Monday, January 22, 2018

Painting Your Comics: Watercolor Basics

At this point, my Watercolor Basics series intersects with my Intro to Comic Craft: Step by Step series.  If you've followed along with Intro to Comic Craft, you should have comic roughs ready to either print out and ink, or print out and paint.  And if you've been following along with Watercolor Basics, you should have your images converted to bluelines, and know the paper settings for printing on watercolor paper at home (link), and have your pages penciled (link).  You should also know how to stretch  your watercolor comic pages.

You should also have completed a few standalone watercolor illustrations using the steps covered in the Step by Step portion of Watercolor Basics.  I high recommend practicing before you dive into pages- watercolor gets easier with practice!

If you've done these things, you're definitely ready to start painting your own watercolor comics!

This post is part of my ongoing Watercolor Basics series!  If you're interested in learning how to watercolor, or watercoloring your comic pages, you've come to the right place!  For step by step tutorials on just about everything, check out the Watercolor Basics hubpage.  If you'd like a more detailed demonstration or tutorial on a topic that's already been covered, please feel free to email me.

The Watercolor Basics series is made possible thanks to the generosity of my Artnerds on Patreon.  To help support the work I do, please consider joining the Artnerd community, and gain early access to videos, backer exclusive process work and comics, and more!

Watercolor Comic Page Order of Operations:

The pages used in this post are from Chapters 6 and 7 of my watercolor comic, 7" Kara.  You can read Volume 1, which includes chapters 1 through 4 at

watercolor comic, watercolor webcomic, free to read webcomic, webcomic for kids, all ages webcomic

Some Stats about 7" Kara

Paper used:
Canson Montval 11x14 watercolor paper, 140lb.  12 sheets per pad

Paints used:
Custom palette of Winsor & Newton, Holbein, Daniel Smith, and SoHo watercolors

Brushes Used:
Creative Mark Rhapsody Rounds-0-4
Cotman wash brushes
Mimik 1" Filbert
Larger rounds- Mimik, Neptune, Halcyon (6-10)

For Stretching:
3M Blue Painter's Tape
White Gatorboard
Viva Papertowels

Pages completed:

Volume 1:
Chapter 1: 12
Chapter 2: 24
Chapter 3: 12
Chapter 4:  14
Volume 2:
Chapter 5 24 pages
Chapter 6 32 pages
Chapter 7: 34 pages

Total Pages Painted: 152 Kara pages

I paint my comic pages in batches- anywhere from two to six pages per batch, and batches usually constitute a scene.   This requires a huge amount of space, so I paint on the floor, sitting on an anti-fatigue mat.  Sets of pages take anywhere from three to six days to complete.  Once pages are finished, I scan them with a large format scanner, color correct in Photoshop, and complete my comic pages digitally (corrections, borders, lettering, and word balloons).

Watercolor Comic Painting: 7" Kara Chapter 6: 

Painting Pages- Working on a Double Page Comic Spread

Watercolor Painting on the Floor

Chapter 7- A Week of Watercolor

Tips for Painting Comic Pages in Batch:

  • Taking daily photos of progress really helps to remind you that you ARE making progress
  • Contrast is key, especially for comic pages that can end up busy
  • Work from big to small- big fields of flat color to progressively more detailed areas.  I save tight details like eyes and adding white for last.
  • Convenience colors are exactly that- a huge convenience!  Pre-mixed colors will save you time and paint for frequently used colors.
  • Regularly wash and condition your natural hair brushes to keep them in top shape.  I recommend Old Master's brush soap, occasionally conditioning with inexpensive human hair conditioner.
  • Watercolor comic pages require a lot of time, so if you want to do a watercolor webcomic, I recommend having a hefty buffer if you wish to update regularly.

Process Photos from Chapter 6

To follow my comic creation progress, I highly recommend you check me out on Instagram!  I regularly share comic painting progress, as well as process and progress from other illustrations I'm working on!

