My Favorite Art Products: Digital AND Traditional!

No long-winded intro for this one; it’s pretty straight-forward! A simple list with links to the products and apps/software that I, as a freelance illustrator, prefer! Not the “best of the best” or “the most feature-heavy products available” but just, simply, what I like the most, personally. 🙂

Digital Products

First and foremost, the single product that I use 24/7: The Apple iPad Pro 11″ with the Apple Pencil 2nd Gen. I have the 2018 model and it still works beautifully for me.
Best-suited for: Someone who needs utmost portability and is a professional. I don’t recommend this for a total beginner unless you have the money to spare.
Apps to use: Clip Studio!!! By FAR my favorite! Procreate is also great and something a lot of people use. I don’t like it, personally, but you might! Personally, if not Clip Studio, then I’d recommend Medibang, which is free! 🙂

Second-fav: I absolutely love the XP-Pen Artist Pro 15.6″. I used this for a while after winning one in a giveaway on Twitter and I adore it! Ultimately I stuck with my iPad, but this cutie is budget-minded and amazing. Think of it as a dupe for the Wacom Cintiq Pro 16, minus the touch screen, for like half the cost.
Best-suited for: Someone who doesn’t travel often (it’d be awkward to travel with, in my opinion, though doable if you don’t travel a LOT), and has a smaller budget. You’ll also need a laptop/desktop to use it with. It works with Mac or Windows.
If you want a cheaper/beginner alternative: An even cheaper model is the XP-Pen Artist 12 for just $200.
Programs: Again, Clip Studio! A great free option is Medibang Paint.

Traditional Products

My absolute favorites:

  • Copic Ciao or Copic Sketch markers. Amazing markers!! A cheaper dupe product is Ohuhu, which would be awesome for beginners and it’s way less than half the cost of Copics.
  • Canson XL Mix Media pad. My go-to for sketches, lighter marker work (wouldn’t use it for heavy marker usage), studies, etc.
  • Strathmore Bristol pad. My go-to for full marker illustrations.
  • Pilot Color-eno erasable mechanical pencils. I love these!! I use them for separating each part of my sketch to reduce the likelihood of messing up when I’m doing lineart. Example: If my sketch has more than one character, I use one color per character.
  • Staedtler technical pencil. I love this for refined sketches and studies! I have a few and put a 2mm lead with a variety of hardnesses in them.
  • Sakura Koi and Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolor palettes. They’re amazing!! The Koi palette is perfect for anyone who wants a set to travel with, or for beginners.
  • Pentel Watercolor Brushes. These brushes are for using specifically with watercolors and ink. They’re also portable and keep you from having to carry around extra vials for water.
  • Tombow Fudenoske brush pens. These are beeeeautiful brush pens! I use them for strictly black/white art that I either intend to have no color, or intend to scan in and color digitally.
  • Canon CanoSlide scanner. This cheap bby is what I got as part of an equipment package from college in 2014 and I still use it! And let me tell you, she’s been through the ringer and she still functions just as beautifully as the day I got her!
  • A4 light pad. This is what I recommend for lineart. You put your sketch on the pad, put a blank paper over it, and ink on the blank paper while still seeing your sketch thanks to the light. Keeps you from ruining your sketch if you mess up on the lineart!

Misc.

These are other things I love that aren’t really art-specific but make my day easier.

  • L-shaped Desk with Hutch. This is the desk I use! It’s kind of a pain in the neck to put together but I think it was worth it. It’s spacious enough for me to have my iPad, laptop, scanner, and printer all out while still sticking to a smaller floorplan. Plus I dig the hutch. Also a plus: It’s cheap!
  • Noise-cancelling Headphones. This bad boy has been a lifesaver! I absolutely cannot focus with a ton of noise, so I put these on, put on a podcast or YouTube video, and get to work.

So that’s it! Got something you want to add? Let me know in the comments! Hope this helped, and blessed be, loves! ❤

Links may include affiliate links. They are in no way sponsored– all views are my own– and do not present any additional charges for you; they simply kick back a small advertising commission my way when you make a purchase. Thank you!


Saving Money While Traveling for Work

Convention season can be a chaotic time of the year. I haven’t seen it firsthand, yet, (APPROVE ME, ANIME STL-SENPAI), but I’ve seen people going through that hectic time and thought I’d share some tips. These tips apply to really any kind of travel-related work, so if you travel often or even once-a-year, check it out!

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Photo by Jazmin Ali on Unsplash

While I haven’t been to any conventions, yet, I have had my fair share of traveling for work. For anyone not in-the-know: My husband and I used to do door-to-door sales and lead generation. Our area was oversaturated, however, and we had to drive WAY out of our way to get valid leads. During that time, I picked up plenty of ways to save money.

