Stuff I Have for Making Traditional Art

pencils in stainless steel bucket

Happy mid-October everyone!

I’ve been having a lot of fun doing my #blacktober prompt this year. It’s been going strong, and have done a complete sketch everyday so far! Hopefully this post won’t jinx my progress.

For this post I’d like to talk about the different supplies I use to make my traditional art. I love experimenting with my art, and have accumulated tons of supplies to use. I’ll let you know my favorites, and show you ones I use the most.

I went over the art techniques I use in this post, so this post will be a nice add-on!

Follow me on Tiktok! @alla_softpeach

I made a Tiktok a while ago showing off my supplies, but let’s look at them in more detail, shall we?

Everything I talk about today will be linked if you would like to shop 🙂

Sketchbooks

I love using mixed media sketchbooks. My favorites are the Strathmore Mixed Media sketchbook and the Canson Mixed Media sketchbook. The paper in this sketchbook is pretty thick, and depending on the type of paper you like, you can get the kind with more or less “tooth”, or a more grainy texture. The “toothy” textures take pencil and watercolor very well, and the smooth texture takes marker and ink very well. The Canson sketchbook I use the most frequently is a mixture of these textures, so I use many different types of supplies with this! The Strathmore sketchbook has a more smooth texture, so I’ve been using one for my Blacktober prompts. I tend to get the 9×12 size, but both sketchbooks come in a ton of different sizes.

A couple weeks ago, I bought a bulk these two sketchbooks, so I wouldn’t run out for a long time. I love these sketchbooks!

Illustration Boards

For illustrations and comic making, I like to use Bristol Board. The specific kind I use is the Strathmore 300 series Bristol Pad in the Vellum texture. This is a great surface for making comics because the Vellum surface is great for taking ink and markers of all types. I also use these for making illustrations too, especially for marker-based illustrations. I sometimes use gouache and watercolor on this surface, but the paint still takes the paper well enough. Just make sure you tape your paper down! These bristol boards come in many types of textures and sizes. I generally use the 11×14 size. I like to draw big, so I need a lot of room!

I also like to work on Illustration Board. The type I’ve been using is the Strathmore 500 series Illustration Board for Wet Media. This is a pretty good board for taking many different types of mixed medias. I don’t use illustration board all that much, but when I do, my artwork always looks more professional! I generally buy the 15×22 size and cut it into 4 equal pieces, making each piece around 7.5×11. It’s the perfect size for making cute little illustrations.

Some other types of paper I use is basic copy paper for printing designs for stickers, and photo paper for making art prints. I use the Canon Pro Luster paper, but I’d like to experiment with more photo paper for my prints in the future. I have to be careful though, cause it can get expensive!

Sticker Supplies

Here’s a more in depth look of the supplies I use for stickers. Like I said, I use normal printer paper to print my designs on, and I use the Xtron sticker maker for making the actual sticker. I have an older design, but there’s a big and small machine, which are both really easy to use. I use to use sticker paper to print my stickers on and cut them from there, but I found it was harder to peel the stickers off, so I now use my Xtron.

My goal is to save funds to buy a Cricut Maker. These machines can make nice, high quality stickers. They’re pretty expensive though, so I will work hard to gather the funds for one! A Cricut Maker is definitely going in my Studio Picnic co-working space; one of each color for everyone to use!

Markers

Some of my favorite markers are the Koi Brush Pens. I love these because they come in tons of different colors, have a brush tip for making details, can be blended, and are affordable! I’ve been using them a lot during Blacktober; they can add color to any piece easily! Check out my Blacktober Archive page to see how I’ve used them.

Copic Sketch Markers are amazingly good tools. Like the Koi pens, they can add beautiful color to any piece, but can also be great for blending and adding a more rendered look to your work. They’re very expensive, so I only have a few; the 12 pack of basic colors, and a skin tone pack. I’ve been using the skin tone pack for my recent pieces, and it looks great! I would recommend these if you have some cash; like I said, they’re very expensive. Maybe someday I can afford one of the 72 packs…someday…

If you want to try these markers out, I suggest only buying the colors you need for the piece you’re working on, since you can buy individual colors.

Ink Pens

Inking is probably my favorite thing to do in art. I love seeing a piece come together with the use of black ink. I honestly don’t stray too far with my inking supplies, so here’s what I use:

I love love love Sakura Pigma Micron Pens! These ink pens are smooth on every surface, and I use a lot of different sizes. For comic making, I can use them to get really detailed ink drawings that look great when I scan them into the computer. I also love to create different hatching techniques for extra details. These pens come in lots of different sizes, but my favorite ones are .5, .1, and .005. The smallest size is super great for very tiny, intricate details, and .1 is usually my go-to.

The ink version of the Sailor Quartet!

One of my new favorite ink pens is the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. It’s a brush pen that produces a beautiful line that can range from super thick to very thin and detailed. I use it for filling in black areas, or making interesting line art. I don’t know how I was making art without it!

Paint

When I’m in a painting mood, I like to mainly use water based paints like watercolor and gouache. These paints work well with most of the paper I use, and I generally build up thin layers of paint to then layer colored pencils, or even inks on top. I’m not super big into painting like I was in art school, so I use paints pretty sparingly in my art these days.

