Thursday, October 27, 2016

Introduction to Fountain Pens for Sketching

Introduction to Fountain Pens for Sketching- Becca Hillburn (Guest Starring Heidi Black)

Please Note:  This video was not sponsored by JetPens.  All opinions are our own, and have been formed from years of art education, working as professional artists, and reviewing art supplies.  All information given by Heidi was provided voluntarily, as a favor to me and to my audience.  Jetpens is not affiliated with, nor a sponsor of this blog or the YouTube channel, and did not provide these pens, inks, or papers for the purposes of review or demonstration on either.  Out of respect for Heidi, I am linking Jetpens when applicable, but please keep in mind that purchases from Jetpens do not support the YouTube Channel or the blog, as they do not support affiliate links or programs. 

This video was sponsored by the generosity of my Patrons on Patreon.  Patrons had early access to this video as a Thank You for their support over the past year.  If you enjoy content like this, and would like to ensure that more is created, please join the community at Patreon.

Pens Mentioned In this Video:

Pilot Metropolitan
TWSBI ECO Fountain Pens
TWSBI Website
Pilot Elabo
Pilot Falcon
International Standard Cartridges
J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune Ink
Lamy Safari
Pilot Kakuno
Pelikano Jr
Platinum Preppy
Pilot Plumix
Pilot Penmanship
Jetpens Chibi

Other Pens Mentioned in this Video:
Tachikawa G Nib
Tachikawa Sketch Pens
Tachikawa Comic Nib Fountain Pen- G Model Nib: Fine

Papers Mentioned in this Video:
Tomoe River Paper
Rhodia Paper

Inks Mentioned in this Video
Deleter 4 Ink
Kaimei Drawing Sol K
Dinky Dips
Iroshizuku A
Iroshizuku B
Iroshizuku C
J Herbin
Platinum Carbon Black
Sailor Storia
Noodler's Bulletproof
Noodler's Bernanke
J Herbin Emerald of Chivor Ink

Outside Resources:
Jetpens: How Fountain Pens Work
Jetpens: Guide to Fountain Pen Nibs
Jetpens: Great Beginner Fountain Pens that Wont Break The Bank
Jetpens: How to use a Fountain Pen Piston Converter
Jetpens: How to Use a Fountain Pen Converter
Jetpens: Black Ink Comparison
Jetpens: How to Clean a Fountain Pen
Jetpens: Guide to Choosing a Fountain Pen
Jetpens: Guide to Fountain Pen Nibs:  Troubleshooting Tips and Tricks
Jetpens: How to Write with a Fountain Pen
Jetpens: How to do an Eye Dropper Pen Conversion
Jetpens: Pilot Petit1 Fountain Pen Eyedropper Conversion Tutorial
Jetpens: Fountain Pen Paper Recommendations
Parka Blogs: How to use Zebra G Nib on a Fountain Pen
The Pen Addict

Monday, October 24, 2016

How to Be a Hustler

A comics hustler, that is.

When I decided to pursue comics for a living, I had no idea that I'd end up wearing so many hats.  I figured I'd work in-house for a larger studio, saving my personal projects for nights and weekends, and I figured I'd have a steady income.  Unfortunately, for many of us, the days of in-house, steady employment are a thing of the past, and we have to find our own path towards paying the bills. 

