Thursday, June 30, 2016

Craft Tools Worth Adding to Your Studio

My collection of art goodies and tools has grown to include many supplies marketed mainly to crafters.  While none of these are essential, many of them are very helpful, and well worth adding to your own studio.  I've included my Amazon affiliates links whenever possible, to make it easier for you to find these products.  When you purchase items linked through my Affiliates account, it does not add any additional cost to you, and I see a small bounty, which helps keep the lights on in the studio.  If you enjoy content like this, but prefer to do your shopping elsewhere, please consider becoming a Patron of my Patreon.

Tim Holtz Inkssentials Non-Stick Craft Mat

Despite the goofy name, this craft mat has really become a staple at my drafting table, because very little sticks to it.  Waterbased ink, alcohol ink, acrylic all wipe off cleanly with the right solvent (usually water or rubbing alcohol).  This is perfect if you make a mess, like I do.  It's also great for utilizing all those stray droplets- just pick up your piece, and dab up the excess with a spare piece of paper. 

Tombow Mono Removable Adhesive

This is also available in a non-removable formulation, but either are a boon to paper crafters who need to apply a minute amount of non-liquid adhesive.  The removable adhesive rubs away with your finger tip or a masking fluid rubber pickup, and doesn't leave a residue if you pick it up in time.

Adhesive Dots

Bone folders

If you assemble minis, ashcans, or fold cards, a dedicated bone folder is a fantastic one time investment.  I've owned this Martha Stewart bone folder for 5+ years now, and reach for it every time I'm assembling a new ashcan.

Spritzer bottles

Perfect for water, rubbing alcohol, alcohol ink mists, or watercolor mists, these are cheap, easy to find, and well worth trying out.  You can find these everywhere- Dollar Tree, Target, Walmart, but I buy mine in bulk from Amazon.

Bottles of Alcohol Ink



Not yet on the radar for many illustrators, alcohol ink bottles are a great addition to your alcohol marker collection.  Jacquard and Ranger both make alcohol inks that are worth giving a shot.  Jacquard inks tend to be less expensive than Ranger inks, but has a smaller range of colors, and may be more difficult to find.

You can use these inks in empty Copic markers, you can use them in spray bottles, you can allow them to evaporate in palettes and reactivate with rubbing alcohol

  • Alcohol Ink Mixatives- Opaque alcohol inks and metallic alcohol inks



A subset of alcohol inks, these opaque inks in metallics and white and black are a great addition to your alcohol ink collection.  Although I cannot recommend using them in empty Copic markers (yet- I just haven't tested it out), these pigment based alcohol inks can painted on using a synthetic paintbrush dipped in rubbing alcohol while wet, or allowed to dry and applied in a similar way.  Both Copic and Jacquard offer metallic inks.

Rubbing Alcohol

If you use alcohol markers, you're going to need to have some rubbing alcohol on hand.  Rubbing alcohol has many uses in the general studio, and even more in the alcohol marker studio.  High proof rubbing alcohol is inexpensive- far cheaper than blending solution- and can be used to make your own alcohol inks, reinvigorate dead alcohol markers, and do general cleanup if you get messy with your spray inks.  Although you can purchase rubbing alcohol in almost any grocery store or pharmacy, I recommend higher proof rubbing alcohol, and I'm lazy, so I order mine off Amazon.  This is the brand I use.

Toner based printer

Useful for printing your lineart on the paper of your choice.  Waterproof and alcohol ink safe.  I own the Dell C1760 printer, and work the heck out of it for convention merch.  I love the print quality it gives me, but there are limitations.  This printer will not print watercolor paper.

Brusho in salt cellars


Brusho is a dye based, crystalline watercolor medium that I've played with for a few months, but Haven't had an opportunity to write about.  I keep promising a review, but that's contingent on the video being ready, and I have a video backlog long enough to last me a year.  Don't wait for the review, if you're interested in playing around with watercolors that literally blossom on your paper, give Brusho a try.

Salt and Pepper Shakers

Brusho can be difficult to handle, but I've found keeping it in little salt shakers helps.  I add a little rice to help with humidity control, but the rice releases starch which can effect your Brusho's performance.  I don't mind, but its something to be aware of.

Small Funnels

Those salt shakers can be difficult to fill, but these little funnels help a lot.