For watercolor, I use the Winsor & Newton brand. These come in a tube, which I prefer over the pan sets. I use a plastic palate to hold the watercolors, and add a few drops of water to the paint when I want to use it! If you go to your local art supply store, there’s a lot of different supplies like palates, water cups, and more to get.

I use gouache from time to time. I don’t have the best brand of gouache, so I would recommend to you the Winsor & Newton brand of gouache as well. Mainly because that’s the brand I’ll be switching to! I just bought a cheap brand from Michaels because I wanted to try out the medium back in art school. I honestly don’t use gouache as much lately, but it’s a good paint medium to try out! It’s like a mix of watercolor and acrylic.

As for brushes, I don’t really have a brand I stick to, but I tend to stick to smaller brushes for painting. Mostly because I paint small areas. I would check out Blick’s website on their selection of brushes! Stick with the synthetic brushes though.

Pencils

For the longest time, I used mechanical pencils to draw. While they are good to draw with, I found the kind I was using smudged too much, and as a left handed person, this was bad. I switched to harder pencil, General Kimberly’s pencils to be exact. I use the 2H hardness, and it’s been very good for sketching and planning. The graphite is hard enough so it doesn’t smudge, and can even be layered with a softer pencil to darken the drawing!

To keep the pencil drawing in tact, I like to use spray fixative to keep it from smudging. I use this brand. This is so my pencil sketches can be better preserved in a sketchbook. Hey, a full pencil sketchbook for sale may be a good idea, what do you think?

Anyways, graphite pencils are great, but let’s move on to colored pencils! I wanted to use the expensive Prismacolor colored pencils, but I found a more affordable brand by Blick. I bought the 48 pack of varied colors on an impulse buy. They add a nice layer of texture over a watercolor painting. Now that I have more colors to work with, I can play around more with this mixed media technique!

Here’s a good example of layering watercolor
& colored pencils :3 (pardon the scan line)

Misc

The supplies above are what I mainly use, but there are many other supplies than come in handy.

Masking fluid being one of them. Its main function is to cover parts of a painting that you don’t want watercolor to touch. It then peels off afterwards. I used it for that red Sailor Moon piece up above.

Higgin’s India Ink comes in handy if I have a big black area I want to cover, or if I feel like doing some ink wash painting. I haven’t done an ink wash painting in a long time, but I enjoy them a lot, so maybe I’ll do one after Blacktober? I’ve also used india ink and a special brush to make interesting hair textures. I’m really interested in using colored ink for paintings, but colored ink can get expensive.

I do use white ink for adding extra white shines and spots to my art.

Another technical thing is using painter’s tape for creating boarders for paintings. I use painter’s tape all the time, and I love it because it’s very sticky, but gentle on my illustration boards.

Sometimes I use glitter in my art too! I haven’t done it very much, but the idea is to take normal glue and shake the glitter on spots.

I used glitter on this piece, but it’s kinda hard to tell.

I also experimented with using doilies! The idea is to take the lacy parts of a doily and add that patterned texture to the background of a piece. I don’t have a successful piece with this effect, but I’ll show you what I was inspired by:

That’s all for this big, art supply post! I hope it helped anyone out there looking to get some new inspiration.

Just know that it doesn’t take hundreds of dollars to get a stellar collection of art supplies. I’ve had most of my supplies for years now. I went to an art school, and was able to accumulate a ton of supplies. When I was in high school, I was fine with my little sketchbook, pencil, and ballpoint pen. Heck, I drew in a lined notebook for most of my high school career! If you have a pencil and paper, you can draw, and the special fancy supplies will come later. Sometimes friends and family can be very generous and gift you supplies, or you can find people selling supplies on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. Like with your art, you can get creative with your hunt for good art supplies.

See you all in the next post!

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A Look at My Mixed Media Processes

What’s going on everyone? It’s starting to get a little cooler here in the mid-west, and the leaves are very slightly starting to change colors. I have been diligent the past few weeks; I’ve been busy working on new products for my Etsy shop, Soft Peach Designs, and I’ve been doing my best to workout as much as I can, and eat as clean as I’m able. Is anyone else trying their best to be productive right now? It feels like it’s really hard to stay sane in the current political climate. But that’s a whole other story!

In this blog post, I wanted to talk a little more in detail about my mixed media processes. I love to do both traditional and digital art, and I tend to flip back and forth between the two mediums. I do feel more comfortable working traditionally however, and I came up with three different mixed media methods that I like to incorporate into my art. Maybe you can find some new ideas with these methods!

Here we go!

Painterly Technique

Materials Needed:

  1. Bristol board or mixed media sketch pad
  2. Watercolor or gouache paint
  3. Colored pencils in a variety of colors
  4. Ink pens
  5. White ink, white gel pens, white markers, or white acrylic paint

I start off with a wash of flat colors with the paint. I like to use a water based paint like watercolor or gouache so that the colors are light and can be layered easily. I like to add more saturation to places to add value, and water down the paint for lighter places. With watercolor, your piece can stand out if you keep some spots of your painting blank without water or paint; it makes it the brightest place of your painting and makes an easy highlight. I like to do this with eye whites.