What's Involved in Becca's Comic Hustle:
  • Comics (of course~!):  Print only right now, but soon to be web. 7" Kara Volume 1 is available for purchase through my online shop and through Gumroad, Volume 2 is in progress and is the source of inspiration behind the Watercolor Basics series.  The majority of my comics are sold in person at conventions.
  • Conventions: You can always find a list of what's coming up in my left hand side bar, and I try to make con announcements the week before on my Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook fan page, and here on the blog.   After the con, I generally try to write con recaps, which are often posted to How To Be a Con Artist.   At a really good con, I'll make about $1,500, but that's before subtracting travel costs, hotel costs, food, table costs, additional badges, or the cost of making what I'm selling at the table.  Mini comics, mini prints, original mini watercolors, original illustrations, comics, sassy buttons, stickers, small impulse items all of which require....
  • Design- Designing graphics for this blog and the YouTube channel, book layout and design, product design, designing promotional material like postcards, stickers, banners.  I do not offer outside design services.
  • Commissions- Pencil, Ink, Watercolor, Marker, Digital.  The majority of these are ordered at conventions and filled after the show, although I offer many commission options through my online shop.  As I complete commissions, I post them to my Instagram, tagging the convention they were from, and in an ideal world, drumming up future commissions.
  • Freelance work- usually digital.  Pencils, Inks, Flats, Shading for other studios.  This used to be a steady addition to my income, but has dried up for now. 
  • Comic Anthologies-  Anthologies give me an opportunity to collaborate with other artists, promote a larger project, and get involved in the comic community!  So far, I have comics in six comic anthologies: Travel, Once Upon a Time, Hana Doki Kira, Chainmail Bikini, 1001 Knights, Ladies Night Volume 6.  These days, many anthologies include pay increases for the artists in their stretch goals, so anthologies can be a good way to make a little extra money throughout the year, provided they pay when they say they will, and send out books in a timely fashion.  Unfortunately, while my signal boosting and promotion may be great for the anthologies I'm in, the anthologies haven't done much for me career wise.  Still, it's fun to write short comics, and it's a great opportunity to collaborate with other creators.
  • This Blog- ads, seeking sponsorship, building an audience, demonstrating skills, creating tutorials, teaching others, reviewing product, knowledge of product, self promotion.  Outside of the ad services and Patreon mentioned below, I see no compensation for running this blog.
  • The YouTube Channel- ads, seeking sponsorship, building an audience, demonstrating skills, creating tutorials, teaching others, reviewing product, knowledge of product, editing video, writing descriptions, promoting videos to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, maintaining a friendly, approachable persona, answering comments in a timely manner, encouraging community.  Outside of the ad services and Patreon mentioned below, I see no compensation for running the YouTube channel.
  • Twitter- Interacting with other artists, promoting my work and the work of others like myself
  • Individual Illustrations in a variety of media- content for the blog and YouTube, serve as fodder for tutorials and promotion, give me the chance to learn new skills without committing to a longterm project.  I offer many of my originals for sale through my online shop and at conventions.
  • Instagram- A way to cultivate an audience based almost solely on my artistic abilities.  Instagram seems to be mostly about taking staged photos of art supplies, finding the right hashtags to use, and occasionally posting short videos.  Most of what I post is promotional for the YouTube channel or comic progress.
  • Patreon- A direct way for readers to become involved in the Blog and the YouTube.  I don't utilize Patreon the way many artists do- many will share sneak peeks and tutorials to their Patrons only.  As this would make my workload unbearable, I mostly share weekly recaps, offer them the chance to decide on upcoming content, and release popular videos early.  Many artists will release monthly digital sketchbooks to Patron, and this may be something I investigate in the future.  I am currently right on the edge of $90 this month, but previous months were much lower.  The Patreon makes this blog self sustaining.
  • Google Adsense-  Allows me to put ads on this blog, which in theory, should earn me a little bit of money based on how many clicks they get.  Unfortunately, if readers are using ad blockers, that doesn't happen.  The amount of money I earn through Adsense is pretty miniscule- less than a dollar a month.
  • Amazon Ads-  Pretty similar to Google Adsense, but with curated Amazon products.  If you're using an adblocker, you won't see these ads, and I won't see that money.
  • Amazon Affiliates- For years, I wrote art supply reviews completely out of my own pocket, with no way to earn any money for my trouble, as Jetpens didn't have an affiliates or reward program.  Amazon Affiliates allows me to make a small bounty on every item sold through one of my affiliates links- it doesn't have to be exactly the item linked, without costing the customer any additional money (Amazon pays the bounty out of their cut).  Some months, I see as much as $30 from Amazon for my Affiliate Links.
  • Youtube Ads- I try not to select ads that will negatively effect my audience's experience, but since my YouTube videos require a lot of work, I do allow video ads on most of my tutorials, reviews, and unboxing videos.  I only see money if the viewer watches at least 30 seconds of the ad, so this is a really cheap way to help support creators on YouTube.  I usually see about $20-25 a month from this.
  • Gumroad- My Gumroad is where you can find digital copies of my physical comics and mini comics (7" Kara Volume 1, Magical Girl March, Favorite Fictional Femmes, Let Sleeping Cats Lie, Or They'll Drink Your Watercolor Water) as well as digital assets like Color Along With Me Lineart (lineart from popular tutorials, so you can follow along exactly) and digital design assets like watercolor paper scans, watercolor splotches. 
  • Online Shop for physical items-
  • How to be a Con Artist- Doesn't actually make me any money, takes a lot of time to curate properly, and doesn't really promote my work, but hey, we all need to pay it forward somehow, right?  These days, Kiriska does the majority of the work by finding relevant articles, keeping the tags and archive in order, and screening for asks.
  • Teaching- In person workshops, demonstrations, and panels at conventions, libraries, and schools.

