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Topic: 50 Shades of Merph ATC book  (Read 2767 times)
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« on: February 28, 2016 02:33:11 PM »

Okay, a little bit of background... I'd been watching a bunch of those "Cheap Art Supply Challenge" videos, and wanted to challenge my friend to it (we did it together as mixed media, and it was fun, I highly encourage it!).  But in doing so, I would have to find something I could draw at least a few times the same for comparison.  Enter the ATCs I was doing for Operation Beautiful with little monsters on them!  I picked the easiest to draw monster I'd sketched, and christened him "Merph".

And began digging through my stuff and buying various levels of art supplies I needed (and borrowing quite a few!).  Then I made a cute little book called "Faces of Merph" and showed it to my husband, who said he was surprised I hadn't called it "50 Shades of Merph" and I said that I didn't have 50 but doggone it, now that he mentioned it I had to do it.  Grrrr...

Then the hunt for different art supplies began in earnest, and I realize I DO NOT know how to use some of these supplies, and they're not great, but it was fun playing around with them!

Let's start of on a good foot - colored pencils!  I am actually decent at colored pencils, having the most practice with them (I left off crayons early and even a a young child preferred colored pencils):

Left to right: Prismacolor Pencils, Cra-Z-Art Pencils, Crayola Pencils.
My thoughts: I'm not hugely disappointed in any of them.  Yes, the Cra-Z-Art pencils are much lighter and more pastel, but you can still make pretty art with them and hey, they are dirt cheap.  I ADORE Crayola pencils, I'll be honest, and even though they're not as "good" as Prismacolor, I prefer them for a lot of things (they are harder and hold a point better).  The only disappointment is that the "Big" box of 100 Crayola pencils only has 60 colors.


Upper left: "Color Appeel" (they're like china markers, my friend bought them for me), Upper middle: Crayola, Upper right: Cra-Z-Art, Lower left: Faber Castel Gel, Lower middle: Melted Crayola, Lower right: Melted Cra-Z-Art
My thoughts: Crayola wins this so hands down, and while they are slightly more expensive than Cra-Z-Art, I think it's worth it.  The ridiculously priced FC gel crayons were super annoying, and the Color Appeel ones were meh.  The melted crayon thing was something I'd seen on YouTube, but one thing they don't tell you is the amount of clear wax that spreads from the melted crayon.  Much less in the Crayola than the Cra-Z-Art, but still there, and probably not a method I'll use again.

Markers!  Full disclosure, I am BAD at arting with markers.  Just so we know that.  Not my thing, I've had very little practice, and I know there are issues...

Upper left: Prismacolor, Upper middle: Crayola, Upper right: Copic, Lower left: Sharpie, Lower middle: Cra-Z-Art, Lower right: Copics take 2
My thoughts: First, I did buy smaller Crayola and Cra-Z-Art markers, so filling in was difficult.  That's on me for not getting the bigger markers, but in my defense, I figured the fine line markers would be more useful later.  Also, I didn't have brown sharpie, so... that's a little odd looking.  In general, I'm not a huge fan of markers and the Prismacolors give me horrid headaches.  I can see why people like Copics, and on the right paper (oh, this is going to be a theme!) they are probably the best in the hands of people experience with markers.

More markers and pens!

Upper left: Sharpie on Yupo paper, Upper middle:: highlighters, Upper right: Felt-tipped pen, Lower left: Felt-tipped pen as pointalism, Lower middle: Cra-Z-Art Markers as Watercolors, Lower left: Watercolor markers
My thoughts: On my giddy aunt, using markers as watercolors is BRILLIANT.  Thank you, Youtube!  Yes, just scribble a cheap marker on a tile or acrylic block, then use water and paint like watercolor!  So cool, and the colors blend beautifully.  Seriously, do it.  Also, Yupo paper is bizarre, but cool (and still no brown sharpie).  Highlighters are a good addition to your marker repertoire.  Pointalism is fiddly, but kind of fun.

Super Cheap supplies!

This is a $2 set from Michael's.  It's... frankly, awful.  Really, really bad.  That actually doesn't mean you can't do something decent with it, AS LONG as you don't use that paper.  It's tissue-paper thin.  Worse than typing paper.  This is where we came to the conclusion (though we'd really rather known it) that you can work around not having the priciest supplies, as long as you had decent (and appropriate!) paper.  Don't use watercolor paper for a marker drawing, and cardstock is horrible for watercolor.  That sort of thing.  And I kinda like the mid-range supplies the best, for one important reason: variety.  I mentioned I'm not a great artist, and color blending isn't my thing.  But in a $5 tray of Artist's Loft watercolors, there is every color I'd want - unlike the $30 tray of Winsor-Newton which had something like 12 colors I should be able to blend, but doesn't have pink and I can't, for the life of me, properly blend a pink.  Grrr.  Anyway, on to the mixed media challenge:

Upper left: Super cheap (sans crayon!) on better paper, Upper right: All the Super Cheap on Super Cheap paper, Lower left: Mid-range, Lower Right: Expensive
My thoughts: the super cheap was, indeed, super-cheap.  The watercolors were chalky and hard to work with, and the pencils had little color.  The expensive supplies were lovely to work with, and they are better in a lot of ways - except the fact that, to get all the bits, it would break the bank.  If I were a serious artist, yes, I'd invest.  But I think the mid-range is pretty darn good!

