Monday, January 15, 2018

Penciling Your Bluelines: Watercolor Basics

In our last Watercolor Basics post, we talked about printing our bluelines and penciling our pages.  In today's, I'm going to demonstrate how I pencil my watercolor illustrations and comic pages.


Printed Blueline Illustration
2H pencil or mechanical pencil lead

Penciling your illustration is really simple, but it can be a key part to ensuring your lines don't disappear.  You want to use a harder lead, as soft leads may smear when you stretch your page.  As your page evolves, your penciled lines will almost disappear, especially if you utilize watercolor outlines and strong contrast.  This allows for a softer look than available for pen and ink watercolor illustrations.  Although this is the method I use for 7" Kara pages, fear not, I'll cover other methods in the near future!

Left:  Inked watercolor illustration.  Right: Pencilled watercolor illustration.

Disappearing Bluelines Tutorial:

Watercolor Basics- Pencils

Left: Pencils with bluelines,    Right: Finished watercolor page.

Penciling is a very simple technique that allows you to define forms even after your bluelines have washed away.  You can go simple and open, or do intricate, detailed lineart with your pencils.  Pencils are not your only option when it comes to creating lineart for watercolors, but they're an excellent low key, inexpensive way to do so.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Printing Your Bluelines: Watercolor Basics

This is the process I use for standalone illustrations as well as my 7" Kara comic pages.  It involves printing out digital bluelines onto watercolor paper using a desktop printer.  This process is my secret weapon- without it, I wouldn't be able to produce watercolor comic pages, and certainly not in the numbers necessary for a longform comic like 7" Kara.  This is also the same process I use for printing out bluelines for inked pieces, so it's a really versatile technique for comic artists and illustrators! 

If you're a stamper or cardmaker, this technique is still relevant to you!  You can print your digistamp onto whatever paper you like, then opt to either pencil over it, or ink it with a waterproof technical pen or brushpen.

I know the idea of printing out your bluelines for watercolor may come across as totally foreign to many of you.  This process was introduced to me by Heidi Black, and I'm using the materials she originally recommended as well.  I've had great results with this process over the years, and have used it to print 7" Kara pages since Chapter 1.  If you doubt my results, simply check my comic out, or check out my Instagram for unaltered photos of in process pages.

If you enjoy this watercolor process, you should check out Heidi's art and tutorial book- ElectricAbyss: The Art of Heidi Black.  It's full of great art tutorials.

Example of a stretched comic page


Cellulose or Cotton Rag watercolor paper- mould made is best (handmade tends not to run through a printer very well.

Papers I've tried:
Canson Moulin du Roy
Canson L'Aquarelle Heritage
Langton Prestige
Canson Biggie Watercolor
Winsor and Newton Watercolor Marker Paper
Fluid EZ Block coldpress watercolor paper (removed from the block)
Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor paper
Cheap Joe's Kilimanjaro Coldpress 

The ideal paper comes in fairly standard sizes, on tape bound pads.  If you're using block bound watercolor paper, you will have to remove the paper to run it through the printer.

Home printer that uses inkjet ink
(Basically anything but a toner printer will work for this)
I use a Canson Pixma Pro 9000 MK II- it's a large format photo printer that can handle thick watercolor papers quite well

Creating Your Bluelines:
I did a tutorial in Intro to Comic Craft on turning your roughs into bluelines and printing them, so I recommend checking out this post for those settings!

Prepared Bluelines

Print Settings I find helpful:

For the Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MK II, you want to select front tray (paper loads from the front of the printer) as it allows the printer to print the page entirely flat.  This is great for heavier papers like 140lb and 300lb watercolor paper.

For printing on watercolor paper, I want my bluelines as light as possible, so I select 'plain paper' and 'fast' print quality.

Watercolor paper often comes in non-standard sizes, so you'll need to select Custom and input your paper's size before printing.

Printing Your Pages

Intro to Comic Craft- Printing Cicada Summer Bluelines: 

Once your pages have been printed, you're going to need to decide how to formalize your lines.  The dye based printer ink will wash away once you stretch your pages, so you either need to pencil your lineart or ink your lineart.

