Monday, February 17, 2020

Comic Artist Starter Kit Gift Guide

Art supplies are great but the MOST important thing you can give is support.  This is demonstrated in interest, involvement, and encouragement.

Some artists choose to work digitally, some choose to work with traditional supplies, so select materials that will work best for your artist!  If you'd like to familiarize yourself with comic materials more before purchasing, I recommend you check out Getting to Know: Traditional Comic Materials.

Great Basics for Teen and Adult Beginners 

Options were selected based on affordability and accessibility.  This is designed to point you in the right direction, but you don't need to buy everything on the list!  Products chosen were selected based on being applicable to a wide age range but still useful for those new to making comics.

9"x12" Strathmore 300 Series Smooth Bristol
Canson Mixed Media Paper
Canson XL Watercolor Paper

Pilot Color Eno colored leads
Pilot G2 Pencils
Col-Erase Pencils

Sakura Pigma FB, MB, BB
Pentel Pigment Brushpen
Pentel Pocketbrush
Kuretake Fudegokochi
Sakura Microns

Pentel Hi Polymer Eraser
Pentel Clic Erase

18" Clear Acrylic Ruler (ideally with an inking edge- a strip of metal inserted into one side)

Drafting Brush
Presentation Portfolio
Storage Portfolio
Page Protectors and Binder

Drawing Boards and Work Surfaces:
Futura Drafting Table (I own this one!)
Simple Portable Drawing Board (I own a couple of these, they're lightweight but very sturdy)
Drafting Board for Construction and Engineering
Large Drawing Board Easel
Wood Drawer Drawing Board
2 Drawer Walnut Adjustable Storage Box with Folding Easel

Supply Storage:
Desktop storage:
96 Hole Pencil and Brush Holder- Desk Rack
Desktop Storage Tray
Spin-o-Tray, Rotating Desktop Organizer
Totes and Bins:
Craft Storage Box with Lift Out Tray
Artbin Super Satchel with Removable Dividers
12" Plastic Art Supply Tool Box
Pencil Cases:
Medium Capacity Pencil Case
Linen Pencil Case
Large Capacity Organizer: 202 Pencil Case with Zippered Closure
High Capacity Pencil Pouch
Big Capacity Pencil Case

Clip Studio Paint
Medibang Paint (free)
Affinity Photo
Procreate (Mac OS only)

XP-Pen Graphics Tablet, 10X6.5"
XP-Pen Artist 11.6" FHD Drawing Moniter
Huion Inspiroy Q11k V2 Wireless Drawing Tablet
Huion KAMVAS Pro 13 GT-133 Drawing Monitor

Apple iPad 10.2"- 32GB
Apple Pencil

For Your Phone:
Bamboo Tip Stylus

Other Giftguides to Inspire:
2019 Video Giftguides:
Dollar Tree

2018 Holiday Watercolor Gift Guide
2018 Comic Artist Gift Guide
Intermediate Alcohol Marker Artist Gift Guide
Watercolor Gift Guide- Beginner
Gift Guide for Intermediate and Beginner Artists
Holiday Gift Guide: Alcohol Markers for the Aspiring Artist
Watercolor Gift Guide for Young Artists- Ages 9-13
Holiday Gift Guide: Buying for Adult Artists
Budget Watercolor Recommendations
Gift Guide: Amateur (Student) Artist
Recommended Products of 2015

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentine's Day 2020

Every year, my mom has sent or given me a Valentine.  Sometimes at my seat at the table, sometimes wrapped in excelsior.  Some years it was expansive- candy and stuffed animals, some years it was small- but every year at Valentine's, I knew I could look forward to a sweet reminder from my mother that I was loved and valued as a person.

This continued well after I started having boyfriends- I knew no matter what was going on (and one year, I got dumped on Valentine's Day), my mom had my back on Valentine's.  It's a tradition that continued into Undergraduate, where my Valentine would be waiting for me at the house, and into Graduate school, where my Valentine was mailed to me, and has even followed me here to Nashville.  As I got older and had some income, I was able to return the sentiment and send her Valentines (usually flowers) in return.

It's not really about receiving a gift.  It's about exchanging a sentiment between two women who sometimes struggle with vulnerability.   It's about taking the time to express love and affection.