Next is the colored pencils. Once I lay a couple layers of flat paint, I go in with colored pencil and render out the details. This step takes a little longer because I like to use this step to darken the piece and give the piece some texture. I also like to use colors that are similar to the paint to add the texture, but I sometime use adjacent colors to add some variety to the piece.

The third step is to go in with ink to define specific parts of the piece. This step can be optional if you want to, but I like harsh, black lines in my work, so I use this to define things like facial features, clothing, and more. I really like using micron pens for this, and tend to use thinner pens around .2 or even .005 for a very thin line. If my piece has some black areas, sometimes I’ll bust out the india ink and some brushes and paint in those spots, or I’ll use my brush pens, whichever I’m feeling that day. Another thing I like to do is hatching marks. If you’ve ever studied the arts, you might have studied different hatching techniques to use, and my favorite ones to use are quick short lines to place in shadowy areas. In the pieces above you can see where I used them. Inking in general is my favorite step in any art process; there’s something about a harsh, black line that I’ve always loved.

The final step is also optional. If you want some extra shine or sparkle, consider using some white! There are tons of supplies out there, but my favorites are using white ink, or white acrylic paint. I find that the markers I’ve used aren’t strong enough to produce an opaque enough white for me, so I have to use the inks. When I use this, it’s generally for eye shines, sparkles, or shiny spots on clothing. This step can really enhance a piece. Sometimes I like to put white spots on top of my black lines, and it gives it a cute, girly feel. I picked this up from some of my favorite Sailor Moon and CLAMP artworks.

Marker Technique

Materials Needed:

  1. Bristol board or mixed media sketch pad
  2. Ink Pens
  3. Colored Markers (I recommend Koi brush pens and Prismacolor, Copic sketch markers or Posca markers)
  4. White ink or white acrylic

This technique is a fun one. I like to use this one for faster sketches because I can get a full colored sketch quickly with no mess with getting out paints and brushes. This is very much a more stylized method with not much heavy rendering, so there’s not much back and forth blending. This method is the one I use at conventions when I do commissions!

To start off, I make a pencil sketch to lay everything out. When it’s looking good, I like to go in with the ink pens first. I do this because I like to map out where exactly I want the markers to go. When it comes to paint, it’s alright that I go outside the sketch sometimes, but with markers, I like my colors to be very clean. I think this makes the piece look more professional and makes it look like a lot of time went into it. I spend some time with the inks and depending on the style I’m going for, I’ll thicken some lines or keep them very thin.

Next I go in with the markers. Usually I mix and match all my markers; I have some copic markers in various skin colors that I’ll use, and I use the Koi brush pens for colors too. I love love love the Koi brush pens! They come in a bunch of colors, and are very good for laying out flat colors. If I’m looking to add some value, the Copic markers do a good job at that. I apply more pressure to the marker to darker spots to add that value. I also add value in the previous step with the inks by using hatching techniques as well.

An optional final step is again going in with some white ink, acrylic, or markers. With this method, I’d probably use white markers for my highlights, but I usually skip this step. It’s there if you would like it though!

Experimental Method

Materials Needed: Whatever you want! But here’s what I generally use:

  1. Bristol Board
  2. Illustration Board
  3. Acrylic Paint
  4. Gouache or Watercolor Paint
  5. Ink Pens
  6. Colored Pencils
  7. White Ink, or Markers
  8. A Creative Mind & Patience!

This technique is very freeform. Anything goes! This is for when an idea pops into my head, or I want to try something new with the materials I have. Instead of going step by step, I will instead explain how I did each piece above:

Goldfish piece– This idea was one of the ones that just popped into my head, and I had to create it. I made this piece on illustration board. After my initial sketch, I laid a wash of light blue gouache over the whole board, then I picked out the areas where I wanted it to be lighter, and laid out the main shapes like the hair, the goldfish, and other details. I then went in with some colored pencils and added some texture to some areas and rendered the goldfish, making them very saturated. A lot of experimenting went in with the hatching. I used paint, markers, and colored pencils with the hatching, layering some parts and lining some parts with ink and others with colored pencil. I just let my creativity take control and didn’t think about it too much. My last step was the white wavy lines. I believe I used a white posca marker. I love this piece, and it’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve made.

Sailor Moon Redraw– This piece dates back to my childhood. I’ve always wanted to recreate the piece created by Naoko Takeuchi with the scouts posed like this, but I could never get it right. Now that I’ve been through art school and a couple years of working on art professionally, it was finally time! I used Bristol board for this, and went in with a very hard pencil, H3 I believe. I drew very lightly, thinking back to Miss Takeuchi’s very soft style where she mostly used pencils for her finished pieces. I actually tried to scan this in and finish it digitally, but it didn’t look good at all, so I decided to go in with watercolor paint. I used tracing paper to redraw the whole thing with my thinnest ink pen to catch any mistakes, which I fixed with my super hard pencil and eraser. Something about this composition made it really hard to get the anatomy correct. The fact that they were holding hands made it harder. Anyways, after I fixed the errors, I went in with a softer pencil to darken the lines. I didn’t use ink on this piece surprisingly; the pencil made the whole thing really soft and pretty. The watercolor step was long and tedious, but I managed to finish, and added finishing touches with white acrylic paint and darker paint with the tiniest brush ever. It was truly the most time-consuming piece of this year, and I’m surprised that I was able to do it.

