Sunday, July 30, 2017

Paper Review: Canson Montval Artboard: Watercolor Basics

I use regular, pre cut Montval for 7" Kara pages, so I was very excited when I heard that Canson planned on releasing artboards for their Montval range.  Artboard is very similar to illustration board, in that it's a self supporting board that should not need stretching, and should not buckle with water or washes.

These are also referred to as Canson Plein Air boards.

The Stats:
  • 3 sheets per pack, but now also available in 10 sheet, tape bound pads
  • Cold Press finish
  • Cellulose based
  • 140lb paper attached to board
  • Available in 3 sizes: 12"x16", 9"x12", 8"x10"
Canson has a variety of paper types available in their Artboard line:

Montval is available in:
  • Tape bound sheets
  • Artboards
  • Sketchbooks/watercolor field books
  • Rolls
You can find Canson Montval Artboard on:
Jerry's Artarama

The Packaging (3 Pack)

The Packaging (10 Sheet Pad)

The Package reads:

PLEIN AIR: Artists have been painting en Plein Air (A French term meaning "in the open air"), long before the term was made notable by the Impressionist movement of the 19th century.  The Impressionists , such as Monet, Renoir, and Pisarro, with their newly portable tubes of paint, compact easels, and bright colors born from the industrial revolution, flocked to the outdoors to capture nature's beauty and bring forth a new perspective on capturing light and color which has changed the way we view art and our surroundings forever.

The Field Tests:

In this field test, I went for a mixed media application- alcohol markers (Copic markers, Blick Studio Brush markers) + watercolor and wax resist.

Alcohol Marker Application:

I often enjoy using alcohol markers on inexpensive watercolor papers such as Montval, Fluid, and  Blick Studio watercolor paper.  Inexpensive, cellulose watercolor papers are sturdy papers that can handle a lot of blending and layers, and the cold press texture often adds an element of visual interest.  For this field test, I rendered Kara with Copic, Blick Studio Brush, and Prismacolor markers, and applied layers of watercolor to add shading without removing saturation- a technique I often use with my succulent illustrations.

This illustration was inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida brushpen, which is alcohol marker and waterproof.  If you have trouble finding the Sailor Mitsuo Aida, I recommend you try Sakura Pigma brushpens- they perform just as well, and are equally marker and watersafe.

Background Application of Brusho:

 Removing the Tape:

And yes, I realize Kara looks like she just set the world on fire, and enjoys watching it burn.  You can't win every time.
Sure, Kara looks kinda crazy in the last image, but she's awfully cute in 7" Kara, my beautiful watercolor webcomic.  Since it's World Watercolor Month, why not enjoy a family friendly comic, available both in print, and for free as a webcomic?

Mixed Media Field Test:

In this November Artsnacks challenge, I used acrylic sprays, watercolor markers, and loads of water to create an illustration of an alien girl standing in a field of poppies.

This illustration was inked with a Sakura Pigma FB brushpen.

Sky was applied with a Molotov refillable watercolor marker, included in the November Artsnacks box.  Washes were applied with a Sketchbox Signature waterbrush.

 Orange is Marabu acrylic spray, spritzed with water to dilute and bloom.

If you enjoy my reviews, and would like to see them continue, please join the Artnerd community on my Patreon.  For just $2 a month, you can help support this blog, as well as my tutorials and reviews, and gain access to Backer Exclusive content, free comics by me, art assets, and more.

A 7" Kara page on Montval coldpress paper:

Chapter 6, 7" Kara

The Verdict:

If you don't like Montval, or aren't comfortable painting on Montval, you won't enjoy Montval Artboard.  It is literally just Montval paper adhered to something akin to illustration board- it has many of the same downsides as Montval, minus the proclivity for buckling.

However, if you DO like Montval, and wanted something studier for your field sketches, or for convention commissions, then Montval Artboard is worth checking out.