In a good year, all of these things should cover the majority of my bills (in theory).   And all of these things require frequent updates to stay viable, require nurturing and promotion to succeed.  The blog requires frequent updates on topics that readers should find interesting, the YouTube requires that AND an engaging personality (something I'm still working on acquiring)  And when possible, I try to get multiple uses out of new content, as that content takes so long to create.  Illustrations created for YouTube tutorials get shared on Instagram and Twitter.  Good Twitter conversations may be the inspiration for blogposts or tutorials, or may be Storified into a post.

Handout for library and school visits

It took a long time for me to find a way for this blog to pay for itself.  Last year I tried contacting companies for sponsorships, and my readers have written in to companies on my behalf for sponsorships, and although we never received a firm 'no', the answer was pretty crystal clear that they were not only not interested, but assumed I only did this for what I could get for free.  After sponsorships, I introduced the Paypal tip jar, and after that, ads.  I've tried to be tasteful in my ad placement and selection of what I allow- choosing to limit the types of ads displayed (and taking a paycut) in order to ensure that they're appropriate for this blog and my readers.

After doing a large amount of research (generally produced by mommy blogs that benefitted from others signing up for these services), I decided to sign up for Amazon Affiliates and found a way to sign up for an affiliate program that worked with DickBlick.  Part of this was born of frustration- I was tired of writing detailed reviews that only served to sell products for someone else- I wanted a commission for my work, or at least some recognition for services rendered.  Given Amazon's increasing reach into the art and craft market, using Amazon Affiliates links allows me to see some some compensation for all the hours spent reviewing art supplies.  Signing up for Amazon Affiliates is fairly easy- you need a tax ID in good order (so if you have a financial planning company like MetLife handling your investments, you need to make sure they have your social security number correct lest you fall on the wrong side of the IRS), and a place to share those links.  It also helps if you have an audience that understands that using those links helps support your work while costing them nothing, and it helps even more if you have an audience willing to use one of your links as their starting point for all Amazon purchases.  If you're interested in helping support this blog in that manner, you can set this link as your Amazon starting point.

In November of 2015, tired after a year of trying to find solutions for engagement and monetization for the blog, I branched out onto YouTube.  We've shared artist interviews there for years, but due to the lack of interest, I assumed I didn't have anything the YouTube audience would find valuable.  This is probably a bit surprising, because even then, I used YouTube as one of my information resources, and I could see that there was a gap in the market for the sort of content I produced (straightforward, no frills tutorials, a deep understanding of both artistic skills and art supplies, and educated art supply reviews not biased by sponsorships or donations).  At the encouragement of several friends, I decided to give YouTube a shot.

YouTube offers two things I did not have access to before:  An entirely new audience (YouTube is among the top 10 search engines), and better adrates.  It also offered me a platform for live demonstrations- all I had to do was leave my camcorder running, I didn't have to stop and take photos or stop and take notes.  YouTube is honestly so much easier to keep updated (other than editing, color correction, and audio issues, which are Joseph's domain), that it's easier to update than this blog.

It's worth noting that although YouTube is easier and more profitable in many ways, it's been difficult building up an audience, and I only recently hit 2,500 subscribers.  I am constantly thinking of ways to plug and promote it, including the above promotional postcards that I intend to hand out at conventions. 

In December, stumped at my mom's demands to know what I wanted for Christmas, I finally settled on a yearlong subscription to ArtSnacks, and opted to purchase a yearlong subscription to SketchBox.  I hoped that unboxing, demonstrating, and utilizing the materials inside the monthly boxes in a meticulous manner might attract views to my channel, and wanted to monetize

YouTube channel header

Upcoming YouTube endcard

The real turning point came when I finally decided to launch a Patreon.  I had a lot of misgivings about doing so- I've had difficulty encouraging audience interaction on this blog, I felt like I couldn't necessarily rely on this audience for support as engagement was hit or miss.  When I first launched the Patreon in February 2016, I even asked Joseph to chip in a couple bucks if no on pledged.