Valentine's Day isn't really a romantic holiday for me.  I don't like fighting the crowds to eat out, and while I like chocolates and flowers, I'm happy to wait a couple days and get them half off.  I treat Valentine's Day as a wonderful excuse to tell the people (and animals!) in my life that I love and appreciate them.  While I ALWAYS love them, sometimes I need an external reminder to be grateful, appreciative, and demonstrative in my esteem.  So many people don't hear "I love you" or "I value our friendship" or "you make me smile" enough and it can be easy to assume we have no positive impact in the lives of others without this external validation.

So I hope you guys will take some time out today to tell others in your life just how much they mean to you!

Valentine's Day is also a great day to remind yourself of all the reasons why you love YOU.

You guys are probably wondering what this has to do with art, or watercolor, or comics.  I see so many artists online who hate themselves- it's pretty obvious.  Attacking other artists who are more popular than they are over micro transgressions, constantly dogging their own work, forever putting themselves down.  I think a lot of artists struggle with feeling like they DESERVE to love themselves.

 I've been there, and it's something I struggle with daily- which is why it's so important to try and love yourself as you would a friend.  Sometimes you have to separate and talk to yourself the way you would a friend you value and trust- because you work hard, you put yourself out there, and regardless of whether other people see your value, YOU HAVE VALUE.

It was the culmination of failing to meet my goals (which, admittedly, were often set outside the realm of my control), difficulty in maintaining boundaries (after years of unemployment, I struggle to say no to 'feature creep' from employers), and feeling isolated from the comic community in Nashville.  A heady dose of 'unemployed and can't find work' added to that bad brew- I created the echo chamber that was killing me.  I really didn't think someone who was so unemployable, someone who could draw and share work every day, but still couldn't find work- deserved self love, and I reserved that 'privilege' for when I felt like I was actually worth something.

Beating a dead horse doesn't bring it back to life.  It doesn't make it walk, and a dead horse can't carry any burdens.  I was emotionally abusing myself to suicide.

I was so lucky to befriend Kabocha at this time.  Our friendship inspired me to take the first steps in turning my life and viewpoint around.

Depression, anxiety, mental health or disability drastically color how we view ourselves, our interactions, the world around us.  I have ADHD, depression, and anxiety, so you can imagine the weird tints my feelings color the world and my experiences.  For years, I really struggled with confidence issues and asserting myself- I would let opportunities pass me by without even trying, or self sabotage my efforts because in the back of my mind, I was SURE I'd let them down.  Working on loving myself has helped me ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression by inspiring self care before things spiral out of control- taking breaks, taking walks, eating regular meals, stretching, getting some outside perspective, and loving myself has allowed me to embrace my ADHD and try to work with it, rather than fight it.   Eating a meal before the anxiety got too bad and made me sick.  Going to bed before the 'witching hour' arrived and depression clawed its way in.  Accepting that as someone with ADHD, I am creative, engaging, empathetic but also that my feelings are often more intense than a situation merits, and the feeling of never quite measuring up and being good enough might be all in my head.

The struggle out wasn't and still isn't easy.  It's been almost four years since I couldn't even look at myself in a mirror, even in passing.  Now I can smile at myself, compliment myself, tell Becca she put in a good day's work.  But it's been four years of actively trying to rewire my mind, how I think about myself, and how I talk about myself.  Shutting down the negative self-talk just as it starts, putting on music or reading a book to drown it out and distract me just enough to focus.

Here's your permission.  Please start today.  Try to see yourself as a friend, an ally in your struggles and a companion in your life's journey.  Try to see your body as a loyal and hardworking vehicle, always trying to serve the needs of the mind, even if sometimes it cannot succeed due to the limitations of health and humanity.  Take the steps necessary for self care- turning off social media notifications, finding or creating a group of supportive friends you can turn to, eating regular meals and drinking plenty of water, setting and keeping a reasonable bedtime.  While these won't cure anxiety, depression, or mental illness, they definitely make it a lot easier to tackle the symptoms.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Third Kara-versary

Today marks the third anniversary of launching 7" Kara as a webcomic, and it's been a weird ride.  My nearly 10 years of work on 7" Kara has seen a lot of changes- graduating from SCAD, moving from Savannah to Nashville, working closely with other artists to working in near isolation, the formation of Ink Drop Cafe, the dissolution of Ink Drop Cafe, dozens of conventions, self-publishing Volume 1, researching comics and watercolor, teaching comics- I've grown so much while working on Kara.