For those unfamiliar with Canson Montval:

Canson Montval is a cellulose based watercolor paper that generally requires outside support, such as gatorboard and blue tape, to prevent buckling.  It is an inexpensive, easy to find paper that's available in a variety of formats, and is the right quality and pricepoint to facilitate comic page creation for me.  In humid weather, layers become muddy and overworked, and painting in such conditions may cause the paint to slough off the paper, so care should be taken.  Canson Montval can be run through a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mk II scanner for printing bluelines, and is about the same thickness as many popular comic papers on the market.

  • No buckling
  • Can be used as mixed media
  • Can handle a fair amount of layering and glazing

Second Opinions and Outside Resources

Friday, July 28, 2017

Unboxing Chameleon Marker Tops and the Chameleon Complete Your Collection Set

A few months ago, a little birdie (probably on Instagram) told me that Chameleon Markers were releasing a new product.  Not one to resist the allure of innovation, I had to check it out, and found myself doing the unbelievable- backing an Indiegogo campaign.

Chameleon Color Tops

I was a little hesitant at first- Indiegogo campaigns have a habit of dematerializing.  However, Chameleon is an established company, so I figured it would be bad for business for them to take my money and run, so I decided to take a chance.

Surprisingly, Chameleon kept me updated throughout the campaign, and soon I received notification that my order was being processed.  I was allowed to choose the color families I wanted, and I opted for Warm, Nature Tones, Cool, and Floral.

Whoops.  My hand slipped.  I tend not to back Indiegogo's because their TOS is different from Kickstarter- there are campaigns where the founder can keep any funds raised, regardless of reaching goal.  Kinda hard to fulfill a project if you didn't raise enough funds, right?

I've complained privately for a few years that there's nothing new under then sun when it comes to alcohol markers.  I've tested dozens of alcohol markers here on the blog and over on the channel, and they tend to fall into two categories:

Copic Like- Refillable, replacable nibs

Prismacolor Like- Not refillable, disposable

The cheap ones tend to have a bullet nib+cheap chisel nib rough hewn from fiber, the nicer ones tend to have a bullet nib+nicer chisel nib (Prismacolor), or a brush nib (either fiber or foam rubber) with some variant of the bullet nib or chisel nib.  Rinse and repeat this equation over dozens of markers, and you have one burnt out art supply reviewer.

Chameleon markers aren't new- I reviewed them in 2015 here on the blog.  The Color Tops are new, and one of the biggest innovations I've seen in marker technology since Chameleons rolled onto the market.  Chameleons were already pretty innovative- there's a blender right in the cap that allows you to do seamless blends from colorless blender to full saturated color.  I found this a difficult technique to master, as it's the opposite of how I'm used to using alcohol markers, but I've seen younger artists use it to great effect.  Recently Chameleon launched their Color Tops- which allow to seamless color to color transitions. 

To me, this is a HUGE innovation.  I'd found the original Chameleons a bit gimmicky, but Chameleon has found a way to really shake up how artists and crafters use alcohol markers.  As I sunk money into not only the color tops, but the 30 additional color set, I swore that this time, I'd learn how to use these markers properly.

Markers have always been the most popular topic on this blog- the more I compare a marker to Copic markers, the better that post seems to do.  And while I've moved the majority of my marker reviews over to YouTube (it's just easier to talk while I test, rather than keeping notes), I wanted to make sure my blog fans knew about my Chameleon revival.  I plan on doing several posts on Chameleon markers and Color Tops, multiple videos, and even some backer exclusive content once I have these markers mastered.

Oh hey!  These Chameleon Color Tops were purchased using funds raised through my Patreon!  Enjoy my marker reviews?  Become an artnerd over on Patreon for just $1 a month, and help fund future reviews and tutorials!  Backers get goodies like early access videos, backer exclusive content, and even art assets and comics!