Fortunately, he didn't have to toss in a pity pledge, as some of my wonderful online friends saved me from embarrassment (and not hitting that $15 community goal to release ArtSnacks Vs SketchBox videos to the public).  Although support for my Patreon has been very encouraging, I am still working to find goals that are sustainable for me to fill, and enticing for potential backers.  There's still a lot of work to be done on my Patreon site, including an introduction video, so there's room for growth.

The Patreon has been useful for several things- I'm able to distribute early access videos to my backers (as I've done all October for Inktober tutorials), able to contact them for input on what series to focus on next, and it gives me a specific audience to write and create for.  My Patreons are given priority over all other requests, as they're willing to put their money where their support is.  That money goes towards purchasing supplies for review, offsetting costs like Google storage (necessarily for hosting the massive amount of photos on this blog), purchasing new equipment like SD cards, card readers, mics, and color correction cards, and if there's anything left over, paying myself a bit of a wage for my hard work.   I wasn't sure how monetizing something that is free to the public would be handled, but I think I'm learning some valuable new tricks, and hope to update the campaign next year with some exciting and sustainable new incentives. 

Its easy to become discouraged when so much of your life revolves around the goodwill and generosity of your audience.    And I often forget to promote what I most love-my comic, 7" Kara.  In order to pursue my goals, I have to be a bit of a hustler, a bit of a charmer, and a lot of a barker.  This can be difficult with anxiety and depression dragging me down, and sometimes I have to pretend that I'm promoting someone else's work, rather than shaking the same old tree and expecting new fruit.  I have to be outgoing, fun, and supportive of other artists even when I feel like my own work isn't up to snuff, and especially at public appearances like cons, I have to wear a grin and fake it til I make it.  This is no small feat for me- I do love people, and I do believe in the value of my work, but I'm sensitive and I take things personally.  Small setbacks really knock me down, and I'm fortunate to have a fantastic support group of fellow comic creators on Twitter.

And of course, I am massively glossing over in-person appearances like conventions.  Longtime readers know I attend many, and know that they as often go pearshaped as they go well.  The intersection between YouTube, How to be a Con Artist, this blog, and conventions seems to be non-existent- few blog readers come by to say hi, it's rare that a HTBACA reader will purchase something, most con sales are to new faces- repeat customers tend to be most familiar with my convention persona.  I am always interested in creating overlap between my demographics, but have struggled to find ways to do so.

Keeping all these things going, while producing comics and illustrations, is a full time job for me.  I'm fortunate to be in a position where I can work from home, and I've worked hard to find ways to achieve a steady income.  My goal is to be self sufficient through a combination of the blog, the YouTube channel, conventions, and comics, and while I'm a far way away from that, there are times when the goal seems closer than others.

All this isn't to say that artists who work day jobs are somehow less than artists who don't.  It all boils down to privilege- where you live, what your audience is willing to pay, and luck- who you know, who's willing to publicly admit they know you.  I know many hardworking artists who are killer comic artists and work a day job, and I know many hardworking artists who are supported by their parents or their spouse.  Comics isn't an easy game, and we all do what we need to do to get by.

Working the comics hustle has made me appreciative of others who do so, and has made me sensitive to ways I can help.  Although money is usually the most helpful, there are loads of ways you can help support artists and creators whose work you appreciate.  In this post, I go over loads of free ways you can help creators from YouTubers to Bloggers, to Webcomic artists, to Game Devs.

Find Me Elsewhere:

For Daily Updates:
To chat:
For more art tutorials, supply reviews, and con recaps:
For convention how-tos:
To help support online art education:
For my portfolio:
For digital downloads:
For physical goodies:
For my comic:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Watercolor Basics: Top Techniques for Watercolor

This post was made possible due to the generosity of my Patrons on Patreon, who are the sponsors of this blog.  We see no outside sponsorship beyond the Patreon, and all ad revenue generated from this site goes directly towards maintenance, better equipment, and purchasing further materials for review.  By joining out Patreon and becoming a backer, you help support content like this and ensure that it continues.  Without backer support, longform series like Watercolor Basics would not be possible, and all support is much appreciated.  For information on sponsoring a specific post, please check out my Info page or contact me via email using the sidebar widget.

By now you're probably itching to get to painting.  You've got your paper.  You've got your paints.  You have your brushes, and you know how to stretch watercolors.  You're ready to start practicing.

Well fear not, the wait is over!  Today we're covering my favorite watercolor techniques for comics, and I've got lots of links below to get you fired up to paint! 

Missed a post?  Why not catch up?

