One of the best creative advantages I’m getting out of these monthly boxes is deciding what I’m going to draw for the Artsnacks Challenge with my items. For those of you unfamiliar, Artsnacks challenges their subscribers to create a piece of art using all of the items in the boxes month to month and share it with the community on their various social channels. I was lucky enough to have my drawings for this month’s box featured by them recently, which as really really awesome!

It took me a little while this time to figure out what I was going to draw. Inspiration finally struck from the Japanese writing on the Tombow brush pen and colors I was given to create 3 illustrations of traditional Japanese animal symbols. I really loved this month’s box so let’s have a closer look at this month’s items and how they performed.

Items in the Box

  • L’Aquarelle Canson Heritage Watercolor Paper
  • Caran D’Ache Supracolor Soft Aquarelle Pencil
  • Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen – Twin Tip
  • Daler-Rowney FW Acrylic Artists’ Ink
  • Robert Simmons Short Handle Acrylic Brush

Once again Artsnacks hit it out of the park with a great combination of items in this month’s box. The products provided were versatile and performed with the consistency you would expect from professional high-quality products.
L’Aquarelle Canson Heritage Watercolor Paper (BONUS ITEM)
Canson has a great reputation for producing high-quality paper. Admittedly, I have never tried any of their watercolor lines so I was excited to see what this paper would be like. The paper itself is 300gsm 100% cotton cold pressed paper and came in the box in 3 small sheets. I love this touch of sending 3 small sheets when they could have just sent one. This allows for ample opportunity to get creative for the Artsnacks Challenge portion of the experience. I really liked this paper and I was impressed that it didn’t warp when wet. To get a truly fair assessment I’d have to try it in a larger format but for my experiments in this project, I thought it held up great. It also worked well in conjunction with the Tombow pen.

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen – Twin Tip
Tombow is slowly becoming one of my favorite brands. After using this pen in these demo illustrations I’ve since used it a bunch more times in my April Art Challenge illustrations. I love the twin tip for the multi-use versatility. It offers a slightly different variation on the twin tip format by having grey ink on one end and black on the other. This is great if you taking this along as part of a sketching kit and want to take limited amount with you. I loved the thick to thin capabilities of the tip and the ink is waterproof when dry, which in my books is always a plus. The writing on the outside of the pen is almost all in Japanese, but I love it. No translation is needed for this pen since it just performs the way you want and expect it to.

Robert Simmons Short Handle Acrylic Brush
I’m not going to lie, I kept calling this the Richard Simmons brush in my head. But let’s be real, the paintbrush isn’t going to motivate me to start working out. It does, however, perform excellently as any brush worth its bristles should. I was able to create sharp consistent edges in combination with the FW ink and the brush held the color and its shape very well. In fact, I would say it held the ink almost too well. It took me multiple washes and I still don’t think I have all of the ink completely out of it yet.  A word of caution when using this brush with ink, do your best to not get any of it in the ferrule as I imagine that’s where all the remaining ink is hiding.

Daler-Rowney FW Acrylic Artists’ Ink
I’m no stranger to acrylic ink but I didn’t have a lot of experience with this particular brand other than in the gold and black versions I already own. I have to say I absolutely love how this ink performed in combination with the other items. It was so saturated and the pigment felt consistent even when watered down. A little bit of this ink goes a long way. Because of the high pigmentation, I would be very careful to not spill this on anything you like. As I learned in the Great Yellow Ochre Spill of 2016, acrylic ink is almost impossible to completely remove from carpet. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In my 3 illustrations, I used the ink in 3 different ways. On the crane, I used it in full saturation for the red sun. For the koi fish, I created subtle gradations and also used varying washes and hits of fully saturated color to create a different effect on the scales. Lastly, on the snake, I used it like a watercolor as well creating a pink tone for the lotus and more saturated tones for shading and on the sun in dry brush effect.

Caran D’Ache Supracolor Soft Aquarelle Pencil
I’m sometimes hesitant to try anything Caran d’Ache because I know that I’m probably going to love it and then I end up spending a lot of time convincing my bank account why it’s totally worth the price tag and we’ll just figure it out… I mean who needs to eat right? As expected the Supracolor performed beautifully, I wouldn’t say this a great combination used dry on this cold press paper but when used in its wet state it was saturated and the color consistency was fantastic. Gold foil stamping is always a little hard to read on the casing but they named the color as well as added a number which I think is great and satisfies either preference for color identification. I would love to try more of the colors in this line. My experience with water-soluble pencils has taught me that not all the pigments tend to be created equally in terms of saturation and consistency. It would be interesting to see how this company’s product performs in comparison to others I have tried. (See… the justification has already begun…)

Here’s a final look at how my illustrations turned out using various techniques with all of the items in this month’s box. My hands-down favorite product in this box was the Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen. It has a permanent place in my sketch kit and frankly my heart.

For a more in-depth look at my process behind these drawings and to see the products in action, check out my YouTube video below.

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Have you tried any of the items in this review? Which did you like best? 
Share with me in the comments!

Please Note: I am in no way being paid to promote this product. The opinions in the blog post are my own.

Barb Sotiropoulos

Barb Sotiropoulos

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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Hey, I'm Barb!

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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