Saturday, January 5, 2019

Skin Tone Marker Comparison

I talked about doing this nearly a year ago and it totally slipped my mind. Oops?

Around a year ago, I kind of...went on a marker buying spree and eventually bought THREE different skin tone sets of alcohol markers. So which one was the best value? Last week, I drew some lineart so that I could color it once with each set to compare. I drew Vee and her girlfriend Liz, character from my novella No Elle. I picked them because Vee has light brown skin and Liz has freckles, so I wanted to see how each set could capture that.

I attempted to record a video of me coloring these, but my software kept crashing, and I don't have the patience to edit into something watchable. So you get a blog post instead.

First up we have the Bianyo skin tone set. This set had more markers than the other three, BUT one was a colorless blender, and one was black. Some of the markers are...not what I'd call skin tones (Y503 and Y703 are VERY much orange), but the others are great. You can get a wide range of skin tones, from dark browns, to light browns, to pale peach, using this set. Overall, I'd say this set is a great addition to the 72-marker set of Bianyo brush tips. There are some repeats between the sets, but I don't mind as they're all colors I find myself using pretty frequently. I love and use this set frequently. The colors are all pleasing and useful. I highly recommend them to someone who doesn't want to splurge on Copics.

Bianyo Pros:
  • Brush tip alcohol markers 
  • Good value
  • Nice, functional case
  • Widest range of colors in the set
  • Nice blush colors included
  • Colors lay down and layer very smoothly
Bianyo Cons:
  • No refillable
  • Some repeated colors from 72-set
Next up is the Art-n-Fly marker set. This is a 6-marker set and I think you'll see right away what my problem with it is: there are too many similar colors. It makes shading hard, unless you have other sets to supplement. The colors are also not as pleasing as the Bianyo set in my opinion, the darker colors all have yellow undertones that reminds me of fake tans. You can't get as much variation with this set as you can with the other sets. But unlike the Bianyo markers, these ones can be refilled. This adds to their value. My set did arrive kind of dry, and so they don't lay down quite as smoothly. As I'm not the biggest fan of the color selection, I probably won't bother to refill them when they run out.

Art-n-Fly Pros:
  • Brush tip alcohol markers
  • Refillable
  • Good value
  • Quality of ink comparable to Copics
Art-n-Fly Cons:
  • Many similar colors (109BR, 27YR, and 29YR are almost identical)
  • No blush color included in the set 
And finally, the Copic Ciao markers. As is expected of the Copic brand, the quality is excellent. Like Art-n-Fly, this is a 6-marker set. Unlike the Art-n-Fly, this set proves that six colors can still be very versatile. There's a good selection of light, medium, and dark tones. E93 can also be used as a blush color.

Copic Pros:
  • Brush tip alcohol markers
  • Refillable
  • Good color selection, can be used for varied skin tones
  • Good ink quality
  • Blush color included
Copic Cons:
  • Price

Final thoughts? The Bianyo set is my favorite. You get a lot of bang for your buck, considering you get twice the markers as the Copic Ciao set for roughly the same price. If only they were refillable! The Copic set is excellent, and I still use it often. It was a gateway drug that eventually led to the Great Copic Purchase of Summer '18. As an artist who prefers alcohol markers, the Copics are a solid investment for me. If you're just starting out or buying a gift for a young artist, I can't recommend Bianyo highly enough.
Above is the same lineart, colored using my full collection of Copic Ciao markers.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

No Elle

In 2018, I wrote a novella! Because apparently being an amateur artist wasn't enough, so I decided to also be an amateur author. It's an odd little story...but I'm proud of it. I have no formal training when it comes to writing fiction, so I just kind of...winged it? I hope you'll give it a shot.

You can download it for FREE right here. Or, if you don't want to download the PDF, you can read it for FREE via Tapas here, where it'll be uploading biweekly. It's completely written and all the updates are scheduled, so you don't have to worry about me forgetting to post.

Since this is my personal blog, I'm going to take the time to talk a little about the story.

My official description:
Noel is an ordinary young waitress who may or may not have a crush on one of her regulars. She's long overdue for things to go her way. Does life have a big surprise in store for her? 
I don't want to give any spoilers away, but boy, does it ever.  

I started working on No Elle during a period of unemployment last winter. I wanted to see if I could tackle a writing project, so I challenged myself to improve upon an idea for a comic that I'd had while I was in middle school. The final story ended up being very different than my original vision. Which is a good thing. Middle schoolers rarely come up with the best of ideas. The main character, Noel, ended up being vastly different than how I'd originally imagined her.

Once I'd committed to the project, a lot of thoughts and details fell in line with the new plot. I made a lot of progress early on...until my computer died. I tried to keep writing on an old, slow netbook, but it was problematic to say the least. I eventually got a new computer, but also started a full time job. And then my horse moved barns. And then my best friend got married. And then my mom needed surgery and radiation. know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.

When November rolled around, I decided to finish the story in the spirit of NaNoWriMo. And while I'd been working on the story on/off for most of 2018, more than two thirds of it was written in November of 2018.

I'd originally planned for the story to be a full-on novel, and not a novella, but again, this was my first writing project. I wasn't prepared for the kind of pacing and content it takes to reach actual novel-status. I probably could have padded the story out to hit a higher word count, but I was satisfied with the way things played out. And most importantly, the story was complete.

I'd like to thank Maria, Kelly, Deanna, and my mom Marie for their help and encouragement. And last-but-not-least I need to thank RACHEL who has always been my friend and confidant, but stepped up as my primary editor. She helped me as I agonized over plot details--whether she wanted to or not. I surprised the hell out of BOTH of us by finishing this thing.

Thank you!