Procartoon Podcast 3 – Amazing sales formula, getting cartoon ideas & more

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In this Episode of the Procartoon Podcast..
What happens when you cannot think of any cartoon ideas ?  How do you find the idea for a great cartoon when the inspiration fairy has had the day off?  I have developed a system for finding great ideas that you can use if you get ‘cartoonists block’…

Do you find it really difficult to turn your artwork into income? I discovered an amazing sales formula used in big advertising campaigns – you can use it to get customers…

I review the XP-Pen Deco 01 –  a graphics drawing pad that I think will rival Wacom’s intuos range –  this could be one of the biggest graphics tablet sellers this year….

Scroll down to read the extensive show notes below in conjunction with the Podcast Audio – All links in the Podcast are detailed in the shownotes plus additional images and screen shots to clarify and technical discussion in the text.

Procartoon Podcast 3 with Rob Nesbitt

 

This Episode is Sponsored by JohnOverall.com

WordPress and Web specialists.

Show Notes for Procartoon Podcast  3

Hi, I’m Rob Nesbitt and this is the procartoon podcast.

I look at the tools of the trade, tips, tricks, podcast reviews and interviews and more to help you in your cartooning and artistic work.

nezzy cartoonist aged 6 thinking up cartoon ideas at an early age
Me aged 6 at the start of my cartooning adventure!

What is in this episode of the Procartoon podcast?

In episode 3 of the Procartoon podcast I look at ways for you to come up with cartoon ideas.  There is nothing worse than staring at a blank piece of paper with not a spark of inspiration. 

I discuss how you can significantly boost your chances of finding work and generating income on the internet.  You have great skills to create fantastic images which can be used to enhance web site blog posts and articles.  There is money to be made here – it’s just being able to sell yourself and your product in the right way to convert those opportunities.  

Web site owners need images to make their copy stand out. I discovered how to get them to want your artwork with a simple but deadly sales formula that has a proven track record.  Once you see it you will recognise how widely it is used in the advertising industry.

The XP-Pen Deco 01 is a recent addition to the graphics drawing pad market –  I was asked by XP-Pen.com to review it  and believe this will be a big hit in 2018.

If you haven’t managed to get your cartoons published yet…

Before I dive into the main topics a quick word about getting your cartoons published if it hasn’t happened already. There are a few things that can stop this happening.  It may be that you don’t have the confidence to put your head above the parapet and put your work out there.  

You might think your cartoons are not good enough.  Maybe you have thought about it but have not taken action. Perhaps it’s just bad luck and you haven’t been successful yet.

I struggled at first mainly because I lacked confidence in my own ability and didn’t think I could match the skills of some of the great cartoonists you see on the internet and in newspapers.  It actually took a lucky break to make me realise that anyone, within reason, can get published and paid for their drawing skills.

British artist Cornelia Parker gave me my lucky break

Brass Band World magazine my first magazine cartoon break
Brass Band World magazine my first magazine cartoon break

It was back in early 2002 when I read an article in Brass Band World Magazine.  The Turner Prize is an annual award sponsoored by the Tate gallery in London for the most outstanding British artists exhibit.  

I play in a British style brass band and was delighted to see that an artist called Cornelia Parker had been given a £50,000 commission for her work ‘Breathless’ –  a crushed set of brass band instruments set in between two huge round class windows.

I thought it was visually very appealing particularly as it was being displayed in the Victoria and Albert museum in London.   It was great to see brass bands featuring at such a prestigious landmark (albeit as flat as a pancake!).

However! …There was uproar in the musical press as people were outraged that a perfectly good set of brass instruments had been flattened.

 The main critic was the Churchill Society which was founded in 1968 to educate new generations on the leadership, statesmanship, vision, courage and boldness of Sir Winston Churchill.  Most of the instruments had had their day anyway but it seems to me that people just love to be ‘outraged’ or ‘offended’ these days!

Letter to the editor with a cartoon attached 

my first cartoon break in a magazine
My letter and cartoon on the letters page

I took a completely different view and was ‘offended’ that they were ‘outraged’.  When you compare her art work to some of the nominees and winners of the world famous Turner Prize, awarded annually by the Tate Gallery in London, I think she stands head and shoulders above them.

The Turner Prize, which has a very large cash prize attached is awarded to a British artist and there have, in my humble opinion, been some strange winning entries.

A cow and its calf sawn in half and pickled in glass cases and an empty room with the light going on and off are two examples of past winners.  I used this angle to demonstrate the point that Cornelia Parker’s Work was a worthy project in comparison.

I fired off a letter to the editor and just to put a bit of visual  sparkle  I added a cartoon of Winstone Churchill looking angrily at an an exhibit entitled ‘Pickled conductor in Ab’.

To my astonishment the letter was published with the cartoon.  

The editor of Brass band World Magazine, the late Bob Mulholland rang me and offered me the cartoonists job in the magazine – I din’t even have to ask.  

He said that they had not had a cartoon in the magazine but after seeing the reaction from readers to my illustration he thought it would be a good idea.  

Nearly 16 years later I am still the resident cartoonist in the magazine and thankfully have improved my drawing skills since then!

Incidentally my first submission wasn’t really very good but it still got me the gig – so you don’t have to be a Disney cartoonist or Charles Schultz to get your name in lights!

So where am I going with this?  I managed by sheer serendipity and a little bit of drawing skill to get a permanent published cartoon spot in a magazine.  And it just goes to prove you don’t have to be a brilliant artist to get there.  

Many years after the event I look and realise that it is the whole package of a cartoon that makes it good (or not in some cases) and not necessarily the artistic capability.  I have seen many cartoonists who earn good money from amateurish looking drawings but have great punch lines or have the knack of making people laugh without a caption.  

It’s all down to the giggle-ponder factor – make em laugh or provoke thought with a cartoon and your onto a winner

It also got me thinking about how I could get another cartoon spot.

Tip to get a cartoonists spot in a magazine 

So heres a tip.  Next time you are looking through the news stand, either in a store or online, see if there are magazines and other publications that don’t have a cartoonist or don’t feature cartoons in their articles.

Rob Nesbitt cartoonist of fire and security matters magazine
Cartoon spot in ‘Fire and Security Matters’ Magazine

As an example I did this more recently with a new magazine called ‘Fire and Security Matters’.  I received a copy of the pilot magazine as I am also in the fire safety business.  I immediately saw an opportunity as there was no cartoon in sight.  

There were plenty of photos of buildings, fire extinguishers, fire trucks, burgler alarms, graphs and other images along those lines.  I emailed the editor with about three fire safety related cartoons, asked the question and guess what – I am now the cartoonist for the magazine.

Someone told me years ago that if you don’t ask you don’t get.  And I have always asked when I see an opportunity!

If you are looking to have your work published check out local and national magazines to see if there are any who don’t use cartoonists and then ask. 

My Own projects – progress report 


I made several resolutions for 2018 in the last podcast.  One was to finish my children’s picture book by June. I am making good progress determined to achieve the target.  

Working on my first children's picture book
Working on my first children’s picture book

When I reach this particular goal I will  post an article on the process as it has been very interesting. There is more to it than meets the eye.  It isn’t just about drawing and painting!  

I wrote the story for the book as I wanted to make this totally my own project.  I may collaborate in the future with a storyteller but for now it’s just I, me and myself!  It is possibly more difficult to do it yourself than working in a collaboration as the automatic motivation factor of not wanting to let someone else down is not there.  

However, as I have shared this ambition with  you I now feel motivated to put my money where my mouth is and get this book published!  I will keep you updated.

So far I have written the story line in verse, pencil sketched out half the drawings.  I scrapped the other half as I was not happy with them and will redo them. I have completed one illustration in full color and am working on another two.  There will be around 16 illustrations in total so it’s going to be a really busy four months to reach my target.

More Procartoon podcasts

Another goal  was to produce two Procartoon podcasts a month. So far I am on target and really enjoying making them.  In future episodes I will be interviewing different cartoonists and people from cartoon and art related businesses and services to make it more interesting and diverse.

My own cartoon related products

I also said I would be aiming to create my own products. This week been shopping! – Tools for my driftwood cartoon figures.  I finished the first one a while ago but am on the road to making a a hole commune of them!  

Etsy is the target sales channel in addition to Procartoon.  My goal for this particular product is still set for  the summer around about August.  I could do it sooner but feel that I need to have a range of figures on offer to get a feel for how viable this will be.

I am also looking at some passive art projects where I make the designs for products that are purely downloadable.  

It is the best way to sell if you can find the right product and designs.  You make the product, set it up online and forget about it and move on to the next design.  

This can be anything from Painting by number pages, shopping list designs and many more downloadable items. I recently bought a course on selling downloadable products on Etsy. Kelsey Baldwin has done it successfully and makes a living from selling and producing courses on how to sell.  It is an interesting concept and a great way to provide another income stream fro your work.   I will be be discussing this income stream in a future podcast.

Heres a quick word from this edition of the podcasts sponsor Johnoverall.com web site hosting wordpress specialist.  John Overall is the joint host with Marcus couch on the WP-Plugins A-Z Podcast which reviews great plugins for your WordPress web site.  Johnoverall.com also provides hosting for my web sites on his companies server.  

John has been amazingly helpful in converting all my sites to the secure  HTTPS format and has been brilliant at finding bugs, increasing my site speed and giving great advice on plugins, new themes and more – I now have an expert at the end of the phone and on Skype and no longer feel in the dark about the technical mysteries of running a web site. And he charges a very reasonable rate… here’s John…

[Johnoverall.com audio advert]

Ok lets dive straight into this episodes main topics…

Meeting artistic deadlines – how to find great ideas for your cartoons in a hurry!

We can all relate to the following tale of woe.  A request arrives to do a cartoon.  There is a deadline of two weeks.  You are given the subject matter.  You are being paid.  

You keep putting it off as there is two weeks to do it.  One week six days and fifteen hours have passed and you are now in blind panic.  Sound familiar?

I used to be in this scenario on a regular basis as I was working as a full time fire fighter with two small children and life was full on and pretty hectic. I realised that I had to make better use of my time and manage deadlines.  I also realised that sometimes a deadline can be very short as other things either get in the way or the client needs your artwork yesterday.

Here are the ways in which I find cartoon inspiration when my mind has temporary artistic amnesia

Mind mapping to get original cartoon ideas

I use a form of mind mapping to come up with ideas.  I have done a full article that you can read on this process (use this link to view).  It basically works like this.

  • I put the main topic in a circle in the middle of the page
  • I draw four rectangles north, south, east and west around the central theme topic
  • From a dictionary I select four random words and place one in each rectangle
  • Around each rectangle I place three oval shapes giving 1twelve in total and fill each one with a word selected at random from a dictionary.  if you look at the show notes there is a diagram.  
  • Pick out the main topic any word from a rectangle and any word from an oval shape.
  • In the example in the show notes those words chosen were Dog Trumpet and Rules

My mind map for cartoon creation

The example I have given was one I actually used for a cartoon in Brass Band World Magazine.  The result was a bandsman who’s sight was challenged using his guide dog to play the trumpet at a solo competition.  The judges are stood at the back of the stage looking through the rules book.  (I have posted in the show notes).

COOL-STUFF-TO-DRAW-USING-MIND-MAPS

This method really works well for me and hopefully it will for you too.  It had got me out of trouble on so many occasions in the past.  I am truly thankful to Tony Buzan who has written many books on the subject of mind mapping.  I use mind aps for many things and it was instrumental in helping me get my University degree and exams in the fire service – well worth consideration if you are not familiar with Tony Buzan

Using existing cartoons to generate new cartoon ideas

I don’t advocate direct copying as it can get you into all sorts of trouble and saps away  artistic integrity.  I firmly believe that most cartoons have been used before.  What I mean is that they are variations of previous cartoons – recycled and repurposed.

If I get stuck for ideas I use this recycling process and either go on a search engine and look for cartoon images or trawl through my library of cartoons.  I keep everything I have ever drawn.  I have over 35 years of work saved and thankfully, through a weird strain of a hoarding disorder I have a huge library of my own work!  

Collecting other cartoonists books and work is a passion particularly original artwork as ait fascinates me how they did it.  I find it easy to find ideas studying and repurposing my own past work and the work of other cartoonists.

The rule of thumb is to use the concept of an existing cartoon but make it absolutely your own so you don’t feel any guilt or hint of plagiarism.  Find something funny and give it enough twist or turn to make it fresh.

These are the two best ways I use to overcome any temporary cartoon block.

Moving on to the next topic…

Web site owners need images for articles and blog posts – why not your artwork?

In the last podcast I looked at how you could create or repurpose existing cartoons to make your own prints to sell. It is not as difficult as you may think and can be a great source of income.  In this section I am going to talk about another way of selling your artwork that you may not have considered.

There are literally millions of web sites on the internet and all of them needing images. Photos, diagrams and illustrations to turn plain text into a visual experience. The attention span on the internet can be very short if not entertained and visually and mentally stimulated.  

Web site owners and managers have a huge thirst for images.  They either have to create the images themselves, buy stock images, get permission to use other peoples images or run the risk of using someone else’s without their permission i.e. illegal infringement of copyright.  The latter runs the risk of legal action and a hefty fine and I know of several instances where fines exceeding $1000 have been imposed for misuse of photographic data.

This need for images is a huge opportunity for you!  If people are willing to buy image licenses from the likes of shutterstock why wouldn’t they be willing to buy from you?  Fivver.com and 99designs.com are another two online companies who are really making a killing out of this need.

I run several web sites and am so thankful that I can create my own original cartoon designs, tailor made for each article when I need them.  It saves me a fortune and although it takes time I always get exactly what I want, when I want it.

There have been many times where I have approached other web masters and have sold cartoons or used cartoons as a bargaining chip. I’ll give you some examples that could work for you.

Looking for potential customers

Trawl the net and take a look at genres that need some help with illustrations.  Cookery blogs and travel blogs usually have lots of interesting photos for the readers to appreciate.

I am not saying that they should be avoided.  It’s just that you will probably be less of an attractive proposition to someone who would and should have photo’s of their very visual topic.  On saying that an illustration or cartoon aimed at the right audience can always have a good chance of success.

Picking the right topic 

My advice is to pick a topic that is rather crusty such as a finacial blog which can be a real gem.  Finance and other guidance web sites often rely on bland diagrams, charts and boring symbol to pep up their article text. This is where you can really appeal with your unique, colorful and  refreshing illustrations.

Imagine you are the owner of a financial advice blog talking about which financial institutions are the best to invest in.  What images would you use?  You would probably be looking for images relating to:

  • Money – notes and coins
  • Money box
  • Sacks of cash
  • Down and out without a dime
  • Financial building
  • Couple happy with money
  • Older person withdrawing the money
  • A new car
  • A savings chart
  • A happy retirement

Now where are you going to get them from?  Obviously there are some that are easy to source such as images of coins and notes.  But getting the right image of a happy couple looking at their retirement nest egg could be a bit trickier.  if you had someone on board who could do the illustrations for a whole article wouldn’t that solve a huge problem?

Not all web sites have a budget to spend on content illustration. Do some research to get a feel for those sites that are featuring well in the search engine rankings.  If they are doing well and appearing in the top few sites they are probably making a few bucks and maybe enough to support an illustration budget.  There is no reason that part of that budget could be to pay you.

The bottom line is – why can’t it be you? What is the bottleneck that is stopping you from getting paid work from web sites.  It may be that you haven’t thought about it before or  you have but dismissed it out of hand.  So how could you make this happen?

You have to get your cartoons noticed!

First – the customer has to know that you exist.  They have to know that you are out there.  it’s no good sitting and waiting for them to come to you as it just ain’t going to happen.

Second – they have to know what you can do for them.  sounds easy?  Not really as artists are good at what they do best – creating great artwork but often not so good at selling their services. The sales pitch has to be so compelling that you will get a reaction which will lead to some work.

How a tweaked joke formula can work as a sales pitch for your artwork

I listen to a lot of podcasts and one that really made me sit up and listen was episode #106 of the High Income Business Writing Podcast, hosted by Ed Gandia featuring Kevin Rogers.  Kevin is an ex stand up comedian who, through a series of serendipitous experiences became one of the top copywriters in the US.  He demonstrates a well known joke formula to show how it can be altered to a really effective sales pitch.

He gave a great example of  a joke told by the comedienne Karen Rontowski on the Letterman Show.

The joke went like this (I have the actual youtube video link  of Karen Rontowski which you can watch on my podcast shownotes)…
 
“My kids were so bad in Walmart that I actually pulled a flyswatter off the shelf and I spanked them…
…and just as the flyswatter hit their ass I thought … I don’t have kids!”

It’s a great joke because it has an unexpected ending and is set in a specific formula.

The joke formula

Kevin demonstrated that this joke formula has four distinct parts that really works for comedians.

Identity

Struggle

Discovery

Surprise

The Identity is the mother shopping in Walmart.  The Struggle is the mothers kids playing up.  The discovery is the flyswatter found on the shelf and the surprise is the mother realising she has just beaten two kids when she doesn’t actually have any.

The sales pitch formula

As a copywriter and a comedian Kevin Rogers uses the formula to demonstrate how it can be applied to a sales pitch.  He made a small tweak in the last stage to provide a lethal formula for selling.

Identity

Struggle

Discovery

Result

 Here is an example to demonstrate how this works. I have used a customers viewpoint to make the sales pitch
“Hi I’m Jo Bloggs and I own a financial advice web site” (IDENTITY)
“Finding images for my web site is difficult and very time consuming” (STRUGGLE)
“I discovered Procartoon who have a great service supplying custom cartoons” (DISCOVERY)
“I get fantastic images, leaving me to do what I do best writing the copy and promoting my web site”  (RESULT)
It is an excellent way to pitch your talents.  If you would like to see more of this method visit Kevin Rogers web site copychief.com where there is a free Pdf download – ‘The 60 Seconds Sales Hook’ where he explains the system in more detail.  Well worth looking at!
Ok so you now have a sales pitch.  Next you need to get it in front of the eyes of web site owners and managers.  But before that you need to have something tangible to show them.  
A portfolio of work and an example of a blog post or an article with your artwork enhancing the text.  Not all of us can put a blog post together or a serious article for a web site.  It takes a lot of practice to get it right. I know this to be true as I am still trying!
If you can’t write the copy then you need to get someone to do it for you.  Make it substantial – A blog post of around 2000 words and illustrate it with lots of your own artwork.
Do the best artwork you have ever done! It will be the make or break of your sales pitch.  Put it into Pdf format so that it is easy to e mail and will be a rock solid attachment that won’t get corrupted in transit.  
 
You could also use it as a lead magnet in your sales pitch and direct the potential customer back to your web site – with your fabulously illustrated article as a lead magnet demo.
Having your own platform is essential and needs to also be exceptionally good.  A web site is the best option.  As you are trying to pitch web site owners it just makes logical sense to have a high quality web site to show what you can do.  
 
You could base your platform on social media such as Facebook or Twitter but to be honest if you want to get the best result a web site is top of the list.
 
One other thing…if you are emailing any prospective web site owner put at least one of your cartoons in the message so that they have a visual as soon as they open it.  
Most spammy sales calls are on e-mail with boring text.  Make yours different and if you can add an image related to their site that makes them laugh  –  you will get noticed!
Moving on!…

XP-Pen Deco 01 Graphics Drawing Tablet

I was recently asked by XP-Pen.com to look at the XP-Pen Deco 01 graphics drawing tablet.  Before I contemplate endorsing any product or making a review I always check out the product online before agreeing to look at it.  If a product is well below par maybe with bad reviews I will decline gracefully.  In this case the Deco 0-1 had very good reviews and looked the biz.

I fired off an e mail to XP-Pen.com in late November last year and agreed to review the tablet for Procartoon.  I won’t bore you to death with the techno babble.  I’ll just stick to my overall view of the product.

If you have a look at the show notes for podcast 3 or my comprehensive review of the XP-Pan Deco 01 you can see all the images and screen shots.  It also gives a lot more technical detail.

The XP-Pen Deco 0-1 is a really nice looking tablet that is well laid out with two banks of express keys on the side.  

The tablet is rectangular and 13.5″ by 8.5″ and is a nice size to carry around as a mobile device.  It is also very slim at 8mm thick.  

Every manufacturer these days seems to be obsessed with making electrical devices either as small, thin or compact as possible. 

My main concern when I  first saw the Deco 01 was would it be strong enough to withstand my less than delicate handling? The tablet is well bonded together and appears very strong with no flexing.  I used the tablet for three weeks and found it to be very robust so no issues there.

This graphics tablet is really stylish to look at and comes in a matt black finish.  It has some nice features, including what I would call ‘landing lights’ to indicate the active area. This is the area you can draw on which will be picked up by internal sensors and transmitted to your computer.

These are small white ‘right angles’ on the surface of the tablet that light up.  You can see where the active area is even in total darkness.  A nice feature and quite a flashy touch! The active drawing area is a healthy 10″ by 6.25″ which gives plenty of drawing surface without being restrictive

The tablet it came in a really strong flip top box which for me was a big thumbs up as it meant I didn’t have to buy any additional cover to start.  Another cost saving feature is that XP-Pen include a graphics anti snag tablet glove  – very nice touch.

The Deco 01 battery free stylus pen is slimline and ergonomically shaped with a rounded triangular profile.  My favourite drawing pen is the LAMY Calligraphy pen which has this similar ergonomic design and this one has the same feel.  During rigorous use it always felt comfortable in hand even when I draw for hours on end.

The pen stand has a twist off base containing eight spare nibs.  The stand is quite ‘weighty’ for its 1.5″ square size and sits solidly on the work surface. Talking of which the tablet has four rubber pads on the back which have a tactile neoprene feel. The tablet sits like a rock on any work surface. 

Setting the Tablet up – installing the driver and controls interface is easy

Ok – a quick word about setting the tablet up.

I often have a huge problem with any new gadget.  I hate set ups and just want it to be as painless as possible.  The Deco 01 has one of the easiest set ups I have ever experienced.  

Once you download the driver app from the XP-Pen.com web site you have access to the app window on your computer.  This allows you to easily change the settings to your preference.  As an example you can change to left or right hand use and change the pen button control settings very quickly.

xp-pen deco 01 graphics drawing tablet pen and left right interface
The pen tablet control panel with left and right handed use at the click of a button

 

The express key functions are preloaded and you have the option to swap them around to suit your own preferences. 

While we are on the express keys a quick mention on their design.  The round buttons are spaced well in banks of four and are not too small.  

The layout is perfect to access without getting in the way. Some tablets are too much into looking good and often forget that artists have to use them.  

Drawing experience on the Deco 01

I tested this graphics drawing tablet over a three week period and have to say it was an absolute pleasure to draw with.  The slightly tactile surface of the Deco 01 gives a perfect feel and flow.  The enhanced report rate of the tablet is evident with no apparent lag between the pen and the drawn image appearing on screen.  The report rate is the speed at which the action of the pen sylus nib on the tablet surface appears on your computer monitor.  

I also really like the pen drawing experience which is now at 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, which seems to be the new norm.  It’s great to see technological advances in graphics drawing tablet specification getting closer to to the real thing.

In conclusion the XP-Pen Deco 01 ticks all the boxes 

My overall opinion is positive in all aspects and I see this as a tablet that will really sell well this year and give the Wacom Intuos range a worthy competitor.  Wacom have dominated the smaller and medium drawing pad market over the last couple of years mainly because of the quality they offer and the ‘included software’.  

XP-Pen have come up with a challenger which, although doesn’t include a free graphics software package, is priced so competitively that this doesn’t really matter.

Yes! – the deco 01 is one to look out for and if you are starting out in the graphics world or want a low priced quality drawing pad, packed with easy to use features, this could be the way to go.  Also an exceptionally good drawing pad for the on the go artist or as a second more mobile pad.  I am very impressed!

You can see the full report with detailed set up screen shots in my comprehensive review of the XP-Pen Deco 01 – see the link in the show notes.

Ok – so that just about wraps things up for this show.  In the next edition of the Procartoon Podcast I will be looking at other products you can create with your cartoon artwork and your artistic knowledge and skills.

Check out the Procartoon Podcast backlist right here…

If you would like to see other graphics tablet reviews and product comparisons see the full articles menu here…

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Digital Drawing Tablet Review – XP-Pen Deco 01

xp-pen-deco-01-first-image

In this digital drawing tablet review I look at the XP-Pen Deco 01 

I was recently asked to review the Deco 01 by XP-Pen.com, which I was happy to do as it has very good reviews and customer ratings.

While researching the XP-Pen.com web site I saw that it has some interesting features and was mightily impressed with the amount of inbuilt technology for such an affordable price point. 

The XP-Pen Deco 01 Is what I would call an indirect graphics drawing tablet or digital drawing pad. That is a tablet that is attached to a computer monitor where you draw on the surface of the tablet and the the image appears on the monitor.

It was quickly delivered and I opened the packaging to find the tablet and accessories contained in a sturdy flip top box. On inspection I found that the box was quite substantial and really secure unlike like some other tablet packaging I have experienced in the past.  

When you buy a new graphics drawing tablet you want to keep it stored safely when not in use and it is a bonus if you don’t have to immediately spend more on a protective cover.

XP-PEN Deco 01 Digital Drawing Tablet – What do You Get in the Box?

The first thing that struck me was how stylish and sleek this tablet was. It certainly looked the business as I was unwrapping it.

It had a nice feel, fairly light and felt strong enough to take the usual knocks and bangs when being moved about…so far so good.

I was pleasantly surprised at the contents in the box:

  • XP-Pen Deco 01 Digital Drawing Tablet

  • Passive Pen Stylus 

  • Pen Stand 

  • 8 spare Graphics Pen Stylus Nibs

  • USB-C to USB Cable Approximately 1.5 meters in length

  • Comprehensive Manual

  • Anti Fouling Graphics Tablet Glove

It is ultra thin at a mere 8mm. How do they pack everything into such a small space these days? We have come a long way since the space race of the 60s with IBM computers filling the whole room and probably with less computing power the mobile phone.

I know that everyone is trying to make some electrical items such as laptops and smartphones as thin as possible but for me that often means ‘flimsy’. Not so with this tablet as it is obviously well bonded and not a hint of flexing.  I think if I dropped this on a solid floor it wouldn’t hurt it – but I wasn’t going to try that out!

The Deco-01 digital drawing tablet
   The Deco-01 digital drawing tablet has a sleek matt black finish

The Deco 01 has a  classy matt black finish. The  downside is you can have any color as long as it’s black! On saying that I don’t think this tablet would look as good in any other color as the matt black really does look cool!

Retro Backplate and Secure Tablet Feet

The back of the tablet is described as ‘Retro’ on the XP-Pen.com web page for the Deco 01.  To be honest the back of a tablet really doesn’t really interest me much – however that’s just my opinion.  What I am interested in on the reverse side of any tablet is how it sits on a worksurface. It needs to be secure on whatever surface it is placed on. In my case I usually work at a desk or inclined flat easel stand. 

I was pleased to find that the reverse of the Deco 01 has rubber padded feet in each corner with a neoprene feel to them – slightly tactile for grip.  They are not just stuck onto the back of the tablet and liable to peel off.

They are secured in small depressions in the back plastic casing. This is thoughtful design as it adds a lot of strength and durability to the pads.  As a result the tablet sits rock solid on any surface letting me draw without a hint of tablet movement.

Express Key Positioning

There are 8 customizable express keys which are right at your fingertips without being obtrusive. Some tablets are rammed with ‘on surface features’ that just get in the way.

The express keys are lined up in two groups of four on one side (reversible depending on left or right hand use of the tablet).

This is far enough from the active area but near enough for instant use.  The keys are also large enough and separated from each other to make them easy to use.  

Again this has been well thought out at design stage to make optimum use of the express keys. 

I have tried other tablet brands where the express keys are in such an awkward place that it is often quicker to switch tools on screen – taking the ‘express’ out of the express keys!

XP-Pen Deco 01 Digital Drawing Tablet – Installing the Tablet Driver

Things that really bug me about any gadget, that requires some form of installation is the lack of information on how to install / program the device.  I was recently asked to review another digital drawing tablet but due to a total lack of logical information I could not get it to work.  I contacted the supplier who wanted the review but they failed to respond – the result as you can imagine was no review!  

Thankfully the instructions for the Deco 01 were easy to follow and worked first time I downloaded the driver from the XP-Pen.com web site. It placed the Pen Tablet Setting application in my applications folder (program files in Windows) and a shortcut on the desktop (optional).

The Pen Tablet Setting App allows you to tailor the shortcut keys to different software that you may use. I find it off putting when any gadgets get so complicated that you end up being overdosed with technical capability. However, XP Penn.com have got it cracked.

As you can see this is pretty straightforward with 5 tab menus:

  • Pen

  • Monitor

  • Table Area

  • Express Keys

  • About

   XP-Pen Deco 01 Pen Tablet Setting Console

That’s a huge tick in the box for me! I hate it when tyou have to borrow Einstein’s brain to be able to understand, program and use the features!!!

It is simple to recallibrate the tablet from right to left hand use (or vice versa). This is easy in the Pen Tablet Settings.

To reprogram the customizable express keys was also very straightforward. The whole setting up process was smooth as silk and I believe that most people would be able to navigate the Pen tablet Setting control interface easily.

XP PEN Digital Drawing Tablet customisable keys
   Setting up the customizable function keys is made easy

So…back to the Deco 01 Graphics Drawing Tablet!

Like most of the latest tablets coming out it has a C-USB connection. The power lead supply has a male C-USB connector which attaches to the tablet and a standard USB connected to the computer. The cable is 1.5m in length which is a decent size to work with.

xp pen deco 01 c-usb set up
The C-USB fits easily into the side of the tablet and is positioned to stay out of the way when drawing

XP-Pen Deco 01 Graphics Drawing Tablet – Active Drawing Area

On the top surface of the tablet are four white right angled markers which light up to indicate the active area thus defining your drawing space. These ‘landing lights’ are a nice feature as it allows you to see exactly where the active area is when drawing in lower lighting and even in pitch dark conditions. It also adds to the stylish look of the tablet.

graphics drawing tablet xp pen deco 01
‘Landing lights’ show you the active drawing area whatever lighting conditions you are in!

XP-Pen Deco 01 Graphics Drawing Tablet – Pen Stylus

The battery free pen stylus is another big plus for me. It is not as ‘clunky’ as a lot of graphics drawing pens I have reviewed are and has a nice thin profile with ergonomic shaping to the barrel. The profile of the pen is triangular with rounded corners – far easier to grip and doesn’t kill your fingers after you have been drawing for a long time without a break.

I use LAMY Calligraphy pens for pen and ink drawing and they have a very similar design this makes the drawing experience much more comfortable. Round pens tend to make your hands hurt and often cramp up after prolonged use.

The pen stylus draws beautifully and is one of the best graphics drawing tablet pens that I have used. Due in part to the ergonomically shaped barrel and also to the excellent responsiveness.

The stylus has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity which is a big step up from the general standards of 2048 LPS. As technology advances the drawing experience gets much closer to the real thing. On saying that a graphics drawing tablet can in some ways be better than the real thing!

xp pen deco 01 digital drawing tablet stylus on screen XP-Pen Deco 01 Digital Drawing Tablet – Pen Stand and Spare Nib Store

With the pen is another great feature the pen stand. It has a nice weight so it’s not going to be rattling around the table and doesn’t take up much room.

