Thursday, July 21, 2016

Watercolor Basics: Why Watercolor?


In our Introduction post, I showed you a little of watercolor work that inspired me, as well as a variety of my own watercolor work.   Over the years, one of the most common questions I'm asked regarding 7" Kara is "why watercolor"?  Although I love the look of watercolor, there are several other excellent reasons why I've opted to use watercolor as my medium of choice for comics.

I've also included a few reasons why watercolor may not work for you.  In both lists, I've tried to be as honest as possible, so you may make an informed decision before investing time, resources, and money to studying watercolor.

Why Watercolor?


A Translucent Media

Watercolor is translucent media with a few magical properties.   Due to its translucent nature, light bounces between the layers of watercolor and the paper, which makes watercolor seem to glow from within, a property not found in opaque media like acrylics or pastels.

Capable of Layering

One common theme throughout all of my color-based work is the use of multiple layers of color to build up tone and contrast.  Some media handle this application better than others- watercolor handles glazing and layering well if the right tools are used.  Of course, this can vary with the weather- very humid weather (like in Louisiana) means even high quality watercolors end up chalky on the paper, and may be prone to flaking off.

Cheaper than Markers
7" Kara Chapter 1 Cover- Copic Marker
Chapter 1 Cover 7" Kara, Watercolor
Variant covers for Chapter 1 of 7" Kara Volume 1.  Initial Post here



The start up costs for watercolor is fairly daunting- a decent set of paints (at least 6, more like 12, and really, the more you have the easier it is to crank out pages), a handful of good brushes (you really want to start with something decent, a squirrel-synthetic mix at least, ideally sable or kolinsky for your rounds), a few different watercolor papers and weights to experiment with, pans, a palette, palette wells, tape, it seems like the list is endless.

And while there ARE many, many accessories for watercolor, once you've got a basic set assembled, you can use those materials for a long time.  You can refill pans.  You can invest in a metal palette that will last you for years.  If you take care of your brushes, you won't need many, and they'll last a long time.

In the long run, watercolor is cheaper than Copic markers and accessories.  One pan of a often used color (yellow ochre, for example) tends to last me at least an entire chapter, whereas I would have to refill E000 every two pages. 

If I want to be even more economical, I can purchase a tube of color and portion it out in pans, really stretching my dollar, although tube colors are not formulated for repeated wetting and drying (I do it anyway)

Waterbased

Waterbased media usually make for easy clean up, and it limits my exposure to toxic chemicals.  Water is my main solvent, used for activating my paints, mixing my paints, cleaning my brushes, making corrections, cleaning my palettes.

This said, watercolor is NOT a non-toxic media- many of the paints utilize heavy metals or carcinogens as pigments.  Do not allow your animals to drink watercolor water, do not consume it yourself.  Please be careful when using watercolors, and do not allow young children to play with artist grade watercolors.

Fairly Forgiving

Watercolor is a comparatively forgiving media- you have many options for correction during and after painting.  While the paint is wet, you can lift it off with a paper towel or sop it off with a brush.  After the paint has dried, you can rewet it with clean water, and lift off some of the color with a paper towel.  Also after the paint has dried, you can scrub it off with a damp, stiff bristled brush.  After you have finished painting you can add details or highlights with watercolor or color pencils, or add pops of color with opaque watercolor or gouache.

Does Not Require Sealing

Many mediums require sealing for permanence or layering- color pencils, chalks, pastels, oils, some acrylics, some resins, all require sealing.  While I have nothing against sealing, I like being able to work for long stretches of time without having to get up and add another layer of sealant to the piece.

Can Be Painted in Batch







A very small batch (just two pages) of 7" Kara, Chapter 6, painted while in Louisiana last month.


I am not a patient person, as everyone who knows me can attest.  And as an impatient person, you might assume watercolors would not be a medium I'd enjoy painting with.  I've found though, that watercolors, especially watercolor comics or sequential pages, can be painted in batch.  Batch painting saves several resources- your time, your paints, your water, your energy.

Batch painting requires additional gatorboard, several pages ready at the same time (I like to paint entire scenes in batch), and the ability to think in batches.  Basically, when I stretch, I stretch all the boards in a batch.  When I apply washes, I apply all washes in a batch.  All skintones in a batch.  Every step is done in batch, until the final details, which are applied individually.