Masking Tape

I use white masking tape all the time in my studio- it helps to hold pieces of paper down to my craft matt when I apply Brusho, I tape down my field tests with white masking tape, I use white masking tape when creating comic roughs.

Blue Painters Tape

I use wider, lower tack Painters tape specifically to stretch watercolor pages.  I prefer 3M's Scotch Blue to other brands, and I definitely prefer this tape to artists' watercolor tape, which tends to wreck my pages when I remove it. 

Bulldog and Binder Clips

Binder Clips

I use a combination of large binder clips and large bulldog clips when stretching watercolor paper. 

Bulldog Clips

Although you CAN find large bulldog clips for sale at art stores (sold open stock), it's much cheaper for me to purchase them through Amazon Prime.

Gatorboard/Corrogated Plastic

Don't buy watercolor stretcher boards, don't waste your money on thin lap desks.  Corrogated plastic is strong, cheap, and light weight, and it's IDEAL for stretching watercolor paper.  I purchase mine from the hardware section of Amazon, and cut it to size.

Washi Tape

Even lower tack than masking tape, washi tape is useful for taping down more delicate papers, but can also be used as an accent in your pieces.

Plastic Pipettes

I use plastic pipettes for almost everything watercolor or alcohol marker related.  These are handy for dripping clean water into palettes, transferring watercolors to mix, or adding rubbing alcohol to smaller containers.  Don't buy the ones in the craft section- those are massively overpriced, purchase them from the general or medical sections. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

2.5k YouTube Subscribers Giveaway Announcement

My little YouTube channel has grown in the past few months, and to celebrate the milestone, I'm hosting another giveway!  If you haven't checked out my channel yet, you ought to hurry up, because I'm constantly sharing new content including reviews, art supply demonstrations, and tutorials.

I'm giving away some of my favorite comic and sketching tools to three lucky winners!

First place winner receives:

First place winner's prize is worth at least $77.74

Second Place receives:

  • Drafting Pencil (.7mm)
  • 1 pack Color Eno Soft Blue Lead (.7mm)
  • Mono Eraser
  • Clic Erase Eraser
  • Hi Polymer Lead
  • Signo Pen
  • Visual Journal

Third Place receives:
  • Signo Pen
  • Clic Erase
  • Color Eno Lead
  • Hi Polymer Lead
  • Mono Eraser

Everything in this giveaway has been demonstrated on my YouTube channel or written about on the blog, so there's plenty of information and tutorials to help you get started in making comics!

How to Enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest will run from June 21st- July 15th, 2016.  You have a variety of ways to enter, from commenting on the blog to checking out the Patreon, to visiting my Nattosoup fan page on Facebook, and will earn points for participation.

This giveaway has been sponsored by my blog, Nattosoup Studio Art and Process Blog, and my Patreon (which is a fancy way for saying I paid for it out of pocket), and is intended to help three artists improve their comic tool stashes.  If you enjoy giveaways like this, please consider joining my Patreon community, as they are the reason I can afford to offer these opportunities.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

March and April 2016 Video SketchBook Tour

SketchBook Tour March and April 2016- Becca Hillburn

If you prefer static sketchbook posts, where I scan and share images, please let me know, otherwise I'm going to continue sharing my sketchbooks via video.  And if you like content like this, and haven't yet, I recommend you check out my YouTube channel for even more!

Monday, June 20, 2016

MTAC 2016 Recap

If you enjoy convention reviews like this, and find them beneficial, please consider joining the Nattosoup  community, and backing my Patreon.  Recaps take a lot of time and energy to write, and have not had the effect on my career that I had hoped, so if you enjoy them, please let me know, and share them with your friends!  Sharing my posts to your Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and forums helps me grow an audience and puts my work in front of new people, which is really important in the career of an artist.  You can use the social network links below!

MTAC (Middle Tennessee Anime Convention) is generally a 10 minute drive from my apartment in Nashville, so it's imperative that I table at it every year I can.  This year was a little nerve wracking, as MTAC is portfolio+first come first serve, and the MTAC site had a few issues with their artist applications.  Fortunately, I was able to apply almost as soon as the deadline hit, and able to secure my table payment as soon as I received notice of acceptance.