When stretching your watercolor paper:

  1. Apply water to back side, dab off with paper towels
  2. Apply water quickly to front, dab off with paper towels (to remove blue dye)
  3. Apply water to front, dab off with paper towels
  4. Continue as normal.

Stretching Demonstration (with printed bluelines):

Disappearing Bluelines Tutorial

Demonstration of Printed Bluelines

Keep in mind that once you apply water to your paper, the bluelines will dissolve, so you will want to either pencil or ink your bluelines in order to preserve your lineart.  Keep an eye out for an tutorial on penciling your watercolor lineart in the near future!

Monday, January 08, 2018

Want to Collaborate in 2018?

I'm Looking for Youtube Creators to Collaborate with!

Art?  Music?  Dance?  Games?  So long as you create and express yourself, I'm interested in collaborating!  I really want to expand my horizons in 2018, and working with other creators is a great way to do that!  If you have a Youtube channel (or stream regularly on services such as Picarto or Twitch) I'm interested in working with you!

Some Stats About Me:
  • Channel:
  • Updates 3x a week, often more frequently
  • Just shy of 4k subscribers
  • Promotes to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest
  • Patrons get Early Access to Videos
  • Content is often featured on the sister art tutorial/art supply review blog
  • Primarily work in traditional medium and comics- watercolor, waterbased and alcohol marker
  • Channel focuses on art supply reviews and art tutorials

What I’m Looking For:
  • Creators who update regularly- ideally once a week, but once every two weeks is fine
  • Creators who engage and promote their content
  • Channels that promote positivity- teach a skill, demonstrate products, promote games, create content
  • Channel is 6 months or older
Not Important:
  • Popularity- I don’t care what your sub count is, I do care that you update regularly
  • Media and Medium- I don’t care if you work traditionally or digitally, create music or games- I’m open to all sorts of collaborations
Types of Collabs I’m Open To:
  • Style Swaps
  • Redraw Your Character
  • Fandom swap
  • Favorite art supply swap
  • Lineart exchange
  • Round Robin multi artist exchange
  • Collaborate on a theme
  • Challenges
And more!  If you’ve got something else in mind, email me a pitch!

This Thursday, StArt Faire is hosting a Comic Tea Party for my webcomic, 7" Kara!  StArt Faire hosts weekly webcomic Tea Parties, where fans can join them on their Discord to answer plotty webcomic questions and chat with the creator.  You can find more information about Comic Tea Party, including the Discord information, here.  I would really appreciate it if some of you could swing by and cheer me on this Thursday.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Revisiting the Past- Redrawing 10 Year Old Characters

In November and early December, I decided it was high time I dig up some old art and do some redraws to compare progress.  This is a fairly popular challenge for artists, and it can be a great way to discover not only how much you've improved, but how much stays consistent through the years- the essence of your drawing style.

Most of these are characters and designs from approximately 10 years ago- a few are older.  Redrawing these characters was a lot of fun- and the Redraw challenge can be a great way to combat artist block.    The thinking is done for you- all you have to do is either redraw the character faithfully in your current style, or redesign the character and see how your tastes have improved over time.

If you think you've made no artistic progress over the years, I challenge you to try redrawing and redesigning old characters with your current artistic sensibilities.  Redesigning can be great if you're going through an artslump- most of the work has been done for you- you just need to focus on improving the design.  I enjoyed this exercise so much I did several different iterations, and will probably do further variations on this exercise.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Resolutions: Art Related Goals for 2018

Setting Realistic Art Goals: 

This year, when setting my resolutions, I tried to focus on actionable goals that I have direct control over.  This means avoiding goals predicated by popularity, monetary success, or getting into specific shows.

