Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nattoshop Updated!

It took a lot of doing, but the Nattoshop is finally updated, and just in time for the holidays!

The Nattoshop is my online store, and it's gone sadly neglected for a really long time.  Part of this is due to me wanting to wait until the convention season was over before listing stock, since it's somewhat of a hassle to get the store updated , and part of it was that I needed to get decent photographs of my stock.  Now that Nekocon is over and the holidays are here, it's a perfect time to check out my shop!

I've listed a variety of popular items, including my new clear Ink It Labs acrylic charms, a variety of button designs, and my mini watercolors.  I've always added some new commission options, including cheaper inked commission options.

To celebrate the stocked shop, I've introduced three coupon codes that can be used separately or all together.  The coupon code "HolidayHomemade" will save 10% on all custom commission purchases.  "TinselandBells" gives you 20% all stocking stuffers like buttons and charms.  "WeeLittleFanarts" saves 20% off all existing mini watercolors in stock.  These coupons are good from now until December 15th.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Shin Han Twin Touch, MEXPY, and Copic Sketch Side By Side Comparison

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.

Edit: 11/08/2015:  I recently uploaded a video that covers my current three favorite Copic alternatives.  I recommend you guys check it out!

3 Cheap Copic Alternatives

Way too long ago, I was asked to compare Shin Han's Twin Touch, MEXPY, and Copic Sketch markers by an artist looking to take advantage of a sale.  Since I'd had SOME experience with all three brands of alcohol based markers, I felt qualified to give her my educated opinion, but promised myself I'd explore the subject in more detail.

Immediately I formulated a simple test that would give me the basics of what I needed- I'd ink three identical images on identical papers and color them in a fairly simple style using all three brands.  I opted for a very limited palette, since I hadn't really invested money in large collections of Shin Han or MEXPY markers, and I'd augment (sparingly) what colors I needed from my collection of Copics.

The three marker brands share a lot in common.  MEXPY, Shin Han Twin Touch, and Copic Sketch all come with super brush nib options.  This flexible brush nib has always been a major selling point for Copic Sketch markers for me, so any brand I would consider purchasing needs to have this as an option.   As with all of my reviews and comparisons, my results are very much biased by my techniques and my needs.  I recommend testing these products for yourself if you have the means and the opportunity.  I'm not going to spend a lot of time rehashing information I already covered in my prior posts comparing these markers to Copics (linked above).  This post is to focus mainly on how these markers handle.

All illustrations were printed onto Strathmore's Visualize Journal paper (which is similar to Smooth Bristol in weight and surface) and inked with Copic Multiliners (as they're alcohol marker safe).

Comparison Shots

Shin Han Twin Touch and Copic Sketch

MEXPY and Copic Sketch

I may have mentioned this before, but both MEXP and Shin Han Twin Touch markers are a bit more boxy and bulky than the Copic Sketch markers.  If you're used to the streamlined Copic Sketch markers, it may take awhile to get used to the other brands.

Markered Illustrations

Copic Markers
 The ground was laid down with a Copic Wide marker in BV000 and blended out with a Wide Colorless Blender.  No markers besides Copic Sketch markers were used.

MEXPY Markers
 MEXPY has a different color system than Copics, and at the time of this test, I only had two MEXPY markers that were applicable to this test.  I used Copics for skintone, hairtone, and blush.  I used MEXPY's colorless blender to blend out Copic's E51 and as a ground upon which I applied other colors.   I found MEXPY's markers to handle decently and cooperate with Copic Sketch markers.

Shin Han Twin Touch
I had a few more Shin Han Twin Touch markers that were applicable to this particular test.  I utilized a Copic colorless blender, since I hadn't ordered a Twin Touch Colorless Blender at the time of my original test.  I used a Twin Touch marker for the skintone, and found it to perform decently similar to a Copic Sketch marker.

EDIT:  Since writing this post, I have purchased many more Shin Han Twin Touch markers to augment my Copic Sketch collection.  Shin Han offers some colors that Copic does not, especially in Yellows and Yellow Greens.


Not surprisingly, I find MEXPY markers and Shin Han Twin Touch markers to be decent alternatives to Copic Sketch markers, comparable to Prismacolor sketch markers.  They're a little less ubiquitous, so you may have trouble finding them.  If your main artstore of choice is Micheals, and you're looking at paying $8 per Copic Sketch, I recommend taking your search online.  I rarely see either brand open stock in brick and mortar stores, and I've never seen the brush option available in open stock at a brick and mortar, but that doesn't mean it doesn't ever happen.  I have seen Twin Touch markers for sale at a couple comic conventions (NYCC year before last being the most recent), so you may be able to get a decent deal there.

Recently I ordered a pack of MEXPY markers in Toner gray (a color family I don't own in Copic Sketch markers), so I may have further notes on that brand in the future.

You can help support this blog by ordering your own Shin Han Twin Touch, Copic Sketch, or Copic Ciao markers through my Amazon Affiliate link.  There's no additional cost to you, and I receive a percentage of the sale, which is used to purchase more supplies for reviews, or to complete color collections so that I may better form opinions.  Below the affiliate carousels I'll provide links to MEXPY markers, which are no longer sold through Blick.

