.  I had hoped that this blog would serve as a springboard to other things, and would become a source of inspiration for other artists.  I had hoped it would open doors and start conversations.  None of these things have happened.  It's become frustrating doing research, because I see other bloggers (especially craft bloggers) achieving what I'd like to have, while I seem to be stagnating.  I've tried reaching out and being honest about this situation on Twitter (which is tied with Tumblr in my current poll regarding engagement for this blog, so I thought that would be good place to talk to you guys directly, as it's the easiest to directly respond to), and those are the tweets that go ignored.  I understand that many of you may be uncomfortable talking to, or interacting with, people who are depressed, and I apologize if I've made you uncomfortable.  I've made the mistake of considering my readers as friends, when in reality, I think most of you do not know me at all.  I'm going to change that in the upcoming months, but I would really appreciate your help to make that possible.

What I Offer: 

  • I have consistently updated this blog with art school advice (when I was attending SCAD for my MFA)
  • comic and convention insight, brutally honest convention reviews you can trust (even when they reflect poorly on me, and create bad blood between myself and the convention staff)
  • convention prep tips
  • reviews of merchandise services such as Ink It Labs, Ponoko, and Artscow
  • unbiased art and comic supply reviews from someone who has been professionally trained to use these materials, but has also had experience in self education
  • art technique tutorials influenced by my accredited art education
  • videos of workshops and panels that explain these topics in detail visually, step by step
  • interviews with other comic professionals at various stages of their careers to influence and inspire
  • Six years of content, over 800 posts covering a wide range of topics

What I want:

More support

I want to hear from you, I want to know what you think of this blog, and what you'd like to see more of.  I would seriously love it if you guys linked me elsewhere, told your friends, teachers, coworkers about this blog.  I want to know what you'd like to see improved upon, suggestions for tutorials, recommendations for products to test.  I would like you to write to companies and request that they send me samples, especially of products you want to see tested here.  Almost everything is purchased from my pocket, and that gets really expensive.

Companies You Can Contact on My Behalf:
When you write them, please make sure you mention my name (Becca Hillburn) and if you can, a general link to this blog, as well as the review you wish to mention would be really helpful.  If I've inspired you to make any purchases, please mention that as well.  The more of you who write in, the more likely they'll be willing to work with me, and I promise, any sponsorship will not affect my opinion on products, nor my ability to write a review.

If you aren't comfortable doing that, here's a link to my Amazon wishlist, Dick Blick wishlist, and Jetpens wishlist--they are entirely made up of products I'd like to review on this blog, and your donation would help out a lot.  Donors who donate supplies will receive a special shout out in the review, and I'll prominently link any of their blog/Instagram/Twitter.  If my panels have benefited you in some way, and we're at the same show, please try to come say hi towards the end of the day, it would mean the world to me.  It is so frustrating when I send my ambassadors out to take photos, and you guys light up when they say Nattosoup sent them, but you don't come chat with me at any point.  On a rare occasion, a reader will come say hi, and it honestly means so much to me. 

There is no way for me to know who reads this blog unless you guys reach out and tell me, and the more people who say hi, the better idea I'll have on how to tailor what I write about to suit your needs.  I would especially love it if you guys occasionally bought copies of 7" Kara, left reviews, or tried to get it into your local libraries, as I am a comic artist, and this has been difficult for me to do on my own.  If you know of a path to a goal (like working with sponsors) and can provide concrete advice, please let me know. 

I want this blog to finally start contributing to my income on a regular basis.  Writing my review posts, purchasing the materials necessary; this takes a lot of time and a lot of money, and while I enjoy doing it, I would like for this blog to finally start paying its own expenses.  There are a number of ways I am going to explore in the near future, but I've already started introducing affiliate links and ads beneath the posts.  Please consider turning OFF your ad blockers when you view my blog, or at least consider occasionally contributing to my Paypal.  In the future, I am going to start listing monthly donors in a Thank You post, because I feel it's important to recognize your generosity. 

Of course, this is a two way street, and there are things I'd like to do for you guys in the future as well.