Working in batch allows me to work nearly continuously- as one layer is applied, another layer dries on a prior board.  It also allows me to produce pages fairly quickly, so long as I have large chunks of time I can work with.

A Traditional Medium

So many of my peers have taken their comic work to the digital realm, and while digital comics have much to offer, I still prefer holding the finished page in my hands.  Watercolor is very much a traditional media, with quirks and qualities that people work hard to emulate digitally. Although watercolor is intensely time consuming, I've learned a lot through my years of painting, and some lessons can't be taught digitally.  I've learned how and when to correct mistakes whether mistakes are even worth correcting and how to deal with mistakes that cannot be fixed.  I've learned how to scan my pages so that they still LOOK like watercolor, rather than mush, and I've learned that there are three distinctions in watercolor- watercolor (fine art), watercolor (illustration), watercolor (what I do), and that sometimes those distinctions are completely arbitrary.

Of course, watercolor does have a few negative traits that I should point out before I completely sell you on the virtues of watercolor.

Very Satisfying when Things Go Well

With all the things that can go wrong with watercolors, or all the disappointments a watercolor artist can face, when things do go well, there's something very satisfying about watercolors.  I love seeing a page transform from stark white with pencils to full rendered- it's almost hard to believe the page was ever white to begin with.  There's a lot of magic in how the pigments look on the paper, how light makes colors seem to glow, but it takes a lot of practice to summon this magic on command. 

Why Not Watercolor?


Requires A LOT of patience

I mentioned above that batch painting is my solution to the patience issue, but it isn't a perfect solution.  If you're the sort of person who likes to fidget or nitpick pieces, watercolor may be a poor medium for you.  Nitpicking quickly turns watercolor to mud.  Overworking due to impatience quickly turns watercolor to mud.  Sometimes watercolors just turn themselves to mud.

Results are often out of your hands

Weather plays a huge role in how your watercolors handle.  Too humid, and your paints never dry.  Too dry and your paints dry immediately, leaving streaking.  Quality papers help mitigate that, but for students using student grade to practice, this can be very frustrating.

I have flirted with the idea of purchasing a dehumidifier to regain some of that control, but I have yet to see definitive reviews from other muggy weather watercolorists to push me towards a decision.

Some mistakes cannot be fixed (at least, traditionally)

Although watercolor can be very forgiving, there is always a point where you need to put your brush/gouache/color pencils down and just step away, because you won't make the piece any better.

At this point, it's a great idea to step away for a few days, and consider revisiting the piece digitally, if you absolutely have to make corrections.  Often you'll find that you no longer feel the need to bend the piece to your will, and you're willing to learn from the mistakes you made and move on to the next piece.

Watercolor

Digital



People assume its digital until they see it in person

The plague of my life.  Because digital faux watercolors are very popular right now, people assume my traditional watercolor pages are digital.   Mentioning that my pages are traditional watercolor doesn't help- quite a few digital watercolorists claim traditional without the paint on paper to prove it.  This has proved annoying and difficult when applying to conventions- sometimes it takes a few follow up emails to express that I'm not selling prints, I'm selling originals, and yes, they are all actual pigments on paper. 

Not for everyone


Although there are a lot of positives to watercolor, it is definitely not for everyone.  Many of the people I've met who struggle with it are excellent at opaque media like acrylics, oils, and gouache, and have trouble thinking transparently.  I have difficulty thinking in opaque layers, and I'm terrible at acrylics and gouache.  If you really want to master watercolor, nothing I say will stop you (and I'm not trying to), I just want you to be aware that you may have more trouble learning watercolor than you had with other media.

Watercolor can be finicky- if you work in the wrong climate (hot, humid, very cold, dry), you may spend more energy forcing the media to your will, rather than working together to create something beautiful.

Extremely time consuming

Watercolors take a lot of time- time spent waiting on stretched pages to dry, time spent waiting for washes to dry, time spent waiting for shading to dry, time spent actively painting.   My method of painting is pretty time consuming- many many thin layers, allowed to dry before a new layer is added. 

