Summertime Portraits

Summertime Cloud - a painting by River of Studio Luminessa.

I’ve been collecting professional artists’ markers for a while, but I’ve always been a little nervous to use them.  Unlike digital art, traditional work – with paints, with pens, with markers – has no “undo” button.  Yes, there are techniques to cover and incorporate mistakes; still, it is nerve-wracking for an artist who grew up with the safety net of CTRL+Z.  So while I sketched these portraits in June, they remained only sketches while I thought about what to do with them.  Leaving them as a sketch was no good, of course, so with a little nudging from Cloud, I finally sat down to ink and paint them last week.  And if I messed up horribly, I could always re-do them digitally, after all. . . .

Luckily, I did not mess up horribly, so here they are!
Summertime River - a painting by River of Studio Luminessa.
Summertime Cloud - a painting by River of Studio Luminessa.

The markers were a mix of Promarkers and ShinHan Touch markers (both alcohol-based) and a single pink Aquamarker (water-based).  I found that the Promarkers and Touch markers blended quite nicely, and the Aquamarker layered nicely after the alcohol layer dried thoroughly.  My Sakura Gelly Roll pen provided highlights – a real life-saver when you accidentally color over, say, the whites of the eyes, haha!


Time: 22 hours for both

Materials: mechanical pencil, Prismacolor Premier .05 pen, ShinHan Touch markers, Promarkers, Aquamarkers, Sakura Gelly Roll (white)


Pencil Sketch: Cloud, the Lady of Spring

Cloud as the Lady of Spring - small version - by River on Strike A Spark

Cloud as the Lady of Spring - small version - by River on Strike A Spark

I’m still in a flower-inspired mood, so have a sketch of Cloud as a Lady of Spring!  In keeping with the witch drawings I did last Inktober, Cloud is the character I turn to when I want to draw flowers and spring-like themes.  She’s just so optimistic and sweet herself that it seems a natural fit! (◕‿◕✿)

I’m looking forward to coloring her – but I’m still a little inexperienced with watercolors – so I’m a little nervous. *sweats*  I should start with something simpler, yet I can’t stop drawing such complicated sketches.  orz  Oh well, practice practice!

If you have any watercolor tips, or a good tutorial to recommend, I’d really appreciate it!  Let me know in the comments below!   (^u^)

Another Sketch for #Mermay! Chibi Mermaid Nutmeg

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

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

#Mermay: Chibi Mermaid Claire

Mermaid Chibi Claire - Small Version - by River on Strike A Spark
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 River Sketch for #Mermay by River on Strike A Spark
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

River sketch - Inked with the Prismacolor Premier 0.005 fine line 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~ !