On the downside (and this is a very minor blip) the pen is stored horizontally on the top of the pen stand – but this is just my personal preference. I would love it to stand upright in a secure slot as would a quill pen in an ink pen stand. 

The stand is approx.1.5 inch square with a domed top. It has a neat feature as XP-Pen have designed this to store the 8 spare nibs. With a simple twist action the pen stand separated into two pieces with the bottom half securely containing the nibs.  The base of the pen holder has a small slot to extract nibs and replace them in the pen stylus.

XP-Pen.com have got it just about right with awaiting stylish pen on the holder. Just a pity about resting the pen horizontally.

XP-Pen Deco 01 Digital Drawing Tablet – Other Features and Freebies

Graphics Tablet Anti Fouling Glove Included

One thing I really liked was the inclusion of the tablet glove in this set. For those on the tight budget it is one less item to buy amounts another tick in the box for XP-Pen.com.

For those who have never used a graphics tablet glove they are a fantastic asset to have as they keep your hand gliding smoothly with the pen (particularly when your hands get clammy in hot weather) and also keep the tablet surface dust free.

Compatability with Operating Systems and Graphics Software

The deco 01 tablet is compatible with Windows 10/ 8/ 7 Mac OS version 10.8 and higher.   It is stated as running with Photoshop, SA 1, painter, illustrator, trip station plus more in other words it works with all the major graphics software that you are likely to use.

I sent the Deco 01 up on my Mac book Pro. After removing an existing tablet driver (as you need to remove previous drivers for this to work) the installation of the driver from the XP pen.com website was easy to follow and use.

There is a hardcopy manual that comes with the set or you can download a Pdf from the XP-pen.com website.  I found it easier to read a Pdf – being of an age when the eyes don’t like small print!.

The beauty of the downloadable Pdf is that it is always to hand  on my Mac and I don’t have to go rummaging around to find it (and I can see it to read it!).

Customizable keys are preloaded in the following order:

  • Ctrl + “+”
  • Ctrl + “-“
  • Brush
  • Eraser
  • Undo
  • Save
  • Brush +
  • Brush –
XP - PEN DIGITAL DRAWING TABLET 8 EXPRESS KEYS
Fully customizable express keys set on the side of the Deco 01 digital drawing tablet

Another enhanced feature that XP-Pen.com have put into the Deco 01 is the report rate. In other words the speed at which the interaction between the stylus nib on tablet surface is reported to the software to appear on the screen.

The report rates of the deco 01 is now 266 PS which is very fast and in conjunction with with the 8192 levels of pen pressure sensitivity gives a great performance and one experience. 

Conclusion – How did I rate the XP-Pen Deco 01 Digital Drawing Tablet?

I’ve been using the Deco 01 tablet for around 3 weeks and here is the verdict:

Ease of set up – Excellent

Appearance – Excellent

Features – Excellent

Responsiveness of the stylist – Excellent.

Drawing experience – Excellent.

Value for money – Excellent

Overall – Excellent

Only one very minor nit picky things for me and it’s just my personal preference. That was the pen holder i.e pen placement, which I mentioned earlier (pen lies flat on the pen holder and I would have liked to see it more secure in a slot in the upright position).

In the big scheme of things does not detract from the overall standard. As you can see from my verdict this is a great all round tablet.

It has actually made me rethink which is the best tablet in this class and I have to say this is as good or maybe even better than other similar tablets. My previous front runner was the Wacom Intuos Range (Art, Comic, Photo and Draw) but the  XP-Pen Deco 01 has really given that particular range of Wacom Intuos tablets a really good run for its money.  

The differences between the two brands are cost and software (included graphics software as a package).  Wacom do offer included software.  However, there is such a price difference between the Deco 01 and the equivalent Wacom Tablet that the XP-Pen Deco 01 gets the edge.

I always tell anyone that wants Procartoon to review a product that I will always give an honest review.  in this case it was a pleasure to put the Deco 01 through it’s paces and discover that it passed with flying colors in every aspect.

Who is the XP – Pen Deco 01 Digital Drawing Tablet for?

xp pen deco 01 graphics drawing tablet in action

This will suit any level of drawing skill from absolute beginners to professional artists.

If you’re on a tight budget but want quality a lot of great features this fits the bill.

If you are looking for second more mobile tablet, this is just the right size with lots of valuable features.  Plus it is very strong and durable to be carried around.

This could also be perfect for getting kids into digital drawing.  The Deco 01 is very reasonable in cost and not too overcomplicated for young artists.  Possibly a good bulk buy for schools and colleges.

If you would like more information on the XP-Pen Deco 01 Digital Drawing Tablet visit the

XP-Pen.com web site.

You can also buy the XP-Pen Deco 01 from Amazon

Check out the latest price here

If you would like to see more graphics tablet reviews see the full list here…

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Procartoon Podcast 2 – Cartooning Goals for 2018 and more…

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procartoon podcast 2 cartoon graphics drawing artistIn this Episode of the Procartoon Podcast…I Look forward to Web site and cartooning goals for 2018…A simple, effective way to correct color casts in watercolor scans….Create professional prints of your artwork cost effectively…5 top rated cartooning pens reviewed.

Read the extensive show notes below in conjunction with the Podcast Audio – All links in the Podcast are detailed in the shownotes plus additional images and screen shots to clarify and technical discussion in the text

Procartoon Podcast 2 with Rob Nesbitt

 

 

This Episode is Sponsored by JohnOverall.com

WordPress and Web specialists.

Why I am happy to recommend Johnoverall.com 

The Procartoon Web Site is Hosted by JohnOverall.com and they provide a second to none service.  I recently changed to JohnOverall.com from a well known hosting company in the US because I wasn’t getting the back up service I needed.  

I spent too much time waiting for assistance when problems arose and then it was with people who often did not have the level of knowledge to immediately solve an issue.  John Overall is quick, extremely personable, an expert in his field and is very reasonable in cost.  

I was really impressed that he only charges for the actual time he spends i.e. he charges in hours and part hours so if he spends an hour and ten minutes on an issue thats all you get charged for (Most others would charge two hours once it’s over 60 minutes).  I was also really impressed with the speed he works at – again cutting the cost down.  His web hosting service is excellent and fast – very fast! He moved 5 of my sites over seamlessly, didn’t charge for converting all five to https (with no ongoing https cost either – unlike most hosting companies) and let me get on with my life while he was doing it.  

Moving five sites at once was an experience I was dreading but found it painless and I am so glad I chose John to do the work! I now have the peace of mind that if I need help or have a technical question – it’s there.  If you are currently frustrated with with your hosting company I wouldn’t hesitate to recommending JohnOverall.com.

Show Notes for Procartoon Podcast  2

nezzy cartoonistHi, I’m Rob Nesbitt and this is the procartoon podcast.

I look at the tools of the trade, tips, tricks, podcast reviews and interviews and more to help you in your cartooning and artistic work.

What is in this episode of the Procartoon podcast?

In episode 2 of the Procartoon podcast I look at a quick and very effective process in Photoshop that takes away any color casts created when you scan a watercolor image.

I also look at how you can turn your artwork into professionally packaged prints ready to sell without breaking the bank and making a nice little earner.

If you use pens and ink to create your cartoons. I review 5 great cartooning pens and tell you why I love one in particular.

Looking forward to artistic goals in 2018

Before that I think it is a good time right at the beginning of 2018 to think about the year ahead. 2017 was a bit of a mixed bag for me as I currently have two careers running side by side. I was a fire fighter in my previous existence for over 30 years with South wales Fire and Rescue Service in the UK but as soon as I hit 50 back in 2008 I decided to retire and focus on my cartooning and art work.

At the time my children were quite young and I needed to get a stable income in addition to the fire service pension so I created my own fire safety consulting business in 2010. This has turned out to be really lucrative and of late really busy which was great from a financial perspective but totally defeating my objective of concentrating on my artistic side.

It has taken quite a while to get systems in place to be able to do both strands of work simultaneously but by the end of 2017 it was all clicking into place…or so I thought!

There are always spanners in the works throughout any career and half way through 2018 Google threw a whole set! Not only have they hinted that all web sites should be https i.e. secure but they have made some significant changes to their algorithm which has affected many web site rankings including Procartoon.

Amongst other things procartoon is funded partly through Amazon and other affiliate fees and I believe this is what Google appear to have been adjusting in their algorithm. As a result I saw a drop in site visits which wasn’t helped by me changing from http to and https – non secure to secure web site as there are fluctuations associated with such a move.

On top of that Google have appeared to have increased their own sponsored ads at the top of every search you make – pushing other web pages in the top 10 searches below the ‘fold’ i.e. below the visible display on your computer till you scroll down.

On the bright side! I still have hundreds of visits a day from regular readers of Procartoon which I am really grateful for – it means a lot. So even with the problems at the back end of last year things are still looking very rosy.

Goal #1 – Creating more podcasts for Procartoon

So what are my goals for 2018? Well I now have a far better scheduling system in place for Procartoon and my first goal is to produce at least two quality podcasts a month which I hope to increase to one a week.

I love doing these and I think it is a more personal way to get out there and people have busy lives and can listen along while on the go.. Admittedly they are really hard work to put together and the prep and admin takes considerably longer than the podcast air time. If you are thinking of doing a podcast yourself on your own web site there are some great resources to get you started.

If you are thinking of starting your own cartoon or art podcast

I listen to many varied podcasts and there are two in particular that you would find useful. Pat Flynn, an entrepreneur from San Diego runs a fabulous podcast called Smart Passive Income and there is an excellent article on his site devoted to setting up your own podcast with a free downloadable cheat sheet.

Cliff Ravenscraft is the guru of podcasting in my book and his podcast the ‘podcast andswer man’ has everything you need to know aout podcasting. The links to these resources will be in the show notes.

Pat Flynn – Smartpassiveincome.com/podcasting

Cliff Ravenscraft – podcastanswerman.com

Goal #2 – Finish and publish my childrens picture book by June 2018

The second goal is to complete and publish my first childrens picture book. I started this back in August while on holiday in Corfu. I am not one for basting in the sun so while the rest of my family cooked I sat in the shade and thought up a basic story of an unwitting hero who wakes up his village every morning and saves them from a major catastrophe (after he had been sacked for getting them up too early).

Rob nesbitt of the procartoon podcast working on his latest chidrens picture book
 This is me working on my latest project – a children’s picture book planned for publication by June 2018

Once I had the idea in place I set the story to rhyme, refined it and then made the first pencil sketches. When I got home the fire safety business went into overdrive and the next time I looked at the project was just before Christmas. I completed the first full color illustration in pen, ink and watercolors and I was away! So it will be done and published by June. There – I just set myself up!

Goal #3 – Draw more cartoons

Next on the list is to increase cartoon output and in particular more cartoons of my own for this site.

I also have a procartoon Facebook page that I put a lot of my work and other cartoonists and artists work on and the likes are growing steadily. If you would like to take a look it’s at www.facebook.com/procartoon

procartoon podcats facebook like iconAnd if you like what you see

….please like the page.

procartoon podcast - cartoon what are your artistic goals in 2018Goal #4 – Keep fit…not FAT!

Artists tend to sit down a lot and I can get absolutely lost in cartoon la la land for hours at time.

During 2017 after realizing I had reached 15 stone! I made the effort to exercise and eat the right stuff and it worked.

I lost a stone and a half and feel so much better. The big advantage is that I seem to be able to think and perform better creatively.

Christmas came and I fell off the wagon!

So my goal for 2018 is to jump right back on it – which I have and get even fitter in body and mind this year.

Goal #5 – Have more things that I can control 

With all the Google algorithm activity last year I am determined to expand the things that I can control and not be so much at the mercy and whims of a search engine company. Creating more of my own products so I am not so reliant on affiliate fees and developing the Procartoon e-mail list is a big goal for 2018.

I have started some interesting cartoon product developments which I will discuss on the site and in future podcasts and will be opening a shop on the site and on other outlets such as Etsy in the near future. The main overarching goal is to take as many eggs out of one basket as possible and create more contacts and much more streams of income.

What are your artistic goals for the next 12 months?

So what are your artistic goals for 2018 and the future beyond? Have you set out a list of goals to plan your cartoon work in the future! If you have any interesting or innovative goals that you are willing to share please let me know and I will include them in the site and future podcasts.

You can see the show notes and the transcription at procartoon.com on the podcast 2 page.

Okay let’s dive straight into the podcast.

Correcting scan color casts in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

Just after Christmas I received an e-mail from Richard Houlden from Virginia. He asked me to look at a problem that needed fixing. Richard, who is subscribed to the pro-cartoon newsletter is a cartoonist who produces some of his artwork with pen and watercolor.

He had a problem when cataloging his artwork. While scanning the watercolors in electronic format he was finding that the scanned left a slightly yellow tint on the image, particularly noticeable on the background.

He wanted to know if it could be corrected in Photoshop. You wanted to remove yellow cast but leave the original paper texture.

This is a great question for me as I’m currently working on a children’s picture book. I usually work on my Wacom Mobile Studio Pro Tablet but for picture books I use a combination of Water colors, brush, pencil, pen and ink with a calligraphy pen and dip pens.

I initially used my experience in Photoshop. First I tried selecting the background and tried to resolve the issue using a series of adjustments and filters. The result was reasonable but it took too long as the were too many stages involved.

Lynne Chapman – Children’s Book Illustrator

I decided to look for advice from experts on children’s book illustrations. I recently interviewed one of the top UK children’s book illustrators Lynn Chapman. You can listen to the interview on Procartoon.com podcast 1. Lynn has illustrated 30 children’s books over a 17 year. She has produced hundreds of full-color illustrations on paper, which would all require scanning.

I wondered if the publishers of the children’s picture books would have scanned Lynnes artwork.   Or would she have done it herself? There was only one way to find out. I fired off an e-mail to Lynn and had an almost immediate answer.

In her response she sent me a simple process to follow using Photoshop. I tried it out on several of Richards watercolor scans and was absolutely amazed with the results – perfect!

Here is the process:

I have included some screen shots to demonstrate using one of Richard Houlden’s cartoons as an example:

First scan the watercolor image at between 300 and 600 dpi dots per inch. 300 dpi is the minimum print industry standard but I often go to 600 dpi to ensure a higher definition so that if I decide to go to a really large print size in the future I can.

correcting scan color casts in photoshop procartoon podcast
Here is the original image scanned. as you can see the scanning process adds a yellowy tint to the image. The cartoon was created in ink and watercolors on white heavy textured watercolor paper.

Next open the scan into Photoshop.

correcting color cast in photoshop 2

On the main menu select ‘Image’ …then ‘adjustments’….From the adjustments drop-down menu select ‘Selective Color’

using the selective color adjustment in photoshop

Next in the selective color menu box leave the pre-set as ‘default’. Select ‘white’ in the countless then adjust the yellow slider.

corrective color adjustment slider photoshop

As if by magic the yellow tint will have gone on the paper texture in the background is still in place.

Save your adjusted image and you are done.

before and after color correction in photoshop
   Before color correction and after

How easy was that?!

Here’s the thing. Photoshop is really complex and you will never remember or know every aspect of this powerful and fantastic software. I keep learning new tricks all the time and this particular one was a gem.

I reported back to Richard and thanks to Lynn Chapman his problem had been solved. His scans were now crisp and clean, maintaining the pattern of the watercolor paper. He now has the means to archive the best versions of his physically created artwork – mission accomplished.

richard houlden cartoons2carvings procartoon.comRichard Houlden’s cartoons to Woodcarvings

After taking off my Sherlock Holmes Deerstalker hat I decided to take a look at Richard Houlden’s other creations.

I was mightily impressed with what he does with some of his artwork, converting the cartoon designs into stunning woodcarvings. You can take a look at Richard’s work at cartoons2carvings.blogspot.co.uk and on Richards Etsy page.

Again this struck accord with me as I have recently been using wood as to make ‘cartoony’ products and appreciate the difficulties and additional techniques you need to master to move into a different medium. In my case I use driftwood to make cartoon figures.

Richard has a real talent not just for drawing and carving but taking 2D to 3D in such a skillful way is really clever and I hope he makes a real success of his creative venture.

Before I move onto the next topic here’s a shout out to all cartoonists who would like some free advertising for their products or services.

If you are a cartoonist and would like to advertise your services I am setting up a section on Procartoon.com for cartoonists and other artists to showcase their talents. For the first ten that apply will get the free ad placement.

To apply simply contact me, Rob Nesbitt via the contact page on Procartoon.com. Send me an outline of what you do what you have to offer plus contact details and I will send out the format to submit your free ads space which will be a page to yourself plus images of your work, contact details etc.

If you sign up for the Procartoon Newsletter you will be kept up to date with new articles and features as a subscriber you will automatically be entered into our regular prize draws. Just visit the ‘About Page’ on procartoon.com to sign up for the newsletter.

Procartoon Newsletter

This gives you automatic entry to our regular competition draws - the newsletter will only be issued once or twice a month - thanks for signing up!

Your email address remains confidential & you can unsubscribe at any time.

I am also on the lookout for cartoonists to interview on this podcast . The only criteria I have is that either you are a published cartoonists i.e. paid regularly for your work in national magazines, newspapers, online, childrens book illustrations or you have a cartoon related or art related business that would be of interest and relevance to our readers and subscribers.

Send me a short message via the Procartoon.com ‘Contact Page’ and we can discuss a podcast.

OK back to the plot!…

Repurposing cartoons and artwork to make products and money

I have produced a monthly cartoon for brass band world magazine since 2002 after I submitted a letter to the Editor with a cartoon.

He liked it so much he invited me to become the magazines cartoonist. I get paid to submit the cartoons to the magazine every month for 10 months of the year.

I have a long standing agreement that after the following edition is published I can republish the previopus months cartoon (which I do regularly on my web site nezzyonbrass.com).

Repurposing cartoons can bring in other benefits and there there is always something else you can use a cartoon for to generate extra income.

cartoon prints in mount mat to sellUsing Your Cartoons to Make Prints That Sell

Anything you can print on and sell can be used to generate more income for your business. In the niche market of brass bands I have found a reasonable market for prints of my cartoons.

I will never make a million out of this particular small market but…it is always good to have multiple streams of income and if you can create enough smaller product income streams they mount up.

The other big mistake a lot of business owners have is to have all their paint brushes in one basket! (you know what I mean).

The danger of relying on key word rankings for your web site

I have recently seen many web sites head south because the great and mighty Google has updated its algorithm and sent many affiliate sites plummeting into the depths of despair.

Web sites relying on one source of income such as Amazon affiliate fees are at the mercy of Google – it is a dangerous path to tread. Diversify and Multiply your income streams and you won’t go far wrong.

When I first thought about doing this I looked for a professional to put the prints together and I would just sell them. I didn’t look for too long because the price of someone doing the spade work was prohibitive so I decided to see how much it would cost to do it myself.

Generally I try not to get too involved in processes that take me away from creating cartoons but this seemed the only option or I wouldn’t have been able to launch a product.

So what hardware will I need? I would need a good quality printer for starters. Or would I? Perhaps I could outsource this section of the process and get good quality prints on short runs out right price?

The first few print companies suppliers that I looked cost far too much. Either that or to make it viable I would have to order hundreds of each design. That could end up filling the garage for months or years and probably end up as land fill!

Outsourcing your cartoon and art print copies

As I was just testing the water there was no desire to buy bulk prints of each design. However I did find a company that would print small runs provided that I Would order a minimum number of print sheets.

They weren’t concerned what designs were on each sheet so it was a no-brainer. I submitted all my designs placed two on a sheet and made the order.

The result was a set of great quality prints. The only downside was that I have to cut them to size myself which really wasn’t a big deal. The company I used was Printed.com who were not only really helpful with great customer service but produce top notch quality prints at a very reasonable price. I have had them do Christmas cards and other printed merchandise which I will discuss in a future podcast.

Using a home printer to create your cartoon and art prints

If you have a good printer then this can be the best option. You have the ultimate control over print and demand. The only advice here is use the best ink you can and the best paper. The printer should be capable of processing up to 300g.s.m. (grams per squate meter) paper. If it can’t then look for a better printer.

I have recently changed to an Epsom printer with refillable tanks. The first time I had to refill was a year after I bought it and I only refilled the black. I give this printer a real hammering printing off Christmas Cards, and a continual straem of other documents throughout the year. It has saved me a fortune in ink (cartridges are the biggest rip off on the planet) and the print results are very good.

Framing your cartoon art in a mount / mat

I wanted to put them in a picture mat or as it is sometimes known picture mount.

Again I got a decent price and ordered a relatively small amount of double mat/ mounts. Again it is wise to shop around and like most economies of scale the more you buy the lower the unit cost.

single and double mount mats
   Single and Double Mount Mats

Attaching the print to the Mount Mat requires double-sided tape which was easily sourced from Amazon.

I could’ve used a glue gun but through experience you get too much waste with this method of attaching my mat/mounts to backing board.

Double-sided tape is far more easier to use and gives a neater, cleaner finish. You can also use it to tape the image to the mount matt and you don’t get your fingers burnt on a reel of double sided tape!

double sided tape to attach image to mount mat
Use Double Sided Tape…It’s Quick and Easy to Use.

Packaging your cartoon artwork for trade stands and shipping

Last but not least is the packaging. To keep the finished product clean and pristine and visible so that you could sell it on a trade stand the best way is to use clear cello bags. These are really cheap to buy available online and I think essential to give a professional finish.

If you are shipping your prints it’s no good sending them out without substantial packaging. I ship all my prints in rigid cardboard mailers and I’ve never had a return due to damage with this method.

I have seen artists ship their artwork off in paper padded bags – WHY??? It’s asking for trouble. Making all that effort and then on a wing and a prayer not using the correct packaging is like Noah building his Ark out of balsa wood!

Putting the mat/mounts and prints together is fairly simple and I take you through this process in an extensive article on creating prints for sale that I have written which shows you the process in fine detail .

The article also gives you great tips on choosing the size of the prints and the mount /mats to give you a good size without going overboard. I suggest a size that allows you to home print at a decent size.

There are a few formats that you can sell your art in this way. You can sell the original, which will get the most money but only once! You can sell prints of the original as many times as you like but each print will have a much lower price. There is a half way house where you create scarcity by making a print run a limited edition.

If you are not familiar with this term it means that you could limit tour prints in number such as a maximum os 200 prints. Each one is marked with a limited edition number e.g. number 1/200 number 2/200 etc. Limited-edition prints are normally hand signed and sometimes come with a certificate of authenticity. It is basically a marketing strategy based on the old concept of creating scarcity to raise the price. Limited-edition prints fetch more money than straight prints but less than a one-off original.

Limited edition numbering requires accurate recording
   Limited Edition Numbering – Keep accurate records

One word of caution if you’re selling limited-edition prints. Make sure you keep really good records off who you have sold each limited edition to and the limited edition number that was a signed to that buyer.

You may not sell the whole limited-edition run for a period of years and is nothing worse realizing you’ve sold the same limited edition numbered to two different buyers!

If you think prints of your work maybe a good way to it generate extra income please see the article that I’ve written which takes you through the process step-by-step. See the full article on creating your own prints here…

My recommendations for the best ink pens for cartooning and other artwork

Okay moving on to great ink drawing pens for cartoonists. A high percentage of cartoonists probably now using graphics drawing tablets. However, there is nothing like and never will be like using a good old pen on paper! I’ve been drawing cartoons for over 50 years and it’s taken me nearly that long to find a pen that I really like and really suits me.

For me there are two things that’s a really important when selecting an ink drawing pen. The first is obvious. It needs to draw exceptionally well! The second may not be so obvious but for me is really important.

If you spend a lot of time with the pen in hand you will know from experience that after a while it can get painful and over time you end up with those tell tale callouses on the side of your middle finger. A lot of drawing pens have a round barrel which to me is not the best shape to hold for prolonged periods.

Here are 5 ink pens which are great for cartoon artwork – I have personally used and reviewed.

They have 5 pens that I have actually used frequently over many years.

best rotring art and cartooning pens

The first pen is the Rotring Art Pen which is been around for years.

I know this for a fact because I was presented with this pen as a gift on a musical tour of Bavaria in Germany back in 1992.

I still have the pen and it works just as well now as it did then. It looks stylish.

It writes beautifully and because it looks good and feels good – psychologically makes you draw better.

The second pen is another Rotring Rapidograph Technical pen. I’ve included this because I have a set of these for a long time on producing great cartoons with them but and it’s a big but!

rotring rapidograph pen

The cap thread feels quite sharp I’m really painful after prolonged use. I would only use this for short jobs. One huge plus for this pen is the quality of the ink, which is exceptional.

The next pen is a throwaway pen where once the ink dries up it goes in the trash. The Staedler pigment liner technical drawing pen gives consistent and brilliant results.

Staedler pigment liner pen o.5

Although they come in a number of nib sizes I generally only use the 0.3mm, 0.5mm and 0.8mm there are other sizes available. I feel these are the three that will offer the most for cartoonist. Great pens and my only criticisms are that they are throw away and quite narrow, which can be quite painful in the hand with prolonged use.

Another great throwaway pen is the Faber Castell Pitt Artists Pen which  also offers an excellent drawing finish.

faber castell pitt artist pen

The bar was slightly more chunky in the Staedler but on the downside it is more expensive. So between the two throw away pens in this review I prefer Staedler purely on cost.

The last pen in this review is the LAMY Calligraphy Pen Set which for me is the Rolls-Royce of drawing pens.

lamy calligraphy pen set cartooning pen on the market

The pen is extremely stylish to look at the pen draws amazingly well. The sets comes with 3 nibs of 1.1, 1.5 and 1.9 mm. Included is a  set of 5 LAMY Black ink cartridges.

Another nice feature is the brilliantly designed clip to make sure doesn’t fall out of your pocket.

It’s the ergonomically shaped barrel that really sells this pen for me. Instead of the usual round shape LAMY have designed the barrel with 2 grooves on each side which perfectly match the thumb and index finger.

This clever design gives the cartoonist the perfect working experience. No pain no strain but plenty of gain.

I use this pen as my pen of choice and it is wonderful. The only disadvantage with this pen set is that it is the most expensive in this review.

However, I cannot recommend this pen highly enough and is worth it’s weight in gold.

If you would like to see this review in more detail follow this link.

Okay – so in this podcast I showed  a great shortcut in Photoshop to remove color casts in water color scans. I also discuss the pros and cons of turning your artwork into prints to sell and reviewed 5 top rated pens.

Don’t forget if you would like to subscribe to the procartoon.com monthly newsletter for automatic entry into future prize draws please visit the ‘About’ page on procartoon.

I hope you enjoyed the podcast, thanks for listening and will talk to you next time.

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Cartooning equipment review – Pens

which cartoon pens Rotring art penWhich cartoon pens measure up?

I have tried out many different pens ranging from cheap dip pens (pens dipped into ink) to very expensive high tech drawing pens.  

Every cartoonist has their own preference and I am sure that in time you will find the right pen for you.  

However, till you find your perfect pen I have created this cartooning equipment review and have have picked out my top 5 pens.  

These are all pens that I have used for drawing cartoons.  I hope you find  this cartooning equipment review useful.

 Rotring Art Pen – Medium Nib

ROTRING ART PEN

This looks great and is very stylish in appearance.  I really enjoyed working with this pen as it really feels good in the hand and you can adjust the width of ink line just by turning the pen slightly as you draw.  

The ink is provided in push fit cartridges or there is the option to install an adaptor which allows you to refill from a bottle.

This really is an excellent pen and very hard wearing.  I still have my original pen and nib and it is over 20 years old!  There are a variety of nibs with very fine, fine,medium and calligraphy that I have tried and can recommend.

Pros and cons of the Rotring Art Pen

The disadvantage over some other throw away pens is that you have to refill and unless you maintain it to a high standard (cleaning the nib after every use) it can become clogged with dry ink.  

The main advantage is long term cost.  Although the initial cost of the pen is more than good quality throw away pens the Rotring art pen works out cheaper over a longer period as the packs of cartridges or the optional refillable plunger cartridge reduce ink cost.  

Unlike throw away pens there is also a psychological advantage.  A great looking pen not only feels good in hand it makes you feel better as well.  I have always noticed this with a well crafted and stylish pen and seem to get better results.  Perhaps it’s just me! But I find that it certainly ups my game!

This is a high quality stylish pen for cartooning with a slight draw back of constant maintenance. 


Rotring Rapidograph 0.5mm Technical Pen 

rotring rapidograph pen

I bought a set of Rotring Radiograph pens with all the accessories.  It turned out to be a bad choice as I ended up only using three pens out of the set and none of the accessories.  

The featured 0.5 technical pen gives consistent line strength and generally feels very good in the hand.  I did find that in prolonged use it did get uncomfortable due to the shape of the front end and the annoying threaded portion (where the head cap screws on).  

The ink source is by snap fit cartridge and the Rotring ink is of a very high quality.

Pros and cons of the Rotring Rapidograph 0.5mm Technical Pen

One disadvantage is that it requires high cleaning maintenance as it clogs easily if the ink starts to dry out. It is also not the most comfortable pen to hold in prolonged use.

If you are going to get this pen I would recommend that you also get the 0.3 for fine detail and the 0.8 for larger stroke detail.  Ink cartridges are quite expensive and this takes the edge off this model over throw away type felt tip pens.

On the plus stage this pen gives a high qaulity ink finish that is consistent every time.

 General long term cost is possibly on a par with throw away pens. 


Staedtler pigment liner fineliner technical drawing pen black ink 0.05mm

Staedler pigment liner pen o.5

This is the throwaway pen I currently use for cartooning and is used to draw the cartoons on the Procartoon.com website.  It has a nice even flow and very good ink finish.  

This differs from the previous reviews above as it is a use and throw away type pen.  So when the ink runs out the pen goes in the trash!  

Having said that it is quite cheap in comparison to other refillable models.  I generally use the 0.3, 0.5 and 0.8 although there are several other sizes available.

Pros and cons of the Staedtler pigment liner fineliner technical drawing pen black ink 0.05mm

The only criticism I have is that the barrel is quite narrow and can be a bit uncomfortable to handle when in prolonged use.  Obviously they are a throwaway pen and connot be refilled.

Apart from thet they are a great workhorse and very reliable if look after them and keep the cap on when not in immediate use.


LAMY Calligraphy Pen Set

This is my cartooning pen of choice.  I have tried out dozens of pens over many years and this little set is miles in front – It’s wonderful! 

The set comes in a smart metal box (also ideal as a gift set) and there are 3 different sized nibs (1.1, 1.5 and 1.9 mm).  The pen top is fitted with a strong clip so it will not leap out of your pocket.  There are a set of 5 Lamy black ink cartidges and an instruction manual.

Pros and cons of the lamy Calligraphy pen set

The best feature is the ergonimic barrel shape.  It has two bevelled edges on the sides of the barrel that makes the pen feen part of your hand. I don’t ever get ‘grip fatigue’ using the Lamy Calligraphy Pen which for someone who uses the pen for hours at a time is a massive plus.

The nib and ink flow is as smooth as you can get and very responsive.  It is also very consistent which is essential when you instinctively know what you want and what you know you will get. 

It looks great and makes you automatically up a gear when you have it in hand.  Until you have tried this pen you won’t know the feeling as it’s quite hard to define.  I use it for everything not just for drawing!