Magical Girl OC’s– This piece was supposed to be more of a portfolio piece, but I wasn’t a big fan of how it turned out. It is mostly an acrylic piece with ink pens on top. It was done on Bristol board, and inked first. I then laid a wash of acrylic paint over the whole thing, then rendered the whole thing with watered down acrylic. I don’t know if I’m not too good working with acrylic, but the colors look so dull and not saturated enough for my liking, but I layered the paint so that it looked pretty opaque. I then added ink pens on top. While this piece turned out the way it was, I’d like to try out this technique again someday when I get some more colors. Also I’d like to try on a different surface like canvas board or even cardboard!

These are most of my mixed media techniques that I love to do when I work traditionally! Tell me what you think about them, or if you have any ideas or techniques you like to use! Catch you on the next post! <3 -Allison

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The Artist’s Guide to Drawing Difficult Subjects

Is everyone working hard on their art goals? I don’t blame you if you are making slow progress; it’s been a strange year. I said before that I feel both lucky and unlucky right now; I have lots of time to work on my website, art, and business ideas, but I’m doing it all because I lost my job back in March. It’s unfortunate that that happened, but I feel for those who are on the front lines working in hospitals and in grocery stores. I see you, and I appreciate you!

Tokyo Mew Mew art made back in April/May?


Drawing Difficult Subjects

For this blog post, I would like to talk about something that lots of artists struggle with, which is drawing difficult subjects. When you’re unsure how to draw something, it can get frustrating after a while. Even after 4 years of art school, I struggle with getting my drawings right! But I’ve come up with some ideas that might help you if you’re stuck on a piece, or suffering through art block. Read on for more details!

Using free figure drawing websites.

If you are having trouble drawing human figures, or having a more confident hand, try looking at some figure drawing websites! My favorite one is this one called Line of Action. With this, you can set up your drawing session with different settings. You can change the models you see based on clothing, gender, and time intervals. It’s very good for warming up as well! One of my favorite classes in art school was called Cafe Sketch, where the first half of class was using these websites, and the other half we went to different locations in the city and drew real people. That class forced me to draw constantly, so I was able to build up my confidence with drawing more fluid and quicker. Since I focused on comics in school, it really helped me finish my pages faster too! I highly suggest you check it out, and set the time for 30 seconds or a minute to really test your skills with drawing quickly. It’s a good exercise! I filled up two sketchbooks in that class.

Setting up still life sets in your room

Do you want to get better at rendering or painting? Try setting up a still life! These are fun to make with random items in your house, and you can have fun getting creative with the set up and composition. In my watercolor class, we would paint still lives all the time. For our final we made a collective still life that we all painted together. It was fun! I suggest looking up some still life paintings that you like for inspiration. You can even take a walk to the park and take pictures of nature and paint that too! The possibilities are endless. Still lives are a good way to practice your rendering because you can set up the lighting and color compositions how you want, and as an artist you can control the piece in a way that looks appealing, like adding more highlights or shadows, etc.

Use reference! It’s your friend!

Reference is very important. It was a big part of our creative process in art school. Our teachers wanted us to use reference for everything, and they could tell when we didn’t use reference in our pieces. It’s important to use reference in your pieces because it helps you to be more accurate in your subject matter. Our imagination is powerful, but it’s not worth it to make it up sometimes! There are tons of ways to gather your reference; Google is your best friend, but so is taking the photo yourself! If you’re struggling with drawing hands, do the pose with your own hand and snap a photo. It’s way more convenient than trying to make it up. Are you wanting to have some interesting lighting in your piece? Take a look at some artists that have captured what you’re looking for, and try to replicate it in your own way. Reference is essential!

Even the creator of Sailor Moon used references for a lot of her outfits!

I have to say, reference at the end of the day, is a tool, much like your pencil or tablet. I wouldn’t recommend trying to copy your reference exactly as you see it. As an artist, you can take what you see in your reference photos, and apply it to your art. This is key especially if you are using someone else’s art or photo as reference. You don’t want to get called out! Just look at the photo above. The artist was able to take the pose, coloring and lighting to create this piece of “Black Lady” or evil Sailor Chibi Moon, and altered it to make it her own. Looking at the side by side of this is really inspiring to me because it shows you can use reference in everything you see! And it’s not exactly the same either; she took her own creative spin on the colors, character, and outfit, and pulled the piece together. I love this!

Practice Drawing Your Weaknesses

If you’re like me and actively avoid drawing subject matter that you’re bad at, challenge yourself to draw that thing more! For me, my weaknesses are backgrounds, feet, and male-presenting characters. I’ve done drawings of all three of these things, but I still could use some practice with them. When I worked on “Jazz”, I struggled with the backgrounds. I in retrospect, I should have taken more references for many of the backgrounds, and altered my layouts to further place Jazz into her environment. However, I would have never known that if I didn’t draw it! The same with you; if you struggle to draw perspective, for example, I suggest really taking the time to study perspective and draw it as much as you can. If you can, try looking up YouTube videos, or signing up for a Skillshare account. Both of these things can really help your art blossom!