Other posts in the Watercolor Basics series:

Paper and paint quality can make a huge difference in how these techniques work for you.  With Canson Montval (my paper of choice for comics), wet into wet techniques often result in harsh edges and poor color mixing, but on Arches or Moulin du Roy, wet into wet techniques handle like a dream, and color diffusion is fantastic.  With cheap paints, glazing techniques often turn to mud, but with Winsor and Newton paints, Daniel Smith, or Holbein, translucent colors glaze well (although you should reserve applying more opaque watercolors towards the end of your illlustration, as they will turn to mud with glazing regardless of paint or paper quality).

Materials Used in this Demonstration:

Fabriano Studio Watercolor (student grade, but with good texture)
Small welled palette
Variety of paints (Mission Gold, Turner, Holbein)
Handful of synthetic brushes
Clean water 
Sharpie Marker
Kosher salt (larger surface area, also what I have on hand)
Masking fluid
Wax resist crayon
Paper towels

Watercolor Techniques


A wash is one of the  most basic techniques- it's the application of pre-mixed paint+water to your paper.  For large scale washes, most artists will use either a mop or a flat brush.

Gradiated Wash/Graduated Wash

A graduated wash is a little more complicated.  You apply a layer of either water or paint, and then slowly apply another layer of more saturated color at the top, and allow gravity to help dissolve the new layer into the old.  Some papers can handle these types of washes better than others.


While your paint is still wet, you can use a paper towel or a rag to blot out color.  This technique is useful for corrections, clouds, waves, ect.


Sprinkling salt onto damp (not wet) watercolors creates an interesting crystalline effect as the salt absorbs water, drawing pigment towards it.

Wax Resist

Applying wax before applying your color creates a 'resist', preserving the color below the wax (if using a clear wax crayon or candle)

Masking Fluid

Masking fluid, like wax resist, preserves the color of the area protected by the mask.  Unlike wax resist, masking fluid is intended to be removable, although your results may vary (I always seem to have issues with it).  Ideal use: apply when paper is completely dry, allow to dry 24 hours before painting over, allow all paint to dry 24 hours before removing.  Even in that scenario, I have issues with masking fluid of various brands tearing up my paper (fluids tried:  Schminke, shown above, Molotow Grafx, Le Masque)

Watercolor Techniques

Wet into Wet

Paint is applied into still wet paint to cause blending and blooming effects.  Very common in gestural, abstract, or early stages of a piece.

Dry into Wet

Dry is a bit of a misnomer- you will need water to activate your paints, but your brush is relatively dry, and applying relatively dry pigment into still wet paint.  Although the effect is more intense than wet into wet, the 'dry' paint will still diffuse into the wet paint.

Dry into Dry

Applying relatively dry paint onto actually dried paint.  Great for details- usually used towards the end of a painting.  Glazing over this may reactivate the paint, causing muddiness.

Wet into Dry

Also commonly referred to as 'glazing'.  Applying washes over dried areas of paint.  This can influence the color to varying degrees, depending on how saturated the wash is.

Masking Fluid (In Application)

As demonstrated, once the masking fluid is removed, it leaves a mark of white paper against blue paint.

In the above video and photos, I demonstrate a few common watercolor techniques as very distinct techniques, but in reality, most artists use a combination of several to achieve the effects they want. You'll probably have a few favorite and most used techniques that work for the majority of what you want to accomplish in your comics and illustrations, and a few that serve quite well for special effects and emotive

As you create pages and complete studies, you'll find out which techniques are your mainstays, and which techniques will on work on certain papers.  There are many wet into wet techniques that work well on handmade cotton papers and higher quality mould made papers that are impossible to execute well on Montval cellulose paper, so I cannot use those techniques in my comics.  There are techniques that work on cold press papers that will not work on hot press.

For a wider variety of techniques and uses, I highly recommend exploring the links included in the Resources and Second Opinions section.  Rather than replicate and redistribute the information they covered, I focused only on my most commonly used techniques.

My Most Commonly Used Techniques


Used for: Toning the Page

Wax Resist

Used for:  Preserving white borders around images, creating pools of color

Masking Fluid

Used for: Reserving areas of white that can later be painted over

Wet over Dry
Used for:  Toning, building up form

Dry Over Dry
Used for: Small details, refining

We have a techniques demonstration video in the To Edit queue, so if you need a live action explanation, keep an eye on the YouTube channel for that.  If you have any questions, or need further demonstration, don't hesitate to contact me via the email form in the left sidebar.

