Thursday, March 15, 2018

Guest Post: Panda’s Top Tips For Advertising Comics

Hi there!

I’m ServerPanda. My job as a professional Graphic Designer, 3D designer and advertising specialist has taken me to a lot of places over the past 8 years. I’ve worked in newspaper offices, print companies and currently I’m making my way into the employment of a large scale construction company as their lead designer and advertising specialist.

Today, however, I’m honored to be here to teach you all a little inside knowledge about the advertising industry and how it can apply to webcomics.

Advertising a webcomic outside the circles of fellow creators has proven a daunting and almost impossible task for many. Solutions seem magical and hard to pin down. Few really know what they’ve done correctly even after they have achieved it. Many attribute it to luck.

Luck may play a role. Careful planning and determination can take you much further, however! Which is why right now in this article I’ll be dissecting the how and why advertising works and teaching you to apply it to new sources: taking it outside your comfort zone and into a bright, new world! You can do this!

Did that second paragraph sound fancy and make you excited? Was it a little corny too? That’s what advertising does.

They’re called ‘Ad Words’: Words meant to be persuasive, powerful and kickstart viewers into clicking your advertisement to find out more. Usually quick and to the point, these words are made to excite people. Below I’ve assembled an image of a few of the most popular Ad Words so that you can see them. Apply some of these to your advertising campaigns (or think of a few more yourself!) and I can guarantee that people will click your work (see what I did there?).


Next we’ll dive into a category format. I’ve had my fun with you all! It’s time to work.


The timeless battle of genre vs. age. Sometimes people combine the two. They do it in popular media all the time. A perfect example is any Disney animated classic: usually Fantasy for children. There isn’t inherently anything wrong with that when the audience is worldwide. Except… in webcomics an issue does unfold. The problem with us following that format when advertising outside of our comfort zone is that we sadly cannot afford to. Webcomics are already a niche: a small bite of a much bigger market. The more a creator limits their audience when they try to reign in new readers, the less success they will have. So therein lies a choice: pick between age or genre when advertising. My strongest advice is to pick the one that will offer you the highest potential readership. How will you know? Market trends! We’ll cover that one next.


Stats are the most important and most ignored tool available on advertising and social media sites around the world. I can’t blame people. They’re a line on a graph or bars going upwards at best. Maybe some numbers underneath. At the same time, these can become your saving grace if you keep an eye on them. If they’re low to non existent, chances are it isn’t that your webcomic is bad, it’s that there’s something ineffective about the ad. Or perhaps the chosen advertising location is a poor one. Fluctuating numbers depending on the day mean that certain days draw more people than others. On average, weekends are actually a poor choice to advertise since people are busy doing other things. The best day? Monday! People are most likely to slack off at work and check the internet at the beginning of the week! Top Tip: Keep an eye on your click throughs! You can get more if you use well placed Ad Words on your shiny graphics!


This is a hard habit to break. Even I didn’t want to do this. I mentally grumbled. I sighed. I rolled my eyes. We all want to advertise on each other’s sites and on social media exclusively, and I do understand the personal appeal to it as an idea. Growth, however, dictates that we do otherwise. Sites such as Project Wonderful have categories like: Art, Books, Film, Games, etc. It’s a good place to start to get your feet wet. Alternatively, place ads in online magazines and newspapers if you have the funds for it (which not all of us do, and that is quite fair). Other free methods can include taking a physical advertisement for your comic to game and comic shops in your local area and posting it up on their advertisement board. Or even utilizing multimedia. Streaming art has found huge success and YouTube is a great place for that. Or Twitter’s Periscope. Top Tip: I’ve had the best success with Periscope! The viewers on there come from all walks of life AND they love to comment, interact and give you lots of likes. It will also stream direct to your Twitter feed!


