June 2016 SketchBox Basic Vs SketchBox Premium

This joint review was made possible thanks to the generosity of my Patreon backers, and is a special feature.  I have no intention of regularly reviewing three art supply subscription boxes a month, as these reviews are very time consuming to research, record, and write, and take time and focus away from what I really love- making comics.  If you enjoy content like this, and would like to help fund more, please consider becoming a backer on Patreon, as those funds are used to offset the costs of running this blog.  This month's SketchBox Basic and SketchBox Premium boxes were purchased out of my own funds, and were in no way sponsored or donated by SketchBox.  All opinions are my own, based on 10+ years of artistic experience, 6+ years of art school, and 7+ years of reviewing art supplies.  Any questions can be sent to my email using the contact form to the left.

What, Another Joint Review?

I goofed.  SketchBox auto renews subscriptions, so you have to manually cancel, or else you'll be charged for another month.  I forgot this until late May- AFTER they'd already mailed the June Premium Box.  So to make the most of this little slip up, and to apologize for this much belated review, I'm doing another joint review this month.

Special Thanks to my May Backers

Andrew Benedict
Wayne Norris
Michael Suriano
Ella Dee

SketchBox Basic Vs. SketchBox Premium

SketchBox Basic Unboxing

SketchBox Basic Brands:

Pan Pastel
Sofft (Pan Pastel)
Uchida Marvy

The Price Breakdown

SketchBox June Basic- Pastel

Pan Pastels (2)
"This exclusive color pack is brought to you by a partnership between SketchBox and PanPastel"

List of online retailers (no listed MSRP)

$5.29 each at Jerry's Artarama
$5.45 each at DickBlick

Marvy LePen Brush
Pigmented Ink
Also available in .1, .05, .03, .8, .5, .3
Review via The Pen Addict

$1.59 at Jetpens  or DickBlick

Conte a Paris

$1.84 openstock on DickBlick
$5.99 on Amazon with Prime for 2

Sofft Art Sponge Set
These are REALLY similar to inexpensive makeup sponges sold at Walmart and Dollar Tree

Site does not list an MSRP, does have authorized dealers, I selected shops from that list.
$3.19 at Cheap Joes
$2.61 at DickBlick

High end total: $17.52
Low end* total: $16.62
Cost of Box: $25+ $5 US shipping

*Not counting bulk and wholesale rates.

Included in Both:

Pan Pastels
Sofft Blenders

Basic Box Exclusive:

SketchBox Premium Unboxing

SketchBox Premium Brands:

Pan Pastel
Sofft (Pan Pastel)

The Price Breakdown:

Pan Pastel 5 piece set with sample tools in bottom

Since this is an exclusive set for SketchBox Premium, I could not find an exact match, but I've selected the Painting Set of 5 as an analogue.

$20.59 on DickBlick

Sofft Art Sponge Set
These are REALLY similar to inexpensive makeup sponges sold at Walmart and Dollar Tree

Site does not list an MSRP, does have authorized dealers, I selected shops from that list.
$3.19 at Cheap Joes
$2.61 at DickBlick

Sofft Knife and Covers
$.7.86 on DickBlick

Faber Castell Pitt Pastel (black) Pastel Pencil
Set of three-black, white, gray, on Faber Castell Site $7.50
$1.62 on DickBlick

Pitt Artist Brush Pen (Black)
$3.60 on Faber Castell Site
$2.05 on DickBlick


$37.71 high end,
$34.73 on low end
Premium Box: $35+$5 US shipping

Premium Box Exclusive:

Need photos of the extra pans and the extra goodies, pitt pen

The Materials Inside:

The Cards

Unfortunately I did not get photos of the cards this month, so please watch the included videos to not only see the art on the cards, but to hear me read the cards aloud!

Supplies Demonstrated:

Demonstration and waterfastness for the Pitt Pen (immediate application)

Waterfastness for Pitt and Marvy pens (immediate application of water)

Combined SketchBox Basic and SketchBox Premium Challenge

I opted to combine the goodies from both boxes to create my June SketchBox challenge.

Pan Pastels handle a LOT like makeup, so if you're already adept at applying your own or others, Pan Pastels might be a great medium for you to explore.  The Sofft sponges are so similar to makeup sponges that I introduced a few of my cheap Walmart spongesto the mix, to give me even more options to play with.  I don't really use pastels in my studio, as they're very messy and I have a cat, so I don't have a lot of additional tools and toys to add to the mix, but I feel very satisfied with the range of colors included in my Premium Box, and don't really feel the need to augment for this month's challenge.

Unlike the OIL pastels included in my April Creative Art Box, these pastels are more similar to chalk in consistency, especially the pastel pencils.  The Pan Pastels are dry but velvety.

If you do invest in Pan Pastels, I recommend you augment your Sofft blender collection with some cosmetic grade blenders.  I recommend:

Most of these are fairly inexpensive, and can be cleaned and reused very simply, so they'll last a fairly long time.  You can also hit up your Dollar Tree, Marshalls, or Walmart to see what they have in their cosmetics sections.

The Verdict

I really enjoyed this month's Basic and Premium boxes.  The Basic box is a bit light when it comes to price of materials vs cost of box (which seems like the trend for the Basic Box), but the Premium box really delivered the goodies.

This is the second month of SketchBox Premium where I felt the Basic Box's hefty pricetag subsidizes the Premium Box.  If you have $40 to spend each month on random art supplies, then the Premium Box may be the right pick for you, but for many artists $40 is a large chunk of change that could be better spent indulging at a real art supply store.

In the end, it really feels like SketchBox Basic AND Premium are geared more towards the art supply review market, or towards the subscription box unboxing cadre on YouTube, and not towards actual artists or hobbyists.  The Basic boxes are TOO basic, and the Premium boxes too expensive for most artists to be able to justify.  No matter how you dice it, blind box art supplies are a LUXURY, and most artists can't afford luxuries.

This is  my last SketchBox Basic Vs SketchBox Premium review.  If you would like me to continue this series, there are a number of ways we can make that happen.

  • Gift a Premium Subscription
  • Context SketchBox on my behalf, and request that they consider sponsoring a Premium Subscription
  • Become a Patron of my Patreon and leave me a message


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