Sketch of my characters! Both boys and girls 😀

On my current comic project, I am struggling with drawing the male character, Teo. If you know my art, I almost exclusively draw female characters. Whenever we work on this project together, I try to draw Teo as much as I can. When we start drawing the actual pages, I will be very strict on myself to gather as much reference I can on anything I am unsure of. We both want this comic to look good!

Keep an Inspiration Folder

My last piece of advice is to keep a folder of inspiration that you look at from time to time, either on your computer or otherwise. Back when I was on Tumblr, I followed a lot of artists on there and would save photos and art that would inspire me onto my computer. I still have a lot of the same photos I saved way back in 2013! I sorted them by watercolor pieces, certain artists or games, and I look at them whenever I need a boost of inspiration. Nowadays, I haven’t saved any photos lately, mostly because I bookmark them on my social media accounts, but it’s generally the same idea! If you do this, you may discover new artists that inspire you and motivate you to try something new!

Above are a few pieces from my inspiration folder. They were selected at random, but they kind of show a couple things that inspire my own art.

As an artist, you are able to pick out certain things in nature, other art pieces or otherwise, and find inspiration in them. Even the most mundane things can be inspiring, and sometimes you can even have visions come to you in dreams! One of my favorite pieces came to me in a daydream, and the moment I saw it, I had to make it real.

I made this back in 2018. It’s a hodge-podge of art supplies I had on hand, so I don’t remember what tools I used! Maybe gouache, colored pencil, and white ink…?

That’s about it for this post! I hope these tips help you in you own artistic journey. Some days it feels like I can’t draw a thing, so I go back to my fundamentals, take a break, or look at something inspirational. It’s all a balance, so don’t feel discouraged when it feels like you’re going backwards! It takes time to learn & grow <3

Be sure to check the links below, and I’ll see you in the next post!

-Allison

Twitter | Insta | Etsy | Athia Skin

How to Manage Your Time as an Unpaid Artist

How’s everyone doing out there? Keeping safe and healthy? This whole pandemic is getting pretty crazy. Not getting into too many details, but this virus has been negatively affecting my job a lot more than I thought it would. It’s made the whole world sit on the edge of their seats, and opening up some pretty negative things about how the country is run.
Anyways, about this post for today. Let’s get to some sort of normalcy here, shall we? I have a topic I want to discuss that I’ve been thinking about lately that I want to share with you. And it’s all about managing time.

How many people out there have side hustles? I know I do, and it’s really rewarding and fun to work on projects at home, especially knowing there are people that enjoy what I’m putting out. But what happens when you’re trying to build a small empire for yourself, but also have to maintain some type of obligation, like a full time job, or maybe you’re even taking care of kids or other dependents? Do you feel like you’re very limited on time to work on your passion projects, and when you do have those golden hours to work, you end up too tired to even THINK about those projects?
While I may not be an expert, I have some pieces of advice that may help you combat those times when you want to work on something when it seems impossible. I’ve been trying out a couple new habits, so please take a look:


Go to bed early, wake up early
This may be one of the hardest pieces of advice to follow, so let’s talk about it first. Getting on a consistent sleep schedule, especially if you’re planning on working hard for something, is key. If you’re working a 9 to 5 job like me, make sure you are getting to bed at a reasonable time, both to perform well at your current job, as well as keeping stress levels low with a good amount of sleep. That way you’ll be able to work on those side projects with the best mindset. One thing I’ve been working on is trying to wake up at 6am every morning. While I currently am failing at this, I am trying to at least wake up before I have to get ready for work, and plan out some simple ideas to work on. Sometimes, this may consist of only writing down a couple things, or sending an email. With this, I have been introducing coffee to my diet. This may or may not be a good thing, but it definitely has helped me work a little longer than usual, and I do feel like a typical coffee-loving adult now.

On my days off, I do like to sleep in. I mean, who doesn’t like to sleep in? But on days where I work, I try to follow this schedule. If you really can’t commit to sleeping earlier at night, at least try to make your sleeping schedule consistent, and try to avoid long naps. There’s no worse thing than napping after a long day at work only to realize you slept through all your free-time. I’m not saying to burn yourself out to the point of exhaustion, knowing your limits is very crucial. However, time is all we have, and it’s important to know how to make time when you’re trying to build something.

Make a to do list, and try crossing things off that list!
Lists are very fun to make, at least for me. I’m a big fan of writing almost everything down that I want to do. Keep a planner or your smartphone on you with a list of things you want to accomplish for the week. I take my planner practically everywhere I go, and , while I’m not obsessive with it, I do like to keep track of what I want to accomplish. Stuff on my list may not have to do with building my art career; sometimes I write down that I have to do laundry. But sticking to a list is always very helpful, and crossing stuff off is even better! One very important thing to note, for me at least, is to not make your to do list too ambitious. It’s good to take baby steps when planning your future, and doing the things that you can do now in order to accomplish even more in the future is good.