The past three years, from when I first launched 7" Kara on February 11th, 2017, have not been nearly as turbulent as the whole, but it's been fruitful for development and growth.  Dozens of conventions, representing my own book, joining SCBWI, regular teaching gigs, participating and moderating Ink Drop Cafe, tabling at SPX with several perfect bound books- I'm in a totally different place from when I started painting the first Kara pages. 

While Kara is not my first comic by a long shot, it's the first longform comic I was willing to share not only with friends, but with the internet as a whole, and with readers via the perfect bound Volume 1.  It took a lot of courage to begin uploading comic pages three years ago- the audience for web comics is pretty different from the audience for print comics, and I knew my preferred demographic isn't really using the internet yet.  But I also knew sharing Kara as a webcomic would not only open me up to critique and criticism, but to potential friendships, and would give me a chance to prove myself to online peers.

The worst response I've gotten is from people who judge my current artistic ability based on what they see in Chapter 1- comic pages painted 8 years ago!  Watching my art develop as I work on 7" Kara has been really exciting for me- I've always loved comics that evolved with the artist's ability, rather than sticking to an outdated 'style'.  I'm proud of how far I've come in terms of ability and comfort with the medium and the artform, and I love using the contrast between Chapter 1 and Chapter 8 to inspire other artists to begin their own projects.

Early Page from Chapter 1, Early page from Chapter 8

While working on Kara, I researched and learned so much about watercolor.  Beginning the Watercolor Basics series here on the blog helped fuel that passion, and as time progressed, I learned what papers, paints, and brushes worked best for Kara comic pages, and what I preferred to use for standalone illustrations.

When I first started with Kara, I used Cotman Student Grade pans on Canson's cheapest 90lb watercolor paper, with cheap synthetic brushes- the pages are rippled, the colors chalky, the mixes muddy.  I quickly upgraded my paper in Chapter 2- I've reviewed a lot of different papers over the years, and have tried even more, but I lucked out when I selected Canson Montval for comic pages, as it's still my preference.  And as time passed, I slowly switched out Cotman half pans for Winsor & Newton professional half pans, and then later began experimenting with other professional brands.  My watercolor brush selection grew as time passed as well, and I began to prefer natural hair brushes over synthetics.

I struggled to learn how to paint darker skintones, how to paint grass, how to draw animals and not every comic page or panel was a success.  Often I spent time doing watercolor studies- practicing realistic watercolors, painting different scenerios, learning something new every time I tried to flex my wings.  But without struggle we wouldn't have success, and Naomi has become one of my favorite characters to paint, and steals the stage in the Volume 2 bonus chapter, Naomi's Big Day.  And anyone who follows my Instagram knows I love painting grass!

2018 and 2019 were years that marked a desire to find watercolors that performed better than the Winsor & Newton watercolors I was using, and more economical.  I became friends with Kabocha, a fellow watercolor enthusiast, and we exchanged notes and paint samples.  I shared many of my reviews on Youtube, hoping to help other comic artists interested in watercolor.

Working on 7" Kara has inspired so many aspects of my life, from teaching others how to create their own comics to studying watercolor.  I'm excited to see where my art will go, and where inspiration will strike, as I work on the next two volumes.


Chapter 1 Pages: 
 Painted 2011/2012- Cotman watercolors, Canson Beginner Watercolor Paper

Chapter 2 Pages:
 Painted 2012- Cotman and Winsor & Newton watercolors, Canson Montval Watercolor Paper

Chapter 3 Pages:
 Painted 2013- Cotman and Winsor & Newton watercolors, Canson Montval Watercolor Paper

Chapter 4 Pages:
 Painted 2014- Winsor and Newton watercolors, Holbein Irodori watercolors, Canson Montval Watercolor Paper


Chapter 5 Pages:
Painted 2014/2015- Winsor and Newton watercolors, Holbein Irodori watercolors, Canson Montval Watercolor Paper

