ArtSnacks Vs SketchBox July 2016

Thanks to Denise Hillburn (my mother) for the gift of ArtSnacks for the year!  SketchBox Basic subscription purchased by me out of personal funds.  If you would like to help support this blog, and continue posts like this, please consider donating to my Paypal, or contributing to my Patreon.  Future unboxings and reviews are unlocked to the public at the $15 level each month, but backers have access regardless of funds raised.  Posts like this are only possible through the support of my Backers, so if you enjoy this content, please check it out and consider joining.

 July was World  Watercolor month.  Don't worry about having missed out, because my research has shown me that this isn't quite a thing yet, so you have next year to prepare to participate in a month long celebration of watercolor art and the watercolor media.  Both ArtSnacks and SketchBox opted to celebrate this year, and help promote #worldwatercolormonth by sending out watercolor themed boxes for July.

My faithful readers and artnerd friends know that I'm a watercolor artist, of the comic variety, so watercolor boxes are a dangerous choice.  If you succeed, I'll sing your praises, but its oh so easy to fail- subpar materials, anemic materials, inflated price quotes.  SketchBox has already seen a taste of my wrath incurred from including Artist Loft watercolor pencils in their January SketchBox Basic.  So has SketchBox learned from past mistakes?  And how does ArtSnacks compare when it comes to a themed box?  Read on to find out!

Before we dive too deeply into this post, I need to take a moment to thank my Patrons on Patreon, who make posts like this possible.  Their support enables me to afford to purchase supplies, dedicate time to recording, photographing, researching, taking notes, and compiling everything that goes into my videos and my blog posts.  If you enjoy content like this, and you'd like to help out, there are a couple ways you can do so that would really mean a lot to me.

One:  You can share this post to your social networks, expanding my audience, introducing art education to your friends and family, and greatly helping me out.  There are social network sharing buttons below this post if you need a handy way to do it.  Your good word means so much to me, and every retweet, reblog, and share really helps me out.

Two:  You can visit my Patreon and learn about how you can help fund future content like this.   This blog, and the YouTube channel, have no sponsors besides these independent backers and my own (rather shallow) pockets, so every penny really helps!  Both of these yearlong box subscriptions were purchased out of pocket- neither were care-of donations, and I see no compensation from either company for my reviews.

Special June Thanks To My Patreon Backers:

Andrew Benedict
Wayne Norris
Michael Suriano
Ella Dee
Samantha Newell
Jessica Phillips
Virginia Williams
G.S. Davis

Previous SketchBox Vs. ArtSnacks
January- Winner: ArtSnacks
February- Winner:  SketchBox
March- Winner: ArtSnacks
April- Winner: ArtSnacks
May- Winner: ArtSnacks
June- Winner: SketchBox

SketchBox: $25mo/$240 yr
ArtSnacks: $20mo/$200 yr



July ArtSnacks Vs. SketchBox Basic Unboxing- Becca Hillburn

I was pretty excited to discover that my ArtSnacks included some watercolor goodies, including a favorite brand for intense, vibrant color- Qor.


July ArtSnacks Vs SketchBox Overview
The Included Cards

The Card Reads:


Why was the painting sent to jail?*

Qor Watercolor by GOLDEN
$15.79 retail
New to ArtSnacks  If you've never tried GOLDEN paint, you are in for a treat!  This prestigious brand is the leader in high-quality paints.  The QoR Watercolor (pronounced 'core') line is made with a special binding agent that carries more pigment in each brushstroke.  Notice how bright the color is as you apply it to the page?  It's going to stay exceptionally bright even after it dries.

Elite Synthetic Kolinksy Sable Brush by Princeton Brush
$12.50 retail
Staff Favorite  The Elite Synthetic looks and performs like a traditional sable mink brush, but the strands on this one are synthetic.  The soft-bristled brush was designed for use with watercolors and works perfectly with your QoR watercolor paper.

The Masters Brush Cleaner & Preserver by General Pencil
$2.59 retail
When you're done with a painting session, how do you clean your brush?  You can get more life out of your brushes by using The Masters Brush Cleaner.  Run your brush under water and then rub it gently into this soap cake until the soap lather is clear.  You'll be impressed by the way this cleaner restores even your old brushes.

Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica Roller Ball Pen
$2.99 retail
The Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica Roller Ball Pen is special.  It boasts a tungsten carbide (a metallic compound) roller tip that keeps your line conssitent, and the pigmented archival ink is water-resistent and light-fast.  You don't have to recap the pen every time you put it down during a drawing session, it's designed not to dry out if it's left uncapped during use.

YUPO Watercolor Paper by Legion Paper
Bonus Item  You have never tried anything like YUPO Watercolor Paper.  Watercolor artists everywhere are excited about the new possibilities of working on this non-porous, water-resistent polypropylene blend, which can be wiped clean after you've laid down paint.  Be careful not to smudge your work as you go; your new paint will take several minutes to dry, and the ink from your new pen will take longer.  Alcohol-based markers also work very well on this surface.

*Answer:  Because it was framed

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 Instagram with the hashtag #artsnackschallenge

Like a product?  Order more.

Need help?

The Price Breakdown

Qor Watercolor by GOLDEN (Permanent Gamboge)
$15.79 retail (on card)
$11.05 for Permanent Gamboge on DickBlick
$11.05 on for Permanent Gamboge

Elite Synthetic Kolinsky Sable Brush by Princeton Brush
$12.50 retail (on card)
$6.19 on Jerry's Artarama

The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver by General Pencil
$2.59 retail (on card)
$5.38 for an 2.5oz tub on DickBlick
$7.19 for a 1 oz tub on Amazon Prime

Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica Roller Ball Pen
$2.99 retail (on card)
$2.99 on Pentel Arts site
$2.21 on DickBlick
$2.79 on Paper and Ink Arts

YUPO Watercolor Paper by Legion Paper
Bonus Item
5"x7" 10 sheet pad, $4.42 on DickBlick
5"x7", 10 sheet pad, $7.08 on Amazon Prime

MSRP: $33.92
Lowest Value: $22.04, discluding YUPO sample

ArtSnacks: $20 per month, shipped

The Supplies Inside

Qor Watercolors

Qor Watercolors, like all good watercolors, vary in price by the pigments used inside.  A couple years ago, I picked up a six piece set of some of their more vibrant Quinacridone colors, and have been picking up colors here and there piecemeal ever since.  I don't have a large collection of Qor colors as I already have a fairly large collection of tube watercolors, but I enjoy most of the ones I do own.


I really wish my video backlog for the YouTube channel saw significant editing progress, because I have a lot of marker compatibility videos that include Yupo tests.  I really like Yupo, but it's a bit of a misnomer to say it works well with alcohol markers- they have difficulty layering.  It does work well with alcohol inks, and there are many artists who use alcohol inks on Yupo.  Yupo is a synthetic paper, made of polypropylene, and this means whatever you put on Yupo never dissolves INTO the paper, it sits on top until it evaporates.  This makes for really long dry times, near-eternal reworkability, and a bit of a steep learning curb.  Alcohol markers are not Yupo's best friend BUT waterbased markers like Pitt Pens and Zig Brushables (both are India ink, pigment based work very well!

For those of you who have not used Yupo before, the included ArtSnacks card is fairly misleading.  Yes, alcohol inks do work well on Yupo, but are difficult to control and are frustrating for beginners.  Yupo is best lent towards gestural, less controlled illustration, so if you have a rendered style, please keep that in mind when working on Yupo.   It's also difficult, if not impossible, to find inks that are water AND alcohol proof on Yupo due to its unique properties.

Hybrid Technica Gel Pen

My tests showed that the Hybrid Technica Pen is NOT water-resistant- it readily smears with immediate water application as well as with water application after 24 hours of drytime.

NOTE:  For photos of watercolors demonstrated on Yupo, please scroll down to the next section, or watch the Overview video above!


July ArtSnacks 2016 Challenge- Becca Hillburn

I highly recommend you watch the above video for step by step process and instructions on handling watercolor on synthetic papers like Yupo.

Painting on Yupo successfully takes familiarlity with the product and how it handles.  Yupo presents several unique challenges (and opportunities) to the painter- because the surface is polypropelene, everything sits on the surface rather than soaking in.  This means you can clean Yupo off and rework it very easily, but it makes layering difficult.  Media on Yupo can be difficult to predict and control, so Yupo is best lent to looser work.  Most ink do not work well as an initial layer on Yupo, so you will have to ink your lineart AFTER you've colored it.

Mixed Demonstration of Supplies

Hybrid Technical Water Fastness

This test was completed on Canson's Biggie XL watercolor paper.

