Questions are ones regularly submitted on this blog, in emails, as well as YouTube and other social media sites. I try to answer individually as questions come in, but I hope this list will help you to get answers faster on some of the most common topics!
Click on any category to read Q&A on that topic.
I participate in affiliate programs.
This means I receive a small percentage when purchases are made using links on my blog. This is at no additional cost to you, but really helps defray the costs of supplies and equipment! I choose to only participate in programs at sites I shop at – primarily Ellen Hutson, Dick Blick and Simon Says.
I purchase just about all of my own supplies.
Just like everyone else. (Just ask my poor bank account!) I am probably one of the only bloggers that asks companies not to put me on their “regular” list to receive every new release; I prefer to use products I purchase myself, so that you can trust that I am sharing it because I liked it enough to buy it.
Occasionally I do receive some free products.
Usually this happens when I’m asked to participate in bloghops or create guest posts. Products are sent by the company for me to try, but with no expectation that I’ll share them – only if I like them. If I’ve received an item for free, I do note that in the blog post.
I write sponsored posts on very rare occasions.
That means a company has contacted me and asked if I would create a project using their materials, and I am paid for the post. When this happens, I’ll tell you clearly that it’s sponsored if I do so, because I want you to read it knowing that’s the case. I rarely agree to do any of those, only if it’s something that I would use anyway – I’ve turned down a great number of requests to do sponsored posts.
You will receive a blue email receipt from PayPal, and shortly thereafter a yellow receipt from me with any downloadable links or class links and passwords. If either does not show up fairly quickly, please check your spam folder – you likely already have it in that folder.
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About the artist
Do you ever sleep?
Do you have a regular job?
Nope! I don’t work for any companies. It’s what’s called “multiple streams of income” – my blog and videos, teaching, product design, and miscellaneous freelance work.
Do you have an address I can send a card to?
Yes, I’d love to see your work! I request a themed card each month, too, for my “Inspired By” series. Mail to: Sandy Allnock, PO Box 23395 , Federal Way WA 98093
Copics, pencil, watercolor? What’s the best?
Honestly, it’s comparing chocolate, pizza, and cheeseburgers. I love them all!
What basic supplies do I need to start making cards?
I tried giving my own Mom advice NOT to buy everything you see. It’s tempting but you don’t need it ALL and it accumulates and overwhelms quickly! Make a dozen cards first and be sure it’s a hobby you will really take up, then start seeking out other things to try, a little at a time. I plan to do a video on this topic – but for now, here’s what I suggest:
Tools – a good paper trimmer, detail scissors (most folks already have a big pair!).
Stamps – just get ONE or TWO that you like. Hold off on getting them ALL, there’s lots of time. You can make many cards from one set! Easiest for coloring are Lawn Fawn and Paper Smooches, and they come with sentiments. Hero Arts has a wide variety of styles too, both coloring and solid stamps, as well as cling and wood mounted. If you get acrylic (clear) stamps you also need an acrylic block to stick them to; the kind with the wavy edges are most comfortable.
Black Ink – Versafine stamps the nicest and works with watercolor and pencil; Memento is needed for Copic coloring.
Colored Ink – Warning! There are lots of colors and types, don’t get them all! Try ONE color in Pigment ink and one in Dye Ink and see which kind you have the best success with. (Pigment inks take a little while to dry – two brands I like are Avery Elle and Mama Elephant), Dye inks dry more quickly and their look “smooths out” as they do – favorite is Hero Arts; don’t be confused but they call lots of them “shadow” inks.)
Adhesive – a tape runner and a dimensional adhesive (for newbies, just try a pack of these, they’re easy!)
Where should a new colorist begin?
I recommend trying one medium first. If you like the look of a medium, get a small set or a few colors in that medium and try them out. See if it’s a “fit” for what you like to do – and then decide if you’d like to invest a little more in a better quality medium. Don’t try to do everything at once or buy the most expensive items — usually the cost alone won’t magically turn you into a genius in that medium! See more suggestions in each section of this FAQ on each medium!
Pencil – By far the easiest, and inexpensive. Prismacolors are my favorite. Get at least this little sharpener!