Social media is a long haul commitment. This method requires forging bonds with people. Those bonds are worth it, however, and your readership coming out of this method will be the most loyal. The more time you put into something, the more you get out of it. Out of all of them, I’ve found Twitter to be the most effective with Tumblr coming in as a far back second if you use the hashtag system to its most effective abilities. That said, I could write a full article alone on how to use Tumblr hashtags in order to get noticed. Twitter is easier and provides the opportunity to interact with readers on the fly. Use your social media to advertise updates, talk about WIPs, post art streams and just be a generally nice person! It also doesn’t hurt to do a little promotional event once in a while. Top Tip: Do a contest! Have folks like and share your comic to be entered to win a little something! An online gift card, some art, etc.!


Advertising as a whole is a long term job. It goes hand in hand with making your comic and should be part of the process. Success at advertising won’t come overnight. Persistence is the key to this endeavor and there’s actually a logical reason for that! On a website advertisements are second to the content. That is a known fact in the industry. Readers will skim them at first glance and without a second thought. Because of that, one time or even twice is not enough. Repeated showings are the key to easing potential ‘customers’ into noticing your product. It’s the same as when a brand promotes to you on a social media site based on your online purchasing history. You see the ad several times. Over time it wears you down and sticks in your head, doesn’t it? You contemplate the product, or at least remember it. Our goal here is ultimately the same. We want people to remember webcomics in the same way as we all remember product ads. We want people to have our comics come to mind when they think of specific things. Persistence and persuasion are powerful tools.

In conclusion, let’s summarize everything you’ve learned today:
Ad Words: Short, powerful words made to excite and persuade.
One Not Both: Pick an age range or genre when advertising. Don’t use both.
Follow Your Stats: Stats and trends are important! Monday is the best day to advertise.
Other Methods: Use places other than comic sites to advertise on. Stream art. Use physical advertising.
Social Media: Slow and strong. Use it for contests to promote your comic!
Don’t Stop: Persistence is the key! Persuasion is powerful.

Right then! Get out there and put what you’ve learned into practice! Don’t be scared to experiment. Advertising is half figuring out trends and half keeping up with the actions themselves. Experimentation will be the best teacher in this field. On the other hand, I’m also available on Twitter to answer any questions you may have!

Twitter: @ServerPanda , @InkUnder


Stock images are from

Monday, March 12, 2018

Creating Stickers with Cricut for Fun and Profit

Hello again! I'm Kabocha, taking up your valuable time here on Becca's blog.

Let's say you're looking at doing a convention, and you need some inexpensive merch. You decide to make stickers, because that's fun and popular!

You don't want to ship it off to a third party manufacturer because then you have to really worry about shipping deadlines or print time, or their pricing if you have to reorder.

Sounds like you might want a die cutting machine! The initial cost is high, but once you have it, you're really only paying for replacement parts here and there!

Full disclosure: The only die cutter I've used is the Cricut Explore Air 2 - so I can't speak to how you would go about this process using a Silhouette or other machine.


First and foremost, you're gonna need some supplies to get started. I'm going to throw my personal recommendations at you. Feel free to change up things as you want.

Canon Pixma TS6120
I strongly suggest an inkjet printer. Toner printers are expensive, and their color accuracy isn't too great. The Pixma met my requirements for stickers and a variety of other things, without being an irritating device to maintain.

Printable Sticker Paper
Don't buy the Cricut paper. It's overpriced for the quantity you get -- and the Online Labels paper is actually quite good!

Duck Peel N' Stick Laminate
Yes, I realize this is sold with shelf liner. It's acid free and should last a good while. It's easy to cut through! Alternatively, You can pick this up at Wal-Mart or someplace similar for under $6 with sales tax.

Other types of laminate (such as holographic) can sometimes be found at your local craft store, or online. I don't recommend buying through Alibaba unless you're ready to deal with that.

Die Cutter:
Cricut Explore Air 2
This is the expensive part. But lemme tell you, this thing is kind of nice. You'll want to get a few add-ons for it to make your life easier, though:
Spatula and Scraper
Spare Standard Grip Cutting Mat
Spare Fine-Point Blade

Other supplies:
  • Scissors
  • Guillotine Cutter (optional)
  • White vinegar (for removing adhesive from blades)
  • Photo editing software

Preparing your Files

So, you have all the things you need to make stickers?  OK, good.

