Friday, September 30, 2016

Handmade and Bound 2016

Tabling at Handmade and Bound Tomorrow

Where: Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film
2298 Rosa L. Parks Blvd
Nashville, TN 37228

What time: 11:00AM-4:00PM

What is it:  "Is a festival and marketplace celebrating independent publications and printed matter, featuring artists’ books, zines, and mini-comics. This is an event for publishers and artists (as well as zine distros) to come together to sell and/or trade their handmade and affordable publications and creations." (Source)

What I'll Have:  Comics, Mini Comics (including three new minis for this year- Favorite Fictional Femmes, and two sketchbooks), Stickers, Mini Prints, Original Art for Sale, Charms, and More!

Other Vendors

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Inking Basics: Nibs

Inktober is right around the corner!  To help you guys get ready, I'm working on several resources (video and blog posts) that will demonstrate various inking tools, techniques, and tips to help you get off on the right foot!  Today we're talking about something most artists have dabbled with, but relatively few use regularly- nibs!

In this post, we're going to cover nib types and their uses. 

Inking with a nib is very much about personal preference.  First off, you may not enjoy it at all, preferring brushes, brush pens, or technical pens to nibs.  Secondly, you might enjoy the act of inking with a nib, but hate the maintenance that nibs require.  Thirdly, you may discover that you prefer some nibs to others, so I recommend you experiment widely.  Even amongst nib types, there are certain brands that work better than others.

Nib Stores:
Paper and Ink Arts

Main Categories of Nibs

Fixed Width


  • Spoon/Globe
  • G/Student
  • Crowquill

Your flexible nibs can be Western (crowquills, mapping, certain calligraphy nibs) or from Japan (G, Saji, tanks), but what really matters most is your preference towards how your work looks with those nibs. 
For cartoony styles that rely on bouncy line weights, I recommend you try:

Tachikawa G nib
Tachikawa Tank Nib

For thinner, more delicate line weights I recommend:

Saji and other spoon nibs

Although flexible, this brush nib is not really flexible in the way we think of flexibility for lineart- it produces a solid single width.  This is more of a border and lettering tool than a tool for inking lineart.

Most of these nibs don't hold much ink, so you'll have to dip often or use an ink cage.  The crowquill nib and the tank nib both hold a fair amount, and may be preferable if you dislike dipping often.

Fixed Width

  • Useful for lettering or dead lineweights
  • 4 basic types- A, B, C, D, with D being very difficult to find
  • Lower numbers indicate larger tip, with 0 being largest
  • A and C are useful for borders, B was my favorite for lettering.  I have never had the pleasure of owning any D nibs.

A, B, and C all have different shaped tips.  I sketched the basic tip shape for you next to the letter- my preference for inking lineart is B.  C may be more useful for calligraphic lettering than for inking lineart.

A and C nibs are great for borders on comic pages if you want to go old school, and B is useful for handlettering comic fonts.

Select Nib Demonstration

To view these nibs in action, and to hear commentary, please keep an eye on my YouTube channel for this upcoming video demonstration!

 Top: Tachikawa G Nib
Bottom: Kuretake Saji Nib

 Top: Speedball B nib (5)
Bottom: Crowquill

Top: Mapping Nib
Bottom: Tachikawa Tank

Other Nib Resources
Back when I took Advanced Inking Techniques at SCAD, I wrote several excellent posts to help acquaint others with the materials taught in the class.  I highly recommend these older posts.

In the Inking Supply Box- Nibs
The Inking Compendium
ArtSnacks Inktober Overview- Second half of video goes over places to buy these materials, how to prepare them for first use, and demonstrations.  Full of mini tutorials

Outside Nib Resources

Guide to Manga Pen Nibs
Difference between G-pen, Maru, Saji / Tama Nib Demo - Comic / Manga Fountain Pen Nib Tutorial
Manga drawing lesson "002 Pen skills" (Japanese with subtitles)

If you enjoyed this post, and want to learn more about inking with a nib, please check out my YouTube channel- I have many videos queued up to help you prep for inking with nibs this Inktober.  If you haven't yet, I highly recommend you subscribe for regular updates.

If you are an art educator and you use this blog as an educational resource, please let me know!  I'd love the opportunity to talk to your class /students via Skype about anything covered on this blog.  Email me, and we can also discuss in person visits, if that suites your needs better.  And if you enjoyed this post for any reason, please consider helping support future content via our Patreon- a little goes a long way to keeping the blog up and running!  You can also help support the blog by sharing this post with your friends and family on social media using the handy buttons below- your good word really means a lot to me!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

August ArtSnacks Vs SketchBox

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.

Special July Thanks To My Patreon Backers

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

These ArtSnacks Vs. SketchBox posts (and videos!) are only made possible due to the generosity of my Patrons.  Their kindness and support are much appreciated, and serve as a source of inspiration and motivation. 