Not Shown:  The 24 Hour Dry Time ink test also smeared with the application of water, making the Hybrid Technical unsuitable as an inking tool intended for watercolors.  You could ink your watercolors AFTER the paint has dried, but not before.

Testing Brushes and Paints

Qor Watercolors, straight from tube, minimal water added.

Top:  Princeton Kolinsky synthetic (ArtSnacks), Princeton Goathair Sumi (SketchBox Basic), SketchBox Signature Waterbrush (SketchBox Basic)
Van Gogh Watercolors, Minimal Water Added

Olive Green
Top:  Princeton Kolinsky synthetic (ArtSnacks), Princeton Goathair Sumi (SketchBox Basic), SketchBox Signature Waterbrush (SketchBox Basic)

Top:  Princeton Kolinsky synthetic (ArtSnacks), Princeton Goathair Sumi (SketchBox Basic), SketchBox Signature Waterbrush (SketchBox Basic)

Note:  Pthalo Blue Swatch Test has gone missing for some reason

Yupo Tests

Please watch video included in ArtSnacks Overview section for details and explanations. 

Hybrid Technica on Yupo

Playing with Watercolors on Yupo

Sketchbox Basic

The Brands
Royal Talens (Van Gogh)
Daler Rowney (Langton Prestige)
SketchBox Signature


See ArtSnacks section for joint unboxing video

The Box Reads:
Art by Jade Petrunak
Instagram @creative.cranium98
Tumblr @JuiceBoxJade

Upon opening my July SketchBox Basic Box, I was pretty pleased that this month's included supplies were much better than January's Artist Loft watercolor pencils.


See ArtSnacks section for joint overview and demonstrations

From top:  SketchBox Signature watercolor brush, Princeton Goathair Sumi Brush, Van Gogh watercolors- Pthalo Blue, Vermillion, Olive Green

Langton Prestige watercolor postcards

The Cards

The Card reads:

July Featured Artist
I am a 22 year-old artist living in Phoenix, Arizona.  Art has always been a passion for me since I was a child, and I've never for a minute second-guessed my dedication to drawing and painting.  After the military I went on to become an animation student, and I feel like I'm really following my dreams, which has always been important to me!  When I'm not spending time on homework I am sketching monsters, and creatures from my dreams, and imagination.  My favorite medium would have to be ink, because it can be intensely bold and makes colors jump off the page.  A close second is watercolor because it was easy for me to learn and I love how beautifully the paint can flow onto the paper.  The one piece of advice that has stuck with me and always comes back is something my art teacher told me before I graduated high school and that was "Be the sponge.  Soak up as much knowledge and inspiration as you can and always be a curious artist."  I love that.

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

The Card Reads

July Basic Box

3x Van Gogh Watercolors
Retail Price $4.50 each

Van Gogh watercolors are brilliant, intense, and very transparent.  Every color in the line features the highest degree of lightfastness, ensuring that your work displays the same color decades later as it did on the day you painted it.  Due to the purity of the colors, Van Gogh Watercolors are extremely easy to mix and wash to create the subtlest of differences in shade.

Princeton Bamboo Brush Round #4
Retail Price $6.15

Princeton Round Bamboo Watercolor Brushes are made with natural hair, and are used for watercolor, Sumi painting, calligraphy, and sketching.

2 loose Daler Rowney Watercolor Postcards
Retail Price $1.00 each

A professional-quality, acid-free paper that offers excellent absorption and color rendering.  The paperp is mouldmade from 100% cotton fibers.  The perfect gift to send to friends and family.

SketchBox Signature Water Brush
Retail Price $5.50

Our very own water brush!  This round medium sized brush is versatile and allows you to precisely control the flow of water.