Let's say you have a super cute illustration ready, and it's been set up at the size you want.  For stickers, I typically go no larger than 3 inches x 3 inches at 300DPI -- so that means the max dimensions should be 900px in both directions, including any borders you have on the edge of the image.

If my image file's a little larger - that's fine.  I'll usually resize the largest side down to about 2.9 inches (~870px).

After that, I change the canvas size to add on extra space and add on a 25px white border to the image.

The white border is necessary to make sure the Cricut doesn't destroy my illustration when cutting.

Since I usually add the border as a layer effect, I then merge the layer with the border down onto an empty layer, and manually smooth out the white border for an easier cut.

You can see how the image was smoothed out.

I then crop the image to fit with its actual size and note what the dimensions are.
After this, I export the image with transparency so I can import it to the Design Space.

We know the actual dimensions will end up being a max height of 3.067 inches.

Preparing to Cut

The Cricut Design space is pretty simple.  If you have a Cricut machine, you can use it at

I am assuming your Cricut is connected to your computer, but that you have not used the Design Space.  First-time users will be prompted to download the Cricut Bridge software.

When you get into the Design Space, open up a New Project.

Once a new project canvas is opened, click Upload to upload your file.

The upload screen is pretty straightforward -- you can upload your own images to use for free, which is exactly what we're doing.

When you upload your image, you'll be presented with a few options.  For simplicity's sake, choose "Complex" and hit Continue.

Unless you made a mistake when exporting your image, you don't need to mess with Select & Erase.

Hit Continue again.

On the last screen, you'll have options as to what kind of image you'll be using, and what you want to name it.

Since you uploaded something you want to make into stickers, save this as a Print then Cut image. Consider adding some tags, too, just to save yourself trouble.

Once you've got that all done, hit Save.

You'll be taken back to the upload screen, where you can insert your recently uploaded images.

Click on your desired sticker(s) to select it, and then click Insert Images.

Here's why we needed to know the dimensions of the sticker before.

The Cricut Design Space doesn't recognize that you might have set a specific resolution for your image.
This is mildly annoying, but workable.

Select your image on the canvas, and change the size to match what you expected it to be.  (Otherwise, you're going to have some monstrously large images.)

Resized, it looks MUCH better!

If you're only doing one sticker, click Make It in the top right corner.

If you're adding other stickers, follow the same process to upload them.  If you're going to do sheets of the same sticker, duplicate it.

From past experience, I know I can fit about six 3inch stickers on a sheet of 8.5 x 11 sticker paper -- sometimes I can fit as many as 9.

When you click Make It, you'll get a preview of your print output so you can decide if you want to fit more images on the same sheet of paper.  Cricut ONLY handles 8.5 x 11 Print then cut projects, for reference.

The Design Space will automatically adjust your images for the best fit with the paper you've given it.

If it all looks good, hit "Continue" and load your paper into the printer.

When you send your file to the printer, you can adjust your settings using 'Advanced' (I suggest doing this) -- here's my settings for my Pixma.


Unfortunately, you'll need to do this EVERY TIME YOU PRINT. (Unless you set it as a default setting, but... ugh.)

Applying your Laminate


Now that your images are printed, you'll need to apply the laminate.  Notice how there's a black border around the space the images occupy -- this is the bounding box the Cricut uses to determine where to cut.

Figure out how wide and how tall that is -- you want your laminate to stay within these borders, but not overlap onto them.

Why?  The Cricut scans these borders.  If there's laminate on top of it, you may get an inaccurate cut due to the reflective nature of the material.

To keep it inside the borders, we'll cut a chunk of laminate approximately 7 inches wide by 8 3/4 inches tall.

Once I have my laminate cut, I start applying it by peeling a corner and placing it in a corner of my paper.  Then, I very carefully peel, making sure to run my hand over the areas the laminate will now lay as I peel.  This helps prevent bubbles.  This video also goes over a similar process, burnishing while applying.

I typically lay the backing of the laminate over the area I just adhered it to, and run my scraper over the laminate after it's been applied to make sure everything is flat.