If you can, write down ideas while at work
This piece of advice may not work for everyone, especially if you work in a fast-paced environment like retail. Sometimes at work I have things I want to add to my to do list. I either write it in my planner, or on a scrap piece and put it in my bag to look at later; I take it out of my mind to focus on my job. I couldn’t do this as much at my last job, but at my current place I can write down a few things during my downtime. Take this piece of advice with you carefully; don’t neglect your job duties with your side hustle duties, I don’t want anyone getting in trouble here! I know that some people may not particularly like their current set up, and it’s sometimes soul crushing to work a job you aren’t passionate about. But think of all the things on your to do list as milestones to help you reach a bigger goal.


Are you stuck on a concept? External sources may help!
If ideas leave your mind as soon as you clock in to work, or as soon as you fall asleep, be sure to write them down as soon as you’re able to. If you’re not much of a writer, try drawing your ideas, or recording them with your voice. Even if you have to tell someone your ideas. Getting your thoughts out into the world is essential. Also, adding onto this piece, find an activity, or task that allows your ideas to flow out if you’re feeling stuck. Whether that be driving, taking a bath, cleaning your apartment, or listening to a podcast; find something to do that inspires you.
Some things I like to do that help generate ideas are: listening to ASMR videos, drawing, taking a bath, anything calming and quiet that allows for minimal movement, and only the sound of my thoughts are in the air.


Form a support group
I don’t know about you, but I love seeing my friends. They inspire me in different aspects of my life, and all of my friends are also artists. We help critique each other all the time on our work, and help each other come up with project ideas. My boyfriend and a couple other of my friends are all working on a film together, and another friend of mine
does monthly sketch groups where we all get together and draw. These things have been amazing in motivating me to continue my passion projects especially when I feel art blocks coming on. When you have friends supporting you, there’s practically nothing you can’t do. If you’re having trouble finding people in your area, there’s always the internet! While I’m not too keen on meeting online friends, I know others that have has great success with it. Discord is a great place to join large groups of artists and people who are into the same things you are. Find your people!


When inspiration hits, follow it’s lead
Getting inspired is sometimes the hard part. But once it hits, it feels like all you can do is follow it’s lead. I may not need to give out this advice, because every good artist knows to do this, but if you have a million dollar idea that hits you square on the head, you better let it grab you by the hand. Sometimes that means staying up late and doing a whole painting of the entire world map of one of your stories (this actually happened). Whenever I’m inspired to create a new illustration piece, I like to sketch it out. When I see it on paper, I HAVE to finish it, or else I’ll think about it for the rest of the day. Because if this, I try not to sketch concepts right before I have to go to work. If you’re having trouble finding that type of motivation, try stepping away from the project for a while and do other activities. Sometimes coming back with a fresh eye is enough to inspire you again. I do this all the time with my stories.


While working hard, rest hard too.

Working hard to achieve a goal is good, but know when it’s time to rest. Being overworked and stressed is never fun; I’ve seen so many people under lots of stress, and it can really cause troubles with your health. If you’re feeling like you can’t focus on anything at your desk, or you’re feeling like you can’t even get a stroke on the paper, take some time off. Right now, I am working on a hashtag over on my Instagram called #366daysofsketching, where I try to post a sketch everyday this year. While I’ve been really good about it, I have missed some days due to working a lot at my day job, moving apartments, and other life stuff getting in the way. I don’t let it get to me, and I don’t try to apologize for it either. When I do post, people really like it, and sometimes leave really nice comments as well, and that’s huge. It’s essential to have a work-life balance, even when you’re trying to build an empire.

So, you’re going in hard. What’s the best way to go about it?

Are you ready to commit to long hours at your computer desk on the evenings after work and on the weekends to create your dream life? Here’s my advice: Go for it! Work smart. Be ready to make sacrifices. Tell your friends that you’re working on something. If you’re trying to save money for this venture, make smart financial choices. Don’t neglect your day job; that’s your main source of income still, remember? But all in all, work smart.

Thanks for reading my post! I hope you all found this advice helpful; I wrote it using my own ideas and what I’ve experienced so far in life, so do your own research on time management and growing a dream job. There’s lots of good resources out there.

Take care and good luck!

<3

Allison

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Comics! How to Make Comics “Alla-Style”

Wanna know how I make my comics? Well, I’ll try to sum up what I learned through art school into this little post if you’re an aspiring comic artist out there.

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Me in 2016 at the zoo. Back in my college days!

For some backstory, I am an alum of CCAD, or Columbus College of Art and Design. I majored in Illustration, before there was a comics major available. I also minored in Creative Writing. My junior and senior year, I was starting to really figure out my style, and knew at that point that I wanted to make comics. I took quite a few comics classes while I was there and learned so much about the industry. I still have and use resources from school to this day. I also interned with a small comics business now known as Freestyle Komics, where my friends and I worked on comics with professionals, and learned some key things about the industry, and how to promote and market ourselves. It was a really fun experience, and we still occasionally work with the company on various events.

As for making comics, I’ll be going over the basics, showing you my processes, from writing the script all the way to the physical copy. I will also provide some handy resources for you to take a look at that really helped me along my comics journey. Most of the resources were recommended to me from my teachers at art school.

So let’s get started!

1: Write your script!