When painting for the day, I usually work on a couple other tasks to stay sane- writing video descriptions, writing blog posts, promoting my blog or channel. 

Requires a lot of open space

Especially when painted in batch, I need a lot of room to paint.  I can't paint large (11"x14", or comic page size) pieces at my drafting table- there just isn't enough room for the piece, the gatorboard, my water cups, my palettes, and my paints to all comfortably fit.  I usually resort to painting on the floor, which opens me up to new issues- marauding cats, cat fur, the carpet eating into my legs, back problems- the whole gamut.  I've purchased an anti-fatigue mat to help with the pressure sitting on the floor put on my hips, and that helps a bit, and my cat is slowly learning that walking across fresh watercolors is no bueno.  Where you work, and how you set up, is up to you, and it may take a lot of experimentation to find a setup that suits you best.   While you learn, I highly recommend starting small.

Many publishers aren't open to full color publishing, or publishing watercolor


Watercolor can be tricky to print, requiring a lot of work on the artist's end to make sure the pages are digitized correctly.  You need to scan in a large format (600DPI), be knowledgeable in digital graphics programs to make corrections, and accept that even if you have these skills, some publishers just aren't willing to take the financial risk on an unknown.  Self publishing, at least for awhile, may be your only real option.

While I was at SCAD and just starting 7" Kara, I had handful of editors from a few comics publishers inform me that while they enjoyed my work, watercolor was just not feasible, as it didn't reproduce well.  I've seen a number of published watercolor comics published since then, so this may have changed.

Can be very discouraging

Because watercolors take up a LOT of time, and can take a long time to finish, naturally you want people to react to them when you share them.  Receiving no reaction at all can really sting.  Or sometimes you've spent a long time on something, only to have it turned pear shape and irreparable at the very end.  Either way, watercolors can be VERY discouraging.  If you take disappointment poorly, or can't handle failure, watercolors are not the media for you.



People tend to be strongly opinionated about watercolor comics




I get a lot of unsolicited commentary and critique on my watercolor pages, usually from people who should know better than to offer their opinion unasked in the manner that they're offering it.

Years ago, while at an Editor's Day event at SCAD, I received a scathing critique from an editor with whom I had previously had positive experiences.  He absolutely hated my watercolor, and spent the entire group review tearing me apart in front of the other students.  I left that review wrecked, walking straight into my next, where the editor loved it, and felt like watercolors were my selling point.

I've found that watercolor combined with my method of illustration tends to be an excellent gateway for parents who see comics as inferior to traditional childrens books.  My comics have many of the traits that are found in beloved children's books, which invites hesitant parents to flip through the portfolio, ask me questions, and sometimes even given 7" Kara Volume 1 a try in their households.

Cat ownership is a detriment

Cat hair in your paints.  Cats drinking poisonous watercolor water.  Cats knocking things over, cats walking over your pages.  If you work on the floor like I do, and have a studio cat, you're in for a world of annoyance.

You have a few options.  No cat in the studio (good luck with that).  Cat in the studio who gets yelled at all the time.  Cat in the studio who owns the studio, and you work around the cat  Mix and match to your preference and cat.

A lot of poor quality products touted as high quality supplies


Field test from my Angora watercolors review
Sometimes the only way you can find out if a paper or paint is right for YOU is through using it.  Although I have reviewed several products on this blog over the years, I don't generally review watercolors, because preference plays a huge rule.  HOW you watercolor will effect what watercolors you like.  Some people paint with the Artist's Loft set, I personally think that set is garbage.  Some people think painting with Winsor and Newton half pans is a waste of money, I've used them for years.  In the course of this series, I'll recommend some of my favorite products, but it's up to you to find things that really work for your art.

Requires a LOT of practice


Watercolor studies done over the course of a week, while I figure out how to best handle Strathmore's Visual Journal watercolor paper.

Watercolor can take weeks to learn, and even longer to master.   You have to be open to failure, open to experimentation, and open to spending a LOT Of time practicing.   You need to get over the fear of 'wasting' supplies with failed art, and many people can't do that.