What I want to do:

  • I want to partner with companies, providing both artwork, tutorials, and reviews for their products.
  • I want to start recording tutorial videos in addition to the written tutorials I have here, as I know videos are more beneficial to some of you. 
  • I want to start Livestreaming again, and I'd like it if people actually showed up to chat.  I would love to answer questions during the stream.
  • I want to host more giveaways, so I can find good homes for the products I've tested but can't use. 
  • I want to have fundraisers for schools and art programs, to make sure kids have the supplies they need to learn. 
  • I would like to do more panels at conventions, workshops at schools and libraries. 
  • I want to do more tutorials, but I need to know what you guys WANT to know, what you would like help with.  Right now, the only way I have any idea is to check the search terms that people when they find this blog.  I need you guys to comment, to send me messages, to email me with your questions.
  • I want my career to grow, to flourish with new opportunities, and I want to use this blog as a tool towards that end
  • Introduce a donation counter, and system to give credit to monthly donors, until the Patreon is up (probably sometime after Gizmo Grandma is finished)
  • Better product photography

What You Guys Want: 

I need to know what you guys want to see.  Want more WIP's on Instagram?  Want me to port tutorials over to Tumblr?  Want more tutorials here, where I include where I get more materials?  More con stuff?  More art stuff?  More Copics?  More watercolor?  Video tutorials?  Video reviews?   Would you guys like group Google Hangouts, where we chat and draw together?  The only way I will ever know is if you guys let me know!  If you don't let me know what you want to see, all I can do is guess, and guessing isn't fun anymore. If I get enough feedback I'll start a poll so you can see in what direction I'll likely be heading, but this will most likely be in the form of contribution levels on the upcoming Patreon.

How You Can Contact Me:

While comments are enabled, they aren't the best way if you'd like to engage in conversation.  Better methods of contact include: Email, Twitter , Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook.  If you have something negative to say, I would prefer you contact me personally so we can hash it out together, and if you have questions or requests for tutorials, I would be very appreciative if you sent them to me via Tumblr asks, so that I can show them publicly and establish a reputation on Tumblr, connecting the two blogs as much as possible.

Why this is a Concern: 

  • I see art and craft bloggers and vloggers all around me on the internet getting sponsorships and care-of packages from companies I regularly buy and review for, and I'd like the same for myself.  To do that, I need more audience support from my 700 daily silent readers.
  • I want to Kickstart Volume 2 of 7" Kara, the comic I've been working on, and sharing here, for the past several years, and I'm concerned that despite being very active in several comic communities, despite attending so many conventions, I won't be able to reach a $5000 goal, 
  • I want to get paid to do workshops and tutorials, and I'm concerned because despite having the credentials, and a body of work to review, I have trouble getting libraries to stay in contact long enough to make concrete plans.
  • I've attended conventions for several years, drawn hundreds of commissions, but when money is tight around Christmas, I can't seem to generate any sales. 
  • I want to eventually have a Patreon, and offer even better content, and I'm concerned that I'll have backed myself into a corner, because while people will happily read this blog for free, I don't see a lot of link referrals from outside sources.

What's going to happen:

Regardless of my frustrations, I don't believe in holding content hostage.  I'm not going to make anyone jump through arbitrary hoops.  This blog is going to continue to update as usual, at least until I'm utterly drained and have nothing left to give.  If you want to fill my reserves and prevent that from happening, simply emailing me your thoughts is a good way to do that. 

In the next few months, I'm going to complete my Walmart Art Supply Review, and start my Target and Dollar Tree reviews.  I have a set of Reeves watercolors I ordered from Amazon, and a whole box of different Kuretake pens (also from Amazon) to review.  I'm waiting to hear back from a couple end of the year cons, and I still need to write my Mechacon review.  I'm halfway through scanning an artdump.  I'm almost finished painting Gizmo Grandma, and I'm waiting to hear from 1001 Knights, so I can announce that Kickstarter's launch.  I have plenty of content in the works, so as long as I have the emotional energy, you'll continue to have posts to read.