Resources and Second Opinions:

8 'Techniques' for Beginners
7 Must Know, Widely Used Watercolor Techniques for Beginners
Painting With Watercolors- Watercolor Painting Tips Techniques Hub Page
Abstract Watercolor Techniques
Watercolor Techniques: Blending
Watercolor Tips:  Salt Lifting
Feathering From Dry Paint
7 Deceptively Simple Watercolor Techniques that will Amaze Your Students
How to Paint Leaf Wreathes (basically dry onto dry techniques)
Watercolors for Beginners: Blending Techniques
Floating Paint
Wet on Wet, Yet Again
Watercolors for Beginners: Fun Techniques

Having Trouble with these Techniques? 
Here are some resources to help you troubleshoot or make corrections:

6 Common Watercolor Mistakes and How to Correct Them
5 Simple Solutions for Watercolor Problems
5 Beginner Watercolor Painting Mistakes

Find Me Elsewhere:
For Daily Updates:
To chat:
For more art tutorials, supply reviews, and con recaps:
For convention how-tos:
To help support online art education:
For my portfolio:
For digital downloads:
For physical goodies:
For my comic:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bonus Box! ArtSnacks Inktober Collection

The ArtSnacks Inktober Collection is special box, and not included with the yearly subscription.  This box was purchased out of pocket as a Thank you to my Patrons on Patreon.  If you are interested in more specialty boxes like the ArtSnacks Inktober Collection, head on over to my Patreon for information on how to join the community.

You can find it here:


  • 7 expertly curated, full-size, premium inky art supplies for the complete InkTober experience
  • An exclusive, limited edition sketchbook designed specifically for the ArtSnacks Inktober Collect
  • An official InkTober Calendar for the "31 Days, 31 Drawings" Inktober Challenge
  • An illustrated print by the InkTober creator, Jake Parker

The Hype

From about May until October, ArtSnacks regularly sent out emails hyping their upcoming Inktober collections.  There were promises of exclusives and brand new products.  Hype was also strong on Twitter and Instagram, and I must admit, I fell hard.  I realize that as someone who reviews art supplies, I am hard to impress, so I really looked forward to some surprises in the Inktober Collection.

The Unboxing

ArtSnacks Inktober Collection Unboxing- Becca Hillburn

If you watch the unboxing video, you'll hear some undisguised disappointment in my voice as I realize there isn't much new under the sun in this box.  Although the Denik sketchbook is new to me, and exclusive to this ArtSnacks, I'm immediately disappointed by the paper inside- it's like a slick cardstock.  And everything else is old hat- spoon nibs, sumi ink, Pentel Pocket Brush, Multiliner SP- there's just nothing inside to impress an experienced inker, let alone someone who reviews art supplies.

The Card Reads:

Here's what's on the menu for the ArtSnacks Inktober Collection:

Limited Edition
Custom Inktober+Denik Sketchbook
$18.00 retail value

#124 stark white pages ready to be inked.  Artsnacks collaborated with notebook company, Denik to create a limited edition sketchbook that is unique to this Collection.  This 7"x9" spiral sketchbook is the perfect place to keep your practice doodles or your finished pieces.

Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Sumi Ink
$8.50 retail

60 milliliters of intense liquid pigments.  "Sumi" is the Japanese word for black ink painting, so naturally we put it in the ArtSnacks Inktober Collection.  Allow 5-10 minutes for inked drawing to fully dry to a matte finish.  This Sumi ink will not lift or smear when erasing post-inking.  To avoid smudging and bleeding while adding color, use alcohol-based markers around your Sumi ink creation.

Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Pen Nibs
Set of 3, $3.99 retail

Three beautifully engineered Japanese metal nibs for your inking pleasure.  Used for lettering or comic book drawing, these pen nibs produce a variety of lines.  Try experimenting by adding pressure to the nib to create a thicker stroke.  To clean, gently pull nib out of nib holder and use soap and water.  WARNING:  Pen nibs are sharp.  Please be careful while handling your new pen nibs!

Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Nib Holder
$5.00 retail

The wooden wand for your new pen.  We chose this model because of its modern style and comfortable design.  Mount the blunt end of the pen nib into the nib holder ring.  Make sure the pen nib is tight in place to avoid spilling or breakage.  Watch this video on how to properly assemble your dip pen:

Princeton Kolinsky Sable Short Handle Brush
$29.95 retail

The Mercedes-Benze of paint brushes.  No nylon, synthetics, or plastic here- just wood, metal, and Kolinsky sable hair.   Prized for maintaining their fine shape and superior stroke control, the amount of pigments or liquids this brush can hold is staggering.  Dip your brush into the Sumi ink to experience this first-hand!

