Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Studio Safety

First off, The Gamblin Websites studio notes will always be the most awesome resource for your studio safety needs. Gamblin Is the best company for being engaging with artists, and making information available to the general public.

A good studio starts with good ventilation. Whether your studio is your living room couch or a huge loft, you need to have good air circulation. The air should be changed 10 times per hour. having an open window, with a fan blowing out, or an outtake fan pulling air out is the best way to work indoors. (working outdoors if you can, of course is only an improvement on this).

Most concerns with studio safety comes from solvents. This has lead to the belief that that oil paint is a toxic paint, and many people choose acrylics instead. This simply is an outdated misconception. The pigments used in creating paint are powdered and can be added to a binder to create paint. in the case of Watercolour paints, the binder is gum Arabic which is a tree sap, in Acrylic paints its a polymer, which is basically plastic, and in oil paint its linseed oil. Now lets for the sake of argument say you had a tube of each of these paints, with the same pigment. Which one would you rather (or your kids or pets) eat?

The one that you wouldn't want to eat is the plastic, I'm guessing.
So how is it that oil paints are more toxic? you cook with oil.

But when people start using solvents with their paint, this opens a whole new can of worms. you can wash acrylics with water, but oil paint needs turpentine right...? not necessarily.

On the 20th century the Odourless mineral spirits began becoming available for people to use. Gamblins "Gamsol" is a 100% pure odourless mineral spirit.
Turpentine Evaporates 5 times faster than OMS, so you can work around OMS longer without facing the affects that these chemicals have on the human body.

The other thing is, you can actually wash your oil brushes off, in more oil! That's right, wipe off your brushes then wash them off in vegetable oil. the vegetable oil will actually break down the linseed oil and get it off your brush with NO chemicals. I've heard many artists switch to this way of painting and have eliminated any solvents from their studios all together.

Now having said all that, Not all pigments are innocent. Cadmium's are pretty notorious for being a cancer causing pigment. Until recently though there were paints made from mercury and lead. Thank goodness most paint lines have stopped that, but you should always read the labels of your paint tubes. Most paint brands list the pigments used to create the colour, and you can find a pure pigment that way as well. Winson & Newton has a colour composition chart for their line of oil paints. I also stumbled on this neat Colour Index guide that looks pretty thorough, but my favourite resource is's Complete Palette.

So now that you know not all pigments are safe and innocent, what can you do? A lot! To protect your skin, don't use your hands to paint unless you wear gloves. That's why they make non toxic kids paints too by the way. Letting your children paint with artists paints is a very bad idea. Use a barrier cream when you paint. this stops anything from absorbing into your skin, and don't eat your paint :D .

To protect the environment, and your local water supply, never wash solvents, mineral spirits or pigments down any drains. Of course all places are different, but most places have water treatment plants that purify, and either recycle or dump it into the ocean. Some pigments are ground so finely that they can't be filtered out, so that ends up in our oceans, rivers, fish, sushi, tummies, and tumors. This also harms the wild life out there too, so beyond what you eat, we should be compassionate about the quality of life of other creatures as well. Humans do far more damage to the earth than we really should and we should take all steps we can to reduce that.

So having said that, what the heck do you do with your paint? There are many options. my very favourite is to use the Peel-Off Palettes. These are the best thing I've ever seen! when dry, acrylic paint peels right off, effort free, and the thin spots of paint can be picked up with the ball of paint as well, like an eraser. Oil paint can easily be wiped out, but I've also experimented with the peeling off aspect of them for oils as well! I found if i spread galkyd over the paint it acted like acrylics, and peeled right off. Solid paint in the garbage is way safer than liquids down the drain! Second to this option of disposable palettes. I don't like this, since it creates so much more garbage, but a lot of lazy or impatient people like them (grumble grumble). They are better than washing down the drain though. There is also the simple solution of using an airtight container to store your paint when not in use. then you never really throw out paint except in the solvent.
or water.