Special Thanks:

I would be remiss if I didn't publicly recognize some of the content I regularly consume.  Many of these are listed on my sidebar feature, Recommended Reading, but quite a few of these are new, and deserve to be added there.  If you enjoy the content I produce, I recommend you check these sources out, if you don't read them already.
Do any of you readers have an art/craft blog?  Email me/tweet me and I'll check it out!  Hopefully together we can create a monthly spotlight for my readers!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Basic Comic Supply List

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    When I was just a wee little middle school girl, I decided I wanted to make comics for a living, and set about accomplishing that task the best way that I could.  All I really knew about comics is that they could be color or black and white, that the story was told sequentially using pictures, word balloons and captions were used liberally, and that I needed to ink my pages.  When I first started drawing, I had very limited access to the internet, and back then, free online resources were pretty limited away, so I often just winged it.  My first supplies were a Papermate mechanical pencil (the sort that mimic real pencils, and are persnickety to draw with), ballpoint pens for inking, and Crayola's brief flirtation with fineliners for color.  This was all drawn on bottom of the line printer paper, because that's what we had. 
    In the upcoming weeks, I'm going to review art supplies from Walmart, Target, and the Dollar Tree, in an effort to find affordable, accessible supplies that any kid can get their hands on.  When I walked through these stores, I walked with a certain basic supply list in mind- essentials I absolutely had to buy, because these are things every comic artist will use at some point.

    For a basic comic drawing setup, you'll need:
  • 2 pencils- one for graphite, one for a colored lead (if you can't get non photo blue, go for red)
  • Pencil bag or case to keep everything handy.
  • Sketchbook, any kind, so long as you like drawing on the paper and the paper doesn't shred when you erase
  • Rulers- 12", 24", yardstick.  The 12" should preferably be clear, the 24" and yardstick made of metal.
  • Eraser- White vinyl is my favorite, but you should experiment to find one that works best for you
  • Inking pens
  • Heavier smooth paper that you enjoy drawing on, can take repeated erasing, and will take ink- cardstock isn't the worst start, high quality bristol or even watercolor paper are good steps up.
  • Correction fluid- white out, white gel pens, ect
  • Pencils or pens you enjoy just sketching with, for practice in your sketchbook
  • White masking tape- to tape down additional pages when you're creating perspective grids.
  • A designated hard surface- your kitchen table, a clipboard, or a piece of masonite.
These tools will help you generate basic black and white comic pages.  Color complicates things quite a bit, and may add several additional steps to your page making process, but the basics for adding color are:

  • Some media you feel comfortable using- color pencils are very affordable, and a great first step for many artists.  Watercolors are also affordable, and you can search this blog for several recommendations on types (pan, tube, marker, watercolor pencil) that are affordable and versatile.  Keep in mind that with ANY waterbased media, including waterbased markers like Crayola, you need to use a waterproof ink, and let it dry overnight.
  • Paper with the structural integrity to handle the media you're using.  Pencil likes a paper with a bit of a tooth, so cardstock isn't the best option.  Watercolor needs heavier paper, especially for detailed work, so a good 140lb pad is a good starting place (Canson's Biggie paper is a good student grade watercolor paper that's commonly available at non-art specific shops like Walmart and Michaels)
  • A LOT OF PATIENCE because as you're learning a new media, you're going to make mistakes.  Mistakes are an important part of learning, so try not to get frustrated with yourself.
You can also add spot color here and there for emphasis, accent, or toning- you'll need a much smaller; range if you just use spot color.

If you want to share your work online, you'll need at least three things

  • A scanner- For scanning your finished pages
  • A camera or camera phone- if you wish to post in progress work to Instagram or Tumblr
  • Access to a computer
  • Scanning software (often comes with the scanner, but you can also use Gimp, Photoshop, ect)
Going entirely digital may be the easiest route for those just getting started.  Basic tablet are becoming increasingly inexpensive- these allow you to draw directly on the surface of your computer.  Drawing tablets like those made by Monoprice and Wacom, are also becoming much more affordable.  If you're interested in either of these options, I recommend reading Frenden's reviews before committing to anything.

