23 February 2018

Lucky Dip III

Although I haven't yet shared my second lucky dip drawing, I'm going to go ahead with sharing my third one.  This is because the second drawing is currently packed away!  When I packed up my art studio to move, I figured I wouldn't need that piece before I got all unpacked.  Clearly, I was wrong XD  I don't want to get behind on posting my art, so that's why I'm sharing my third Lucky Dip today.  I'll catch up on number two once I'm unpacked and set up in my new studio.

These are the art supplies I had to use this time.

As with all my lucky dips, I use a spreadsheet that lists all my art subscription box supplies and RANDOM.ORG to decide which items I'll use.  I always pull five different numbers, no more or less, though a single item on my spreadsheet might actually contain more than one thing.  That's what happened this time when I drew number 48, the PanPastel set.  This set alone contains five different pastel colors and four different smudging tools, all in one compact unit.  I consider it one item, which is why, even if I had drawn its number first rather than last, I still would have chosen four more numbers.

For reference, here are the other rules I set myself for these challenges:
  • A pencil for underdrawing is allowed, but all marks must eventually be covered/erased.
  • Extra tools such as paintbrushes, blenders, and erasers are allowed.
  • Substrate can be selected freely, based on appropriate use of the Lucky Dip items.
  • Final piece must clearly show use of all Lucky Dip items.

My tools and selected paper.

Since the pastel set had so many different colors to use (and my rules require me to use them all) I decided to go with pastel paper as my surface.  Pastel paper isn't great for markers, but it works fine with all the other tools I needed to use.  It turned out that the marker would have done poorly regardless of what it was used on...but more on that later.  I have various colors of pastel paper I could have used, but since I had so much color to work with anyway, I chose a white sheet.

Lucky dip plans! This was a good idea; donno why I didn't do it sooner XD

This lucky dip is kind of unique in that I pulled the numbers and sketched out my ideas a year or two before I actually started creating the piece.  This is another one of my many projects where I felt overwhelmed by all the little things I needed to do in order to follow through properly.  I was already two blogs behind, I didn't really enjoy creating my second lucky dip piece, and even though I sought to make things easier on myself by planning ahead instead of deciding on-the-fly how to use each of the materials, I just sort of dropped it after the sketching stage.

Lucky for the project (the lucky Lucky Dip project XD) I decided to try livestreaming my art on Twitch this year.  I'd never livestreamed anything before, or even posted videos of my art, but I knew I wanted to go in with a schedule and a plan.  I had first learned of lucky dips thanks to YouTube videos, so it quickly came to mind and I actually ended up scheduling it as my very first livestream.  You can watch it on YouTube now, to see the entire creation of Lucky Dip III from start to finish:

All done! This dragon looks glorious! Table's a wreck XD

It felt really good to do this lucky dip.  I had enjoyed my time working on the first one, but the second one felt like I was fighting with it the entire time, so I was a little worried about that happening again this time, especially since it was going to be broadcast live.  I did some deep breathing before I hit the start button on my streaming software XD  Once I got started though, none of my worries came to pass.  Everything went smoothly and the final piece turned out even better than I imagined!  This piece restored my confidence in the Lucky Dip project.

RIP Touch Twin Marker in Marigold

The one real hitch in this lucky dip was the Touch Twin Marker.  It was an item I received in my second ArtSnacks box, back in April 2014, nearly four years ago.  I only used it a few times before this lucky dip, but despite being properly capped and stored, it was almost completely dry when I used it here.  It had enough left to do what I originally intended--give the dragon its undertone--but I knew I would have to retire it after this.  I took one last photo before tossing it XD

Ink, marker, pastel, and white charcoal, 9x12", completed January 2018

I'm really glad I came back to this project, even though it took me so long.  The lucky dip idea--randomly drawing a limited selection of tools and then using them all together in one piece--is a great way to force myself to think outside the box, to use tools that I've spent money on but generally don't consider, and to liven up my video channels and blog with interesting content that you all can come to expect from me on a regular basis.  I hope you enjoyed this lucky dip and that you'll continue to look forward to them in the future!