"Mid-range" supplies: Strathmore paper, Artist's Loft watercolor, Crayola colored pencils and markers.
"Expensive" supplies: Arches Aquarelle watercolor paper, Grumbacher watercolors, Prismacolor colored pencils, and Copic markers.

Watercolors, Gelato, and Gouache

Upper left: Cra-Z-Art, Upper middle: Artist's Loft, Upper right: Winsor-Newton, Bottom left: Gouache, bottom right: Gelatto
My thoughts: I'm sorry, Winsor-Newton, you are amazing watercolors, I let you down.  You are great to work with, but I need about 20 more shades.  Artist's Loft, I love you.  You are pretty cheap and decent and I can work with that.  Cra-Z-Art, um... it's not you, it's me...  Gouache is a fun paint, a cross between acrylic and watercolor, I think?  I don't really see why you'd need it, but this was another cheapish Artist's Loft set and it's fun.  Gelato sticks are, I think made for using on stamps?  But they're water soluble, so I thought I'd use them for this and I rather liked it (it was a lot like using watercolor crayons).  Speaking of...


Upper left: Gel pens, Upper middle: Oil pastels, Upper right: Super Cheap Oil pastels (from the $2 kit), Lower left: Watecolor crayons, Lower middle: Chalk, Lower Right: Soft Pastels
My thoughts: Wow, I don't know how to use either oil or soft pastels.  And super-cheap is still super-awful.  The $1 sidewalk chalk pack turned out better than I thought it would!  And I ADORE gel pens, though it's hard to fill in with them.

Watercolor pencils:

Left to right: Derwent, Fantasia, Creativecolor
My thoughts: I don't know how much the Fantasia set cost, it was gifted to me (I really should have bought some Crayola watercolor pencils, but I'm already hip-deep in art supplies here!).  I think most of the difference was in my impatience and getting tired of doing these... (these were some of the last ones I did).  

Digital art (full disclosure: these were done by my husband on his drawing tablet!)

He made me do 50 different Merphs, so he had to help.  He's a much better artist than I and did these on his Waicom tablet thingee using I think Manga Studio?  I'm at a bad effects in Photoshop for Livejournal icons level as far as digital art goes, so....

Alcohol inks and dry erase:

These are prints of photos, because the alcohol ink page was larger and the dry erase board is in the stairwell of my office.  Oh yes, I inflict my bad art on my coworkers to inform them of things like Shark Week, the Pluto Fly-By, and Merph's thoughts on our unseasonably warm weather.


Left: Regular Acrylics, Right: Fluid Acrylics
My thoughts: Man, a lot of my cheapie acrylics are really too thick, and I'm not as good at these as I thought.  Fluid acrylics are awesome, though everything was drying super-fast and I didn't pick the best paper (I know, I know!) to put enough water down.  They are more translucent, though.

Various and sundry (look, I had to think up 50!)

Upper left: faux slide, Upper right: Coffee, Lower left: pencil, Lower right: pen on an envelope.
My thoughts: I love making faux slides, it's fun!  Coffee painting is harder than I thought by the effect is fun.  Pencils and pens are, predictably, perfectly fine.  The paper the pen one was drawn on was actually the inside of a security envelope, which actually spawned a whole other project... that old "Face of Merph" cover won't go to waste!

Then I cut out all the pages out of old scrapbook paper and slipped the ATCs inside, using rings to bind it.

And if you made it this far, you deserve a cookie!  It was a fun experiment, but I need a Merph-cation for at least a week...  Cheesy

Ahem... eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed there were only 49 in the original post.  I think I was trying to protect my self-respect by forgetting about the... oil painting.  Now, oil painting is different than other painting, and I know I don't know how to do it.  I also know I didn't have the stuff to clean my brushes so just used one cheap throw-away brush.  I've watched videos and I love the *idea* of oil painting, but I seriously need some instruction.  So, yeah, you were warned....

Oil painting Merph... (poor Merph)...

« Last Edit: February 28, 2016 05:11:43 PM by Smeddley » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2016 04:46:02 AM »

This is awesome!!! So cool that you tried so many different techniques and supplies!


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« Reply #2 on: February 29, 2016 05:52:00 AM »

This is such an a amazing idea! I absolutely LOVE all the references and techniques. You did a fantastic job on all of these.

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« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2016 10:56:07 AM »

What a great idea and a great review of art supplies! I applaud your diligence at not only executing 50 cards, but documenting your supplies and results so thoroughly. Bravo!

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« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2016 04:35:46 PM »

Thank you guys!  It was definitely a huge undertaking, and I rarely manage to finish big things (the number of UFOs in my craft room will attest to that), so I was pretty proud of myself...  Cheesy
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2016 12:46:26 PM »

What a cool project!   Cheesy   I really enjoyed seeing all the variations with the different art supplies.  Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2016 05:19:34 PM »

What a cool idea! I like the way they all turn out cause you can compare and contrast them with each other. Very neat!
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