#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


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! ,

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

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 product, the Prismacolor Premier 0.005 Fine 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 Line

But. . . 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.


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^)/

I put both pens through their paces with fine lines, wavy lines, cross-hatching, stippling, and smear tests:

Prismacolor Premier 0.005 pen vs Dollar Store gel pen test page

The light was changing. Sorry for the shadow lines! Hopefully it’s still legible. 🙂

From the first, we can see that both pens are designed for fine lines.  They would work best for outlining, detail work, and anyplace you want a consistent line.  Neither would work well for varying line weight or shading with flat, smooth colors; that’s out of  their job description.  It would be interesting to shade a black-and-white drawing using crosshatching or stippling, though!

Like in this picture! Shaded only with the gel pen.

Differences: The Prismacolor Premier 0.005 pen has a thinner and more consistent line.  The dollar store gel pen is closer to 0.007 or 0.009 in width, I think. Also, the gel pen has a tendency to “skip” and blot at times, leading to less consistent lines and a lot of frustration.  (How did I make it through Inktober with a skippy gel pen, you asked?  With patience and going over lines as many times as necessary. . . . orz)

The last test I made was the smear test.  As I like to color my traditional artworks, it’s important to have ink that won’t smear when colored or painted.  After letting the inked lines dry for a few minutes, I tested both with a water-based Tombow marker and an alcohol-based Promarker.  Let’s have a close-up on the smear test:

The Prismacolor Premier pen is clearly the superior with this test.  Since it was designed to be used with the Prismacolor markers, the ink is colorfast and doesn’t smear at all with either the water-based or the alcohol-based pigment.

The dollar store gel pen, on the other hand, does smear slightly when colored over.  It isn’t as obvious in the photo as it is in person; hopefully the close-up gives you a good look at the smearing.  The thicker the line, the more likely it will run and muddy up the colors.  That may not bother you, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.

Have you seen some of the Cheap Art Supplies Challenge videos on Youtube?  They prove that cheap art supplies don’t equal lousy art, and likewise, expensive art supplies don’t make stellar art.  I’m often amazed by these videos, and they helped me resolve to not be taken in by cool marketing and buy the most expensive supplies just because.  However, the smear test drove home an important point to me: While expensive art supplies do not make the artist, having the right supplies makes the job easier.  And at ~$5 USD for the Prismacolor Premier pen, I consider it a worthy investment. . . at least compared to the dollar store gel pen. 😛  I’d still like to try some other fine line pens, but for now I’m satisfied with this one.

That about wraps up my thoughts on these two pens!  If you have any more questions, let me know!  Next Tuesday we move onto coloring and shading.  See you then ~ !

Header for Cloud’s Blog WIP

cloud-header-sketch-watermarkedLast Thursday I shared a sketch for my new header design.  Today I’m happy to show you a sketch for Cloud’s new header design!  \(^o^)/  And again we have a nice gradient background, so the sketch isn’t so monochrome; I think even a splash of color helps bring an image to life.

Just like Strike A Spark’s design features comic!River, the new header for Cloud’s World Of: features comic!Cloud!  I think her design turned out very cute, and somehow more elegant than River.  Maybe because her hands look a little better. . . ?

By the by, Cloud helped me with the concept for both our headers.  That’s why they match, which I am ridiculously happy about!  \(^o^)/

I’m hoping to finish up the coloring on both pieces within the next week or so.  It largely depends on whether I can continue working around that bug.  For now, plugging in an external keyboard seems to have fixed it, so we’ll see~ !

New Header Image WIP

river-header-sketch-watermarkedToday I’d like to share something a little different I’ve been working on.  River the fox!  I needed a bit of a break from the Gemstone-inspired series so I’m working on a new header for Strike A Spark.  I know, I know, I’ve said I’ll make a custom header for years now. . . I had some issues with finding the right design, but I think I’ve hit upon something now.  🙂  This sketch of comic!River is one component of that design, but it’s only inked so far so I added a nice gradient background so it wouldn’t be so boring. =^w^=

Unfortunately, this week I’ve been having some trouble with GIMP. . . or more precisely, we think it’s my laptop’s keyboard.  The problem is that when I’m drawing, the lines go all blobby because GIMP thinks I’m trying to select two tools and so switches between them quickly. It’s very frustrating. 😡  We’ve known for some time that my keyboard was having issues, though, but this is the first time it’s affected GIMP, so it’s put a damper on painting for now.

On the upside, I’ve been able to spend some quality time writing and plotting instead, thanks to an external keyboard.  I wrote almost 2k words yesterday!  That’s better than my NaNo average. \(^o^)/

Don’t forget that tomorrow is the final installment of Art from the Archives!  It’s another of my favorite pieces from that time period, about 5 years ago, so even though it isn’t “finished” yet I’m excited to share it with you.  And I’ve also worked up a header design for Cloud’s blog, Cloud’s World Of:, so you can look forward to seeing that soon!

Strike A Spark’s 7th Anniversary!


Happy Holidays!  Though it isn’t an anniversary picture, here’s a quick snap of a sketch I’ve been working on with a “Winter” theme.  Pencil is done, it’s time to scan it and ink it digitally!

As of this week, I’ve been blogging for seven years. It’s a little strange to think that Strike A Spark has been around for that long. On the one hand, I hoped from the start that this blog would continue for many years; on the other, I cynically  wondered whether something I started just for fun would be able to survive, or whether I would find something else to spend my time on.  I’m happy to say that Strike A Spark has not just survived, but has grown beyond what I originally imagined!

It’s been an adventure, all right.  In the beginning, I struggled just with writing reviews every week.  Now that I’m posting more about my writing and art, I’m determined each day to improve my craft so that I can take pride in what I share with you.  Even during the times the blog was on hiatus, it was in my thoughts as I planned posts I wanted to write and thought about the design and layout.  From something that started as “just for fun,” Strike A Spark has become a major, and beloved, part of my life.

To everyone who has watched over me since the beginning, and to new readers who have just found Strike A Spark, thank you for joining me on this adventure!  Though I’m not the best or most prolific blogger, I’m grateful for the opportunity to connect and grow along with you.  Let’s make Year 8 of Strike A Spark a great one!


Inktober Day 28: Cloud Bakes

cloud-art-card-inktoberFor Day 28 of Inktober, I continued with the art cards!  The first was Cloud, with a cake.  This is a common scene in the webcomic.  She loves to bake. ❤️

Somehow, Cloud’s hair ended up very wavy! It’s a cute look, but not quite canon.  Maybe she slept with braids in?