Chapter 6:
Painted 2016- Daniel Smith watercolors, Mijello watercolors, Soho watercolors, Winsor & Newton watercolors, Canson Montval watercolor paper

Chapter 7 Pages:
Painted 2017/2018- Daniel Smith watercolors, Mijello watercolors, Soho watercolors, Winsor & Newton watercolors, Canson Montval watercolor paper

Chapter 8 Pages:
Painted 2018/ 2019- Daniel Smith watercolors, Holbein watercolors, Mijello Watercolors, Sennelier watercolors, Soho watercolors, Winsor & Newton watercolors, Canson Montval watercolor paper

Those of you who keep up with the webcomic have probably noticed that after Chapter 6, 7" Kara went on hiatus.  I have three additional chapters painted and lettered- ready to go, but I'm holding onto those as a special incentive to support the Volume 2 Kickstarter.  If you'd like to keep on top of Kickstarter news, you can sign up for the mailing list- I have a lot of newsletter exclusive stuff planned!  And hopefully you'll consider supporting Volume 2 after the Kickstarter launches- your support means the world to me, and inspires me to continue painting.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Notes on Hourly Comic Day 2020

Notes on Hourly Comics:

  • Gives structure to my day- it forces me into a routine, which is both great for ADHD and not so great for my usual work methods
  • I'm guilty of doing more 'fun' things on Hourly Comic Day so I have something interesting to draw
  • Also very distracting- it's weird to stop work every hour to quickly draw more work- it's not like it's a real break.
  • Makes it obvious that my schedule is WEIRD.
  • Try to keep it simple and sketchy so I can at least get other work done- it seems like some folks literally dedicate their day to making attractive Hourly Comics, but I draw too slow for that
  • Nice to break up my normal routine of very polished comics with a lot of process and steps to just sketch autobio
  • Try to work in a different format- color pencil, in the sketchbook, super sketchy

Hourly Comics of Days Past:

Hourly Comic Day 2014
Hourly Comic Day 2016
Hourly Comic Day 2017

Monday, February 03, 2020

Upcoming Classes in Nashville, TN

I have a busy Spring ahead of me here in Nashville!  Joseph and I are wrapping things up here in Tennessee and preparing to get married and move back to Louisiana.  In the meantime, I wanted to say goodbye with a bang!  These classes are your last chance to take an art class with me in person in Nashville, TN, and I have a little something for anyone who might enjoy this blog!

Please register for classes early to ensure your place in class.  Since I'm responsible for printed templates and resources, and provide most class materials, it's helpful to have a good idea of how many students are attending, so I can prepare ahead of time.  If you’d like one on one critique or advice, please make sure you bring examples of your work (physical is best) and show up a bit early so I have time to help you!

For Plaza classes:  If you would like to register someone under the age of 13, please register for the class with them. Kids are welcome, but only if accompanied by a parent or guardian.

All other classes in this post are for teens and kids.

Classes are for February-May 2020 and are subject to change.  Please register in advance to secure your seat and to allow me to properly prepare in advance.  If you have any questions or need more information, feel free to email me!

Watercolor for Comics and Illustration
February 8th- 1PM-4PM
PlaZa Artist Materials
Nashville, TN
$25 admission, supplies provided
Register through or call 615-254-3368
All ages welcome, but children under 13 need to register with a guardian

Have you always wanted to learn how to use watercolor for illustration and comic art? Or maybe you know someone who loves traditional media art and would be interested in expanding their experience?
I’m teaching a class on watercolor for comic and illustration art through Plaza Artist Materials in Nashville, TN, on Saturday, February 8th!  It's called How to Use Watercolors on the schedule.  Even if you know absolutely nothing about watercolor, you’re welcome to sign up and take this class! We’ll be providing everything you need for three hours of watercolor fun including paints, papers, and snacks! If you want to learn how to use your own watercolor supplies, bring them along! The class is from 1-4PM, and I welcome artists of all ages and experience levels to come learn the secrets to watercolor for comics.
I’ll provide you with a list of recommended supplies, if you want to start shopping after the class is over, and once you get home, you can explore years of watercolor tutorials and reviews to help bolster your studies on Nattosoup Studio Art and Process Blog and my Youtube channel. And of course, you’re welcome to reach out to me via email!