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to cover a few techniques and tricks that are particularly useful for painting watercolor comic pages, so if that's something that's interesting to you, let me know!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Inking for Watercolor: Watercolor Basics

kidlit comic, kidlit art, kidlit illustration, kidlit artist, children's book illustration, comics for kids, comic illustration, watercolor, watercolor comic, pen and ink and watercolor
Kidlit comic submission for SCBWI Midsouth's September 2018 Conference

In our Watercolor Basics series, we recently went over penciling your bluelines to prepare them for watercolor.  But maybe you want an illustration that's a little more graphic, or perhaps you want to use a simple watercolor style, and know that inking your lineart will help tie it together.  Or maybe you don't yet have access to a printer for your bluelines, and know inking will give you the leeway you need to develop your sketch.  Regardless of the reason, inked watercolor pieces can be beautiful, easy to read from a distance, and distinctive, and work well for comics.

This post is part of my ongoing Watercolor Basics series, a free watercolor course designed to help you feel confident learning to paint.

Free watercolor tutorials, free watercolor course, free watercolor lessons

If you enjoyed this post, please check out my other videos and posts in the series, and make sure you tell your friends!  Content like this is only made possible thanks to the generosity of my Artnerds on Patreon.  Their generosity and support allows me to continue writing tutorials for the public to enjoy.

Inking your comic can be done after the pencils stage, used as an accent on a completed watercolor illustration.  In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to ink your watercolor illustration or watercolor comic page before painting, as this allows you to scan your lineart and play around with that using other rendering methods.

To begin this tutorial, you're going to need a scanned sketch or illustration ready to print, or pre-printed bluelines.

Digital corrections on traditional roughs.  Once these have been converted to bluelines and resized, this will be ready for print.

Print Your Bluelines on Watercolor Paper
For a tutorail on how to do this, please check out this wonderful post!

Pencil as Needed
These pencils do not need to be as tight or as detailed as you would pencil for watercolor comic pages that wouldn't be inked, but now is a great opportunity to correct any mistakes still in your bluelines

Swinging From the Branches: Inking My 2018 Christmas Card

Ink with a Waterproof Ink

Brush inking tutorial
Inking a comic, start to finish

comic inks, lineart, comic lineart
Scanned inks from illustration

Allow Inks to Cure for 24 Hours

Erase Pencils

Tips for Erasing Pencils After Inking:

Begin Painting!

Kidlit comic submission for SCBWI Midsouth's September 2018 Conference

Waterproof Inks:

Pens for Watercolor and Markers at HobbyLobby:

Sailor Mitsuo Aida
Sailor Ryofuuka
Sakura Pigma FB, MB, BB
Pitt Pens

Technical Pens:
Copic Multiliners
Sakura of America Microns
Sakura of America Pigma Graphic

Calligraphy Pens:
(Great for lettering borders)
Sakura Pigma Graphic 1mm, 2mm, 3mm
Sakura Calligrapher Pens
ek Tools Calligraphy Pens

Liquid Inks:
Shellac Based India Ink such as Dr PH Martin's Bombay Inks
Acrylic Inks such as FW or Liquitex Ink!

Example Illustrations
FW Pearlescent Acrylic inks
Inked with FW Pearlescent Acrylic Ink

Watercolor illustration inked with FW Pearlescent Acrylic Ink
Inked with FW Pearlescent Acrylic Ink
Sailor Mitsuo Aida, Sakura Pigma FB, watercolor illustration, kidlit art
Inked with the Sailor Mitsuo Aida and Sakura Pigma FB

Daniel Smith Essential 6, watercolor illustration
Illustration inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida and Sakura Pigma FB

watercolor illustration, kidlit art, cute art, cute illustration, manga illustration
Watercolor illustration inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida

Watercolor illustration inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida

Watercolor Illustration inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida


Watercolor Commission for Kabocha

7" Kara Webcomic Announcement Timelapse

In the Tall Grass Timelapse: 

Kara Colorburst

Monday, January 15, 2018

Penciling Your Bluelines: Watercolor Basics

In our last Watercolor Basics post, we talked about printing our bluelines and penciling our pages.  In today's, I'm going to demonstrate how I pencil my watercolor illustrations and comic pages.