Chameleon Color Tops Unboxing

Additional Colors:

The Specs:

In this set:
  • 30 Markers in this set
  • Spare nibs for bullet, brush, and infusing chamber
  • Tweezers
  • Helpful Tips Booklet
  • Refillable
  • Replaceable nibs
  • Colors Also Sold Openstock

Chameleon Markers are available in:
  • openstock
  • color families of 5
  • set of 20
  • additional set of 30
  • Complete set of 52 (includes blender and detail pen)

Where to Buy:
Blick- $4.79 Openstock
Refills are sold through all three sites.

Colors inside:

Skintones: NU0, NU00, NU2, NU4, BR1
Browns: BR3, BR4
Blues: BG1, BG3, BL2, BL4, BL7
Greens: GR1, GR2, GR4
Reds: RD2, RD3, RD5
Yellows: YO2
Oranges: OR3
Neutrals: NG4, CG5, CG9, WG3, WG7, BK4
Violets/Purples: BV2, V02
Pinks: PK2, PK4, PK5

Other Chameleon Products:
Color Cards
Color Tones Color Pencils

Chameleon Marker Tops

The Specs
  • 5 colors per color family
  • 10 Families- Blue, Pastel, Cool, Earth, Gray, Skin, Floral, Warm, Nature, Primary
  • Available in sets, does not seem available openstock yet
  • Funded through Indiegogo and Kickstarter initially
  • Each color family of tops comes in a plastic case
  • Cases interlock

The Sets I Purchased

Cool-BL3, BV4, BG4, VO4, PR4
Floral- PK2, PK4, PK5, BV2, VO2
Warm- OR3, YO2, RD5, RD3, RD2
Earth- GR4, GR2, GR1, BR3, BR1

Where to Purchase:

Chameleon Marker and Chameleon Marker Top Overview and Demonstration

Photos from the Unboxing:

Color Tops and Additional Colors

Chameleon markers, alcohol markers, marker unboxing, chameleon color tone markers, chameleon color tops

Chameleon, Chameleon Color Tone Markers, alcohol markers

I have to say this for Chameleon--any sets they offer come in reusable boxes.  The 5 color sets come in plastic boxes, the 30 Additional Colors come in a beautiful, sturdy black cardboard box that even includes a shoulder strap.  The box even folds into an easel! In that regard, Chameleon markers are beautifully designed.

Inside are two informational pamphlets, and a small cardboard box.

And inside the box are spare nibs for the bullet, brush, and infuser, and a small pair of specialized tweezers.

Top: Chameleon Tweezers
Bottom: Copic Tweezers

Chameleon Japanese Tip, Chameleon Brush Tip

Top: Replacement brush nib
Bottom: Replacement nib for the Infusing Chamber

chameleon markers, alcohol markers

The exterior packaging (which is intended to be thrown away) includes all colors inside, including color families.

And the back details everything included in this box.

The cardboard box that contains these markers is very sturdily built.

Watch the below video for information on how to turn the Chameleon Color Tone Marker box into an easel.

Demonstrating the Chameleon Box

Chameleon color tops, alcohol markers, chameleon color tone markers

Individual color family cases come unmarked, so I hacked together a solution for that!

Labeling Your Color Tops

Included Materials:

Looking for swatches?  Keep an eye on this blog- those will be coming soon!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Paper Review: Cottonwood Arts Laminated Coldpress Sheets: Watercolor Basics

It's still World Watercolor Month, and we're continuing our Watercolor Basics theme with another paper review!  Today we're taking a look at Cottonwood Arts Laminated Coldpress Sheets.

These laminated watercolor sheets are not the only self-supporting watercolor option on the market.  Watercolor blocks are also a great option for painters on the go, and many paper companies now offer sheets or boards, such as Canson's Montval Artboard (a later review!).

At the time of purchase, Cottonwood Arts was a new brand for me, and I'd already started the Watercolor Basics (link) series here on the blog.  Cottonwood Arts primarily produces papers that can handle a variety of media- marker, ink, graphite, mixed media, and of course, watercolor. On their website, the Laminated Coldpress Sheets we'll be reviewing today are similar to an available  pack that has ten 10 sheets in size 5"x7", and cost $9.75, less than a dollar a sheet.