My Chapter 1 pages look significantly different from my Chapter 6 pages because I've had years of practice, study, and improvement between the two.  Some artists and writers have balked at this inconsistency, but I welcome it.  These changes show growth, the capacity for change, and a desire for improvement.  Of course, this change has required a lot of work- there are almost 100 pages between Chapter 1 and Chapter 6, dozens of stand alone Kara illustrations, and many, many watercolor studies.


Want to see more of my watercolor work, and help support this blog?  Then please checkout 7" Kara, Volume 1, available through my online store and through GumRoad.  And after you've read it, please leave a review on GoodReads and Amazon- your good word really means a lot!  While you're at it, why not share this post (or maybe even a plug for7" Kara) on your tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter?  The social buttons are just below this post! Sharing means caring, and you would help this little blog out in a BIG way.  Not everyone learns through text, so if you'd like some multi with your media, please check out my YouTube channel for reviews, demonstrations, and tutorials.  And if you liked it all, and want todo more please visit my Patreon for information on how to financially support my art educational endeavors, insuring that I'm able to keep up the good work!

Monday, July 18, 2016

New SketchBook Downloads in Shop

Right before I left for Louisiana in June, I spent three weeks burning the midnight oil selecting, scanning, mastering, and laying out sketches.  The end result?  Two BRAND NEW, 2016 Sketchbooks, assembled at home by me with love (and some cursing) for your enjoyment.  I did so many field tests, demonstrations, and tutorials this year, I wanted to include some of the art generated from those, so there's a black and white sketchbook full of sketches, and a FULL COLOR (omg) sketchbook full of watercolors, markers, mixed media, and more.  Buy just one, buy both, or digitally give them to a friend, whatever you do, if you enjoy my work, you should CHECK THEM OUT.

I'll have physical copies available at Mechacon, Akaicon, Handmade and Bound, and NOCAZfest, so if you need it in the tree flesh, hit up me up there, or send me an email.

Black and White Sketchbook- Let Sleeping Cats Lie

Full Color Sketchbook- ...Or Else They'll Drink Your Watercolor Water

Saturday, July 16, 2016

June 2016 SketchBox Basic Vs SketchBox Premium

This joint review was made possible thanks to the generosity of my Patreon backers, and is a special feature.  I have no intention of regularly reviewing three art supply subscription boxes a month, as these reviews are very time consuming to research, record, and write, and take time and focus away from what I really love- making comics.  If you enjoy content like this, and would like to help fund more, please consider becoming a backer on Patreon, as those funds are used to offset the costs of running this blog.  This month's SketchBox Basic and SketchBox Premium boxes were purchased out of my own funds, and were in no way sponsored or donated by SketchBox.  All opinions are my own, based on 10+ years of artistic experience, 6+ years of art school, and 7+ years of reviewing art supplies.  Any questions can be sent to my email using the contact form to the left.

What, Another Joint Review?

I goofed.  SketchBox auto renews subscriptions, so you have to manually cancel, or else you'll be charged for another month.  I forgot this until late May- AFTER they'd already mailed the June Premium Box.  So to make the most of this little slip up, and to apologize for this much belated review, I'm doing another joint review this month.

Special Thanks to my May Backers

Ryan
C.Ellis
Andrew Benedict
Yolaine
Wayne Norris
Chris
Michael Suriano
Yusagi
Hoff
Entreat
Ella Dee
Lee
Ristro
Chandra

SketchBox Basic Vs. SketchBox Premium





SketchBox Basic Unboxing




SketchBox Basic Brands:

Pan Pastel
Sofft (Pan Pastel)
Uchida Marvy
Conte

The Price Breakdown

SketchBox June Basic- Pastel

Pan Pastels (2)
"This exclusive color pack is brought to you by a partnership between SketchBox and PanPastel"

List of online retailers (no listed MSRP)


$5.29 each at Jerry's Artarama
$5.45 each at DickBlick

Marvy LePen Brush
Pigmented Ink
Also available in .1, .05, .03, .8, .5, .3
Review via The Pen Addict

$1.59 at Jetpens  or DickBlick

Conte a Paris

$1.84 openstock on DickBlick
$5.99 on Amazon with Prime for 2

Sofft Art Sponge Set
These are REALLY similar to inexpensive makeup sponges sold at Walmart and Dollar Tree

Site does not list an MSRP, does have authorized dealers, I selected shops from that list.
$3.19 at Cheap Joes
$2.61 at DickBlick

Totals: 
High end total: $17.52
Low end* total: $16.62
Cost of Box: $25+ $5 US shipping


*Not counting bulk and wholesale rates.