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

The Price Breakdown

Van Gogh Watercolors-.3 fl oz-
$4.80 MSRP given on Card
$3.29 each on DickBlick
10ml tube on Amazon with Prime- $7.24

SketchBox Signature Water Brush
$5.50 retail price
Comparable waterbrushes
Kuretake- Zig Brush20
Niji- $8.35 on DickBlick
DerwentGraphik H20 Brush- $3.97 on DickBlick
Pentel Aquash- $7.49 (large) on DickBlick
Sakura Koi- $4.79 on DickBlick
Aqua Flow- $4.07 (set of 3) on DickBlick
Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle Waterbrush- $8.19 on DickBlick
Faber-Castell Design Memory Craft Deluxe Waterbrush- $9.39 on DickBlick

Daler Rowney Watercolor Postcards (x2) (Langton Prestige)
$1.00 MSRP
$8.96 for 12 pack on Amazon with free shipping(.75 each)

Princeton Bamboo Brush Round #4
$6.15 MSRP
$17.41-$27.40- Various sizes from WalMart
$5.80+ $7.95 on Amazon
$4.92 on PlaZa

Total MSRP: $28.05
Total Lowest Value- $21.79
SketchBox Basic- $25+$5 shipping per month

The Supplies Inside

Van Gogh Watercolors

Olive Green
Pthalo Blue

Usually watercolors are priced by Series, according to the value of the pigments used, but ALL Van Gogh watercolors are $3.29 on DickBlick.  This may sound like a great value to the unwary, but watercolorists know that cheaper isn't always better, and $3.29 is CHEAP.  Both the included card and the Dick Blick wesite promise transparency, lightfastness, and quality, but that remains to be seen.

Langton Prestige watercolor postcards

I've used Langton Prestige watercolor paper in the past, and while I enjoyed the texture, I found the paper unremarkable and didn't continue purchasing it, preferring Arches.

Princeton Bamboo Sumi Brush

Although I own some sumi brushes, I've never tried them for watercolor, so I'm excited to play with this one.

SketchBox Signature Waterbrush

I have a fairly diverse collection of waterbrushes, so I pulled out a handful for comparison.

From Left:  Faber Castell T-Prime, Pentel Aquash, Sakura Koi waterbrush, SketchBox Signature waterbrush

From top:  SketchBox Signature waterbbrush, Sakura Koi Waterbrush, T-Prime, Pentel Aquash, Two Niji waterbrushes

The SketchBox Signature is very similar to Kuretake's Brush20 or Niji's waterbrushes- long, slim barrel, no special features, pretty straight forward.  I found it handles quite well.


July SketchBox Basic Challenge- Becca Hillburn

I secured my postcard to my Inkssentials craft mat with Tombow removable adhesive.

Materials Used:

Plastic watercolor palette
Cup clean water
Tombow Removable Adhesive
Van Gogh Watercolors
SketchBox Signature Waterbrush
Princeton Sumi Goathair Brush

Illustration inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida brushpen.

Please watch the above video for step by step process and explanations.

I found the Van Gogh watercolors dried fairly dull and a bit chalky.

Although I was satisfied with how this piece turned out, I felt like the Van Gogh watercolors did not live up to the hype.  They dried fairly chalky (not translucent), and lost much of the color vibrancy as they dried.  The Langton Prestige paper was enjoyable to paint on, and I felt like both brushes worked very well.  I use waterbrushes to paint when I travel, but I may also start using Sumi brushes for my watercolors, as they're an affordable nature hair brush option.

SketchBox Premium

Price Breakdown of Included Supplies

Pack of Langton Prestige Postcards- $11.02
2x Daniel Smith Tubes (5mL)- price varies by pigment value-$5.95 and up on Amazon
1x Cotman  (.27 fl oz)- price varies by pigment value- $2.61 and up on Amazon
Princeton Sumi Brush Size 4- $7.50 on Amazon
SketchBox Signature Waterbrush- $5.50 (price listed on card)

Total Retail Value: $38.53
Cost of Box: $35+$5 shipping

Only things that differs is that you receive an entire pack of the Langton Prestige Postcards, and nicer tubes of paint- two professional grade (Daniel Smith) and one student grade (Cotman, one of my least favorite brands to work with)  Otherwise everything included is the same.

The Verdict

This month, I dare say the win goes to SketchBox, for sending the most cohesive box out of the two. Pricewise, the box was still a little light for the included materials, and all of the paints in the Basic Box were student grade.  I was also disappointed to see that the Premium Box did not include at least one higher quality brush.

That isn't to say the ArtSnacks box for July wasn't a good box.  It was fairly well put together, although the card's writer did not do due diligence to researching or testing the Hybrid Technica before making claims regarding water resistance.   I simply felt that the SketchBox Basic was more cohesive this month, and more inspiring for me.  It was difficult to pick a winner this month, and I almost opted to go for a tie, but felt that would be a disservice to my readers.


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