Places to buy:
Cottonwood Arts
(these are surprisingly hard to find online!)

The pack was purchased from David's Art Supply in Metairie, Louisiana, in 2015.

The Stats:
  • 6 Sheets Per Pack (also available in 10 sheet packs online)
  • Coldpress paper adhered to chipboard back for stability
  • Cold press
  • Weight is not given, but I assume it's 90lb watercolor paper (probably cellulose derived based on price) attached to chipboard (also cellulose based, possibly acid free?  That would be ideal, but it does not say)

The Packaging:

Like the Bockingford paper we recently reviewed, the Cottonwood Arts paper comes shrinkwrapped.  Unlike the Bockingford paper, sheets are individual, and not attached to a pad by tape or gum.

The packaging contains surprisingly little information about this watercolor paper, so much of the stats listed above are from observation and assumption based on experience.

Be careful when opening the pack- if you can open it juussst right, you can still use the cellophane to hold your unused sheets.

As you can see, the 'laminated' sheets are thicker than cardstock or 140lb paper on its own, thinner than illustration board.

Love my art?  Enjoy watercolor?  Why not check out my all ages watercolor comic, 7" Kara, now available as a webcomic?  Or get caught up on the first four chapters (plus a bonus chapter!) by picking up Volume 1?

The Inks:

This illustration was inked with the waterproof Sailor Mitsuo Aida brushpen.

The paper handled brushpen very well- no smearing, no feathering, and the graphite erased clealy.

The Field Test

Since these are 'laminated' watercolor sheets, they should be able to withstand a fair amount of water and abuse- so I didn't bother to stretch or secure this illustration before dousing it with water.

And although there was some bowing of the chipboard back, it was really rather minimal compared to some of the buckling I've seen with 140lb watercolor papers.

I felt like the Cottonwood Arts paper handled color a bit strangely, and it seemed like a thinner paper (maybe 90lb?  less capable of really handling water and blends- water tends to evaporate immediately) glued to chipboard for support.

 A little bit of bowing and flexing as the board dries.

 This bowing causes the sheet to rock while I painted, which made having a steady hand difficult.

This paper took well to thicker applications of color, and might be ideal for gouache.

Colors did layer fairly vibrantly- sometimes unusual for inexpensive papers, where pigments can settle into mud- although I didn't do any complicated layering or glazing techniques.

The Finished Piece:

Hey guys, all this reviewing is hard work!  Show me some love and support by joining the Artnerd community on my Patreon!  Almost everything covered on this blog has been purchased out of pocket, and in depth reviews take a lot of time, so help fund future reviews by joining us on Patreon.  Just $2 a month gets you access to early access and backer exclusive content, sneak peeks into my ongoing projects, and help offset the costs of running this blog and the Youtube channel.

The Verdict:

Currently, I'm inking a few pieces with traditional dip pen and acrylic ink, with plans on watercoloring over them on these watercolor sheets.  I find that the dip pen constantly catches on the paper's surface- not uncommon for cold press papers.  Sometimes watercolor papers that aren't really suitable for watercolor (like Fabriano Studio) are great for brush+ink techniques- Cottonwood Arts sheets may be suitable for that, although the size I used is a bit small for that.

Cottonwood Arts Laminated Coldpress Sheets behave like cheap watercolor paper attached to chipboard- they buckle, cannot hold large amounts of water for wet into wet blending.

Fortunately, they are relatively inexpensive, and may be ideal for your field work, or light pen and ink sketches.  For the most part, the chipboard prevents the paper from buckling and wrinkling excessively, and the quick dry time may be idea for in the field painting.

Outside Resources and Second Opinions:

Mike Hernandez's Supply List for Scottsdale Art School
The Art of Mike Hernandez Kickstarter