Monday, March 07, 2016

March 2016 ArtSnacks Vs. Sketchbox

This post was sponsored by my Patreon and my Patrons.  The SketchBox year subscription was purchased by me, the ArtSnacks year suscription was purchased by my mother as a Christmas present. 

Thank you so much to my Patrons on Patreon for pledging enough to make posts like this possible.  Without my Patron's generous support, we wouldn't've hit the $15 a month goal necessary for unlocking March's ArtSnacks Vs. SketchBox review.  If you enjoy content like this, and would like to help produce more, please consider pledging to the Patreon.

Special February Thanks to:

Wayne Norris
Andrew Blake
C. Ellis

And to Ristro, for joining us in March!

I apologize that this post has taken a little while to go live- I've worked on it steadily, but March has been one fire after another.  I really need an assistant to help with some of the more basic tasks- fact checking, basic photography, laying out the post, but the Studio doesn't make enough at this time for us to afford to hire the extra help.  I appreciate your patience regarding the delay.

Previous SketchBox Vs. ArtSnacks
January- Winner: ArtSnacks
February- Winner:  SketchBox

SketchBox Basic: $25mo+$5 Shipping/$240 yr (Monthly subs include an additional $5 for shipping)
ArtSnacks: $20mo/$200 yr (shipping included)

March SketchBox (Basic) Includes:

  • Copic Wide in V15
  • Wallet of 20 Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners

March ArtSnacks Includes

  • Irojiten Pencil (kingfisher)
  • KUM Longpoint 2 Step Sharpener
  • Uni Posca Ultra Fine Paintmarker
  • Koh-I-Noor Progresso Colorpencil
  • Liquitex 2mm Paint marker
To the left:  March ArtSnacks.  To the right, March SketchBox Basic


This Month's SketchBox Brands are

March SketchBox (Basic) Vs ArtSnacks Unboxing- Nattosoup

SketchBox Unboxing

March SketchBox Overview and Demonstration-Nattosoup

The Included Cards

The card reads:
"This Month we're featuring line art products that will allow you to have some serious precision in your work.  Line art rose to prominence during the print era where it was the standard illustration technique.

Inside this month's basic bbox you'll find 21 items to use in your own line art piece, or add finer details to any of your other work.  There's a full 20 PIECE SET (sic) of Stabilo Point 88 fineliners.  These .4mm pens feature waterbased ink in vibrant colors, formulated to sustain a long cap-off time.

We included a Copic wide (sic) marker.  Copic markers are one of our most requested items, a true favorite by artists around the globe.  The Copic wide marker is 3 times wider than the original copic (sic) marker and allows you the freedom to use either the wide edge or the fine tip of the nib.  THese markers feature an alcohol based ink and are refillable!

Have fun and remember to tag your art with #SketchBoxMarch if you'd like to be included in our monthly contest- the winner gets their art printed on a future box lid!

If you received SketchBox as a gift, and this is your last box- please sign up at to keep your boxes coming.  Use coupon code "COMEBACK" to save 10% on your order."

The card reads:

Featured Artist
Cody Ruse

Creating art that catches your eye the second you notice it and makes you wonder how so many small details being brought together can make a whole piece of work is what I do.  Whether it's portraits or animals, I love the idea of being able to bring together so many aspects of drawing that seem simple and almost basic to produce images.  The combination of patterns, geometric shapes, fine lines and texture is inspired by my desire to make my work as aesthetically pleasing as I possibly can.  My process is like an alternate universe.  The concept of time is warped as I spend, what feels like the blink of an eye but is actually, hours upon hours immersed in the details and watching the lines work together to create a final piece.

Check out more of his art on instagram @CodyRuseArt

We're so thankful for the talent that Cody shared with us, if you'd like to get your art featured- email an example of your work to us at

The Goods

Copic Wide in V17

Longtime readers know I use Copic Wides to quickly lay down washes of alcohol marker.  I first utilized this technique when rendering an alternate cover of 7" Kara Chapter 1, and have regularly used it since.  V17 is a darker color than I would usually purchase in Wides, but it encouraged me to break out the adhesive frisket and give masking a shot. 

20 piece Stabilo Point 88 wallet

I've used Stabilo Point 66 bullet nibbbed pens in the past for faux inkwash techniques that you can check out on this blog.  These fineliners are very water soluable, making them inappropriate for waterbased techniques, but perfect for use with alcohol markers.  This set of 20 is pretty handy, and comes in a reusable wallet.

