Wednesday, September 30, 2015

7" Kara Chapter 5 Sample

It's been way too long since I was able to share 7" Kara process or updates.  This year has been crazy with conventions and freelance, but now that things are winding down, I've made time to finish Chapter 5.  It's been painted since January, but I went ahead and scanned it, color corrected it, and lettered it!  If you're interested in watercolors, and would like to know how to get the best digital results from your physical pages, keep an eye on this blog, as I'm working on a post detailing my process.

Volume 2 isn't finished yet, and Chapter 5 won't be available for purchase as a standalone chapter, but you CAN show your support by purchasing a copy of Volume 1 from the Nattoshop.  Volume 1 has four full chapters of 7" Kara, plus a bonus chapter and a concept section, and every copy you buy from my online shop comes with a sketch and thanks in the back of the book, and a cute Kara wooden charm.  Writing this blog takes a lot of time away from working on Kara, so if you enjoy the content here, please consider showing your support and purchasing a copy for yourself, a friend, or a loved one.  If you already have a copy, please consider taking the time to write a review on GoodReads.  To leave a written review (the most helpful review of all!), hover over your star rating, and a dialogue box should pop up asking if you'd like to write a review.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Walmart Art Supply Review: Papermate Flair Ultrafine

I went into the Luling Walmart hoping to find Zig Millennium technical pens in the scrapbooking section.  These were the pens I used for inking comics back when I was in high school, and they've only changed superficially since then.  I wanted to see how they'd stack up against Copic Multiliner and Sakura Microns, the technical pens many comic artists currently use for inking, but unfortunately, my Luling Walmart didn't carry them, or really ANY technical or fineliner pens in their scrapbooking section, so I scoured their writing supplies instead.

The pickings were fairly slim- a lot of wooden and mechanical pencils, many rollerballs, but only a handful of fineliner or marker tipped pens that weren't Sharpies.  I ended up scouring this section on three separate visits, hoping that fresh eyes would turn up something new, and I found something new each time I looked.  On my third, and final trip, I finally found these Papermate Flair Ultrafine pens.

Not too terribly long ago, I reviewed Papermate Flair's Ultrafine cousin, the Papermate Flair with the porous point.  I pulled it out for comparison a little later on in this review, but Luling Walmart only had the Ultrafine version of the Flair.

These pens are pretty easy to get, you can find them at Walmart, Office Max/Depot, Target, Amazon, and even Jetpens.  Below is my Amazon affiliate link.  Your purchase through my link helps support this blog financially, so if you're in the market for Papermate Flairs, you should consider giving my link a shot.

The Packaging

The Papermate Flair Ultrafines I purchased came in two types of packing- a cardboard and plastic blisterpack, and a resealable plastic envelope

I really like when pen sets come with reusable packaging- I tend to keep my pens in them even if I have other storage options.  This sort of packaging is particularly useful to young artists who may not have a bunch of art supply storage laying around, waiting to be filled, and are just starting to assemble their own arsenal.

The basic stats
  • Felt Tip Pen
  • Set of 8 Colors
  • Waterbased Ink
  • Acid Free (on paper)
  • Metal reinforced point
  • Ultrafine tip
The Pens

I mentioned at the start of this post that I've already reviewed Papermate Flair's larger porous point pens.  That pen (dirty, because it's been kicking around my graphite covered pencil case) is at the top, the Ultrafine fineliners I'm reviewing today are below.

Left- Papermate Flair large point, right- Papermate Flair Ultrafine
As you can see at a glance, the porous point Papermate Flair differs significantly from the Papermate Flair Ultrafine pens.  Like most fineliners and technical pens, the Papermate Flair Ultrafine has a metal sleeve around the porous point (possibly felt) nib.  The nib on the Ultrafine is much much smaller than the Medium point Flair, and though the two pens share  body moulds, they are visually very different, as the Medium is a solid body color, whereas the Ultrafine introduces a silver body.

Both pens bear the Papermate Logo, and the size is denoted as either M(edium) or U(ltra)F(ine)

And ultrafine it is! 

Immediate Water Application

When writing pen reviews, I often don't test water-safeness- I assume most pens are NOT watersafe until I read otherwise.  For this application, I wanted to make sure I hit all the relevant bases, as these reviews are intended for artists just starting their collection, and they really need to get the most bang for their buck.

These tests were done in my swatchook, a Strathmore Watercolor Journal.

Papermate Flair Ultrafine pens are at the bottom of the three demos, and were not labeled.

Immediate water application causes the ink to run drastically, but the effect is almost like a watercolor marker or brushpen, and could be utilized for color application.  Most of the inks tested held their color even with water, and though all pen points were chosen as fineliners, and the marks made reflect that, the color distribution is generous.