I had actually posted this on my original Tumblr blog waaaay back, like 5 years ago, but it was deleted during Tumblr’s purge thing despite not having any violating content. It had been reblogged by an AMAZING resource blog called How to be a Con Artist. (Definitely check into this blog if you’re looking to do conventions! They’ve been at it for YEARS both posting tips, answering questions, and reblogging a collection of convention-related content.) It seemed to help people, so I hope it helps you, too!

First Off: If You Don’t Already, Track Your Mileage!

You can use this as a business expense on your taxes. I love QuickBooks Self-employed and it has a reliable mileage tracker in its mobile app. (Hint: That’s my referral link! You get half off and I get a referral bonus. <3)

Aside from a service like QuickBooks, you could also simply keep a notepad, take note of your mileage, and enter it into a document/spreadsheet on your computer/iPad/whatever when you get home.

Loyalty Cards

You can get them for just about anything.

  • Some gas stations have cards you can use that save you 5 cents per gallon when you get gas, and some get you freebies, too, like a free donut when you get a coffee.
  • Starbucks has their Starbucks Stars to get rewards. Personally, I don’t like Starbucks except for on occasion, but if you like getting it now and again, definitely get a card and use it on double-star days.
  • Subway’s Subcard is great about rewards points. Plus, a somewhat healthier “fast food” option!
  • CVS and Walgreens. Great places to go when you need to grab something real quick, and the rewards rates are excellent plus special pricing on a lot of products.
  • Target RedCard. I highly suggest the DEBIT version! You’ll just need a paper check, or your bank account and routing numbers if you sign up online.
  • Basically: If you’re already going to these places (or similar places and wouldn’t mind switching), get their loyalty cards! But be warned: Don’t use this as an excuse to stop when you don’t need to! This goes to literally anywhere you already shop often that offers loyalty cards. Just don’t fall for the credit ones!

Pack Your Lunch as Often as You’re Able

Get a cooler and toss some pre-made smoothies, sandwiches, leftovers, etc. in it. Pack granola, jerky, fruit, and other shelf-stable stuff somewhere easy-to-reach for snacking while you’re driving. Put your own soda cans, tea, sparkling water in the cooler. The more prepared you are, the less you’ll have to stop. Less stopping = less chances to impulse-buy!

If You Travel a LOT, Get a Travel-Friendly Car!

Save up, use a tax return, trade in your massive gas-guzzlin’ truck, whatever! If your line of work allows for it, downsize. If you need the extra space (e.g., a big SUV to haul product with you), then try going for a smaller SUV that still has space for what you need but with a more wallet-friendly gas MPG.

So, those are my tips! What do you think? Do you agree or disagree on points? Anything to add that I may have missed, or just not thought of? Feel free to drop your comments below!

Have a beautiful day and blessed be, loves! ❤


An Excellent BUDGET Tablet: The Veikk S460

Hey, guys! Welcome to the blog. Today, I’m happy to be reviewing a great budget option for any beginning artist; the Veikk S640!

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This little guy takes ‘thin’ to the next-level, making it portable for people on the go who want to toss it and a laptop in a backpack (or, if you’re like me, a Harry Potter tote bag), or those with limited space who need to be able to neatly tuck their tablet into a drawer when not in use.

While small, it still packs 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, which is on-par with most up-to-date tablets on the market including the tablet gold standard that is Wacom– for almost than half the price. The pen is battery-free, so you won’t have to worry about charging it. It doesn’t have an eraser end like a Wacom, but you can easily use the button on the side of the stylus to switch between the eraser and your brush. When giving this puppy a test run, I had no problem getting accustomed to pressing the button as opposed to flipping the stylus over. Given that the cheapest Wacom tablet sells for around $60-70 and this lil’ guy costs less than $35, I’d say the lack of an eraser button on the end is a pretty small gripe.

During my line tests, there wasn’t any wobble I could notice when working with this tablet. Any wobble I did find I believe to be from my hand’s natural shake, so bumping my brush stabilization up to my usual 5 or 6 got rid of that entirely, which is worth noting because I get this on my XP-Pen and on my iPad Pro, too. I just have shaky hands. RIP.

TL;DR: Who is this tablet best-suited for?

In my opinion, this tablet is best-suited for…

  • Those with a tight budget. If you’re hurting for cash, this little guy is a solid buy.
  • Those who need a portable device. Put in your backpack, purse, whatever! If you can fit a small laptop in your bag of choice, you can definitely fit this tablet in with it.
  • Those with limited space. Toss it in a drawer when you’re done and it’s out of sight, out of mind until you need to use it, again.
  • A secondary/back-up tablet. If you’d like a back-up for those “oh crap!” moments, this one’s a solid choice!