First, before everything, write a simple outline. It doesn’t have to be super specific, just a play by play of what happens. Depending on how long you want your comic to be, the outline can be one page, or 10 pages! If you want to do a chaptered comic, or a webcomic, you can do outlines for each chapter, our a general outline of the whole story. It depends on how you want to tell your story. 

Once you’re settled on your outline, and edited it a bit, time to write the script. Write down each page, explaining what happens on the page, then go panel by panel, explaining what happens in each panel, the shot that the panel is showing, and if there is any dialogue or narration. I never go past 6 panels on a page. 6 or more panels is a little too crowded for me, but it’s not a hard rule; if you want to have lots of panels, feel free. I like to type my script out on the computer instead of writing it out. It goes faster, and I can organize it easier. If i want to make edits, or show someone, I make sure that it is very organized and there is spaces between the lines just in case I or someone else wants to make notes. Here’s an excerpt from my script from chapter 3 of Jazz: 

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Here’s a rather dialogue-heavy page here. I’m really particular about how I write the script; I want it to be as clear as it possibly can.

Once I finish the script, I move on to…

2: Laying out your pages. Thumbnails!

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You can see how simple I make the thumbnails. Actual stick figures!

This is either the fun part, or the hardest part for me because it’s taking what I wrote in my script and interpreting it into a visual form. It’s a lot of figuring out, and I sometimes change a few things in the script to help support the layout of the thumbnails, or vice versa. I like to take a large piece of paper to layout my thumbnails; lately I use my 11X14 sketchbook to make my thumbnails. Thumbnails don’t have to be big; a small rectangle will do. I use a pencil to layout panels; keeping in mind how the panels will look in more dialogue-heavy pages, action pages, and other scenarios. This is where a lot of erasing and figuring out comes to play. A lot of these things are hard to understand sometimes, so I would recommend these two books by Scott McCloud called “Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels” and “Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art“.

McCloud does a very good job explaining the different aspects of sequential art, character designs and expressions, and more. One of the most inspirational things I learned from his books is the idea of time passing on the pages. We, as comic artists, have the power to move time forward as quickly or as slowly as we want. With that, he goes over the different panel transitions, which are all thoroughly explained in detail. I highly recommend picking up these books and studying them if you’re serious about becoming a comics artist.

3: Drawing out your pages full size. Use rulers, or digital programs!

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My trusty Strathmore Bristol Board with the vellum surface, an 18″ ruler, non photo blue pencil, and graphite pencil. And of course Roxie the kitty.

If you’re doing your comic traditionally, a necessity will be a ruler. Lately I’ve been making my chapters of “Jazz” traditionally, and I use Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board to make my pages. I like to use the “Vellum” type of paper. It’s smooth with very little grip, which makes it good for inking too. The measurements I make my pages are 5.8″X8.9″, but you can make your comic any size. There are different standards for different comic types; single issue comics, graphic novels, manga. A quick google search can tell you the different sizing standards for the types of comics out there. Anyways, I lay out the panels based on how I drew my thumbnails. I had to buy quite a few bristol board for my latest comic; the chapter ended up being 41 pages!

If you would like to do your comic on the computer, I recommend using a program I used to use called Medibang Paint Pro. It has a feature where you can create panels right on your document, making it easy to make comics. Plus, it’s a free program for both PC and Mac! You can use whichever program you’re used to; I personally use Photoshop, and use the rectangle tool to make my panels. I’m the type to organize my layers in my photoshop documents, so I like to group all my panels together on one layer. You can also use Procreate if you like drawing with an iPad. I’m not too familiar with Procreate, but I know that it’s a very intuitive program with lots of new things coming out with it. I suggest you try it out if you have an iPad and Apple Pencil.

Anyways, I basically layout my pages and panels full size and get ready for…

4: Pencils!

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A typical workspace while I do pencils. Script on my iPad, Thumbnails next to my drawing.

The fun part, actually drawing the comic! This is where you can really be creative and use all your drawing skills to make something magical. Referencing my thumbnails, I sketch out the poses, characters and backgrounds, making sure I take photo reference for things like poses, hands, buildings, whatever I need to draw to make my panels look good. Sometimes you can catch me acting out a pose in trying to figure out at my desk; actually doing the pose you’re trying to draw helps out significantly for me. Or just get a friend to do it and take a photo!

I like to use non-photo blue pencils to sketch the very basic poses, and going back with details with a graphite pencil or a mechanical pencil. (btw remember when teachers in school would prohibit mechanical pencils? So weird! They’re so handy!) With graphite, I like to get more detailed and flesh out the blue sketches to prepare them for the next step. Depending how many pages you have to do, you can divide your work into intervals. For instance, with chapter 3 of Jazz, I have to work in 6 page intervals because I have so many pages to do. But you can work however way works for you. I have yet to create a webcomic or graphic novel, but working in intervals seems like the best method for longer comics. For me at least.

After I’m satisfied with my drawings, I move on to…

5: Inking!

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A page from Chapter 2 of “Jazz”. I thought that this page had a good ink job.