22 February 2018

Chibi Sean - Black Bear

A lot of, "Wow, finally!" with this drawing!  For one, this was the first piece I completed this year, in the very first week of January, and yet I'm only posting it now, in the last week of February XD  For two, and much more impressive, this is the second in a series of chibis that I started way the heck back in 2008!  It's been practically a decade between my first entry and my second entry (⊙_⊙)  Hopefully, I'll be able to complete more before another ten years goes by!

I sketched the rough lines on paper, drawing the bear, staff, and Sean separately.
I then combined the sketches in Photoshop.

I'm actually quite sure I will have more to add to this series before the end of 2018.  I've decided to follow up the "birthday person's favorite animal ACEO" theme that I did in December 2017 with a new theme for the entire year: fantasy chibi birthday person!  The most basic idea for this series of chibis was thought up by my friend Trent ("draw your friends as chibis") and I decided back then to draw everyone as a sort of fantasy RPG-type character riding on the chibi animal that I felt fit them.  So the first chibi I did, way back in 2008, featured Trent riding a black horse.  I truly intended to make more, even thought of a couple more friends' outfits and animal mounts, but at the time, the first chibi had been one of the hardest projects I'd ever done (and I think that's why the drawing still holds up quite well today).  I think I burned myself out and that's why it took me so long to come back to this project.

Final lines completed in Photoshop. It was my first use of Lazy Nezumi Pro.
I left the areas under the visors intentionally light or blank.

So here we have my husband, Sean, whose birthday is the first one of the year on my list.  He really likes tabletop gaming and one of his favorites is Shadowrun, a sort of cyberpunk magical world based in Seattle, WA (or at least, that's how his explanations make it seem to me).  Using that as the basis for what kind of fantasy character he should be, I designed all the armor and the background to match.  I decided on a black bear as his mount because Sean is like a big, cuddly bear in real life.  I considered other bears--brown bear, polar bear--but the black bear's general reputation (or really, its lack thereof--grizzlies are known as ferocious, polar bears make people think of the environment) fit Sean the best.

Photoshop and Lazy Nezumi Pro, 6x8", Completed January 2018
Available for purchase as a print or art merchandise here!

I really surprised myself with how quickly I was able to complete this piece.  I didn't time myself when I created the first chibi in the series but I'm sure I didn't get it done as quickly as this one.  I finished with enough time to print, dry, trim, and frame it before Sean's birthday!  It's probably for the best that it took me so long to try making more fantasy chibis; there's no way I'll burn out now with my current level of skill and experience (^^)  Here's hoping the rest of the chibis I intend to draw for birthday people this year are just as quick and easy so that busy birthday months aren't tough to manage!

20 February 2018

ArtSnacks - February 2018

Happy Valentine's Day! It's a bit late, but I'm finally here with my unboxing and review of the February 2018 monthly ArtSnacks box!  For anyone who doesn't know, ArtSnacks offers monthly blind boxes on several different subscription plans.  These boxes always contain at least four (and often five or six or more) full-size, premium art supplies.  This is the last box of my third year being subscribed to the service and I'm still not bored of it!  Let's see what came in my box this month.

I love when ArtSnacks themes the boxes for the holidays!

I was really happy with my January box and the February box didn't disappoint either.  Everything, again, was totally up my alley!  Drawing and watercolor supplies--my favorites!  Here's what was on the menu:
  • Sennelier French Artists' Watercolor [lemon yellow, titanium white]
  • Raphaël Mini Precision Brush, Flat Size 2
  • Faber-Castell Goldfaber Sketching Pencil 2H
  • Sakura Pigma Micron PN
  • BONUS: Fabriano Artistico Watercolor Paper Sample
Outside of the actual art supplies, my box also came with a little serving-size bag of Sweethearts and a Valentine's Day-themed ArtSnacks logo sticker.  I still love that every box comes with these fun bonus items!

Test of both watercolor tubes and the brush.

Sennelier French Artists' Watercolor

Watercolor is one of my favorite media so I'm always happy to receive more in my ArtSnacks boxes.  I was a bit disappointed to receive white this time, though.  I so rarely use white since I work on white paper (and the sample paper that came in this box was white, as well!).  White is good for mixing pastel shades and greys, so it's not a useless color, but I always unbox thinking first about how I can use all the supplies together for my ArtSnacks Challenge (a piece made using all of that month's supplies and nothing else).  It was not easy to imagine using every item from this box effectively in the same piece.  You can see, in the testing image above, how the white paint is virtually invisible on the white paper of my sketchbook.  It shows up well on the yellow paint, though, which was what made it possible to complete my ArtSnacks Challenge successfully this month.  As for the yellow paint, there's nothing much for me to say about it.  It seems like a quality watercolor paint, plenty of pigment and no weird smell like some other brands.