Printed Blueline Illustration
2H pencil or mechanical pencil lead

Penciling your illustration is really simple, but it can be a key part to ensuring your lines don't disappear.  You want to use a harder lead, as soft leads may smear when you stretch your page.  As your page evolves, your penciled lines will almost disappear, especially if you utilize watercolor outlines and strong contrast.  This allows for a softer look than available for pen and ink watercolor illustrations.  Although this is the method I use for 7" Kara pages, fear not, I'll cover other methods in the near future!

Left:  Inked watercolor illustration.  Right: Pencilled watercolor illustration.

Disappearing Bluelines Tutorial:

Watercolor Basics- Pencils

Left: Pencils with bluelines,    Right: Finished watercolor page.

Penciling is a very simple technique that allows you to define forms even after your bluelines have washed away.  You can go simple and open, or do intricate, detailed lineart with your pencils.  Pencils are not your only option when it comes to creating lineart for watercolors, but they're an excellent low key, inexpensive way to do so.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Printing Your Bluelines: Watercolor Basics

This is the process I use for standalone illustrations as well as my 7" Kara comic pages.  It involves printing out digital bluelines onto watercolor paper using a desktop printer.  This process is my secret weapon- without it, I wouldn't be able to produce watercolor comic pages, and certainly not in the numbers necessary for a longform comic like 7" Kara.  This is also the same process I use for printing out bluelines for inked pieces, so it's a really versatile technique for comic artists and illustrators! 

If you're a stamper or cardmaker, this technique is still relevant to you!  You can print your digistamp onto whatever paper you like, then opt to either pencil over it, or ink it with a waterproof technical pen or brushpen.

I know the idea of printing out your bluelines for watercolor may come across as totally foreign to many of you.  This process was introduced to me by Heidi Black, and I'm using the materials she originally recommended as well.  I've had great results with this process over the years, and have used it to print 7" Kara pages since Chapter 1.  If you doubt my results, simply check my comic out, or check out my Instagram for unaltered photos of in process pages.

If you enjoy this watercolor process, you should check out Heidi's art and tutorial book- ElectricAbyss: The Art of Heidi Black.  It's full of great art tutorials.

Example of a stretched comic page


Cellulose or Cotton Rag watercolor paper- mould made is best (handmade tends not to run through a printer very well.

Papers I've tried:
Canson Moulin du Roy
Canson L'Aquarelle Heritage
Langton Prestige
Canson Biggie Watercolor
Winsor and Newton Watercolor Marker Paper
Fluid EZ Block coldpress watercolor paper (removed from the block)
Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor paper
Cheap Joe's Kilimanjaro Coldpress 

The ideal paper comes in fairly standard sizes, on tape bound pads.  If you're using block bound watercolor paper, you will have to remove the paper to run it through the printer.

Home printer that uses inkjet ink
(Basically anything but a toner printer will work for this)
I use a Canson Pixma Pro 9000 MK II- it's a large format photo printer that can handle thick watercolor papers quite well

Creating Your Bluelines:
I did a tutorial in Intro to Comic Craft on turning your roughs into bluelines and printing them, so I recommend checking out this post for those settings!

Prepared Bluelines

Print Settings I find helpful:

For the Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MK II, you want to select front tray (paper loads from the front of the printer) as it allows the printer to print the page entirely flat.  This is great for heavier papers like 140lb and 300lb watercolor paper.

For printing on watercolor paper, I want my bluelines as light as possible, so I select 'plain paper' and 'fast' print quality.

Watercolor paper often comes in non-standard sizes, so you'll need to select Custom and input your paper's size before printing.

Printing Your Pages

Intro to Comic Craft- Printing Cicada Summer Bluelines: 

Once your pages have been printed, you're going to need to decide how to formalize your lines.  The dye based printer ink will wash away once you stretch your pages, so you either need to pencil your lineart or ink your lineart.

When stretching your watercolor paper:

  1. Apply water to back side, dab off with paper towels
  2. Apply water quickly to front, dab off with paper towels (to remove blue dye)
  3. Apply water to front, dab off with paper towels
  4. Continue as normal.