When you've got used paint solvent that you want to get rid of, there is a simple method you can do to reuse your solvent. You need 2-3 glass or metal jars with lids. When you paint, pour your dirty solvent/oms into a can, and let it settle. Once its settled, pour to clear oms off into a new jar. you can then reuse it until it no longer becomes clear. you can then throw out the sludge in your garbage, and take your OMS/Solvent to the recycle facility and recycle it with motor oils.

So there are some studio basics for your safety, and the safety of this ball of dirt we call home :)

Paint on :D

Monday, 9 March 2009

Oil Painting - the basics

Oil Painting is something I stopped doing years ago, and now that I've gone back to it, I cant image why! Its an extremely versatile painting material, and the look of oil is amazing!

The basics:
What do you need to get started oil painting? I'll not dwell on this too too much, but there are some common misconceptions that I must clear up!

  • Paint: Artists Quality! I know student paints are cheaper, and in most cases you never see a problem but if you plan on mixing your colours, this is where student paint becomes your enemy. If you don't mix, no worries! My favourite oil paints are Gamblin, Windsor Newton, and Holbein. I use all 3, and they're all great! I never stick to one specific brand personally, because some lines have certain colours you cant get in other lines. The important thing is to have a paint you like to work with.
  • Brushes: Most oil painters use natural hair brushes. I don't. Why? Animal cruelty... enough said... I'm confused by people who won't buy a fur coat, but they'll buy a fur brush... Some brushes are fur used as a by product of the food industry though, so its not so bad but I still avoid it. At least the whole animal is being used in those cases. There are of course some cases where only natural hair will do, and that is Encaustics. Synthetic brushes melt with the heat of encaustics, which is not good of course. That aside, you can use Natural hog hair brushes, or synthethic brushes. Look for a bristle stiffness that will support the weight of the heavy paint, and will hold sufficient paint to work with it. I use the Opus Brand Mezzo brushes for my painting if i use brushes, but I tend to use knives more. Find something that works for you
  • Palette and painting knives: Some people use them, some people don't. Mixing paint is a hekuva lot easier with a small knife on your palette though. brushes for mixing can be a painful process, especially if you are mixing lots of colours. I like liquitex palette knives myself. If you are buying knives, avoid any with joints. if they're gunna break, that's where it will happen.
  • Palette: anything will do, but I personally enjoy the peel off palettes. I'm limited in space so mines a small one. I've tested it too, if you mix Alkyd with your paints, you can peel it off the palette cleanly. alternatively pour some alkyd liquid on your palette and when it dries it will pluck them all up. Peel off palettes are a more environmentally friendly, and YOU friendly way to clean up. I'll talk about that later on.
  • Solvents: Fuck Solvents. Use Odourless Mineral spirits to paint with, and clean your brushes. They Evaporate less than paint thinner and are therefore 60% less toxic. meaning you can paint 60% longer without feeling ill effects, and its odourless. Oil paint does not need to be a stinky toxic process. Still work well ventilated, and you are good to go. Odourless Mineral spirits.
  • Mediums: Some people paint straight from the tube, but I like mediums! I use Gamblin Mediums because they rule! More on that later!
  • Painting Surface: Stretched canvas or my personal favourite, cradled panels! I like the rigid surface. Pick smooth un-warped panels (unless you feel like repairing them) and pick tight stretched, triple primed canvases! (or stretch your own).

I wont show techniques just yet, but I will go over the basics of what the tools do, then you can experiment with them to see how each will work with your own style and techniques. Somethings about paint you might need to know:
Titanium white: The best opaque white. good for mixing and covering
Zinc White: A good soft mixing white that is transparent.
There are so many whites, you should experiment to find the one you like. If you plan on venturing into the world of encaustics, be aware, zinc white does not like to be heated, and never heat Prussian Blue ( PB27) because it gives of toxic gasses. Winsor newton has a great colour composition chart.
Try to avoid touching your paint too much, and if you do get it all over you, use a barrier cream. I'm not a fanatic about this like some people, but pigments like cadmium can leach through the skin and cause cancers and stuff. Just be safe.

Little tidbits, lets move on to some fun stuff!

I love mediums. I use Gamblins mediums not only because they're the most accessible for me, but because they're awesome. I'll list some of the ones I use, and their features and benefits.