Patreon and Support Goals:

Want to revamp the Patreon- easier to navigate, more images, less text, better demonstrate the things I have done with backer support

Want to do a Pledge drive for Patreon once Patreon has been revamped

Launch year-long subscription options on Gumroad and through Square, to give people additional options to support my work

Career Related:

Want to redo kidlit portfolio based on editor advice, start sending it out again

Want to complete more standalone, narrative illustrations

Want to start sending out professional postcards

Comics Related:

Want to write two kidlit/middlegrade pitches with art and finished pages

Want to pitch to more anthologies

7" Kara Related:

Want to prioritize my time effectively- more time on 7" Kara pages and promotion, less time at conventions

Want to celebrate my one year online anniversary in February

Want to improve my promotion for 7" Kara- both as a print book and a webcomic.  To do this I will:
  • Take out ads on Project Wonderful for the Webcomic
  • Take out ads on TWC for the Webcomic
  • Participate in WebComicChat and Comic Artists Unite
  • Participate in Comic Tea Party on January 11th

Want to finish Chapters 7 and 8, plus a bonus comic, for Volume 2

Want to Kickstart Volume 2

Sales Related:

Want to revamp my online shop- better photos, better listings, get rid of the fluff
Want to clean out my old Etsy and use it to sell original paintings


Want to limit commissions taken at shows

Want to up commission prices

Art Development: 

Want to do more plein air studies and sketches- at the zoo, on hikes, on trips

Want to do more realistic watercolor and marker studies

Want to do more alcohol marker tutorials

Want to do more challenges and improvement drills

Community Related:

Want to engage other artists about their work more frequently

Want to get caught up and stay caught up with IDC member webcomics

Want to participate in Comic Teaparty regularly

Blog Related:

Want to finish Watercolor Basics series

Want to finish Intro to Comic Craft

Stick to a blog/Youtube budget based on last year's 'income' from Amazon Affiliates, Patreon, and Adsense

Want to start pulling the best posts and turning them into PDF's, because this blog is closing in 2019.

Personal Goals:

Continue managing my anxiety and depression

Continue working on positive self talk

Prioritize 7" Kara above other projects

Work on improving my organization

Rehome more art supplies

Learn to use the Cricut

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Lineart Inks for Copics

A list of inks that are compatible with Copic and other alcohol markers- i.e. will not smear if alcohol markers or inks are applied on top.

For lining pens and inks not Copic-compatible, you can render first, then create your lineart after.

The basic formula: 

Pigment inks are generally going to be alcohol marker and watersafe, but this is not a given.  Inks that utilize a shellac or plastisol binder, such as acrylic inks and many Indian inks, are not alcohol marker safe.

Below is a list of inks I've tried and can recommend.  I'm sure there are more alcohol-marker safe inks available, and I encourage you to experiment and report back with the results!

Bear In Mind:

  • Dry markers are more likely to smear inks
  • Heavy applications of ink are more prone to smearing
  • Inks should be allowed to cure for at least 1 hour
  • Inks applied by nib are more likely to smear, as it's a heavier application
  • Acrylic inks are re-activated by alcohol solvents, and will smear
  • India inks with lacquer or shellac will reactiveate and smear
  • Paper plays a role in smearing and compatibility

Since this is an ink related post, I urge you guys to check out Ink Drop Cafe, a webcomic collective.  You can read over a dozen wonderful webcomics free!

Technical Pen and Fineliners:

Stabilo Point 88 and Point 68 (I would assume this is true for all the Stabilo Fineliners)- Dyebased, and not waterproof

Copic Multiliner

Copic Multiliner Brush Pens
Sky Blue

There are many other colors available in Multiliner brush, but I've had poor performance from the Purple, and hesistate to recommend colors I have not swatched.  Copic used to have a wide range of colors available for Multiliner SP Brushes, but those are no longer available.

Sakura Micron

Sakura Brush Pens
Note: I haven't had an opportunity to swatch and test all the colors available

Sakura Pigma Sensei

Neopiko Line 2
Neopiko Line 3

Pitt Pens (fineliners)- note: not all colors were tested, if there's interest, I can do this.

Chameleon Detail Pen

Marvy LePlume Pigment Pen

Plumchester- Available in P 1.5 (brush) and P 4

Pens Purchased in Japan: 

08 Color Master Milli
Slider Fine- Graphic
Tachikawa Finepoint System
Pigma Comicline 08
Procolor II

Brush Pens:

Sakura Pigma

Sailor Mitsuo Aida
Sailor Ryofuka

Copic Gasenfude- this is supposed to be alcohol marker proof, and is marketed as such, but multiple field tests by Kabocha have proved otherwise, so I recommend avoiding.