You can check out some of my past experiences with MTAC through the links below.

MTAC 2015 Recap

MTAC 2014 Recap


The Alley Layout

New Watercolors

Table Prep

MTAC Announcement

Thursday Setup

Since we were allowed a Thursday night setup, I didn't bother to do a demo table, as I knew I'd have all the time I needed.

Our tables were a generous 8', which can ALWAYS be utilized by me, but took a little figuring out, as I'm used to 6'.  Fortunately, I brought enough gridwall to add some wings to my display, creating a couple mini galleries for non-anime originals.


Friday I manned the table alone, and despite having a raging migraine, I managed to do pretty decent sales.  So decent in fact, that I was nervous looking at my numbers, because they were a little TOO good.  Joseph managed to relieve me at 5PM, and after the con closed, we went out for dinner with a large group of con friends.  Unfortunately, as soon as I got home, I had to hit the ground running on commissions and making more sassy buttons and ribbons, so Friday was a late night.

MTAC's parking situation this year could best be described as 'unfortunate'.  The hotel refused to allow non-hotel guests to park, and would not sell MTAC spaces, which meant attendees needed to find parking on elsewhere.  MTAC recommended the Parking Spot, which included a shuttle service, but this added time and money to the attendees experience.  Fortunately for me, I had someone who could drop me off and park the car (or take it with them) on all three days, so this wasn't an issue for me personally, but it's certainly something to consider.


As soon as I arrived on Saturday (which was before alley hours, but only just barely), the crowd was already thick, with people milling about the artist alley.  we had been warned that this might happen, as the artist alley was not in a locked room, I was just surprised by how many people were already there before 9 on a Saturday.

Saturday sales were bonkers busy, and I barely had time to catch my breath.  Thankfully, Joseph was there to help me handle sales, make sure I had time to eat, and give me the chance to take bathroom breaks.  He parked my Jetta in the open parking lot across from the MTAC hotel, as the business it belonged to is closed on the weekends.

Saturday night ended with another tasty and fun group dinner, and burning the midnight oil on commissions and ribbons.


Although not as busy as Saturday or Friday, Sunday was definitely still quite lively.  So lively that any time I was at the table, I'd become swamped with sales, so I took my commission over to a friend's table, and chatted with her while she made sales.  When I finished my backlog, I returned to the table to make sales and take mail in commission orders.

Additional Photos

All photos are used with permission

 The MTAC hotel

 The MTAC Shuttle

 Artist Tables:

Breaking down on Sunday afternoon

At Con Commissions

Mail In Commissions

Artist/ AA Head Interviews

We were so slammed at MTAC that we weren't able to get any artist interviews while at the con, but Heather Crook, the director of MTAC's AA, was kind enough to give us twenty minutes after breakdown on Sunday.   This interview is absolutely perfect if you want to apply to MTAC, as she goes into detail as to what they're looking for, and it's great for ANY artist who is interested in tabling at shows.

AA Head Interview with Heather Crook


MTAC is one of my best shows, and this year did not disappoint, as I made just a little over $1.8k.  Of course, sales like that take A LOT of work, and I was fortunate enough that copies of 7" Kara sold quite well (as well as they did at their first MoCCA-fest, three years ago).   Other big sellers included my Sassy Buttons, and hand assembled ribbons, both of which take a lot of time to make, but don't sell for much.

MTAC has been a good convention to me over the past three years.  It doesn't hurt that I live in Nashville, and stay in contact with much of the community, and many of the other artists.  It also doesn't hurt that I can eat two of my daily meals at home, or that I can stay at my own apartment and crank out stock should I run out.  Least of all, it doesn't hurt that the community is fantastic and enthusiastic, and that the show attracts people from all over.

That said, MTAC may not be for everyone.  The alley is very small, and while it's not entirely first come first serve, there is an element of FCFS to the application process that may frustrate some artists.  There's also an element of portfolio- because the alley is small, curation is important to ensure the best mix for customers.  Lastly, MTAC has a few heavy hitter artists who have worked hard to make MTAC work for them, relying heavily on repeat customers, and customers who bring their friends around.

What really makes MTAC so great is the fact so many of my friends attend as artists and as audience. MTAC is a lot of fun for me, and I love catching up with people I don't see all year.