Galkyd/ Alkyd: Alkyd resin speed up the drying time of paint. You can mix it in with your paint to thin your paint slightly and speed up drying time. you can also thin galkyd with odourless mineral spirits up to 50%. Excellent glazing medium! There is also a galkyd Lite which is lower viscosity and has a few different properties. In addition there is a galkyd slow dry, for working wet on wet for a prolonged time. There is also a fun galkyd Gel that will make transparent impasto! also good fun to use! I tend to stick to straight galkyd myself, since my main motivation is to thin the paint, ad speed the drying time!

Cold Wax medium: Cold Wax is one of my favourite things to play with. Its a thick white paste consistency, and is a matte medium. Its filtered beeswax dissolved in Odourless mineral spirits with a little bit of Alkyd Resin. On its own, it dries to a beeswax hardness, so it should be on a rigid support like a cradled panel unless you mix more alkyd into it to make it a more flexible film.
You can see this product in use on my painting Space Cadet. Its mixed with pearlescent pigments. See the close up here. Click to enlarge.(please also note the yellow paint, bubbly and wrinkled. This is what happens when you mix too much linseed oil with your paint.)
You can see it dries semi opaque and is matte. Its fun to mix with paint as a matting agent, or to create impasto or layered effects. You can see it in use more discretely in my 2 Toxic Forest Paintings Green and Purple.

Linseed Oil: Linseed oil is the base for most oil paints (with the exception of the radiant series of Gamblin paint which uses safflower oil). You can use it to thin your paint, but it does slow down the drying time a great deal. don't mix too much either, or you get the wrinkles seen in the above example, and it seems like it will never dry.

For more mediums check out the Gamblin Mediums page. Its great, full of information and has an interactive guide.

Studio Safety & clean up: Disposing of Mineral spirits and solvents can be a pain in the ass. You should recycle them as "Motor Oil" at a recycling facility. While using them in your home or studio I'll give you some quick tips. You'll need 2 glass jars with lids. Ones your Using jar and ones your used jar. you put your OMS in your using jar, this is what you use as you paint and for clean up. when you're done painting, pour all your dirty paint into your Used jar. once all the pigments settle you can pour off the used, but now clean OMS into your day use jar, and continue using it. This way you use less, waste less, and cost less. Gamblin has a great series of articles on studio safety and tips for painters. I highly recommend subscribing to the Gamblin newsletter.

Don't wash your paint down the sink! water filtration systems for our drinking water, which is recycled from all the shit we flush and wash down our drains, is not effective against filtering out particles as small as cadmium, which is toxic if ingested. to properly dispose of your paint, you can either get a peeling palette where you can let the paint dry and peel it out, or wipe out your palette with paper, then throw that paper away in sealed bags in the garbage. better in a landfill than our drinking water. Paint does less damage in a solid form than a liquid. You can also buy disposable palettes, but I find that quite wasteful anyways.

So that's about it, off the top of my head. :B
If you have more questions, or want to discuss, please drop by my forum! thanks!

Classical Animation - Getting Started - Supplies

On a recent poll, it seems that the crowd watching me on deviantART is mostly animators! Surprising to me, but very interesting none the less. Animation is a very complex art that will require very indepth areas of discussion, so I think the best method to undertake this on a blog is to break it down into tiny steps.

Getting Started
This is always the hardest part for any medium of expression, but it's made more daunting by all the technical aspects of Animation. Beyond the actual physical animation proccess there are many other steps of Pre and Post Production that I haven't even touched on! Someday I'll break down my entire production proccess for you, but in the mean time, Tony white has a great page breaking down the production process for animation here. Its a good read, and pretty interesting to see all the steps. but most people I talk to want to dive into the animation part, so I think this post will be about that.
Lets assume you are wanting to use good old fashioned classical animation on paper. Here is what you will need!