Water-based markers – I find they are best with water—almost all streak when applied directly to paper.
Alcohol Markers – I’m a big fan of Copics! Other brands don’t blend as well, and some can’t be refilled, etc.
Watercolor – Try a simple set to start and see if you like watercolor. And invest in one good #4 brush!
Do you like [supply x]?
If I use it on my blog and in my videos, yes. If not it either means that 1) I don’t own it or 2) I don’t like it. I don’t like to share about things I don’t like, because there are so many that I *do* like. There’s not enough time to spend on the stuff that’s terrible!
Do you ever share products you don’t enjoy?
If I purchase a ‘dud’ product, I rarely share it – rest assured I do not promote products just to make a percentage! So I’ll either keep testing to see if there’s a use I do like, or simply not show it on my site.
Will you ever make a hex chart for [coloring medium x]?
In order to do so, I need to both purchase the entire set as well as have plenty of time to “get to know” the medium. I do have hopes to do others, but that will take some time.
What Copic markers should I buy to start out?
I’ve assembled a chart of blending groups HERE. – and a few suggestions to think about:
- Choose a group that you can use with a stamped image you want to color. If you love flowers, get pinks and yellows; if you color animals, go for browns and greys. Plenty of time to go get more!
- Get the HexChart first so you don’t duplicate similar colors.
- Watch videos on this Beginner Copic playlist. Jot down colors you see that you like.
- Pick up some EduDigis which each talk about a color family, if you’re interested in a specific color combination.
How do I choose markers to blend?
The easiest method for beginners is numerically. Choose colors with 1) the same letter(s), and 2) the same first digit. That first number refers to the “saturation” – how intense or how desaturated (greyish) it is. The lower that digit is, the more saturated or intense it is; the higher the number, it’ll be duller. If you match the saturation, you’ll have better blending success. Then look at 3) the last digit: that indicates how light or dark the color is. The lower the number, the lighter, the higher the number, the darker. Using this method, remember that the digits mean something separately – “eighteen” on a marker number means nothing, but “one” means it’s highly saturated, and “eight” means it’s a dark shade.
You can also choose using other methods. Markers with different letters can certainly be used together. For easiest blending, try analagous colors – letters next to each other on the color wheel. For instance, Y will blend best with YR or YG. And BV will blend best with B or V colors. Other color families can blend, it’s just more challenging. Experiment and see what works for you – and keep a notebook of your favorite combinations!
What does the washi tape on your Copics mean?
The tape is just marking them as mine when I go to places where others also have markers. It has nothing to do with color selection or anything else. My personal set has striped black and white tape; class markers have plain black tape, and you may see some of each in my videos.
Why do my Copic markers bloop on my page?
This can be for two reasons: 1) overfilling, and 2) pressurizing. If they have been filled too much by you or the manufacturer, they may “bloop.” Yes, that’s a scientific word, I swear! Scribble off color on scratch paper to release excess ink. Or if the pens have travelled by air or changed altitude, they may simply need repressurized. Here the solution is to “burp” the marker – remove both caps, and if needed remove the chisel nib – put it back in, and replace the caps.
How do you refill markers and replace nibs?
I created a blog post and video all about that HERE.
Which size markers should I get to start?
I recommend Sketch markers if you’ve got “Full Set Syndrome” as they have the largest selection of colors. Ciao are less expensive, and hold slightly less ink – so will need refilling sooner. Original (sometimes called “copic”) are the square bodied markers – they have a bullet nib, and I recommend a couple colors you need for doodling. Perhaps a 0 marker for polkadots, or a green for flower stems.
What cardstock or paper do you recommend?
For my techniques for cardmaking, it’s Neenah cardstock – 80# or 110# (110 is heavier). There are many other papers though, and I suggest trying out a little of each. Maybe get together with friends and divvy up and try a bunch. You’ll quickly discover which you get the best blending on – it may or may not be my choice of paper.
Recently I discovered these sketchbooks, and am slowly being swayed that the paper doesn’t necessarily have to say “Neenah” on it! (Though this paper is not good for cardmaking. Too thin.)
What ink should I use for stamping?
Memento Ink for stamping – doesn’t bleed with Copics. And you can refill it!
