#Mermay Sketch: Starfish

Starfish: Chibi Mermaid for Mermay Sketch - Small Version - by River on Strike A Spark

For the last day of May, I have one last #Mermay sketch to share with you!  This picture was actually my first concept for #Mermay, but the last finished – there were a few structural flaws with the original thumbnail that took me a while to work through.  In the end, though, I’m glad I stuck with it.  She looks happy playing with her starfish friend, doesn’t she?


  • Time: 2+ hours
  • Materials: Stathmore 300 gram watercolor paper, 0.7 mm mechanical pencil

Another Sketch for #Mermay! Chibi Mermaid Nutmeg

Chibi Mermaid Nutmeg - Small Version - by River on Strike A Spark

And the mermaid sketches keep on coming! (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧  Today we have Mermaid Nutmeg swimming with her yellow tang friends!

Last time Nutmeg appeared on Strike A Spark, she was a witch.  This time she’s a mermaid.  Fantasy just seems to follow her around, doesn’t it?  She’s super cute as a mermaid, but I kind of miss her bunny ears. . . . TT_TT

Again, Cloud will be painting this piece, so please look forward to seeing the finished result! And keep an eye on her blog: Cloud’s World Of: 


  • Time: 2 hours
  • Materials: Strathmore 300 gram watercolor paper, 0.7 mechanical pencil

Pencil Sketch: The Queen of May

The Queen of May Sketch - Small Version - by River on Strike A Spark

Since GIMP and/or my tablet drivers and/or my laptop in general have been making it difficult to paint digitally, lately I’ve been doing a lot of pencil sketches! Today’s piece, “The Queen of May,” was inspired by all the flowers in bloom – the apple blossoms and lilies a few weeks ago, and the daisies wildflowers which have just burst out.  It’s so refreshing to see all the color and hear the birds singing whenever I go outside. (✿´‿`)

The watercolor paper I’ve been using is such a joy to work on – I like the smooth paper in my sketchbook, but the textured Strathmore paper holds pencil so well and gives an interesting effect even to quick sketches.  It’s so much fun, that the hour I spent sketching seemed to go by in the wink of an eye.  It should be fun to paint, too – but I think I want to practice with watercolors some more before I try it. . . .


  • Time: 1 hour
  • Materials: Strathmore 300 gram watercolor paper, 0.7 mechanical pencil

#Mermay: Chibi Mermaid Claire

Mermaid Chibi Claire - Small Version - by River on Strike A Spark

Wow ~ the colors are very dramatic today ~ OwO

Hello hello!  Hope you all had a good weekend. :3  Today I have another sketch to share with you!  Presenting Claire, another character from our upcoming webcomic, in chibi mermaid form!  😀  Can you spot all the fishes swimming around her?

Mermaid Claire was a lot of fun to draw, even with the difficulty of drawing her hand(s).  I feel like my style is slowing evolving towards a style that is consistent and something I can be happy with.  I’d like to improve my sketching speed, but I’m sure that will come as I continue practicing. 🙂

Cloud noted that the watercolor paper we were using was a little thin, and rippled when she was painting, so today I sketched on a thicker 300 gram paper from Strathmore.  The texture was different, more like little blocks – a more mechanical texture.  It holds pencil well, though, so I was happy with that!  I’m looking forward to seeing how it looks when painted. :3  If you paint with watercolors, what’s your favorite paper to use?


  • Time: 2 hours
  • Tools: Strathmore 300 gram watercolor paper, 0.7 mechanical pencil


Cloud Finished Painting a Mermaid!

Today I’m happy to share with y’all that Cloud finished the first of the mermaid paintings!  ~(˘▾˘~) (~˘▾˘)~  This sketch:

Mermaid Chibi Cloud Sketch by River

. . . is now a lovely watercolor!  I’m so happy. (。◕‿◕。)  Please head on over to Cloud’s World Of: and check it out!

What I Used for Inktober 2016: Sakura Gelly Roll Pen

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.

The pen looks like this:

Sakura Gelly Roll Pen close-up. Photo by River.

White-on-white is hard to capture! orz

The pens are about the size of a pencil and very light.  They are small in diameter, so not very ergonomic, but it would be easy to add one of those squishy pencil grips to make ’em comfier.  ^w^

As the ink is white, it works well for highlights, and the gel formula means that it flows easily.  It’s also a lot of fun to use on black paper, like on these sketchcards:

Seasonal Witch Sketch Cards by River

I especially like how the summer berries turned out! :3

One thing to note is that the Sakura Gelly Roll White is slightly translucent.  It’s an effect I like, but for a strong white line you may have to go over it two or three times – especially if the base color is dark.  Here’s some examples:

Sakura Gelly Roll Tests Page by River

This photo has a larger version! Click to view!

In Row 1, I layered the Sakura Gelly Roll over black Tombow water-based markers.  For some reason, the Sakura Gelly Roll appears more translucent over water-based markers, so you may need to layer more to have an opaque white.  They also have a tendency to smear if the marker ink is still wet, so make sure to let it dry thoroughly before using the Gelly Roll. On each black square, I drew a white loop, increasing the number of layers each time.  So left is 1 layer, middle is 2 layers, and right is 3 layers. (In the picture, “rep” is short for “repetition,” or layers.)

In Row 2, the same tests are repeated – but this time they are over an alcohol-based Promarker.  Again, left is 1 layer, middle is 2 layers, and right is 3 layers. I am not sure why, but the Sakura Gelly Roll appears more opaque over the Promarkers.  This doesn’t seem to change with darker colors; so it may have to do with the pigment composition of the Gelly Roll and how it interacts with water-based vs alcohol-based pigments.  In any case, even the 1 layer example shows up well against the blue Promarker, and increased layers will create thicker and more opaque lines.

In Row 3, I laid down a wash of blue-violet Promarker, and just doodled!  The Sakura Gelly Roll really shines with loose, fluid movements.  The line is even and consistent.  I’ve only had a Gelly Roll skip on me twice – which is amazing compared to the Papermate gel pens I use for writing.  Each time, it was only a small break in the line, and easy to repair.

To recap, here are some things I’ve learned using the Sakura Gelly Roll:

  • Let the painting dry completely before using the Gelly Roll.  This will prevent smears!
  • Go over the line several times to make it more opaque or thicker.  Or, leave it at one line for a slightly translucent effect.
  • Relax a little! Loose, fluid movements help the gel ink flow smoothly and consistently.

Though there are other tools one can use for highlights, outlines, or the like, I really enjoy using my Sakura Gelly Rolls and would definitely recommend them!  😀

What do you use to create highlights in traditional media?

~ ~ ~

And this concludes the review series,  What I Used for Inktober!  Thanks for reading!  I hope you’ve enjoyed these reviews over the past month. Please do let me know what you think of this series, and if you’d like me to do more reviews in the future. 😀


Chibi Mermaids for #Mermay

Mermaid Chibi Cloud Sketch by River

Cloud as a mermaid!

On Twitter this week, I’ve seen a lot of people drawing mermaids for May (Mermay, get it?), so I was inspired to draw some, too!  I won’t be doing one every day as I’m working on a few other projects right now, but I’ve had fun with these sketches. ^u^

Mermaid Chibi River Sketch for #Mermay by River on Strike A Spark

And River as a mermaid!

These pictures are a collaboration with Cloud, who will paint them!  Recently, Cloud has been enjoying painting with watercolors, so these sketches were drawn on watercolor paper.  I really like the toothy texture – it picks up pencil well.  We decided not to ink them to give a softer impression.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how they look painted! (◕‿◕✿)  Cloud will post them on her blog when she’s done, so keep an eye out! ,