These pens should not be used to ink work intended for waterbased markers or watercolors, unless you want the lineart to bleed into the coloring.

Water Application after 24 Hour Dry Time

Papermate Flair Ultrafine tests at bottom of page
Even when the ink has been allowed to fully dry over night, there is still significant bleeding when water is added.

Immediate Copic Marker Application

These tests were done on Fluid's Hotpress watercolor paper, which has a plate like smooth finish, but does not have the same clay coating that Plate Bristol has.

Copic marker was applied immediately after pen ink was applied.  I used a light gray so that you could not only see that Copic has been applied, but also see if any color migration happens with application.

There is slight, but worth mentioning, color migration when Copic marker is immediately applied over Flair's ink.

Copic Marker Application after 24 Hour Dry Time

I opted to use a Colorless Copic Blender for this test, so you could see how much the inks from Papermate Flair blend when Copic alcohol is added.

The Field Test- Inking over Bluelines

It's really hard to pull clean, straight lines with these pens, for some reason.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm trying to ink with them the way I would with fude pens, rather than the loose, hatchy style I usually use for tech pens, or if its the pens themselves.

I really, really don't like inking with these pens, but keep in mind that I've moved away from technical pens almost entirely.

Inking over Graphite and Erasing

Papermate Flair is at the bottom
I did three tests- a test to see if the graphite would stain the Flair's nib, or discolor the ink (top test), a test where I erased the graphite immediately after inking (never recommended, but sometimes a sad necessity), and a test where I allowed the ink to dry overnight before erasing.  If you can't read my awful handwriting, here are my notes:

Papermate Flair inks over graphite ok, with no noticeable staining.
Immediate erasing causes minimal smearing
Graphite erases with no smearing once ink has dried for 24 hours.

The Verdict

I think I like the porous point Papermate Flair better than the felt tipped Papermate Flair, as at least the porous point's nib has a little give to it.

These pens are great to doodle with, add a hint of color to your notes, but may be difficult to ink with.  They are not water or Copic safe, but you may be able to use this to your advantage.

These pens aren't really designed to be used for illustration or comics, and you may have some difficulty getting the results you want.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Walmart Art Supply Review: Pentel Hi Polymer Eraser and Neon Eraser

This post is one of a series of posts that feature art supplies I purchased from my hometown, Luling, Walmart while I was in town for Mechacon.  It was inspired by the fact that kids, teens, and 20 somethings don't have many options for quality and affordable art supplies in the New Orleans area (and yes, I AM aware that there are art supply shops there, I've shopped at several of them, and they're greatly overpriced given their lackluster stock).  So I wanted to see what I could get at Walmart, put what I buy through its paces, and let you guys know how these supplies fared.  As almost always, I purchase these materials out of my own pocket, and one of the ways you can show support and appreciation is to give me a tip in my Paypal (sidebar right).  You can also show appreciation by writing to Pentel about this review, sharing this, or any post to your social networks, or emailing me.

This post is part of my series on art supplies from Walmart, which is part of a larger series about art supplies from big box stores commonly found across the US.  My goal is to introduce readers to easily found, affordable supplies that are a good stopgap between school-grade supplies and the expensive art supplies they read about, but may not be able to afford.  During the process, I hope to introduce myself AND my readers to supplies they may not have considered before, and hopefully encourage you guys to suggest good supplies I may have overlooked.

Pentel Hi Polymer Eraser- $1.46 for three

I've mentioned Pentel's Hi-Polymer Erasers in the past, I believe, as a good, easy to find alternative to Mono erasers.  In this post, I'm going to pit the two side by side, so you can see that this easily available contender is no slouch in the erasing ring.

The Packaging

The nice thing about these Walmart reviews is that I can finally read the packaging, and either laugh at the things they consider selling points ("Block style is perfect for getting into little corners", "Comes with a protective sleeve to keep you and the eraser clean"), or take the claims as challenges to prove or disprove ("33% cleaner erasing!"- what constitutes a regular eraser to Pentel, who hail from the land of super erasers?)

So despite coming in a cardboard and plastic blister pack, these erasers are INDIVIDUALLY sealed for freshness, which is a little annoying.