I like to draw; what pens work with Copics?
Copic Multiliners are made just for the purpose! They’re black pens that don’t bleed with Copics – refillableor non-refillable (less expensive). They also come in colors. And brush nibs. And oh my.
How do you get some of your amazing textures?
With a big bottle of Colorless Blender for adding texture (apply with textured fabrics etc)! I also sometimes put blender solution into a Mini-mister for fun effects, too.
I want to get into Copic airbrush…advice?
I created a whole tutorial with links to get started HERE.
Where do you get your Copic supplies?
These are the three stores I recommend, for price, customer service, or just plain awesomeness! They’re always discounted at the first two, and the third hosts sales regularly. I post coupon codes and sales on my blog and social media as I’m aware of them.These links take you to the Copic section of each store:
Ellen Hutson LLC
Simon Says Stamp
What’s the best set of watercolors?
Oh my. You’re asking me to choose between children! I created a full “Getting Started” guide HERE, but let me give you the Readers Digest version.
For newbies: Just to see if you even LIKE watercolor, get an inexpensive set. Honestly, playing with a simple set like this can show you if you even enjoy watercoloring! But be sure to get a good brush –
For those digging deeper: I think the most reasonable sets for papercrafters are the Gansai Tambi. There are others like the Koi that work great, but I like the large, wide pans of the Gansai best.
For fine artists: I am one who has fallen in love with pan watercolors; the Holbein are my favorites, and when you see the price you’ll know why. You may be coming to me for advice on tube watercolors, but at this time I’m sorry I don’t have advice! I do know you should get artist grade, not student grade in whatever you choose.
For those who travel: The Koi are a nice option to take for the road for papercrafting. I’ve also liked these from Winsor & Newton and Holbein as well, but they’re pricier. Some folks like the Peerless which are watercolor pigment on paper, and while they are good for travel, I don’t find I get “enough” color for what I like, but it really depends on your style.
But my current favorite: I seem to be doing very well with the Dr. PhMartin Hydrus of late! What I love most about them at the moment is that once the color is dry, it’s permanent – and I am having way too much fun with layering. Other watercolors “lift” when they are re-wet, but the Hydrus do not.
What are the best brushes?
I did much research and found the Silver brand brushes – the Black Velvet line – to be the best for me. My criterion was 1) no hairs falling out (ha) and 2) a fine point at the tip of the brush. These Silver brushes have the ability to come to a very very fine point no matter the size of the brush, and they still hold a good amount of paint and water. A Round #4 is a good one to start with. A #2 will give you fine detail, a #6 offers a wider stroke. And if you want to do large flooded backgrounds, you can’t beat this 1″ flat brush.
What is an aquabrush or waterbrush?
These brushes carry water within the barrel, so you don’t need a jar or cup of water to paint. Be aware that it’s more challenging to control the amount of water that these distribute, but they can be a good solution for many situations. I personally prefer either the detail of this small brush, but I also use this larger one.
What about tube watercolors?
I’m not a fan of tube watercolors – that’s just my personal thing! So many artists love them. So I am sorry I don’t have advice for you!
What is the best paper for watercolor?
There are three basic types: Hot press (smoothest), Cold press (medium), and Cold press rough (very bumpy surface). For beginners: Start out with this Canson XL. It’s student grade, which means it’s not super high quality, but it’s affordable and will allow you to feel like you can experiment and toss things out if they don’t work. If you have trouble stamping well on paper that’s a little bumpy, you can try hot presswhich is smoother for stamping – but it can be a little tougher for watercolor washes for beginners.
For those digging deeper: Step up a little to a higher quality paper and notice the difference it will make! For the price of a set of stamps, you can get a pad of good cold press paper that will garner 48 cards – more than the stamp set will likely do, if you’re like me! It’s worth trying out something new.
For fine artists: I have a huge variety of papers and regularly rotate among them. In addition to my Arches below, Fabriano and Fluid are both lovely quality. Your painting style will dictate what works best for you.
My personal favorites: Arches blocks are fantastic, even if expensive, and the Arches pads are more reasonable. I love the rough best when doing loose washy painting; the regular cold press when making simpler cards, and hot press for detailed fine art painting.