The Breakdown for the Basic Box:
Copic Wide: $5.99 on Markerpop
Stabilo Point 88 Waterbased Fineliners: $12.45 with Prime on Amazon

Total Value: $18.44

Total Paid: $30 (including Shipping)

The Premium Box

Sketchbox March 2016 Unboxing- abcohende

SketchBox Premium March Instagram Photos

The Breakdown

The premium seems to have different box art this month from the basic, although the interior art seems the same.

Packing material
Daler Rowney Simply Pocket Sketchook- best guess cost $2.99 on Amazon
Ironlak 16 Color, .4mm Fineliners- $24.99 on Amazon, $16.35 on TPY
Copic Wide:  $5.99 on Markerpop (see above)

NOTE:  The Simply line is Daler Rowney's lowest end for supplies.  You can read more about that line in my review of Daler Rowney's Simply Watercolors here.  I'm having trouble finding the one shown in the unboxing photos and video (it may be a sample), but it seems similar to Moleskine's sample pocket sketchbooks, and you can find other Simply sketchbooks on Amazon . Although not the same, the smallest Simply sketchbook I could find was 5.5"x8.5" wirebound for $2.99+$7.95 shipping with Daler-Rowney's Amazon site

I'm not particularly familiar with Ironlak's fineliners, so I can't honestly say if they perform better than the Stabilo fineliners included in the Basic Box.  I do know that Ironlak is a brand of art supplies geared towards graffiti artists, and they make black books, alcohol markers, paints, and fineliners geared towards that market.  The Ironlak site ( has no information available about their fineliners, so I'm not even sure if they're waterbased or alcohol based, or if they're permanent once dry.

Total Value: $25.33

Total Paid: $40 (including shipping)


This Month's ArtSnacks Brands Are:


ArtSnacks Unboxing

March ArtSnacks Overview and Unboxing

ArtSnacks is turning 3!

Here's what's on the Menu for March

KUM Automatic Long Point Sharpener
$10.65 retail

Staff Favorite  How many mile-s of pencil have you ground away over the years, trying to create a sharp point?  All the way from Germany, the KUM Automatic Long Point Sharpener (pronounced "KOOM") is here to fix that problem!  Use the first sharpener to trim away the wood as needed, then use the second to hone the graphite to a fine point.  Make your pencils last longer while still creating the sharp point that you need for detail work.

Tombow Irojiten Colored Pencil
$2.39 retail

The Tombow Irojiten Colored Pencil features a firm point that gives you exceptional control.  These professional-grade colored pencils are also great for layering.  "Irojiten" is a Japanese expression that means "color dictionary"; full sets of these pencils are available from Tomow in elegant volumes.

KOH-i-Noor Woodless Colored Pencil
$1.04 retail

Pick up your new KOH-i-Noor Woodless Colored Pencil and feel the weight in your hand.  You're holding a stick of pure color!  Try experimenting with this one, coloring from the point or layering the edge against the page for a softer, wider application.

Uni Posca Paint Marker
$4.50 retail

Give the Posca Paint Marker a shake, press gently against the paper to start paint flow, and start laying down water-based paint with precision.  We love the bold colors in this line and the level of control that the extra fine point provides.  This marker can color over other paints, once they are dry.

Liquitex Professional Paint Marker
$6.99 retail

It's time for an alternative kind of painting experience.  The Liquitex Professional Paint Marker has a brilliant water-based color that dries permanently.  This chubby marker is great for covering large scale artwork, outlining murals, and other mix media purposes.

Bonus Item

Don't hold back with that paint marker when trying out your RENDR paper.  It's specially designed to handle wet media without bleeding through.  But it's also the perfect surface or your dry media- it loves your colored pencils as much as your markers!  Now that you can draw and paint on both sides of the page, it's like doubling the life of your sketchbook!

Take the ArtSnacks Challenge!

Use all of the products in your box to create an original piece of art.  Snap a picture of your artwork and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagra with the hashtag #artsnackschallenge
Like a product?  Order more.


ArtSnacks turns 3 this month!

It has been an exciting year, and we are celebrating it with a birthday gift to you- a special edition 1" enamel ArtSnacks logo pin.

Thank you to all our loyal supporters for three wonderful years!

The Goods

ArtSnacks 3rd Birthday Enamel Pen

This pen is really cute- it's the ArtSnacks penc-tzel, but I've misplaced the sweater it's pinned to, so photos will have to wait.