  • An already written storyboarded and shot animatic to work from and filled out dope sheets. (I'll post about this in the future)
  • Animation Paper. This can even be bond paper (printer paper) but really any paper that has a slight translucency to it will do. Don't get the most expensive stuff, thats pointless considering how much you will go through! You might be confused at first by the way the paper is labeled as 10f, 12f, and 16f. What the F stands for is "Field". I'll discuss the importance of that later on, but for now, dont worry about it!
  • Peg Bar.There are 2 basic types of peg bars Acme and Round. Acme is the one with 2 flat pegs, and one round peg, and round is standard 3 hole punch. See the chart I yoinked from recommend sticking with round to start, since the hole punches for acme are expensive! Very Expensive! Its cheaper to just punch your own bond paper
  • A board or light box, or animation Disc. An animation disc is an investment. if you are sure you want to animate a lot, definitely get one! I recommend the Port-a-disc for the space limited animator. I have it, its beautiful and perfect! it fits 12f paper. It uses ambient light for the light box, or you can slap it over a light box if you feel the need. If you don't have a disc, just tape your pegbar to a slab of Masonite, or board, or a light box. Please note: you do not NEED a light box to animate! the animation is seen by "flipping" the pages, and viewing them. I only ever use light to clean up animation.
  • Pencils! Blue, Red, and graphite! Blue is for Rough animation, Red is for camera information and graphite is for the final clean up. Sanford Col-erase pencils are the best for coloured ones. and (in my opinion) tombow makes the best graphite pencils.
  • Tape. Low tack tape, and masking tape! Low tack is good for repositioning things on a rough if you need to cut something out and reposition it (easier than redrawing!) and masking tape is good for fixing torn peg holes. you can also get reinforcements for that, but why bother? (Guru has 2 boxes! LOL)
So theres all the physical supplies to get started! but theres all that pre and post production I skipped over! I found a website called that has some really good Free downloadable forms! I was very impressed! it includes not only the dope sheet, but many other forms for running a home studio! I customized mine, and built a single multi-page excel sheet for each of my scenes. It's a great thing to have!

Paperless PLZ!
Paperless work flow? Kudos on you for choosing an earth friendly animation system! I work totally paperless now, yes it is possible to do classical animation, paperless. This is a cheaper alternative to the classical animation. Buying paper, and hell, even storing the animation is sometimes a daunting task! I have several programs I use for my paperless animation

  • Rough & clean animation: I use Plastic animation Paper for all my rough and clean animation. I have the pro version, but for simply rough animation the free version is perfectly fine! I cannont even begin to express how much I enjoy this program. its a light weight extremely friendly program to use! I recomend it to anyone and everyone! I've done a video tutorial on it and more will come.
  • Clean animation alternative: If you only use a free version of PAP (plastic animation paper) then you can export the rough frames from PAP and then open them in photoshop, Gimp or ToonBoom and do the clean animation in there.
  • Digital Ink and Paint: I use Toon Boom Studio for my digital painting. It's fairly easy to use. I've done a tutorial or 2 on this proccess so far, and I will do more!

So thats very basic, again I'll go more indepth later on in future posts. Please feel free to discuss anything in my posts, or promote your stuff in my new Forum! Its new, and needs love. <3

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Markers - brands

It seems fitting that my first post be about my passion - Markers.
I've been using them for many years now, and I've learned a lot along the way! I'll give a a run down of all the tools I use with my markers, and the pro's and Con's of each brand of marker or marker related material.

A lot of people don't fully understand markers, or find them to be difficult to control, and I think its mostly because people are using the wrong papers. The most ideal paper to use, is a bleed-proof marker paper! hands down, its the best!
Its initially off putting to most artists because some of its flimsy thin weak feel, but its really ideal!
I use Letraset Bleedproof paper. It has many benefits! but for my main illustrations I use Aquabee Bleed Proof Marker paper. Its bleed proof but heavier like cardstock so you get to lay down tons of colour without it pooling or blobbing.

