Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Louisiana Comic Classes

All classes taught through the St Charles Parish Library are free to the public!

Writing Comics

Tuesday, June 25th

Do you have a story to tell?  This class will help you develop your concept into a comic script, ready to illustrate!  If you're working on a project, feel free to bring it!

St Rose Branch of St Charles Parish Library
All ages welcome, children under 13 with parental supervision

From Stick to Figure- Drawing People

Wednesday, June 26th

Can you draw a stick figure?  Are you ready to take your figure drawing to the next level?  This fun, interactive art class will help you take the skills you already have (drawing awesome stick figures) and level up into drawing people for comics and illustrations!

Norco Branch of the St Charles Parish Library
All ages welcome, children under 13 with parental supervision

Manga Madness- How to Draw Anime Inspired Characters  

Thursday, June 27th

Develop your own manga inspired style in this fun workshop!  We're going to talk about the elements of style, what makes manga unique, and talk about the vast array of artstyles that fall under the manga umbrella.  Make sure you bring your sketchbook and examples of your art, and be prepared to talk about your favorite manga artists!

East Regional Library
All ages welcome, children under 13 with parental supervision

Inking Comics 

Saturday, June 29th

Learn how to use technical pens, brush pens, brushes, and dip pens in this fun hands on class!  Ink your own art, or practice with the provided exercises.  Note: This class can get messy, so wear your play clothes and prepare to get inky!

West Regional Library
All ages welcome, children under 13 with parental supervision

DIY Zines and Minicomics 

Tuesday, July 2nd

Learn the basics of assembling your own mini comic or zine, just in time for Destrehan Comic Con!  You don't have to be an artist to enjoy this class- zines can include everything from collage to found objects!

Paradis Branch of the St Charles Parish Library
All ages welcome, children under 13 with parental supervision

Make a MiniComic

Saturday, July 6th

In this Destrehan Comic Con workshop, you're going to learn a magic trick- how to turn a single sheet of plain paper into an eight page mini comic that you can copy and trade!

At the Destrehan Comic Con
East Regional Library
All ages welcome!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

1 Million Views Giveaway Winner

Our Winner is: Donna VanGlad (ArtDamnit)

Our Giveaway Announcement Stream:

We want to thank everyone who's entered our giveaway!  So many of you REALLY wanted to win- I know because I received so many DM's and emails asking me to select themselves as the winner.  But this contest was as fair as possible, so King Sumo randomly selected our winner.  I'll make it more clear in the future that sharing the giveaway with others will increase your chance to win more than emailing me personally.  The massive response to this giveaway serves as inspiration for future giveaways, so if you didn't win this time, keep an eye out for more giveaway opportunities. And we sent some goodies to those who didn't win as well.

We did want to give a special shout out to Gwen Mahachi for referring a whopping 54 additional entrants to the giveaway!  That's amazing!

Monday, June 03, 2019

Nashville Class: Coloring Flowers with Copic

Sunday, June 9th: Coloring Flowers with Copic

Learn how to use alcohol markers for beautiful botanicals!  Alcohol markers pack a color punch—the vivid, brilliant colors are perfect for rendering flowers and foliage.  In this afternoon class, we're going to talk about techniques for creating depth of color, rendering dewdrops, and illustrating lush florals.

June 9th, 1-4PM
$25, all supplies provided.
Ages 13 and up

In this class, we're going to cover the basics of sketching and inking flowers, working from reference and color selection, and watercolor applied over alcohol markers.

Come color along!  Materials, including reference, are provided, but you are invited to bring your own preferred alcohol markers, watercolors, or photo reference!

To register, you can call the Nashville PlaZa at 615-254-3368 and select extension 4, or you can email nashvilleclasses@plazaart.com

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Affordable Adobe Alternatives for Illustrators

A while ago, I wrote this list of free or inexpensive software options.

It's time to revisit the list, and evaluate alternatives to Adobe!  The list provided is NOT exhaustive, but several options available will undoubtedly be useful in the long term for creatives looking to escape Adobe's ecosystem.
If you are unfamiliar with what's going on with Adobe, and why you may not want to use other options, read this article.

Several of these software options listed are able to perform other tasks than what they are listed under -- however, they are not
Please read the Terms of Service or End User License Agreement for products or services you are interested in to ensure that the terms are not exploitative.

