Thursday, October 17, 2019

Alcohol Marker Basics Class- October 19th

Come learn the secrets of using Alcohol Markers, like Copic and Prismacolor, like a pro!  Taught by the queen of alcohol marker reviews, Becca Hillburn (Nattosoup!) herself!  (spoiler: it's me.)

Copic marker class in Nashville

The class is at the Nashville Plaza Artist Materials, at 633 Middleton Street, on Saturday, October 19th.  It's a three-hour class designed to cover everything you need to feel confident using Copic markers.  Anyone age 13 and up is welcome to take the class alone, students under 13 are welcome with a parent or guardian registration.

Alcohol Marker Basics
Saturday, October 19th
Plaza Artist Materials
633 Middleton Street
$25 per student

Registration is still open and can be done online or by calling Plaza at 615-254-3368 and registering for Alcohol Marker Basics.

Copic markers and Chiyogami paper

We're going to cover: 
  • Getting started with markers
  • Marker Brand recommendations
  • Favorite color blends
  • Essential color combos
  • Skintone and hair color recommendations
  • Favorite Papers for Markers
  • Care and storage
Alcohol marker illustration

Bring your own markers and receive customized instruction on how to use them, or use ours- Plaza and I will provide everything you need to get started in this three hour class.  We'll have snacks on hand, but you're more than welcome to bring your own!  And make sure you bring your questions- an interactive class is fun for everyone!

Alcohol marker mixed media

Don't enjoy drawing, but love to color? I've got you covered with cute lineart illustrations you can hone your skills on! You're also welcome to create your own illustrations! Paper, pencils, brushpens, and fineliners will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own!

Copic markers on Strathmore Toned Tan Paper

Don't live in the Nashville, TN area?  My Artnerds on Patreon have access to the presentation and handouts- although there's nothing quite like taking a class in person!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Handmade and Bound Volume 9

Come see me at Handmade and Bound this weekend!  This is a free book lover's event in downtown Nashville, TN.
Friday- 12:00pm-5:00pm
Saturday- 10:00am-6:00pm
Sunday- 12L00pm-5:00pm
times are approximate and based off last year's event. 

Handmade and Bound is a zine, comic, and handmade book event hosted by Watkins College of art and the Southern Festival of Books.  This collaboration is a great opportunity for book loving folks to get books signed, listen to author talks, and shop for awesome books!  SCBWI is also there, repping the kidlit scene, and you can head down to the Nashville Public Library for their book sale!   There's also live music and loads of tasty food trucks- so the Southern Festival of Books is a great free event for the whole family! 

I'll be under the big Handmade and Bound tent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!  The Handmade and Bound tent features artists who make handmade books, or offer zines, comics, and other super small press goodies, so this is a great way to support indie creators and buy handmade! 

These are just some of the amazing goodies I'll have for sale this weekend!  I'm also going to have a lot of great original art

I'll have these (minus the baby bun illustration) and more, so if you're in the market for whimsical, original art for your home, make sure you come by! 

You can find out more about Handmade and Bound here:
You can find out more about the Southern Festival of Books here:
And here's a schedule of events:

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Recommended Papers for Inktober

When it comes to Inktober, I have opinions.  Strong opinions.  Opinions about great papers to use for your inky endeavors!  These recommendations are mainly based off my own experiences (and include examples of finished work), but a few come from friends who are also comic artists.


Blick Studio Sketch
Get it here

  • Great for Brushpens and technical pens
  • Cheap
  • Sturdier paper than most sketchbooks

Inktober 2015 Mermaid, Brushpen in Sketchbook
Example of Brushpen in Sketchbook, from 31 Days Under the Waves

Mossery Sketchbook
Get it here

  • Heavier paper- like a thin watercolor paper
  • Great for brushpens, brushes, nibs
  • Able to take alcohol marker and watercolor

Brushpen and watercolor brushpen in Mossery Sketchbook
Example of light watercolor, watercolor brushpen, brushpen, and washi tape in Mossery Sketchbook

Marker Paper

Strathmore 400 Series Marker Paper
Get it here

  • Heavier paper  with a smooth finish
  • Great for brushpens, technical pens, and dip pens.  Also good for brushes.