Once your laminate is applied, it's time to cut.


Cutting Your Stickers

If you've not used your Standard Grip mat before… You might want to roll a t-shirt over it or something because the adhesive is likely to destroy your paper.  Just de-stick the thing.

Now that you're good to go, put your stickers in the top corner.

Yes thank you, I know my mat is wrecked.  It still works.

Typically, I set my dial for these stickers to Poster Board or Poster Board+.

Why?  Because it applies the amount of pressure I need for die cut stickers.  I don't have any desire to do KISS cut designs, so die cut works for me.

Follow the instructions in design space and load your mat and blade.  Hit the "Go" button on your machine and let it do the magic.

Once you're done, unload your mat, remove your stickers (use your spatula if you so choose) and you're done!

After all this, bear in mind that every so often, you may need to clean your Cricut blade with a bit of vinegar to remove any adhesive residue.

If you liked this tutorial, check out the resources I have over at!
If you liked my art, maybe check out my comic at

Thursday, March 08, 2018

The Case for Waterbased

Illustration created with Pentel Brushpens in Strathmore 400 Series FIeld Watercolor Sketchbook

I've written a lot about alcohol markers over the years.  I've reviewed dozens of brands, done numerous field tests, and for awhile, firmly proclaimed alcohol to be the king of markers.  And while I still love Copic markers, Prismacolor markers, Shin Han, and Blick Studio Markers, my recent foray into writing about all things watercolor has given me a new appreciation for the right kind of waterbased marker.

Because the right marker, the right brush, can make all the difference.

Illustration created with Winsor and Newton watercolor markers

Oh I get it, waterbased has gotten a bad rap, and I've contributed to that.  And sure, when waterbased pretty much meant Crayola and other firm tipped markers with anemic inkflow, it's easy to see how alcohol markers, with soft foam rubber brushes and almost infinite blending capacity was the hands down winner.

But things change, artists and crafters innovate and experiment.  And we end up with waterbased markers that turn the table on the old marker showdown.

Today I'm going to share a few of my favorite waterbased markers with you guys and explain why waterbased might be a great fit for your studio or collection.

Pentel Brushpen Illustration in Canson XL Mixed Media Sketchbook

If this post seems like your jam, please take a moment to visit my Patreon and consider joining the Artnerd community!  It's thanks to the generosity and support of my Artnerds that I'm able to create content like this!

The Ink Inside:

Both waterbased markers (for the most part, with one exception) and alcohol based markers (again, one exception) utilize dyes for bright, brilliant color.  Dyes are colorful, beautiful, and very much NOT lightfast.  If you're looking for markers for art that will stand the test of time and sunlight, Winsor and Newton has one contender in each arena- their Pigment based Watercolor Markers, and their Pigment Markers (ethanol markers).  Both are guaranteed to be lightfast up to 100 years.  Generally, regardless of your marker's base (alcohol, water, or water/glycerin solution) your colors will shift and fade over time.  Alcohol is non-archival, and glycerin (commonly used in waterbased markers) yellows.

Pentel brushpens for watercolor
Pentel Brushpens in Canson XL Mixed Media Sketchbook

Exceptional Exceptions:

In this post, I am not considering Pitt Pens to be 'waterbased markers' although, in truth, they are, and the big brush markers are most certainly used as markers.  Pitt Pens come in a variety of vibrant colors, utilize India ink, are permanent once dry, and can be challenging to use for watercolor effects.  You can read the full review here- I find these to be enjoyable markers and well worth investigating, but dont wish to shoehorn them into the confines of this post.

In this post I am also glossing over Winsor and Newton Pigment Markers.  These are interesting markers- the only pigment based alcohol markers I've ever come across, but they are not compatible with other alcohol markers (in that they won't blend with other markers- they're ethanol based, but they could be used mixed media).    You can read the review for those here.