Kuretake Fudegokochi Pilot Fude Brush Pilot Petit Sign (I assume the ink would be alcohol proof regardless of the tip)- You can fill these with the ink of your choice, if you convert it to eyedropper. This was tested with the ink in the cartridge. Note- Only tested for black

Pitt Pens, including Big Brush

Copic Multiliner
Copic Multliner SP BS  (smaller brush)

Sakura Pigma Brush
Prismacolor Illustrator Pens
Purples for Copic, Prismacolor, and Sakura Pigma all seem to smear with water and with alcohol ink, and should be avoided or used last.

Gel Pens:

Hi Tec C (Black)
Pentel Slicci
Pentel Technica
Pilot Frixon
Pilot G-2 (black)
Papermate Inkjoy Gel

Zebra Supermarble

White Inks:
Sakura Gellyroll
Uniball Signo

Fountain Pen Inks: 
Platinum Carbon Black Ink

Liquid Inks:
For use with brushes and dip pens

Kuretake Sumi Ink 60
Yasutomo Sumi Ink

Koh-i-Noor (for Rapidograph pens)

Winsor and Newton India Ink (non waterproof)

Walnut Ink

Kaimei Drawing Sol K
Thanks to Kabocha, BomberBee for help with this post!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Blick Illustrator Marker Review (and Giveaway!)

Today we're checking out Blick's newest alcohol marker option, the Blick Illustrator Marker.  These markers were recently released, and certain sets have already sold out, and it seems like this is a limited time offer.

Over the years, I've reviewed dozens of alcohol markers- first on this blog, and then on my channel.  Limited time isn't enough to deter me, especially given how much I enjoy Blick's Studio Brush Markers.

To celebrate my years of alcohol marker reviews, I'm giving away the set of Blick Illustrator markers I purchased for this review!  You'll have to keep reading to find out how to win them.

marker illustration, example marker illustration, marker art, alcohol marker art, alcohol marker, Blick Illustrator markers

The Stats:

  • Available in 12 and 24 sets (24 no longer available)
  • Limited time offer
  • Blick Exclusive
  • Does not utilize the same color family/naming system as the Blick Studio Brush Markers
  • Non refillable
  • Compressed Fiber Brush Nib/Chisel Nib
  • Alcohol ink

Other alcohol markers made by Blick: 

The Comparison
Blick Illustrator Marker, Blick Studio Marker, Stylefile marker, Copic Sketch marker, Prismacolor marker
Top to bottom: Blick Illustrator Marker, Blick Studio Marker, Stylefile marker, Copic Sketch marker, Prismacolor marker

Prismacolor marker, Neopiko marker, Blick Illustrator marker, Blick Studio Brush Marker, Stylefile marker, Copic Sketch Marker
Top to bottom: Prismacolor marker, Neopiko marker, Blick Illustrator marker, Blick Studio Brush Marker, Stylefile marker, Copic Sketch Marker

Blick Illustrator Marker, Copic Ciao, Copic Sketch, Blick Studio Brush markers
Bottom to Top: Blick Illustrator Marker, Copic Ciao, Copic Sketch, Blick Studio Brush markers

These markers appear to use the same body as the Artist Loft markers, the Art Alternatives #Colouring markers, and are very similar to Stylefile markers.  They utilize compressed fiber nibs (both brush and chisel), and are not designed to be refillable.

Unbox and Swatch: 

Blick Illustrator Markers Swatches and Blending Tests

Blick Illustrator Markers, marker review
Blick Illustrator Markers Naming Scheme

Fieldtest (And Tutorial!)

The Contest
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Rules
  • Must be a US resident
  • Must be 18 or older or have a parent's consent to enter (that can be emailed here)

The Verdict

These aren't bad for a crafter who's interested in testing the waters for alcohol markers, but I wouldn't recommend these for anyone serious about delving into markers.  For those folks, I recommend turning your sights to the Blick Studio Brush Markers.  However, the price is great for a starter set, and may be hard to resist, especially for convention artists who'd like a set they could afford to lose.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017

Watch The Magic



I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had one that's happy, safe, warm, and surrounded by loved ones.  For those of you who celebrate other winter holidays, or just choose not to celebrate Christmas, I hope December has been a good month for you, full of friends, family, and delicious food.