Please visit the product pages for detailed software information, exact pricing, and to see if it will meet your needs.
Neither I nor the Nattosoup Studio Blog are associated with these software vendors in any way, and do not see any sort of fees for recommendations made here.

Some information has been sourced from EverBlue_Comic's helpful Patreon Post.

General Image Editing

Testing resizing in Affinity Photo

Vector Editors

Illustration/Drawing Software

Drawn in Paint Tool SAI 2 Preview 2019.05.21

PDF Creation

Fiddling with an already-created PDF in Affinity Publisher Public Beta
There are, of course, other options out there for illustration, image or vector editing, and desktop publishing... But many of them exceed the cost of the options here.

Do your research! Evaluate your needs! Look at what's available!

Go forth and create!

If you like my art, and wanna see more of it, you can find my resources at Shooting Stars, or read my comic Linked.

Monday, May 27, 2019

1 Million Views Art Supply GIveaway

To celebrate getting over 1 million views on the Nattosoup YouTube channel, I've purchased and carefully curated an amazing selection of goodies designed to get you pumped up about making art and playing around with traditional art supplies!

I'm giving away:
  • 24 Marker set of Blick Studio Brush Markers
  • 6 additional Blick Studio Brush Markers in skintones
  • 1 Blick Studio Brush Blender Marker
  • 3-pack of Sakura Pigma Professional waterproof and marker proof brushpens (FB, MB, BB)
  • 12 pan set of Kuretake Gansai Tambi
  • 8 Piece set of the Reddot Design Award winning Lyra Colorstripe color pencils
  • Pack of Hara Peco Seal Bento Stickers
  • Pack of Bento Box paper flags
In case you were wondering, that's over $100 worth of pure art supply gold.

This represents a few of my favorite things we've done here on this blog and on the celebrated Youtube channel. I've spent hundreds of hours reviewing awesome sleeper brands of markers like my favorite, Blick Studio Brush Markers. I've demonstrated awesome inking techniques for watercolor and marker. I've unboxed fun subscription boxes like Artsnacks, Sketchbox, and Zenpop.jp, and I've explored art supplies from around the world.

This giveaway lets me put what I've learned into a tight package you can use to make amazing art, but also allows me to invite you to join my behind-the-scenes mailing list, Artnerds Unite, where I talk about my drive to create art learning resources, get into the nitty-gritty of the blog and YouTube, and just share some of my experiences as a teaching artist.

So help spread the word about the giveaway (it gives you more entries!) and join me on my next endeavors to create free, practical art resources for the working artist or hobbyist.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Future of Copic Markers in the US

Last week, we talked about Imagination International Inc's split from Too, Copic's Japanese manufacturer.  We speculated what the future might hold for Copic in the US, and discussed where one can buy Copic products now, including refills.

Fortunately, it seems my speculation was off in a couple ways- Too will not be solely distributing Copic in the US, and their new distributor is already quite established in the US art supply retail sphere.

Copic's new US distributor is MacPherson. MacPherson's is a distributor, carrying creative products that include artist and lifestyle brands. They carry a range of art products from acrylics to watercolor to leathercraft, but seem to cater towards art supply retailers, rather than individual customers.  Brands carried by MacPherson include Amsterdam, Dr PH Martin's, Marabu, Holbein, Sennelier, and more. 

MacPherson's Copic listings include several retail displays, as well as Bleedproof Marker Pads, Swatch books, tutorial books, the Copic ABS system, Copic Wide markers, Copic PM Pads, the Copic Gasenfude brush pen, retail displays for Various Inks, Copic Sketch markers, Copic Wide markers, and more.

It looks like MacPherson will carry:

Copic Ciao (openstock displays, sets)
Copic Original (openstock displays
Copic Sketch Markers (openstock displays, sets)
Copic Wide Markers (openstock)
Copic Various Ink (openstock, displays)

Copic Marker accessories such as:
Copic Marker Nibs
Copic Original Empty Markers
Copic Sketch Empty Markers
Copic Tweezers
Empty Various Ink Bottles
Empty Copic Wide Bottles

Multiliner Calligraphy Pens
Multiliner Sets
Multiliner SP pens
Disposable Copic Multilners
Copic Opaque White
Copic Gasenfude
Copic Mutiliners in various colors
Copic Multiliner Displays
Spica glitter pens (openstock, display, and sets)