Stretching Demonstration (with printed bluelines):

Disappearing Bluelines Tutorial

Demonstration of Printed Bluelines

Keep in mind that once you apply water to your paper, the bluelines will dissolve, so you will want to either pencil or ink your bluelines in order to preserve your lineart.  Keep an eye out for an tutorial on penciling your watercolor lineart in the near future!

Monday, January 08, 2018

Want to Collaborate in 2018?

I'm Looking for Youtube Creators to Collaborate with!

Art?  Music?  Dance?  Games?  So long as you create and express yourself, I'm interested in collaborating!  I really want to expand my horizons in 2018, and working with other creators is a great way to do that!  If you have a Youtube channel (or stream regularly on services such as Picarto or Twitch) I'm interested in working with you!

Some Stats About Me:
  • Channel:
  • Updates 3x a week, often more frequently
  • Just shy of 4k subscribers
  • Promotes to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest
  • Patrons get Early Access to Videos
  • Content is often featured on the sister art tutorial/art supply review blog
  • Primarily work in traditional medium and comics- watercolor, waterbased and alcohol marker
  • Channel focuses on art supply reviews and art tutorials

What I’m Looking For:
  • Creators who update regularly- ideally once a week, but once every two weeks is fine
  • Creators who engage and promote their content
  • Channels that promote positivity- teach a skill, demonstrate products, promote games, create content
  • Channel is 6 months or older
Not Important:
  • Popularity- I don’t care what your sub count is, I do care that you update regularly
  • Media and Medium- I don’t care if you work traditionally or digitally, create music or games- I’m open to all sorts of collaborations
Types of Collabs I’m Open To:
  • Style Swaps
  • Redraw Your Character
  • Fandom swap
  • Favorite art supply swap
  • Lineart exchange
  • Round Robin multi artist exchange
  • Collaborate on a theme
  • Challenges
And more!  If you’ve got something else in mind, email me a pitch!

This Thursday, StArt Faire is hosting a Comic Tea Party for my webcomic, 7" Kara!  StArt Faire hosts weekly webcomic Tea Parties, where fans can join them on their Discord to answer plotty webcomic questions and chat with the creator.  You can find more information about Comic Tea Party, including the Discord information, here.  I would really appreciate it if some of you could swing by and cheer me on this Thursday.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Revisiting the Past- Redrawing 10 Year Old Characters

In November and early December, I decided it was high time I dig up some old art and do some redraws to compare progress.  This is a fairly popular challenge for artists, and it can be a great way to discover not only how much you've improved, but how much stays consistent through the years- the essence of your drawing style.

Most of these are characters and designs from approximately 10 years ago- a few are older.  Redrawing these characters was a lot of fun- and the Redraw challenge can be a great way to combat artist block.    The thinking is done for you- all you have to do is either redraw the character faithfully in your current style, or redesign the character and see how your tastes have improved over time.

If you think you've made no artistic progress over the years, I challenge you to try redrawing and redesigning old characters with your current artistic sensibilities.  Redesigning can be great if you're going through an artslump- most of the work has been done for you- you just need to focus on improving the design.  I enjoyed this exercise so much I did several different iterations, and will probably do further variations on this exercise.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Resolutions: Art Related Goals for 2018

Setting Realistic Art Goals: 

This year, when setting my resolutions, I tried to focus on actionable goals that I have direct control over.  This means avoiding goals predicated by popularity, monetary success, or getting into specific shows.