Copic Multiliner SP
$9.95 retail

A futuristic pen with waterproof and refillable archival ink.  Its aluminum body gives it a more sleek, industrial look- fitting, since it's designed to last a lifetime.  Copic pens are great for quick drawing as well as more timely masterpieces.

Staff Favorites
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen
$19.99 retail

An inky pen for your on-the-go doodles.  Thin and delicate or thick and bold:  If there's a line you want, this pen will give it to you.  It has a nylon brush tip, and offers a smooth and powerful line but can also give you fun expressive lines too.  It's also a life-long favorite in Jake Parker's tool box.

ArtSnacks Exclusive Offer
How to Ink Class with Jake Parker, from the Society of Visual Storytelling
Individual Class $25.00 value

The Society of Visual Storytelling ( is an online catalog of art classes for mastering techniques and learning new skills.  The "How to Ink Class" is taught by the InkTober founder, Jake Parker!  Get access to this class for free through this link: redacted

31 Days
31 Drawings
Your Challenge:  Create a drawing everyday for 31 days, using only the supplies in your ArtSnacks Inktober Collection.  For inspiration, use the theme that is in the corresponding day on the calendar.

When your daily drawing is complete, post a photo of it on your social media channels using hashtags: #artsnacks #inktober

Editors Note:  You can use whatever inking supplies you wish for your Inktober, as well as whatever challenges or themes work for you.  This is not the only way to officially do Inktober, although I do recommend using the #inktober hashtag.


Here we are at the beginning of another Inktober.  A month of inky pages, dirty hands, and fired up imaginations await us.  Its a month that's all at once hard, refreshing, tedious, and relaxing.  Whether you've done it several times or it's your first, Inktober always pushes you to level up your skill, and forces you to think outside the box.

It's a challenge designed to form positive drawing habits, and break you out of creative slumps.  It creates a fertile ground for ideas to sprout and techniques to grow.  It's a challenge that keeps you ont the path to mastering your craft.  I guarantee that the artist who finishes Inktober is a better, wiser, and happier artist than the one who started it.

Have fun this month.  May your pen stay wet, your fingers stay inking, and the spark of imagination stay bright in your soul!

Your friend,
Jake Parker
Utah, October 2016

Editors Notes:

Even on the cards, the hype is strong.

Let me clarify a few things-

If you have the time, you should allow ink to dry for at least 1 hour and up to and beyond 24 hours for best results.  This will prevent ghosting (lifting up of pigments).  Sumi ink, even the Kuretake Sumi Ink 60, is not always waterproof or even water resistant, and you will get some smearing with this ink, regardless of how long you wait.  Five to ten minutes is not long enough for ink to cure, especially on coated papers like the Denik paper included with this box.

The Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Pen nibs are Saji nibs, and are a type of spoon nib.  Many companies make Spoon nibs, and you can check out some of my prior posts for more information.  Spoon nibs have very delicate lines, and very little flex, so if you're interested in a flexible nib that handles like a brush, you should check out G nibs as well.  Adding pressure to a spoon nib may result in the nib 'nipping' the paper, which happened frequently when using these Saji nibs on the Denik paper.  And let's be clear- saji nibs are typically used for manga, which tends to lean towards the use of tone rather than lineweight to indicate shadow.

For demonstrations and more information on the materials included in this box, I strongly recommend you watch the Overview video included in the post below.  Information that should have been included in this box (how to prepare your brush for first use, how to clean the oil off your nibs for first use) has been left out, and I try to cover that in the Overview to ensure that your first use is a smooth one.

And while Kolinksy Sable is considered the end all be all for brushes (for watercolor or inks), Princeton is not a company that has garnered much trust from me over the years.  Typically Winsor and Newton series 7 was considered the Mercedes-Benz of brushes, but even they have had some issues with quality over the years.  Whenever purchasing a natural hair brush, try to do so in person- look for brushes that come to a point either in package or after wetting the tip, and avoid brushes with stray hairs.   Compared to other Kolinsky sable brushes from other brands in similar sizes, this Princeton brush doesn't hold a monumental amount of paint or pigments, and has a rather small 'belly' compared to other Kolinsky sable brushes.