Copic Sketchbooks
PM Pads

Marker cases and stands
Marker wallets

Tutorial DVDs

Distribution Information

MacPherson's will direct purchase and distribute Copic Markers in North America.  They are rolling the price on Copic markers back to what they were before the price increase.  This change took place way back in January of 2019.  It seems that Copic switched to MacPherson as a way of strengthening the continued supply of Copic products in North America, and this partnership also allows for the establishment of Too Corporation Americas.  The MacPherson network will allow Too to ensure that there will be no distribution in the supply chain, and Too Corporation of Americas will be exhibiting at NAMTA 2019 as the official manufacturer of Copic.  They also provided the MSRP and MAP of Copic Markers

COPIC Sketch:  MSRP $7.99  MAP $5.85  
COPIC Classic:MSRP $7.99MAP $5.85
COPIC Ciao:MSRP $5.49MAP $3.90

MacPherson sells to:
Blick Art Materials
Ex Libris (SCAD's bookstore)
Starlandia Reclaimed
Artisan's Art Center
Artist and Craftsman Supply
Paper Party and More
David Art Center
Mo's Art Supply and Framing
Creason's Art Supply
Art Mart
Mink Crafts
The Starving Artist

and many more stores.  

If you want to check to see if Copic will still be available in your area, you can search for your retail location here!  Hobby Lobby and Cheap Joe's were not in the listings, but this does not mean they will not carry Copic, just that MacPherson's does not list them as retailers.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Copic Marker Class- Coloring People with Copic

Coloring People with Copic

I am so excited to announce my second Copic marker centric class with PlaZa Art!  Coloring People with Copic will expand on the techniques and tricks demonstrated in my Alcohol Marker Basics class.  As those of you who follow my Instagram probably know, I love drawing people, so this class is a wonderful combination of two of my passions- alcohol markers and cartoony illustration!

June 1st, 1-4PM
$25, all supplies provided.
Ages 13 and up

This class is perfect for stampers, scrappers, and illustrators!  You don't need to be an artist, as line-art will be provided for your use, but you're welcome to doodle along.  We're going to talk about selecting colors for skin, hair, and eyes, and cover techniques for makeup, blush, and shadows!
To register, you can call the Nashville PlaZa at 615-254-3368 and select extension 4, or you can email nashvilleclasses@plazaart.com

For my first Copic class with Plaza, Alcohol Marker Basics, I created a TON of bonus material that I'm sharing with my Artnerds on Patreon.  From blends that always work to easy skintones to linearts that they can print and practice, my Artnerds have gotten a first look at everything students in my physical classes benefit from.  I even created a handful of bonus tutorials for Youtube to help me hone my presentation and keep my skills sharp.  If you can't physically attend my comic or Copic classes, the next best thing is to join my Patreon for just $2 a month and gain access to all class materials, including handouts, printables, presentations, and class video.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Has Copic Gone Dry?: Don't Panic

Too Will Distribute Copic Markers in the US

Recently, Imagination International Inc (iii), Copic's US distributor, announced that iii and the Too corporation, Copic's parent company, would be parting ways.

The gist seems to be that after two decades of working together, the new generation of owners want to move Copic in another direction.  They want to cut iii out of the operation and work directly with the customers that iii have built overseas.  iii will cease supplying Copic products in the US, as well as cease marketing the Copic brand.  Most of us know that Copic prices have risen in the past few years as demand has increased, iii has absorbed as much of the price hike as they possibly could, so the US saw a smaller hike than the EU.

iii carries several brands at this time- X-Press It (frequently sold in conjunction with Copic as a blending paper for markers), Sensebook, Better (glue), Everyday Easel (easel/drafting table), Terial Magic (gives fabrics paper like qualities), and more.  Personally, I'm not familiar with most of these products- I am most familiar with the Copic line of tools and materials.

Recently they've changed their Twitter and Instagram handles to Marker Universe, a more generic name that can possibly reflect a broader diversity of marker ranges.  On their Instagram, they also announce the  upcoming launch of a new website at MarkerUniverse.com.  You can sign up for notification of site launch.   In answering questions and comments on their Instagram, they talk about bringing more marker options from around the world, expanding their line, and continuing to sell Copic markers as a retailer.