Patreon and Support Goals:

Want to revamp the Patreon- easier to navigate, more images, less text, better demonstrate the things I have done with backer support

Want to do a Pledge drive for Patreon once Patreon has been revamped

Launch year-long subscription options on Gumroad and through Square, to give people additional options to support my work

Career Related:

Want to redo kidlit portfolio based on editor advice, start sending it out again

Want to complete more standalone, narrative illustrations

Want to start sending out professional postcards

Comics Related:

Want to write two kidlit/middlegrade pitches with art and finished pages

Want to pitch to more anthologies

7" Kara Related:

Want to prioritize my time effectively- more time on 7" Kara pages and promotion, less time at conventions

Want to celebrate my one year online anniversary in February

Want to improve my promotion for 7" Kara- both as a print book and a webcomic.  To do this I will:
  • Take out ads on Project Wonderful for the Webcomic
  • Take out ads on TWC for the Webcomic
  • Participate in WebComicChat and Comic Artists Unite
  • Participate in Comic Tea Party on January 11th

Want to finish Chapters 7 and 8, plus a bonus comic, for Volume 2

Want to Kickstart Volume 2

Sales Related:

Want to revamp my online shop- better photos, better listings, get rid of the fluff
Want to clean out my old Etsy and use it to sell original paintings


Want to limit commissions taken at shows

Want to up commission prices

Art Development: 

Want to do more plein air studies and sketches- at the zoo, on hikes, on trips

Want to do more realistic watercolor and marker studies

Want to do more alcohol marker tutorials

Want to do more challenges and improvement drills

Community Related:

Want to engage other artists about their work more frequently

Want to get caught up and stay caught up with IDC member webcomics

Want to participate in Comic Teaparty regularly

Blog Related:

Want to finish Watercolor Basics series

Want to finish Intro to Comic Craft

Stick to a blog/Youtube budget based on last year's 'income' from Amazon Affiliates, Patreon, and Adsense

Want to start pulling the best posts and turning them into PDF's, because this blog is closing in 2019.

Personal Goals:

Continue managing my anxiety and depression

Continue working on positive self talk

Prioritize 7" Kara above other projects

Work on improving my organization

Rehome more art supplies

Learn to use the Cricut

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Lineart Inks for Copics

A list of inks that are compatible with Copic and other alcohol markers- i.e. will not smear if alcohol markers or inks are applied on top.

For lining pens and inks not Copic-compatible, you can render first, then create your lineart after.

The basic formula: 

Pigment inks are generally going to be alcohol marker and watersafe, but this is not a given.  Inks that utilize a shellac or plastisol binder, such as acrylic inks and many Indian inks, are not alcohol marker safe.

Below is a list of inks I've tried and can recommend.  I'm sure there are more alcohol-marker safe inks available, and I encourage you to experiment and report back with the results!

Bear In Mind:

  • Dry markers are more likely to smear inks
  • Heavy applications of ink are more prone to smearing
  • Inks should be allowed to cure for at least 1 hour
  • Inks applied by nib are more likely to smear, as it's a heavier application
  • Acrylic inks are re-activated by alcohol solvents, and will smear
  • India inks with lacquer or shellac will reactiveate and smear
  • Paper plays a role in smearing and compatibility

Since this is an ink related post, I urge you guys to check out Ink Drop Cafe, a webcomic collective.  You can read over a dozen wonderful webcomics free!

Technical Pen and Fineliners:

Stabilo Point 88 and Point 68 (I would assume this is true for all the Stabilo Fineliners)- Dyebased, and not waterproof

Copic Multiliner

Copic Multiliner Brush Pens
Sky Blue

There are many other colors available in Multiliner brush, but I've had poor performance from the Purple, and hesistate to recommend colors I have not swatched.  Copic used to have a wide range of colors available for Multiliner SP Brushes, but those are no longer available.

Sakura Micron

Sakura Brush Pens
Note: I haven't had an opportunity to swatch and test all the colors available

Sakura Pigma Sensei

Neopiko Line 2
Neopiko Line 3

Pitt Pens (fineliners)- note: not all colors were tested, if there's interest, I can do this.

Chameleon Detail Pen

Marvy LePlume Pigment Pen

Plumchester- Available in P 1.5 (brush) and P 4

Pens Purchased in Japan: 

08 Color Master Milli
Slider Fine- Graphic
Tachikawa Finepoint System
Pigma Comicline 08
Procolor II

Brush Pens:

Sakura Pigma

Sailor Mitsuo Aida
Sailor Ryofuka

Copic Gasenfude- this is supposed to be alcohol marker proof, and is marketed as such, but multiple field tests by Kabocha have proved otherwise, so I recommend avoiding.