Shin Han Twin Touch

Copic Sketch

Copic Ciao

MEXPY Markers

You can still order MEXPY markers through the MEXPY website.  I recommend the brush markers, that's what I have.  You can order sets or individual markers, depending on how you want to build your collection.  I recommend starting with skintones if you're building a collection.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November Deboxing: Art Snacks, Box 8

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.

Introduction to Art Snacks

I've been subscribing to Art Snacks for a little over half a year and have seen seven months of art supplies delivered to my door for about $140.  When writing introductions for these Art Snacks deboxings, I've gotten to the point where I feel like, in prior posts, I've done all the introducing I feel like doing.  Unfortunately for me, I seem to get a lot of unique hits from Google searchs, so it's necessary for me to include some introduction.

Art Snacks are a subscription art supply service that delivers random art supplies to your door for $20 a month.  Unlike some subscription services, there are no other price tiers, you cannot vary your experience by filling out a questionnaire.  All subscribers get a similar box per month.

Prior Art Snacks Reviews and Unboxings


I seem to always be a month off, so I suppose the box I'm reviewing is technically November, for those of you following along at home.

Unboxing Art Snacks November

This month's Art Snacks included:

  • Tombo Dual Brush Pen
  • Koh-i-Noor Mephisto Mechanical Pencil
  • Alumicolor 3000 Series 6" Triangular Scale
  • Palomino Blackwing 602
  • Zig Drawing Pen

I have to admit, I was really excited by the contents of this month's Art Snacks. There were a lot of products I was semi familiar with, such as Koh-i-Noor's mechanical pencils and Alumicolor's fantastic aluminum rulers, but I'd never purchased these particular products, so I was eager to review them.

Product Shots:

Koh-i-Noor Mephisto Mechanical Pencil (.07)

Palomino Blackwing 602

Zig Drawing Pen

Alumicolor 3000 Series 6" Triangular Scale

Tombo Dual Brush Pen

Honestly, I was so excited about the Mephisto mechanical pencil (look how SLEEK it is~!) that I immediately switched out my Alvin Draft-Tec with the Mephisto as my blue-lead pencil.  It quickly found a place in my pencil pouch, and came with me to Nekocon, where it saw a lot of heavy use.  Unfortunately, it started to clog really badly on the soft blue lead, which means I have to take it apart and clean it.  If you use harder graphite leads, you may not have this problem.

The Alumicolor 6" scale is nearly a pocket version of my much larger Alumicolor rulers, standards in my comic arsenal due to their high quality construction.  I carry my 24" Alumicolor ruler just about anywhere I go to make comics, and have used it non stop for about four years.  I imagine it's younger sibling, the 6" scale, will have an equally long and productive life in my pencil bag.

I've played with Tombow Dual Tipped pens in the past, particularly in undergrad where we had to complete several assignments with them.  I know they aren't watersafe, but I was curious to see if they'd go over non-photo blue lead.  I quickly sketched out Meldina, Kara's mother, and inked it with the Zig Pen and toned it with the Tombow.

It's difficult to see, but I had trouble getting the Zig pen to make lines over my non-photo blue lead.  I was able to go over the NPB lead with the Tombow with no difficulty, which would make it an interesting option to toning sketches.

I'm pretty satisfied with the contents of this month's box even without crunching numbers, but I'm curious to see how it all adds up.

The Value of November's Art Snacks

Tombow Dual Brush Pen- $2.37 open stock on DickBlick
Koh-i-Noor Mephisto Mechanical Pencil- $10.46 on DickBlick
Alumicolor 3000 Series 6" Triangular Scale-$4.13 on Art Supply Warehouse
Palomino Blackwing 602- 12 count (best I could find)- $22.95 on Amazon, or $1.91 each
Zig Drawing Pen- $2.21 on MarkerSupply.com

Total: $21.08

Holy smokes!  Art Snacks outdid themselves this month.  

I've noticed an upward trend in the selection and value of Art Snacks subscription boxes for the past three months, a trend that I'm really excited about and has tipped me in the balance of continuing my patronage of this service.  


Monday, November 18, 2013

Late October Early November Sketchdump

October and November have been busy months for me, but I still managed to sneak in a little time for drawing and watercolors.

Mini Watercolors done for Nekocon

Ai from Crayon Shin Chan

Armin from Attack on Titan

Bea and Puppycat

Eren from Attack on Titan

Tamaki and Haruhi from Ouran Host Club

Hina from Crayon Shin Chan

Mori and Honey from Ouran Host Club

Kyouya and the Twins from Ouran Host Club.

Mikasa from Attack on Titan

Penny from Crayon Shin Chan

A crying Usagi from Sailor Moon

Another Sakura

Princess Mononoke

Shizuku from Whisper of the Heart

Shin from Crayon Shin Chan

Copic Sketches on Cardstock

Since it's been a little while since I'd used Copics, I decided to do a couple seasonal sketches on toned cardstock.


Inked sketchbook sketches were scanned and the bluelines have been dropped in Photoshop.  Inked with a Copic Multiliner .1 technical pen.

Draping Studies