To help answer some of the questions out there: Copic still does exist. We’ll still be continuing #ColorsoftheMonth, and while you may see mentions of Copic on our feed, our focus will be to celebrate other incredible brands around the globe in order to connect with artists in the best celebration of art possible.


@taylorcapitano1 Not a dumb question! Copic markers will still be sold. We’re just expanding to include other great brands from around the globe, as we are a distributor and not the direct manufacturer.


@andrewtheartist No, Copic will remain the same as far as we know. But we cannot speak for them - you would need to contact the Copic manufacturer to be sure.


@rinka687artastic We’ll definitely be bringing you many different marker options from around the globe - different styles and price points. Stay tuned!

The official Copic site lists a US-based subsite as their American Distributor now

Official Copic site in English

The American Subsite isn't nearly as fleshed out as the Japanese site, and doesn't have links to retailers, tutorials, or additional information.  Both sites seem reminicent of the Deleter Site, and the Deleter US site.

Official Copic US Distribution Site

At this time, it does not list Copic accessories such as Various Inks, Multiliners, the Copic ABS, tutorials, or replacement nibs for Copic markers or Multiliners.

The official Copic site is well worth exploring, with artist interviews, Copic information, and tutorials- although some content may be in Japanese.  There's even a cute comic about how Copic Sketch and Copic Ciao differ.  I really hope they plan on bringing this rich content to their Western fans, as iii did a lot to make Copics accessible in the US.  We'd love a Copic Clinic!

The Too website seems to be much more content rich, as is CopicMarker.com  At the top of the page, CopicMarker.com mentions that they are out of Various Ink refills.  The Too site seems to be a reskin of the Copic Japan site, so again, I hope that they translate this content and make it accessible to Western audiences.  If I remember correctly, CopicMarker.com is attached to iii, and will probably rebrand to MarkerUniverse shortly.  I recommend you check out their rich content, including tutorials and interviews, while it's still available.

If you have any questions about this transition, I strongly recommend you contact Copic directly with your questions.

For most of us, US and Canada based illustrators, manga artists, or stampers, we know about Copic due to iii's efforts.  From convention booths at shows like Otakon and Anime Expo, to the Copic Certification (it was my dream to get certified, but they ended the program before I had a chance to make it down to Atlanta for the certification classes), to outreach and endorsement from stampers and scrappers, iii made a popular art supply for mangaka and illustrators accessible to the US public.

Fans of Japanese art supplies know that it can be difficult getting the products we need, particularly when distributors change, brands take control of their own distribution in the West, or products fall from popular favor.  While there are shops dedicated to importing Japanese stationery products, few are truly dedicated to importing Japanese art and craft supplies at more than a token level.  I've traveled to Japan twice, both times returning with entire suitcases packed with artbooks and art supplies, and I've subscribed to Zenpop.jp's Stationery Box from January-May to access how well they fill that nice.  With too taking over their own distribution, I'm concerned that we may see Copic shortages during the transition, but I sincerely hope they listen to their Western fans and try to maintain stock and distribution.

My Predictions

I think that Copic is pretty firmly established as a popular entity in the US, so a longterm shortage or a cease in distribution is unlikely.  I do think that many stores will scale back in their Copic offerings- perhaps only offering Copic Sketch markers, or maybe only sets of markers.  I think larger retailers such as Blick will continue to offer a larger selection, like Various Inks and replacement nibs, but Copic may opt to phase the Original out of the US market completely.

You may find it difficult to find Copics in smaller art supply stores, such as small chains or mom and pop stores, and access to Copic information may become even more limited.  Stores may be more prone to backorders and limited stock, particularly while distribution switches over to Too.

This post was not written to imply that there will be longterm shortages, nor that Copic will cease manufacturing or distributing Copic markers.  I do suggest that if you need Various Ink refills or replacement nibs, you buy them now, while they're easily accessible, rather than waiting, just because I know that there are always hiccups when distribution changes hands.  In the rest of this post, I cover availability through popular marker resources.  By the time you see this post, these supplies may have changed.

Over the years, I've reviewed dozens of alcohol markers here on the blog and on the Youtube channel, but only a couple ever held a candle to Copic's offerings.  And with our access to Copic refills, markers, and replacement nibs up in the air, now might be a great time to reexamine the other markers on the market, and plan an exit strategy.  I'll discuss that in future posts, however.  If you'd like to check out alcohol marker alternatives now, you can visit my Alcohol Marker hubpage.