Three nib sizes give most  line width you will need.  The pen is also fantastic for creating fonts and general writing

There are no cons to this pen – Absolutely none!

 

Faber Castell Pitt Artists Pen 

faber castell pitt artist pen

High quality fibre tip throw away pen with great ink flow and finish.  There is not much to chose between this and the Staedler Pigment Liner but  the price tag for the Faber Castell pen is substantially higher.  

Overall this pen performs very well, feels great in the hand and comes in fine, medium and broad (which is more a brush than a pen).  

I would use the medium and fine for cartoon work and the Indian waterproof ink does a great job. It was only the price that stopped this pen from getting it’s nose in front of the Staedler brand.

Pros and Cons of the Faber Castell Pitt Artists Pen

The price is a little higher than the Staedler equivalent.  It does feel great in hand but can become uncomfortable after prolonged use.

It does provide a very good waterproof ink finish which is consistent and just right for adding colored washes after without bleed.

So Which is the best cartooning pen for you?

From this cartooning equipment review – pens you can see that I would recommend that you try out the Staedler Pigment Liners for a throwaway pen.  They are great pens and there is no hassle in maintenance – just what I like.  Pick up the pen and draw and the price is very reasonable.  

For me the Rolls Royce of cartooning, writing and calligraphy pens is the Lamy Calligraphy pen which is available in a neat 3 nib pen set. Stylish, draws and writes like a dream – I cannot fault it and use it all the time.

As I said at the beginning or the article it’s down to preference and you may decide to use another pen altogether.  I hope you found this post informative and I will be writing more reviews on equipment that I have personally used or have first hand knowledge of to  give you some useful information.


which-is-the-best-drawing-watercolor-paper-padsFound the cartooning pen for you? – now take a look at which is the best watercolor paper brand paper for pen, ink and watercolor/watercolor pencils with five top quality heavy grade paper pads


top-5-graphics-drawing-tablets-for-cartooningIf you are thinking of moving into digital art check out my comprehensive articles and reviews on the full range of graphic tablets and pads…

10 simple steps to find fun things to draw!

fun things to draw pencil and pen sketchGreat ways I discovered to teach me how to draw cartoons without having to think too hard!

For the professional cartoonist finding fun things to draw is easy if you just want to copy a cartoon or use some other cartoonists ideas. Getting ideas for great original cartoons and fun things to draw can have you pulling your hair and teeth out!

I used to suffer from so called ‘cartoonists block’ on a regular basis and there is nothing more frustrating than revving up with pen in hand and the starting pistol just won’t go off especially when it’s for one of your a paid drawing jobs.

I tried all sorts of different ways to refill the creative well. Looking at other cartoonists work is great but you often get stuck in the tracks of their ideas. Looking through newspapers and magazines is very good as you can often find odd stories that will spark your imagination.

Television is another easy source and of course the Internet can take you anywhere you want to research. However I have found that the best way to get your creative juices flowing is to set yourself a challenge.

It’s also not just about finding thos golden nuggets but holding onto them.  Have you ever woken up with a brilliant idea…perhaps the best cartoon you have ever imagined just appeared from nowhere?  It’s funny how ‘appears’ can quickly turn into ‘disappears’.  

I have an awful memory and can remember vividly what I was doing 30 years ago but cannot remember that great cartoon drawing sparke I had ten minutes ago.  I record every idea I get and in this article will show you the methods that I use to find original cartoons and the best way (in my opinion) to keep hold of them.  Recording those ideas is my way of retaining them for future use and over time I have amassed a huge bank of cartoon ‘leads’ that will allow me to find new ideas quickly and efficiently.

fun-things-to-drawThe following method I have developed, using a Mind Map works every time and has given me original cartoon ideas and cool stuff to draw.

What is a Mind Map?  For those of you who are not familiar a Mind Map is a way of taking organized notes without being boring and a great way of finding new ideas to plan out your projects.

In this exercise you are about to look at  is a simple Mind Map that will help you create your own original cartoons.

Mind Maps are the brainchild of Tony Buzan, the international best selling author, who has helped me throughout my life in cartooning, exams, writing books, planning holidays, taking notes in meetings in fact anything that I needed to plan or remember. Mind maps are simple and work every time for me.

10 simple steps to find great cartoon ideas and fun things to draw using a mind map template

fun things to draw mind map

Step 1


Find a quiet place on your own away from all distractions and have a piece of paper, a pen, colored pencils and a dictionary.

Step 2

Draw a small blue circle in the center of the paper. Open the dictionary at any random page. The first word that catches your attention you write into the center circle.

Mind Map Template 1 fun things to draw

Step 3

Draw four blue lines out from the inner circle and draw a red rectangle at the end of each line.

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Step 4

Repeat the random selection of words in the dictionary for each of the four red rectangles

mind-map-template.2

Step 5

Draw three red lines off each rectangle.  At the end of each line draw a green oval and repeat the random selection of words from the dictionary placing a word in each oval.

mind map template 3

Step 6

You now have a mind map template with one word in the center circle, four in the red rectangles and 12 in the green ovals. Pick one word from any green oval plus one from any of the red rectangle and write them on another sheet with the word in the blue center circle e.g. DOG  + SUDDENLY + OCTOPUS 

FUN THINGS TO DRAW THREE WORD SELECTION

 

Step 7

Look at the group of three words and let your mind run riot. You have to put a story together in your head (or scribble it down) that links the three words. From this you should be able to come up with an idea for a cartoon.

My first thought was a dog fishing on the beach and about to barbecue a small scared baby octopus when he suddenly sees the huge shadow of mama octopus who is just about to flatten him!  I am sure you can come up with something for a great cartoon when you let your imagination loose.

At first you may think this is a useless idea and nothing pops up in your mind.  But keep trying and once your brain realises it has a problem to solve it will relish the challenge.  You will be amazed at what ideas you can think of.  With a little bit of practice you will come up with some brilliant cartoon ideas.

fun-things-to-draw-central-image-dogStep 8

Do steps 6 & 7 again and again using different combinations of words until you have ideas for at least ten cartoons. Always use the central word (DOG) in the mix until you have exhausted all possibilities as it helps your mind the move the subject of the word into different scenarios and really gets your imagination in overdrive.

Step 9

Pick out the one that appeals to you most and do a very quick pencil sketch to see if it works.  

Step 10

If the one you have sketched works for you then create a fully developed cartoon. If not go back to your list and pick the next best idea or  return to the mind map and try another combination.

Some mind map examples that worked for my cartoons and other fun things to draw

The Mind Map template you see is one that I used a while ago when searching for new cartoon ideas.  I came up with DOG + TRUMPET + RULES

MIND MAP TEMPLATE 5 fun things to draw

Within a couple of minutes I imagined a guide dog at a music contest playing the trumpet for it’s owner with the officials looking through the rule book to see if this was allowed. Here is the finished cartoon which was published in Brass Band World Magazine.

COOL-STUFF-TO-DRAW-USING-MIND-MAPS

I also used the same Mind Map template quite recently with a different set of random words which gave me FIRE + BOADICEA + STAIRCASE.  I thought about how to link these three random words and first considered Boadicea (or Boudica)  – a fearsome British tribal queen who rode a chariot with huge blades sticking out of each wheel hub.  

I imagined her racing up a large staircase and then realised that in a fire people sometimes evacuate in special chairs.  If I put her blades on the wheels of an evacuation chair coming down a staircase during a fire in a building it could be a good visual cartoon – especially with fire-fighters rushing in to put the fire out.  

I did a quick sketch and it worked so I produced a full colour version which was published in the Daedalus Magazine for the Institute of Fire safety Managers in 2013.  From three random words taken from the Mind Map Template I was able to produce a full colour cartoon fairly quickly.

Cool Stuff to draw from Mind Map Templates

Heres another example where I used the same mind map method to pick out FORK + BABE MAGNET + SHARK.  Imagining a shark with a knife and fork was easy and after a couple of minutes my mind was on the trail for the third piece in the jigsaw challenge. I had a quick blast from the past and based the babe magnet on someone I knew (hopefully they won’t have a clue) who was not exactly babe magnet material but thought that he was!

shark-babe-magnet-fork-cartoon

It’s strange how your memory and thought can find inspiration from seemingly nowhere.  In this case it helped make a decent cartoon.  

After a few sketches I found the layout I wanted to get the right visual balance between the shark and the ‘Babe Magnet’ and scanned the pencil drawing into the graphics tablet. Photoshop Elements did it’s magic with a little help from me and I think the cartoon works and fits the three words together nicely.

Her’s another that came from a mind map.  I was looking for a new cartoon for Brass Band World Magazine based on conductors. In this case the words were not all randomly chosen as they mainly had to have a musical theme and after creating a mind map using the same method (with only the outer words being chosen randomly) I found three words CONDUCTOR + IPOD + FUTURE.  

At first I was thinking of what a conductor would listen to on an IPod but nothing seemed to tie in with the ‘future’.  Then as if by magic my brain made the connection.  orchestra pits are always complaining that technology is replacing and taking away musicians jobs.  

So what if an IPod could replace an orchestra?  The cartoon soon fell into place with a conductor on stage waving his baton at an IPod – with the caption “The future?” Here is the result which I was pleased with (and so was the editor!).

ipod-conductor-future 

I use this method all the time because it sets me a challenge and while trying to overcome the challenge of linking the words together in a cartoony story I usually come up with something original I can use to draw. Note the word ‘original’ which keeps you away from copying others work.

I have tried many other methods which have given moderate success but for me this is the one that works.  An easy challenge that gets right to your competitive nature erupting in creative output.

The process of making your brain combine the three words into a story can be very powerful in finding a new idea, a fresh slant on a situation or simply finding fun things to draw.  The ideas for cartoons are half the battle and this simple little drawing exercise lets you get on with what you do best – drawing!

Creating Your Own Catalogue of Fun Things to Draw

Once you get into this process you will find ideas easily and don’t forget that practice soon becomes a habit.  There is a danger of finding a bucket load of ideas and not keeping them recorded where you can find them quickly and easily.

This is my own Leather refillable Journal which I always have with me – simple but really useful as I have the memory of a goldfish!

I keep my ideas immediatly to hand in a leather bound, refillable journal.  It might sound a bit old fashioned in this techy world we live in but it works for me.  

Why leather?…simply because you can thrash the living daylights out of it and it will still look good after a bashing.  

I have used journals with hard card covers but they end up falling apart, so for a few extra bucks you have something that looks good, feels good, smells good and keeps your ideas wrapped up and protected.

The refillable versions are really handy as you can replace the paper pads when you fill them up.  I tend to leave the first couple of pages blank to create an index which saves hours of searching.

Take a look at my review of  5 top rated leather bound refillable journals (including my own above) that you might like to consider.  If you are wondering what else you could keep in an artists journal I have an article on how to step up your game with ideas, motivation, goals and more to keep the creative juices flowing. See the article here…

Capturing ideas and fun things to draw electronically

evernote If this isn’t ‘techy’ enough for you there are plenty of App’s out there such as Evernote which you can run on any device such as a mobile phone and sync it with your PC or Mac at home.  

Evernote  is really useful as ideas often come any time, any place any where!  You can type in, record your voice or take an image and sync it to your chosen device – easy peasy.

I use it now and then but I am a bit pen and ‘paperish’ when it comes to making notes for ideas.  If you are into app’s then Evernote is just one of many that you can use to grab hold of any fleeting ideas. 

Another device that has proved popular is the Boogie Board LCD mini tablet which is a handy little electronic notebook that you can capture ideas, notes and sketches.   If you come up with a brilliant cartoon just quickly sketch it out and sync it later on your main computer.  There are several types and variations and are relatively cheap and very easy to use.  Check out my article on the Boogie Board range and see if this clever little device would be a better option for you.

However, if you are unlike most of us mere mortals and have a photographic memory then don’t waste your money!

Another simple and immediate way to record is direct to your phone.  The Apple iphone comes with a simple app for recording your voice.  For other Android phones thare are many recording apps you can download.  When I am on the go and come up with an idea I often record my voice and then add it to the journal later.  Here are a few suggestions for free android voice recorder Apps that do a great job:

  • Titanium Recorder
  • Smart Voice Recorder
  • Voice Recorder
  • Voice Recorder by Splend Apps
  • RecForge II

And Finally!

Finding fun things to drawThe whole point of finding fun things to draw is to have fun doing it.  Your brain is like a muscle and like any muscle the more you exercise it the better it will develop giving you far more ideas than you thought possible.  

You will find that once you have turned practice into habit your brain will enjoy problem solving and increase your output at an incredible rate.

The only downside is that you will probably generate far more ideas than you can possibly draw – wouldn’t that be a great problem to have.  for any cartoonist this approach will serve you well.  

Working to a deadline and hoping something will pop into your head usually works.  But wouldn’t it be so much better if you had a library of your own original ideas in advance that you can draw on…excuse the pun!

They say that every cartoon you see is an old one recycled and with your own back catalogue of great ideas you can either use or recycle into something with a new twist.

Give this a go and I guarantee  you will be overwhelmed with great cartoon ideas if you stick at it.

best drawing tabletIf you are thinking of getting into digital art check out our review to the best drawing tablet for cartooning

 

If you would like to read more about Mind Maps, which are also  particularly good for passing exams, follow this link…More

5 of the best colored pencils for artists

best colored pencils for artistsThere are dozens of colored pencil brands on the market. Choosing the best colored pencils for artists work is critical to get the greatest result.  

Although digital art is getting more mainstream the majority of  artists  still enjoy creating work with more traditional means.  It is pleasing to see that good old pen, ink and colored pencils are not yet dead!   

In the following review there are sets for beginners and seasoned artists as we don’t assume that everyone is at the same standard.  Darice offer a set which is a compilation art set but includes quality colored pencils. The other four are specifically colored pencil sets.

So what are the best colored pencils for artists?   Here are 5 different top rated sets that you can find on Amazon (links provided) which have great customer approval ratings:

Doric 80 piece art set best colored pencils for artists

Darice 80-Piece Deluxe Best Beginners Art Set

The Darice art set is great for the beginner as it has a variety of mediums in addition to quality colored pencils.  

Oil pastels, paint brushes, water color cakes and a lot more are packed into this 80 piece set. A great collection of art tools in one neat and robust, portable wooden box.

Colored pencils  provide a fairly generic range but are of high quality.  

Amazon customer reviews state that the oil pastels are the icing on the cake.  There are other elements in this art set which are not quite up to the same level, such as the markers which appear to be ‘run of the mill’.  

Although it may not be up to professional artist standard the Darice art set is still exceptionally good value, particularly for the beginner. It’s a great set to try out a variety of different art products and the range of colored pencils is ideal for someone at an early stage in their artistic career.

Darice Best Beginners Art Sets Contain: 

  • Oil pastels
  • Color pencils
  • Watercolor cakes
  • Paint brushes
  • Drawing pencils
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Kneaded eraser  
  • Sanding blocks

The Darice Best beginners Art set is available in four different sizes through the link below:

  • 68 piece art
  • 80 Piece Deluxe  Art (featured above)
  • 120 Piece Deluxe Art
  • 131 Piece P[remium Art

N.B. As there are small parts in each set it is not recommended for children under the age of 3 due to choking risk.

best colored pencils for artists primacolor scholarPrismacolor Scholar Colored Pencils, (60 pencils)

Another great set of high quality pencils  to suit the beginner.  

Prismacolor pencils have very good blending qualities and nibs resistant to breakage (often a problem with low quality pencil products).

Lead performance, vibrancy of color and smoothness of line perform really well and all add up to a very good color pencil.

On the other side of the coin the pencils sometimes leave a waxy finish. The case provided does not provide a great deal of protection for your pencils.  So you may have to store them in a more substantial container to protect them.  

All in all this is a very good quality set for a very low price.  Scholar sets are particularly good for a beginner with a nice range of colors.

This set is available in several sizes through the Amazon link below:

  • 2 set
  • 48 set
  • 60 set (featured above)
  • 288 set
  • 576 set

Prismacolor premier best colored pencilsPrismacolor Premiere Soft Core Colored Pencils, (72 pencils)

Quite a notch up from the Prismacolor Scholar pencil set and great for a beginner and advanced artist alike.  

Ideal for professional artists with smooth superior blending and great tonal quality particularly for shading.  

Robust and resistant to nib breakage.  Leads provide a water proof finish and the pigments have good fade resistant qualities to keep your work fresh and vibrant.

The leads are very responsive to stroke pressure giving subtle changes across the range of pressure.  High quality across the board makes this the flagship pencil of the Prismacolor range.

It is a sound investment if you want to get a very high standard finish to your artwork.  There do not appear to be any significant negatives with these pencils.

Prismacolor Premier range offers many choices which can all be accessed through the link below: 

  • Coloring starter kit – 72 colored pencils, pack of blending pencils and pencil sharpener
  • Pencils and sharpener – 72 colored pencils and pencil sharpener
  • 48 pencil pack with a blender pencil pack and dual-port pencil sharpener
  • 72 pencil pack with a blender pencil pack and dual-port pencil sharpener
  • 132 pencil pack with a blender pencil pack and dual-port pencil sharpener
  • 150 pencil pack with a blender pencil pack and pencil sharpener

best colored pencils for artists faber castellFaber-Castell Colored Pencils with CD, (120 pencils)

Is Faber Castell a good brand? If you want the absolute best the Faber-Castell Colored Pencils are the way to go and are well worthy of this accolade!  

Pencil colors are extremely vibrant due to particularly high pigmentation and the nib breakage resistance is excellent. Triangular outer casing design is superb as it does not impose on the user experience.  Ergonomic styling allows you to forget the pencil is in your hand reducing grip fatigue and increasing focus on the drawing.

Can be used with water

Faber Castell pencils have an added bonus. They can be used with water to create water color effects.  

Nibs are a dream to work with as the color glides onto the work surface with very little pressure. I use these extensively for cartoon artwork and am extremely happy with the Faber Castell brand in every aspect.

faber castell best color pencil sets
   The Faber Castell 72 color pencil Set Provides a Fantastic Range of Vibrant Colors

I find them particularly good for adding fine detail to the watercolor cartoons I produce.  Not only can you get great precision with the nibs but the colors really jump off the page.  The last stage of cartoon creation is always something I look forward to as the Faber-Castell colored pencils put the icing on the cake

With such a good range of colors in the set (including flesh tones) and with subtle blending qualities  the range of colors available is virtually endless. I believe that this makes them the best colored pencils for blending.

There was not any aspect to criticise other than they are the most expensive colored pencils in this review.  However you get what you pay for and I never object for paying for best quality.

The Faber-Castell Colored Pencil range are also available as individual pencils or in a range sets of 12, 60, 72 and 120. 

prismacolor premier soft core manga best colored pencils for artistsPrismacolor Premiere Soft Core Colored Pencils, Manga Colors, (23 pencils)

Created by Prismacolor, this set is designed specifically for Manga drawing and Manga colors.  

With similar qualities to the Prismacolor Premier Soft Core pencils (above) the Manga set has great blending and shading qualities. Color can be laid down on virtually any drawing surface seamlessly.  

Color pigment is water proof and light/fade resistance maintaining vibrancy of color.

The box converts into a stand

Leads in the manga set allow for great detail and precision when required. This set comes with a box which converts quickly into a stand.  

Minimal negatives with this pencil – the main being the small number of pencils in the set which although still provides a decent range of manger colors which are easily blended.

Pigments are fade resistent and waterproof

This set is similar to the Prismacolor Premiere set above, but included are colors geared toward manga drawings.

The highlights of these pencils are the smooth laydown quality, ease of blending, and shading ability. Pigments are both fade-resistant and waterproof.

Prismacolor Manga Color Pencils best colored pencil sets for Manga
      Prismacolr Premier Art Manga Color 23 set – Vibrant Manga Colors

Pros – generally revolve around the lead, which comes with a shorter point that is built to last. These pencils are also great for achieving precise details.  

Cons for this set are minimal. Some users have complained of lead breakage despite the shorter points, but many disagree. Personally I have found these Manga color pencils to work really well without breakage and I couldn’t fault them in this respect.

You can get the following primacolor manga sets through the link below:

  • Manga Illustration Markers – Premier 8 set, Assorted Tips in Black / Sepia
  • Scholar Manga Drawing Premier Set, 10 set
  • Double-Ended Art Markers – 12 set, Fine and Chisel Tip, Manga Colors
  • Colored Pencils Prenier 23 pencil set – Manga Colors (featured above)

Which are the best colored pencils for artists?

There are lots of variables to consider when selecting the best colored pencils for you.  Each set has it’s own features and qualities.  However, if you are looking for the best set Faber-Castell is the premier choice for sheer quality in my view.  

I have had some great results with these pencils.  You can always tell when you have a quality drawing product as there are no distractions from things that aren’t quite up to the right standard. It’s all down to personal choice and you may  find that one of the other sets either suits you better or maybe suits the style of art that floats your boat.

What is the best quality colored pencils?

Horses for courses on this issue. All five colored pencil sets are of a high standard quality wise.  On a personal note I am going to take  the Darice set out as it is not specifically a colored pencil set.

I am also discounting the Prismacolor Manga colered pencil set as it is too specialist.  Of the ther I believe the two front runners for sheer qaulity are the Faber-Castell Colored Pencils and the  Prismacolor Premiere Soft Core Colored Pencils.  for me the Faber- Castell edges it for quality.  

Get the Best Drawing Tools You Can Afford

Quality means you can focus entirely on your drawing to get the best results possible.  You can buy much cheaper colored pencils but when you are striving for perfection you need the best tools you can afford to get the best results.

If you are looking for the best colored pencils for artists, Faber-Castell is the choice I recommend.

This recommendation is made based on extensive personal use of the Faber-castell pencil brand.  It really suits my style of cartoon artwork giving the security of adding magical finishing touches to watercolor artwork (and even printed artwork from the graphics tablet). There pencils are truly amazing for creating fine detail such as hair, fur and fabric  that looks natural.  The Faber Castell color pencil sets are backed up by some great reviews on Amazon.  However in the end it’s up to you to make the decision.

What are the best type of colored pencils for you? – Here’s the best way to find out! 

One way to find the best colored pencils for your style of art is to buy the smallest set in the range.  Most brands produce a range of sets from half a dozen pencils to over one hundred.  You can test out which brand suits you in this way before making a bigger investment.

Not every set of pencils will suit your own unique style and even the top brands may do it for you.  Like all art equipment it’s down to personal experience and use before you settle on a favoured brand.

What are the best colored pencils for adults?

With the five colored pencil sets in this review it doesn’t really matter as they all offer great value and qaulity.  These sets are not really designed specifically for kid’s apart from the Prismacolor scholar. I believe they were designed more for artists in mind.  

However, if you take out the Darice set of colored pencils as the rest are arguably better pencils and the prismacolor scholar you are left with three very fine color pencil sets fit for any adult!

Still uncertain about what are the best pencils for artists?

 

My recommendations are just that – mine.  I have based it on personal experience using colored pencils in my style of art.  your style will probably be completely different.  However, it’s your opinion counts as you are the one who is going to use these pencils.  If you are willing to trust my judgement then go ahead and purchase a set that I have recommended.

You will know when you find the best colored pencil set.  It will just feel right and perform how you want it to.

Finally – whichever brand you chose I hope that you find the best colored pencils for your own individual style of artwork as color takes art to a different  level – Good Luck!

faber castle 60 best colored pencils for artistsIf you are looking for a watercolor pencil set see our review of the best watercolor pencil brands on the market right here…

 

10 Great Gift Ideas for Artist and Cartoonist

Santa gift ideas for artists and cartoonistsFinding the perfect gift for those who are artistically talented can be a challenge. Gift ideas for artist minded people is not difficult bet you want to buy quality that will be really appreciated.

Artists need something that can feed their creativity or to help nurture their budding talent. 

Paints, brushes, and graphic tablets are obvious choices. But how do you choose the right one?

Choose a gift that is highly rated, qaulity yet affordable that will be useful to the receiver. For an artist there is nothing better than receiving a creative gift and they will love you for being so thoughtful.

We have 10 highly rated ideas we chose that are sensible gifts yet are quintessential supplies for the creative mind. 

48-colored-pencils-for-adultsColored Pencils for Adults – 72 Vivid Watercolor Pencils & Case Set

Coloring isn’t just for children.  Watercolor pencils are used exactly as regular colored pencils, but they take coloring to the next level. 

Color your drawings wet or dry with amazing vibrant pigments. Blend the colors or layer them.

They can be used in conjunction with watercolor brushes and are ideal for Adult coloring books.

A luxury canvas bag holds 72 pencils, two paint brushes, pencil extender, pencil sharpener, and an eraser that fits neatly in this rollup bag.  A leather thong and snap secures it.

The 7-inch non-toxic pencil set is a wonderful gift for adults or children.

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Lamy-calligraphy-setLamy Calligraphy Set Pen Sets

Who would think that fountain pens could produce such amazing results? The artist in your life will be encouraged to create beautiful calligraphy and express themselves through writing. 

The pen is made of ergonomically-formed plastic with a soft black lacquer finish. Three stainless steel interchangeable nibs are perfect for different types of calligraphy. 

I use the Lamy brand as my own first choice for cartooning freehand on paper.  The barrel grips have two flat edges especially designed for prolonged user comfort.  The ink flows easily and the nib to paper exterience is perfect to achive the best results (I drew the outline of the santa image in this article with my Lamy calligraphy pen using the 1.1mm nib).  

I guarantee that you will be impressed with the feel of this pen in hand and the quality of line it produces.  It also produces fantastic lettering and is an amazing pen for general writing.

Choose from 1.1, 1.5, or 1.9mm nibs.  Five ink cartridges are included in the charming gift box.  Letters, place cards, invitations and more can be created with a touch of individuality.

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wacom-intuos-draw-graphics-tabletWacom Intuos Draw  Digital Drawing and Graphics Tablet

For the graphic artist of all ages, drawing, painting, and editing photos can be done in one place. 

The tablet plugs into a laptop via the USB port of a Mac or PC. The stylus pen replaces your mouse as it glides over the tablet, essentially turning the laptop into a digital drawing canvas. 

There are four tablets in this range and each comes with the graphics software included:

  • Intuos Draw
  • Intuos Comic
  • Intuos Photo
  • Intuos Art

If you are buying a gift for an artist this range offers four great packages that can suit any artists style.  There are also two sizes available in the range with a small and very compact tablet plus a medium size.  

I have A Medium intuos Art tablet as my ‘mobile tablet’ as it is wafer thin, sturdy and compact.  it suits my on the go style of drawing when I am away from the studio.  With a great build and superb Wacom technology I find this an invaluable drawing tool that is simple to set up and use on the go.

No paints, no erasing, no mess.  Easily delete mistakes.  Create shortcut keys for repetitive commands.   

Software and online tutorials are included to get you familiar with the tablet functions.

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huion-extra-thin-17-light-padHuion 17.7″ Extra Thin light PAD

Using a translucent light box makes tracing an image fast and easy.  The acrylic surface mimics that of a smooth glass panel. 

I have used this light pad many times for caricature work and it has saved me hours of work.  Getting the basic shape and features of a face is easy.  Tracing scenery and difficult street scenes is a breeze and takes away the pain of figuring out perspective.  It is a simple but fabulous artists tool.

Very little heat is emitted even after hours of use.  Up to 50,000 hours of lighting gives this pad a long life expectancy.  Power it up by plugging it into any USB port. 

Choose from two levels of brightness.  The USB cable, instruction sheet, six pieces of tracing paper, a drawing board clip, and a portable holder are included. 

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canson-arches-block-cold-pressArches Watercolor Block, Cold Press 9”X12″

Painters will love this block of artist-grade watercolor paper made from 100% cotton fibers and gelatin sizing.  

Twenty sheets of 140-pound, natural white, and acid- free paper are ideal for watercolor, airbrushing, acrylic, or gouache. All four sides of this 9×12 paper are glued to prevent warping.

The bumpy texture captures the paint and water for a firm hold and less dripping. When it’s dry, gently slice through the glue to separate the paper from the block.  Arches is one of the top manufacturers of quality watercolor paper and this will really appeal and motivate to any artist.

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us-art-121-piece-artists-setUS ART SUPPLY 121-Piece Custom Artist Painting Kit 

This is the ideal gift for the budding artist who’s ready to bloom. 

Watercolor, acrylic, and oil paints (24 of each), 32 assorted brushes, color chart, eight canvases, painting pad, color palette, 5-piece palette knife set, and a portable beech wood easel is the beginning of a perfect art studio. 

Put supplies in the easel drawer, fold it up, attach the leather carrying strap, and you’re now an artist on the go. It’s compact, lightweight, portable, and adjustable to fit adults and children.

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iwata-medea-deluxe-airbrush-setIwata-Medea Deluxe Airbrush Set

A starter kit for the artist who wants to airbrush is a splendid gift.  

Everything to begin airbrushing is here: compressor and cup, air filter, paint, cleaner, freehand template, and two instructional DVDs will make this a gift they’ll remember. 

The quiet compressor has an auto shutoff as a safety feature.  Use it for applying makeup, body painting, or painting on other surfaces like paper or metal. 

The adjustable PSI lets you control how and what you paint.

The beauty of this set is that it is a one stop shop.  A complete set that can be immediately set up, used to create imaginative artwork and enjoyed. link-button-orange-3


da-vinci-luxury-watercolor-series-paint-brush-setDa Vinci Watercolor Series 5280 Deluxe Paint Brush Set

This beautiful mahogany box set of four deluxe watercolor brushes is a wonderful stocking stuffer or birthday gift.

The brushes are safely wedged in a foam rubber insert which protects the delicate brush hairs. Made with synthetic and natural hairs, they don’t shed during painting.

The handles are smooth and clearly marked. The compact box is portable which is great for beginners travelling to art class.

A free bar of brush soap is included. An added bonus is that this set is certified green.

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will-eisner-comics-and-sequential-art-bookWill Eisner Comics and Sequential Art

Storytelling through a graphic novel is an art form unto itself. Veteran writer, Will Eisner, shares his knowledge and experience in this book.

He gives advice, theories, and ideas of how best to bring your stories to life through graphic storytelling techniques.

Showing how to add a visual narrative to graphic novels and comic books, the book has eight lessons explaining the principles and practices that should be applied to create realistic characters in a believable fantasy world.

For the aspiring comic book artist, this book is a crash course in the art of graphic novel creation.

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x-port-professional-expandable-artist-portfolio-caseX-port Professional Expandable Artist Portfolio

Artists need to carry their supplies with them to work or class. A portfolio case that expands an extra six inches holds art supplies, foam boards, samples, presentations, and more.

It makes transporting multiple supplies easy. Bulky and awkwardly shaped materials fit easily through the large top opening.

Tear proof, waterproof, and durable, this tote protects photos, monitors, documents, and more.

Carrying it is comfortable thanks to the leather handle and shoulder strap.

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Best Place to Sell Art online – Where to Sell Art and Make Money

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As an artist, you need to know best place to sell art online that will promote your artwork and products without eating into your profits.

BEST PLACE TO SELL ART ONLINE

The term “starving artist” was coined because it’s sometimes harder to sell your art than it is create it. You could starve waiting for someone to buy it.