  • The most obvious benefit of the letraset is that its bleed-proof. You get crisp smooth lines of vibrant colour, and they don't bleed into each other.
  • The colours blend easily. Because its bleed proof, the paper doesn't absorb the ink immediately, so you can layer colours and blend them together quite easily.
  • Markers last longer. That's right! If you use a heavy paper that is absorbent, you are literally wasting your markers!! As you use the markers, the paper is drawing out more ink than it needs. draining your markers dry! When people complain to me that their markers don't last long, the first thing I ask is "what paper are you using?" and in most cases a change of paper solves that problem! This of course lowers costs.
  • Colourless Blender! Most people use them with success, but there are things you can do on marker paper that you cant do on other papers with the colourless blender. You can actually erase your markers to an extent. I did that a lot on my Stag Drawing Because I was experimenting and reading online about markers at the same time! haha :D
So that's Bleed proof paper, but you can also use other paper. Bristol board is OK, but I wouldn't use it. It pulls a lot more ink, as its an absorbent paper, but it doesn't bleed too much. If you are doing mixed media like adding pencil Crayons (coloured pencils for the Americans) or watercolour with your marker work, this is ideal. the smoother the finish, like a vellum finish is best, since tooth can be a little rough on marker nibs.


I have a pet-peeve in regards to how markers are marketed. Every single line of markers I use has at least some reference to M
anga art in their advertising. Give it up already! a Real artist chooses a material based on techniques, styles, and personal preference. We don't pick up markers simply because as a certain genre of style, its dictated that that's the proper use. No, If you are an artist of any style, genre, or walk of life, you choose a material based on how it performs! Worse, is in some cased they market the student lines of the markers as being the Manga artists pens.
Show me how the pen looks on paper, don't show me how to colour a picture of a lolita girl.
(In no way do I think Manga is not art, I like manga, but I think the marketing ploy is terrible)

Now onto the actual Markers! I've used 6 brands of markers, and 5 of them are ones I still use on a regular basis. Each has pros and con's, which is why I don't stick to one marker brand.

Tria: Letraset has displayed the biggest product self sabotage since coke changed its original recipe. I just keep waiting for Letraset to re-release the Trias as "Tria Classic." I'm losing faith that they will. Having said that, the New line of tria markers is actually truly amazing if you get ones that are fixed. They had batch issues when they released their new marker design that had faulty brush nibs (the ink seemed the wrong consistency to make it through), caps that didn't seal and caps that damaged the chisel nibs. When I wrote and complained about the product to Letraset, they offered me a pack of 25 markers in the zipper case for free, for my trouble, which I gladly accepted. Unfortunately the markers they sent me were from the bad batches so I have very few of those that survived. Unfortunately for them this ruined their credibility. However, I still use and buy them. The new batches are nothing short of brilliant! I got a set of "brights" that seem to all be from the "fixed" batches, and the colours are vibrant, smooth and exactly what I look for in a marker. The Swatch I have posted here is the "r465" colour, the first swatch is the brush tip overlapped slightly and the other swatch is the chisel nib with built up layers. The inks are transparent, alcohol based and non-toxic. Tria has the largest colour range I've ever seen! They base their colours labeling on a Hue, saturation, & luminosity scale. From the website:

HSL is represented as numerical values - meaning accurate colour specification that can be interpreted by a computer.
Most graphic software applications use HSL, so by sharing this method, the Tria colour space works alongside the digital design process.

I believe that the trias are Pigment based inks, so they should be archival, but I don't recall where I heard that, and I couldn't find that information on their website. Trias are refillable by replacing the actual shaft of the pen, and the nibs are replaceable by replacing the nibs as well. It seems like a rather wasteful process to be honest. Why replace the whole shaft, when you can replace the whole pen? it doesn't make much sense to me. So their replacements are nice, but i find them pointless. They also carry a line of inks to match their pen colours, so you can fill brush pens with the ink as well!
So Tria has a great deal of benefits for its use. The only Con is that they've destroyed their reputation with some bad batches that were not corrected quickly enough.


Everyone seems to love the
Copics. They sure are nice! they Have a great line of colours (Up to 310+ colours, and growing), and styles of markers. I believe they also made the Brush tip as popular as it is today. My only complaint comes from a comparison. They are not as vibrant as the Trias for a straight primary colour. you can see that this swatch, on the single stroke lines, its barely red at all, its almost pink! and even on the built up swatch, it doesn't have nearly the purity of colour or vibrancy of the Tria. That's my only complaint. Otherwise the colours are amazing! the range is fantastic. The reliability of the product is consistent and I think they have the best reputation of all the markers available. With good cause, I've only had one marker that has upset me, My Africano colour tends to pool in the brush tip when I use it. Its okay though, I just open both caps for a few minutes and equalize the pressure! HA! its a beautiful rich colour. The pens are a good shape and size for holding and prolonged use, and they last a fairly long time with proper use. The actual markers are ciao, Sketch, and wide. each one offering different nibs, all are refillable, and all have changeable nibs! They also have a line of ink as well, so you can refill your markers and they also have a fantastic line of Drawing pens! (I'll save pens for another post!) The inks are dye-based so aren't UV safe, so keep them out of the light!
They're an amazing marker. The con I mentioned are extremely minor and I recommend them to anyone!

They are also more expensive than other markers but you make up the cost 100 times over with the refills. They actually work out to be less expensive over time!

Prismacolour Markers:

I never have much to say about these guy. They are a pretty good marker. they have a good selection of colour, very consistent and very smooth lay down of colour, and ve
ry reliable. Double ended markers, with a chunky chisel and a fine point tip as well. The drawback is the lack of brush tip, but the chisel and fine tips get you a good range of pen strokes from your markers. They're artist quality, and fairly accessible. The awesome thing is that they also have a line of fine line pens for drawing, that are the same as the markers! finally marker proof coloured pens that don't cost a fortune! Again, I'll save this for a pen review.
Non Toxic, and a good range of colours. What more could you ask for really?

Letraset ProMarker:

These are by Letraset, the same company as the Tria. This is their "student" line, but They're every bit as good as the Trias! They have a great set of colours and they lay down smooth and true! my swatch is from a pen thats starting to dry out, haha! but you get the idea, Its a good colour, builds up nicely, and smooth. They ave a fine and chisel nib. I use them mostly for base coats of colour, and they serve me well.
Not much more I can say about them except that they also work with my Letrajet Airbrush system ;)

Touch Markers
These are fairly new to me, and I don't have a swatch. They so far, seem to have really good colour laydown, a good range of colours, but they're pretty expensive here in Vancouver so far, so I haven't had a chance to play yet. i have a grey set thats nice!

Letrajet Marker Airbrush:
Now here is a product thats fun to use! Its an air canister and nozzle you shove a Promarker into and it forces air across the nib creating a rough aibrush effect. with less pressure on the trigger you get a more spatterly look, while if you plunge the trigger down all the way, you get a softer airbrush look! Its great for stenciling little highlights and soft shadows. There are similar products for other lines of markers, but I've yet to try them. This one is pretty cool. It wont replace a real airbrush, but it sure is a neat addition to a marker set!

Marker Care
Taking care of markers is pretty simple. Carefully recap them if you aren't using them, store them laying flat, instead of standing up. I'm of course guilty of leaving mine standing up, but It's better for them to lay down. then the ink doesn't pool into one tip or the other. I've opened markers to have ink run down my hands and arms before. it's fun, but only once. Don't mash the nibs, and show them some love.
If the Pen shafts get too dirty for your likes, you can clean them with colourless blenders, or alcohol, but a dirty marker is a well used marker in my opinion, and I like em dirty!

I did a marker tutorial a while back, maybe someone will find it useful.

This is just the first of many entries on markers so I hope you find this useful!

if you have any marker reviews, tutorials, or information on other brands of markers please feel free to comment and leave links! I'll add them to the post!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Another Blog, a grander purpose!

New Blog.
This blog is going to be sharing all the product knowledge about artistic supplies and techniques I've learned over the years from not only my own experimentation, but working in the artistic field, and working in an art store.

I've found that the internet is a great resource, but at the same time, I find it lacking in really concrete and valid information for specific techniques, or tools that come up in an artists day to day life.

Feel free to comment and leave me questions, and I will do my best to answer them as posts. I will be also posting tutorials, resources and also promoting links and sites with really great information!
Some start asking me some questions about materials and techniques!

I'll also have polls from time to time :D
Feel free to also link me to your blogs, or tutorials and i will link them in relevant posts.

I'll fix the layout soon LOL!

Extending the layout :B

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