Kuretake Fudegokochi Pilot Fude Brush Pilot Petit Sign (I assume the ink would be alcohol proof regardless of the tip)- You can fill these with the ink of your choice, if you convert it to eyedropper. This was tested with the ink in the cartridge. Note- Only tested for black

Pitt Pens, including Big Brush

Copic Multiliner
Copic Multliner SP BS  (smaller brush)

Sakura Pigma Brush
Prismacolor Illustrator Pens
Purples for Copic, Prismacolor, and Sakura Pigma all seem to smear with water and with alcohol ink, and should be avoided or used last.

Gel Pens:

Hi Tec C (Black)
Pentel Slicci
Pentel Technica
Pilot Frixon
Pilot G-2 (black)
Papermate Inkjoy Gel

Zebra Supermarble

White Inks:
Sakura Gellyroll
Uniball Signo

Fountain Pen Inks: 
Platinum Carbon Black Ink

Liquid Inks:
For use with brushes and dip pens

Kuretake Sumi Ink 60
Yasutomo Sumi Ink

Koh-i-Noor (for Rapidograph pens)

Winsor and Newton India Ink (non waterproof)

Walnut Ink

Kaimei Drawing Sol K
Thanks to Kabocha, BomberBee for help with this post!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Blick Illustrator Marker Review (and Giveaway!)

Today we're checking out Blick's newest alcohol marker option, the Blick Illustrator Marker.  These markers were recently released, and certain sets have already sold out, and it seems like this is a limited time offer.

Over the years, I've reviewed dozens of alcohol markers- first on this blog, and then on my channel.  Limited time isn't enough to deter me, especially given how much I enjoy Blick's Studio Brush Markers.

To celebrate my years of alcohol marker reviews, I'm giving away the set of Blick Illustrator markers I purchased for this review!  You'll have to keep reading to find out how to win them.

marker illustration, example marker illustration, marker art, alcohol marker art, alcohol marker, Blick Illustrator markers

The Stats:

  • Available in 12 and 24 sets (24 no longer available)
  • Limited time offer
  • Blick Exclusive
  • Does not utilize the same color family/naming system as the Blick Studio Brush Markers
  • Non refillable
  • Compressed Fiber Brush Nib/Chisel Nib
  • Alcohol ink

Other alcohol markers made by Blick: 

The Comparison
Blick Illustrator Marker, Blick Studio Marker, Stylefile marker, Copic Sketch marker, Prismacolor marker
Top to bottom: Blick Illustrator Marker, Blick Studio Marker, Stylefile marker, Copic Sketch marker, Prismacolor marker

Prismacolor marker, Neopiko marker, Blick Illustrator marker, Blick Studio Brush Marker, Stylefile marker, Copic Sketch Marker
Top to bottom: Prismacolor marker, Neopiko marker, Blick Illustrator marker, Blick Studio Brush Marker, Stylefile marker, Copic Sketch Marker

Blick Illustrator Marker, Copic Ciao, Copic Sketch, Blick Studio Brush markers
Bottom to Top: Blick Illustrator Marker, Copic Ciao, Copic Sketch, Blick Studio Brush markers

These markers appear to use the same body as the Artist Loft markers, the Art Alternatives #Colouring markers, and are very similar to Stylefile markers.  They utilize compressed fiber nibs (both brush and chisel), and are not designed to be refillable.

Unbox and Swatch: 

Blick Illustrator Markers Swatches and Blending Tests

Blick Illustrator Markers, marker review
Blick Illustrator Markers Naming Scheme

Fieldtest (And Tutorial!)

The Contest
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Rules
  • Must be a US resident
  • Must be 18 or older or have a parent's consent to enter (that can be emailed here)

The Verdict

These aren't bad for a crafter who's interested in testing the waters for alcohol markers, but I wouldn't recommend these for anyone serious about delving into markers.  For those folks, I recommend turning your sights to the Blick Studio Brush Markers.  However, the price is great for a starter set, and may be hard to resist, especially for convention artists who'd like a set they could afford to lose.