The card neglects to mention that the Copic Multiliner SP (a .3 in this instance) is alcohol marker proof once fully dry, features both replacable ink cartridges AND nibs, and is hard to find open stock in most stores.  You are more likely to find the disposable Copic Multiliner, or even the Sakura Micron, both of which are also waterproof, pigment ink, archival, and alcohol marker proof.

Inside the Box

Denik Notebook

On the Denik site, their larger Sketchbooks are $14.95:
Smaller hardcovers with an elastic band and bookmark are $18
Otherwhise, there's nothing really comparable on the site.

Kuretake Saji-Pen for Manga (x3 nibs)
$7.99 on Amazon
$3.18 on Blick
$4.00 on Jetpens

Kuretake Nib Holder
$3.99 on Blick
$5.00 on Jetpens

Princeton Kolinsky Sable 7050R
$15.39 on Blick
$17.97 on WetPaint
$14.98 on Artist and Craftsman Supply

Copic Multiliner SP .3
$8.23 on DickBlick
$7.99 on Jerrys' Artarama
5.85 (euros) on CultPens

Pentel Arts Pocket Brush (with two refills)
$12.60 on Amazon
$19.99 on Pentel Site
$13.99 on DickBlick
$17.99 at Michaels
$12.60 at Walmart

Kuretake Sumi Ink 60
$8.50 on Jetpens
$10.77 on Amazon
$6.25 on Paper and Ink Arts

MSRP: $95.38
Lowest Retail Value: $63.94

Plus a $25 How to Ink Class with Jake Parker

Cost of Box: $99

The Overview

I highly recommend you watch this overview, as I demonstrate how to prepare the materials inside, how many of these are used, and I show cheaper alternatives when applicable.  If you are putting together a collection of inking supplies, this is a must watch.

Inktober Collection Tutorials And Demonstrations

These tutorials were not sponsored by ArtSnacks, and were created as bonus content for my Patrons. If you enjoyed these videos, found them helpful, or are using them to educate others, please consider visiting my Patreon for information on how you can join my community of art nerds, and help fund future content.  Tutorials like these are not possible without outside support.

Nib Exposure- Inking Tutorial with ArtSnacks Inktober

Brush Inking Tips with the ArtSnacks Inktober Box

Faux InkWash-ArtSnacks Inktober Tutorial

Inking Your Character to Life with a Brush- Inktober Tutorial

Inking Your Character to Life with a Brush Part 2

Cartoony Inking with a Size 4 Brush

Nib Exposure- Inking Tutorial with ArtSnacks Inktober
Inking with a Manga Nib:  Kuretake Saji Nib Timelapse

Copic Multiliner Demo Inking Tools

Inktober Saji Nib Timelapse-Naomi

Inktober Timelapse G Nib- Naomi

Size Matters!  Brush Demonstration

Shots from Inktober Tutorials

As the month progresses, more inking and Inktober tutorials and demonstrations will be available on my YouTube channel, so please keep an eye out!  Patrons get exclusive early access to all Inktober tutorial and demonstration videos, so if that sounds interesting, head on over and join the community!

The Verdict

I found this box massively underwhelming.  Not because the items inside the box weren't good items- they are.  They are good basic items that most inkers are already familiar with.  They are good, basic items that add up to an underwhelming box given the amounts of hype ArtSnacks put into promoting this box, the lavish promises that were made, and the fact that there's still a $30 discrepancy between what I paid and what I received. 

This box promised to have something for inkers of all abilities, but instead seemed to focus solidly on beginners, leaving the competent scratching their heads.  There was so much room, budget wise, to really include some exciting goodies!

Potential Box Additions:
  • Variety of paper samples including cold press watercolor paper (for drybrush), Bristol, and mixed media papers
  • Walnut ink
  • Colored inks
  • Crowquills
  • A wider variety of nibs including fixed width like A, B, or C, mapping, or G
  • Inexpensive fountain pens like the Preppy
  • Fude pens like the Fudebiyori or the Pilot Mikase

If I had known the box would be so anemic, I would not have purchased it.

Resources and Outside Links
Difference Between G-Pen, Maru, Saji/Tama Nib Demo-Comic/Manga Fountain Pen Nib Tutorial
Copic Multiner SP vs. Sakura Pigma Micron
How to Change Nibs and Ink Cartridges on Copic Multiliner SP Pens
Pentel Brush Pen Review & How to Use Brush Pen
Review:  Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Sumi Ink 60

Thanks for reading. Check out these products.