It is the best time in the history of art to sell artwork.  In this digital age we can create, transport and sell our wares at the click of a mouse button.  There are so many opportunities out there in the great cyber store that it makes no sense not to be in it.  

Technology has advanced to an amazing level so that you can upload your artwork n one side of the globe and sell it on the other side in minutes. No longer do you have to make a physical product and sell in a physical store.  You can do everything from home without stepping outside the door if you wish.

Once you learn how to sell your product online, you may be able to make a living doing it. Making and knowing how to sell art are two entirely different ball games. Especially if you’re trying to sell original art as an artist who’s not very well known.

BEST WAY TO SELL ART DIGITALLY ONLINECreating an art gallery online sounds daunting and impossible if you’re not tech savvy. Don’t let that stop you! Be adventurous. It may have taken a long time to learn your own craft but with so many tutorials and information online anything can be overcome quickly.  Nothing is impossible and the only thing holding you back is you!

The best way to sell your art on line is to showcase it to a global audience as often as possible. And that means getting your work splashed across the World Wide Web.

What artwork can you sell?

You have created a great cartoon, painting or maybe even taken a fantastic photo.  Any image can be used to make an endless number of products.  You may just wish to sell the original as a one off or you could do that and still use the image to create even more products to sell.

As an example I created this image for a music magazine:

 


I could have left it at that but I decided that the image was also perfect for other products. I created a limited edition print with the same design which made sales and mugs which sold very well through my music web site. After this first design I created a range for brass players and they sold like hotcakes!


You could probably look back through your portfolio and identify many products that could be created from your artwork.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Prints ( see my article on how to create prints that sell)
  • Mugs and other sublimation products (see my article on creating your own designer mugs)
  • Create downloadable products on ETSY (see below for more information)
  • Create your own adult coloring books and sell on Amazon (see some examples in my article on the top rated coloring books for adults)
  • Greetings cardsthe greetings card market is massive and always in demand.  Create your own or design for a greetings card company.
  • Tee Shirts Another way to sell and promote your designs
  • Art and designs for web sites – web owners are always looking for images for their blogs and articles
  • Childrens Book IllustrationsEither working with an author or create your own.  it has never been easier to self publish on a variety of platforms such as Amazon Kindle, KOBO or Smashwords.  If you haven’t explored the possibilities that children’s pictire books has to offer see my interview with Lynn chapman a prolific UK book illustrator who offers great advice and a terrific course to get you firmly on track.

Digital vs physical store fronts

The best place to sell art is anywhere that gets your product in front of people. Even if they don’t buy it, they’ll mention it to their friends. Flea markets, craft shows, local vendor meets, festivals, and any other place you can set up your work is a potential marketplace.

You never know who may catch a glimpse of your product and wander to your table or booth. Have some business cards made up with your website so they can shop at a later time or pass it along to a friend or family member.

The internet is in 87% of households across the world. Everyone shops online, and it’s becoming more and more frequent. It’s easier to click on an icon and checkout online than it is to shop at the local supermarket.

With millions of people shopping online, tap into that community of busy buyers. Showcase your work and get your name out there.

A lot of artists enjoy selling their artwork out of their studios. But how will anyone know about it if you don’t tell them?

Websites and business cards are inexpensive and easy to make. Leaving a few strategically placed business cards with your name and website on it is fantastically cheap marketing.

Each year, more art is being sold online. You may never meet the person who buys your art, but they could be your biggest fan.

Selling online helps you keep more of your sales because you skip the middle-man processing fees and commissions from museums and other similar institutions.

Rules for selling art

Price your work accordingly. If you underprice your work, the buyer will judge it to be only worth a few bucks. A cheap price can make a buyer undervalue your talent and pass you by.

A price tag that’s too high (for an artist no one has ever heard of) is also disastrous and won’t attract customers. Find out what artists in the same genre are pricing their work at, and use it as a baseline for yours.

Know your skill level. Be proud but also be humble enough to admit there are others who are better than you. Make sure that the price attached to your work reflects your experience level.

If someone pays you for your product, the government wants its cut. You’ll have to claim it as income when you file your taxes. If you’re making a good amount of profits, investing in an accountant or tax specialist may be a good idea.

If you’re offered a commission, get it in writing with very specific terms. A contractual agreement should outline the price, the deadline, the desired art piece, and any miscellaneous items like frames, etc.

When you want to sell original art work, you have to create like an artist but learn how to sell art like a businessman.

Sell more by giving away your work

Giving your artwork away that you have taken hours, mayebe even days to produce may sound crazy! But free art can become a huge lead magnet to raising your artistic profile, creating a following and eventually creating a huge sales funnel.  

Discounts and sales are terrific, but everyone loves a freebie. Holding a contest on Facebook or other social media is a great way to interact with people.

But another great way of exposing yourself is to donate your pieces to charities, hospitals, schools and other places with a lot of foot traffic. They could feature you on their website, and viola, free advertising.

If your rent a spot at a local art show, set up a raffle where the winner can pick any piece from your inventory. Or ask for feedback on your website and choose a person to be the recipient of your giveaway.

There are tons of ways to engage people to visit your website or go to any site where your work is for sale. The point is to get them to go online and tell their friends about it, too.

You could gain a large following by giving away freebies. You’ll win in the long run because they’ll tell everyone where their freebie came from. Networking and word-of-mouth advertising is free and usually turns a few customers your way.

I provided free artwork for years before having the courage to start an art based business.  That experience was invaluable as I was able to learn and hone my craft without the commercial pressures.  It also built a huge list of contacts and I am now in a position where I have to turn work away. 

Selling on your own website

Yes, you’ll have to pay some fees up front to build and host your site. But it averages out to pennies a day for a way to earn hundreds – maybe thousands – per month. And who says you have to show just your own art?

You can sell other artists’ work (hopefully to make a profit) on your store front. This will reel in consumers who will peruse and possibly purchase your art as well.

Listing with third-party vendors is a splendid way to get your gallery set up quick and easy. But you’ll probably have to share the profits. Remember, they’re doing all the advertising, website hosting, and marketing for you.

The best place to sell your art online is your own website, of course, but definitely list them elsewhere for the extra exposure. Consumers can always loop back around and find your digital store where they may discover a lower price, free shipping, and larger variety.

When you learn how to sell art on your own site, you’ll realize how much more control you have. Plus, you can keep all the profits. E-commerce sites are one of the best ways to sell original art work because they open the door to entirely new communities of shoppers you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

Best Place to Sell Art online – The Best Sites

Artists need a place to sell their products, and in today’s digital world, the internet is probably your best friend. You don’t really need to know much about how to sell your product online because these sites walk you through the process step by step. They are designed to be user-friendly, quick, and make money for you and them.

The best place to sell your art online is a website that attracts consumers – lots of them. Interior decorators, new home owners, people looking for gifts, and art lovers descend in droves to the internet to find ways to adorn their walls.

Listing your art on a few good websites exposes you to a multitude of potential buyers.

A few of the best sites to sell art on are:

Amazon 

Anything under the sun can be sold on Amazon, and that includes various forms of art. Sell original art here at a price you set. Selling fees vary, but it’s worth it for the extensive amount of shoppers who could see your work.  

There are a couple of options for the Amazon selling process.  You can either advertise on Amazon and ship the orders yourself.  This is the best strategy particularly if you are producing one off items.  

The other option is to use the Amazon by Fulfillment program.  This is only viable if you have a product that can be replicated in larger numbers such as prints or mugs carrying your designs. In simplistic terms you join the Amazon by Fulfillment program, send your products to the Amazon warehouse, create the adverts and Amazon do all the rest.  

This sounds terrific yes?  However, there are some drawbacks.  Amazon charge quite a tidy sum for this service which by rule of thumb works out at a third of the product price.  They also charge a monthly fee for your membership.  

On the upside Amazon has the best on line sales marketing system and even for their apparently large fees thay are able to promote your artwork like no other on the planet.

E-Bay

This platform is still a great way to sell your artwork and I have used it many times.  

For those of you not familiar with Ebay you set up an account, link it to a PayPal account and your good to go.  

Ebay take a listing fee and a small commission on the sale of the item.  You can create your own virtual shop on EBay and link the shop to your own web site if required.  

There are two ways of selling – either as an auction or as a buy it now.  

With the auction you can set a minimum price and the length odf the auction.  The advantage with the auction method is that your products get more exposure and you could end up with a bidding war especially for original products one offs.  

The buy it now option is more straightforward and you have a set price for your product.  You can also list multiple products on the same listing so the same product can continue to sell under the same campaign.  

For example – you are selling 25 limited edition prints and can place them on the same listing advert at a fixed price that are available to buy it now.  The listing will end either when you have sold out or when the time set for the listing to run expires (whichever comes sooner).

Artsy.com 

Made for and of all things art, this online gallery caters to everyone in the art world. Put your design on pillows, coffee mugs, t-shirts, bags, and more.

Thousands of artists can list their work here for free shipping and no tax. Bargain hunters will often pay more for a product if there are no shipping fees.

Social media (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter) 

Social media sites are trolled by thousands of people every minute. Post a link to your website or a photo of your work. A few well-placed hashtags could drive traffic and potential customers to your site.

For a few extra dollars, you can create ads that will post your artwork in front of buyers who have a history of shopping for items similar to yours.

Otherpeoplespixels.com 

If you don’t have a website where you can show off your art, this is one of the easiest ways to build one yourself to showcase your genius. Use a template, upload photos of your work, and set your prices.

Gallerytoday.com 

The perfect place to connect artists with international buyers. They keep a 30% commission from each sale, but advertise your art around the world which is a pretty good deal.

Harngallery.com – Artists show their work and keep 80% of the purchase price.

Upload photos of your pieces, and they do the rest.

Imagekind.com – Forget keeping an inventory. This is a print-on-demand marketplace that offers printing and framing options to complement your pieces.

It features fine art and photography, abstract, animal art, landscape, nudes, seasons, religious pieces and so much more. Artists keep 100% of sales. A 5% transaction fee is charged on anything marked up 100% or over.

FineArtAmerica.com Similar to Amazon, you can set your price while they handle fulfilling each order for a small fee. Canvas prints, metal prints, posters, cell phone covers, greeting cards, and more can be made featuring your art.

Create a profile, and upload your images. They do the rest from filling each order, printing/framing, packaging, and shipping.

Artpal.com 

Over 80,000 artists currently list their work here. Photography, drawings, digital art, and illustrations are available for purchase. Artists keep 95 – 100% of profits.

It’s free to create your gallery, and the print-on-demand feature means you get paid every time you make a sale.

Artplode.com 

For pieces priced over a grand, list them here. A flat fee  per piece is deducted for advertising fees, but they never charge commission. The rest is yours to keep.

Art galleries, dealers, and private collectors are some of the clientele who shop this site. Art deco, expressionism, impressionism, pop art, realism, and many other genres are featured.

Creativemarket.com  

Graphics, logos, prints, and more can be sold here.

Artists keep 70% of all sales and can set their own prices. Nature, abstract, educational, and other categories are available.

DeviantArt.com 

Digital art, photography, designs, cartoons, fan art, comics, and so much more is listed here by artists of every genre.

Artists of all types promote and sell their work here.

There is a fee so set your prices accordingly.

Etsy.com 

Consumers spend a couple billion dollars a year on this site. Lucky for you, there’s a section just for artists to sell their wares. List your stuff, pay a 3.5% transaction fee, and get your products in front of over 30 million shoppers.

Etsy is a reasonably easy platform to set up with step by step instructions.  Etsy require that advertisers must only sell original work.  This cuts out all the general traders that would otherwise swamp the site with products that can be bought anywhere.

The fees are very low and another huge advantage particularly for designers is that you can sell digital products that can be automatically downloaded on purchase.  

I recently listened to a Smart Passive Income  podcast hosted by Pat Flynn in which he interviewed Kelsey Baldwin – You can listen to the podcast here  SPI 257.  

She has created a great business out of original downloadable products that she has designed.  Kelsey runs on line courses letting you know exactly how the Etsy system works and how to make money from your designs.  

I bought the course which was really well constructed, informatice and excellent overall and have started to use Etsy as another income stream.

Craigslist 

Yes you can sell artwork and art related products on Craigslist. Upload a few photos, set your price, and let the buyers come to you.

Attract Buyers by making a strong artist statement

Talk about your work. Admiring the colors and beauty of a piece of art will be more profound if the buyer has a glimpse into your psyche. A peek into the mystery behind the brush strokes can add a significant amount to the price tag.

You don’t have to write a paragraph for each piece you’re selling, but an interesting explanation of what it represents can engage viewers and entice them into becoming a buyer.

People won’t risk looking stupid and ask what the artwork is about. By offering a short yet entertaining explanation of what you created, you can attract people who will love your work as much as you do.

Find your art niche and get started

The best place to sell your art online isn’t cut and dry. One single place won’t get you the exposure that you need to make a decent profit.

You didn’t draw one single sketch, so why advertise your work at a single place? Use a variety of locations – both physical and digital – to showcase your talent.

Give a few pieces away as gifts or to your local doctor’s office, museum, or government building.

The point is to let people see your work so that they’ll want to buy some of it for themselves.

It may be a little rough to get through the learning curve of how to sell art of your particular genre. But once you do, it will get easier each time.

Refillable Leather Bound Sketchbook – capture every drawing idea

refillable leather bound sketchbookKeeping a refillable leather bound sketchbook in your bag lets you draw, sketch, and write without the need for any digital gadgets.   

Ideas can occur at any time and being able to jot them down in the moment is important.  Having a pencil and quality leather bound sketchbook available ensures a clear creative path from your mind to paper. 

Drawings can always be scanned into a laptop later, but capturing those ideas is the first step.  Find the perfect leather sketchbook cover you love, and then just refill it.  The resilient leather protects your drawings as the blank pages beckon you to use them.

handmade-genuine-leather-refillable-journalHandmade Genuine Leather Refillable Sketchbook Journal

This handmade leather journal with its classic look is a stylish and efficient way to store your drawings. 

The outside is a rich brown while the inside offers a softer complementary brown. A front and back pocket holds miscellaneous items like notes, paper clips, and pencils. 

The outer flap folds over the front cover as a leather strap wraps it closed.  The 5×7” refillable off-white paper is ideal for writing, doodling, sketching, and more. 

One hundred unlined sheets of paper wait to record your thoughts and ideas.  Save your place with the two built-in silk ribbon bookmarks.  It’s big enough to comfortably write on with pen or pencil, and small enough to travel with you.  

As a bonus to purchasing this leather bound sketchbook, a complimentary PDF of “A Small Booklet of Quotes” is included.

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rustic refillable leather bound sketchbookRustic Refillable Leather Sketchbook

Simple is sometimes better.  The standard book design of this refillable leather sketchbook offers a straightforward way to jot down your ideas. 

The edges display simple stitches that pop against the rustic brown leather.  There are no straps or buckles to fuss with.  

The included 200-page (100 sheets) refillable 6×8” paper is acid-free, cream colored, and handmade.  The cotton rag paper is also unlined, so you’re free to create without boundaries. 

It’s easy to carry with you in a purse, backpack, or briefcase.  It opens nicely and stays flat while you’re drawing.  Sketch, capture a quick thought, or use it as a diary. 

This handsome handmade leather journal can hold memories, photos, drawings, and your inner most reflections.  The only other thing you’ll need is a pencil.

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handmade-large-10-embossed-leather-journalHandmade Large 10″ Embossed Leather Celtic Sketchbook journal

Travel to the land of antiquity when you use this leather sketchbook cover with its exquisite embossing of the Tree of Life. 

Made from goatskin, the complex details of Celtic art are magnificently displayed.  Trinity knots, flowers, and leaves are shown in vivid detail. 

The vintage finish adds to its antiquated look of days gone by.  A generous size of 10×7”, the workspace of the unlined recycled paper lets you create larger drawings than you could otherwise. 

The paper is a bit thicker, making it perfect for pencil or pens without bleeding through.  With 200 pages (100 sheets), you’ll have lots of blank canvases to record your creativity. 

A flap folds over the paper and is tucked under the cover ensuring the paper is protected but the beauty of the cover isn’t obstructed.  A strong leather thong wraps around for added closure. 

If you’d like some mystic beauty to surround your art, this handmade leather journal would be perfect.

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9-5-x-12-large-refillable-leather-sketchbook9.5″ x 12″ Large Refillable Leather Sketchbook

Distressed leather in a soft cinnamon color lends a charming look to this refillable leather sketchbook.  

Measuring 9.5×12”, the workspace of these pages leaves plenty of room for hundreds of images and drawings.

A flap folds over the cover while pre-cut holes in a wraparound strap snaps onto a metal stud.  A built-in pencil holder (with pencil included) keeps this hand-bound leather sketchbook at the ready to capture your drawings. 

The white refillable paper contains 60 sheets of 90-pound acid-free paper.  The paper is thick enough to use both front and back without fear of bleeding through. 

When the pages are full, easily remove the block of paper and insert a refill.

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rustic-ridge-refillable-distressed-leatherRustic Ridge Refillable Distressed Leather Travel Journal

Sophistication meets the old days in this leather bound sketchbook.  With its distressed saddle-brown leather, it has a rugged yet professional feel. 

A flap closes over the front cover and a wide strap slips through a pre-cut belt loop to secure it shut making it really easy to undo and secure when you are in a hurry.  Cream-colored paper fills the inside with 200 pages (100 sheets) that are acid-free and handmade from cotton rag. 

Ink and pencil markings show boldly without needing to apply harsh pressure. 

At a slim 6×8”, you can tuck it in your pocket, carryon, or purse.  Having this leather sketchbook nearby means you’ll never miss an opportunity to put your imagination, thoughts, or other creative reflections on paper.

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Every artist and writer should have a refillable leather bound sketchbook

When an idea strikes, it needs to be written down so it’s not forgotten.  Using a leather sketchbook prevents those ideas from fading into oblivion.  Leave the laptop and expensive software at home. 

Get those sketches and drawings down on paper first, and then scan them later.  Not all leather sketchbook covers are created equal.  It’s up to you to decide on the design that will spark (and store) your creativity. 

Try the 9.5″ x 12″ Large Refillable Leather Sketchbook if you like a more spacious canvas on which to work.  The front medal stud gives a hint of rebellious attitude while the supple cinnamon leather says you’re protective of its contents.  

Or, for a more travel-friendly version, the Rustic Ridge Refillable Distressed Leather Travel Journal is robust, easy to open and secure and space saving.  It’s a more pocket-sized rendition of these leather sketchbooks, but it’s big on serving the purpose of containing your art work.  This is my personal choice of art journal and I find it invaluable and an absolute pleasure to use.  

I have built up quite a library of refillable art journals and it has been a great source of inspiration.  ‘Old material’ is highly recycleable and I have found many new ideas just by thumbing through my art journal library.

Choose wisely and let your talent take flight.

X-Port-Professional-Expandable-Art-Portfolio-CaseAn artists portfolio is essential if you are going to keep your finished artwork in pristine condition – particularly when you are in college or are about to make a presentation.  See my review on 5 top rated art portfolios here…

5 Best buy drawing tablets

5 beat buy drawing tabletsWhich are the Best buy drawing Tablets – Drawing Tablets for All Digital Artists?

Choosing the right drawing tablet all comes down to each digital artist’s personal choice.

Some want an indirect pad where you draw on the pad and it appears on your laptop or PC screen.  Others prefer a direct pad where you draw directly onto the screen of the tablet.

Are you looking for that one tablet that comes with the best software so that it is ready to go right out of the gate.

Perhaps you just want something simple to start out in the world of digital artwork.

Figure out which tablet is the one for you by scrolling through this list of five best buy drawing tablets, each holding a specific title as being in our opinion the top choice in their particular class.

BEST ENTRY-LEVEL TABLET: Wacom Intuos Art Pen and Touch digital graphics, drawing  tablet

best buy drawing tablets wacom art

Wacom have a range of small and medium indirect draw tablets that are absolutly ideal for entry level as they are inexpensive, high quality and software is included.  

This is a great package to start with and I have recently purchased the Intuos Art medium which comes with downloadable Corel Painter Essentials drawing and painting software.   There is also access to online tutorials, a free 8×10 metal photo print, and an 8×8 Shutterfly Photo Album.

best buy graphics drawing tablets entry level wacom intuos art comic photo draw

There are four tablets in this range – Art, Comic, Photo, and Draw which are basically the same tablets but with different software to suit each style of drawing.  

The main reason I bought the Intuos Art (rather than another model in this range) was to try out the Corelpainter Essentials software.  It turned out to be ideal for the type of work I produce, which are predominantly cartoons.  You will need to consider which included graphics package  is best for your style of art. 

  • Intuos Draw comes with Artrage Lite software
  • Intuos Art comes with Corel Painter Essentials drawing and painting software
  • Intuos photo comes with Corel AfterShot Pro, RAW photo editing software. For Mac Mac, you’ll also receive a Macphun Creative Kit. For PC you’ll also get Corel PaintShop Pro.
  • Intuos Comic comes with Clip Studio Paint Pro and Anime Studio  software. 

Check out the full range as each tablet has different included software. 

I have most of the other graphics and drawing software available with each different model and they all work seamlessy as do PhotoShop (CS & Elements) Sketchbook Pro and all other main graphics software brands.

Out of the box the tablet is simple to set up with an installation disc that is easy to follow.

The tablet needs to be attached to your computer using the USB lead that comes with the tablet.  

There is a Wacom wireless conversion kit if you don’t want the connectivity restriction that a fixed lead causes.

Features:

  • Active area (drawing surface area) – 6.0″ x 3.7″ (small tablet):8.5″ x 5.3″ (medium tablet)
    Pressure sensetive pen battery free.
  • The ‘Art’ tablet comes with Corel Painter Essentials drawing and painting software
  • 4 customizable express keys
  • Compatible with Mac (10.8.5 and above) and Microsoft (Windows 7 and above)
  • Runs with most current graphics software packages.
  • USB Cable provided to connect to your PC (There is a separate wifi kit available ).

Great portability on the go

I use this for on the go work with my laptop as the tablet fits easy into a shoulder bag or portfolio case.  It is light, easy to set up anywhere and gets the job done without having reams of paper to scan into my PC.  

If you are looking for the best buy drawing tablets the intuos range are the front runners look stylish and are packed with Wacom technology.  For the price and sheer quality of build and technology you can’t beat this.

See the full review of all four versions of this intuos range here…

Cintiq 22HD best buy drawing tablets for desk top on the marketBEST ALL ROUND TABLET IN THE CINTIQ DESK TOP LINE: Wacom Cintiq 22HD 

The Wacom Cintiq 22HD is the perfect tablet for the most professional digital cartoonists.

The highlight of this tablet is its direct pad that allows for the most natural and most real feel — the closest thing to actually drawing on paper.

Sixteen expresskeys, plus touch strips and radial menus provide fully customisable controls in your hands. These one touch features easily boost productivity by eliminating the need to always keep a keyboard close at hand. You are totally in control of your ship and make the captains helm your own!

Screen surface feels like paper

The surface of the 22HD is the best and brightest in the entire Cintiq desk top line. This allows for a natural, fluid, and comfortable drawing experience. The paper-like active area is the ideal size. When matched with the included pen allows for excellent pressure sensitivity, registering the lightest of strokes with the utmost precision.

  • Product dimensions – 25.6″ x 15.7″ x 2.2″ (H x W x D)
  • Weight 18.7 lbs
  • Active display area – 18.9″ x 10.7″ (21.5″ diagonally)
  • 1980 x 1080 display
  • 16 programmable ExpressKeys
  • Easy application-specific keyboard shortcuts and modifiers at the fingertips
  • Complete control of 4 functions in each application  such as pencil/brush size, scrolling and zooming using rear-mounted, Touch Strips / Touch Strip toggle buttons.
  • Wacom Grip Pen 2,048 levels of pen pressure 
  • The stand asllows you to position the tablet at your desired angle.
  • The Cintiq HD model allows you to revolve the unit to match any disered arm angle you wish to work with.

What’s in the Cintiq HD 22 Box?

  • Contiq 22HD
  • Adjustable rotational stand
  • Wacom Grip pen
  • Replacement nibs x10
  • Nib removal tool
  • DVI-I to DVI-D adapter cable
  • USB cable
  • AC power adapter and power cable
  • Manual and quick start guide
  • Installation disc
  • Download key

The 22HD is the absolute best all-around tablet in the Cintiq desk top line. It exceeds all others with its many capabilities and overall versatility that can achieve even the toughest of jobs.  It is, in my opinion the best desk top tablet on the market for build, features, screen size and value for money.  


BEST 22” CINTIQ ALTERNATIVE TABLET – Huion GT-220 V2

Not everyone has the means to buy a top range Cintiq.  I made do with a second hand Motion tablet that I bought from Ebay and although it was quite limited I still produced reasonably good work.  

Back in the day a Cintiq was a distant dream particularly for the larger 22″ desktop vesion that I wanted.  The great thing about technology is that it is always on the march forward and there are some exceptional alternatives available.

If you don’t have the financial means to get your hands on a Wacom Cintiq 22HD, the  Huion GT-220 V2 has proven to be the best alternative. It costs a fraction of the Cintiq 22HD. 

This is a really impressive machine that will serve you well and is packed with high tech features to produce a realistic experience and quality results.

Features:

  • 8192 Levels of Pen Pressure Sensitivity which is x4 the normal found in other tablets.
    21.5″ HD IPS Monitor
  • Resolution = 1920×1080
  •  Viewing Angle  of 170o 
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Contrast Ratio 1000:1, 5080LPI, 233PPS.
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows platforms
  • Runs with all major graphics platforms
  • The battery free pen rund for 350 hours on a 1.5 hour charge.
  • A years warranty as standard.
  • Comes with: Rechargeable pen and x 10 nibs, tablet glove and screen protector.

Thanks to this tablet’s ultra-wide viewing angle, artists can create widescreen content with ease.

The best asset of the GT-220 is its screen — between the tones, colors, and overall brightness, it’s gorgeous, making it an absolute pleasure to create with. 

This is one of the best tablets on the market in terms of size for a remarkable price!

BEST LOW COST INDIRECT DRAW GRAPHICS DRAWING TABLET – Huion H610 Pro

The Huion 610 Pro Graphics Drawing Tablet has consistently proved to be a favourite.  

There are very good reasons that it attracts one of the highest approval ratings from customers on Amazon.

It is robust, reliable, draws exceptionally well, is packed with customizable controls and looks great.  You really do get a lot for a low price.

Features:

  • Large active area (drawing surface)  10″ x 6.25″
  • Surface quality has been recently enhanced to give a highly realistic paper feel.
  • Eight customzanble control buttons on the side and sixteen hot keys providing ultimate personal control.
  • The rechargeable stylus has 2048 pressure levels 
  • Lightweight and highly portable
  • Comes with a tablet glove and carry bag.
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows platforms
  • One year warranty as standard

If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure whether you’d like working with a more expensive tablet, this is another of the best graphics tablets for beginners. 

The sleek, natural-feeling surface provides ample size for even the hardest of tasks.   There is enough pressure sensitivity to allow for even the most precise strokes.


BEST MOBILE PEN GRAPHICS TABLETS: Wacom  Mobile Studio Pro 13 and 16

The Wacom Mobile Studio Pro range is in my opinion the very best in digital mobile graphics tablets.  I base that opinion on my long experience with mobile direct draw tablets.

I was so impressed with the Wacom Studio Pro range that I bought the 16″ 512Mb model.  It was a tough decision to make in financial terms as these cost a fair wedge of cash.  

However, I knew that I would get real value from this and would be using this for a long time to come.  The investment proved to be sound. I have increased my output by at least 100%.  It paid for itself very quickly and is one of the best art investments I have ever made.

In the Box

When the box arrives you get the tablet preloaded with Microsoft Windows 10, Wacom drawing stylus with spare nibs and the power pack to run the tablet from the mains.

You don’t get any free graphics drawing software apart from the basic drawing package on Windows 10 (which I have found very useful as a quick sketch tool before getting down to serous business).  

This was a bit of a disappointment considering how much the tablet cost.  On the flip side I suppose that if you are going to buy the Rolls Royce of direct draw tablets you would usually have software to hand?  

If anyone from Wacom is reading this then just consider adding some graphics software – it is the least you can do!

Drawing experience and power

best buy drawing tabletsI found the drawing experience to be amazingly good.  The Wacom stylus is so responsive on the screen that it is impossible for me to fault it.  I find the 16″ model the perfect size for on screen drawing.  I had a previous 13″ model and occasionally it cramped my style.  

The 16″ model is big enough without being cumbersome.  It is quite heavy for a portable graphics tablet and for prolonged use I would advise that you get a tilting stand.  For shorter jobs I simply use the tablet on my lap without discomfort.

If you are into high spec’ graphics production there is enogh computing power to run any 2D, 3D and CAD applications.  On selected models the tablet is 3D ready with a built in Intel Real Sense camera and scanning software.

If you would like to see a more in depth article on this fantastic tablet range I have reviewed all models in the Wacom Studio Pro range which you can view here.

Don’t be put off by the price.  If you budget can stretch to this you will be more than happy to be using this amazing tablet.  I waited too long and wish I had bought this much sooner – It feels Christmas every time I turn it on to draw!

Choosing the best buy drawing tablets for your artwork

Deciding on the right graphics drawing tablet for your own brand of artwork can be a difficult choice.  Until you have actually used a tablet you wont get to see it at it’s full potential.  

If you are really serious about an art career you really should be looking at a top range tablet plus a good portable tablet. Best buy drawing tablets doesn’t mean the cheapest – it means the best buy for your long term success as an artist.

I have settled with the Wacom Studio Pro 16″ 512Mb as my main tablet which is also portable.  When I am limited for space and on the move I use my Medium Wacom Intuos Art tablet which is wafer thin, lightweight and extremely resonsive.  

I always have my laptop with me so it makes perfect sense to me to keep the Art tablet handy.  The smaller version in the Wacom intuos tablet range is also a very good choice for mobility.  Very handy for working in confined areas such as trains and limited hot desking.

Between the two tablets I can produce high quality work in the optimum time and it works for me.  You just have to consider your own circumstances to gauge which tablet will deliver the best results in the most practical way.

Cost and budget

Cost is a major factor in tour decision and it is only recently that I have purchased the Wacom Studio Pro which is amongst the most expensive tablets on the market.  Again I would stress that if you can afford the Wacom Studio Pro you will be making a great investment in your artistic future.

If you would like to buy a larger direct draw tablet without having to shell out a lot of money the Huion GT-220 V2 is a very good buy.  Although it is not a mobile tablet it does offer a hack of a lot for the money.  It is in my opinion the best Cintiq alternative on the market at this time.

On the lower cost end the Wacom intuos range is well priced especially if you have not already got a graphics drawing software package installed.  If you already own a graphics software package then the Huion 610 Pro Graphics Drawing Tablet is a proven favourite and consistently get very high customer approval rating.

Check out more of my graphics drawing tablet reviews here…

graphics drawing tablets reviews

how-does-square-trade-workOnce you have made up your mind you might want to consider Amazons Square Trade – low cost cover for your new drawing tablet…see our review to consider if its worth taking out… 

 

5 of the best types of calligraphy pens in sets

5 of the best types of calligraphy pens in setsWhich are the best calligraphy nibs for beginners?