Included in Both:

Pan Pastels
Sofft Blenders

Basic Box Exclusive:







SketchBox Premium Unboxing



SketchBox Premium Brands:

Pan Pastel
Sofft (Pan Pastel)
Faber-Castell

The Price Breakdown:

Pan Pastel 5 piece set with sample tools in bottom

Since this is an exclusive set for SketchBox Premium, I could not find an exact match, but I've selected the Painting Set of 5 as an analogue.

$20.59 on DickBlick

Sofft Art Sponge Set
These are REALLY similar to inexpensive makeup sponges sold at Walmart and Dollar Tree

Site does not list an MSRP, does have authorized dealers, I selected shops from that list.
$3.19 at Cheap Joes
$2.61 at DickBlick

Sofft Knife and Covers
$.7.86 on DickBlick

Faber Castell Pitt Pastel (black) Pastel Pencil
Set of three-black, white, gray, on Faber Castell Site $7.50
$1.62 on DickBlick

Pitt Artist Brush Pen (Black)
$3.60 on Faber Castell Site
$2.05 on DickBlick

Totals:

$37.71 high end,
$34.73 on low end
Premium Box: $35+$5 US shipping


Premium Box Exclusive:

Need photos of the extra pans and the extra goodies, pitt pen

The Materials Inside:

The Cards

Unfortunately I did not get photos of the cards this month, so please watch the included videos to not only see the art on the cards, but to hear me read the cards aloud!

Supplies Demonstrated:






Demonstration and waterfastness for the Pitt Pen (immediate application)


Waterfastness for Pitt and Marvy pens (immediate application of water)





Combined SketchBox Basic and SketchBox Premium Challenge

I opted to combine the goodies from both boxes to create my June SketchBox challenge.












Pan Pastels handle a LOT like makeup, so if you're already adept at applying your own or others, Pan Pastels might be a great medium for you to explore.  The Sofft sponges are so similar to makeup sponges that I introduced a few of my cheap Walmart spongesto the mix, to give me even more options to play with.  I don't really use pastels in my studio, as they're very messy and I have a cat, so I don't have a lot of additional tools and toys to add to the mix, but I feel very satisfied with the range of colors included in my Premium Box, and don't really feel the need to augment for this month's challenge.

Unlike the OIL pastels included in my April Creative Art Box, these pastels are more similar to chalk in consistency, especially the pastel pencils.  The Pan Pastels are dry but velvety.


If you do invest in Pan Pastels, I recommend you augment your Sofft blender collection with some cosmetic grade blenders.  I recommend:






Most of these are fairly inexpensive, and can be cleaned and reused very simply, so they'll last a fairly long time.  You can also hit up your Dollar Tree, Marshalls, or Walmart to see what they have in their cosmetics sections.

The Verdict

I really enjoyed this month's Basic and Premium boxes.  The Basic box is a bit light when it comes to price of materials vs cost of box (which seems like the trend for the Basic Box), but the Premium box really delivered the goodies.

This is the second month of SketchBox Premium where I felt the Basic Box's hefty pricetag subsidizes the Premium Box.  If you have $40 to spend each month on random art supplies, then the Premium Box may be the right pick for you, but for many artists $40 is a large chunk of change that could be better spent indulging at a real art supply store.

In the end, it really feels like SketchBox Basic AND Premium are geared more towards the art supply review market, or towards the subscription box unboxing cadre on YouTube, and not towards actual artists or hobbyists.  The Basic boxes are TOO basic, and the Premium boxes too expensive for most artists to be able to justify.  No matter how you dice it, blind box art supplies are a LUXURY, and most artists can't afford luxuries.

This is  my last SketchBox Basic Vs SketchBox Premium review.  If you would like me to continue this series, there are a number of ways we can make that happen.