Regardless of how you decide to make comics, careful research ahead of time will save you A LOT of money.  Googling around and watching Youtube reviews before you commit to any significant art investment will help you save money and make the money you do spend go farther.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Brushpen Review: Kuretake No. 6 Double Sided Brush Pen Black and Gray And Kuretake No. 33

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I'm going to review both the Kuretake No. 6 and the Kuretake No. 33 in this post, because they're almost the same pen.  The Kuretake No. 6 is a double ended brush pen with a black end and a gray end, and the Kuretake No. 33 is just the brush nib.  Both are available through Jetpens for under $6, though if you buy the No. 6, there's no real reason to buy the No. 33.

Kuretake No. 6 Double Sided Brush Pen Black and Gray

This was one of the pens Jetpens sent me to review, but digging through my drawers, I'd found that I'd also purchased one for myself awhile back.  Great minds think alike, I suppose.  The No. 6 is $5.75, which makes sense as it's two brush pens in one body.

The Package

The No. 6 I received came packaged in a cardboard blister pack with instructions written in Japanese.  I chucked the packaging as soon as I photographed it.

The Pen

Based on my experience with other black and gray dual sided brushpens, I expected the gray nib to be significantly smaller than the black nib, and the cap for the gray nib seemed to support that hypothesis.

I was surprised to see that the gray brush nib was only slightly smaller than the black nib on the No. 6.  If you're looking for a dual sided brush pen that has a large gray nib, the No. 6 is a great choice.
To the Left:  Kuretake No. 6.  To the right, Zig Art and Graphic Twin.  Zig is owned by Kuretake, and seems to be their American branch, and both pens utilize the same body.  I believe they also utilize the same larger nib- it's squishy, juicy, a little rubbery, and squeaks when you ink.

For these double sided brushpen reviews, I've taken to laying in my shadows before inking, to prevent the gray ink from smearing the black.  The gray in the No. 6 is darker than the ink in many double sided brushpens, and darker than the cap indicates.

The Field Test

This is a larger brush nib, so if you're very light handed and want a wide range of strokes, or if you're working on larger illustrations, the nib size on both ends works in your favor.  If you want to quickly knock in shapes using the gray and then put in details with the black, it also works quite well at that.

The Verdict

The No. 6 features a soft, responsive brush on both ends that may not be for everyone, but it performs well.  If you're looking for a larger nibbed doubble sided brush pen, the Kuretake No. 6 is a strong choice.

Kuretake No 6, Kuretake No 33, and Kuretake Zig Art and Graphic Twin

From Left to Right:  Kuretake No. 6, Kuretake No. 33, Zig Art and Graphic Twin

Kuretake No. 33 Brush Pen Soft

This is one of the pens I purchased from Amazon, I believe, as I progress my way through Kuretake's numbered brushpens to ferret out their differences.  You can also get this pen on Jetpens for $3.30.  It's almost identical to the No. 6 reviewed above, except that it's one sided- only a large black Japanese brush.

The Package

The No. 33 is packaged in a plastic envelope, unlike the No. 6's cardboard and plastic packaging, and it's easy to remove- you just open the adhesive flap at the bottom. 

The Pen

As mentioned above, the No. 33 is very similar to the No. 6, minus the additional brush end.  The inking end has a flare to the body to make holding the pen more comfortable, and the back is designed to allow you to post the cap.

The nib is a little squeaky when you ink- this doesn't bother me, I actually find it somewhat endearing (it reminds me of how Tombow's used to be, back when I was an undergrad), and the pen has lots of rich, dark ink.

No. 6 on the Left, No. 33 on the Right

No. 6 on the Left, No. 33 on the right

No. 6 on the left, No. 3 on the right

The Field Test

As the No. 6 and No. 33 are such juicy inking pens, I decided to mimic the way one of my favorite artists, Leslie Hung, handles hair.

The Overall Verdict:

If you're looking for a double sided brush pen that has two large brushes, the No. 6 is an excellent choice, but if you just want a single sided brush pen, I highly recommend the No. 6, even above some of the other large nibbed brushpens I've reviewed on this blog.  The price is right, it does exactly what you want it to do, and the ink is rich and deeply pigmented.

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