Raphaël Mini Precision Brush

This brush is one of the shortest-handled brushes I have ever seen!  I was skeptical at first glance, thinking it might be uncomfortable to use, but once I tried it out, it didn't really feel any different than other short-handled brushes.  I could see someone with really large hands having trouble, but then again, such a person might have trouble with any short, thin handle.  When I used this brush for my ArtSnacks Challenge, I found it worked really well, holding a lot of color, spreading it evenly, and it didn't lose its shape or any bristles.  Based on the menu, it seems like all boxes contained the flat size 2 brush.

A little side story about paint brushes:  Recently, I finished painting the interior of my house but we were in a rush to move out (I was painting it because I sold it) and the painting supplies all got packed before I was done.  We went out and bought a couple of those cheap painting kits--the kind with a roller brush, paint pan, foam brushes, etc.--and most of the supplies were fine except the 2.5" brush that was included.  It was SO cheap, so awful, I was barely able to paint anything.  I threw it away as soon as I was done painting because it was already falling apart after only a couple hours of on-and-off use.  I've never worked with such a cheap, useless brush, not for interior or fine art applications.  I'm bringing this all up because it really made me appreciate how good even the worst of my large collection of artist brushes are.  It especially made me think about the fact that I've never gotten a bad brush from an ArtSnacks box.  I almost feel spoiled.  It's so great to paint with quality supplies!

Pencil Test. The hard graphite doesn't show well in the photo.

Faber-Castell Goldfaber Sketching Pencil

Thanks to ArtSnacks, I will probably never need to buy another artist pencil again.  I have so many now!  But I'm never unhappy to receive another one :3  I've been particularly keen on harder pencils recently, since they are great for doing underdrawings which will eventually be erased (the harder the pencil, the easier to erase cleanly) so this 2H was quite welcome.  I don't have anything in particular to say about it, it's a hard graphite core encased in wood, easy to hold and does its job.  Can't really ask for more.

Micron PN test. Like most Microns, the ink is black.

Sakura Pigma Micron PN

Now this item REALLY intrigued me.  I'm a longtime user of the Sakura Pigma line and until I received this pen, I thought I had already seen (and owned) every pen under the Pigma banner.  I can't describe how excited I was to see something new from a familiar brand!  The blue-green color for the "PIGMA" and "PN" printed on the body was so visually striking since I am very used to my other pens that have purple or red text, instead.  I had no idea what "PN" could possibly stand for.  This was the most excited I'd felt by an ArtSnacks item in quite a while!  Instead of the thrill of an utterly new tool, it felt like the shock of a plot twist!

I finally turned to the menu to learn just what was up with this marvel.  It turns out, "PN" stands for "plastic nib".  I totally would not have guessed that, lol.  The nib allows for a bit more range in line weight than the Microns I'm used to but it's otherwise the same as the rest of the line.  The ink is water/alcohol proof when dry, which is the nicest thing about these pens and the reason I've used them for so long.

My ArtSnacks challenge!

I actually completed my ArtSnacks challenge for this month before writing this post, which is somewhat unusual, but not bad since I can include it here instead of making an additional post.  The reason I got it done so soon was my Twitch livestreaming schedule.  Every second Monday is ArtSnacks challenge day, so regardless of whether my unboxing post has been completed, I have to get my challenge piece done.  Not only that, but it's done live on the Internet for anyone to watch!  I started livestreaming in January but this was the first live ArtSnacks challenge I did.  If you'd like to watch it, it's been uploaded to YouTube!

I drew a grey heron. I really like birds recently!

ArtSnacks is on a roll so far this year.  They've had a great first two boxes (at least according to my tastes) and they've been teasing their birthday box for next month, so I'm hoping I'll be just as happy with that one.  ArtSnacks' birthday is my subscription anniversary, so the March box will be the first box of my fourth year as an ArtSnacker!

Pencil shavings canister gets another sticker.