If you’re a full-time professional looking for a primary tablet but don’t have the $1000 for a Wacom Cintiq Pro, I’d suggest looking into Veikk’s screen-based tablets, or similar. Veikk has a 15.6” model that’s currently on Amazon for $350 plus a coupon, which has similar stats to the Wacom Cintiqs (which start at $650 for the cheapest, non-‘Pro’ model!)

What do you think? Feel free to ask any questions in the comments! And, as always, have a beautiful day!

Blessed be. ❤

Links may include affiliate links. They are in no way sponsored and do not present any additional charges for you; they simply kick back a small commission my way when you make a purchase. Thank you!

Keeping Kids Busy While Working from Home

Are you and your kiddos stuck home because of the virus outbreak? Maybe you were already working from home and now have some littles running around making things just a bit more… interesting.

Or maybe, like me, you made the decision to homeschool your kids and you happen to also work from home.

It can be daunting, regardless of your situation. Combine that with the terrifying outlook of this virus and it’s a recipe for stress, anxiety attacks, and nightmares. I get it; I’m new to homeschooling and I’m also now the primary breadwinner of our household. And I’m a freelancer!! Our household routine has been flipped upside down. But here’s the thing: If you work with the flip, it’s easier to ride it out.

So, here are my tips for keeping your kids busy in positive ways while you’re working. You can also do any of these with your kiddos when you’re able to, as well, to bond with them while they’re home, whether that’s indefinitely or until public schools reopen.

Busy Bags

If your kiddos are young, busy bags are great! And incredibly flexible, so you may not have to run out to the store to grab anything for them.

  • Got some popsicle sticks, paper, and markers? Color the popsicle sticks different colors, cut the paper up (or tear it; it doesn’t have to be pretty!), color the paper pieces, and have your kiddo match them!
  • Paper and anything to write with: Draw a few simple items like socks or a fish and two letters beside the item. Have your kiddo circle the letter that the item starts with.
  • There are a TON of things to do for busy bags! I’ve made a public Pinterest board just for this, including ideas for older kids. Check it out here: https://www.pinterest.com/KijiArt/homeschooling/

Arts & Crafts

This one’s probably the most obvious: Let them go to town on art! Sketchbooks, paints, crayons, markers, modeling clay, whatever! Give them a workspace where they can work within your line of sight if they’re little, but otherwise let them go ham on some work! Let the creativity flow and they’ll be busy for a while.

Electronics

Oh, I know, I know. Everyone says they’re so bad. But they’re really not. As mom to an autistic 6 year old, I can firmly say that educational apps/games/etc. are a GOLDMINE! My son has a hard time making eye contact, watching your lips when you speak, and generally paying attention to a person.

But a tablet or phone could hold his attention for HOURS if I’d let him. He plays games on ABCMouse, Khan Academy Kids, and others, and they’re irreplaceable for us! Especially since I purchased an ABCMouse subscription when it was on sale. But, even without it being on sale, I’ll absolutely be renewing it when it runs out. Both of my kids love it and it’s helped them so much! (And no, I’m not sponsored or in any way affiliated with ABCMouse. …But I mean, they’re free to hit me up. wink wink)

Should anyone be needing a device, I recommend a refurbished Apple iPad or a Kindle Fire. I don’t personally enjoy FreeTime, which you’re forced to use on the Kindle Fire Kids’ Edition, but that’s also an option. We’ve had 6 in the past and they always end up with issues. I’d recommend a Kindle Fire, downloading the apps you want, then turning on parental controls. If you’re not the techy type, though, then the Kids’ Edition may be more within your comfort zone.

Gameschool!

If you have more than one kidlet and they’re old enough to play games together on their own, this is an excellent way to keep them busy, keep their minds churning, and promote cooperation between them! There’s a surprising amount of games that are cleverly disguised education.

There are SO many things to do with your kiddos. When you’re done working, take a nature walk or walk the dog around the block (just maintain that 4-6 foot distance from strangers!). Play “I spy”. Should you be blessed with a fully-functioning set of lungs (thanks, asthma), maybe join the kids in a game of tag! This is your time to bond. Use it and embrace it! There can be calm in the chaos, you just have to carve the time out and figure things out through trial and error. It may take a bit, but you’ll get there!

Blessed be, loves. ❤

Links may include affiliate links. They are in no way sponsored and do not present any additional charges for you; they simply kick back a small commission my way. Thank you!