Thursday, May 30, 2013

Using a Filing Box for Convention Organization

I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve my convention table, and for the past year, as my wares increased, I became aware of just how badly I needed to upgrade my under-the-table organization.  I stored my comics in flat plastic boxes, great for flying and stacking, but not so fantastic for ease of access or organization.  I needed a system that would travel well, but be easy to sift through quickly beneath a convention table.

While at Office Max, waiting for mini comics to be printed, I found these sturdy plastic file boxes.  They're available in a variety of brands and price points, but share some basic qualities- there's a an interior ledge for hanging file folders.  Mine came with a little plastic project box as well, and a handle.  The only thing I would change is the addition of a lock.

Along with my file box, I purchased a hanging zipper bag, an interior shelf (not pictured), and some plastic file folders.  All of this probably ran me around $30, with my biggest expense being the little shelf.

I labeled my folders for easy access- 7" Kara Chapter 1, 7" Kara Chapter 2, 2013 Sketchbook and When I Was 13 (as half page sized minis, they can both fit in one folder easily), Paperdolls, Commissions, Con Miscellaneous.  Within the Commissions folder are examples of past convention examples, my sign, and commission paper.  Within Con Miscellaneous is a small zipper pouch for receipts, and it's the perfect place to store convention programs, extra badges, lanyards, or rulebooks.

The 'project box' that came with my file box is a thin plastic latching box.  Inside are promotional postcards, business cards, small envelopes, and doilies.

Inside my hanging bag is a calculator, extra clips, my money folder, and my inventory logbook.

In order to keep my prints nice, they're sorted into two plastic folders within the file folder- watercolor prints and black and white prints.

I haven't flown with this box yet, and it's a bit heavy to carry by hand, but I'm sure it will fit nicely in my large rolly suitcase.  Not everything fits inside- my tablecloth, signage, and display materials are all too large to fit, but I think I could get most of those squared away in one of my leftover plastic flat convention boxes.

So how do you guys store and organize your convention stuff?  Have you found a better system?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Monday, May 27, 2013

SCAD Mini Comics Expo Recap

I just realized it's been a couple weeks and I haven't even written about Editor's Day or the SCAD Mini Comics Expo.  Part of this is because I've been fairly busy- finishing my thesis paper, going to Houston for an interview, trying to get things organized.

Last year's Mini Comics Expo  was about two weeks AFTER Editor's Day weekend, but this year's Expo was held on the Saturday of Editor's Day, about an hour after the last group review.  This made juggling things a little bit difficult.  To add additional conflict, it was held outside in the courtyard behind Norris Hall, on a beautiful but scorching day.  Although tents had been provided, sitting outside for four hours during the hottest part of the day was fairly difficult, particularly for someone who's sensitive to heat.

I went directly from my last review, in all of my professional finery, to the courtyard to begin setting up for the Expo.  Heidi had claimed a spot for us that should have been fairly shady, but the heat of the day was pretty persistent.

We painted a new banner to match my existing tablecloth

Lately our shared tables have been pretty crowded (we've amassed quite a collection of products), so we'd worked hard to pare things down.  I had chapters 1 and 2 of 7" Kara, my (very very few) remaining acrylic charms, a fresh round of chiyogami buttons, the remains of this run of the Heavenly Bodies buttons, and some brand new shrink film Kara charms.  I'd also developed a new system for organzing my extra copies, which I'll be sharing with you guys soon.

The point of holding the Mini Comics Expo on the last day of Editor's Day weekend was to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate to the editors and other students their convention setups and preparedness.  Earlier in May, Heidi and I had given a convention preparation presentation for Professor Anthony Fisher's Self Publishing and Self Promotion classes, with mixed results, so we'd hoped to see some impressive displays.  I sent Joseph around with my cellphone to snap some pictures.

The Exhibiting Artists

All in all, this Mini Comics Expo was a bit of a bust compared to last year's. It was great to show editors our mettle, as I feel like conventions are one place I can stand on equal ground with other students.  I ended up getting very heat sick, since I had little opportunity to leave my table, it wasn't easy to get water or cool down.  Although there was a fairly good-sized crowd, sales were sluggish for me.

I still managed to learn a few things.  My acrylic charms are such a huge seller, and having a small, picked over selection really hurt my overall sales.  I've been waiting for InkIt to open up their rasterization tool so I may submit new charm designs.  Although I sent Joseph around to buy mini comics, I didn't get much of a chance to leave the table, so I didn't get to purchase any in person.  At small cons like this, walking around and trading or purchasing mini comics can really make a difference in overall goodwill, and unfortunately the goodwill Joseph earned isn't transferred to me (although we share the comics and the expense of them).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Know if a Marker is Waterbased/Waterproof

I often check my Google search results to see how people find this blog.  One of the recent hits was a query about how to tell if a marker is waterproof or waterbased.  Although I think I've covered this topic before, I had a little more to add to the subject.

How to Know if a Marker is Waterbased/Waterproof

The short answer is: Make a test swatch and scrub it with a brush full of water/submerge it in water. If it runs, it wasn't waterproof. Waterbased markers tend not to be waterproof, as the pigments were held in solution using water. Alcohol based markers are waterproof.

But sometimes you need an answer that's a little more nuanced than that. Sometimes you need to know which markers can be used with which fineliner markers, or technical pens. Sometimes you need to know if your waterbased markers will play well with alcohol based markers.

So here are some rules of thumb:

When using alcohol based markers, don't ever marker straight over pencils. That ruins the marker nib. You can use pencil with water based markers or even watercolor markers, although there may still be some pick up of the graphite.