Where to Buy Copic Markers and Accessories:

Art Supply Stores

On Blick, one of the larger art supply retailers in the US, Copic Various Inks, and Copic Wide Markers seem to be in low supply, but Copic OriginalCopic Sketch, and Copic Ciao Markers seem to be in stock.  Nibs seem to be in stock as well.

Various Ink Listing on Blick

Marker Supply:
Marker Supply has Copic Original, Copic Ciao, and Copic Sketch sets available, but does not carry Various Inks, Copic Wides, or replacement nibs.

Marker Supply

Carpe Diem Markers:
Carpe Diem Markers has descriptions for the Copic Refill Booster, Copic Opaque White, and the Nib Tweezer, but only lists Copic Opaque White. They still carry Copic Ciao in Sets and openstock, Copic Original Markers openstock, and Copic Sketch Markers in openstock.  Most of the Various Ink colors are available in stock, and they still carry a variety of replacement nibs, including nibs for Copic Wide, which they do not seem to carry at this time.

Carpe Diem Markers 

Jerry's Artarama:
Jerry's Artarama has a wide range of Copic products listed including the Copic Airbrush System.  Copic Sketch is available openstock and in most sets, Copic Ciao is available openstock and in all sets, Various Ink is mostly out of stock, Copic Wides are available in set B, empty markers are available for Copic Sketch and Copic Wide, and the Copic Air Brush System is currently out of stock.  Replacement nibs are not available.

Jerry's Artarama Empty Copic Listing

PlaZa Art:
PlaZa has Copic Sketch markers available in sets and openstock, but does not currently carry Various Ink.  They do not carry Copic Original, Copic Ciao, or replacement nibs.

PlaZa Art

Cheap Joes:
Cheap Joe's Art Stuff carries Copic Original markers openstock and in sets, although many of the openstock Original markers are on backorder.   They also carry Copic Sketch markers in sets, but do  not seem to carry Copic Sketch markers openstock, nor Copic Ciao, and do not carry Copic Various Ink.

Cheap Joe's Marker Listings
MarkerPop used to be strongly focused on waterbased and alcohol markers, but has turned their focus mainly to stamping.  When you search for Copic or Copic Markers, nothing comes up, but if you go to the Marker subheading and select Copic, you'll see listings for Sketch markers, Varous Ink Refills, Ciao markers, Wide markers, Original markers, Multilners and Multiliner SP pens, Ciao sets, and replacement nibsCopic Sketch, and Copic Ciao markers in stock, Copic Wide and Copic Original markers are mostly in stock, and Various Ink refills are beginning fall out of stock, so if you're looking for specific colors, you may want to cross check with other sites in this post.

MarkerPop Copic listings
Cultpens, a UK based penshop with worldwide shipping, also carries a range of Copic supplies.  They may not be able to legally ship Copic products to the US, as that might violate the distribution agreement with Too, so your mileage may vary. 

Cultpens has listings for Copic Original, Copic Sketch, and Copic Ciao markers, Copic Multiner and Spica pens, the Copic refills, as well as Copic Accessories.  They offer Copic Originals openstock as well as in sets, and also offer the replacement nibs.  With openstock, marker color is selected from a dropdown menu, so please have your color chart handy when making selections.  Copic Sketch is available openstock, as well as in a wide range of sets.  As with the Original, openstock Copc Sketch marker selection is made from a dropdown menu.  Copic Ciao markers are available in sets as well as openstock with individual marker selection made from a drop down menu.  Cultpens doesn't seem to have any out of stock notices for their Various Inks, but you also select it from a drop down menu, so I wonder if they only let you know it's out of stock once it's in the cart or if they remove what they don't have automatically.

CultPens Copic Listings
OtakuFuel carries Copic products, but I want to caveat that I've had bad experiences with their delivery years ago, and there are other dissatisfied customers, so order at your own risk.  Otakufuel carries Copic Ciao openstock, although there are several colors that are out of stock.  They also carry Copic Original openstock, again with several out of stock (although fewer out of stock than the Ciaos).  Their openstock Copic Sketch selection also has several colors currently out of stock.  Their Various Ink selection has several holes as well, as does their Copic Wide selection.

OtakuFuel Copic Listings

Craft Stores: 

AC Moore:
AC Moore has some Copic Sketch markers in stock, but it seems to be openstock online, and their prices are quite high.  Your options may vary by store.