Learn to Draw Anything
Standalone Pop Up Class
February 19th, 4-5PM
The Little Art House
Nashville, TN
Register through The Little Art House
Price TBA

Want to learn how to draw, or level up your art?  I'll teach you the magic secret that they don't teach you in public school art classes!   Everything in our 4D world is made up of pretty basic 3D shapes that can be drawn on 2D paper.  I'll show you how to break complex objects down into those basic shapes, and teach you how to draw them.  When you leave this class, you'll see the world in a whole new way!

Manga Madness
Standalone Pop Up Class
February 26th, 4-5PM
The Little Art House
Nashville, TN
Register through The Little Art House
Price TBA

Love anime and manga?  Trying to find your own art style?  In this standalone class, I'll show you how to draw your own characters and teach you the basics of constructing faces and facial proportions.  Once you have the basics down, it's easy to tweak it to suit your taste and drawing style!

From Stick to Figure
Standalone Pop Up Class
March 4th, 4-5PM
The Little Art House
Nashville, TN
Register through The Little Art House
Price TBA

Want to learn how to draw people?  Interested in designing your own original characters?  This class will show you how to go from stick figure to character design!  In this hour long class, we're going to focus on capturing gesture and form, as well as answering your figure drawing questions! 

Comic Illustration: Designing Original Characters
March 7th & 8th, 10AM-4PM
Watkins Community Education
Nashville, TN
Register through Watkins Community Education

A weekend crash course on drawing and designing characters for comics and illustration! On Saturday, we're going to focus on figure drawing and understanding the human form using constructive anatomy- great for posing characters! On Sunday we're turning our focus to facial construction, designing faces, and finding your style!

This weekend drawing camp is perfect for young artists who need extra guidance or encouragement to get started on their projects. Classes are held at Watkins College of Art- the perfect setting to inspire.

Manga Madness
March 12th- 4:30-5:30
Bordeaux Branch Fandom Fest
Nashville, TN

This class is more than just manga!  Part of Nashville Public Library's Fandam Fest, I'll show you how to construct and draw your own characters in this free hour long workshop!  Bring your sketchbooks and be prepared to draw!

Creating Comics
Watkins 4 Week Comic Class
Mondays, March 23rd- April 13th 6:00PM-8:00PM
Watkins Community Education
Nashville, TN
Register through Watkins Community Education

Know a young artist who'd like to start their comics journey?  Or maybe someone who needs a bit of support and encouragement to get started?  This four week comic class, hosted by Watkins Community Education, will walk aspiring comic artists through the basics, giving them the foundation they need to get started.   Get help with the comic process and hands on experience with the tools of the comic trade!

From Stick to Figure
March 28th, 1-4PM
PlaZa Artist Materials
Nashville, TN
$25 admission, supplies provided
Register through or call 615-254-3368
All ages welcome, but children under 13 need to register with a guardian

Learn how to go from stick figure to comic character in this three hour drawing workshop hosted by Plaza Artist Materials.  This is a deeper dive into figure drawing and construction.  Feel free to bring snacks and your favorite sketching materials!

Mixed Media Marker
April 11th, 1-4PM
PlaZa Artist Materials
Nashville, TN
$25 admission, supplies provided
Register through or call 615-254-3368
All ages welcome, but children under 13 need to register with a guardian

My last marker class in Nashville, so sign up while seats are available!  In Mixed Media marker, get hands on experience with alcohol markers like Copics and Prismacolor, and learn new techniques to really make your marker art pop!  From watercolor to color pencils to chiyogami paper, take your marker illustrations to the next level with creative solutions.

Comic Boot Camp
May 9th, 1-4PM
PlaZa Artist Materials
Nashville, TN
$25 admission, supplies provided
Register through
All ages welcome, but children under 13 need to register with a guardian

My last comic class in Nashville!  In this three hour workshop, we'll talk about comic art, process, and you'll get your hands on commonly used comic tools.  Together we'll make an eight page minicomic.  Although we provide the materials, feel free to bring your own favorites!  Snacks are provided, but you're welcome to bring your own.

Sign up here to find out about future classes and workshops!