If you are a cartoonist, artist or calligraphist,  pen selection is one of the most the most important elements.  If you are Ebeneezer Scrooge and make purchases based purely on cost then save yourself some time and don’t bother reading the rest of this article.

Great artwork without equally great lettering looks tacky, poorly executed and amateurish.  You can of course use digital lettering.  There is a vast selection of fonts available to suit any lettering job you can think of.  

If you want your own style of lettering there are two options.  Either create your own font that can be digitised or hand draw your font with a pen.  I prefer the latter but have looked at digitizing my own font designs as another option.

I have looked for five of the most highly rated calligraphy pen sets to help you in your quest for perfect lettering.  I have also road tested each one and the review is based on my opinion and amazon customer ratings.  

There are different brands, sizes and types of calligraphy nibs. A set of calligraphy pens gives you scope to try the variation is size to produce different styles of lettering.

The following calligraphy sets have some of the best nibs for modern calligraphy without breaking the bank!

Lamy-calligraphy-setLamy calligraphy pen set – black with red trim

This is my favourite and personal choice for lettering.  

Although the finish from the pen is superb the Lamy calligraphy pen has one massive advantage over other brands – its shape.  

The ergonomic design is the best I have found for comfort and grip.  It is one of the few pens that makes you feel as if the pen is part of you.  This is why most of my personal pens and retractable pencils are from the Lamy range.  My Lamy Calligraphy 1.1mm nib pen is always with me.

The set consists of the lengthy screw on tapered barrel with push fit cap which has a really well designed clip to secure the pen in your pocket.  

There three interchangeable nibs 1.1, 1.5 and 1.9mm – the smaller nib allows for general writing and as a fountain pen the Lamy is sheer joy!  

There is a  pack of 5 Lamy ink cartridges plus a guide booklet for the set  which are  housed in a secure and stylish metal box which is great for transporting and also makes a great gift set.  

One of the best calligraphy pens on the market!

Rotring-Artpen-11-piece-calligraphy-setRotring Artpen calligraphy 11 piece set

This is also a superb pen which I use regularly.  Very stylish with a good feel and grip in the hand. Backed up by the quality of the Rotring brand.  

The pen has great balance with its quill shape and comes with three calligraphy nibs 1.5, 1.9 and 2.3mm.  A great range of Calligraphy width.  

I also use the larger nib for filling in larger areas of block color in cartoon work rather that a brush as it gives a greater degree of accuracy.

The pen top is push fit with a secure clip that won’t let you down when you need to secure the pen in your pocket.  

The set comes with 6 rotting ink cartridges – one of the best inks on the market.  The only disadvantage I have found with the Rotring Artpen is that the ink cartridges are relatively small compared to the Lamy (above).  

A superb calligraphy set that is housed in a stylish presentation box – great portability and an ideal gift set. 

Speedball-calligraphy-setSpeed ball 6 nib calligraphy set with 9″x12″ Calligraphy Paper Pad 

Ideal for those learning how to do calligraphy

This is a basic set of six  interchangeable calligraphy nibs (c1, c2, c3, c4, 100 and 152 sizes) that comes in a bundle with a 9″ x 12″ US Art Supply calligraphy paper pad.  

This is a great set for the absolute beginner to try out calligraphy. And is the best way to go before venturing into some of the higher priced (and integral ‘with cartridge’) models.  

The paper pad includes printed Practice Rule and Slanted Grid.  Please note that the speedball pen is a ‘dip pen’.  This has to be dipped into an ink supply and has no internal cartridge.  An additional bottle of ink is required (ink not included in the set). 

If you don’t require the bundled calligraphy paper pad there is the option to purchase the calligraphy set on its own.

I found this to be a pretty good pen which draws smoothly and accurately.  The downside to me is that I don’t particularly like dip pens for general use.  They have their place for specific cartooning effects but I prefer a cartridge or refillable pen.  You may disagree as it’s horses for courses. 

A great highly rated dip pen and perfect if you want to know how to learn calligraphy economically!

staedler-33-piece-calligraphy-set-in-a-boxStaedler 33 piece calligraphy pen set

Quite a substantial set with 4 pens, 5 nibs (extra fine, fine, medium, broad, extra broad) and a range of 20 different colored inks 5 blue, 5 black, 2  yellow, 2 orange, 2 pink, 2 green and 2 brown.

There is also a practice pad and instruction book. The whole set comes in a really nice compact metal box which makes it an appealing gift.

I found the drawing experience to be very good on the whole but the cosistency of line width was not always as accurate as the lamy of Rotring pens.

If you are looking for a high end calligraphy set this may not be for you.  

If you are looking for a beginners set with good quality nibs and lots of color choice this may be just for you.  

Not in the same league as the Rotring or Lamy pens but really good value.

Shaeffer-calligraphy-maxi-setSheaffer Calligraphy Maxi Kit – 3 Pens

Another substantial calligraphy pen set.   This has three ‘fountain style’ pens, 3  nib sizes (fine, medium, broad) and a variety of 14 Skrip cartridges.  

There is also an aerometric converter which allows you to use your own ink supply if you wish.

This is a nice little kit and found the nibs to give a nice even ink flow and were very accurate.  I would give this set the edge over the Staedler set as I found the pens more smooth and responsive.

The set also comes with an instruction manual with step by step guidance.

This is another ideal starter kit and also very good value for money.  

The attractive pens each have their own individual viewing panel to allow you to monitor the ink level.  The only downside is there is no box supplied to store the pens. 

lamy_joy_black_fp__75354_zoomWhich is the best recommended pen set to write calligraphy fonts?

If you are looking how to learn calligraphy and just want to dabble before buying a more professional set we would advise the basic Speed ball 6 nib calligraphy set with optional 9″x12″ Calligraphy Paper Pad.  

If you are looking for a more comprehensive set for a beginner then either the Shaeffer or Staedler set could be the right choice. The Shaeffer has a slightly higher 4 star rating on Amazon and after using the pens I can see why.  

The Rotring Art Pen calligraphy set is an excellent quality set that won’t disappoint. Not only does it draw really well but looks sleek and stylish.  As stated previously the only downside is that Rotring ink cartridges are relatively smaller than some others (such as the Lamy brand).  A minor point but may come into play if you are a very productive artist.

However, for someone who really wants a quality pen that feels superb in hand there is a clear choice with the Lamy set.  I have used this for several years and it is without doubt the best on the market. It feels great in hand – even in prolonged use and draws smoothly and with precision.  The Lamy brand continue to shine above the rest in my opinion.

How-to-use-a-lighbox-for-tracingHave you ever considered a light box?  

See our review on 5 highly rated light boxes that you can draw and trace out artwork with absolute accuracy – right here

 

 

which is the best watercolor paper brand for artists?

best watercolor paper brand

5 top rated types of watercolor paper pads for paint and watercolor pencils

If you’re an artist of any level, you know how the type of wear and tear your paper goes through as you’re transferring ideas from your mind to the sketch pad.

Whether it be a pen and pencil doodle or using watercolors, oils, or markers, your paper pad is going to take a beating.

So deciding what paper to use for watercolor paint and watercolor pencils is half the battle. Low quality paper can inhibit the most talented person’s creation.

Obtaining a pad of paper consisting of acid-free, hot or cold press, and the correct weight of paper is the first step to being on the path to getting your ideas to come alive.  

So which is the best paper for ink and watercolor? Here are five top rated paper pads for you to consider.

canson-water-color-paper-padCanson Watercolor Paper Pad

Beginner artists may find this pad to be akin to their liking since they’re just starting out. It’s cold press paper so the surface is rough with texture.

Little grooves, nooks, and crannies abound in this type of paper. That’s important when using watercolors because it soaks up the wetness and holds the pigment in place.

It can also handle oil pastels, acrylic paint, and markers.

The sheets measure a comfortable drawing surface of 9 inches by 12 inches, and the pad contains 30 sheets at 140-pound weight.

Heavier weight paper can absorb more water and needs less stretching to remove the wrinkles after it gets wet. To avoid needing to stretch it, just tape it to a board while painting.

Pros:
Inexpensive yet good quality
Acid-free sheets
Great for beginners

Cons:
May need slight stretching to remove wrinkles

reevers-water-color-paper-padReeves Water color Paper Pad

The ultimate beginner’s pad, Reeve’s gives their customers 35 sheets per pad of 90-pound paper.

That’s a great bargain for an artist on a budget. It can handle pencil or charcoal drawings, markers, chalk, or paint.

The sheets are 9 inches by 12 inches, and are standard white.

These sheets can handle even the most rigorous erasers without compromising the integrity of the drawing. So you can concentrate on drawing your ideas rather than saving the paper.

Because of the weight, if it gets too wet, it may start to curl slightly so you may need to tape it down before you begin.

Pros:

Durable paper makes it durable for lots of erasing
Handles multiple types of drawing tools, not just paints

Cons:
Paper curls slightly if it gets too wet

us-art-supply-extra-heavy-water-color-padU.S. Art Supply Premium Extra Heavy-Weight Watercolor Painting Paper Pad

Nothing screams archival quality paper like this pad. It’s cold press paper, so all that texture is ready to soak up some incredible watercolor painting.

The sheets are a natural white and acid-free. Natural white is not the same as bright white, so the water color pigmentation may vary slightly.

The pad contains 24 sheets of paper at 9 inches by 12 inches.

The best thing about this pad is that it has a neutral pH balance, so it’s perfect for those archival types of projects that need to have an extended life without yellowing or degrading.

Pros:
Neutral pH for an extended lifetime
Does not pill or tear when it gets wet

Cons:
Paint colors may need to be adjusted to compensate for the natural white color of the paper

windsor-and-newton-cotman-water-color-padWinsor & Newton Cotman Watercolour Paper Pad

Only 10 sheets are included in this pad, but the 200-pound heavyweight cold press paper is well worth the lower amount of pages.

It’s the standard 9 inches by 12 inches.

This high quality paper soaks up a ton of water because of the heavier weight of the paper fibers. This makes a great contender for the artists who want to specialize in water color painting.

This wood-free paper has a much higher resistance to ripping and tearing because it has a higher amount of fibers that are tightly woven to increase its durability.

It’s also acid-free, so it won’t yellow with age. The gum binding means you simply tear off the sheet when you’re finished, and you’re ready to start on another blank page.

Pros:
Highly water absorbent
Extremely durable due to heavyweight fibers

Cons:
Gum binding may leave slight residue on paper, but it can be easily peeled off

canson-arches-block-cold-pressArches Watercolor Paper Block Pad

This artist’s pad is the most expensive on our list, but it’s definitely worth the price tag.

With 20 sheets of paper, the fact that they are 100 percent cotton will make the experienced artist take notice.

This is the professional grade paper that was created with the art of watercolor painting in mind.

The 9 inch by 12 inch Arches hot press watercolor paper is perfect for watercolors because it doesn’t absorb water very quickly.

You can blend colors without worrying about it drying too quickly. So go ahead – paint, then blend, then paint some more as the paint stays wetter longer.

The smoother surface is great for drawing if you want to show more detailed work. Some artists prefer this paper for ink drawing because of its hard slick surface.

There’s no need to tape down or secure this pad to a drawing board. It’s blocked which means it’s glued on all four sides of the pad, effectively creating a “block” of paper.

It is essentially its own drawing board. You’ll have to use a dull tool of some sort, like a plastic knife, to slice the paper off when you’ve finished your painting.

Pros:
Hot press 100% cotton paper
Block pad for extra stability

Cons:
Tool is required for slicing through block

reeves-padsSo which is the best watercolor paper brand?

You will know when you use the paper that suits your style of painting.  Every artist is different in the way they apply paint and water.

Try different papers till you find the right one that suits your style and technique.

Starting out as an artist, you may want to begin your journey with the Reeves Watercolor Pad since it has the higher amount of sheets per pad. It’s rather inexpensive, and it can be used with multiple types of drawing or painting mediums.

The more experienced artist could utilize the higher quality, more expensive pad, such as the Archer Watercolor Block with its added stability, extra durability, and professional grade paper that withstands higher amounts of water.  The Arches watercolor paper block is in our opinion one of the best watercolor paper artists block on the market.

best watercolor pencils for artists - derwent

Watercolor pencils add a new dimension and precision to watercolor painting.  

Try out a small set to start with just to get the feel of what a bonus they really are.

 See my review of 5 top rates sets and take your watercolor painting to the next level.

 

Best fine tip pens – 5 top Rated Color Sets Reviewed

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Adding a set of the best fine tip pens to your art supplies will open creative doors you never knew about.best fine tip pens

Regular ink pens have their uses, but when it comes to creating sharper detailed drawings or just making your handwriting look neater, using a few of the best extra fine point pens can help.

Drawing with fine tip pen sets can bring a higher level of professionalism to your artwork.

Whether you need fine tip pens for coloring tiny details or drawing a complex pattern, having the best fine point pen in your hand is the perfect tool to get the results you want.

best fine tip pensFineliner Color Pen Set,0.38mm Colored Fine Line Point,Assorted Colors,10-Count 

This set of 10 fine tip pens for coloring and making sharp lines is great for beginners.

Containing the basic colors, these slender pens can be used for sketching, coloring, doodling, and more. The water-based ink is acid-free and non-toxic.

The tip measures 0.38mm, making it perfect for slicing out fine-ink drawings or just writing a quick note with a bit of colored flare.

The ink dries quickly to help eliminate smudging opportunities. They’re packaged inside a cardboard box to keep them organized and portable.

Grab some paper, flip off the cap, and start drawing.

 

platinum best fine tip pensPlatinum Art Supplies Micro-Line Ultra-Fine Point Ink Pens (Set Of 16) B01FWIE032

Bumping it up a level is this set of 16 pens. Eleven different colors plus five black pens with a variety of nib sizes was designed for artists who require an array of line thicknesses.

Drawing with fine tip pen sets such as this gives you access to a collection of diverse line types. The ink is non-toxic, water-based, water-proof, and fade resistant.

No smudging, bleeding, or ugly streaks.

It’s a useful tool when you sketch, write notes, or need to create technical drawings with a mishmash of line widths.

Packaged in a neat plastic case, throw it in your bag and you can sketch anywhere.

 

sakura best fine tip pensSakura 8 Pcs Pigma Micron Best Fine Line Pens Set Assorted Colors 01 Ink Drawing Pens with Pen Case 

The feel of a sharpie with the precision of an ultra-fine tip is what these pens are all about.

Eight assorted colors of acid-free archival-quality ink can be used on a multitude of surfaces.

The ink won’t bleed or feather even on extremely thin paper.

The 0.25mm tip puts this set in the category of the best extra fine point pens that artists love. Crisp lines, curves, and shapes appear with consistent colors that resist fading against both sunlight and ultra violet light.

This is a set of the best fine tip pens for ultimate precision when it comes to detailed work.

As a bonus, it comes with a black carrying case that zips closed after sliding each pen in its individual slot.

Yosoo 0.3mm Line Width 24 Assorted Colors Set of Fineliner Sketch  Drawing Pens

For art that requires a few more colors than the previous sets we’ve mentioned, this might get your attention.

Here’s a set of 24 pens boasting a beautiful array of colors that make it one of the best fine tip markers for coloring or sketching out the most precise details.

The triangular body of the pen gives a snug fit in your fingers as the 0.3mm tip delivers consistently sleek lines. The water-based, non-toxic ink dries fast and won’t smudge or bleed.

The elongated tip makes it one of the best fine tip pens when using it with rulers or stencils. After using, put the pens back into the plastic storage case to keep them safe and organized.

 

Aen Art 72 Fineliner Color Pen Set, Colored Fine Line Drawing Marker Pens aen art best fine tip pen sets

For some artists, it’s go big or go home, right?

This monster set of 72 colored pens with 0.38mm tips can be used for anything. Drawing with fine tip pen sets that include this many colors gives versatility to your creativity.

Illustrations, journal writing, stencils, tracing, coloring, and line sketches will look amazing with these pens.

The non-toxic ink is water-based and can be used in a multitude of graphic capacities without smears or fading. Couple that with the superb tip and you have a set of the best extra fine point pens for any type of artwork you wish to create.

The longer metal tip is fantastic for drawing sharp lines with rulers or trace out a stencil. And with this many pens, it’s nice to have an included plastic carrying case.

Only the best fine tip pens give the best fine lines

Ink pens and mechanical pencils have their uses. But when it comes to creating meticulous details, you’ll need a tool that can give consistent delicate lines.

Having a set of the best fine tip pens in your arsenal equips you with the right tools. Just draw what your mind is creating!

A basic set of pens to start with is the Sakura 8 Pcs Pigma Micron Fine Line Pen Set. This set has assorted colors and a  pen case. This set is a great introduction to working with petite points and thinner lines. But what if you’re looking for the best fine tip markers for coloring your sketches after their drawn? The more colors, the merrier.

The Aen Art 72 Fineliner Color Pen Set, Colored Fine Line Drawing Marker Pens lets your art blossom.  Minimalistic lines burst out with an assortment of exploding colors. The best fine point pen set is the one which streams imagination to fingertips without worrying if your pen can handle it.

Choose the best fine tip pens that feel like an extension of your hand. Deliver smooth precision and beautiful results.

5 top rated Light Boxes

Never have to worry about perfect copies and tracing again! [more…]

List of Stuff to Draw for Creative inspiration

list of stuff to drawA list of stuff to draw is something I find useful sometimes when my creative drawing idea generator packs up.  Sometimes called ‘artists block’ it’s the most frustrating state of mind when the artistic well is temporarily empty.

A list of stuff to draw is one way that you can find ideas and I have a moleskin note book full of randon subjects that I randomly open to get random cartoons.  Here is a list oif stuff to draw that you might find useful if you get stuck for an idea.  I also have another really good way of producing awesome stuff to draw which is not only awesome but original as well with a drawing ideas generator.  I also have a drawing warm up excersise that you might want to try and it puts your brain into the right mindset to draw.

List of Stuff to Draw to for creative inspiration

List of Stuff to Draw – 100 ideas

  1. Ground hogs on holiday

  2. Lead singer with a difference

  3. Pirates treading grapes

  4. Wig that comes alive

  5. Inappropriate vegetable shapes

  6. Deep sea diving discovery

  7. Trees arguing

  8. Comments from the head in the guillotine basket

  9. Weird shoes

  10. Ultimate put down

  11. Drunken fish

  12. Leaky buckets

  13. Fashion conscious pets

  14. Cactus in disguise

  15. Paramedic vultures

  16. And the winner is…

  17. Flower power

  18. If banknotes could talk

  19. Conversation in a hurricane

  20. Unlikely rappers

  21. Power cut

  22. Dental disaster

  23. Things that would never have happened in the White House

  24. Polar bear allergies

  25. Tooth fairy gone bad

  26. Changing a wheel on the freeway

  27. Aliens robbing banks

  28. Famous historical figures as clowns

  29. Super hero members of your family

  30. Dinosaurs at the supermarket

  31. Vampire fruit

  32. Returned from the grave

  33. Surprise Easter egg

  34. Old people doing olympic sports

  35. Grave diggers hobby

  36. Moon glasses for bats

  37. TV presenter interviewing a dog

  38. Musical instruments in hell

  39. Security guards for haunted castles 

  40. Teenagers tantrums

  41. Insects wearing glasses

  42. Things you might not find in a volcano

  43. Weird shaped ice creams

  44. Weird shaped candles

  45. Surfing a lava stream

  46. X-rays revealing strange items swallowed

  47. Smelly socks that come to life

  48. murder in the library

  49. What if North American Indians had discovered Europe first?

  50. Flamenco flamingo

  51. If Abraham Lincoln had been a member of a circus

  52. Politicians telling the truth

  53. Things that live under tree roots

  54. Alternative funerals

  55. Variations on famous brands

  56. Gift for your worst enemy

  57. Animals with piercings

  58. Snowmen ballet

  59. Road workers tea break

  60. Pets that look like their owners

  61. Disco on the construction site

  62. Octopus musician

  63. Snails with shells that turn into something else

  64. Something else is pulling santas sleigh

  65. What’s that smell?

  66. Flower arrangement with a difference

  67. Zombie chickens

  68. Eskimos at Christmas

  69. Unique birthday cake.

  70. Kamakaze pelicans

  71. catwalk covered in ice

  72. Junk food strikes back

  73. Look what the surgeon found during the operation!

  74. The church minister forgot the…

  75. Cyclops eye test

  76. Who flooded the bathroom

  77. Bad hair day 

  78. Over the top facial hair

  79. Home run celebration

  80. Frankenstiens cat

  81. Things a witch might add to a stew

  82. Thing in the rear view mirror

  83. Objection at a wedding

  84. Last meal  request before the execution

  85. In the tunnel with the light at the end – near death

  86. Unusual rescue for a firefighter

  87. Firework display for a funeral

  88. Haunted cafe

  89. Harry Potter spell that goes horribly wrong

  90. Mafia penguins

  91. There is something in the attic

  92. Man in the moon

  93. Wedding cake topper

  94. Something on the rail track

  95. False tan gone wrong

  96. Mummies skiing

  97. Magic potions

  98. Playing cards with attitude

  99. Talking kite

  100. I did say 100 but got carried away!!!

  101. What is under the microscope?

  102. Pidgeons discussing people

  103. Scan of the strangest baby

  104. Graveyard with an unexpected visitor

  105. If Donald Trump had a time machine

  106. Mafia Possums

  107. Body part Pizza’s

  108. Global Warming benefits

  109. Post Apocalyptic – dogs rule the earth

  110. Walt Disney’s lost cartoon found

  111. Graffiti in a newly discovered Egyptian Tomb

  112. Qaurterback with 3 legs

  113. What is looking in through the window of the submarine?

  114. Mice on vacation in Vegas

  115. Duelling clowns

  116. Pelican carrying something strange in its beak

  117. If Donald Trump found a genie in a lamp

  118. Weirdest road kill ever

  119. Most inappropriate place to sleep rough

  120. Explosion at an ice cream factory

 

 

 

 

If you would like to make some more suggestions to add to the list see the comments box below (please keep ’em clean) – Thanks!

If you would like some more creative ideas see my mega list of cartoon ideas at Doodlums.com

doodlums-logo-with-color

 

Why You Really Need an Art Graphics Drawing Tablet

ugee-19'

Great art happens when you embrace great innovations. If you have a passion for art, you’ve probably already spent years discovering just what you can do with a pencil and some paper.  So why would you want an art graphics drawing tablet?

It may be time to upgrade to a good drawing tablet to see exactly how far you can go next. Many people are surprised to discover that an art tablet is just as intuitive to use as pen and paper. In addition, it is actually a lot easier than you think to find a cheap graphics tablet that actually has the features you need.

Drawing tablets are really changing the game when it comes to how art is created. It is necessary to at least dabble in the practice of using a tablet to create art if you want to stay competitive and relevant in the field.

Of course, there’s a really good chance you just might fall in love with the way a tablet allows you to express your creative skills in new and exciting ways that pen and paper never quite could.

Are you ready to begin your search for a new tablet? Take some time to learn about what’s available out there right now.

aaron-blaise-
  Incredible graphic art by Aaron Blaise created totally on a graphics tablet

What Is a Graphics Drawing Tablet?

You may have heard other artists talking about drawing tablets. Many high-profile cartoonists have actually switched to tablets in recent years. In addition, tablets are popular with art students around the world.

You may be wondering exactly how an art tablet works. Will you be able to keep the same amount of control over what you create? An art tablet offers everything you already love about traditional methods with the added bonus of bringing you into the digital age.

There are actually two types of tablets that people are referring to when they talk about drawing tablets. One version allows you to draw on the screen and control your hand’s movements directly on your tablet. The second method actually allows you to draw off screen using a pad that’s linked to a computer monitor.

Deciding which style works best for you all comes down to personal preference. There are several factors to keep in mind as you search for a table that’s compatible with your needs. Things to look for when shopping for an art graphics drawing tablet include:

  • Screen size and user-friendly controls
  • Good customer care
  • Impressive software


Wacom Mobile Studiopro 13″ and 16″ – The Rolls Royce of direct pen on screen graphics tablets.

This tablet by Wacom has truly changed the game when it comes to how artists interact with their canvases. This high-powered model is a necessity for any art professional. But it comes at a price.  

This is a high spec’ and high priced tablet but it is very good. I have had the 16″ 512Gb model for around 9 months.  It was a purchase I put off several times simply because of the hefty price tag.  

I went through all sorts of guilt trips thinking what else I could have spent the money on.  However! – it has increased my output and is such a joy to use that it has paid for itself already.  My workflow has rocketed and I would buy it again in a heartbeat!

Of course, it also offers opportunities for amateurs to develop their skills and reach professionals levels.

Users can’t help but to love a pen that responds to the softest touch with multiple express keys placed well out of the way of the drawing surface.

With the additional floating menu it can be easily customised to your exact requirements.  Its’s fast very responsive and smooth as silk to draw on. .

This tablet gives you the ability to edit large images or create 3D animation and sculpting. You can also run some pretty powerful applications with ease. This tablet comes preloaded with windows 10 as standard and there is a basic drawing package included.

There are presently 5 models which vary on screen size, storage and price:

  • 13″ 128 Gb
  • 13″ 256 Gb
  • 13″ 512 Gb
  • 16″ 256Gb
  • 16″ 512 Gb

The mobile Studiopro range is compatible with most graphics software packages.

The downside is definitely the cost which may take your breath away.  The box includes the charger and pen but does not come with a carry case or stand which I thought for the price a little disappointing.

The Wacom Mobile Studiopro range succeeds at combining the latest and greatest upgrades in the world of technology with the traditional features artists need to be creative and productive.  If you can afford one you will not be disappointed.

wacom intuos art pen and touch digital graphics drawin painting tablet mediumWacom Intuos Art Pen and Touch Digital Graphics, Drawing & Painting Tablet Medium

If you value the ability to use your normal computer monitor when working on drawings, graphics and art, this table is a great option. You can create images that link directly to your computer.

You’re sure to find that they way you can use your fingers to navigate, scroll and zoom creates a very natural and intuitive experience.

The tablet actually works by replacing your mouse. It also comes with a pen that gives you the ability to create thicker and thinner lines depending on how much pressure you apply.

This tablet comes with drawing and paint software, tutorials and a Shutterfly photo album.

huion h610 art graphics drawing tabletHuion H610 Pro Graphic Drawing Tablet 

If you’re looking for a tablet that falls on the affordable end of the spectrum, Huion offers something really terrific.

You can look forward to a large drawing surface with a textured feel that mimics the feel of grained paper.

This truly is a tablet for old-school artists looking to upgrade to the digital world without giving up control over how they create images.

The fact that this model is extremely thin and lightweight means that it is a perfect option if you need a tablet you can take to work, school, libraries or coffee shops.

This tablet comes with a special black glove that helps to reduce friction between your hand and the tablet’s surface. In addition, you’ll receive a black carrying bag that protects the tablet against scrapes.

Ugee 1910B Digital Pen Tablet 

Ugee offers a tablet that provides a comfortable balance between splurging and going for the cheapest option available.

Enjoy 19 inches of space to create your masterpieces when you use this impressive tablet.

It comes with a battery-free pen that responds beautifully to pressure. This tablet also comes with a stand that helps to prevent the screen from shaking.

This model is compatible with the following programs:

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Photoshop CC
  • 3D Max
  • Sketchbook
  • Corel Painter
  • Autodesk MAYA
  • Pixologic
  • ZBrush


Turcom 8″ x 6″ Graphic Tablet Drawing Tablet 

Turcom 8" x 6" art graphics drawing tablet

Turcom’s simplistic, hassle-free tablet is an ideal choice for anyone looking to get their toes wet in the digital world without making a huge commitment.

This is a great option for students and professionals. You can use this tablet by replacing your standard mouse and transforming your computer into a drawing canvas.

The active area (drawing area) is 8′ x 6″ making the tablet highly portable and takes up very little spece which is a huge plus when space is at a premium.

This tablet is notable because it offers the natural feel of a pen on paper. A pressure-sensitive pen makes it easy to bring your vision to life on your computer screen without giving up the control you’re so used to having when working with pens and pencils.

This tablet works with the following programs:

  • Corel Painter
  • Corel Draw
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Fireworks
  • Macromedia Flash
  • Comic Studio
  • SAI
  • Infinite Stratos
  • 3D MAX
  • Autodesk MAYA
  • Pixologic ZBrushand
  • Sketchbook

Which Art Graphics Drawing Tablet is Right For You?

This will depend on your personal choice, budget and style of art amongst other factors.  

If you are new to graphics tablets and want to test the water the Wacom Intuos Art Pen and Touch Digital Graphics, Drawing & Painting Tablet Medium is a great package with software included and at a price that is very reasonable for such a high quality brand as Wacom.  

If you don’t mind spending a bit more and would rather a direct draw art graphics drawing tablet the Ugee 1910B Digital Pen Tablet is a fabulous tool with a large 19″ screen.

Whichever you choose, your artwork can only benefit from the amazing technology that has deveolped in art graphics drawing tablets.


If you would like to see more choices of the full range of tablets see our
graphics tablet reviews here…

Top 5 drawing tablets for cartooning

top 5 graphics- tablets for cartooningWhat are the best drawing tablets for beginners and pro’s? – We look at the top 5 Tablets

Most  cartoonists began drawing the good old-fashioned way – with pen and paper. In the 21st century, the horizons of cartooning have expanded into the digital realm as well.

top-5-graphics-drawing-tablets-for-cartooning

The advent of the computer drawing pad, also known as a drawing tablet, has changed the world of cartooning for the better, providing cartoonists with realistic stylus pens and flat, smooth surfaces on which they can create digital cartoons.

Gone are the days of scanners and clumsy computer-mouse-drawn images. Whether you’re an amateur cartoonist or a pro looking to finally enter the world of digital cartooning,  what is the best drawing tablet? – these are the top drawing tablets to consider.

BEST ENTRY-LEVEL TABLET: Huion 610PRO Graphic Pen Tablet 

Huion-h610-pro-painting-drawing-pen-tablet
The Huion 610PRO drawing Pen Graphics Tablet is an ideal computer drawing pad for beginning cartoonists.

The tablet is light-weight and highly affordable, offering such professional features as 2048 pressure sensitivity levels (allowing for a broader range of line widths to be drawn) and a great screen resolution.

If you are searching for a tablet that had a reasonable amount of active drawing area, is fairly versatile and affordable. The Huion 610PRO tablet fit that bill with room to spare.” In short, for cartoonists seeking an affordable drawing tablet, Huions 610PRO is a great option to consider. Dimensions:

The Huion 610PRO has surface dimensions of roughly 36cm by 24cm. The tablet, at a mere 1cm thick, is one of the thinnest on the market.

Weight: The Huion 610PRO weighs a mere 635g. If you’re a novice cartoonist who’s frequently on-the-go, the 610PRO might just be the best option for you.

Resolution: 5080 LPI (lines per inch) Pressure Level: 2048 pen sensitivity levels

Controls: The 610PRO is a pen-only tablet. Once users adjust to using a pen stylus for computer navigation, most find the pen-only controls to be no problem whatsoever.

If, however, you’re looking for touch-screen capabilities as well, the Huion 610PRO may not be for you. The 610PRO also comes with programmable macro keys, allowing for one-click access to such applications as Google Chrome, Microsoft Word, and more.

Connectivity: The tablet must be connected via USB to a computing device.

