Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Watercolor Basics: Working In Batch: Trimming Paper to Size

Working in batch is a huge part of my work flow.  I work in batch when painting comic pages, I work in batch when painting watercolors for conventions, I often work in batch when filling commissions.  Batch working allows me to work quickly and effectively.


Rotary Cutter or Knife
Ruler (please use a better ruler than the one shown in this tutorial, it's awful).  I recommend these
Cutting mat

 Note:  Usually I would use a paper cutter- a simple crafter's rotary papercutter works quite well for this.  Unfortunately, I did not have access to one in Luling, so I'll show you guys how to trim paper the old fashioned way.

Step 1: Decide on the ratio you want and measure

I'm cutting 9"x12" paper into 5"x7" rectangles, so I can get two squares out of each sheet if the page is in portrait.

I measure off several ticmarks at the 7" mark going down the length of the paper, and connect them with a straight line.  You want to use several tic marks, rather than just two, as it ensures a straighter line.  Make sure you line up your ruler's hash marks with the edge of your paper, if possible.  I recommend beginning at the 1" mark when measuring your tic marks (so aim for the 8" mark, rather than the 7", if you're doing this), as some rulers cut off part of that first inch.


Going width-wise, I mark off two 5" segments

 Step 2:  Trimming Your Paper

Note:  Rotary tools are great for trimming large sheets of paper.  Old, chewed up wooden yardsticks are not.  I highly recommend using a metal straightedge if you have access to one.

I line my ruler up against the OUTSIDE edge of my 7" line (if you're going to mess up, you want to mess up in the scrap paper, not into your working area), and hold the ruler down firmly while pulling the rotary cutter across the paper.  You're going to need to apply a fair amount of pressure to cut through your watercolor paper in one pass- this is where the scissors come in handy.  For me, some portions are not cut through completely, so I use the scissors to snip through that.

I repeat the process at my two 5" marks.

And that's how you trim paper to size, the old fashioned way!

The Watercolor Basics series is made possible thanks to the generosity of my friends on Patreon.  Their support enables me to dedicate the necessary time and resources for creating quality tutorials such as those in this series.  If you have enjoyed this post, or any other Watercolor Basics post, please consider joining our community of artnerds, and funding future content.

This particular post was sponsored by 7" Kara, a delightful watercolor comic for all ages.  Join tiny Kara as she ventures into the large world beyond her dollhouse doors, meets humans, and rides cats.  Volume 1, written and illustrated by me, and full of the art you see on this blog, is available for $15+shipping from my online store.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

ScrawlrBox October

This is just an overview of my ScrawlrBox October.  Patrons received access to videos and commentary.

The Unboxing

The Supplies

The Cards

The Challenge

Like what you saw and want access to more?  Then join my Patreon!

Patrons are the wonderful people who help make this blog and the channel possible.  Patrons provide the financial backing that not only allows me to purchase new products to review, but also allows me to dedicate the time necessary to recording and editing video, doing research, contacting companies, and honing these blog posts to be the most useful resources possible.  Your support not only grants you access to Backer Exclusive content like the ScrawlrBox videos, but early access to loads of video tutorials and tips.  Patronage begins at just $2 a month, and this year, we're revamping the Patron to serve your needs in new ways!  So if you haven't checked out the Patreon page, make sure you keep an eye on it to see what new goodies we have in store!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Affordable Art Supplies: Crayola Super Tip 100 Pack

In 2015, as part of my Cheap Art Supplies mega series, I covered Crayola's ubiquitous Super Tips in the Walmart segment.  As adult coloring books and coloring for meditation have risen in popularity, these markers (along with various pencil colors) have also grown in prominence among adult artists.  In that review, I tested and field tested the 52 color set, but Crayola has since launched a 100 piece set.  At around $15, this is a tempting offer, but does the 100 piece set really offer more than the 52 piece set, or is it full of dreaded duplicate colors?  Let's find out!

Get Your Own:

On Amazon

But seriously, don't buy them on Amazon- head out to Walmart and find them in the wild.

Unlike other Supertip sets, the 100 pack bears a streaking resemblance to Crayola's classic crayon packaging.

The back of the box promises 100 colors, and shows color swatches, although we have learned that with inexpensive markers, you can never trust the swatches on the box, or the color of the cap.  Always find out firsthand!

The interior of the box features cardboard shelves that hold two rows of markers each.  Once a marker is removed, it's very easy to lose its place.  This is an issue as marker caps are not always indicative of marker color, and marker colors are not labelled, so swatching and color order may be important if color accuracy is a priority.

As I swatch, I try to keep the colors in order, so this reference sheet can remain relevant when selecting colors.

The metallic silver, the only metallic in this set, doesn't have much of a metallic or glittery sheen to it.  I've noticed that there are few waterbased metallic markers (outside of the Zig Wink of Luna brushes and the Zig Posterman Pens, which are pump action), which can carry the larger metallic particles well.