Rendr Sketchbook Sample

I've used a full size Rendr No Show Thru Paper sketchbook for a couple things in the recent past- last month's ArtSnacks challenge, and an alcohol marker test for my upcoming series on marker/paper compatibility.  While it's true that markers, even alcohol markers, don't bleed through on Rendr, colors seem desaturated and muted compared to how they appear on other papers.  Rendr takes ink, including brushpen, fairly well, and can handle heavier media like paint pens, although I've yet to try it for watercolor, as the paper has no texture.

February's ArtSnacks challenge on full size Crescent Rendr paper.  Inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida, colored with Winsor and Newton Promarkers and Brushmarkers, accents added with a Zig Posterman and Sakura Gellyroll.

Inked with a Mitsuo Aida- Copic, Blick Studio Marker, and Prismacolor

Irojiten Kingfisher Color Pencil

February SketchBox piece created with Irojiten color pencils

ArtSnacks actually sent me this pencil two years ago, while I was working on my earlier ArtSnacks review series.  I also received a set of Irojiten pencils in last month's SketchBox.  Although these color pencils may suit some, I find the core too hard to use enjoyably, and prefer Derwent's Coloursoft colored pencils.    Points were definitely taken off for repeat supplies.

Liquitex 2mm Acrylic Paint Pen

I've purchased a few of these in the past with every intention of using them for mixed media, and somehow that goal keeps getting pushed further and further back.  In general, I like what I see regarding build quality, and I wish these had been around when I took that acrylic painting class in undergrad.

POSCA Ultra Fine waterbased Paint Pen

Markering Okami with POSCA Paint Pens (Tutorial)- Nattosoup

I've used POSCA Fine bullet nibbed paint pens in the past, and I'm working on an in-depth review of those for this blog.  This Ultra-Fine Paint pen is even easier to use!

Koh-i-Noor Progresso Woodless Color Pencil

To be quite honest, I don't use color pencils on their own for my work.  Those I do purchase tend to go for a bit more than $.75 openstock, but that's because I want soft, highly pigmented color pencils for my watercolor pages.  A woodless color pencil gives you a lot more core for your buck, but needs to be made of sufficiently hard materials in order to not crumble in your pencil case.  According to the DickBlick website: "Each high-density pencil includes five times as much lead as a regular pencil. Pencils are pre-sharpened and have a lacquer coating. They can be sharpened in any pencil sharpener"   The lacquer coating means that you would need to scrape away the outer layer if you wanted to use the color pencil's side for huge strokes of color, but this is far easier to accomplish with lacquered woodless color pencils than it is with traditional wood-cased color pencils.  If you're interested in trying these color pencils, you can read reviews for them here.

KUM Longpoint Sharpener

As stated in my demonstration video, I don't usually use longpoint sharpeners- this is my first.  I am very familiar with KUM pencil sharpeners in general, and have several around my studio.  I buy the little magnesium single hole sharpeners in bulk because they're fantastic, and I have a couple KUM dual hole sharpeners living on my desk.  These sharpeners do a fantastic job sharpening your pencils, and I have far fewer breakages with this brand (even with finicky Prismacolor color pencils).

The Field Test

I decided to do a joint challenge this month, as both boxes required outside supplies.

Additional Materials Used: 

  • Grafix Masking Frisket
  • Copic Sketch in E51
  • Niji Waterbrush
  • Strathmore Visual Art Journal- Vellum Bristol

The Breakdown

Liquitex Paint Marker: $4.19 on DickBlick
Koh-I-Noor Progresso, openstock: $.75 on DickBlick
Koh-I-Noor, Progresso, 24 piece set, individual unit price: $.58 on DickBlick  
Uni POSCA (openstock): $2.89 on Durable Supply
KUM Longpoint: $5.60 on Jetpens
Irojiten (set):  Individual unit: $1.61 on DickBlick
Irojiten (openstock): $2.33 on DickBlick

Total Value: $15.76
Total Paid: $20, including shipping

The Verdict

This month FEELS like a tie- I liked using the Stabilo 88's as watercolors, and I've meant to purchase a set for awhile, but SketchBox continues to fall short of my target price range of $20-$25 worth of supplies.  ArtSnacks felt  little disjointed this month- to the point that I couldn't think of anything to create using just my ArtSnacks for the challenge, but the price was right in the sweet zone ($15.76- my target is $15-$17), and I enjoyed the included supplies.  I was introduced to something brand new- a long point sharpener, and I liked the performance of the POSCA ultra-fine.

What keeps sticking in my head is how SketchBox continues to fall short in a couple departments- novelty and value.  One can make up for the shortcomings of the other, but to be short both is a failing that's hard to overlook.

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