Design/Appearance: The black tablet (also available in white) is study and well-constructed, with a smooth and comfortable drawing surface. Operating System (OS)

Compatibility: Users have had success with a number of operating systems, ranging from Windows XP to Windows 8 to Apple’s Mountain Lion OS. Some, but not all, users encountered driver difficulties with Apple’s OS.

BEST DRAWING TABLET WITH DRAWING SOFTWARE: Intuos Art, Draw, Comic and Photo – small and medium tablets.


The Wacom Intuos  Graphics Pen Tablet range consists of four indirect draw tablets, designed for different art with software included.  They come in two sizes – small and medium and are without doubt a bargain for the price tag.  For this you also get a print voucher and online training to learn new skills.

The tablets are basically the same design with different color variations light blue, black and white.  The difference comes with the included software.

 

Draw: Includes Artrage Software – great for general drawing and sketching.

Comic: Clip Studio Paint Pro and Anime Studio software. The Intuos comic offers up the additional perk of coming  with software specifically tailored to drawers of manga, cartoons, and anime.

Art: Corel Painter Essentials digital painting software.  This is the cut down version of the amazing Corel Painter software but offers many essential features to create superb artwork.

I have the medium version of this wonderful tablet and it is so versatile, lightweight and portable that I wouldn’t feel dressed without it!!! Ideal for painting, general drawing, sketching and cartooning.

Photo: Photo editing software and online tutorials – ideal for editing your digital images. 

 

Dimensions: 

  • Small – 21 x 16.9 x 1.1 cm (Active area 15.2 x 9.5cm)
  • Medium – 27.5 x 21.7 x 1.1 cm (Active area 21.6 x 13.5cm)

Weight:

  • Small – 290g 
  • Medium – 481g

Resolution: 2540 LPI Pressure Level: 2048 pen sensitivity levels 

Connectivity: The tablet requires USB connectivity. A separate wireless accessory kit, however, may be purchased for a modest fee, enabling the tablet to be cord-free.

Design/Appearance: The tablets are available in light blue, black and white. The tablet has a thin, sleek design and realistic, paper-like surface texture that prevents the stickiness often found with sleeker drawing surfaces. The tablet’s stylus pen is ergonomic. 

Compatibility: Compatible with Windows® 7, 8 or 10 Mac OS X 10.8.5 or later

If you are looking for a small to medium tablet with software and don’t want to break the bank this is the way to go.  Packed with Wacom technology the deal is a ‘no brainer’

The Comic version is possibly the best  tablet for drawing anime when on a budget and great for getting started without the hassle of finding the right tablet and expensive software.

I personally love the Art version but it’s horses for courses.  Whether you want the best  animation tablet or a versatile photography tablet this qudruple set has an awful lot to offer.

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BEST MEDIUM TABLET: Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium Tablet Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium Tablet PTH851)Wacom

If you’re looking to make an investment in a great mid-range tablet, the Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium Tablet by Wacom is likely for you. The tablet can be connected to your computer not only via USB, but wirelessly as well.

With a high resolution and a drawing surface that’s neither too big nor too small, the Intuos Pro Medium is guaranteed to meet the needs of any cartoonist looking to get serious about his or her digital work.

As one reviewer stated, “[I totally recommend this] for the people who want to draw or work in animation in general. Its extremely precise and perfectly designed.” Who could ask for anything more?

Dimensions: The Medium Intuos Pro model is larger than most entry-level tablets, but is still modest compared to professional drawing tablets. The tablet is 15″ by 10″ and is a mere 0.45″ thick.

Weight: The Intuos Pro is a bit heavier than other tablets on the market, weighing in at 2.2 pounds, making this a better drawing pad for computer cartoonists who plan to stick to one location. Resolution: 5080 LPI Pressure Level: 2048 pen sensitivity levels

Controls: The Intuos Pro Pen and Touch, as its name suggests, comes with a stylus pen for drawing and navigation while also providing artists with a touch-screen interface.

Users need only “swipe” to navigate or “pinch” to zoom in on the tablet, allowing for a versatile and intuitive design experience. The tablet also comes with a customizable touch-ring that can be used for various design functions.

Connectivity: The Intuos Pro provides users with USB cables to connect to computing devices, as do all tablets on our list. The Intuos Pro, however, also includes a wireless kit, allowing cartoonists to use the tablet wirelessly as well as by USB cable. For many, this feature is a major draw.

Design/Appearance: The Intuos Pro is perhaps the most aesthetically simplistic tablet on our list. The tablet is solid black with unobtrusive black buttons, providing users with a top-notch artistic experience with no unnecessary distractions. Operating System (OS)

Compatibility: The Intuos Pro is suitable for both Microsoft and Apple loyalists, and is compatible with Windows Vista and later operating systems as well as Mac OS X 10.6.8 and its successors. 

Cintiq 13HD Interactive Pen Display [Wacom] – Best large Direct Draw TabletCintiq 13HD Interactive Pen Display

If you’re looking for a truly powerful drawing tablet that displays what you’re drawing right on the tablet itself, look no further than Wacom’s Cintiq 13HD.

Though much more expensive than entry-level tablets, this powerful device offers up a precision and feel that serious artists will appreciate.

Why opt for the 13HD over another tablet? “I think the intuitiveness of seeing what you draw as you draw it is a major win over [the] touch gestures [offered by tablets like the Intuos],” one reviewer frankly declared.

For the artist who’s serious about drawing, Wacom’s Cintiq tablets are in a league of their own – the elite digital drawing pads.

Dimensions: The Cintiq 13HD is roughly 15″ by 10″ and is 0.5″ wide. Weight: At 2.6 pounds, the Cintiq 13HD is only slightly heavier than the average tablet and packs a huge punch for the weight.

Resolution: 5080 LPI; full HD 1920 X 1080 screen resolution Pressure Level: 2048 pen sensitivity levels

Controls: The Cintiq 13HD’s main control is the stylus pen included with the tablet. The ExpressKey buttons on the Cintiq are so well-programmed and convenient that, according to reviewers, the need for keyboard commands was almost entirely eliminated from their design process.

Connectivity: The Cintiq 13HD takes connectivity to the next level, offering up a 3-in-1 cable that condenses the USB, HDMI, and power cords all into one single cable.

Design/Appearance: The Cintiq 13HD is deceptively simple in appearance. The drawing pad is black with well-positioned buttons, and features a full HD drawing screen in the center.

The tablet comes with an ergonomic adjustable stand as well, allowing for perfect drawing and viewing at any angle. Operating System (OS)

Compatibility: The Cintiq 13HD is compatible with Windows XP SP3 and later, as well as Mac OSX 10.6.8 and succeeding operating systems. 

If you really want to push the boat out the Wacom Cintiq 22HD is possibly the very best direct draw tablet on the market.  It offers the same quality and performance as the 13HD but has a much larger screen.  However the price difference is quite considerable.  There is an even larger version at 27″ but for the additional cost it does not appear worth it.  I have also experienced problems ordering the larger version and personally I would steer clear of it and opt for either the 13″ or 22″.   If you would like more information see my review of the Cintiq range of direct draw graphics tablets here…

Wacom StudioPro 13″ and 16″ – Best Screen Pen Tablet on the Market

If you want the current Rolls Royce of portable pen screen direct draw tablets and don’t mind paying a premium – look no further.

I can highly recommend this tablet as I have owned  the 16″ 512gb tablet for the last year and it is simply superb.  

There are currently five versions:

  • 13″ – 128gb
  • 13″ – 256gb
  • 13″ – 512
  • 16″ – 256gb
  • 16″ – 512gb

Dimensions:

  • 13″ Model – 48 x 26.4 x 6cm
  • 16″ Model – 54.3 x 29 x 6 cm

Weight:

  • 13″ model – 2.7 Kg
  • 16″ model – 3.6 Kg

Resolution: UHD (3840 x 2160) 8192 levels pen pressure, tilt and multi-touch

Controls: 8 express keys and a central fully customizable ring menu control that floats on screen.

Connectivity: The Studio Pro is self contained with it’s own Lithium battery.  Charging lead and power converter are standard issue.  The only additional item I had to buy was a USB to USB-C adaptor as the tablet only has USB-C female connection inlets.  Just bear that in mind and order them when you buy the unit.

Design/Appearance: Across the range this is one beatiful machine.  Sleek and substantial.  The larger 16″ model is a weighty 3.6Kg and is not a machine I would throw in a bag and carry round with me.  not only would I worry about getting it damaged but it is a bit too expensive to be bundled around.  

The express keys are unobtrusice and really handy for customising your own preferences.  The cable and powerpack is around the same length as the adaptor for most laptops so you don’t have to strangle yourself to reach a power supply and work.

The tablet comes with an ergonomic adjustable stand as well, allowing for perfect drawing and viewing at any angle. Operating System (OS)

Windows 10 is preloaded and comes as standard.

Compatibility: The Studio Pro range is compatible with Windows XP SP3 and later, as well as Mac OSX 10.6.8 and succeeding operating systems. 

best drawing tablet for anime eliboM mocIs the WaStudio Pro worth the large price tag?

In the cold light of day and taking into account what you get it is debatable!  I took an eternity dithering over the pro’s and cons of buying such an expensive piece of drawing kit.

If you can get over the thought of parting with so much hard earned cash then go for it.  I don’t regret buying this magnificent drawing tablet and would do it again in a heartbeat!

See my full article on the Wacom Mobile Studio Pro Range [more…]

So it’s down to you to decide what is the best drawing tablet for you!  

Whether you’re looking for an entry-level tablet or a professional drawing pad for digital cartooning, you’re sure to find what you need with one of these high-quality tablets.

It is quite a different experience drawing on a graphics tablet and it may take a while to get used to it.  however, once you are comfortable with the pen on plastic you will find huge benefits and find techniques and tricks that you cannot do on paper.  

Take a look at this short video clip by Wacom which gives you a quick overview of what a tablet can do for you and demonstrates both direct and indirect drawing tablets.

If you feel that you can’t move totally from paper to digital art that’s fine as a drawing tablet is a great art ‘polisher’.  I often scan and import my paper based black and white cartoons into the tablet and use it to tidy up errors, color, add lettering and make other effects.  

A tablet is so versatile and accurate that you will wonder how you ever managed before the digital age!

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I scan my black and white images into the computer / transfer to graphics tablet and tidy up errors, add text, color and apply effects such as blur and sharpen.

If you have cool stuff to draw be sure you enter the world of digital cartooning, you’ll never want to turn back!

ronald searle cartoonNow that you have looked at the options  for top drawing tablets what about a career in cartooning – possibly the best job in the world – see my article on this profession More…

If you sometimes get the dreaded artists block or just need to do some  drawing to tone up your creative ‘muscle’ take a peek at the method I use to generate original ideas, cartoons and fun things to draw – It works every time for me and I have produced some of my best cartoons this way

Types of Perspective in Art – 5 top rated perspective drawing guides

Types of Perspective in Art - perspective made easyWhat is perspective in art? It’s a method of creating the illusion of depth and space on a flat surface and there are several types of perspective in art that can be used. Sounds easy, right? Maybe. For some of us, we need a bit more detail.

A simple explanation of the perspective drawing definition is this: things seem to get smaller as they get further away.

What is linear perspective in art? It’s the geometric technique used to show the diminishing of scale as the distance between the 2D object and viewer increases.

When creating one-point perspective drawings, the horizon line has only one vanishing point. Learning how to draw a road going into the distance uses this technique.

Two-point perspective drawing uses linear lines moving towards two opposite vanishing points. This gives the illusion of a 3D space on a flat 2D surface.

Drawing in three-point perspective lets the viewer see two sides of an object as well as the top or bottom at the same time.

Lucky for us, there are experts who make this stuff a bit easier to understand. With examples, demos, and easily understood instructions, the right guide book is a wonderful teaching tool.

Drawing in perspective makes your sketches come to life. They look realistic and believable. Da Vinci, Brunelleschi, and Piero Della Francesca became masters of linear perspective.

Having your own comprehensive book lets you study and learn at your own pace. If you’ve ever thought about drawing, try one of these books to get you started.

basic-perspective-drawing-a-visual-approachBasic Perspective Drawing: A Visual Approach 6th Edition

Heavy with illustrations, this book gives you a guided tour of perspective concepts thoroughly supported with necessary visual aids. It’s not always easy to explain perspective drawing through text alone.  

Almost 90% of the book is made up of images to help you understand the text. Learn how to construct perspective views using elevation, slopes, and geometric tools. Use circles, curves, and squares as tools to determine the type of perspective you’re trying to accomplish.

An appendix gives a four-step breakdown of drawing examples that outline how to draw different types of perspective in art. Students of art, interior design, and architecture learn how to use the most current styles of how to develop perspective views one step at a time. Packed with supplemental tutorials, all topics discussed in the book are comprehensively taught via video. For any skill level, it’s a valuable reference tool to refresh or hone your existing skills.

the-urban-sketching-handbookThe Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective

There are various types of perspective in art. This book starts from ground zero to explain basic terms and principles of perspective drawing. You’ll learn to think like an architect to shrink what you see and transfer it to flat paper.

Draw buildings by using basic shapes, add layers, and finish it with details and coloring. Spalatial principles and layering are discussed in simple terms. Multiple drawings are deconstructed to show you exactly how they were created. Have you ever wondered what a vanishing point or an eye-level line is?

This book explains it while breaking it down in a real sketch for visual understanding.   If you’ve ever wished you could create landscapes or create buildings drawn in perspective, this book will teach you how in easy to understand concepts and terminology.

 

vanishing-point-perspective-for-comics-from-the-ground-upVanishing Point: Perspective for Comics from the Ground Up

There are many uses of perspective drawing, and comic illustrations is an interesting one. Comic artists need to create perspective from a concept since they can’t usually observe the world they are trying to create.

Build your skills not only with 1 pt perspective drawings, but grasp a greater understanding of 2pt perspective drawing as well. After that, move on to 4- and 5-point curvilinear perspective where straight lines are drawn as curves.

A full chapter is dedicated to drawing curves rather than boxes, squares, or straight lines. Start drawing cylinders, cars, and people – all in perspective.

Geared towards comic artists, this book teaches how to translate technical perspective techniques into comic illustrations. Basic steps are outlined for beginners, but things move quickly to the advanced perspective drawing techniques.

Full color drawings show (and discuss) the features, techniques, and ways to capture the exact perspective you’re looking for.

 

perspective-made-easy-a-step-by-step-guidePerspective Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide

How do you sketch your living room in a way that makes it interesting? By making it look realistic with depth and scale.

This book starts off teaching the basic types of perspective in art, like depth and scale, then moves to the advanced techniques. Slopes, tilts, circles, and cylinders are explained, then demonstrated. It helps you master 1 pt perspective drawings so you can move onto two- and three-point perspective.

Learn how to draw animals and people so they look realistic. Once you learn a technique, practical shortcuts are shown. Twenty five step-by-step demos show how to draw a basic room, landscapes with depth, cars, and 3-D lettering.

Create an entire city with people and buildings drawn in perspective that jump off the page.

 

the-art-of-perspective-the-ultimate-guide-for-artists-in-every-mediumThe Art of Perspective: The Ultimate Guide for Artists in Every Medium

Learn how to turn a flat drawing surface into a three-dimensional wonderland with this guidebook. The essential techniques are taught with supporting visuals to show step-by-step instructions.

All skill levels can learn something from this author. This book details how to use different types of perspective in art to create stairways, reflections, and mountains. How to draw a road going into the distance can be mastered with a few shortcuts.

Buildings drawn in perspective will look amazingly realistic after you follow the author’s technique. It starts off simple then progresses to more challenging linear perspective methods. Tone, placement, spacing, and size are covered to give you a solid foundation.

Angles, shadows, and light reflection are extraordinarily lifelike as you learn. Multiple diagrams, color photos, and paintings are used as examples to explain each step. It’s a valuable beginner’s tool for any art student or someone who wants to learn on their own.

 

Types of Perspective in ArtLearn the types of perspective in art – which guide book is right for you?

To explain perspective drawing in the simplest terms is to say that it mimics the way we see things. It just puts it on a flat surface. Transferring the three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional piece of paper takes some practice.

Learn the basics with Perspective Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide. For someone who’s never drawn a straight line before, this builds your skill from the ground up without overwhelming or confusing you.

If you have a bit of foreknowledge of drawing but need to start over, try the The Art of Perspective: The Ultimate Guide for Artists in Every Medium. The basics are covered for the beginner to give you a firm grasp on perspective concepts. Progress steadily onward to complex techniques including linear perspective methodologies. Drawing is a phenomenal hobby with beautiful results. Stop wishing you knew how to draw.

Choose a book and learn how to make your pencil bring your imagination to life.

Table top easels for painting and drawing

table top easel for painting and drawingTable top easels are an essential part of an artist’s life. They must be functional, hold the essential supplies, and be easily mobile. There’s no point in being inspired to paint a beautiful landscape when you need to wait until you get home to access your supplies.

Leave the bulky supplies at home. Discover the inexpensive table top easels that let you go where your creativity takes you. Some of the best easels for painting or displaying your finished projects don’t have to cost a fortune.

Any inspiring locale can become your studio with the right table top easel.  Where to buy an art easel won’t be a difficult decision once you know the type you’re looking for.

Beginners, children, professionals, or art students can find inexpensive table top easels to accommodate their artistic needs with some simple research. Before you roam aimlessly through your local craft store, read our list of table top easels to get an idea of what may work best for you.

Please note:
If viewing from Canada or the United Kingdom article links will be diverted to amazon.Ca or amazon.co.uk and may be substituted for an equivalent model if the selected model is not available in your country.Marquis Artists Desk Easel

The Marquis Artists Desk Easel

Designed for the artist on the go, this is an excellent table top easel for painting. The easel has cutouts rather than a solid work surface, adding to its lightweight design.

A canvas up to 11 x 14 inches fits easily and won’t shift. Find the perfect position with the four adjustable inclines. Do you have too many supplies to fit in your backpack? Store them in the pull-out drawer located under the easel.

The drawer is sectioned into three separate compartments to hold all your supplies. Made from lightweight wood with brass hardware makes this table top easel functional yet aesthetically pleasing.

It mimics a miniature desk when it’s opened. When you’re finished, it folds flat to look like a stylish briefcase complete with an easy-grip handle. One of the more inexpensive table top easels, beginners and pros will enjoy the portability and exceptionally nice design of this easel.

Get the latest price for theThe Marquis Artists Desk Easel here…

Solambela Artists Desk top EaselSolabela Artists Desk Easel

As another alternative to making a large investment into what may be just a hobby, this inexpensive table top easel is functional and budget friendly.

Made from pinewood, its attractive design offers portability and essential storage space. It opens to hold an 11 x 14 inch canvas.

The kickstand fits snugly into precut notches to offer four adjustable inclines. The drawer underneath slides open to reveal one large storage space.

The faux leather handle adds a nice touch while making it comfortable to transport. This table top easel’s simple design lets you set up fast and effortlessly to paint or showcase your finished work.

Get the latest price for the Solabela Artists Desk Easel here…

US Art Supply-'Solid-Solana' Adjustable Wood Desktop EaselUS Art Supply “Solid Solana” Adjustable Wood Desktop Easel with Drawer

With a four-position adjustable incline, this table top easel makes drawing and painting a breeze. The kickstand behind the easel secures it in place.

The workspace can hold a canvas or drawing pad up to 11 x 14 inches. Below the flat top is a drawer that is nicely divided into three various sized sections. Organize your brushes, pens, markers, and other artistic gear.

Don’t worry about anything falling out because the drawer can be locked when closed. The wood design is attractive, but yet it’s lightweight enough to offer easy portability. The soft handle makes toting it with you effortless.

Easily take your supplies with you and set up anywhere you please. Feel like drawing when you can’t sleep at night? Set up this table top easel in bed and forget the insomnia. When you’re not painting, fold it up, and use it as a safe storage unit for your supplies.

 

Get the latest price for the “Solid Solana” Adjustable Wood Desktop Easel here…

ZEN ART SUPPLY DESK TOP EASELZen Art Supply Desktop Artist Easel 

Get ready for a more spacious table top easel with a generous amount of storage for those more monumental projects.

With a substantially larger workspace of 21 inches, you’ll have ample room to paint and draw with ease. Adjust the incline to an unlimited array of positions anywhere ranging from lying completely horizontal to a full vertical angle.

An adjustable arm slides up to employ more work space as it holds the canvas in place. The hand-sanded beech wood is attractive and lightweight.

Store your artistic items in the drawer that boasts four compartments separated by wooden dividers. Lock it up, and grab the comfy handle, and you’re on the move.

Get the latest price for the Zen Art Supply Desktop Artist Easel here…

US-Art-Supply®-Newport-Small-Adjustable-Wood-Table-Sketchbox-EaselUS Art Supply Newport Small Adjustable Wood Table Easel

 Possibly one of the best easels for painting, this is truly a complete art studio in a box.

The attractive beech wood easel opens to accommodate a canvas or drawing pad up to 20.5 inches high. The adjustable arm slides smoothly up and down to hold the canvas in place. The easel itself can be adjusted to four different inclines.

The hidden drawer underneath is broken into four sectional compartments. Store your brushes, erasers, and pencils while keeping them organized. Along with this table top easel, a paint palette is included.

Get a canvas and some paint, and your art studio is complete. When you’re done, fold it up, grab the leather handle, and you’re ready to go.

Get the latest price for the US Art Supply Newport Small Adjustable Wood Table Easel here…

portable wooden solobela artists table top easels imageWhich portable table top easels would suit your artistic style?

Finding out where to buy an easel is easy. Most craft stores carry a variety of table top easels. The hard part is deciding which one you should choose.

A beginner trying their hand at painting may find it more economical to purchase the US Art Supply Newport Small Adjustable Wood Table Easel. The included palette is ready to hold your acrylics, the workspace is ample, and it can be used as a display easel for tabletop use to show off your completed masterpieces.  

But if you like to draw as well as paint, try the US Art Supply “Solid Solana” Adjustable Wood Desktop Easel with Drawer. The compact design is lightweight yet it has the advantage of a large workspace. Canvas and drawing pads fit neatly into place. The portability allows it to be used as a table top easel or a mini desk that can be a constant companion for the traveling artist.

 

Which is the best lightbox for drawing and tracing?

how-to-use-a-lightbox-for-sketching5 Highly rated lighboxes for drawing and tracing

As an artist, you may need to create duplicates of a particular drawing.

An easy and accurate way of making a copy of an existing drawing or pattern is to use a lightbox rather than re-drawing it from scratch.

What is a lightbox and what can a lightbox do for you?

It can be an artist’s best friend. It’s a box housing a lightbulb that illuminates the image from behind thus creating a high contrast image that makes tracing it easier.

With a consistent uniformity of light that is projected through a translucent piece of glass, shadows and uneven lighting are eliminated.

If you think it’s too complicated to learn how to use a lightbox for drawing, you’re wrong. It can be used by every experience level.

Professionals and beginners use lightboxes for drawing and tracing, designing embroidery patterns, stencils, tattoo tracing, sketching, calligraphy, and so much more.

Please note:
If viewing from Canada or the United Kingdom article links will be diverted to amazon.Ca or amazon.co.uk and may be substituted for an equivalent model if the selected model is not available in your country.

Huion L4S Tracing Light Box USB Powered with Adjustable Light Intensity

You can’t go wrong with 1,500 lux of LED brightness.

Because of the high output of light, this lightbox can penetrate through thicker paper than some others can.

But if this is too bright, it can be gradually dimmed to the level you prefer. Just press and hold the button until it reaches the desired lighting level.

It was developed with memorization technology to automatically set itself to the previous brightness level after it has been turned off and restarted.

The glass panel is made of acrylic so the smoothness is perfect for clean smooth lines.

It’s a square shape measuring 14.17 x 10.63 inches, and it’s only 5.1 mm thick. It’s sturdy yet lightweight with a sleek thin design that makes it easily portable.

The USB cord is included, but so is the AC adapter. Connect to your computer, or charge it from any power outlet.

USA-ART-SUPPLY-LightmasterUS ART SUPPLY Lightmaster LED Lightbox Board

If you require a larger working area for a project, you may enjoy the 12 x 17 inch surface that lets you spread out.

It’s big, but it’s lightweight for its size as it weighs only 3.6 pounds. With it only being 3/8 of an inch thick, it can easily slide in your bag for effortless portability.

The 8-watt LED light is energy efficient and lasts up to 50,000 hours.

It’s easy to adjust the brightness level with the touch button technology. Press the button to brighten or dim the light to the perfect level.

There is no USB cord, so you’re dependent upon electricity. But the power cord is an awesome three feet long with an AC adapter.

The price may be a little higher on this lightbox, but it includes a one-year warranty plus a couple bonus items: a scalable grid and a circle template to assist in those precise measurements.

Litup-L18.86-W14Litup LP3 LED Light Pad Lightbox

For even larger projects, this 18.86 x 14.21 inch lightbox is perfect.

The acrylic work surface is 16.93 x 12.2 inches. But it’s still considered lightweight and extremely portable because it’s only 0.31 inches thick and weighs approximately 3.5 pounds.

The included USB cord is a whopping 6.5 feet long, so you have a bit of a radius to move around if you need to.

The LED adjustable light is good for 50,000 hours. The brightness is evenly distributed over the entire work surface without putting out much heat.

Dim the brightness level by holding the touch button for one to three seconds to achieve that perfect amount of light.

Press it once quickly to turn it off or on. All of this is wrapped in one nice price and includes an 18-month warranty.

Dbmier-A2-LED-Ultra-thin-Light-Tracer-Artcraft-Tracing-Light-Pad-Light-Box---12.60'-X-20Dbmier A2 Ultra-thin Artcraft Tracing Light Box

A bit smaller than the others, this lightbox measures 12.60 x 20.47 inches with an acrylic work space of only 9 x 12 inches, and is a quarter-inch thick.

The LED light is controlled by a three way switch. Control the brightness level to low, medium, or high with a press of the button.

It’s big enough to accommodate most projects, yet lightweight and portable enough to take with you when you’re on the go.

No need to connect to your laptop or try finding a USB port. It’s furnished with an AC adapter cord. Plug it in the wall, and you’re ready to go.

Artograph-LightTracer-Light-Box-10-in.-by-12-inArtograph LightTracer Light Box

If most of your time is spent drawing, you know how uncomfortable it is to be bent over a flat surface.

The Artograph has a slanted 10 x 12 inch surface to make it easier on your arm to get positioned a little better as you spend a few hours drawing.

It even has a built-in recessed tray near the top to hold your pencils, pens, or other items.

Need to carry your lightbox around with you? Not a problem since it only weighs two pounds. There’s no USB cord, so just plug it into a wall socket to power up.

With an LED light gradient of up to 14,000 lux, there are bright levels of light, but the surface remains amazingly cool.

As for pricing, if you’re looking for a cheap lightbox for drawing but also want comfort and efficiency, this may be your best bet.

How-to-use-a-lighbox-for-tracingSo which is the best lightbox for drawing and tracing?

For business or pleasure, the right lightbox will save you time and effort while helping you to achieve high-quality results.

If you are tackling a large project and need a big work surface, the Litup LP3 LED lightbox has the added space to make those big jobs doable.

If you’re on a budget but looking for a more comfortable drawing pad, the Artograph LightTracer is a portable and durable yet cheap lightbox for drawing.

So whether you’re drawing a stained glass window design or tracing a tattoo pattern, a lightbox will make it simpler and easier than you think.

computer-art-pad-graphic-tabletsThinking of buying a graphics tablet? Not sure how much they cost or what you would get for your money?

Take a look at our review of 5 tablets across a range of screen size and specification. 

Early Man – New from Nick Park – Creator of Wallace and Grommit

EARLY-MAN-DUG-SQUARE

The creators of Wallace and Grommit are back with their new animation film ‘Early man’. But don’t get too excited yet as it doesn’t get released until the spring of A.D. 2018.
Early Man Nick Park
The setting of Early Man is when cavemen first ruled the earth and starts when the new bronze era is just about to start.  
 
EARLY MAN NICK PARK DUGThe storyline revolves around the hero caveman ‘Dug’ (Eddy redmayne) and his sidekick a typical ‘Hognob’ (an Aardman style pre-historic warthog).  These are the Wallace and Grommit protagonists at the dawn of time
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Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) is the antagonist and Mighty leader of the Bronze Age City. Dug has to rustle up his tribe to battle against lord Nooth to save their own home
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Early Man has plenty of other well known celebrities providing various character voices in the plot including Timothy Spall (Chief Bobnar) who is best known for his role as Peter Pettigrew, appearing in five of the Harry potter film series
 
Maisy Williams (Goona) is an English Actreess best known for her role as Arya Stark in the HBO fantasy Game of  Thrones. Other voice overs include Jonny Vegas (Asbo), Richard Ayode (Treebor) and Richard Webber (Grubup – obviously the cook!!!)

Early man is a  fifty millon dollar project financed by Studiocanal and also given support by UK National Lottery funding via the British Film Institute. 

EARLY MAN NICK PARK

wallace and grommit nick park complete collection
 Complete Wallace and Grommit collection available on Amazon

It is great to see yet another brilliant film evolve from Nick Parkes team.  Wallace and Grommit was and still is one of the best loved British Animation films of all time.  Alas Peter Sallis, the legendary voice of Wallace has gone-  such a pity that all good things come to an end

However,  Early Man certainly keeps this style of British animation marching on.  It has typical UK humour although some quirks such as the character name ‘ASBO’ may be lost in translation.  (ASBO = AntiSocial Behavoir Order)

The film is on release on 26 January 2018 in the UK and 16 February 2018 in the USA
See the official trailer of Early Man here…
If you need to copy or trace accurately a light box is most economical option.  
 

5 best watercolor pencils for artists

which are the best water color pencilsTop 5 Watercolor Pencil Sets

Some artists enjoy paint, while others gravitate towards colored pencils – why not both?

Those who aren’t familiar with penciling techniques might be wondering, “What is a watercolor pencil?”

Watercolor pencils give artists the best of both worlds by combining two unique mediums, taking each drawing to a much higher level by allowing more control and versatility.

Watercolor pencils can be applied directly to watercolor paper with the opportunity to add water afterwards, softening and blending the colors. Watercolor pencils can also be applied to wet paper while using a separate sheet of paper as a palette.

Other effects can be achieved by rubbing a paintbrush against the lead to get instant color.   You can see that these would be an extremely useful in your art tool box and can be used to compliment other medium such as pastels.  

Take a look at my article on Welsh Artist Dorian Spencer Davies who uses watercolours and pastels to achieve amazing vibrant colors.

Let’s dive in and soon enough you’ll be on your way to choosing the best watercolor pencils for all of your artistic needs.

best watercolor pencils for artists - derwentDerwent Watercolor Pencils, Inktense, 12 Count

This set is the perfect tool for artists, offering pencils that provide excellent results when used dry but even better results with water.

Water activates the color in such a way, intensifying until it turns into a stunning blendable ink-like texture that becomes permanent once dry.

The pros generally consist of the intensity of colors once adding water, as well as the translucent effect of the lead. These pencils are smoother than most watercolor pencils and are easily blendable.