If you want to do alcohol based marker sketches, you can sketch using Sakura Microns, Hi-Tec C pens, or Copic Multiliners, as they all have Copic-safe ink. I've done a lot of Copic sketches using Hi-Tec C pens.

Not all pens are waterbased marker safe either. Pentel's Art pens (which are similar to Hi-Tec C pens) are not waterproof, and bleed and smear something awful.

If you want to mix waterbased markers with alcohol based markers, I recommend applying the alcohol based markers first and then using your water based markers/watercolors/watercolor markers. The addition of the water will make the paper ripple, and while you CAN use Copic markers on watercolor paper, it may be more difficult to get the effect you want. In addition, you probably want to preserve the nibs on your more expensive markers (which are usually alcohol based). I recommend working most expensive to least expensive.

When preparing to use a new media, a quick Google search often provides me with plenty of useful information. I also do several sketchy drawings in order to get a decent handle on the media, and I try to keep my expectations for those low.

Basic Info:

Copic currently does not make any water based markers, and the majority of it's inking products work well with Copic markers.

Most inks in brushpens (including fude pens) are neither Copic nor water safe.

India ink is watersafe when dry.

Letraset makes a variety of markers, both waterbased and alcohol based. Promarker, Flex Marker, and Tria are alcohol based. AquaMarker is a watercolor-esque marker.

Most inks that work with alcohol based markers can be used for watercolor and water based markers.

Most school-grade markers are waterbased (save for things like Dry Erase markers and sharpies).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Art Marker Showdown: Potentate Alcohol Markers vs. Copic Sketch Markers

EDIT: If you enjoyed this review, please consider donating! Donations go towards the purchase of additional art supplies, which may include more markers for testing. If you found this review useful, please consider sharing it on your social networks- a larger audience means I can afford to do things like Kickstart future projects and makes me more attractive to possible publishers.  There's also a handy pocket edition of ALL my marker reviews in a beautiful little 4"x6" photobook.  It's available for $3 in my Nattoshop, and proceeds go towards things like keeping the lights on and buying more markers to review.

In my ever continuing quest to find and test markers for my audience's enjoyment, I quickly ran out of options that were easily available in US brick and mortar stores.  This meant I had to increasingly widen my search online, breezing through my usual resources- DickBlick, Jerry's Artarama, JetPens, in my search for new marker options.  It was on eBay that I hit my motherlode- Chinese markers, grafitti markers, as long as I wasn't required to buy a large set in a single brand, I was willing to give it a shot.  It was during this eBay exploration that I found Potentate markers, a Chinese alcohol based marker. Potentate, meaning monarch or ruler, has a lot to live up to.

Like most brands not easily available in the US, it's difficult to find information about Potentate alcohol markers.

According to the trading site, Road of Silk, Potentate Markers are:

"1. Famous brand in China, practical item for designers
2. Suitable for Individuals or teams’ animation and cartoon drawing
3. Suitable for Drawings, sketching for Interior Design, Architectural Design, Fashion Design
4. Especially suitable for students professionals in fields of architecture, interior, advertisement and animation design"

Art Supply Review Disclaimer

 As always, these art supply reviews are based on my own experiences and tastes, and may not be directly relevant to your needs and techniques. When investing in a product as expensive and potentially long lasting as alcohol based markers, it's wise to take into consideration a variety of sources, and to do your research.

Potentate Alcohol Markers VS. Copic Sketch Alcohol Markers

Potentate Markers:

  • Depending on where you buy, are available individually and in sets of 24, 48, or 60 markers
  • Are available via shops on eBay (just search 'Potentate alcohol markers') and on sites like Road of Silk  , Wanpin, and Aliexpress
  • Twin tipped marker- bullet nib and chisel nib
  • Body is similar to Kurecolor Twin S markers
  • Color code on cap

  • Band of color on barrel and spot on cap to denote ink color
  • Also available in a waterbased formula
  • Square barrel prevents rolling
  • Can be blended with some reworking
Copic Markers
Price Per Marker: $7.29
  • Refillable
  • Replacable Nibs
  • Comfortable in hand
  • 358 available number of colors
  • Blend
  • Color Name and Family on Cap
  • Color Coded cap
  • Super Brush
  • Can mix own colors, blank markers available
  • Availability: limited availability at Michaels, many art supply stores, Dick Blick, Jerry's Artarama, Jetpens, Amazon
  • Available in individual and color themed sets
  • Alcohol based
  •   React to rubbing alcohol and 'blender' fluid
  •   Can be blended

The Comparison

 This test is my standard for all alcohol based marker comparison tests, and you've already seen it with my Spectrum Noir, Prismacolor Premiers, ShinHan Twin Touch, FlexMarkers, and Pantone Letraset Tria tests. I test the marker's compatibility with a variety of technical pens (Sakura Micron, Copic Multiliner, Pitt Pen, the waterbased ink found in Akashiya brush pens, the gel ink in Pentel Technica rollerball pens), as well as it's ability to blend and layer (shown on the sphere) and it's ability to mix with the other marker (show in the boxed area). I also test blender compatibility with the Copic Colorless Blender.

The Verdict

I wasn't particularly impressed by the Potentate markers. They're a little hard to come by (I ordered them off a trading site), and the plastic feels cheap. Neither nib is impressive, and while they do react to Copic Colorless Blender, they don't blend easily with either other Potentate markers or Copic markers. I ended up paying a fair amount for shipping, and since there are so many decent alternatives available (Shin Han TWin Touch, for example), I recommend skipping out on this marker.