Neopiko Color Marker Use Paper Pad
Get it here

  • Like a thinner cardstock
  • Ultra Smooth Finish
  • Good for technical pens, brush pens, light dip pen inking

Comic and Illustration Paper

Deleter Neopiko Comic Paper
Get it here

  • A lightweight comic paper
  • Super Smooth Finish
  • Able to take technical pens, brushpens, nibs
  • Also good for marker

Kent Paper
Get it here

  • A lightweight comic paper
  • Smooth finish
  • Able to take technical pens, brushpens, nibs
  • Good for marker
  • Good for Tone

300 Series- Strathmore

Get it here

  • Smooth surface is great for brush pens and dip pens
  • Decent for brushes
  • Nice for alcohol markers

Get it here

  • A bit of tooth is nice for brush inking
  • Also great for larger brush pens
  • Good for dip pens

500 Series- Strathmore
Higher quality than 300 series

Get it here

  • Ultra smooth surface
  • Great for alcohol markers
  • Great for Brushpens, Dip Pens, Technical Pens

Get it here

  • Slight tooth to surface
  • Great for dip pens, brush pens, technical pens, brushes
  • Decent for light ink washes
  • Mixed Media Paper

Mixed Media Papers

Strathmore Visual Journal 500 Series Mixed Media Paper
Get it here

  • Heavy weight paper designed for ink, marker, acrylic, and watercolor
  • Vellum texture is nice for brush inking and brush pens
  • Spiral binding is convenient for travel
  • Cotton rag makes for durable paper

Inkwash and brushpen in Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Medium Visual Journal
Example of Inkwash in Strathmore Mixed Media Visual Journal, from Lilliputian Living Volume 2

Cellulose Watercolor Paper


Strathmore Watercolor Journal
Get it here

  • Thicker paper (140lb, but slightly on the thick side) is durable and resilient
  • Texture is great for drybrush, inkwash
  • Can handle brushpens, brushes, and even nibs decently well
  • Spiral binding is convenient
  • Modest size travels well 

Fountain pen ink, inkwash, and brushpen in Strathmore Watercolor Journal
Example of inkwash (fountain pen inks) and Sakura Pigma FB on Strathmore Watercolor Journal

Fabriano Studio
Get it here

  • Cottonrag (25%), cellulose mix (75%)
  • Lots of tooth to this paper
  • Great for brush inking
  • Great for drybrush
  • Sturdy paper
  • Good for inkwash
  • Mediocre for watercolor

Mermaid inked in brush on Fabriano Studio paper
Example of brush inks on Fabriano Studio, from Mermae

Hot Press:

Fluid EZ Block Hotpress
Buy it here

  • Smooth paper surface
  • Good for fountain pens, technical pens, brush pens, brush, nib
  • Decent for watercolor
  • Available in blocks

Elf girl drawn in fountain pen on Fluid EZ Block Hotpress paper
Example of fountain pen ink and watercolor on Fluid EZ Block Hotpress

Fluid 100 Hotpress (cottonrag)
Buy it here
  • Smooth paper surface
  • Great for technical pens, brush pens, brush
  • Great for watercolor
  • Heavier paper (140lb), sturdy
  • Available in blocks

Stonehenge Aqua Hotpress (cottonrag)
Buy it here
  • Smooth paper surface
  • Great for technical pens, brush pens, brush
  • Great for watercolor
  • Heavier paper (140lb), sturdy
  • Available in blocks

Girl feeding rabbits, brushpen and watercolor on Stonehenge Aqua Hotpress watercolor paper

Example of brushpen inks and watercolor on Stonehenge Aqua Hotpress 

Toned Papers

Strathmore Toned- Drawing
  • Drawing paper weight toned paper provides color base for ink illustrations
  • Great for brushpens, technical pens
  • Great for alcohol marker (will bleed through)
  • Great for colored Pitt Pens

Example of brushpen, alcohol markers, white Pitt Pen on Strathmore Toned Tan Drawing paper

Strathmore Toned- Mixed Media
  • Heavyweight papers provide color base for ink illustrations
  • Really striking with limited color palette
  • Paper is sturdy- can stand up to brushes and nibs
  • Smooth surface is great for technical pens, brush pens, and nibs
  • Heavy enough for light watercolor
Alcohol markers and brushpen on Strathmore Toned Blue Mixed Media Paper
Example of brushpen, alcohol marker, and color pencil on Strathmore Toned Blue Mixed Media Paper
Let me know if I turned you on to an awesome new paper option for your Inktober inkings!  And if you're doing Inktober, shoot me a message on Instagram so I can cheer you on!  I'm sharing my own Inktober inkings over there, and would love it if you checked out my work as well.