The Field Test

The field test for both erasers is set up the same way, and was done at the same time.  I created a variety of circumstances you would encounter when erasing- erasing bluelines, erasing just pencil, erasing pencil AND bluelines, erasing the pencil out for under the ink, erasing over ink, erasing bluelines from under ink.  You want any eraser to clean up graphite and non photo blue lead cleanly with minimal smudging of the surrounding area, but you don't want it to pick up the ink you're using.  As usual, I allowed my ink (from a Kuretake No. 6, I believe) to dry overnight.   Papertype does matter for erasers, but I'm using a pretty common yardstick- regular 60lb sketchbook paper (Blick Sketch, my favorite).  Please keep in mind that papers with a smooth finish will be more prone to smearing, and it may be more difficult to erase on papers with a rough finish.   Now that I've found a basic standard of measure for comparing erasers, I can finally go through the dozens I bought while in Japan and after, and share that here with you guys.

For size comparison, I threw in a 'large' Mono eraser- the type I regularly use for my own art.  This Mono eraser is from Jetpens, and is $1.65 plus tax and shipping.

The Pentel Hi Polymer eraser erases bluelines fairly cleanly, leaves some ghosting with graphite, has a little bit of smearing with graphite over bluelines (this is pretty common), and does not pull up the black ink.

Walmart Neon Eraser- $0.26 for one

So in an attempt at being fair, I decided to grab an eraser I wasn't sure would be any good, but figured others might think it was passable.  This neon eraser is pretty non descript, despite the bright color, and is produced by Walmart for Walmart.

It has a plastic feel that would have been a little disconcerting in the past, but after years of using white vinyl erasers, I figure it's at least worth a shot.  It will either smear graphite and non photo blue lead everywhere, or it'll do the job it's designed to do- erase.

The Packaging

The Neon Eraser, which promises to erase clean an clear, comes shrinkwrapped in plastic, which might seem ridiculous, but you have to keep in mind I bought it from Walmart.

The back has a barcode and vendor information.

The shrinkwrap was removed fairly easily, although I did have to utilize the metal tip of my Clearpoint mechanical pencil to get the plastic started.

The Neon Eraser performed better than I expected, in that I expected it to smear graphite and blue lead all over my paper.  It doesn't perform as well as the Pentel Hi Polymer, and for your money, I recommend skipping the Neon Eraser and grabbing the 3 pack of Pentel instead.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Summer Art Dump Part 3- Returning to Nashville, Dealing with Depression, Working on Another Style

In between the sketchbook pages of Summer Art Dump Part 2 and Summer Art Dump Part 3, I went to Louisiana for two weeks to visit family and to attend Mechacon.  While in Louisiana, I went to the Paradis branch of the St. Charles Parish to sketch for the kids, but other than that and Mechacon, I didn't do as much drawing as I normally would at home.  It's always hard to make time for sketching while visiting family, but even though my output dropped, I still made sure to draw daily.

Although Mechacon went really well, and I had lots of energy the week after Mecha (put to use prepping for the Walmart Art Supply Review series, the Dollar Tree Art Supply Review series, and the Target Art Supply Review Series), by the time I got back to Nashville, and the solitude of working from home, I was pretty spent.  I spent the next couple weeks struggling with reoccuring depression, an all too common malady I battle with, which entirely sapped my creativity and almost sapped my desire to draw.  At best, I was simply drawing from reference while working on larger projects that I could not afford to postpone.

I posted step by step drawing and inking process for the Kara on the right on my Instagram as I was drawing it.

I plan on making a new banner when Gizmo Grandma is printed and ready for distribution.  It'll be Kara, comparing art supplies.  I posted the step by step sketching and pencilling process on my Instagram.

A chibi illustration I did so I could post process to Instagram, both sketching and inking.

Another paperchild of Kara.  You can check out the whole thing on my Instagram.

When the fog of depression finally started to lift, I decided to put effort into coming up with a more cartoony, more gestural B-style, and opted to do that mainly through drawing fanart of some of my favorite characters.

Card Captor Sakura and baby Amethyst as a witch.

Sailor Jupiter and Venus

Teenage Bulma

Selina Mayer (Veep) and Usagi

Referenced warmup, Bubbbles and Buttercup

Blossom and Madoka

Bee and Puppycat

Tina Belcher

Faux inkwash studies of my cat, Bowie, done using the Pilot Precise V5, which I reviewed as part of my Walmart Art Supply Series.  The post should be up here soon.

Louise Belcher

DeeDee and Mabel

If you're having trouble with feeling motivated, creative, or just tapped out, I strongly recommend that even if you're just drawing from reference, that you continue to draw daily.  It's often hard to keep pushing, and you may wonder if it's even worth it, but when motivation returns, or you feel inspired again, you'll be frustrated that you let your muscle memory atrophy if you don't practice as much as possible.

Welp, now I'm caught up on the Summer Art Dump, and considering it's taken me almost a month to get all three parts posted, I'm sure I'll have even more sketches to share by the time this post goes live.