So, fellow subscribers, what did you think of the February box?  Did you like what you got?  Did you participate in the challenge?  Non-subscribers, are there any questions about the items I got this time?  Is there anything you'd like me to cover in my unboxing posts that I missed this time?

13 February 2018

Birthdays December 2017 - Have a Goat

Ink and marker on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

The last piece of art I finished in 2017 was also the third and final birthday present ACEO I created in December, this time for Aryssa Hutchins!  I followed the same theme as with the previous two and drew what I thought to be the recipient's favorite animal.  Even though this drawing was for my first little sister, I had a really hard time deciding what her favorite animal must be 😲 I finally settled on a goat and was happy and relieved when she confirmed that I made the right choice XD

Although I only created three birthday present arts in December 2017, when you combine it with all the Christmas presents that I also made that month, this piece was the 17th ACEO I completed!  Then adding on the Tomodachi Fest commission and Christmas card illustration, I finished 19 pieces altogether.  I don't know if I've ever created so many pieces in such a short time--they were all done within a three-week span.  If I keep making lots of art presents around the end of the year, I imagine this won't be the last time XD  Hopefully I can plan ahead and make it a bit less hectic in future!

05 February 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Reece Cat

Ink and marker on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

And here we finally have it, the last cat in the "You as a Cat!" series of ACEOs I made last December as Christmas presents for my closest friends and family.  This one features yet another good friend from high school (and grade school), Reece!  Honestly, now that I've posted and talked about all the pieces I drew in this series...this cat might be my favorite of the lot.  The wide eyes and gaping mouth make such a fun, excited, even surprised expression (it's the most animated face of all the cats I drew) and I'm extremely pleased with how all the colors work together, they remind me of a rainy spring day in Seattle.  Nostalgic.

I think there's a very good chance that the reason I love this final drawing so much is that it is the culmination of all the planning, experimentation, and practice that went into making the previous 13 cats.  I chose this extreme pose based on Reece's personality, but would I have been able to pull it off as well if this had not been the last ACEO I completed?  Maybe not, but since I KNEW it was the last piece on my list, that could have given me a boost, too!  After all, this was the fifth drawing I did on the last day I worked on this project.  The drawing had the potential to suffer due to my exhaustion, but instead it came out one of the best entries in the series!

It took me all the way to February to share all these Christmas presents.  I definitely intend to do more art presents this year (in fact, I have already done a birthday present in January!) so I hope you'll look forward to them throughout 2018 (^^)

02 February 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Jeremy Cat

Ink and marker on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

We're down to the second-to-last "You as a Cat!" ACEO Christmas present that I created in December 2017.  This one is based on another close high school buddy, Jeremy.  I had a pretty hard time finding a relatively recent, well-lit, and complete reference image of Jeremy, but I finally settled for a somewhat older photo that showed his hair blowing epically in the wind.  I tried to replicate that effect with the cat's fur :3

Available printed on cool art merch here!

Making art as Christmas presents is always a tougher challenge than I expect it to be (no matter how many years I do it!). Sometimes throughout the year, I feel lonely and friendless, but when I put together my recipient list, I realize I actually have quite a few good, close, cherished friends and family!  Five, ten, or fifteen close relations doesn't seem so big a number until you sit down to make five, ten, or fifteen individual art pieces before Christmas hits!  This year, I may start my present-making at the beginning of November to give myself a good head-start and plenty of breathing room...

01 February 2018

2017 Christmas Presents - Katrina Cat

Ink, marker, and colored pencil on smooth Bristol, 2.5x3.5", Completed December 2017

This is definitely the most different and difficult breed of cat that I attempted to depict in this series of ACEOs. The fur is so short that I had to draw every curve and wrinkle that is normally hidden by longer, thicker fur on other cats. I chose a curly-coated, red Devon Rex to represent my friend Katrina because the breed's appearance is a good translation of her human one: thin build with curly, strawberry blonde hair. I really love the coiled whiskers on this cat! So cute I wish I could pet them for real!

Available for purchase in my deviantART shop!

If you're keeping up with my posts in real time, you'll know this is the twelfth cat I drew altogether, and the third on my busiest and last day of working on the project. I think I was getting tired by this point and I remember taking a break after this cat, before starting again to complete the final ones on my list. When you look at them, ACEOs don't seem like they should take very long to make because they're so small, but it's still a good 2-4 hours of constant work per item to get a result like this!