  • Gift a Premium Subscription
  • Context SketchBox on my behalf, and request that they consider sponsoring a Premium Subscription
  • Become a Patron of my Patreon and leave me a message

Friday, July 15, 2016

Art Events and Scenes: Lean Into Art Guestspot


Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a podcast I have long enjoyed, Lean Into Art, hosted by Jerzy Drozd (Boulder and Fleet) and Rob Stenzinger (This Panda Needs You).  If you guys haven't checked it out yet, and you're into or interested in comics, comic making, or comic culture, I recommend you give it a go- there's a new episode every two weeks.  This week's episode was on whether or not you should create your own comic events, and how to go about doing so- a topic near and dear to my heart as I try to plant the seeds in Nashville and New Orleans.  I hope you guys enjoy this video- if you do, make sure you give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more Lean Into Art goodness!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

June 2016 ArtSnacks Vs SketchBox Basic

Thanks to Denise Hillburn (my mother) for the gift of ArtSnacks for the year!  SketchBox Basic subscription purchased by me out of personal funds.  If you would like to help support this blog, and continue posts like this, please consider donating to my Paypal, or contributing to my Patreon.  Future unboxings and reviews will be unlocked to the public at the $15 level each month, but backers have access regardless of funds raised.  

This post was just about written when Blogspot had a hiccup, deleted my post, and then saved over that, erasing all my hard work for good.  Since I'm already behind on this recap, and since I just lost about 7 hours of very boring linking, formatting, and rehashing things stated in my video, I'm going to do this as cut and dry as possible, since most of this content is covered in the videos.  If you find this absolutely unforgiveable, and the videos don't make up for the written content, I apologize.  Rewriting this post entirely would put me behind a massive amount, and I'd rather just focus on moving forward and getting to July's Unboxing goodness. 

Special May Thanks To:

Ryan
C.Ellis
Andrew Benedict
Yolaine
Wayne Norris
Chris
Michael Suriano
Yusagi
Hoff
Entreat
Ella Dee
Lee
Ristro
Chandra

Previous SketchBox Vs. ArtSnacks
January- Winner: ArtSnacks
February- Winner:  SketchBox
March- Winner: ArtSnacks
April- Winner: ArtSnacks
May- Winner: ArtSnacks

SketchBox: $25mo/$240 yr
ArtSnacks: $20mo/$200 yr

ArtSnacks


Unboxing

June 2016 ArtSnacks Unboxing-Becca Hillburn
Video includes unboxing, card reading, going over materials.



Overview

June 2016 ArtSnacks Overview-Becca Hillburn
Video includes prices, total, and demonstration of materials, including a few side by side comparisons.


Photos:




Spectra AD Marker
$2.85 on Carpe Diem Markers
$2.99 on Art Supply Warehouse 
https://carpediemmarkers.com/chartpak/chartpak-spectra-markers/spectra-ad-marker.html
Color chart: https://www.carpediemmarkers.com/media/catalog/category/colorchart/Spectra
Spectra AD Marker video
Alcohol based
Twin Tipped
I haven't had a chance to review these yet, but I plan on remedying that soon.

Kuretake No 7
$6.95 on Amazon 
$7.00 on JetPens 
I have not reviewed this brush pen yet, and look forward to checking it out.

General's Layout Pencil No. 555
A review of the General's Layout Pencil No. 555
Package of 12, on DickBlick $5.39
$1.59 openstock on Cheap Joe's Art Stuff 

Fibralo Brush
15 color assortment on the Caran d'Ache site- $33.75  ($2.25 per marker)
15 color set on Amazon with Prime- $35.71
15 piece set on DickBlick- $27.07
 (these look different- did Caran d'Ache change the body a bit?)  ($1.80 per marker)
Owings Art video review:
Yet another product I haven't had a chance to review yet, Fibralo markers have been on my radar for about a year, but this is my first opportunity to play with one.

Denik Custom Mini SketchBook
http://denik.com/shop/
Denik doesn't really offer anything in this mini size in their usual lineup (there are notebook+phone case combos, but those are limited, and most are on sale), so it's difficult to determine a price for this mini sketchbook.