Monday, December 18, 2017

How to Achieve Free (or Nearly) Art Education

For Western artists and art devotees, there's a myriad of free (or nearly free) art education resources at your fingertips- you just need to do a little research!

This post was sponsored by Ink Drop Cafe, a webcomic collective that has partnered with several wonderful artist resources including Paper Cat Press, and Shooting-Stars.

What Drives Improvement Most:

  • Regular, concentrated practice 
  • Educated insight into methods and skills
  • Group input, critique, external perspectives
  • Guidance from someone further along than you
  • Exposure to a variety of materials and thought processes
  • Exposure to different styles and types of art
  • Learning how to think critically about your own art

In Person, Live Education Opportunities

  • Local workshops through your library, art guilds, and local art stores- check the community board or ask an employee
  • Figure drawing sessions through local colleges, art guilds- Check the art department's community board, ask a professor, or call the department


  • Drink and Draws
  • Dr Sketchy
  • Urban sketching
  • Sketchgroups through Meetup
  • Local comic shops may be able to recommend other local artists for you to connect with, or facilitate connections
  • Local conventions are a fantastic way to meet other artists
  • Local Watercolor, Art, or Craft Guild
  • Organize something with your friends

At Conventions
  • It's ok to ask artists in the artist alley to take a look at your sketchbook or portfolio, but be respectful of their time- they're there to make money, so consider supporting their work financially or leaving a tip
  • Some conventions (although increasingly rare) offer portfolio reviews from professional guests they've paid to attend
  • Put together a curated portfolio ahead of time- 12 pieces max, and consider having mini comics prepared to leave with artists

Hosted by A Local Business

  • Hands on Creativity
  • Art of the Carolinas
  • Creatives Day

Utilize Your Local Library:

  • Art books from the library
  • Classes and workshops through your local library

Recommended Reading
Note:  If your library is missing these titles, you can always fill out a request form!

Figure Drawing:

Figure Drawing for All It's Worth: Andrew Loomis
Glen Vilppu Drawing Manual (currently out of print, read it here)
Famous Artist Course (currently out of print, covers a wide variety of topics, read it here)

Color and Light- James Gurney
Capturing Motion in Watercolor

Understanding Comics- Scott McCloud
Making Comics- Scott McCloud
Reinventing Comics- Scott McCloud
Brick By Brick- Stephen McCranie
Drawing Words and Writing Pictures
Mastering Comics
Will Eisner- Comics and Sequential Art
Will Eisner-Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative
Will Eisner-Expressive Anatomy for Comics and Narrative
Famous Artist Cartoonist Course (currently out of print, read it here)
5 C's of Cinematography

Perspective for Comic Artists

Animation and Art:
Drawn To Life Vol 1
Drawn to Life Vol 2
Starting Point
Turning Point

On Writing

Alcohol Markers and Illustration
ElectricAbyss: The Art of Heidi Black


Youtube Channels

Lean Into Art
Brandon Dayton
Nattosoup Studio
Holly Brown

Love and Teacup Kisses
Terri Delgado
Bobby Chiu

Holly Brown
Terri Delgado
Nattosoup Studio

Figure Drawing:
Croquis Cafe
Aaron Blaise

Hand Lettering:
Teela Cunningham-Brush Lettering Basics
How To: Calligraphy and Hand Lettering for Beginners!  Tutorial+Tips!
How To: Learn Bouncy Brush Lettering
How To Start Writing Calligraphy
A Basic Guide to Calligraphy
CALLIGRAPHY 101: Different Types of Calligraphy Pens
A Guide to Crayoligraphy: Crayola Marker Calligraphy

Color and Lighting:
James Gurney


Mind of Watercolor
James Gurney
Owings Art
Mr Otter's Studio
Nattosoup Studio
The Frugal Crafter
Sandy Alnock
Hajira Meeks

Alcohol Markers:
Drawing with Jazza
Nattosoup Studio

Art Supply Reviews:
Owings Art
The Frugal Crafter
Nattosoup Studio
Parka Blog

Blogs and Websites

Nattosoup Studio Art and Process Blog- Watercolor Basics
Parka Blog
Owings Art
The Frugal Crafter
Muddy Colors

Comics and Comic Craft:
Nattosoup Studio Art and Process Blog- Intro to Comic Craft