AC Moore Copic Listings

Michaels has Copic Sketch and Copic Original markers sorted by color families.  They carry 31 colors of Copic Wide markers, as well as empty Copic Classic, Copic Sketch, and Copic Wide markers.  They seem to be fairly well stocked with Copic Sketch markers online, but not all colors are available in stores.  Copic Original colors may be out of stock online, and may not be available in store.  Copic Ciao markers are only avilable in sets, Copic Sketch and Copic Original markers are also available in sets.  They carry nib refills as well.  They do carry Various Inks, but many are out of stock online and not available in store. Their prices are high, and their site is annoying to navigate.

Michaels Copic Listings

Big Box Stores

You can find a lot of Copic products on Amazon.   Copic Original Markers are available in a wide variety of sets, as well as openstock (easier to find if you know the color number, and search that+Copic Original).  They also carry Copic Sketch Markers, in various sets, as well as openstock by searching for the Color family+Copic Sketch.  Your options for Copic Ciao markers are a bit narrower, mainly the larger sets are listed.  You can find sepecific openstock Copic Ciao markers by searching for the family+Copic Ciao.   Copic Wide markers are available in sets as well as open stock.  Copic Various Ink is available on Amazon, but its more expensive than the other sites listed above that carry it.  You can also find a wide variety of replacement nibs for Copic on Amazon.

Or you can search the color name+Copic to see all options available.

Copic Listings on Amazon

Note:  Amazon links are all affiliate links.  No other links in this post are affiliate links.

Walmart carries Copic Sketch and Copic Ciao markers in a variety sets, but not openstock.  Sets start as small as 3 markers (blending trios), or triple packs of the colorless blender.  Copic Ciaos are available openstock starting at $3.90, but prices vary wildly, and Walmart may not offer the best price for what you need.  Ciaos are also available in sets of 6.  Walmart also carries Various Ink, but the price also varies wildly from $5.99-$15.74 depending on the color.

Copic Listings on Walmart

Overstock currently carries Copic products, but as with Walmart and Amazon, prices fluctuate wildly.  Overstock frequently offers coupons, so make sure you use those when you check out for the best deal possible.  They carry Copic Sketch markers in sets and openstock, Copic Ciao openstock and in sets, a very limited number of Copic Original markers openstock, but not in sets, no Copic Wide markers, some replacement nibs, and Various Ink, although a direct search for Various Ink yields few results, it does pop up when you search Copic Sketch and Copic Ciao.

Overstock.com Copic Listings

If you found this post to be helpful, useful, or inspirational, please consider supporting my work on Patreon, or taking one of my in-person classes in the Nashville area.  Your support (sharing my work on your favorite social network, supporting me on Patreon) allows me to continue to create content like this, and allows me to continue to dedicate time to writing art tutorials and art supply reviews.

In the near future, I'm going to be working on blog posts and videos focusing on great Copic marker alternatives, so please keep an eye out here and subscribe on Youtube!

Sources Used:

Monday, May 13, 2019

Alcohol Marker Basics Class Presentation

This presentation was created for my Alcohol Marker Basics class taught at the Nashville PlaZa.  It's one of a handful of Copic classes I'm teaching with PlaZa.

Of course, this is just a teaching guide- the class is much richer!  Hands on demonstrations, loads of marker accessories and materials to experiment with, and directed guidance are all part of the class experience that just can't be conveyed online.

If you're in the Nashville, TN area, and want to learn about alcohol markers, sign up for one of my classes!  My Copic marker classes are hands on and quite interactive, and attendees are encouraged to experiment and play!  We have Coloring People with Copic, Coloring Flowers with Copic, and Copic Markers on Toned Paper coming up in the near future, so register to reserve your place!

Normally my class slideshows are privileged information- accessible only to my students and my Artnerds, but I currently have no method to email presentations to PlaZa students, and I did promise to make it available after the class.  Artnerds will have access to the handy Resource document I created that collates information, recommended colors, and links to my favorite tutorials, access to the linearts I created (as printables), and early access to the Copic marker video tutorials I created to help me prepare for this class. If you'd like access to those, now is a great time to join me on Patreon!  Pledges start at just $1, and $2 basically grants you access to all the goodies, from early access videos to class materials like printables, resource docs, and even class videos!