Monday, September 30, 2019

SPX 2019 Con Recap

September 14th and 15th marked the 25th anniversary of the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, and the first time in six years I've won the SPX lotto and was allowed to purchase a table.

My friend and fellow comic artist Kabocha and I both put in for tables, and I was the lucky winner this year.  We opted to split a full table between the two of us-$200 each.

I've put in for SPX every year since 2013- the last time I tabled with them- and this was the first year I've been able to go back.  I was really excited about the opportunity- I've made it no secret that I feel isolated and stranded in Nashville, TN, and I was hopeful that SPX might provide opportunities to show my work to editors and help me land more paying work.  I was also eager for the chance to see old comic friends and get caught up on buying their comics.

The plan was to fly in to Philadelphia, drive back with Kabocha to Delaware, then drive down to Maryland for SPX on Friday.  We opted to share a hotel room, and drove to Bethesda in Kabocha's car, parking it at the Marriot on Saturday and taking a Lyft in for set up.  On Friday night, tabling artists could pick up badges and attend a Meet and Greet, but we arrived a bit too late to take advantage of that.

Small Press Expo 2019 Artist Recap-Short Version: 

What Sold:
Surprisingly, my biggest sellers were wooden charms and mini-prints.  I really thought the original art and 7" Kara Volume 1 would sell decently well at SPX.  I also thought my hand-painted charms would sell well- they used to be quite popular at MTAC, and are one of a kind- but while people admired them, they didn't really move.

While SPX was frequently quite crowded, sales weren't particularly good.  Perhaps that was due to how crowded it was- people didn't spend much time just exploring, as there was usually a crush.  This was an issue in 2013 as well.  The variety in the crowd, as well as those tabling at SPX has really increased since 2013- in 2013 anime and manga influenced art were in the minority, and few customers were looking for comics in that style.  This year I saw many artists with manga influenced art styles, and many attendees with itabags or wearing anime shirts.  I'm really glad to see that the stigma against anime inspired art styles is starting to die down.

Initially, I was concerned that our placement would be terrible- the map makes it seem like we're at the back of the room.  Our placement wasn't great- we were about midway to the back, at a corner that doubled as an exit, and this placement had it's own issues.  Corner spaces tend to be the worst- multiple people are crammed in the space for one or two people, and ours wasn't an exception.  Our table neighbor at the corner had a large back display that blocked the exit and made conducting sales difficult.

On the plus side, Joseph was able to get a couple great Artist Interviews while at SPX.  Check out his interviews with Caroline Hu and Shoona Browning below, and click through to Youtube to find their social media links! 
Caroline Hu- SPX 2019 Artist Interview: 

Shoona Browning- SPX 2019- Artist Interview:


  • Flight to PA, on Southwest, Total: $350
  • Using accrued loyalty points: $20
  • Hotel room:- Stayed off-site at a nearby Hilton because the Marriott was totally booked- $286 total, $143 my share
  • Lyft from Marriott to Hilton and Back: $83 total- would be non existent if able to stay on-site
  • Food Total: $203, split between two people
  • Table cost- $200, split in half- $100
  • Estimated amount spent on comics: $290

Total Con Cost, Estimated: $879 (for two people)
Total Sales: $225.00 

  • Got to meet Kabocha, a close online friend
  • Had a lot of fun in general
  • Saw Kathy and Rich again
  • Got to meet a lot of older comics pros at the dinner they hosted
  • Most of my neighbors were awesome
  • Felt like an actual comic artist interacting with peers
  • Attendees were awesome
  • Most other artists were awesome
  • Water fountains everywhere
  • SPX had free coffee for artists
  • Excellent program art with really nice art
  • Wider alleys than 2013
  • Able to meet several Twitter mutuals/other webcomic artists
  • Lotto system gives more artists a shot at a table

  • Didn't actually see many editors at SPX, and saw none during the show, and none walking around looking at artists in our section
  • Maybe have editor badges?
  • A lot of editors talk about SPX being an It Con for discovery, but I never saw any walking around
  • No noticeable delineation for Kid Friendly and Kidlit comics, outside of the program guide
  • Booksales were lower than usual
  • One neighbor's backdrop blocked the exit shared by all of C block, literally anyone leaving hit the grids on our table
  • Lighting caused eyestrain
  • If you don't live in driving/train distance, SPX is still an expensive con- we need more indie comic cons across the US (at least one per region) that have potential for actual hiring opportunities
  • Sales weren't great- basically lost money doing SPX this year