Swatching reveals that this set includes several distinct greens, a handful of good purples,and even a selection of warm and cool grays, unusual for Crayola.  While there doesn't seem to be as wide an array of skintones as the Multicultural set offers, there seems to be more skintones than available in the 52 piece Supertip set.

In my opinion, the 100 piece set is well worth the $15 pricetag, especially considering that Supertips can double as watercolor markers.

Super Tips In Action: 

Draw with Me: Easy Christmas Tree

Draw with Me: Holiday Holly

Draw with Me: Jingle Bells

Draw with Me: Ribbon and Bows

Draw With Me: Pretty Presents

Draw with Me: Ornaments

Draw with Me: Pine Boughs and Wreaths

Draw with Me: Holiday Wreaths

Draw With Me: Christmas Lights

Tips for SuperTips

  • Allow previous layer to dry fully, as waterbased markers stay wet longer, and paper may pill and tear 
  • Experiment with several types of paper to find the kind that works best for you- in the above videos, I worked on simple Strathmore Sketch paper
  • Keep your illustrations fairly simple- waterbased markers, especially Super Tips, can't really handle multiple layers
  • Work from light to dark- waterbased markers don't work the same way alcohol markers do
  • Waterbased markers like Crayola Supertips can double as watercolor markers- swatch ahead of time to find out, as not all markers are made equally.  Watercolor effects can double a marker's usefulness.
  • Waterbased markers are great if you're sensitive to fumes, and tend to be highly water reactive, which means they're more likely to wash out if treated immediately
  • Waterbased markers can be a great way to introduce your precocious creative child to 'adult' art supplies.

Monday, January 16, 2017

December 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.

This unboxing and overview was brought to you thanks to the generosity of my backers on Patreon, and was sponsored by 7" Kara,Volume 1.  7" Kara is an ongoing children's watercolor comic set in rural Louisiana, and follows the adventures of tiny Lilliputian Kara as she discovers humans, explores the back yard, and befriends a kitten.  Volume 1 is available now in the Natto-shop, just in time for Christmas!

We're nearing the end of our ArtSnacks Vs. SketchBox year of unboxings.  I plan on ending this series in January, but if you enjoy it, and would like to see it continue, there are a few ways you can accomplish that.  You can write to ArtSnacks and SketchBox and let them know how much you value my content, especially my reviews.  You can also join the Patreon community and make your voice heard.

Special November Thanks To My Patreon Backers

Please note:  I have linked backer webcomics/blogs when I have access to them.  If you are a backer who would like to have your project linked, please get in contact with me.

Andrew Benedict
Boss Goose
Heidi Black
Mary Catherine
Virginia Williams
Wayne Norris
Michael Suriano

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
August- Winner: SketchBox
September- Winner: SketchBox
October- Winner: SketchBox
November- Winner: ArtSnacks

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



December ArtSnacks Vs SketchBox- Becca Hillburn


Note:  My photos of the cards have been lost.  Please watch the unboxing video if you are interested in the cards.

The Brands:

Caran d'Ache Discovery Set

  • 5 Supracolor Soft
  • 1 Full Blender Bright
  • Watercolor pencils
  • Swiss Made
  • Not sold individually

Available in the Discovery Set L'esprit Des Alpes set on for $30.96 Amazon
Individual pencils are $2.56 openstock on DickBlick
Set of 12, $24.99 on DickBlick
Full blender bright: $4.99 on DickBlick
Value of this set: $17.79

Stabilo Point 88

  • fine 0.4
  • waterbased fineliner

$1.00 openstock on Jetpens
$.95 on ArtSuppliesOnline
$.85 on DickBlick (select colors)

Higgins Black Magic

  • Ink
  • Pump action
  • 1mm tip
  • Quick Drying
  • Waterproof
  • Pigment Ink

Kum Longpoint

  • Magnesium

$1.95 on

MSRP Total: $25.93
Lowest Retail Total: $25.34
ArtSnacks: $20 per month, inclu shipping


The Supracolor II watercolor pencils disperse color with water quite readily, and seem a joy to paint with.  They don't blend particularly well with the Full Bright Blender, but to be honest, I've never really cared for blenders with color pencils anyway.

As to be expected of a Kum product, the Longpoint sharpener sharpens quite well- yet another great sharpener for the pencil case.  Earlier in the year, ArtSnacks sent the Palomino Longpoint in one of their boxes, and it's found a regular home in my color pencil sketching kit, and sees frequent use.




The Brands:
Chartpak (Higgins)

Zig Clean Color Real Brush 4 Pack

  • Set of 4 Colors
  • Nylon bristles
  • waterbased/watercolor
  • made in Japan

$13.89 with Prime on Amazon
$10.48 on Marker Supply
$12.35 on DickBlick

Kuretake No 55

  • Double sided
  • Hard and Soft tips

$4.20 on Jetpens
$3.53 on Amazon with free shipping

Pentel Touch Fude Pen

  • 12 total colors

$2.50 each on Jetpens
$4.24 on Amazon

Higgins- India Ink

  • water-resistant finish
  • Pigment Ink
  • Pump Action
  • 1mm tip
  • Quick Drying
$4.75 on DickBlick

MSRP Total: $27.39
Lowest Retail Total: $21.26
SketchBox Basic: $25 + $5 shipped


The Kuretake No 55's hard tip is not really a brush tip at all- it's like a hard fiber fineliner.  The Soft tip is the same brush found on the No. 6 and the No 33, as well as the Zig Art and Graphic Twin markers.  I love that tip.