Monday, April 29, 2019

What I've Learned from Testing Watercolors

I began testing professional grade watercolors in 2017.  I'd hit a wall with Winsor and Newton watercolors- I'd used the semi moist half pans years when painting 7" Kara, and found that I had difficulty justifying paying $7+ for a single half pan that might last half a chapter.  I wanted to find alternatives that had similar working properties and professional qualities (archival, lightfast, ability to layer and glaze) and hoped to find a price break.

Recognizing that watercolor comic artists don't have many resources tailored to their needs, I decided to share my experiences in two forms, both primarily on YoutubeUnbox and Swatch videos focus on the initial product reaction and swatches, Fieldtests focus on how the paints handle in an actual illustration.  Frequently, Fieldtests double as tutorials- a chance to demonstrate techniques or explain a process.

I've begun collating my experiences and findings into a single ranked document, mostly for my own amusement.  Eventually, I'll make it available to others, and it might be fun to do a tournament style ranking of watercolors, with input from other watercolor comic artists and illustrators.

illustration painted with Prima Marketing Watercolor Confections Tropicals
Prima Marketing Tropicals Fieldtest
  • Swatching isn't really enough to give viewers the information they need.  My Unbox and Swatch process has evolved over the years, from straight swatches to graduated swatches that test opacity, granulation, and lifting properties.
Illustration painted with White Nights watercolors
St Petersburg White Nights Fieldtest
  • Fieldtests have taught me how to make the most out of individual brands' unique working properties.  To get the most out of something cheap like Artist Loft or Reeves, I have to have a variety of techniques and skills to draw from- fieldtests have helped me develop these problem solving skills.
Illustration painted with the Daniel Smith Ultimate mixing palette
Daniel Smith Ultimate Mixing Set Half Pan Palette
  • Good watercolor paper solves a lot of wrongs.  Arches padbound cottonrag paper is a great fairly affordable surface for a wide range of watercolors. You can use cheap watercolor on nice paper and nice watercolors on cheap paper, but cheap watercolors on cheap paper is usually a struggle many beginner artists aren't ready to deal with.
watercolor illustration painted with MozArt Komorebi watercolors
Mozart Komorebi Field Test
  • Testing watercolor is just as expensive as testing alcohol markers, a niche I've been eager to leave in the past.   However, you can do fairly thorough testing with just a few colors, as watercolors are far more mixable, so there's less waste.  Still, my testing is only possible thanks to support of my Artnerds on Patreon.
watercolor illustration painted with the Sakura Koi CAC palette
Sakura Koi CAC Fieldtest
  • Testing watercolor has really broadened my horizons.  Before I began testing professional watercolor brands, I stuck pretty closely to Winsor and Newton, as it was what I was familiar with, and is commonly available.  Now my daily driver palette includes Daniel Smith, Sennelier, Holbein, and more.  I'm much more comfortable with color mixing, and with making the most of the palette I'm currently using.
watercolor illustration painted with the Derwent Inktense travel palette
Derwent Inktense Travel Palette Fieldtest
  • While recommending specific watercolors is fun, people are most likely to purchase what they'd already had in mind.  If they've already decided on Reeves, Cotman, Artist Loft, or Arteza, that's probably what they're going to end up buying.  
watercolor illustration painted with Boku Undo E-Sumi palette
Boku Undo Fieldtest
  • Everyone's journey into watercolor is different, everyone handles it differently, and ever artist has different needs.  Maybe the theoretical artist described above is the Avatar of Watercolor, and can bend those cheap art supplies to great effect.  Maybe they want to do loose watercolor florals, and need blendability, but not layer-ability.  Or maybe they just want to color their sketches, and don't need professional quality watercolors.
MozArt Komorebi Etegami Fieldtest
MozArt Komorebi Etegami Fieldtest
watercolor illustration painted with the Qor Mini Palette Fieldtest
Qor Mini Palette Fieldtest
  • Only adjust one variable at a time.  If you're testing unknown paints on an unknown paper, it's difficult to know which working properties are the paints, and which are the papers.
watercolor illustration painted with the Anthesis Arts Meadow Palette
Anthesis Arts Fieldtest
  • Tubes are generally more economical than half pans.  Depending on the size of the tube (often ranging from 5ml-15ml) you can get 3-5 half pan refills per tube of paint.  You can get empty half pans through Amazon, and fill your own half pans.