Monday, February 23, 2015

January and February 2015 Sketchdump

I'm finally closing in on the sketch backlog I'd had since November, which is both relieving (since I hate scanning) and a little disappointing. 

This sketchdump includes the blushing meme that's been going around Tumblr, inked doodles, and facial sketches reffed from Humanae, which I'm going to do for the entirety of February.  There's also stuff I've left out at this time, but will post when it's entirely finished.  I've also left out my hourly comics day comic, as that's been already posted elsewhere.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Belated Christmas Present

Giving original art is a tricky proposition.  The gift is best appreciated by someone who actively enjoys original art, but on occasion, you can convert someone into such an appreciation.   With this year's painting, I took no such risk, and opted to give my friend Alex a watercolor painting tailored to her interests.

Alex loves original art- we first met when they commissioned me to draw one of their original characters at Otakon several years ago, and they often help out on our convention adventures as an irreplaceable assistant.  I think of them as a younger sibling, and I wanted to give them something special this year.

Alex introduced me to a love of goats and an appreciation for fauns, so I painted a fawn-faun wearing kodomo fashion for them.  And since they're an animal lover, I painted the faun feeding winter sparrows, and because it's been intolerably cold (to me) lately, I opted to paint a snow scene.

faun, sparrows, fawn, winter, watercolor, painting, Nattosoup Studio

The original will be going to Alex when I see them at Kamicon this year, but I plan to offer prints as well.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Little Cowgirl Watercolor Series

 Early 2015 has been fairly busy, but I've managed to find time to fulfil one of my unwritten resolutions- to finish my Little Cowgirl series of watercolor paintings.  Between painting Gizmo Granny and 7 Inch Kara, I don't have a lot of time for personal projects.  After getting some upsetting news in early February, I decided to make time to finish this series off.

watercolor, Nattosoup Studio, burro, desert, painting, illustration
I've always liked the aesthetic of western wear, from practical and sturdy jeans to gaudy rodeo and square dancing wear.  I'm sure part of this appreciation is due to my father, a man who taught me to appreciate Westerns and a good pair of cowboy boots, a man who grew up on a farm in Franklinton, Louisiana and paid his way through college working odd jobs like tending dairy cows.  While I think life on a full fledged farm is not for me, I often cater the fantasy of gentlewoman farmer- some chickens, ducks, and of course, a couple goats.

Below the cut are the three other pieces in the series, "Sunset", "Noon" and "Midnight", all painted at different points of 2014.  All pieces feature a young girl and her favorite animals, from Midnight's coyotes singing along to Noon's ginger cat snoozing peacefully on a bucket.  On a practical level, all four pieces were designed to force me to think about lighting and atmosphere in a medium that isn't all that forgiving- watercolor quickly turns to mud with the addition of one wrong glaze.  Although they were each a unique challenge, I enjoyed painting them and treated myself to the use of my beloved Canson Arches.  Although Arches is too expensive and too soft (in my opinion) to paint comic pages on, I love painting single illustrations on this cotton rag watercolor paper. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Part 5: Artist Alley Essentials for Under $30- Decoration

In prior posts, I've covered the basics of setting up your artist alley table, your display, and your signage.  Between those three, decoration is almost entirely covered, but not quite.  A little decoration can go a long way towards making your first convention setup a success.  By simply adding little touches like decorative tape or ribbon, you're able to transform cheap, mass produced Dollar Tree finds into something more personal.

While every Dollar Tree's selection is different, there are several sections you should check out to find things to help you decorate your table.  I recommend the packaging section- curling ribbon, wrapping paper, tissue paper, and empty boxes can be useful for staging.  The floral section of course has faux flowers, but it also has candlesticks, vases, ribbon, and seasonal decorations.  The art supply and craft sections are useful as well- decorative tapes are easy to apply and easy to remove, and glue and regular tape may be necessary to affix your decoration.


While not necessary, a tablerunner can be a good way to divide up your table, to highlight a specific product, or just to break up a lackluster display.  This one from Dollar Tree could use ironing, but it's not a bad start.


At the time of photographing this post, my Dollar Tree offered a variety of washi-tape knockoffs, including glitter tape.  While not very sticky, if you aren't using them to actually affix things, these might be a welcome addition to your convention arsenal.  I utilize washi tape to close my page protecting envelopes and always keep at least one roll behind my table. 

This tape can also be used to decorate utilitarian or boring display items.  I used the green glitter tape to decorate a plain clear plastic tray.