The closest I can find are the Phone Case and Pocket Notebook Combos (http://denik.com/phone-cases-pocket-notebooks/green-aztec), which are on sale for $15.00, and normally sell for $29.95.
Their larger 5.25"x 8.25" softcover books (http://denik.com/shop/succulents) are $11.95 each.
I estimate that these little books are worth between $3-$5, especially considering this company donates a portion of their profits, and this tends to mean the products cost a bit more.

Totals:
MSRP: $20.15
Total Lowest Retail Value: $18.64
Box Cost: $20, shipped





















Fibralo Brush
These are some of the most expensive consumer grade waterbased markers I've come across, but I've heard really good things about these markers, so I'm excited to get the chance to play with one.

Kuretake No 7

Waterbased ink
felt tipped
can also use the No 8 cartridge

Challenge

Insert video here

This video includes process from start to finish, as well as the demonstration of several techniques.  Because this month's box did not really speak to me, I included many materials from my own studio to complete this piece.



Inked image is available for purchase through GumRoad.

Photos

I didn't feel particularly inspired by this box, and felt like the included goodies weren't cohesive enough, so I've augmented the June ArtSnacks heavily from my own collection of materials.






Used Layout Pencil for initial sketch, inked over with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida.  Erased pencil after 24 hours- severe ghosting, even with a Mono Eraser.  This is NOT a good pencil to ink over if you want clean inks with no digital manipulation.












The Salmon colored Chartpak Marker is more fluroesent than originally thought- and when layered it's more of a hot orange than a salmon or pink.  It's quickly neutralized (almost to the point of non existence) with any addition of blue












I really used the materials mostly as inspiration- a combination of waterbased and alcohol based markers, and I tried to play that up throughout the challenge, adding in Spectrum Aqua waterbased markers, a variety of Copic markers and alcohol ink sprays.  Not all of them play well together- the dye based inks (Spectrum Aquas, Fibralo) reactivate when water is added, which can make layering difficult.  It was also difficult to build up washes of color with the Fibralo ArtSnacks provided this month.

SketchBox Basic

Unboxing


SketchBox Basic Unboxing- Becca Hillburn
Video includes unboxing, reading cards, showcasing materials.
Photos:




Overview

June 2016 SketchBox Basic and Premium Overview-Becca Hillburn
Video includes prices, total, and demonstration of materials, including a few side by side comparisons.
SketchBox June Basic- Pastel

Pan Pastels (2)
"This exclusive color pack is brought to you by a partnership between SketchBox and PanPastel"


$5.29 each at Jerry's Artarama 
$5.45 each at DickBlick 

Marvy LePen Brush
Pigmented Ink
Also available in .1, .05, .03, .8, .5, .3
Review via The Pen Addict 

$1.59 at Jetpens 

Conte a Paris

$1.84 openstock on DickBlick 
$5.99 on Amazon with Prime for 2 

Sofft Art Sponge Set
These are REALLY similar to inexpensive makeup sponges sold at Walmart and Dollar Tree

Site does not list an MSRP, does have authorized dealers, I selected shops from that list.
$3.19 at Cheap Joes 
$2.61 at DickBlick 

Totals:
High end total: $17.52
Low end* total: $16.62

*Not counting bulk and wholesale rates.

Photos:










Challenge

June 2016 SketchBox Basic and Premium Challenge- Becca Hillburn
Video includes using the materials to create a coherent illustration, demonstrating several techniques, as well as commentary on the materials inside the box.

Photos:











The Premium Box

This is the unboxing video.  For totals, please watch the overview video linked above.

The Verdict

Although I appreciate both boxes, I feel that this month, SketchBox Basic had the more coherent box.  Although I am not a pastel artist, and am not very experienced with handling pastels, I really enjoyed using the Pan Pastels, and I quickly found inspiration for a piece.  The ArtSnacks box for this month was far less coherent, and although I was delighted to receive two products I hadn't had an opportunity to review yet, it was difficult for me to decide on a Challenge topic.

That said, June's Basic was woefully anemic, a trend that seems to plague SketchBox Basic month to month.  This does not change my overall recommendation that A: SketchBox beef up their Basic boxes with SOMETHING and B: ArtSnacks is still the best value for your dollar, subscription-box wise.

The Winner: SketchBox


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