Illustration created with Jane Davenport Mermaid Markers

The Markers:

Waterbased markers have considerable body variety.  You have brushpen bodies with nylon bristles such as Pentel Brushpens and Jane Davenport Mermaid Markers, marker bodies with dual tips (very similar to many popular alcohol markers) such as Aqua by Spectrum Noir and Winsor and Newton Watercolor Markers, and single tipped markers such as Ecoline watercolor markers (foam rubber tip in a body very similar to a Crayola).

There's a huge range of brush options as well- compressed fiber such as Aqua by Spectrum and Winsor Newton, foam rubber like Kuretake Art and Graphic Twin and Ecoline, nylon bristles such as Kuretake Clean Color Real Brush, Pentel Brushpens, and Mermaid Markers.

Alcohol markers are a bit more standard- they tend to come dual-tipped (brush and bullet, or bullet and chisel being the most common options) with either compressed fiber brushes or foam rubber brushes.  Occasionally fine point is an option (old Prismacolors had a super fine point with a lovely tri point chisel).  You will never see nylon bristles on an alcohol marker, because alcohol degrades nylon (so please DON'T fill waterbrushes with Ranger Adirondack or Copic Various alcohol inks!)

Succulent illustration created with Zig Clean Color Real Brush Markers


Most waterbased markers are intended to be disposed of once empty, but there are a few standout exceptions.  Ecoline markers can be refilled with the corresponding Ecoline liquid watercolor (both are dye based), Mermaid Markers can be rinsed out and filled with the ink of your choice (no refills are available at this time), Pentel Brushpens do have refills available, but these can also be rinsed out and refilled with the ink of your choice.

You can make your own waterbased markers at home very simply- fill a clean waterbrush with water+a dye (fountain pen ink, DR Ph Martin's Radiant Watercolors, or even homemade dye!) at a water to dye ratio that works for your needs.

Many of the popular alcohol marker brands do offer refill inks (Copic, Kuretake, ShinHan), although finding those refills may be difficult.  You can also purchase empty Copic markers and fill with the ink of your choice (I love using Ranger and Pinata alcohol inks).  Copic also has various replacement brushes so you can create a system that works for you.

And while many have tried successfully to create homemade alcohol markers from various dyes+rubbing alcohol/blender solution, the only attempt I've seen that worked over time utilized empty Crayola markers and the Crayola marker system.

Illustration created with Zig Clean Color Real Brush Markers

Watercolor Effects:

With most brands of waterbased markers, even many Crayola products, watercolor effects are easy- just add water using a waterbrush!

You can achieve watercolor effects with alcohol markers by brute forcing a couple options.  You can either oversaturate your paper to get the blends you desire (losing control, and difficult to replicate layer after layer), or you can use a brush to apply rubbing alcohol or blending solution to either your markers or an alcohol ink palette.  Keep in mind that alcohol dissolves nylon bristles eventually, so us a cheap brush!

Illustration created with Winsor and Newton Pigment Markers


With juicy waterbased watercolor markers like Jane Davenport Mermaid Marker's, or Pentels colorful brushpens, your paper stays damp longer and allows for beautiful blends of bright color without paper abrasion.

Although alcohol marker enthusiasts may claim ANY alcohol marker will blend, some blend better than others.  I've found markers with juicy chisel nibs or brush nibs blend the best.  Inkflow is key to preventing streaky applications!

I avoid using blender markers when possible for my art- option to blend out with a lighter color from the same family, regardless of marker composition.  However, there are blender markers available for both alcohol markers and waterbased markers, if you know where to look.

Alcohol Marker Blenders:
Copic Sketch Blender
Copic Ciao Blender
Prismacolor Blender
Blick Studio Brush Blender

Waterbased Marker Blenders:
Waterbrush with water
Ecoline Blender Marker (highest recommended, as the brush is foam rubber, and won't abraid your paper)
Sakura Koi
Tombow ABT Blender

Solvent for most alcohol based markers:
Alcohol (isopropyl alcohol will work)

Solvent for waterbased markers:
Water+gylcerine (water will work)

Note: These are not cross compatibile

Illustration created with Spectrum Aqua markers


On absorbent papers, waterbased and alcohol based markers will both leave streaks upon initial application, unless you're using a particularly juicy waterbased marker such as Pentel Brushpens or Mermaid Markers.  Most markers require a couple layers, or a blending solution (water for waterbased, rubbing alcohol or blending solution for alcohol markers) for a streak free application on most papers.