While the tape was easy to apply, it was so low tack that I'll probably have to hot-glue it in place at a later date.  It couldn't make it through Anime Kaiju without falling off.

I also applied green glitter tape to my little Dollar Tree corkboard.  Since I wasn't sure how much tape I had left, rather than taping it entirely around the perimeter, I just used it on the corners.

And since this tape isn't very sticky, I tacked it down on the back with scotch tape.


For a buck, this weirdly neon green ribbon wasn't a bad choice.  They had better colors- cream, sky blue, peach, pink, a nice gray, but I wanted something that matched my table.

This little white wire basket is pretty lackluster and boring, so I decided to deck it out with some of the ribbon I bought.

 I measured  enough ribbon to go around the perimeter of the basket, and cut three lengths of that.

I then wove it through the wire.

And tied it in a bow in the front, fluffing out the ribbon.

Since the basket was then front heavy, I used some of the bulldog clips I bought for support.


 This made a serviceable bookmark display, albeit still a bit unstable.  Had I glued some quarters to the bottom four corners, it would probably be a lot more steady.

So that about covers everything, from the very basics like your sales notebook to the little touches that make your setup your own.  Below are some shots of my Essential Setup for Under $30 with my merchandise, to give you an idea of how it comes together.

 With a little ingenuity and some hard work, you can make a fantastic beginner Artist Alley Setup for under $30.

Was this post helpful to you?  Did it inspire your own Artist Alley setup?  Comment below with your photos, and I'll compile a post of reader submissions!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Part 4: Artist Alley Essentials for Under $30- Signage

In prior posts, I've already introduced you guys to the $30 Dollar Tree Artist Alley table haul as a whole, and introduced you to the basics and display elements in detail.  In this post, I'm going to cover signage.

This post will include:

  • sticky notes
  • whiteboards
As well as some advice for using common household items for signage.

Your signage is an important part of your artist alley table, alerting customers to products as well as informing them of prices.  While some artists list all their prices on one prominently displayed sign, I prefer to label individual product groups to avoid confusion.  For this, I currently use sticky notes.  Although this isn't the most elegant solution, it's easy to re-price items quickly, or to make all new price signs.

Sticky Notes

Post-It notes are probably the best option for this- they're tacky, but not so tacky that they're difficult to remove from the pad, but honestly, any sticky notes will work fine.  This four pack, from Dollar Tree, comes in four neon colors.  You can use just one color that compliments your table scheme, or use all four in a color coordinated pricing scheme.

White Board

If you prefer to have your prices listed in one place, or you need to include a lot of information (like commission info) a whiteboard may be more useful than individual sticky notes.  This example, from Dollar Tree, is pretty terrible, but cheap whiteboards are easy to come by.  Walmart, Office Max, and Staples all offer small desktop whiteboards, often including magnets and a dry erase marker in the package.

Other Useful Signage

Glass front picture frames can be turned into customized dry erase boards with the addition of white paper, solid color paper, or even attractive scrapbooking paper.  The marker whips off with water or a little Dry Erase solution. 

commission display, Nattosoup, Anime Blast Chattanooga

Plain white paper or cardstock in plastic displays like the above are another way to display information.  These displays are pretty commonplace (I got mine at Office Depot four years ago) and last a long time, so they may be worth the investment.

Of course, your branding should be part of your signage.  It's really important to have visible branding like a banner.   My current full size banner, a 6'x2' banner that's been cut down to 6'x18", came from BuildASign, and I set the grommets myself.

A professional quality banner is an investment, and is worth spending a little extra money on, but if you can't afford to have a banner made, you can make yoursellf at home.

Years ago, Heidi and I handpainted a Rascals Rogues and Dames banner for Interventioncon.

Heidi painting Rascals Rogues Dames banner by hand

We used a length of starry blue fabric (probably 2 yards) cut to about 18" wide, and glued golden ribbon to the edges in lieu of hemming the raw edges.  We sketched the letters in with white color pencil, then we used cheap acrylic paint (probably from Jo-Ann's) to fill them in, sometimes going over letters a few times for opacity.

handpainted banner, painting your own banner

The finished banner on a cheap stand made of pipes. 

This method worked so well that we painted another banner for our shared table:

handpainted banner

You don't have to go out and buy fabric for your banner- there's probably some around the house that you can repurpose.  Clean old sheets work just fine for this, as long as there are no stains.

This post cheats a bit, since not everything mentioned above is available at Dollar Tree, but I feel like these additions were worth mentioning for beginner convention artists.