I enjoyed my trip to Delaware and Maryland, but if I hadn't used SPX as an excuse to meet up with a friend from the internet, I think my opinion of this year's SPX might be a bit different.   Sales were disappointingly low for the costs, and while it was lovely getting to meet artists I've admired from afar, I would have liked to see higher sales, and would have preferred to sell more copies of 7" Kara.  I'm also frustrated that I feel like SPX and TCAF are a still necessity for artists who wish to find jobs within the comic industry.  While the internet has gone a long way to open up comics to a wider variety of artists, many editors still cite shows like SPX as the main way to get discovered.  And although I tabled at SPX, and was present at my table for most of the show, I saw few people who identified themselves as editors or publishers. 

Right now, the US indie comic scene has quite a problem on its hands- a severe lack of good indie comic conventions for a country the size of the US.  There are 50 states and two territories- there should be 52 decent indie comic cons, if not 104.  Artists shouldn't have to make the pilgrimage to Bethesda every year to jockey to find paying work and impress editors- there should be more opportunities for comic artists to present their work to an audience interested in the material they make.  For artists who live far from comic work epicenters, finding paying work in comics, particularly as an assistant, an intern, or as a flatter is unlikely- but these types of jobs allow new talent to learn on the job and make important connections.

I have never lived in a true comic epicenter.  From Louisiana to Georgia to Tennessee, I was lucky to find comic work remotely when it was available, but those times were few and far between.  Even my time at SCAD hinted at comics isolation-I attended a comics program that could afford to fly in editors, but SCAD was a small oasis of possibility.  Without SCAD faculty benevolence, comic artists in Savannah are just as isolated as comic artists in Louisiana or Mississippi.

Attending SPX, tabling at SPX, is a bit like a drowning swimmer gasping for air.  It's great to be around other comic people, but one weekend isn't enough to survive.  And of course, $225 in income for two days is laughably little compared to time, money, and energy spent to get to SPX.

Those who follow my work here and on Youtube know I try to attend smaller indie comic shows in the south.  From NOCAZfest (now defunct) in New Orleans, LA to Handmade and Bound here in Nashville, I make it a point to put in and table.  Unfortunately, those sorts of events don't attract publisher attention, so while it can be a great way to sell directly to my market, it's not particularly sustainable for me.

So, as I have in the past, I challenge editors and publishers to break out of their comfort zones and attend conventions (with an intent to hire) outside of their normal stomping grounds.  Seek talent from a variety of shows, in a variety of states.  Diversify in new ways, and seek to represent voices from all across the US- not just those conveniently in your backyard.

Small Press Expo 2019 Recap Full Version: 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Small Press Expo 2019

I am so excited to announce that I'm going to be at SPX this weekend!  It's been a long time since I won a table in their yearly lotto (2013 was the last time, I believe), and I'm happy to make the pilgrimage back to Bethesda, MD to join legions of other indie and small press comic artists.

I'm sharing a table with Kabocha, an online friend and fellow comic artist.  We're flying up to DE a little early to hang out, and I've already bullied convinced Kabocha to teach me the ways of foiling and using a Cricut.  This will be our first time not only tabling together but hanging out in person, and I'm really looking forward to it!

We'll be tabling at C-10 under a pseudonym- Tiny Cats- representing our two gray cats Bowie and Niji.  Look for these best boys if you make it to SPX this weekend!

If yall haven't yet, yall should check out Kabocha's amazing work!

I'm going to have so many great zines and minicomics for sale this SPX!  I did fresh reprints of EVERYTHING- my minis are still hot from the printer and ready to go home with you!  I print and assemble everything myself, so if you're looking for indie press- it doesn't get much more indie than one woman working out of her apartment, printing on a small duplexing toner printer.

Wanna peek and a pitch?  Check this out! 

I'll also have copies of 7" Kara Volume 1!  Every copy comes with a free wooden charm.  If you've been eyeing Kara for awhile, or enjoy it as a webcomic, SPX is a great chance to get a copy- it means I have less to fly back.

