Thursday, April 19, 2018

All About Brusho- Watercolor Basics

Brusho is one of my favorite hidden watercolor gems.  Mainly marketed at crafters in the US, these dye-based watercolors arrive in powdered form, and are highly water reactive.  Every 'color' is really a myriad of tones, and some colors, such as black and gray, contain reds, oranges, and blues.  Utilized with a light hand and discretion, Brusho can add a lot of life to your watercolor process.

Brusho is made by Colourcraft, a company located in Sheffield, England.  They make and distribute a variety of art and craft products including materials for printmaking, fabric art, sketching, and art educational books.  They carry brands such as Golden Artist Colors, Liquitex, Gelli plates, and Koh-i-noor as well.

There are a number of powdered, dye based watercolor products on the market besides Brusho-Ken Oliver Colorburst and Magicals and Magicals Shakers are all products have properties similar to Brusho, and are used in a similar manner.  I only have experience with Brusho, but I have included reviews for the other products in the Second Opinions and Outside Resources section at the bottom of the post.

Brusho used for background in illustration
Colored lead, watercolor, and Brusho on Fluid EZ Block watercolor paper

The Stats:

  • 44 total colors
  • Four sets- the 8 Color Set (Yellow Ochre, Rose Red, Lime Green, Olive Green, Sandstone, Terracotta, and Burnt Sienna- all unique to the 8 color set), the 12 Color Set (Lemon, Yellow, Orange, Scarlet, Brilliant Red, Purple, Ultramarine, Leaf Green, Emerald Green, Turquoise, Dark Brown, and Black),  the 24 Color Set (Lemon, Yellow, Gamboge, Orange, Vermillion, Scarlet, Brilliant Red, Ostwald Red, Crimson, Cobalt Blue, Ostwald Blue, Ultramarine, Prussian Blue, Turquoise, Leaf Green, Emerald Green, Sea Green, Violet, Purple, Light Brown, Dark Brown, Grey, Black, and White), Spritzer Set (Sunburst Lemon, Orange, Alizarin Crimson, Violet, Turquoise, Sea Green)
  • Also available openstock from Dickblick, in 15gr pots for $4.89
  • Dye Based
  • Made in the UK

Where to Buy:
David's Art Supply (New Orleans)

Keep in mind:

Colourcraft claims that Brusho will hold up over time, but being dyebased, Brusho is not lightfast nor archival.  Please take adequate precautions to protect your work.

I love using Brusho to add vibrant splashes of color to my watercolor work.  Brusho dyes are vivid and intense, and make for fun backgrounds or light embellishment within individual panels.

Brusho Basics

Unbox and Swatch-Brusho for Splatter Effects on Watercolor Paper

Beautiful Color Blooms- Swatching Brusho

Handy Brusho Storage Hack

Materials Needed For Storage:

Salt Cellars
Mini Funnels (not shown, but hugely helpful)
Rice (to prevent clumping)

This is a fairly time consuming process, even with the recommended plastic funnels.  I recommend you fill the salt cellars halfway with something that will absorb moisture (I use rice in this instance, but you could use silica if it's large enough not to go through the holes) beforehand, and then apply the Brusho on top.  Eventually the two will get mixed, so you want something that won't effect the Brusho (rice has starch in it, which can cause blooming with water)

As you fill your salt cellars, it's helpful to label them with the color names.

Color Swatches: 

Gamboge, Crimson, Orange,
Brilliant Red, Ultramarine, Dark Brown
Black, Gray, Cobalt Blue
Scarlet, Sea Green

Light Brown, Ost Red, Ost Blue
Yellow, Vermillion, Violet Blue
Sea Green, Lemon, Emerald Green
Prussian Blue, Purple, Turquoise

Simple Brusho Tricks

Brusho can be a fantastic way to liven up backgrounds or planes of color.  There are numerous ways you can use Brusho in this manner:
  • Wet area beforehand (with mop), sprinkle on Brusho
  • Sprinle on Brusho, then wet with mop
  • Wet area beforehand (with spritzer), sprinkle on Brusho
  • Sprinkle on Brusho, then spritz with water

Brusho on Yupo Demonstration

Brusho Background Mini Tutorial

Brusho, Brusho for art

With this Garrus commission, I did not mask or preserve Garrus, I simply used the Brusho background as a base for his colors.

Brusho used for a portrait commission background

Brusho used for a portrait commission background

With this couple commission, I did reserve the figures (simply by not wetting or covering them with Brusho), but Brusho has a strong tendency to get everywhere.  Fortunately the faces were fairly clear of Brusho, so this wasn't much of an issue.

Brusho used for a portrait commission background

With this last commission, I used clear wax as a resist around the figure, creating a bit of a barrier between figure and Brusho.

Because Brusho is a water reactive dye, it may continue to reactivate as you paint.  I've found it helpful to 'fix' my Brusho- activate it with water, allow it to dry, brush away the excess, and then apply a wash of clean water to the area I've reserved to activate any residual Brusho.  Then, I quickly apply a clean paper towel to soak up water and hopefully some of the Brusho.  The reserved area may be tinted the color of Brusho, but at least there won't be any unpleasant surprises!

You can reserve areas in a few ways- using Masking Fluid, or using wax resist.

Simple Watercolor Tutorial Brusho and Masking Fluid

Lime Brusho Timelapse:

Mixed Berry Timelapse

Wax Resist Tutorial

Kara Colorburst

Wax Resist Hack

These techniques are a great start for using Brusho!

More Advanced Techniques

Among Brusho enthusiasts, there's a plethora of techniques for you to explore!  Below are just a few slightly more advanced techniques- none really require any special skills, but they may require more masking.  For even more tutorials, I recommend checking out my Outside Sources and Second Opinions sections!

A Garden of Color-Brusho Watercolor Demonstration

Brusho for Moss and Sky Tutorial

Tutorial: Using Brusho Watercolors with Alcohol Markers

With this illustration, I finished the marker component before masking that off, then applied the Brusho.

With Masking Frisket and water, seepage can occur, but it is fairly minimal if you don't repeatedly soak the paper, and can be corrected with Opaque White.

Brusho Gallery:

The Verdict:

I've used Brusho frequently in my art and illustration for over two years now, and can honestly say it's changed the way I work, and the quality of commissions I offer at conventions.  I love playing with Brusho, and introduce it frequently into my work.  That said, it can be messy, it has a tendency to get EVERYWHERE, and can sometimes be a challenge to control.  Even with its flaws, I think Brusho is a great addition to your studio or craft space, and encourage you to try it yourself!

Get Your Own:

This post was brought to you thanks to the generosity of my Artnerds on Patreon!

Their continued support and encouragement helps off-set the costs of purchasing supplies fo review, hiring guest writers, and paying a video editor.  If you enjoy content like this, and wish to help make it possible, please consider joining us on Patreon!  Pledges start at just $1 a month, and Artnerds gain early access to video content

Second Opinions and Outside Resources:

ColourCraft FAQ

Ginger Blue: Watercolor with Brusho Crystal Colors (Review, Color Chart, and Storage Idea)
Craft Test Dummies: Brusho Crystal Colors Review
Sandy Allnock: Getting Started: Watercolor Powders

Ken Bromley Art Supplies- Brusho
Brusho Secrets-Painting with Brusho
Brusho Crystal Colour Basics by Joggles
Brusho Watercolor Powders: Jennifer McGuire Ink
Color Burst Ken Oliver Crafts Review and Demo 2 paintings
Brusho Crystal Colors Powdered Water-Based Dye
Brusho Crystal Colors Reviw/Demo & DIY Comparison
Magicals vs Brusho vs Magical Shakers Comparison Maremi's Small Art

How to Paint with Brusho: Positive Trees Exercise
Basic Brusho Techniques- How to Use Colourcraft Brusho Crystals
Brusho Watercolor with Ward Jene Stroud
Brusho Ink Painting Demonstration Part 1
Brusho Woodland Demo
SAA Live- Brusho Demo with Anita Pounder
Brusho Techniques- How to Use Colourcraft Brusho Thickener
Brusho Techniques- Freestyle Wet-In-Wet Thickener Cockerel
Simple Techniques Using Brusho Crystal Colours
Brushos and Embossing-Cardmaking Tutorial
Brusho Techniqus Imaginary Sunset
Brusho Flowers- Concord & 9th Pretty Petals
Watercolor Flower Series #11: Paint a Brusho Garden
Brusho Landscape Painting Demo
Watercolor Powder Techniques
Faithbook #3: Brusho Grizzly Bear
Brusho Masking

Getting Started: Watercolor Powders 1, Brusho v Colorburst
Getting Started: Watercolor Powders 3, Labels and Swatches

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sparkle Supplies: An Overview by Kabocha

Hey friends!  Kabocha back, this time with a topic near and dear to my heart- sparkles and all that glitters!  Over the years, not only have I made sparkle-tastic brushes for use in Photoshop and CSP, but I've dabbled and doodled with glittery paints and pigments.

Everyone loves to add a little shine to their work, and it's no surprise that you, too, might wonder, "How can I get my work to sparkle in the sunlight?"
(Or maybe you don't. That's fine too.)

Now, before you start saying, "But Kabocha! You didn't include my favorite supplies!" -- this list is primarily from my own experience and research. When I work with traditional media, my primary supplies are watercolor and alcohol markers, with some papers.

I'm considering this a curated list, so this isn't going to contain everything under the sun. Just so you know. If there is further information, I'll include links for you to further explore.

So, without further ado...


✨✨ ✨✨✨
I regret using this. Haven't used Eh. It's okay. It definitely sparkles YES

Disclaimer: Ratings are subjective and are based on my experience, if applicable.  Some items might be included because they're on my wishlist or something.

Jump to...

Pens | Pigments & Powders | Mediums | Paints | Inks


Zig Wink of Stella

Rating:  ✨✨ (2 sparkles)
These pens are water and glycerin based. They're nice! I honestly wanted to love them.
I have a hard time getting them to feed, and then when I do get glitter to come out, they drip.  Maybe I just have crap hand strength from carpal tunnel, so when I apply some, I apply too much?
Either way, they're perfectly acceptable glitter content.

I swatched these in December 2017, and have observed no serious yellowing over time, unlike the next item I'll talk about.

Spectrum Noir Sparkle

Rating: ✨ (1 sparkle)
These are not archival safe.  These pens yellow. They glitter, but they're not great for something you intend to keep long-term.
I did swatches of them on some Union Square mixed media paper in early 2017 -- and after about 6 months, they started to yellow.
Why?  Glycerin, after time, just... yellows. It's part of how it breaks down in reaction to oxygen.  So, this is great for short term projects, or maybe mixed in with paint -- but on its own?

Uni Ball Signo Sparkling Glitter Gel Pens

Rating: ✱ (Haven't used)
So, in the interest in full disclosure: I've used the Uni Ball Signo Rainbow pens. Which were available in 2002/2003, if memory serves.  I still have my set, but my main complaint with them is that they clog.  A LOT.
Are the Sparkling pens different? Hell if I even know.  After my experience with the Rainbow pens (and other glittery gel pens), I'm not inclined to give them another chance.

Sakura Gelly Roll Pens

Rating: ✨✨✨ (3 sparkles)
I like these. I would recommend these.
Sakura's pens write pretty smoothly, and I've very rarely had any problems actually using them.  I tend to use these for writing notes to folks!
If you DO get these, store them point-down or on their side.  Just a warning.

atyou Spica

Set A | Set B
Rating: ✨✨ (2 sparkles)
I am indifferent to these.  Heresy, I know. The nibs are TINY, which is okay for detail work, but there's not anything larger!  They sparkle, they don't clog... But... I can't bring myself to care. The colors are all right, but if you try to layer them, you're going to bite into your paper a fair bit.
They are pigment based, and resist water pretty well.
As much as they were hyped, I feel like they're not as good as people made them seem.

Further reading: Guide to Metallic and Glitter Ink Pens and Markers (Jetpens)

Pigments & Powders

Pearl Ex Powder Pigments

 Rating: ✨✨✨ (3 sparkles)
There are smaller sets of this to buy, of course!  You can also get larger bottles of Pearl Ex pigments. (Pay attention and don't pick up the dyes if you're aiming for sparkly stuff!)
I've mixed the Pearl Ex pigments with Gum Arabic and water to create watercolors.  If you're looking to make  your own iridescent medium? I'd say use the Macropearl, which is more along the lines of the pigment size found in Winsor & Newton and DaVinci's' iridescent mediums.
The other colors are a little harder to mix, But overall work out decently.
Since this is a powder, you can mix it in with other types of media, such as acrylics or oils.

Sennelier Dry Pigments: Iridescent

Rating: ✱ (Haven't used)
Out of all their dry pigments, I really could only find one which was iridescent. Sennelier is, in general, a very expensive paint brand, but a little bit does go a long way...

Colourarte Pigments

Rating: ✱ (Haven't used)
 I... have no idea how good or bad these are, but the color variety alone is enough to make me want to test these.  They're mica-based, and look all right.

Holographic Nail Powder

 Rating: ✨✨✨ (3 sparkles)
Wait. What?  Why am I including Nail Powder?
This stuff, sparkles like you would NOT believe.  Also, you can mix it with gum arabic and create a suspension that can be applied to illustrations. I haven't tested this long-term to see how it holds up, but to be honest? It's cool for the short term effect!
I mixed this with Qor's watercolor medium.  The pigment does clump up a bit, so I suggest going for a light application.


Winsor & Newton Iridescent Medium

Rating: ✨✨✨ (3 Sparkles)
This was my introduction to sparkly art supplies. Before this, I'd expected that if you wanted anything to sparkle with your paints, you'd have to go for crafting supplies, or look in the children's section. Man, was I surprised when I saw A.C. Moore had this. So I bought it.
It mixes very well with watercolor and water-based materials, but I wouldn't recommend it for anything like acrylics.

DaVinci Iridescent Medium

Rating: ✨✨✨ (3 Sparkles)
I picked this up as a recommendation from my friend Sammi. This comes in a jar, rather than a bottle. It's... Kinda like sparkle goop. Highly effective sparkle goop.
I like working with it - since its got a higher viscosity than the Winsor and Newton medium, you can really pick it up with your brush and spread it around thickly if you need.

American Journey Iridescent Medium for Watercolors

Rating: ✱ (Haven't used)
From what I've heard, the American Journey line of art supplies is really quite good -- I just haven't had a chance or reason to buy from Cheap Joe's in a while.


Artist's Loft Fundamentals Pearlescent Watercolor Pan Set

Rating: ✗ (Nope.)
Honestly? I didn't like these at all. In my experience, these dried with kind of a chalky finish -- which I will wholly attribute to the base pigments having filler to them. Unfortunately, I don't personally have any swatches of these, but I do know someone who swatched them...

Finetec Coliro Metallic Paints

Rich Pearl Set
Rating: ✱ (Haven't used)
These paints look lovely, but I honestly haven't had a chance to play with them! I should get my hands on them, as they're highly recommended by Becca.

Also available openstock from Paper and Ink Arts.

Zig Kuretake Watercolor Palette

Rating: ✨✨ (2 Sparkles)
Firstly: These paints are super similar to the Jacquard Pearl Ex Watercolor CD set I picked up in 2012.  These are SMALL cases, but holy crap, they go a long way!
These paints are best layered over another color
The only reason these get 2 out of 3 sparkles is because of the size -- they're too small to pick up a lot for a wide wash (unless you're stubborn), but great for small details.  Would recommend picking up.

Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent Watercolor

Rating: ✨✨ (2 Sparkles)
You can find these all over at Michaels, A.C. Moore, and other craft stores!  They're not bad, especially for the price.  The paints are somewhat transparent, and also work very nicely on their own as opposed to layered on top of another color.

H20's by Colourarte - Shimmering Watercolors

Rating: ✱ (Haven't used)
Formerly: Twinkling H20's Shimmering
I used these in their circular jars back in 2012.  I was rather harsh on them -- when made wet, they didn't entirely dry, and stayed gummy for a long time. I also wasn't fond of how they separated when exposed to a lot of water.  They are extremely sparkly, and you get a lot of pigment with them.  They're re-releasing them as pans (and perhaps with a different formulation), so I must mark them as "untested" as I don't know how these changes will affect them.

Daniel Smith Luminescent Watercolors

Rating: ✨✨✨ (3 Sparkles)
These are GREAT.  The duochrome colors are some of my favorite -- their iridescence produces a color shift.  Many colors have a base pigment to go along with the mica sparkles (such as electric blue), but they do have plain interference colors.
My only complaint is sometimes, older tubes separate out into gum arabic and pigment, but... eh.
I would link Daniel Smith's site, but it is unbearably slow.

Turner Acryl Gouache

Rating: ✨✨ (2 Sparkles)
The colors you're looking for in Turner's line are the "Lamé" colors. These are acrylic based, so please don't go into this expecting that they will behave like watercolor. I've tested these by brushing them over marker and watercolor pieces -- they work very nicely! The glitter's a little big, though, so it feels slightly clumpy.  If you're an artist who uses acrylics or gouache, these will probably be quite pleasing.


This is a section which is very, very broad. There's probably too much for me to cover, so I need to stick to a few tried-and-true favorites. You can find more shimmery inks over at Goulet Pens, though!

J. Herbin Inks

1670 Anniversary Ink Series | 1798 Ink - Amethyste de L'Oural
Rating: ✨✨✨ (3 Sparkles)
I love these inks! They're great to work with, in any color. My favorites are the Ural Amethyst, Emerald of Chivor, and Cypress Carob. Several of the colors express shading characteristics as well as being shimmery, and are great for washes (as well as writing and drawing).

Diamine Shimmering Inks

Rating: ✨✨✨ (3 Sparkles)
There are a lot of colors of these inks -- and they either come with a gold or a silver sparkle, which you can tell based on the cap color. I enjoy playing with these, especially since most of the colors shade very nicely.

FW Pearlescent Acrylic Inks

Rating: ✨✨✨ (3 Sparkles)
These acrylic inks trend from sparkly/iridescent to more metallic, with pastel colors leaning towards sparkle.  Some colors, such as Birdwing Copper, include an interferance color note, making thm slightly iridescent.  These are acrylic, so while they can be mixed with other media, such as watercolor, once they're applied they're permanent.  (Note: Added by Becca)


If you're looking for digital supplies - I strongly suggest you check out my FREE Photoshop brushes. Because, y'know, I make sparkly things.
Alternatively, you can check out my webcomic, Linked.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Nashville Cherry Blossom 2018

This Saturday is Nashville's Cherry Blossom Festival, downtown at the Nashville Public Square!  The Festival is hosted by the Japan-America Society of Tennessee, Inc, and is part of Japan Week, which begins with MTAC and ends with the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Highlights include the Cherry Blossom Walk, activities for kids of all ages, suit sumo wrestling, the Pups in Pink Parade, and a cosplay contest, as well as vendors and artists selling all sorts of food and goods!

Due to the success of last year, I'm going to have a tent at the Festival!

Last Year's Setup (Look for something similar to this)

New this Year!

Handpainted handfans to keep you cool while the weather heats up!

Cherry Blossoms

Plum Blossoms
And I'll have one more design finished by Saturday!

I'll also have:

Copies of 1001 Knights, a lady knight anthology (Volume 3)
7" Kara
Lilliputian Living
Favorite Fictional Femmes
31 Days Under the Waves
Magical Girl March

Cute things!
Handpainted wooden charms
Mini prints

This is a free, all ages event open to the public, so if you're in the area, you should swing by!

For more information about the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival, check out their homepage.

Interactive Directions: 

Nashville Public Square is located at 4508 Price Circle Rd, Nashville, TN 37205

Monday, April 09, 2018

Blending, Layering, and Glazes for Pages- Watercolor Basics

The majority of time spent on a watercolor comic page is spent applying layers, blending, and applying glazes.  These three techniques are very simple to learn, and while they do take some practice to master, can yield impressive results with just a short amount of study.  Blending, layering, and glazing results can vary with the paper you use- for best results, I've found 100% cotton rag papers to be your best bet, but you can achiever fairly masterful results even on inexpensive cellulose papers.

We utilize these techniques in standalone illustrations as well as individual panels to develop interest, establish lighting, and build contrast.

The order of operations for best results on cellulose watercolor papers are:

  • Blending (wet into wet)
  • Layering (wet over dry)
  • Glazing (wet over dry, color over final layers)
In today's post, I have a selection of short tutorials that demonstrate these techniques.  If you would like to see any technique covered in more detail, either as a video or as a post, please let me know via the Contact Form on the left hand side of this blog.  The example comic pages are from Chapter 7 of 7" Kara.

The materials for blending, layering, and glazing are pretty straightforward

  • Clean Water
  • Soft Brushes
  • Paper towels or sponges


Illustration painted on Canson Heritage 140lb cotton rag cold press paper. 

Blending is a wet into wet technique that works best when the paper is damp and receptive, but not saturated.  Blending techniques can result in paper buckling if you're working with unstretched, unsecured paper.  For multiple layers of blended techniques, or larger scale blends, I recommend working with papers that are 140lb or heavier.

Quick Wet into Wet Watercolor Techniques:

Painting Seagrass- A Wet into Wet Painting Tutorial:

Painting a Starry Sky in Watercolor:


Illustration completed on Fluid 100 cottonrag paper.

Layering is a wet over dry technique that works best if the paper is dry before the next layer is applied.  If the paper no longer has a surface sheen and is not cool to the touch, it's dry enough to layer.  Even if the surface is somewhat cool to the touch, unless the paper is saturated from prior layers, you can probably layer.  Layering techniques work well on cellulose and cotton rag paper, and are a commonly used technique to develop depth, color, and volume.

The Eyes Have It- Blends and Layering in Watercolor:

Let's Paint a Succulent- Watercolor Tutorial

Negative Painting Demonstration:

Developing Lighting and Color Through Layering:

Basic Lighting and Contrast:

Basic Lighting and Contrast: Painting a Cube:

Basic Lighting and Contrast: Lighting a Sphere:

Basic Lighting and Contrast:  Lighting a Cone:

Basic Lighting and Contrast: Lighting a Cylinder:


This illustration was painted on Union Square Cold Press watercolor paper, a cellulose paper.

Glazing is used in a variety of ways.  From adding shadows to adjusting color to lighting effects, glazing can be a helpful technique to know, but it requires discretion.

For glazing, I recommend you use a very soft brush, such as a squirrel hair brush.  Stiffer bristle brushes, including synthetics, can disrupt prior layers of paint.  I also recommend only applying a single layer of glaze to an area, as colors can quickly become muddy.

Glazing tends to work best on cotton rag papers with a fair amount of surface texture, but can work well on cellulose papers if handled with care.

Glazing Demonstration- Watercolor Tutorial:

I hope these tutorials and examples have been helpful for learning the basics of my three favorite techniques!  If you guys would like to see any other techniques covered in depth, don't hesitate to chat me up on Twitter or email me!

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