If you enjoy these posts, please take a moment to watch the included videos- they cover information often not covered in the post itself.  In the Overview video, I demonstrate and explain the products, and the Challenge videos involve tutorials and problem solving that are often not covered in these posts.

If now isn't an ideal time to watch video (say you're reading while at work, you bad thing), please take a moment to Subscribe to my YouTube channel to watch the videos at your leisure.  All ArtSnacks, SketchBox, and ArtSnacks vs. Sketchbox videos are organized into playlists, for easy binge viewing.  And there's so much more than ArtSnacks vs. SketchBox!  Twice a week I upload a new review, tutorial, demonstration, or overview to help you guys knick the knack of art.

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

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


This Month's Brands
System 3 (Daler-Rowney)


August ArtSnacks V SketchBox Basic Unboxing-Becca Hillburn


August SketchBox Basic Vs ArtSnacks Overview-Becca Hillburn

Please watch the video for a demonstration of the materials included inside my ArtSnacks August box.

The Included Cards

Here's what's on the Menu for August

Why did the artist decide to become an impressionist?

Robert Simmons Acrylic Short Handle Paintbrush
$5.99 retail
New Product  Exclusive First Book
Daler-Rowney is giving all ArtSnackers a first look at their Robert Simmons Acrylic Short Handle Paintbrush line.  Different types of paint require different types of paintbrushes, and a good acrylic brush should hold the paint without losing its shape.  The synthetic fibers used in this brush were chosen to provide both the softness and the control that you need in order to get the most out of acrylic painting.

Daler-Rowney System 3 Medium Body Acrylic Paint
$6.50 retail
Use your new acrylic paintbrush with the paint that it was made for- Daler-Rowney System 3 Medium Body Acrylic.  This water-based paint uses high quality pigments.  Acrylic paint can be laid down thick or can be thinned with water to create a watercolor wash effect.  The quick drying time of this medium body paint makes it easy to experiment with layering and other effects.

Copic Classic Marker
$7.99 retail
Staff Favorite  We love the versatility of a good double-ended marker.  The Copic Classic Marker features a fine point nib and a broad chisel nib.  Use it to sketch in delicate details, then flip it around to color in large areas.  The refillable tool is compatible with the Copic Color system and is offered in a total of 214 colors.

Small 3D Zip by Baggu
$6.50 retail
Pack up this month's ArtSnacks and take them with you anywhere in this 3D Zip by Baggu.  This unique bag can expand to pack in even more of your favorite art supplies.  Made of ripstop nylon (a special reinfornced fabric that resists tearing), your 3D Zip is machine washable, to keep that sailor stripe design looking bright and clean.

ICYMI:  We've partnered with the guy who started the October-ink-movement to create the ArtSnacks InkTober Collection.  It features 7 full-size, premium products.  Pre-order yours at

*Answer:  For the Monet.

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 Faceook,Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram with the hashtag #artsnackschallenge

Like a product?  Order more.

Need help?

Authors Note:  Interested in seeing me review the Inktober collection?  I've placed the pre-order, head on over to the Patreon to show your interest by pledging some support!  These extra boxes are not only very expensive, but require a significant time investment, so the additional support would help a lot.

Price Breakdown

Baggu Small 3D Zip
Listed MSRP $6.50 retail
$7.00 on the Baggu Site
$8.00 on Jetpens

System 3 Cadmium Yellow Deep Medium Body Acrylic
2.5 US fl. oz
Listed MSRP $6.50 retail
$2.71 on DickBlick
$5.99 on HobbyLobby
Daler Rowney Color Chart and Sizes:

Simmons Acrylic Short Handled Paintbrush
0 Round
Listed MSRP $5.99 retail
This is new, so I could not find prices online

Copic Classic Marker
MSRP $7.99 retail
$7.99 on the Copic Site
$5.24 on DickBlick
Color chart available here

Total MSRP: $26.98
Lowest Price Found Online: $20.94
ArtSnacks $20 a month inclu shipping

The Supplies Inside

Daler Rowney Acrylic Short Handle Paintbrush
If I didn't know better, I would think this was a synthetic watercolor brush, because it's very similar to the Princeton brush I received in the July ArtSnacks.  Both have a short handle (of course), are rounds, and have synthetic fibers with the same amount of flex and give.  In undergrad, we worked mostly with goat hair and hog bristle brushes for acrylics, and while I dimly knew that synthetics could be used (and would have been great for the smooth, synthetic look I wanted for my later paintings), I've never experienced an acrylic brush as soft as this one.  In tests, I found this brush might be ideal for lettering or very fine details, but its no substitute for a flat.