Probably my favorite step because it’s when the picture starts coming together. Inking is pretty self explanatory. However way you like to ink a piece works for you. For instance, I generally like to ink with Micron pens and Higgins ink if I’m working traditionally. I usually strictly follow my pencils when I ink, but sometimes I add in a couple more details with a smaller sized pen if needed. With my style, my inks tend to be thin, clean, and with simple blacks around the page. I like to use black spaces strategically if I can; I try to make the whole page aesthetically pleasing as a black and white piece, even if I plan to color my comic. I also like to add hatching to certain parts of my ink drawings, especially under the neck, as details on clothes, or shadowy areas. Depending on your style, you can ink however way you like, it’s all subjective!

6: Wanna use some color?

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This is the method I was talking about. I only did a little experiment here.

Color is always fun with comics. My comic Jazz doesn’t have color, but I have done colored comics in the past, mostly combining traditional and digital methods. Depending on how you would like your comic to look, you could do the whole thing digitally, using different digital painting techniques to really make your comic stand out. If you wanna mix it up a little bit, you could ink your comic traditionally, scan your drawing onto the computer, and color it digitally (which I did for my senior thesis), or you could do the entire thing traditionally.

A method I have been experimenting with is using gouache paint to paint over my pencils, using colored pencils to add value and depth, then using inks on top. This method I might do on my next big comic, which may turn into a graphic novel. You could also use other traditional coloring methods that you like as well. Things like Copic markers, colored pencils, watercolors, or whatever else! It’s all up to you, and how you want your comic to look.

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Fully digital colored comic I made back in… 2016 I think? I enjoyed the simple colors I used, and at the time was using Illustrator to make my dialogue bubbles.

7: Lettering/Post Production

Probably the most important part of your comic, the dialogue! I always do this part on the computer. I don’t like to draw and write out the dialogue by hand; to me it looks sloppy with my handwriting, but for some styles of comics it definitely works. I scan my pages into Photoshop, and I create the dialogue bubbles in Photoshop using the ellipse tool and the pen tool. I used to use a program called Illustrator for this, but it caused an extra step because I had to import the Illustrator file into Photoshop, and it ate up space in my files. So now I just do everything in one program. This is where a lot of layout and placement comes into play. I still make the mistake of having my drawings take up most of the panel, and not leaving room for my dialogue bubbles. Things would get hidden, but I’m trying to get better about that. That’s where the thumbnail stage is important. Along with the layout of the characters, make sure to leave space for your dialogue bubbles. With the bubbles, I don’t like them completely round, or too flat. I make sure that the words and the bubble have nice spacing; the words aren’t too squished, or too spacey. This part can get a little difficult, so have a second eye look at your comic to make sure they look good, and also that they flow right! Those two books by Scott McCloud I mentioned earlier talk about the flow of panels in great detail. Again, I highly recommend those books for artist seriously considering going into comics.

8: Format your comic, and where to print it

Once you have all your pages finished, all the finishing touches are done, and you’re ready to form your book. I like to use a program called InDesign to make a PDF of my comic, placing my pages in the program in order. With InDesign, it can be a little hard to figure out how it works, I could make a whole blog post explaining how I use InDesign, but there’s lots of Youtube videos out there, so feel free to do some research. This is also where I add in some extra things to the book, like blurbs about the chapter, some drawing of characters to break up the pages, things like that. For chapter 3 of Jazz, I am adding in more page breaks than usual since the chapter is so long.

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Cover for “Jazz: Interception” the next chapter!

Along with the actual pages of your comic, remember the cover of your comic too! I suggest researching some of your favorite cover artists for inspiration for creating your cover. For Jazz, I am heavily inspired by the manga I used to read as a teenager, so my covers are influenced by that. If you’re into superhero comics, independent comics, graphic novels, there’s inspiration everywhere! Go to your local comic book shop and peruse the aisles for gems.

If you’re only gonna be having your comic be online, you can get creative and layout your panels to have an interesting flow as you scroll down the PDF. I print most of my comics, so I layout my pages to make it make sense for someone flipping through like a book.

Here are the specs I use for printing my comic:

Size: 5.8X8.9

Resolution: 300 or up to 600 DPI

Full Bleed

CMYK for printing

I printed Jazz chapter 2 with Comix Wellspring, and I was very pleased with how they turned out, so I highly recommend them if you want to get your comic printed. I used to use Createspace, but they had recently changed their program, so I had to look elsewhere, and I’m glad I found Comix Wellspring. I was able to get 25 copies of my comic for $3.50 a page. With a proof, and shipping and handling, it ended up being close to $120, which is pretty good.

9: Hold it in your hands, you made a comic!

Wow, you did it! You made a comic! Hold it, read it, show it to people. It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off in the end, right? It always feels good to have a finished product in my hands, and it feels even better when people say they like it. So I hope you take your finished comic, and feel a sense of pride.

That’s about all the knowledge I have to share with you all. I hope it helps in some way, and that you feel even more inspired to go out there and share your comic ideas with the world. I know it can be daunting to have this grand idea in your head, but actually putting it on paper can be the hardest thing ever. You have to just let those ideas out, even if its a couple of scribbles on a paper, or a few words on a word document. As comic artists, we have the power to tell stories, enchant our readers, and inspire others. 

So let’s all make some good work! 

See you in the next blog post! Next up: Alla’s September Sightings. 

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