The cons are minimal, the major complaint being that the pencils take a bit longer than expected to dry and become permanent.  See the latest price right here…

prismacolor premier watercolor colored pencils

Prismacolor Premier Watercolor Pencils, 36 Count

This set of pencils boasts of the highest quality, offering pencils that blend smoothly and allow the artist to experiment with different shading techniques.

These pencils can be used both dry and wet. The pros generally consist of the smoothness of the lead and the control and flexibility available, allowing for both subtle and bold watercolor results, depending on the amount of water applied.

The Prismacolor Premier Pencils are comfortable to hold and do not smear once on paper. The cons are minimal for this set, the major complaint being that some sets have warped or off-center lead and some of the wood casings are soft, sometimes splitting while sharpening.  See the latest price right here…

faber castell and derwent water color pencilsFaber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils, 60 Count

This set contains pencils that provide the absolute richest pigments that become permanent once dry.

A dream to hold, these pencils fit nicely in your hand, making it easy to draw for hours.

While this set provides the quality that is expected of Faber-Castell, the watercolor gives the artist a bit more to play with, making them that much more enjoyable.

The pros generally consist of the smooth laydown quality with minimal worry of lead breakage. This set provides a variety of spectacular colors, all of which can be used in combination with one another.

The simple act of putting these colors down onto paper allows all beginners to feel like professionals. The cons for this set are nonexistent.  

 

faber castell and derwent water color pencilsFaber-Castell Art GRIP Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils, 24 Count

This set of pencils is known for their extremely high pigmentation that easily results in brilliant colors and superior laydown quality. Once a color goes onto the page, fading is unlikely.

The highlight of these pencils is their ergonomic triangular shape and soft grip zone – especially useful for those extended artistic sessions.

The pros generally consist of the way in which the color glides along the paper smoothly, leaving zero powder residue or flakes. A white eraser works magic when desiring to remove color from the resin.

These pencils are quick drying, making layering and blending easy. The cons for this set are nonexistent.  

 

choosing the best water-colour pencils caran-dache-40Caran d’Anche Classic Neocolor II Watercolor Pastels, 40 Count

This set of pastels maintains colors that are intense and rich, while adding water simply makes the colors that much better.

These pastels don’t become grainy upon application of water and stay truer to their real color when wet as opposed to other brands.

The pros generally consist of the pastels’ creamy texture. These pastels are very ease to handle and control.

The cons are minimal, the major complaint revolving around an initial coating that needs to be rubbed off in order to get the best results.

 

So which are the best water-colour pencils for artists?

The five sets listed above are considered to be the best watercolor pencils on the market today. If you chose randomly and wound up with any of these sets, you would ultimately be satisfied.

However, for those just starting out, Derwent might be your best bet. For those full-on professionals, either Faber-Castell or Derwent would suit you. The Faber-Castell and Derwent watercolor pencils are the most superior, showing off spectacular results that you just can’t find anywhere else.  

Whatever set you decide on you will enjoy the versatility you can get particularly for cartooning where precision of line can make or break a drawing.

If you have never used watercolor pencils before a good tip is to try them out on a few random sketches first to get used to the way they react on paper.  If you are already using watercolors you will find watercolor pencils extremely useful.  

Watercolor pencils can apply accurate lines and depth of intensity that cannot easily be achieved with a brush.  The combination of brush and pencil makes coloring cartoons not only a breeze but are extremely enjoyable to use.

I would advise you not to use them on a finished cartoon  until you have become very familiar with them and know what to expect.

Related posts:

Which are the best artists drawing pens?

ROTRING ART PEN best refillable drawing pen on the market

Selecting the right pen for drawing is down to personal preference – however I have road tested five of the best artists ink drawing pens to give you some great tips.  Read the article here…

Cintiq 22hd best graphics drawing tablet on the marketWondering which graphics drawing tablet is the best buy for you?

If you are thinking of moving into digital drawing art, considering an upgrade or simply want to buy the best on the market we have great articles covering graphics tablets across the board?  See articles right here…

 

fun things to drawSometimes you can get really stuck for an idea.  Its often called artists or cartoonists block.  

I suffered from this for a while but discovered a way of finding ideas easily and quickly.  

Take a look at my article if you need to find original fun things to draw

 

which is the best airbrushing compressor kit for beginners?

IWATA-HP-CS-Eclipse-AIRBRUSH-Kit-With-Airbrush-Depot-Tank-Compressor5 top rated airbrush starter kits with compressors

Airbrushing is a technique of creating art by mixing air and paint to create a fine mist which is applied to a variety of surfaces such as metal, paper, etc.

A compressor is used to push an even rush of air through a hose to the brush for uninterrupted spraying.

Compressed air cans perform the same function, but only for a short period of time before they need replacing.

Creating cartoon graphics, t-shirt illustrations, arts and craft projects, car/motorcycle graphics, and more can be created by using the right airbrush.

As a budding airbrush artist, you may be wondering if your budget can handle the expense. Just how much is an airbrush kit? They run in the range of $90 – $300 depending on what’s included.

If you don’t know where to buy an airbrush, relax. We’ll point you in the right direction to find the best airbrush kit for beginners.

IWATA-HP-CS-Eclipse-AIRBRUSH-Kit-With-Airbrush-Depot-Tank-CompressorIf you are short on time and wish to skip the review – click here to see our top recommended airbrush kit with compressor right here...

Complete-Professional-Master-Airbrush-Multi-Purpose-Airbrushing-SystemComplete Professional Master Airbrush System – with master airbrush compressor

If you’re interested in learning how to airbrush, try this airbrushing kit for beginners. It’s a complete kit to get you started asap.

Choose from three different models that come with a full one-year warranty:
•Model G22 has a dual-action airbrush, one 1/3 ounce gravity fluid cup, and a 0.3mm needle and nozzle that can spray hairline-fine lines up to 1.5 inch wide patterns.
•Model S68 has a dual-action siphon-feed brush, a 3/4 ounce fluid bottle, a 1/6 ounce color cup, and a 0.35 mm needle and nozzle that create thin lines up to a two-inch-wide pattern.
•Model E91 has a single-action external-mix siphon-feed airbrush with a 0.8mm tip, and two 3/4 ounce siphon bottles with a 1/8 inch air inlet. This model can be used with either a compressor or a propellant can (hose and adaptor included).

Complete-Professional-Master-Airbrush-Multi-Purpose-Airbrushing-System-1Included with each model are a four-inch color mixing wheel, a six-foot braided air hose with 1/8 inch fittings, compressor-mounted cup that holds two airbrushes, a five-piece mini-cleaning kit, thinning reducer, and a bonus booklet “How-To-Airbrush” manual.

Six one-ounce bottles of primary paint are also included: opaque deep black, opaque white, opaque bright yellow, opaque grass green, opaque safire blue, and opaque bright red.

The master airbrush compressor can be a bit loud, but for the price it’s a great airbrushing kit for beginners. While it doesn’t produce fine lines exceptionally well, it’s great for projects that require thicker lines.

Get the latest price for the Complete Professional Master Airbrush System right here…

Paasche-TG-100D-Gravity-Feed-Airbrush-&-Compressor-PackagePaasche TG-100D Gravity-Feed Airbrush & Compressor Package

Enjoy this kit that can be used to create fine lines while the special fan air cap accommodates a wider coverage area measuring up to three inches in diameter with a three-spray head.

Tips and tricks are outlined in the instructional DVD, and cleanup is super easy with the included cleaning kit.

The compressor runs quietly as it delivers 20–40 PSI which is dependent upon the head being used. Since the included hose is designed to thread into the airbrush via a grip nut, swapping out the brushes is a no-brainer.

Get the latest price for the Paasche TG-100D Gravity-Feed Airbrush & Compressor Package right here…

PointZero-Airbrush-Premium-Dual-Action-Airbrush-Kit-with-3-GunsPointZero Airbrush Premium Dual-Action Airbrush Kit

Meant to provide a solid foundation of basics techniques, this kit guides you from beginning to end on the art of airbrushing.

Not only is an instructional DVD included, but you also get access to download five extra educational guides to help hone your skills.

Equipped with a six-foot braided air hose, mobility is less restricted. It’s easy to use when creating auto/motorcycle graphics or larger mural projects. Included are:

• (1) premium dual-action internal-mix gravity-feed airbrush, one seven-cc color cup, and preinstalled 0.3mm nozzle
• (1) fine-detail dual-action, internal-mix, gravity-feed airbrush, one two-cc color cup, and preinstalled 0.2mm nozzle
• (1) broad-coverage single-action, external-mix airbrush, one 22cc siphon-feed jar, and 0.8mm nozzle

The compressor is compact for easy portability as it delivers consistent air pressure to achieve even results. It runs quietly, but it can get warm if it runs for too long. A short cool down break may be needed for larger projects. Rest the brush in the top-mounted holder of the compressor until you’re ready to start again.

Get the latest price for the PointZero Airbrush Premium Dual-Action Airbrush Kit right here…

BADGER-Renegade-Velocity---R1V-Set-Airbrushing-System-with-AirBrush-Depot-TC-20-Tankless-Air-Compressor-&-6-ft-hose-KitBADGER Renegade Velocity Airbrushing System – with one of  the best airbrush compressors

Ready to go straight out of the box, this kit has it all: a gravity-feed airbrush, a fine 0.21mm needle/nozzle with a 1/3 ounce cup, tankless air compressor with regulator, gauge, filter, and 1/8 inch air hose adapter that fits Iwata hoses.

It’s also oil-free and comes with a full two-year warranty (compressor only). Paints are sold separately.

badger air brushThe carrying case adds a professional look while maintaining the lightweight compact design.

The ultra-fine spray provides extensive control for making fine lines exactly where you want them.

With possibly the best air compressor for airbrushing in this review, it has 1/5 horsepower to push a strong, clean, and precise airflow.

If it becomes overheated, the automatic shutoff feature turns it off. It’s set to automatically turn on when it hits 30 PSI, and automatically shuts down when it reaches 60 PSI.

With the air-on-demand feature, it works when you need it and turns off automatically when not in use.

Get the latest price for the BADGER Renegade Velocity Airbrushing System right here…

IWATA-HP-CS-Eclipse-AIRBRUSH-Kit-With-Airbrush-Depot-Tank-CompressorIWATA HP-CS Eclipse Airbrush Kits 

The Iwata airbrush kits with compressors will get you off and running in no time.

The kit is ready to use and includes everything to begin airbrushing immediately.

It contains: dual-action gravity-feed airbrush that has a 0.35mm needle and nozzle combination (great for extensive detail work), one 1/3 oz. funnel-shaped gravity fluid cup, one six-inch braided hose, one air compressor (complete with tank), one air regulator with gauge, one water trap filter, and a spray paint art starter kit including 12 paint colors by US Art Supply.

iwata-air-brush-kit-2The compressor has an automatic on/off setting. With the hose connection, there’s roughly 8-10 feet of reach which is a nice amount of work space.

It sprays premixed and heavier paints without compromising the ease of creating those fine lines and details.

The high paint flow capacity means that it can handle evenly spraying larger areas just as easily as it does smaller ones. There is a “quick connect” for easily detach the airbrush from the hose. 

Read the “How to Airbrush” manual and watch the included instructional video first to establish some basic knowledge before using the kit. It provides excellent pointers on different types of paints and how to use them, various spray patterns, and how to spray different types of surfaces.

When your project is done, take care of the mess by using the 3-in-1 cleaning pot and solution that consists of 100 one-ounce plastic mixing cups, 100 mixing sticks, and an airbrush cup that’s big enough to hold up to four brushes.

All in all a great starter package for the artistic airbrushed!

Get the latest price for the IWATA HP-CS Eclipse Airbrush Kits right here… 

IWATA-HP-CS-Eclipse-AIRBRUSH-Kit-compressorWhich are the best available airbrush kits for beginners? – our thoughts

Starting out can be expensive, so buying a kit that contains all the necessities is easier than figuring out where to buy an airbrush and its accessories separately. Perhaps the better beginner kits are the Iwata Airbrush Kits with Compressors. It has the most supplies, paints, accessories and includes a Master compressor for airbrushing.

It’s more expensive, but if you’re serious about airbrushing, buy the entire kit once rather than work your way up. If that’s not an option, the PointZero Airbrush Kit is less than $100 but has enough supplies to get you acquainted with airbrushing without breaking the bank.  If you are looking for a beginner airbrush kit with compressor and on a low budget this might be just right for you.

wacom-intuos-graphics-tablets-art-draw-photo-comicSee our full range of art product, equipment and article reviews Here…

 

Best drawing Tablets for Artists – Magnificent 7 Reviews

XP-Pen-Artist22E

Best drawing Tablets for Artists - Magnificent 7If you are on the lookout for the best drawing tablets for artists there is such a huge choice it can be difficult to know where to start.

The market for tablets is getting more diverse with a multitude of features such as screen size, processor power and price to name a few.

For the cartoonist and graphics artist it can be a daunting experience to know which is the best graphics drawing tablet to buy!

Hobby artists may be looking for a small, basic indirect draw tablet which is connected to a monitor. Professional cartoon artists may want a larger graphics drawing tablet to draw directly onto the screen.

The benefits of a tablet are considerable allowing easy art creation, no messy paint and ink and the ability to share work instantly with the world wide web. As an educational aid graphics drawing tablets are particularly good for children encouraging them to draw and paint while improving computing skills at the same time.

This graphics tablet review looks at seven different machines that may give you food for thought and a better idea of what type and specification would suit your style ability and pocket.

The great thing about technology is that even the cheaper graphics tablets are packed with features and capability that can provide you with the tools to create highly professional artwork.

Best Drawing Tablets for Artists – 7 Graphics Drawing Tablets Across the Range

Wacom Intuos Draw/ Art/ Photo/ Comic

Best drawing Tablets for Artists - intuos range

I have included these 4 tablets under one section as they are basically the same tablet but with varying graphics soft ware to suit different styles of art. As the names suggest there are four tablets to suit drawing, general artwork, comics and cartooning and photography.

The Wacom brand is synonymous with quality and I can fully back that up as I have two Wacom tablets including the medium sized Wacom Intuos Art. It is thin, sleek and packed with power and features.

The beauty of this range of tablets is it is a one stop shop – no software to buy as it comes with the package. A great way to kick off your digital art or as an additional more mobile tablet.

No batteries just plug into the monitor and you are good to go. If you want more freedom there is a conversion kit available so the tablet does not have to be hooked up with your computer.

The price is very attractive with the small tablets – a bargain for such high quality with software included!

Check out the latest price on Amazon here…

Huion H610 Pro Graphics Drawing Pen Tablet with Hot Keys Compatible with Windows and Mac

Best drawing Tablets for Artists - huion h610

A generous 10 x 6.5 inch drawing surface with a slightly grainy surface gives as near to drawing on paper experience as you can get. There are 8 customizable buttons on the side and 16 hotkeys on the top gives a multitude of options.

The pen has the standard 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and 2 programmable control buttons. The unit is thin, lightweight but feels substantial at the same time. It is very well constructed, easy to carry and most of all is ideal as a starter tablet or a highly portable second tablet.

You get a carry case to keep it clean and scrape/scratch free and a drawing glove thrown in for good measure. There are over 500 high rated reviews on Amazon for this best selling tablet.

The main takeaway from previous customer reviews is how easy the Huion H610 is to use and how close the drawing experience is to drawing on paper. For well under $100 the Huion H610 Pro has to be a serious contender.

Get the latest price on Amazon here…

Wacom Cintiq 22HD

Best drawing Tablets for Artists - cintiq 22hd

For direct draw desktop graphics drawing tablets the Cintiq 22HD is possibly one of the best tablets for artists you can get. Yes you can buy the larger size in the range but for me this is the one to get if you are looking for a high spec’ desktop tablet at a reasonable price.

It has a 21.5 inch HD screen in wide format. The highly advanced pressure and tilt sensitive pen is an absolute joy to work with. Drawing, Painting and sketching feels ‘real’ as the superb pen technology replicates the natural feel of conventional artists tools.

To save time there are express keys, scroll ring and radial menu that are customizable shortcuts at your fingertips.

Overall this is a really well built machine of the highest quality. There is an upgrade with the Cintiq 22HD Creative Pen display which has some brilliant added features such as hand gesture control which adds just over 20% to the overall cost.

Get more information and the latest price here…

Turcom 8” x 5” Pro Graphic Drawing Capture Pen and Touch Sensitive Tablet

Best drawing Tablets for Artists - turcom 8 x 5 pro

If you are looking for a cheap indirect draw graphics drawing tablet that makes a great workhorse then you won’t go far wrong here.

The Turcom has a sleek ergonomic design with an 8” x 5” active drawing area. The wifi pen does require batteries unlike some other products. The surface of the drawing area  takes some getting used. Once you are into it this is a great little tablet.

The tablet is Mac/ PC compatible and comes with an installation disc. There is also a white version available.

For the lower cost end of the market this provides good value.  It is sturdy enough to withstand general continuous work and looks pretty darn good too!

More information and price on Amazon here…

XP-Pen Artist22E 22inch FHD IPS Graphic Pen Display Interactive Drawing Monitor with Shortcut keys and Adjustable Stand

Best drawing Tablets for Artists - xe pen artist 22e

 

This is an excellent alternative to the Cintiq 22HD with a much lower price ticket. It is packed with great features and is around a third of the cost of the comparable Wacom Cintiq.

The monitor is provided with a 22” direct drawing area and is housed on a sturdy adjustable stand which comes with the package.

For customization it has eight express keys on both sides which is beneficial to left and right handed use.

Compatible with both Mac and PC the tablet provides 2048 pressure levels with a 1080P FHD IPS display.

If you can afford the Cintiq 22HD it is worth the investment. If your budget won’t stretch that far then the XP-Pen Artist22E is a quality alternative tablet for a relatively low price tag.

Get  the latest price on Amazon here…

Wacom Studio Pro 13” and 16”

Best drawing Tablets for Artists - wacom studio pro

Having recently bought the 16” i7 version I can safely say that this is the best portable direct draw graphics drawing tablet I have ever used.

It feels fantastic to draw on, has fantastic features and looks fantastic – it just works so well in every way.

The only downside is the price. It is in my opinion way over the top and I put off buying this little baby for quite some time. If you look on Amazon the rating is not that high for this product. When you delve into the reviews the complaints that are dropping the rating are not directed at the product but the price.

Once I had tried I had to buy and the justification for me is that I now own the best direct draw graphics tablet that will never need to be upgraded. Expensive yes but over the long term worth it.

Check out the latest price on Amazon here…

GAOMON M106K Professional Drawing Graphic Tablet

Best drawing Tablets for Artists - gaomon m106k

Not one of the well known brands but has some really good features for the money. This indirect draw tablet has a 10” x 6.5” drawing area and comes with a rechargeable pen that lasts around 350 hours per charge.

For a low priced tablet it is packed with customizable features. 12 Express keys on the left and 16 Function keys on the top provide plenty of scope to set up the tablet to your drawing style.

The tablet also comes with an Artpaint AP20 Pen, a quick start guide, Usb Cable, recharge cable for the pen, 4 x pen tips and in addition a tip clip.

The GAOMON M106K has 2048 levels of pressure on the point of the stylus, is MAC/PC compatible and will run on most graphics software packages such as PhotoShop, CorelPainter, Illustrator, SketchBook Pro, and Manga Studio.

If you are looking for a cheap graphics drawing tablet packed with features this seems like a great buy.

Get the latest price on Amazon here…

 

Lynne Chapman – Procartoon podcast 1

lynne-chapman

Lynne chapman illustrator and urban artistI have long admired Lynne Chapman’s beautiful children’s book illustrations since my children were first encouraged to read.  

She has illustrated 30 children’s books spanning over 17 years with characters filled with emotion that jump off the page letting the reader totally feel the story.

Lynne Chapman – Expressive Picture Book Characters Course  

I am currently working on my own first children’s picture book and have found Lynne’s video tutorial course ‘Expressive Picture Book Characters’ absolutely invaluable.

She walks you through the process using her own brilliant examples and taught me bucket loads of tricks and tips.  It is so valuable to see someone who has been hugely successful explain the technique and thinking behind it.  

This is one of the best art courses I have ever done and of the highest standard both in Lynne’s content and presentation and the video production.

 

I would recommend this to any artist – novice or expert as there is a lot to be learned from this talented illustrator.  The course is available on Craftys.com and I highly recommend it!

She has had a wonderful artistic career which has magically evolved into something tailor made for her.  

Artistic life can be a very lonely experience for some but Lynne has managed to combine her artistic, teaching and social skills to perfection.  

When you love drawing, love interacting with other artists and the general public and earn a living it must be the perfect job.

Lynne Chapman Urban sketcher
   Lynne Chapman in urban sketching action

Lynne Chapman and Urban Sketching

Lynne Chapman is well known for her childrens book illustrations but she is involved in much more.  For those of you who are not familiar with Urban Sketching and reportage Art this is a fascinating interview in  which she discusses  unique situations during some unusual collaborations.  

Urban Skertch - by Lynne chapman
 An example of one of Lynne Chapmans urban sketches taken from one of her many sketch books

She has a busy month in September 2017 with a Residency at  Orchard Square, Sheffield and is running a number of courses.  There are a few places left but they are going fast.  If you are interested please contact lynne on her e-mail address (see below).  She explains the events and available courses in the podcast.

I was delighted when Lynne agreed to record the podcast on 24th August 2017 and it was an absolute pleasure to listen to her lifelong experiences as an artist. 

You can listen to the full podcast of the Lynne Chapman interview here…

If you would like to read the Lynne Chapman interview scroll down to the Podcast transcription below…

 

Lynne Chapman – Contact details:

Email: contact@lynnechapman.co.uk

Or join Lynnes mailing list: https://eepurl.com/cYVDGb

Lynnes Websites:

www.lynnechapman.net – urban sketching / reportage website

www.lynnechapman.co.uk – book illustration website

 

https://lynnechapman.blogspot.co.uk – blog (mix of both, and more)

Lynne Chapman Urban sketching

You can also find Lynne on the following Social networks:

@lynnepencil – Twitter

lynnepencil – Instagram

lynne.chapman.illustrator – Facebook

 

lynne chapman children's book illustrator and urban artistTranscription of the Lynne Chapman interview

Rob: Hello, I’m Rob Nesbitt and this is the ProCartoon.com podcast. In this episode of the podcast, I talked to the British artist Lynne Chapman. I’ve long admired Lynne Chapman’s beautiful children’s book illustrations, ever since my children were first encouraged to read.

She’s illustrated 30 children’s books spanning over 17 years, with characters filled with emotion that jump off the page, letting the reader totally feel the story.

She’s had a wonderful artistic career which has magically evolved into what I believe is now something tailor made for her. Artistic life can be a very lonely experience for some, but Lynne has managed to combine her artistic teaching and social skills to perfection. When you love drawing, love interacting with other artists and the general public, and can earn a living, it must be the perfect job. I was delighted when Lynne agreed to record the podcast on the 24th of August, 2017 and it was an absolute pleasure to listen to her lifelong experiences as a professional artist.

Rob: Where did your artistic career begin and have you other artists in the family?

Lynne: Yes, I do. My granddad was a completely self taught artist many, many, many years ago. He started off as a decorator, actually, but he was just an imaginative decorator that used to paint murals on the [inaudible 00:01:52] walls, you know. And he worked his way up from that to somehow being a restoration artist, and to the extent that he actually did the ceiling of Blenheim Palace and met the Queen. So I think it’s one of those things you could do in those days, because he’d got no education whatsoever. That, of course, wouldn’t work now without a degree. So he definitely was an artist and my mother, as a consequence, was also very artistic and wanted to go to art college, and never got there. So when I declared that I wanted to be an artist and go to art college, instead of doing what a lot of parents do, which is recoiling in horror, my mom and dad were very supportive and were well up for it. So I was very fortunate.

And when I began, I thought I wanted to be a fine artist. I think, for some reason, illustration never occurred to me and was never suggested to me. [inaudible 00:03:00] my foundation course. But, anyway, I applied to be a fine artist, didn’t get in, realized why and that it wasn’t for me, and ended up doing a degree in printed textile design at what was then Middlesex Polytechnic and is now Middlesex University in London. And I did that because they allowed me to paint and draw from life in a very, kind of, imaginative and colorful way, and then just as a side thing, of course, I learned how to put it all into repeat and make crazy fabrics, which was really good fun. And I had a wonderful three years, but at the end of it, when I graduated, I realized that I didn’t really want to be in textiles, anymore.

But I was very lucky. I had a lucky break, one of those chance things that sometimes happens. At my degree show, I had a lot of sketch books with boys drawn. Somebody saw them and commissioned me to design some greetings cards. So I never, ever worked as a textile designer. From day one I became an illustrator and I did the greetings cards for as long as I could bear it, and then I decided I would move into editorial illustrations. So I worked fine arts across loads of different magazines and newspapers, because there’s so many [inaudible 00:04:28] And I did that for about eight years, which was fantastic because it really taught me my craft. It taught me how to communicate through my drawings. But it was very high stress, very short deadlines, and you had to constantly be reminding people that you exist because you would design a magazine, do an illustration for a magazine, for maybe half a dozen issues if you were lucky and then they wanted a new face. So it was hard work.

So I decided I didn’t really want to do that forever, and then I moved north and moved to Shefford, and it dwindled anyway as things used to do in those days when you didn’t live in London. So I taught in the university in Shefford for a while and got my head together, and then decided that I wanted to be a picture book illustrator.

So that was kind of a turning point. I stopped teaching, put together a new portfolio of work, which didn’t matter in the end, and then went around all the publishers of children’s books and managed, fortunately, to get back to work. And I did that for about the last 17 years, I think, that I’ve been a picture book illustrator. I’ve got something just over 30 books published.

But all the time I was doing that, I was still drawing in sketch books. Not as much as I do now, but, you know, I would never go a whole year without going on holiday and taking a sketch book with me. And what changed things was when the internet became, kind of, universal and artists started to post their drawings. And instead of having all these sketch books on my shelves that nobody ever saw them except me, I started to post the drawings I was doing and I got noticed by somebody called Gabi Campanario and he just started the previous year this new organization called Urban Sketchers. And he was somebody who loves drawing out on location, and he had met up with a few other people and they’d realized probably there’s a lot of us around the place.

So he went out to try and find people, and his idea was to choose different people from different cultures all around the world and bring them all together on this one website and get them all to start posting their work. To hopefully bring loads of other people out of the woodwork all over the world, and it worked so much better than he could even have dreamed and it’s just been a meteoric rise.

We had our 10 year anniversary this year and it’s just massive. There are…oh, I don’t even know how many people. Tens of thousands of people that are drawing obsessively all around the world, posting their work. Everybody is doing it differently. It’s just so, so exciting and inspiring, and I would really recommend anybody to have a look. UrbanSketchers.org.

It’s just so exciting to see the stuff people are posting. The .org website is the people, like myself, who were chosen. So I think there’s about 100 of us. But there’s also a Facebook page and that is one where anybody can post to. So you can start uploading your stuff right this minute to the Facebook page.

So it’s just a lovely…you get a feeling of belonging. Instead of being this lone artist who, kind of, scribbles away on their own, you know, room somewhere, suddenly I started to feel like I belonged to a family. And I set up a group where I live, Sketch Crawlers, and that’s sort of, like, kind of a sister thing to urban sketching. And what that is is where a group of you go out together and sometimes it’s just for a few hours. I always do it for a day trip, and anyone can come. Part of the rules of it are that it shall be free and it’s completely inclusive, and you don’t have to be any good and you just get the buzz from going out and sketching alongside a bunch of other people. So I run Urban Sketchers Yorkshire and people from all over Yorkshire, and a long way beyond that, come out for day trips with me and we just hang out together and draw.

So I’ve been doing that now since 2010 every month and that, again, has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger. And it has rules. urban sketching, if you go to their website you can see that it has a manifesto. All very proper. But basically the main rule is that you draw from life, but you draw real life as it’s passing by you. You don’t do still lives, you don’t do portraits, life drawing. That’s something else is we’re going out there and witnessing the world and recording it in our own way. It doesn’t have to be photographic or anything, you can be very creative and you can have fun with it, but you’re true to what’s out there. And part of the experience of it is being out there in the moment, traffic whizzing past you or people playing in the park and hearing the birds and feeling the wind in your hair. It’s the whole package, which is why it’s so different from sitting at home in a studio. And which is why it so appealed to me, because my job all those years of being an illustrator was be on my own in a room every single day.

And so it was the perfect foil to being an illustrator, to go out and play with my chums or just go out and…I just love the fact that whenever I go out and draw, people come up to me and everybody’s terrified of this idea of people looking over your shoulder. But the big thing with it is to realize that when people do that, they’re not thinking like you think they are. Oh, blimey, that’s rubbish. What they’re actually thinking is, “Oh, God, I used to draw. God, yeah, I used to love drawing at school.” Or “I went to art college. God, I haven’t done it since.” Or “I wish I could do that.” Or “how brave is that person doing that where I can come and look over their shoulder?” It’s always positive, and so what you have to do is just turn around and smile at them and have a little conversation to diffuse the tension, and it adds to the experience.

So I’ve had really brilliant experiences all over the world. Even if you don’t share language, sometimes it’s even better because you have these amazing moments of bonding with complete strangers in places where you had nothing else in common. And they become quite magical experiences. I’ve been invited into people’s homes in India, you know. It’s just really interesting how things happen to you that would never happen otherwise.

So that is really the joy of urban sketching, and the only other thing that I should probably share with you is that every year Urban Sketchers, because it’s a global thing, they hold this symposium and it’s sort of three full days. But because it’s a global thing, it rotates around different countries. So it’s in a different place each year, and so you can travel to wherever and meet all the sketchers from around the world that are traveling to the same place and drawing together. So we’ve just come back from Chicago, which was where it was this year, and there were 600 people there drawing on the streets in the center of Chicago from all over the place. And just brilliant. And there’s workshops and talks and demonstrations and just hanging out and doing sketch drawing together. So that, also, is quite a lovely aspect of Urban Sketchers.

Rob:  Craftsy is a valuable teaching and learning resource for crafters. I recently completed your course on expressive picture book characters which, I have to say, was excellent. Not just for people who are starting out but for people like meself who are experienced. And I learned an awful lot about it, particularly about, you know, where to position heads and eyes. And I learned a lot that I’d never really thought of before, so thanks for that.

Lynne: No, that’s excellent. Great.

Rob: How did this come about and how did you find the experience working with Craftsy and Sketchbook School?

Lynne: Well, it came out of the blue, to be honest. I had no idea that Crafsty existed and they do mainly cooking and sewing and knitting and more traditional crafts, and they were branching out into painting and drawing and illustration. And they were looking for illustrators, and so somebody contacted me. I think it was, like, an [inaudible 00:14:26] through somebody and they said did I want to do it? And they left it up to me, really, what I wanted to share. And so I thought about, really, what was most important thing that I thought I could share, and I said, well, you know I can teach people how to do artwork but that, you know, a lot of different people could do that. But the thing that’s kind of unique to illustration, and particularly to the sort of illustration I was doing for the picture books, was this ability to create a character that communicates certain things, that lives, that has real emotions, and basically seems to jump off the page.

So I decided that’s what I wanted to teach, and I didn’t go any further than just drawing with a pencil. So I didn’t bother with artwork. It’s just, purely, about drawing. It was really interesting because the preparation of it was a doddle because it was all stuff that I just had been in so long I knew it inside out. It just rolled out of me. And then they flew me to Denver, where they had a proper recording studio. So it was just exciting. It was just so much fun. It was something that I’d never done before and they were absolutely brilliant, I have to say.

I had a team of three guys that I worked with and we had our own little room for, I think, it was three days to record it. And they, all of them, knew what they were doing. They were all brilliant and they knew how to get the best out of me. And I, kind of, you know, I’m a show off. I like talking about stuff. So I had no problem, I wasn’t shy in front of the cameras, and it was just a real laugh. So I loved it. So then when Sketchbook School came along a little bit later and they said, oh, would you like to do a film? I jumped at it.

And it was a bit different. It was still good, but they came to me. So they’ve got two people who kind of run it. One’s based in Amsterdam and one’s based in America, and so the person in Amsterdam directed the film but she came to my studio and she hired a local film crew. And we filmed the whole thing in my house and on the street just around the corner from my house, where I had to do a painting, sort of, with a camera on my shoulder on demand. Which was a little bit more stressful, but no pressure. I was particularly given that they wanted me to draw people because I’d recently had a book come out about drawing people, so they thought, yeah, they’d get a lot of interest in that. So, yeah, it wasn’t an easy thing to do but it worked out fine. And, again, they were delightful and it was fantastic. And they edited it all together and I got to see it, and I was just really, really pleased with what they did with it. It was a really professional job.

Rob: The Craftsy course, I thought the standard of production was excellent on that and I can see that, as you said, the people you worked with they must have been very good at their job because not only is the content excellent, which is down to you, but I thought the quality of the video and the presentation was absolutely first class. And it’s one of the few teaching resources that I’ve bought. I thought, yeah, this lives up to the mark and it didn’t cost the Earth, either. Through discussions I’ve had with you before, although public speaking is only a small part of your work at the moment, I believe you would like to do more?

Lynne: Yes. As I said, I love telling people about what I do. I’m very, very, very fortunate that I don’t get nervous. I don’t quite know why, but you can put me in front of a thousand people and I’m fine. So I can actually enjoy public speaking without having that problem. And over the years when I’ve been a children’s book illustrator, I’ve been into schools and I’ve done lectures for kids talking about what I do. And, occasionally, I would get to do them for adults because the lovely thing about picture books, actually, is whether you’re 4 or whether you’re, you know, 100 people are interested in it in different ways. So talking about it worked for any age group.

So over the years I’ve talked about the illustration, you know, quite a lot, but I started to think about other things that I can talk about. And occasionally I get asked to talk about urban sketching. I’ve talked for various art groups, and I did a lecture at one of the symposiums. And I just really enjoy it. I love the idea that, A, I can talk about something that I love, but the spin off of that is that, hopefully, you inspire a whole load of other people to sort of run away buzzing to go and get on with it. And so it’s kind of a win-win situation.

I got to do the lecture at the symposium last year, which was, as it happened, in Manchester, because I just finished doing an art residency and so I really wanted to share that. And basically that was where I was actually, for the very first time, getting paid to do the urban sketching. So up until very recently, urban sketching was being a fun thing that I do as a foil to the illustration, which is how I make my living, but about 18 months ago something happened that just changed everything again and it’s all flipped. And it’s another new start because I got a bit bored with doing the children’s books. Although it’s a great way to make a living and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself, 17 years is a long time.

Rob: It is.

Lynne: Doing the same thing. And particularly if you’re a creative, because you’re doing something which looks really creative but, actually, people want you to do what you’ve done before. And so it’s the trap of being a success is that you don’t get to try new stuff because everybody wants what’s successful. So after 17 years of being a children’s book illustrator, I was ready for a change. And so when this opportunity came up, I basically bit their arm off.

Rob: Going back on what you said earlier, you must be so lucky because there are people running courses about how not to be nervous in front of people. So that is one hell of an asset to have. I mean, I do a fair bit with my art work and I do fire safety stuff, as well, and standing up in front of an audience…and, like, I don’t even know why people get nervous, but we do. And if you don’t you can just focus on what you do really well. That’s great.

Lynne: Absolutely. Yeah, I do know it is absolutely brilliant. I’m just so lucky. Yeah, I get butterflies but only in a positive way, you know. It’s anticipation that I feel. I never feel sick, and it seems to me, whether there’s six people listening or a thousand people, what is the difference? I mean, in reality, there isn’t really, is there? It’s just some kind of weird reaction that we have that is quite illogical. So if you don’t get it you’re just very fortunate, and I imagine it’s quite rare.

Rob: You currently have a series of residencies as a reportage artist. Could you describe the work you’re involved with and what has attracted you to it?

Lynne: Well, it’s this idea of doing something that’s much more about being out there and amongst people, rather than something that’s me on my own. Because I’m a people person, you know, I like being out amongst people. And I think because it came at a time, the opportunity came along at a time when I was ready to move on, it just seemed right. And basically what happened was that, again, out of the blue I got an email from a professor who works at the Morgan Centre for Research Into Everyday Lives. And that’s a research center attached to Manchester University. And she had realized the correlation between the research they do and the things they’re interested in, and what I do when I’m urban sketching. Basically, we’re interested in the same stuff, the everyday stuff, and she’d spotted an opportunity for some funding.

Leverhulme Trust run these residencies every year. It’s a brilliant idea. It’s just such a simple, clever idea. They just want an organization that has nothing to do with the arts to find an artist of any kind, be it poet, dancer, whatever, and think up a way in which they can work together. It’s quite loose, and all they’re interested in is the cross fertilization that happens over the course of 10 months. So we decided that it would be really fun for me to try and document the work that was done at the Morgan Centre over one academic year. So I went two days a week and I hung about the students and I was a fly on the wall in the [inaudible 00:24:59] of the research.

I went out on research projects. That was the best bit because they’re, you know, they’re sociologists, basically, and I know nothing about sociology. So I learned all this stuff, but it was really fun and the stuff they were interested in was really interesting. So, for instance, my favorite project of the ones I did was a project called Dormant Things, and it’s researcher was interested in the fact that, as human beings, we all have stuff. Stuff that we don’t really want, stuff we don’t really need, stuff that we wish we could throw away but we don’t. Somehow, we can’t quite let go of a lot of stuff. So we shove it in drawers and attics and cellars, and basically hide it away and don’t have to look at it, but we can’t put it in the bin. So what on Earth is that about? So that’s what she was interested in.

So we would go into peoples homes, that she’d obviously prewarned, and rummage through their understairs cupboards or wherever they had stuff, and they would talk about what these objects meant to them and why they had this particular resonance that wouldn’t let them quite get rid of them and let go. And while they were doing this, I would be frantically scribbling trying to draw them and also trying to record some of the stories that went with the drawings. So I weave text around my drawings when I’m doing the reportage stuff, and it was just really challenging but part of what gives me the buzz, actually, is the crazy challenge of being sat in somebody’s hole on the floor, in the semi-darkness because I’ve only got a [inaudible 00:26:52] in the light, and then you can only half see what they’re doing and they’re talking too fast and they’re going through the objects quicker than I can draw them. I mean it’s crazy, but the challenge of it is what’s fun for me.

So I did loads of these different research projects over the 10 months, and I recorded the various sketches on these great big long strips of watercolor paper, because one of the problems with sketchbooks…I love sketchbooks but they’re really hard to share. A book…you cannot exhibit a book, you know? It’s difficult. So I thought, well, I’m going to have all these sketch books at the end of this and I’m not going to do anything with them. So I decided I would use this concertina system. So I made strips that were two meters long, concertinaed them up so that what I ended up with was an A5 sketchbook, and I could then just work my way through, kind of unfolding it as I went, and just weave the things together.

And one of the things that happened when I did that was I realized how exciting that was, because time isn’t a series of definitive images like we get in a sketchbook. No, when you’re drawing over the course of a day, it all blurs together. And so I was able to do these blurred together paintings that sometimes were one, two meter piece of artwork for a day’s meeting. And then when you finished, you could open it up and you’ve somehow got this thing that sums up a day, and you can share it.

And what was really good was at the end of a really stuffy meeting where I’d been painting away in the corner, I could throw this thing down on a table and it has this real ta-dah moment. Dramatic and big and crazy, and people would come and they’d look and they’d go, “Oh, my God. Have you just been doing that?” You know, “My God, there’s me.” You know? And it was a really good way in drawing other people in. And so one of the things that the researchers found was not only was it useful as a way of recording, and I recorded different things to the things that they recorded in text, but it also quickly became apparent that it was a brilliant tool for actual engagement.

So I’ve got new residencies coming up, particularly there’s one with York University that we’re doing next year, and that’s going to be an [inaudible 00:29:37] completely different. That’s going to be about cross-infection in cystic fibrosis sufferers. And I’ve been talking to people in hospitals that are suffering with cystic fibrosis and we’re going to be recording some of the issues that they have to deal with. But the point of it, in that situation, is this idea of engagement because what we’re going to do is use the drawings as a communication tool. So we’re going to take the views of the individuals and then show them to people who design hospitals. Architects, managers, various people who are involved in this whole, kind of, world and it’s a very quick communicator of a, kind of, summing up of the main points, but it’s also, you know, it pulls people in, engages them, gets them talking. And so it has this other role that’s involved, naturally, and sort of bubbled to the top.

And I’m doing another residency with a researcher who’s interested in people who care for people with dementia, and we’re using it to actually get people who are the carers to talk about some of the issues by me painting with them and drawing them and then using the drawings I’ve done of them to get them to talk more. And that, also, has proved to be quite interesting. So that’s, like, another, sort of, swipe right. So this thing that started with me just drawing a few people on the train and bamming them on the internet has sort of evolved into this whole new world, and I don’t really know where it’s going but it’s really exciting. And I want more of it. And it is interesting, the things that [inaudible 00:31:31] surface all over the place. So I find hopeful that it’s not a flash in the pan and that I may be able to do this work, you know, as my living.

Rob: This sounds really interesting. You’ve had me fascinated just listening to these different projects. Just out of curiosity, when you were going through people’s houses and through their cupboards and drawers, was anybody filming this? Is it out there, anywhere, because I’d love to watch that?

Lynne: Well, it’s interesting you should say that. We couldn’t use film while I was doing the research interviews with the researchers because there’s confidentiality involved.

Rob: Yes.

Lynne: So one of the problems I had was I love drawing people but I couldn’t draw faces, because, you know, people didn’t want to be recognized. So we couldn’t take photographs and have film, but Manchester University did stump up for a film maker to do a film about the residency, and there is film of me painting in other, less contentious situations. And that is on my website. And, again, that’s really interesting because that has me talking about my take on the work in the way I have been sharing with you, but, of course, the researchers have a slightly different take on it. And they talk, as well, about, kind of, their feelings about how it went.

So, yes, because one of the other things in Manchester, one of the other things I had to do, they decided that they wanted to learn to do sketching for themselves. And so we designed into the project the challenge for me to teach a bunch of academics who weren’t artists in any way, shape, or form to be able to be able to, A, be confident enough and, B, to have basic skills to be able to record. And what they wanted to do was be able to use some of the things that were appealing to them about what I was doing when I’d gone. And it went really well. They were such a nice bunch of people, I have to say. The Morgan Centre has this reputation, apparently, in the world of sociology around the world for being a really nice bunch of people who are really creative and art fluent, and they were.

And so they all just threw themselves into it, to the extent that, actually, the researcher who was doing the project on dementia, he got so excited that he said to me one day, “I was learning to play the piano and I’ve given it up.” You know, “I’ve got to learn to draw.” But it was fantastic. So, yeah, it was a really, really lovely experience.

Rob: Yeah. You said I hope this develops, and I think it will. I mean, I use things like Mind Lapse to record events, individual events, but what you’re talking about is, like, an art map of each event that you go to. And it’s much easier, you’re quite right, for anything visual gets the point over straight away, smacks you straight in the face, rather than a series of words, like a report. So I think you’ve got a lot of mileage to come out of this, myself.

Lynne: Yeah, let’s hope so. I mean…actually, one of the things I forgot to mention, stupidly, is I’m actually going to Australia with it in January. I’ve managed to bag two months with an occupational psychologist in Perth, in the University of Western Australia. And she’s just won this massive award, this professor, and that came with a great chunk of money to set up a research center. A little bit like the Morgan Centre, I think, but in her field, and so she just thought what a great way to celebrate the start of this new research center. Let’s have a go at this, and so I’m going to be going out to Perth drawing people at work. So that’s going to be interesting, because that’s going to be completely again. So, yeah, it’s brilliant stuff.

Rob: Through September you have a residency in Sheffield turning Urban Sketches into experimental textile designs. This sounds fascinating.

Lynne: One of the funding bids for a residency that I put in with York University that didn’t actually get the money involved them wanting me to produce not just the sketchbooks, but they wanted a finished piece of art that was smaller, it’s something I would create in studio, as a summing up, if you like, of the stuff that I’d been drawing in the sketch books. And so I was trying to think of what I could do, and I don’t know, because I didn’t want to go back to illustration. Somehow, like, that would have been something I could have done but it just felt, somehow, as I was going back to the past. And then I just, I don’t know, I got one of those light bulb moments. The whole textile thing that I’d left behind, you know, in I don’t 1980 something. I just thought, you know what? I could try illustration but in textiles, and that would make it different. It would make it new. Instead of then going back, it would be taking it somewhere moving on and somewhere exciting.

And the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me and I got this, kind of, idea that I’d experiment with not print making but embroidery. Because I started to look at what some modern embroiderers were doing, and you can draw in stitching. And I like, quite, like, aggressive drawing. I like [inaudible 00:37:33] making, and I thought do you know what? I can do that with stitching. And then I got this idea that the whole watercolor thing that I love to do, I love the, kind of, loose edged thing combined with hard lines, and I thought, well you could use sheer fabrics. You could use things like organza and you could get that very soft finish that you get with water colors, and you could, kind of, probably layer them up and that would be quite interesting.

And so I got all excited and we put in for the money and we didn’t get it, and I was quite, you know, crestfallen. I thought, oh, I fancied that. And then I thought, oh, there’s no reason I can’t do it anyway. So I started to experiment and in between, so when I had a moment here and there, I started these various bits of textile art, want for a better word, and each one was very different because I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. I had no idea what I was doing, but I wasn’t really sure where I wanted it to go, exactly. So it was very experimental, which was really creative and I’d forgotten just how creative it is when you’re doing something that you have no idea about, because it’s absolutely every mark you make is new.

Rob: Yes.

Lynne: And so I got even more excited. And I kind of played around and I’ve, kind of, got to a place now where I think I know roughly how I want it to to be, and the organza thing is working really well. Because you can stitch into fabric but then it gets a bit overloaded in the way a drawing gets overloaded. But then if you put a layer of sheer fabric over it, it damps it down like tracing paper would. And then you can stitch back over the top and you’ve got a layer that doesn’t need to fear the layer underneath, if that makes sense.

Rob: Yes. Yes, it does.

Lynne: So you build things up and it can become more complex without being fussy. So I’ve got quite into it. And then, like, this email came to me from a friend who’d noticed something, an opportunity, and thought, oh, this is not me but it might be Lynne. And it was a very last minute thing, so I’d only got a few days to actually put in for it, and it was some money that had come to Sheffield from the Arts Council. And so New Zealand’s Sheffield were looking for people to take up…it’s actually quite a small studio space in a shopping center, and they wanted to get somebody to work for a month in the studio. But they would pay you to do it, so not only don’t you pay for the studio but they’ll pay you for the privilege, and all you had to do to pay them back, apart from, you know, doing your own thing as best as you can, was to engage the public.

So I thought, yeah, actually, do you know what? urban sketching is about as engaging as you’re going to get, really, in a shopping center. So I pitched this idea that I would go and draw amongst the shoppers and, you know, and draw the shopping center generally and just build up some urban sketching. And chat to people and stuff. And then take them back into the studio and then see what I could do with those sketches, turning them into textile pieces. And I had a, kind of, I don’t really know quite what I’m going to do, but that doesn’t matter because they are not interested in that, necessarily. They’re interested in it being, kind of, me exploring new things and so they’re interested in funding me. 

So I’m one of four artists that they’ve selected, and we have a month each. So somebody’s in there at the moment who’s doing completely different, they’re all very different. He’s fresh out of university and he’s a programmer, and he’s creating virtual pets for shoppers to come and pet, and he wants the pets to, sort of, evolve, to become more like the people that he’s interacted with. Not sure how that’s going to work, but he’s been doing that now throughout August. And so when he finishes, I go in for September. And then when I finish, there’s someone else who makes perfumes and he’s going to make individual perfumes to match individual people that come into the studio. I could think of them coming and chatting. And then the final person is going to spend a month creating sculptures of junk food out of the junk that they find in the shopping center, and then selling them to people in the way that you…I think he’s going to set up a kind of a pretend burger bar, I think, or something of that nature and actually sell people these sculptures that he’s going to create.

So very, very different kinds of art. So it’s just getting such an exciting idea. So I’m really thrilled to have been selected, particularly given that it was such a random, last minute thing to put in for. So I’m at this moment, mounting up on my textile’s work, which, you know, up to now has been stuff in the drawer that I’ve been playing with because I’ve got a little bit of wool that I can get stuff on to show people what I’m trying to achieve. And, yes, I mean on September the 2nd.

Rob: Very good. I know you’ve got some other events in September, as well. I believe it’s in the same place?

Lynne: Yeah, another part of the rules of doing this was that they want to, because of the interaction thing, they wanted us doing workshops. And because I’ve been running workshops for years that wasn’t really a problem for me. So I’m going to do a couple of urban sketching workshops. One for beginners, who I think it’s quite interesting to be able to say to people when I talk to them, you know, okay, well you don’t really know how to do this but, hey, it doesn’t matter. I’m gonna show you the basics. So on September the 16th, in the morning, I’m going to have a two hour beginners workshop and I’ll get people started, and hopefully that will then inspire them to have a go. And then in the afternoon I’m going to run a slightly more advanced workshop for people who at least have done a little bit of sketching before. They don’t have to be brilliant, they just have to have had some experience of drawing outside, drawing from life.

And at some point, I think probably the last Saturday in the month, I haven’t finalized the date yet, I think I’ll do some sort of space because there’s another, bigger space available. So I thought it might be fun to just have a look at what I’ve done and talk to people about not just urban sketching but this idea of how I’ve taken it into this other thing and show them what I’ve done, really. So that’s all going to happen over the course of September, though, so it’s all, kind of, really soon.

Rob: So all the details of that, that will be on your website, I’m sure. I’ll make sure that in the program notes I’ll leave details so that listeners, if they’re interested…and are there places left on some of the courses that you’ve got?

Lynne: Yes, they are filling up. So it’s, kind of, getting quick time but there are still a few spaces left on both of them. I’m going to cap the numbers so that it’s a manageable group, because otherwise you don’t get enough time to actually interact with people if they’ve got problems. But there are still a few places.

Rob: Okay. So details will be in the show notes on the website. You’ve been extremely successful with your children’s book illustrations for well over 17 years. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of a career in illustration?

Lynne: Well, two things that jump to mind immediately. I think you need to draw. You need to draw a lot. You need to draw from life, not just from your imagination. I used to do quite a lot of work with people, portfolio work, with people who wanted to be illustrators, and one of the most common problems was that people have got all these lovely ideas about characters they want to invent but they don’t necessarily have the draftsmanship skills to back it up. And so I think it’s really important that you draw from life, as well as from your imagination. Because it means that when you want to draw a dog looking in the mirror or riding a motorcycle or whatever crazy thing it is, because you’ve actually drawn people doing those things you can sketch things much more quickly and much more easily. And they look real. So, yeah, draw, draw, draw. Just keep drawing and draw everything.

I think the other thing is that, again, noticing from peoples’ portfolios and people who are, sort of, in those very early stages trying to interest publishers, people get characters that work but what they don’t do is get characters that express all the things that they’re going to need to express. So it’s no good having a really cute little boy or bunny character that is truly lovable if all you can draw is them being happy. You need to draw your characters being angry and being miserable and being frightened and being envious. You know, the whole myriad of different experiences that they might come up against in a picture book story. And the same with the editorial illustration. You know, I was having to interpret articles on all manner of things. You never know what it is you’re going to have to draw so you have to spread yourself quite wide and you have to be able to express a lot of different things and communicate a lot of different things. So it’s not just about being able to draw. Being able to communicate is absolutely key to being an illustrator.

The only other thing I would say is tenacity. You know, you just can’t afford to give up when somebody doesn’t like what you do because you’re going to come up against a load of people who don’t like what we do. Your mom always loves what you do, your boyfriend always loves what you do, but in the real world people are going to be mean to you. And even if they’re not mean to you, they’re not going to like what you’re doing. You just have to keep at it. You have to take on board what people say. You don’t have to follow everybody’s advice, but you have to listen and think, do you know what, maybe they have got a point. And improve what you do and just keep getting it out there and keep showing it to different people until eventually you hit the right person.

Rob: What are your long term ambitions for your artistic career?

Lynne: Do you know what? Because I’m in a place of change, I don’t really know where things are going. I think it’s important to me that I continue to make my living and so, as an artist, I don’t want to be thinking, oh, well I’m going to be retiring at some point soon. I don’t intend to retire, and I think for me, as a self-esteem thing, it feels important to me that I can earn from what I do, as well as just continue to do it. So that’s an ambition, that that continues to be the case. And just that I continue to be able to do things that I enjoy and I don’t get…I was getting a bit stuck in the rut, I think, with the children’s book work. I probably should have moved on a couple of years before I did, and so I want to make sure I don’t do that again. So I suppose my ambition is to be constantly evolving, constantly be doing exciting, challenging, creative things and having fun, and hopefully having people give me money for it, too.

Rob: I’m sure they will. Okay, if you could jump in a time machine and go back to when Lynne Chapman was at the start of her artistic career, what advice would you give her?

Lynne: It’s an interesting question, this, because it made me stop and think. And, you know, I did things early on that weren’t successful and I, you know, spent probably longer than I should have done desperately trying to find new ways to draw Santa Claus on Christmas cards. But, actually, I’m not sure whether I would change any of that. I think, you know, the idea of going back and giving somebody advice in hind sight suggests that I would do something differently, and I think, probably, I wouldn’t want to do something differently because I like how it’s gone. It’s been hard work and it’s not always been successful, but ultimately it has been successful and it’s been fun and it’s been varied. And I find it a little bit worrying that if you were to go back and tweak something, you never know. It might have taken me off in a completely different direction which wasn’t as much fun as where I am now. So I don’t think I’d change anything.

I think the only thing I might do is tell myself to, kind of, chill a bit and enjoy the ride. I think when you’re young, you alternate, or certainly I alternated, between being blindly unaware of how much failure I could have. So aiming ridiculously high and having these crazy ideas that, you know, well I could do that. Sort of going from that to being angst ridden and, you know, oh, my God it’s not working yet. What am I going to do? And just worrying when I was doing my degree, worrying too hard about, you know, am I getting the best grades? Is it all going to work? And actually, instead of just thinking, do you know what? This is an amazing opportunity. I’ve got three years here at university where I haven’t gotten to earn a living from what I’m doing, to be completely creative, just lets go with it and have fun with it. And I think, perhaps early on, I’d [inaudible 00:53:03] and have fun with it.

Rob: Thank you, Lynne. That was a fascinating interview and I’ve really enjoyed listening about your artistic career. I’m sure that the future is very bright for you. I’m sure it will be very diverse with some new and really interesting developments in your artwork. There is a common thread that I’ve noticed throughout your career, and you’ve been quite fortunate. One that you’ve said earlier, you don’t get nervous in front of people, but it seems to be that you’ve had a lot of opportunities that presented themselves to you. A lot of artists have to go looking a lot of the time, and maybe I’ve got this completely wrong but it seems that people have come looking for you. Would I be right in saying that?

Lynne Chapman: Well I think one of the things that I took a chance on early on was embracing social media, and it, you know, having a blog, for instance, that I’m constantly, every two or three days, I’m constantly putting stuff out there. Remorselessly chucking stuff on Facebook. So every day there’s something new on Facebook. And using social media to make sure that it spreads out, it radiates out from me. And it took a long time. It took years before that built up enough of a head of steam to actually start coming back. But the wonderful thing is you do have that potential. You have no idea who’s listening, and so anything can happen, you know, and so a lot of my opportunities, I think, have come as a result of all that stuff just being out there and eventually the right person or the friend of the right person sees something.

So I would highly recommend that people, you know, start that process, really. It’s a bit of a monster and one of the problems I have is that if I’m not careful, I can spend more of the day actually fiddling around on the [inaudible 00:55:13] than doing what I’m supposed to be doing. But it is true to say that I think the people that have come to me have not come because I’m a celebrity. I’ve never been on the telly. It’s because it’s out there. Having a good website is worth investing time, I think, as well. Makes you look professional.

Rob: Exactly. Thank you very much, Lynne. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I’ll be watching your future career with great interest.

Lynne: Thank you. It’s been smashing chatting with you.

Rob: I thoroughly enjoyed making this podcast, and I think you’ll agree it was a fascinating insight into the world of Lynne Chapman. There are plenty of ways to see more of Lynne’s work and to contact her. Her email is contact@lynnechapman.co.uk. She also has several websites, a Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook account. All details can be found on the show notes at ProCartoon.com. Thank you for joining me today and I hope you can join in to listen to the next Pro Cartoon podcast.

Lynne Chapman features in the next Podcast in which she helped solve a technical Photoshop issue…

Listen to Procartoon Podcast #2 in which I look forward to artistic goals for 2018, solve a problem for one of our subscibers, review the best drawing pens and give you a way to make money from your cartoon…

 

Illustrating Blog Posts with Cartoons – Case Study

flea-optimised

illustrating blog postsI illustrate several web sites with my own original cartoons.  Some are my own web sites and others are commissions. Illustrating blog posts with original cartoons has many benefits both to myself and other web site owners.  

Images for blogging and any other article is essential.  If someone clicks on a page and sees mile after mile of text you will lose them.  If there are attractive images on a blog post the reader is more likely to stay.  If there is an injection of humour they are likely to enjoy the article a bit more.  

By placing the images at the right size, right place and right context you ramp up the ‘stickability even more’ If you think that randomly throwing one or two images onto a page or post is OK then please think again.

SEO and keeping readers on your site

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and referrals from social media and other web sites is generally the way to get traffic coming your way.  If the page is SEO optimised with all the right technical stuff the audience will at least find you on search engines such as Google.  

Keeping them interested on page and on site is the next biggest factor to creating a successful web site that people enjoy, get value from and ulimately make the web site owner money. And guess what – it is down to the page/post designer to get the right balance.

So why would cartoon illustrations work well?

Original – without legal comeback!

Original cartoons which I put onto my sites and other sites have no copyright issues.  I have drawn the cartoons.  I don’t need permission to use my own artwork and give permission to people who buy my cartoons for their sites.

abraham lincoln cartoon by Nezzy
As an example – there are plenty of photo’s on the WWW but finding one of Abraham Lncolns early assassination attempt was impossible and getting permission to use a photo can be time consuming and expensive. I drew the bullet passing through his stove pipe hat while on horseback. This was perfect for the article I created and I own the copyright!

I am lucky to have a skill which enables me to produce original customised artwork. Most web owners have to source their images or run the gauntlet of downloading from the internet without permission from the originator.

There are plenty of horror stories of web masters who have used images from the net without finding the source to get permission.  I know of one example where the owner of an image sued – resulting in a $1000 fine.

Custom drawn cartoons to fit the blog topic

Article writers and web masters often spend more time looking for the perfect image that they do creating the article.  A cartoon can be tailor made to suit the article perfectly and can be more appropriate for the article than any image found on the net.  The article on pet fleas on humans (not a nice article I agree!!) on my new web site doorstepzoo.com is an example of this (see case study below).

ullustrating blog posts and articles with cartoonsHere is another cartoon I created for a review on glue guns to demonstrate the dangers of heat and the reason to wear protective gloves.  It would have taken ages to find a suitable image on the internet then get the permission to use it.   In any case I don’t think I could have found anything that would work like to cartoon does.

Cartoons can liven up a blog post

Photos are great but a cartoon can put empathy, expression, humour and a lot more into a blog post than a photographic illustration.  This in turn can really resonate and appeal to readers heightening their experience.  This makes them more likely to read more, tell their friens and come back for more.

illustrating blog posts and articles with cartoon illustrationsFinancial incentive

This is another strand of income.  A service that you could advertise and provide for article writers, web masters and bloggers.  Making a living from art is a tough call and the secret is to diversify to have multiple streams of income.  

Don’t have all your eggs in one basket – particularly if you do not control the basket your eggs are in then it could have dire consequences.  Have many streams of income such as affilliate marketing, selling your own products, offering artistic services or even writing an e-book you reduce the risk if one strand fails.

If your cartoons can take the pain away from a blogger and is resasonably priced there is no reason why this cannot produce a regular stream of income.

Articles with cartoons are more likely to be shared

A well constructed blog post with great cartoon artwork has a much better chance of being shared on social media.  Why? – because they can make people laugh, connect their thoughts to friends and make them want to share something funny.  

Some of the cartoons I have produced for my Facebook pages have have gone viral in some cases because of the humour and appeal and this can have the same affect when placed in a blog post.

Case Study Doorstepzoo.com

Doorstepzoo.com is my latest web site and is centred around pets and wildlife in and around your home.  One of the articles I produced was on fleas.  I wanted the article to be informative and also with a little bit of humour added as cat and dog fleas on people is generally nothing to smile about.

Finding ready made images to suit the article was near impossible so it was ideal  for cartoons.

The first image was to encapsulate the whole article theme which is entitled ‘Can Cat and dog Fleas live on Humans’ – I imagined a person with fleas scratching with two worried onlookers…

cartoons for blog posts

blog post cartoon fleaNext I needed to create a flea character.  Fleas have several legs, weird whiskery things and tiny eyes – not good for a cartoon.  

I gave mine big eyes, vampire fangs, a round fat body and one set of arms and legs.  

I added antennae (which fleas don’t appear to have but it is stereotypical of an insect) and gave it a slightly armoured look with bristles here and there.  

It looks flea like with an impish grin – just what I wanted.

The article talks about deterring fleas from cats and suggests washing the cats collar in eucalyptus.  I have two cats myself and the thought of either trying to dip a cat in eucalyptus or trying to re-attach a collar soaked in eucalyptus wouldn’t go down well.  I know if I attempted either with either  of my cats I would end up scarred for life!! 

blog post illustration mad cat

The last cartoon in the article was killing fleas.  Murdering anything is not in my nature but if you don’t see off a flea attach they will keep coming back.  I kept the flea black and white to allow the green spray to really impact and I think it works quite well.

illustrating blog posts flea spray

As this article was for my own web site the only cost to me was time. The cartoons took around an hour to complete in total but I do work really quickly and produced them all on a tablet so there was no scanning or further processing required.

The beauty of illustrating an article is that you can feed off the words to create the cartoons.  it is all there in the text and totally down to your creativity to find the right drawing.

You can see the illustrated article on doorstepzoo.com here..

Have you ever considered using a light box for copying and tracing?  

They are relatively cheap and simple to use and if ypou are struggling to make a realistic sketch of a scene or someones face this is the way to go.  

See my review of  5 top rated light boxes here…