System 3 Medium Body Acrylic
As mentioned in a previous ArtSnacks/SketchBox, I'm really not a fan of acrylics.  That's personal preference on my part, but I do feel like mediums like acrylics benefit from more structured media, and it would have been nice if ArtSnacks could have included canvas paper or a mini canvas, rather than a teensy brush or the Baggu.

3D Zip Baggu
The Baggu is fairly nice and well constructed, but unlined,so if your art supplies leak (say ink or acrylic), there's a good chance of leakage in the bag.  The bag doesn't have much internal structure, so your supplies will jostle around inside unprotected.

Copic Original
In the video, I demonstrated how to switch out the Copic Chisel nib for a Copic Brush nib, as I prefer brush tipped alcohol markers. I also showed you guys how to recycle the used nib into alcohol ink, so I highly recommend you watch the video if that sounds interesting.  

Comparison between Copic Original, Copic Sketch, and Copic Ciao

ArtSnacks August Challenge

For the August ArtSnacks Challenge, please keep an eye on the YouTube Channel.

Since ArtSnacks didn't provide any media to actually paint UPON, I grabbed one of the mini Art Alternatives canvases I have floating around my convention merch.  This one has a cute mini frame.

The yellow acrylic didn't have enough range for glazing to be an effective technique.

SketchBox Basic

The Brands

The Unboxing

August ArtSnacks Vs SketchBox Basic-Becca Hillburn

The Box Reads

Art by Tamako Bason
made with our June Box
intstagram @7omoko

The Overview

August ArtSnacks Vs SketchBox Basic Overview-Becca Hillburn

The Cards Read

August Featured Artist
Roger LaDouceur

I was fortunate to have great art teachers growing up in MA.  They taught me a wide array of styles and forms of media.  It is because of their teaching that I was selected into the illustrator/draftsman rate in the US Navy.

After completing my service I turned my artistic passion toward tattooing.  I served a three year apprenticeship and worked in several studios up and down the east coast.  In 2006 I opened up Star City Tattoo in Roanoke, VA.  I paint in oil, acrylic, pastels, but enjoy colored pencil the most.  Using multiple forms of media has nutured my need for artistic growth.  Every day that I am able to open my eyes is an opportunity to push a little harderinto the areas of art that I have yet to uncover.  I am thankful for the little box of joy that shows up on my doorstop at the beginning of each month. I know that I will be off on another artistic adventure as soon as my SketchBox arrives.

Thank you SketchBox!

instagram:  @roger4202
Facebook: &
We're so thankful for the talent that Roger shared with us.  If you'd like your own art featured- email an example of your work to us at:

August Basic Box

Wolff's Graphite Set
Retail Price $13.00
This month is all about SKETCHING!  We included a full set of sketching pencils from Wolff's.  It includes 6 pencils, a broad carbon tick, their eraser, and a sharpener.  It's one of the best value sketching sets out there and with it's convienent tin you can take it anywhere.

Tombow Mono Zero Eraser
Retail Price: $6.29
Protect your work and erase only what you need with a high quality, precision eraser that won't damage your paper.

Cretacolor Monographite Pop Pencil
Retail Price: $2.50
The pencil is a BIG deal.  The Megagraphite pencil from Cretacolor has a polished black extra-wide 10mm diameter body and 6mm HB lead.

Cretacolor Water-Soluble Graphite HB& 8B
Retail Price: $2.00 each
Did you get our water brush last month?  These pencils can be blended with water to create unique effects and transparent graphite washes.  We included the HB and 8Bso you could get a real feel for the possibilities of these unique pencils.

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

Price Breakdown

Wolff's Graphite Sketch Set

  • 6 Sketching Pencils
  • Soft Eraser
  • Carbon Stick
  • Metal Sharpener
  • Tin Case
    Listed MSRP $13.00
    $12.95 on DickBlick
    $15.49 on Jerry's Artarama

Tombow Mono Eraser

  • Comes with refills
  • 2.3mm tip
    Listed MSRP $6.29
    $4.49 on Tombow Site (doesn't THAT count as MSRP??)
    $4.07 on DickBlick

Cretacolor Megagraphite Pop Pencil
Listed MSRP $2.50
I had difficulty finding this pencil online, checking Art Supply Warehouse, Jerry's Artarama, DickBlick, and Amazon with no results.

Cretacolor Water-Soluble Graphite HB & 8B
Listed MSRP $2.00 each
$5.86 for three on Jet
Outside reviews:

Total MSRP: $25.79
Lowest Price Found Online: $23.94
SketchBox Basic- $25+$5 shipping, SketchBox Premium $35+$5

The Supplies Inside

Wolff's Sketching Set

In the Overview video, I go over everything included in the Wolff's sketching tin in detail, but my overwhelming impression of this set is how cheap and scratchy everything inside feels and performs.  The SketchBox card claims this is one of the best deals for a sketching set, and this might be due to the cheap materials used to put this set together.

It's a little difficult to find manufacturer information for Wolff's- much of the information available online is through stores, and that has to be taken with a grain of salt.  According to Raw Materials Art Supplies,

Wolff's pencils are known for their smoothness and consistency. This specialized graphite pencil set includes one each of graphite pencils: HB, B, 2B, 4B, 6B and 8B. Void of hard spots, they make line drawing effortless.

and Jerry's Artarama promises

These pencils uniquely combine the attributes of graphite and charcoal to deliver a precise, yet rich and velvety mark that can be blended or smudged to achieve ideal tonal effects.

And the two reviews on Blick's site are both positive.  So perhaps my experiences with these pencils are limited, maybe I got a bad batch, or perhaps I am unable to overcome my bias.  When I was an undergraduate, my Drawing Studio IV body of work consisted entirely of realistic graphite portraits, so I've spent a lot of time with wooden graphite pencils.  At that time, I was fond of Mono's darker B and softer graphite pencils, and I find the Wolff pencils do not compare.

Cretacolor Megagraphite
In general, I don't have much use for oversized pencils, so I found my self gravitating away from the Megagraphite.

Cretacolor Water-Soluble Pencils
The most exciting materials in August's Basic Box were the two water-soluble Cretacolor graphite pencils included in the box.  Although I have a set of Derwent's colored water soluble graphite, I haven't experimented with it much.

The SketchBox (Basic) Challenge

Please keep an eye on the YouTube channel for the August SketchBox Challenge.

I gripe about it frequently in the video, but as it's not up yet, you guys should know, I'm not a fan of rendering with graphite at this point. I had plenty of experience with it while in undergrad, but I greatly prefer working with color than in black and white.  This is entirely personal preference.

What isn't personal is my opinion of Wolff's.  These pencil felt cheap, and the sharpener and eraser felt even cheaper.  I would not recommend these pencils to other artists.

SketchBox Premium

SKETCHBOX August 2016-Doodlebonez

NOTE:  MSRP prices given below taken from Doodlebonez description to the above video.  Online retail prices are mine.

Faber Castell Pitt Master Graphite Set: $24.94 MSRP/ $44.49 on Jerry's Artarama
Cretacolor Water-Soluble Graphite #8B:$2.00 MSRP/ $7.10 on Amazon
Cretacolor Paper Blending Stick: $2.95 MSRP/ couldn't find online
Cretacolor Monolith Eraser: $1.20 MSRP/ 1.49 on DickBlick
General's Pencil Art Gum Eraser: $1.20 MSRP/.69 at CheapJoes
General's Pencil Art Kneaded Eraser: $1.29 MSRP/- Priced by size on DickBlick
General's Pencil Sketch and Wash Pencil: $1.35 MSRP/ $1.29 on DickBlick
Derwent Water-Soluble Sketching Pencil: $1.99 MSRP/ $1.23 on DickBlick

It's difficult to find individual items like Cretacolor Water-soluble Graphite, Paper Blending Sticks, or their Monolith Eraser, possibly because these are usually included in larger sets or are only sold open stock in stores. 

Total MSRP: $34.43
Total Retail: $60.53

Cretacolor Drawing Sets

I had no difficulty finding prices for the General's products, regardless of status- it seems General's offers much of their line openstock online through sites like DickBlick and CheapJoes.

Yet again, it seems like the Basic Box was used to find the much more expensive Premium Box, which is wholly unfair to the Basic Box subscribers.

The Verdict

The Verdict

The point of boxes like this is to introduce you to new materials and to push artists out of their comfort zones.  Although I used graphite extensively for illustration during my undergraduate years, I've grown to dislike it, and have since almost entirely abandoned it for finished illustration.  This month's SketchBox forced me to utilize graphite, and although I took the coward's way out (relying mostly on the water soluable graphite), I still explored a media I had long abandoned.  Will I return to graphite?  No way- I find it scratchy, time consuming, and messy- no competition for luscious color like watercolor or markers. 

I found the Wolff graphite pencils to be disappointingly cheap and scratchy compared to the Mono pencils I used towards the end of my graphite interest.  I enjoyed playing around with the Cretacolor watersoluble pencils, but I haven't much personal use for jumbo pencils.

I thought ArtSnacks's collection this month was a bit light in terms of actual art supplies included, and am noticing a trend where they include one premium item (in this case the Baggu), and the other items suffer a bit.  Speaking from the future, this is a trend you guys will see continued in September, and I have mixed feelings about it.  While it is nice to receive ArtSnacks exclusive items or higher quality items, this means the box is light for the month, and this makes completing the challenges difficult.

For this month, I have to hand the win to SketchBox, despite the disappointing performance of the Wolff set, as it was a more cohesive box.

The Winner:  SketchBox