Why would I get watercolor markers or pencils?
The way watercolor is applied is entirely personal preference. Some folks have a better “natural” touch with one or another type of application, and some, like me, get a different “look” based on the type of tool used to put color onto paper. To apply markers or pencils, you draw onto the paper or a pallette, then move the color with water.
Which are the best watercolor markers?
I wouldn’t say there’s one “best.” I WOULD say to start with what you already have! If there is a craze on over a new kind of pen, please know that lots of them work very much the same – choose one that has the types of colors you like best. Here’s a quick look at some of the ones I have, in order of which one “moves” most easily with water:
Zig Clean Color – “Real” brush. 80 very bright colors. These LOVE to move with water, and need some experience to control bleeding.
Marvy LePlume II – Brush and teeny tiny bullet nib. 108 colors. Move nicely with water, but I adore the tiny nib.
Tombow – Brush and bullet nib. 96 colors. Move nicely with water.
Ranger Distress – Brush and bullet nibs; these seem best used applied on a palette as they don’t move really well when drawn onto paper. 50 colors and always growing each time a new color is added to the Distress line.
Which are the best watercolor pencils?
At this time I’ve only tested two brands, so I’ll give you what I know!
Prima – inexpensive pencils; buying all the sets will give you 18 duplicates. They work nicely, colors are very soft.
Inktense – these do not move nearly as much as watercolor, allowing for layering. But if you want zero pencil marks to remain, these will be a challenge.
Why do some watercolor pencils/pens not blend?
There is likely a scientific answer, but I find that there are some colors in different brands that act differently than the rest of the colors in that same line. Often it’s dark blues, and I’m not certain as to why. You may need to adjust your technique – try picking up color direct from the pencil, or scribble a pen on a block, and then apply color.
What’s the best colored pencil brand?
I haven’t tested a bunch – ever since college, I’ve been a Prismacolor girl. They come in 150 colors, and I keep mine in two cases – this 120 capacity one plus a smaller one.
What sharpener do you recommend?
I like a really really really sharp point. If you want to get something small, this little hand sharpener works – but if you’re ready to invest, try out what I call my “Big Momma” sharpener. It’s huge, don’t say I didn’t warn you! But oh the sharp point – and it auto stops so it won’t eat up your pencils.
Are you ever on the internet “live”?
Not on YouTube, but daily on Periscope! It’s an app you can download on your phone.
Do you read YT comments?
Every single one! I click the “like” button on each, whether or not I have time to respond; I generally only comment if there’s a direct question, an idea that gets my brain going, or someone makes me giggle. I wish I had more hours in the day to chat!
Why don’t you voice-over some of your videos?
On more complicated art, it’s extremely difficult to explain what I am doing; just spending time coloring is relaxing for me, and being able to occasionally post a video without having to detail why I did everything is a big help to me time-wise.
What equipment do you use for photos and videos?
I shoot on a Canon T5i – it’s made my life so much easier! It takes great stills as well as video. Though I still struggle with the autozoom…gotta read that manual someday! For videos, I have a Manfrotto light stand on the floor that I’ve jerry-rigged with a 3-part bendable tripod arm so that the camera can hang over my desk for taping. Two round softboxes are on either side of my workspace during filming. For stills, I use a light tent with a round softbox that sits on top of it; my photo editing software is Adobe Photoshop.
What video editing software doyou use?
I use Final Cut Pro primarily, and occasionally do some bits in After Effects. Both are fairly geeky! I cut my teeth on Final Cut Express, thinking I was saving money by getting the cheaper version – and then found out how much faster Pro is. So I totally recommend Pro! But unless you’re doing a lot of track layering it may be overkill; I began with iMovie, and for most folks, that’s plenty.
Where do you get your music for videos? Can I buy a track I heard?
I subscribe for a crazy amount of moolah to a site called Megatrax; I feel music is important to setting the tone for my art, so it’s worth it to me! But since it’s a “stock” site, it’s not possible to purchase tracks. But you can just put my video on replay!
Adult and Artist Coloring Books
What books are best for what mediums?
There’s a ginormous post alllllll about coloring books HERE. Enjoy!