Alcohol Markers:
Vanilla Arts
I Love Markers
Nattosoup Studio Art and Process Blog

Other Great Resources:
Urban Sketchers
Skillshare- month long new member trial

AA Toast
How to be a Con Artist
Artist Alley Network International

Art focused online communities
Ink Drop Cafe's Discord Channel
Concept Art

Other Resources

The Famous Artist Course
The Famous Artist Cartoonist Course

Artist Livestreams

Terri Delgado

Documentaries, Serialized Productions, and Podcasts


Dirty Old Ladies
Lean Into Art
Galaxy of Super Adventures
Art and Science Punks

Archive Only:
Comics Are Great (no longer running, but archive still available)
The Podcaster's Studio (no longer running, archive available)
Self Publishing Podcast (no longer running, archive available)

Fictional but Researched:
Bakumon (manga)
Shirobako (manga)
Kakukaku Shikajika (manga)

Series and Documentaries:

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Art Challenges:
Improvement Hell
24 Hour Comic Day
Hourly Comic Day

Remember that art education can be lifelong!  Feel free to take your time, focus on the subjects you enjoy, or the subjects that inspire you to improve, and make friends with other artists!

I'm sure I missed some amazing resources, so please feel free to email me your favorites!  Don't hesitate to plug your own projects!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ways to Support My Work Outside of Patreon

With Patreon's changes to how they charge fees, I realize that some fans may be up in the air on who they can afford to support.  I want you guys to know that I value your support in any way you can afford to give it, and increased shows of support inspire and encourage me to continue to strive to produce quality art education content for the masses.  This said, if you cannot afford to support me on Patreon, there are other valuable ways you can support and encourage my work that won't cost a dime!

So even if you can't afford financial support, here are some other amazing ways you can encourage my work and help support me: 

If you want to throw money my way for my work: 
  • Tip me for particularly helpful video and posts on my Ko-Fi, on a case by case basis 
  • Come by my table at conventions and purchase books, commissions, or originals
  • Order a copy of 7" Kara Volume 1 from my shop 

If You Want to Support My Work In Other Ways

 If you have a website, please throw up a link for my blog or channel in your Links section.  
This massively helps my SEO, and helps other people find my work becase Nattosoup Studio Art and Process Blog will show up higher in Google search results. 

Amplify my art education resources by: 
  • Sharing it to Pinterest 
  • Sharing it to Facebook 
  • Sharing it to Tumblr 
  • Sharing it to Twitter

 This would help so much, and it seems that social media has moved away from sharing and engaging the work of others.  But as always, your recommendation, your good word, goes a long way towards inspiring those who trust your recommendations (friends, family) to give my reviews and tutorials a shot.

 Putting in a book request for 7" Kara at your local library 
This is free for you, and libraries have funds for acquisitions!  7" Kara is a children's comic, intended for ages 7-11. 

Youtube Engagement 
  • Engaging me in my Youtube comments 
  • Subscribing to my Youtube channel and clicking the bell notification so you don't miss updates. 
  • Watch my Youtube videos to the end 
  • Engaging, subscribing, and watching my videos helps improve my Youtube analytics, and will help new viewers find my work, as Youtube will prioritize my channel in their algorithms. 
  • Publicly recommending my blog and channel to your friends as a resource 

Not only does this show me that the work I do has value, merit, and helps others find tutorials and reviews that are relevant to their needs, but it shows others that I have the qualifications necessary to answer their questions, and helps me build social value. 

Shooting me questions via email for the monthly Mailbag 

This gives me curated, direct questions to answer, and helps other people with the same question find information quickly.  It also inspires tutorials and reviews. 

Engage me on Twitter
You can find me @Nattosoup!  

Engage me on any platform with specific, concrete compliments and requests
This is by far the biggest help- I'm the sort of person who thrives on encouragement, and it's often few and far between when it comes to this blog.  With no feedback and no direction from my reading audience, it's difficult for me to know what to write about, and as I'm not a mind reader, I have no idea what people want to know.  Without engagement from you, my readers, I'm wholely reliant on my Artnerds on Patreon for guidance.  If you'd like to see a particular topic, engage me and praise me over my past work on that topic, and ask specific questions.