For streak free application, both alcohol markers and waterbased markers benefit from papers with a coating- vellum and Yupo are both interesting if challenging substrates. 

Illustration created with Kuretake Art and Graphic Twin markers

Wet Over Dry:

When paper gets pills, it's due to excess moisture in the paper combined with the abrasion of applying a new layer.  You may have noticed this playing around with Crayola Markers as a kid- it's hard to get layers of color without ruining your paper.

In this area, you want to be careful about your waterbased markers.  I've found markers with soft tips, such as foam rubber (Kuretake Art and Graphic Twin) or nylon bristols (Kuretake Clean Color Real Brush, Neopiko 4, Pentel Brushpens, Jane Davenport Mermaid Markers) work well for layering color, especially if you use something resilient and absorbent such as watercolor paper or mixed media paper.

Alcohol markers generally work quite well wet over dry, regardless of paper and brush type because alcohol evaporates almost immediately.

Illustration created with Ranger Distrss markers


Either marker type will reactivate if its solvent is applied- for alcohol markers, that's something with an alcohol base, for waterbased markers, that's anything containing water, and often alcohol as well.  This is what makes both marker-types so blendable, but it's also what makes waterbased marker art susceptible to almost anything- damp hands, stray flicks of water, a spilled cup of tea.

In my experience, waterbased markers are more reactive than alcohol based markers, and may be quite difficult to control, especially the juicier markers.  I found Ecoline and Winsor Newton watercolor markers to be some of the easiest to control, as well as Crayola Signature Blend and Shade markers and Crayola Supertip markers (dryer inkflow=easier to control).

Winsor and Newton pigment watercolor markers are about as reactive as actual pan and tube watercolors, and reactivity will vary with the pigment used.

MozArt watercolor markers
Hydrangea created with MozArt watercolor markers

Recommended Waterbased Markers and Uses:

Crayola Supertips
Great for: Cheap watercolor markers
Crayola Supertips Watercolor Hack
Crayola Supertip Super Tutorial
Crayola Supertip Tutorial: Making Monochrome
Get Your Own

Jane Davenport Mermaid Markers (original 12)
Great for: Loose, fun, vibrant watercolor effects
Get Your Own

Kuretake Clean Color Real Brush
Great For: These are a suitable alcohol marker replacement if you work small- very blendable, lovely color, can be used with water or blended color into color if you work quickly.
Colored Leads and Clean Color Markers Tutorial
Succulent with Zig Clean Color Real Brush
Monochromatic Magic with Colored Leads and Zig Clean Color Real Brush
Get Your Own

Zig Art and Graphic Twin Markers
Great For:  Large, juicy foam rubber brush is less likely to abraid paper surface.  Great for handlettering and marker techniques on coated papers.
Get Your Own

Ecoline Watercolor Markers
Great For:  Vibrant, dye based watercolor markers that have compatible liquid watercolor inks.  Refillable!
Get Your Own

Winsor and Newton Pigment Markers
Great for: Best use is for travel watercolor illustrations, or adding intense spot color.  These are the only pigment based waterbased markers on the market.
Get Your Own

I hope my enthusiasm for waterbased markers has sparked your imagination and perhaps inspired you to try a few of the brands I've recommended to find your best fit!

If you enjoyed this post, or found it helpful, please consider joining the Artnerd community on Patreon!

Monday, March 05, 2018

Japantrip 2018

Hey friends and Artnerds!  On Wednesday, March 7th, I fly out of the country to visit Japan!  I'm going to be visiting Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, and I'm sharing my adventures with my Patrons.  I'm super excited for this trip, and while I'm looking forward to enjoying food, fun, and culture, I still have content scheduled for while I'm away. I have some great guest posts planned, some awesome videos lined up, and great stuff for my Artnerds, so if you want to see how the adventure unfolds, join me for March on Patreon!

:flag_jp:Going to Japan! Osaka•Kyoto•Tokyo:flag_jp:

I'm returning on the 22nd, and from there I'll decide what remains a Backer Exclusive, what I'll share with the public, and what's going to be edited into a recap, so don't miss a minute of the fun, join today!

I plan on having Vlogs, Shopping Hauls, a Japantrip Sketchbook, and Japanese stationary and treat giveaways for Artnerds on Patreon when I return, so I hope you guys can feel even a little as excited as I do!

Artnerds and Patrons, since you're already part of the community, fear not, I'm going to upload and schedule things so that you can watch and read at your own pace.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Lightfast Testing Fundraising Proposal

For years, you've asked me to do across the board lightfast tests on frequently fugitive art supplies.  For years, I've said I'd like to, but demurred- it's a huge amount of time, space, and resources that I can't afford to spend pro bono.  For a year, I've had a little known goal on my Patreon- Lightfast Tests, at the $500 a month community goal.

This year, I've tested out so many art supplies- particularly watercolor supplies, spanning the gamut from Obviously for Kids to Claims to be Professional but Is It? to Actually Professional and Nice.   Throughout the year, I've had some serious doubts regarding the archivability and lightfastness of many of the supplies I've tested,

My Plan:

I plan to do massive lightfast tests (spanning at least a year) across several popular traditional media resources.  I intend to set up a light box, and scan the swatches before and after, and share these resources to either a Patron only resource, or a public resource (depending on what my Patrons vote for)

"A giant color-fastness test on all the marker brands currently available- watercolor, waterbased, alcohol, and any weird thing I might encounter.  Will be updated as new materials come out.  I will even get super fancy and make a downloadable infographic for you guys that includes what the brand promises and the actual experienced lightfastness. I will share the results to a public Tumblr account for the purpose, as well as on Nattosoup Art and Process Blog." 

But to do this, I'm going to need your help.

What I Want to Test:

Stage 1: Alcohol markers from the most popular brands- Copic, Prismacolor, Shin Han, Blick, Chartpak- skintones, fluorescents, and primaries
Stage 2: Watercolor swatches from popular professional brands- Mijello Mission Gold, Daniel Smith, Stage 3: Winsor and Newton, Holbein, and the DS Primatek Colors
Watercolor Swatches from Student and Hobbyist Brands- Lukas, Cotman, Van Gogh, Kuretake Gansai Tambi, Prima Marketing Watercolor Confections, Jane Davenport Petite Palettes
Stage 4: Winsor and Newton Pigment Markers, Winsor and Newton Watercolor Markers (Pigment Based)
Stage 5: Dye based watercolor markers such as Ecoline, Spectrum Aqua, Mermaid Markers
Stage 6: Liquid watercolors such as Blick Liquid watercolors, PH Martin's Radient Watercolors, Hydrus (pigment based)
Stage 7: Children's art supplies (for posterity) such as Crayola washable markers, Crayola Crayons, Crayola watercolors, and Crayola color pencils
Stage 8: Watercolor Pencils such as Derwent Inktense, Supracolor II
Stage 9: Color Pencils such as Prismacolor, Caran D'Ache Pablo, Faber Castel Polychromos, Crayola Signature, Crayola, Derwent Coloursoft
Stage 10: Sharpies, Bic Mark Its, Sharpie Pens, highlighters and other office supplies
Stage 11: Fountain Pen Inks

What I Have:

Epson Large format professional grade scanner
Canoscan Slide Scanner (great for scanning watercolor)
Bristol board
Sketchbook paper
Tracing Paper
Photo Paper
Cellulose watercolor paper
Cotton Rag watercolor paper
All of the art supply products mentioned above
Natural daylight lamps

What I Want to Buy: 

Large weatherproof clear plastic box(es)
Humidity gauge

What I want to do:

Set up a lightfast testing box (or multiple, depending on demand) outside, and allow the sun to do it's thing.  Should conditions get too humid, or the paper show signs of deterioration, I will conduct the tests inside, using daylight lamps.

I plan on checking the boxes monthly for changes in color quality, and if there's a significant change, scanning and updating the information.  If there is no significant change, updates will be posted every six months.

Pros of Sunlight:
Actual sunlight
I have space on my porch for multiple boxes

Pros of Natural Light Lamps:
Consistent lighting regardless of weather

What does this mean?

If my total (all Patrons combined) raised at the end of the month is $500, I will begin working on this project.  Once I begin, I will create tests for all materials within a stage, and every month we're at the $500 goal, I will start a new stage.  Six months in, I'll check the progress of the light test, and update my Patrons and the Tumblr with new swatches.  One year in, I will check again, do the same, and we can go from there.

So as long as we're at $500, I will continue to add new tests to the roster, and keep the information updated.  Once we're under $500, I will make sure everything is up to date, and halt new tests.

Why does this cost so much?

An ongoing lightfast test of this scale takes a massive amount of time, dedication, space, resources, and art supplies.  I plan on scanning before the light test, allowing the products to sit in the box for up to a year, and then scan again to compare the swatches.  This is valuable information, and such tests would provide first hand, user experience proof of product claims.

Right now, we're at $161 a month- not bad at all!  That $161 goes towards this blog AND the Youtube channel- purchasing materials to review, the supplies needed (such as paper), and paying for guest posts.    You can check out this post to see all the great things the Artnerds helped me do in 2017!

What I Need From You:

Your support on Patreon!  It can be just as little as $2 a month- every little bit helps!  My Artnerds receive all sorts of great goodies, from early access art tutorial videos to free mini comics and art resources, and this would be one more amazing goodie to enjoy!  I'm going to share behind the scenes setup and prep videos for these swatches, so if you want an insider sneak peek, you're going to have to join the club!

All that said, maybe Patreon doesn't work for you!  That's why, as I gear up, I have this handy poll to see if perhaps Kickstarter would be a better fit.

Swimming Pool Mermaids- A Watercolor Process

In hopes of finding more work as a children's book illustrator and kid friendly comic artist, I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators in 2016.   

The Midsouth chapter has their conference in September, which includes contests for both writers and illustrators.   I decided to throw my hat into the ring, but as a comic artist (not an official option) rather than as an illustrator, since comics are my passion and the area I'd like to find paying work within. 

We were given a prompt to work from, something along the lines of Corky closed his eyes, and when he opened them, he was surprised by what he saw (I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist), and after brainstorming, I decided to spin the prompt as a Mermaid in a Swimming Pool story.

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Since this was my first SCBWI, and my debut into the Nashville kidlit illustration scene, I really wanted to give it my best shot.

For me, this of course means doing an underwater scene (which I've never really done before) with bright, fun, saturated colors that hinged around Mijello's Marine Blue (a color I'd never used before), with floating effects that really captured the feeling of plunging underwater.

Materials Used:
Canson Moulin du Roy 140lb cottonrag watercolor paper
Mijello and Winsor and Newton watercolor paints

Roughs for Swimming Pool Mermaids 

Pencils for Swimming Pool Mermaids 

Stretching the Spread 

Creating An Underwater Mood

Main color used:
Mijello Mission Gold Marine Blue 

Step 1:  Apply all over wash of Marine Blue to relevant panels
Step 2:  After wash dries, begin building up layers of under painting in same color.

Begin developing background color and 'wave' effect (more successful on pool bottom)

Developing local color:

Once undertone has been established, its time to begin filling in local color.

Begin Rendering Skintones: 

Building Up Details

Finishing Touches: 

By applying Marine Blue as a toning wash, I was able to achieve an under-water pool effect without running too high a risk.  Had I applied the Marine Blue as a glaze after the initial local colors were applied, I ran the risk of a muddy painting- the underglaze helped preserve the brilliance of the colors used.

Unfortunately, my piece did not place, but it was fun to paint, and I am still proud of how it turned out.  I learned so much while completing this piece, I'm happy I took the time to design and paint it.

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