The Zig Clean Color Real brush markers blend well with water, and blend VERY well marker into marker on watercolor paper.  I can't wait to field test these!


Draw with Me- Winter Satsumas with Clean Color Real Brush-Becca Hillburn

Higgins Vs Higgins

Notes:  The two Higgins markers are actually different- ArtSnacks is Black Magic, Sketchbox is India Ink.  This is great news, as it allows for head to head competition.

Higgins india ink desperses faster in water than Higgins Black Magic.

SketchBox Premium

Sketchbox Unboxing December-Sharon Cullen Art

  • 2 Kuretake Bimoji Fude Pens- Small and Medium- $3.50 each on Jetpens
  • SketchBox Signature Brush Marker Set (Includes a blender) (3 Pastels)-Looks a bit like the #Colouring markers in terms of body and nib construction.  If these are like the #Colouring markers, I'm really sorry- the #Colouring markers are terrible, as blog and YT fans will soon find out.- As these markers are not listed in the SketchBox store, I'm going to base the price off the #Colouring markers by Art Alternatives- $10.84-$11.79 for 5 piece set on Amazon (est. price- $2.36 each)
  • Kuretake Refillable Fudepen- I'm not sure what model this is- Sharon didn't read the package or the card, and is not familiar enough with fude pens to recognize the model
  • Zig Clean Color Real brush Marker- $3.40 on Jetpens

Retail Value: $19.83 (minus cost of fude pen)
SketchBox Premium: $30+$5 shipping

Normally I woudn't comment on the Premium boxes shared here- I like to let them speak for themselves, but Sharon Cullen has been pretty vocal about SketchBox (both positive and negative) over the months, and I didn't feel comfortable sharing this video without making a few comments.
Sharon and I apparently have very different views on how SketchBox is run.  I've gotten so many Basic Basic boxes (as compared to really decked out Premium boxes), that I feel that SketchBox is funding their system on anemic Basic Boxes.  I agree with Sharon that SketchBox is probably filling the box on price, rather than on quality, but I wouldn't go so far as to say they have no artists on staff- just artists who only work in specific media (perhaps all digital?), and while I dislike how Jon handles customer service on Youtube, I've had positive experiences reporting missing items.  I generally try to keep my SketchBox correspondence short and sweet, and would never go so far as to accuse them of being 'young' or insinuate that because I dislike what's in my box, the curators must not be artists.

It's obvious to me that the two of us have very artistic backgrounds- which is great- but also a reason to be wary.  Sharon seems to come from the fine art school- she dislikes markers, is unfamiliar with brush and fude pens, and has very strong opinions on what makes someone an artist.  I come from the commerical side of things- comics and kid lit art- and my bread and butter are markers and fude pens (I've reviewed so many of them here on this blog!)  When you're unfamiliar with a product, it's important to do your research and familiarize yourself with others who know the product, before passing judgement.  For example, Sharon frequently claims that the pens have Chinese written on them- that's Japanese.  Kuretake is a Japanese company.  SketchBox has sent Kuretake products before.  There have been past opportunities to look into that, and to find out that fude pens are considered brush pens. The complaints about markers also seem a bit over the top- most of these art subscription boxes include a marker a month, a markers are inexpensive in bulk, super cheap to ship, and almost everyone likes them.  Like color pencils, markers are low mess, low barrier for entry, and seem a natural fit for art supply subscription services.  What's confusing to me is the preference SketchBox places on alcohol markers, no matter how poorly constructed, over waterbased markers- they're two different media.  Waterbased markers are not a cheap alternative to alcohol markers, and a cheap alcohol marker is much worse than children's grade supplies like Crayola markers.

The Verdict

Yet again, this is a close call, as I really liked both boxes.  In the end, I'm going to say ArtSnacks, because I was able to utilize more of the materials included (the Supracolors were much appreciated), but I was also very pleased with my four pack of Kuretake Clean Color Real Brush markers.

In the end, I used both boxes as water media- I used the two Higgins markers for a variation on inkwash, the Kuretake Real Brush Markers as watercolor markers, and the Supracolor watercolor pencils as watercolors and watercolor pencils. 

The Winner: ArtSnacks

This is the end of my year long ArtSnacks Vs SketchBox series here on the blog and on my Youtube channel.  Keep your eyes peeled for my year in review recap, and if you've missed a month, please check out the ArtSnacks Vs SketchBox series page for everything- blogposts, bonus boxes, and videos.  If you haven't, I highly recommend you watch all of my Challenge videos, as they serve as tutorials for the media used.