I'll also have copies of 1001 Knights Volume 3- Wisdom!  My short watercolor comic, Knight School, is in this volume.  Each volume is standalone, so Volume 3 can be enjoyed as an individual anthology.

And it wouldn't be me if I didn't have some original art for sale!  This is just the new pieces I've added- I have something for almost anyone!  So if you've always wanted to own an original piece of art, you can pick one up, ready made, or you can


I'm going to take mail ins of all types, and I'm offering inked chibis and tu tone marker pieces at SPX! 

I'll also have: 

Handpainted, sealed lasercut wooden pins

Each one is one of a kind, handpainted by me, and sealed with a UV gloss coat! 

Brand New Charm Designs!

Making a debut at SPX!  Most are available with a loop or pinbacks, in cherry and maple. 

So if you're in the Bethesda area, and you've never been to SPX, you should swing by, if only for the experience.  There's going to be a literal legion of indie comic artists there- it's a great way to discover a new favorite!  And if you're going to be there, make sure you stop by table C-10 and say hi, I'd love to meet you! 

See something you like, and won't be at SPX?  Get ahold of me via email- we'll work something out!

Monday, September 02, 2019

Figure Drawing for Comic Artists!

Come learn the secret to figure drawing and learn how to draw your own comic and cartoon characters.  In this class, we're going to learn how to transform basic shapes into anything you wish to draw- including people!

Register through Plaza here!

In From Stick To Figure, we're going to talk about Constructive Human Anatomy- a system of breaking down the human figure into basic shapes.

If you can draw stick figures,  circles, eggs, rectangles, and triangles, you're off to a great start!  This system can be modified for any art style- from realism to extreme cartooning, and once you have the basics, it makes quickly and accurately drawing figures and characters so much easier!

Learn how adjusting basic body shape and proportions can change your art and give your characters a fresh feel! 

Learn how to draw challenging subjects such as feet and hands! 

Learn how to draw the head from multiple angles! 

Gain confidence in your figure drawing and character design skills! 

From Stick to Figure
Sunday, September 8th, 1-4PM
Plaza Artist Materials
Nashville, TN
$25 admission
Ages 13 and up

Register through Plaza here

Not in the Nashville, TN area?  Full presentation is available to my Artnerds on Patreon!  

Monday, August 26, 2019

A Quick Turnaround- Learning From Your Mistakes

An important part of my watercolor journey, and one I sometimes forget, is taking time to access a piece and learn from past mistakes.   When you force yourself to hurry, you rely on past knowledge and experience, rather than allowing intuition and taste to guide your work.

I'd mentioned earlier that when able, I use my evenings for watercolor illustrations and my days for comic work.  Working with limited time means I'm liable to take shortcuts, make mistakes, and not give my work the time it really needs.  Sometimes overworking a piece isn't the solution, but taking time to think and make educated decisions, knowing when to hold back and let the paint speak for itself.

HB Pencil
Mix of watercolors- Winsor and Newton, Daniel Smith, Mijello, Holbein, Sennlier
Mix of watercolor pencils- Derwent Inktense, Supracolor II

In my post last Monday, I mentioned briefly that I was disappointed in the piece below.  I felt like it was overworked, like it had lost its freshness.  Just because I was disappointed in how it came out doesn't mean it's lost it's value, but I was determined to learn from my mistakes and handle it's sister piece differently.

The concept for both these pieces started with really tiny pen doodles.  I didn't even bother to scan them- I just took a bad phone picture and sent it to myself via email.

As with Lost in the Bromeliads, I worked on the sketch for this in December, using my Surface Pro 3.  One of the major things I wanted to work on was portraying a character actively in an environment.

For the Elephant Ears piece, I really wanted to keep things light and fresh.  Of the two, it was my favorite sketch and preferred concept- I really wanted to convey a sense of scale, a particular environment.  I wanted the viewer to put themselves in Kara's shoes- what is it like to explore a yard? a flower bed?

So for this piece, my goal was to keep the layers lighter- don't try to add as much contrast (because I went way too dark with the bromeliads), and let some of the underwash shine through. 

Earlier this week, I removed this piece from the stretcher boards and scanned it in, trying to maintain the colors achieved in the original (near neon yellows, bright blue undertones).  Color correcting originals is always a challenge, and there's usually a little something lost in the process, but I've gotten pretty decent at it over the years.  Below are a few Twitter threads on tips and tricks I use to correct images.

Digital Corrections for Watercolor: