What I Used for Inktober 2016: Sakura Gelly Roll Pen

River Painting: Finishing Touches with Sakura Gelly Roll SMALL

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience.  Check out my Disclosures page for more info.River Painting: Finishing Touches with Sakura Gelly Roll SMALLWelcome back to the fourth and (for now) final installment of What I Used for Inktober!  Today we’ll be looking at the Sakura Gelly Roll Pen in White, a gel pen that I like to use for accents, outlines, and highlights, like I did in the picture above!  (I also added a blue background using a Promarker – but that’s a review for another day! 😛 )

When I committed to Inktober, I was worried about highlights.  In digital art, it’s easy to add a white outline or highlights at the end of a painting – just make a new layer!  But with markers? o~o  Luckily, with the Sakura Gelly Roll pen, it’s easy to add highlights and finishing touches after the main shading!  At about $5 USD for a set of 3, these pens are budget-friendly. . . and, I would say, well worth the price. UPDATE 2/2018: It looks like the pens are now around $7.50 (link to Amazon).  Still a good deal, in my opinion!

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What I Used for Inktober 2016: Tombow Dual-Brush Pens

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience. Check out my Disclosures page for more info.

Welcome back to the What I Used for Inktober series!  Last week, we looked at the Prismacolor Premier 0.005 black pen for inking, and today we’re looking at Tombow Dual-Brush Pens in Grayscale.  Which means we’re at my favorite part: Coloring!  \(^o^)/

Last year, I wanted to try coloring with markers after seeing so many amazing marker paintings on the Web and so many amazing speedpaints on Youtube.  As a beginner, though, I didn’t want to heavily invest in a huge set of markers or purchase the most expensive professional materials (looking at you, Copics!) – or not yet, at least.  So I chose to try the water-based Tombow Dual-Brush Pens after hearing that they are a good brand and (luckily) were on sale at the time.  Better yet, they were reported to be durable, self-cleaning, and even blend well.  Sounds good, right?

Long story short, yes, they’re great!  I like them a lot,  though I’m also using other brands these days.  Tombow markers do have a few downsides, mainly due to the nature of water-based markers; but the water-based vs alcohol-based debate is a post for another day.  Let’s get started!

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What I Used for Inktober 2016: Prismacolor Premier 0.005 Fine Line Pen vs Dollar Store Gel Pen

River sketch - Inked with the Prismacolor Premier 0.005 fine line pen

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Welcome back to my Inktober supplies review series!  Last week, we started with the blue sketch pencils by Caran d’Ache and finished up with a sneak peek (?) of the inking for today’s post.  Here’s the picture inked with today’s tool, the Prismacolor Premier 0.005 XtraFine Line pen:

River sketch - Inked with the Prismacolor Premier 0.005 fine line pen
Inking traditionally is always a little nerve-wracking for me, so I’m pleased it turned out this well!

Here’s a close-up of the pen:

Prismacolor Premier Fine LineBut. . . I made a mistake.  The whole point of this series was to review the items I used last Inktober, right?  Well, last October I didn’t have a Prismacolor 0.005 pen.  I mostly used a dollar store gel pen instead.  This pen, in fact:

Dollar Store Gel Pen. Photo by River.Oops.

Well, as the picture is already inked, I thought hey!  We can do something fun, and compare / contrast the Prismacolor pen with the dollar store pen!  \(^u^)/

The Short Version: During Inktober, I was quite content with the dollar-store pen.  Turns out, cheap art supplies work well, too!  But overall, I would go with the Prismacolor Premier pen as it is colorfast and smear-resistant.

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What I Used for Inktober 2016: Caran d’Ache Sketcher Non-Photo Blue Pencils

This post contains Amazon Associates links for your convenience. Check out my Disclosures page for more information.

Last September, flushed with excitement at the thought of doing my first Inktober challenge, I splurged on some new art supplies.  Since I usually worked digitally, I thought it was a good opportunity to try out some different traditional techniques.  One that I was really looking forward to was using blue pencil like animators and comic artists, so after doing a little research I picked up a pair of Caran d’Ache Sketcher Non-Photo Blue animation pencils.  Though they were expensive (around $8 for a pack of two) I am so glad I did – they ended up becoming my favorite new tool of Inktober 2016!

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A Little Announcement: What I Used for Inktober Review Series Starts Tonight

Starting tomorrow, I’m pleased to begin a series of reviewing art supplies!

We’ll start with the supplies I picked up last year for Inktober.  As I started NaNoWriMo right after Inktober ended, this series is a little late in the game, but hopefully my review will be useful no matter what time of year it is. :3

As last October was the first year I challenged Inktober, I had only a few inking supplies: a few calligraphy pens, a set of Prismacolor pens, some gel pens from the dollar store, and a box of Crayola markers left over from my school days.   While technically that was more than enough to do the challenge, I saw an opportunity to go shopping and I took it. :3  I was able to try out a few supplies I’ve had my eye on for a while, so I’m glad for that!

These are what I bought last September:

  • Caran d’Ache Non-Photo Blue Pencils (like animators use!)
  • Tombow Dual-Brush Pens in Grayscale
  • Sakura Gelly Roll Pen in White

Added to my Prismacolor markers and colored pencils, I had a lot of options for the challenge.  :3  Since then, I’ve picked up a set of Lestrat AquaMarkers and ProMarkers and a set of Staedtler colored pencils, so I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with those as well.  I’m pleased that I’ll be able to share them with you!

Since I have supplies that cover the whole drawing process from sketch to final touches, I thought it’d be interesting to use all the supplies to draw and paint a picture (or two!).  Here’s a sneak peek of what I’m working on, starting with the blue animator pencil:

Sketch for the review series – comic!River!

Reviews will start later tonight with the blue animator pencil and will be published every Tuesday for the next few weeks!  (Posts on Friday / any other day will continue to be “what I’m working on” and process posts. 🙂 )  I hope you enjoy!  And if there’s any art supply I’ve used before and you’d like it reviewed, let me know and I’ll add it to the pile. :3


Book Review: Candle Man, Book 1: The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance

All of his life, Theo has been told that he suffers from a rare and dangerous disease only treatable by his guardian Dr. Saintly’s technological innovation, the Mercy Tube.  He is never allowed to socialize with anyone other than his three caretakers, Dr. Saintly, Mr. Nicely the butler, and Clarice the deaf maid; and under no circumstances must he touch anyone with his bare hands.  He’s told that this is because his condition is dangerous to humans, that only the Mercy Tube can cure him, and that he should be grateful for the care of his guardian and servants.

Theo’s world changes when, on his thirteenth birthday, Mr. Nicely takes him for a nice stroll around the cemetery. . . and he finds a parcel with his name written on it.  Back in his room, he secretly pieces together a message from someone outside his small world.  This unknown friend claims he’s in danger, which is confirmed when Clarice helps him escape from Dr. Saintly’s hold.

Free for the first time, Theo learns that Dr. Saintly is the head of the Society of Good Works, which, contrary to its name, has good deeds last on its mind; and the mysterious people who sent him the note are the remnants of the Society of Unrelenting Vigilance. Both societies have been waiting for generations for an heir of the Candle Man to be born. . . and Theo is that heir.  With friends and enemies both clamoring for Theo’s cooperation, what will he choose to do?

Glenn Dakin is a children’s TV show writer who has branched out into novels.  Good call, I say; I found The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance to be enjoyable. Theo’s adventure is interesting, and a strong point is that it starts out with Theo being sheltered from the world by his guardian and servants.  He’s bored and annoyed, but doesn’t really suspect ill intent.  Well, why would he?  He was raised that way!  And Dakin did reference Theo’s upbringing throughout the story, such as his impulse to obey authority and his awkwardness when it comes to affection (he was raised in a comfortable, yet unloving, household) even as he longs for it.

Another thing I liked was the network of tunnels under London, which leaves the city open to both Societies and various other people in the know.  It leaves many interesting paths available for future books. . . what secrets lurk in the catacombs?

Of course, I can’t go over the strong points without noting the weak ones.  There was nothing major this time.  The dialogue was a little stilted at times, the characters were a little 2-D, and story seemed awkwardly placed somewhere in between a steampunk fantasy and a contemporary superhero story. . . maybe a little more world-building would have fixed that. In other news, Dakin could have written a little more detail into the story; it was written in more of a telling fashion, leaving detail a bit bare in parts.

The other problem I noticed was that the first five pages were the best five pages.  This is more of a pet peeve of mine rather than an actual problem though–I dislike it when an author puts so much effort into hooking the reader, only to coast comfortably through the rest of the story.  I understand why authors do this (they need to hook the agent/publisher first, which means the first five pages have to be the cream of the crop), but I prefer a story that starts out slow and builds to the climax rather than one that hooks me instantly then paces along at a moderate pace.

In my last post, I wrote about my fears that Vigilance would end on a massive cliffhanger.  Luckily, I was wrong.  Theo’s adventure ends without any cliffhanger of note, but there is definitely a hint of future adventures.  After all, as the new Candle Man, Theo’s inherited a lot of enemies. . . and we all know what that means. . . 😀  Without spoiling the story, though, I’ll say that Theo overcomes the difficulties set out before him and is able to rest before his next adventure.  Which is as it should be.  Good job, Glenn Dakin!

My overall score would be a 3.5/5.  It wasn’t spectacular (of course, I was reading Lord of the Rings lately, so I might be a bit biased), but it’s still worth checking out.  I put a hold on the second book in the series, The Society of Dread, as soon as I finished Vigilance, if that gives you a better indication of how much I enjoyed it.

If you’ve read Vigilance, how did you like it?  If you haven’t, do you think you would like to?  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Book Review: The Fairest Beauty

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson (book cover)
Image via zondervan.com.

Once upon a time, there was a girl with fair skin, ebony hair, and red, red lips.  She was the fairest maiden in the land–or so people believed–fairer even than her stepmother, who took delight in tormenting this young upstart who dared to take attention away from her.

Sound familiar?  Yes, Melanie Dickerson‘s book The Fairest Beauty is indeed a retelling of ‘Snow White’.  Sophie, the beautiful heroine, has been tormented for most of her life by the Duchess Ermengard, for whom she works as a scullery maid.  The duchess claims that she found Sophie on the side of the road, a nameless orphan, and out of the goodness of her heart took her in.  Sophie isn’t sure whether to believe this, and several details seem to disprove the lie:  The village priest taught her to read before she was banished; the motherly cook hints that she knows Sophie’s history; and the duchess has no kindness whatsoever, so why would she take in an orphaned girl?

Gabe is the impetuous second son of the Hagenheim ducal family.  He has always looked up to his brother, the seemingly perfect Valten, and has longed to prove himself to his family.  So when a tottering old woman on the verge of death appears on his family’s doorstep and claims to have news of Valten’s long-dead betrothed, Gabe believes that this is the chance he’s been waiting for.  After all, if he manages to rescue Sophie, he’ll have done something his brother never did.  The only thing is, he never planned on falling in love with the girl. . . .

Set in a realistic world reminiscent of medieval Germany, The Fairest Beauty feels like a real world where you could step through the pages.  This is partly because there is no magic whatsoever:  Despite rumors of Ermengard’s forays into black magic, everything in the book could happen in real life.  The poison in the apple, for instance, is not the product of a dastardly potion with no basis in reality–and while I’m on the subject of the apple, I want to say that the apple scene was *not* what I expected.

One thing I appreciate in fiction novels are details that add an unusual layer to the story.  In Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, that best example is the collection of very fine, mouth-wateringly-described feasts.  In The Fairest Beauty, it’s the religion.  Many of the characters in this book are very religious.  It adds an aura of authenticity to the story, because in Germany at the same time period, guess what?  They were deeply religious as a society.  And in this book, it was well done.

However, all books must have their dull points.  The most glaring one, in my opinion, is that the first five pages are the best five pages.  Makes sense, considering that the first few pages are the ones that will hook the reader; however, the rest of the book seemed so average by comparison.  (I still enjoyed reading it, though.)  Also, the book appears to pay homage to its inspiration with the ending.  While I won’t spoil it for you (though you can probably guess, since it is Snow White), let’s just say that it could have been better.

So was it worth reading?  Yes.  It was interesting enough to keep my interest, and I consider it a well-done retelling despite its minor failings.  I’m also interested now in Melanie Dickerson’s other books, The Healer’s Apprentice and The Merchant’s Daughter, which I guess can be considered a plus.  However, if you have no interest at all in fairy tale retellings–or romance–or evil stepmothers, then this one might not be your cup of tea.

If you liked The Fairest Beauty, might I interest you in one of these as well?

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Beauty by Robin McKinley