Last week I showed you what I’d bought for my Wish vs AliExpress challenge. This week, I show you the swatching that I did.
I didn’t get any paper so I did all the swatching and the final art piece on paper from my Faber-Castell Mixed Media Pad. I split the page in half, and labelled the sides so I’d remember to put everything in the correct place. Like the haul pictures, the Wish stuff is on the left and the AliExpress is on the right.
Item 1: pencils
The Wish pencils (on the left) felt lovely and smooth. The AliExpress ones were a little scratchy. For some reason I can’t find the picture of the AliExpress swatches, so the image on the right is where I compared the sizes from Ali with the same sizes from the Wish set.
The erasers were identical. Absolutely. I couldn’t spot any difference.
But I swatched anyway. They erased. They’re erasers.
Item 3: Sharpeners
I scribbled like a mad person on some scrap paper, as hard as I could, so as to blunt the pencils. The Ali pencil just snapped every time I tried that.
The Wish pencil sharpened well in the Wish sharpener. The Ali pencil just kept snapping in the Ali sharpener. I tested the pencil in the Wish sharpener and it kept snapping in that one too. To be fair, I tested the Wish pencil in the Ali sharpener and it worked fine. The sharpeners are great.
Item 4: pens
These were good from both places. They were juicy, and drew smoothly. I’d say the AliExpress pens felt nicer, but only marginally.
Item 5: colouring pencils
Two of the pencils from Wish came blunt, but they sharpened nicely. One of the Ali pencils was blunt. Like the sketching pencil, it did not sharpen.
For the swatching I did a patch that had many layers so it was darker, and a patch that one or two layers and was lighter. Wish is on the left, Ali is on the right.
Neither brand snapped while colouring – even when I pressed harder for the darker patches. The Wish pencils felt rough and grainy though. The Ali pencils were smoother and more pigmented.
For this project I’ll be using the colouring pencils but if the pens are nice I’ll use them in future, and for that I’ll need to know if they’re alcohol-ink and waterbased-ink proof. So I grabbed a marker of each type. I like to do this type of test on a yellow so I can really see if the ink smudges.
The Ali pens did better with this, but it’s more than likely I didn’t let the Wish pens dry enough before I went over them with the markers. I do that a lot.
I set myself up about a half hour early, ready to do some warm ups.
I did a bunch of little dome shapes – one for each colour in my palette – to warm up, and turned them into monsters.
And then it was time to get started.
Here’s the reference image we were using, and here’s where you can get it if you’re interested.
We began with some quick little sketches to get the basic form sorted.
And then we moved on to sketching out our bird on the watercolour paper.
Once we’d erased the excess graphite it was time to get painting.
Sam was a really good teacher. She took every step slowly and gave as much detail as she could. It was a joy to follow her.
I started off trying to follow as precisely as I could, and ended up doing my own thing. But I was definitely learning and having fun.
Normally when I paint I use the medium as a colouring tool. I do a drawing, outline it, and colour in the shapes. I’m not so good at this actual painting technique. But I’m super happy with how my little bird turned out.
I actually ended up with two birds. Early on in the paint-a-long Sam mentioned the colours she was using, but that we could any colours we like. She said we could do any type of bird. Because I’m me, I asked if I could do a rainbow unicorn bird.
So I did.
I’m not overly happy with the splatter on the galaxy in the bowl. I can’t splatter. At all. One day I’ll spend an hour or two just practicing splatter. I’m sure I’ll tell you all about it if I do.
After years of deliberating, and many many hours of research, I finally got myself a Cricut. It’s something I’ve wanted ever since I started doing my own art. I want to make sticker sheets primarily, but the possibilities of what you can do with it are amazing.
For those who don’t know, a Cricut is a digital die cutting machine. You can tell it what shape and what style to cut things in and it’ll do it for you. You can also draw with it if you program it right.
There are three styles of Cricut. You have the Cricut Joy – which is a smaller model and mostly used for making cards. Then you have the Cricut Explore Air 2, and the Cricut Maker. The Maker does a LOT more than the Explore. You can use a bunch of different tools and cut a wider variety of materials. It also costs a couple of hundred quid more. If money wasn’t an issue I’d have gone for that one. But an Explore does everything I want for now.
I ended up getting mine from a website called MDP Supplies. They make signs and things, and sell supplies in the same vein. I ordered it (along with a few extras) late at night so the next day delivery was actually the day after next, but it finally arrived. In two massive boxes.
I opened the bottom, heavier, box first. And there it was!
It was actually in there really snugly. It was hard to get the Cricut box out of the packing box. But Jasper helped.
And finally my beautiful Cricut Explore Air 2 was sitting on my desk.
When you buy the Explore you get with it a light grip mat (there are a range of mats you can buy with different levels of stickiness), the fine point blade, a 0.4mm pen, and some cardstock samples to run the introduction projects.
You download and open up the Cricut Design Space program – which you use to make projects and tell the machine what to do. The sample project that it gives you is a cut. It offers you one of six shapes – I went with this flower. It shows you how and where to stick the card onto the mat, how to feed it onto the machine. And then it cuts.
And then you spot the cat hair that is already on the mat. I knew it wouldn’t be long.
You weed out the pieces of the pattern that aren’t meant to be there, and then you remove your cardstock from the mat. Et voila! A pretty flower.
When I was doing my research I watched a lot of unboxing videos and I don’t know if there used to be a different starter project or if there were instructions to do it, but the samples in the pack also included a long piece of white cardstock and a shorter piece of black. The different starter project was a card that incorporated the pen tool as well as cutting.
So I looked that up in the Design Space projects. Watching it draw is kind of hypnotising.
Once it had drawn and cut, I weeded, and removed from the mat.
Fold the white cardstock, slot in the black bit, and there you have it. Very cute.
Time for the second box.
In this box were the other things I’d got. I bought the Cricut as part of a pack from MDP which included a bunch of A4 sheets of vinyl, a weeding tool, a scraper, and a massive roll of transfer tape.
On top of that I’d bought myself a second mat – not an official Cricut one, but it is compatible, a set of Cricut tools, and a deep cut blade & housing for thicker materials.
Okay. So what to do now? Well, I needed to cut some vinyl. When I’d told my sister on the phone that I’d bought a Cricut she thought I’d said “kraken”, so I decided to cut a kraken shaped vinyl to place on the top of the machine.
I found a free SVG (the sort of file you need for cutting) online and dug out a sample of purple vinyl I’d bought from eBay previously. I measured my sample so I knew what size to make the cut.
I cut on paper first, just to make sure, and then finally cut my first vinyl project.
It looks really good on my Cricut.
Another project I did in that first burst of experimenting was with a free SVG from LoveSVG.
When you draw, it only draws outlines really, but I didn’t mind that. I coloured the inside of the letters with markers and left it in my boyfriend’s bedroom where he’d find it.
I’ve had the Cricut about a week now, and I’ve done a few more projects, with help from Jasper.
After watching many YouTube videos – specifically this one about using vinyl to make an ombre effect and this one about layering vinyl (both by Kayla’s Cricut Creations) – I made a vinyl sticker of one of my little monsters. It’s not perfect – there are lots wrong with it. But it’s certainly not bad for my first attempt.
The Cricut-brand pens are quite expensive, but luckily there are lots of others that fit in the slot. I experimented with all the different pens I have and discovered that Crayola Supertips and Sakura Gelly Roll pens both fit and work perfectly.
I also took advantage of the free month trial of Cricut Access – a huge library of fonts, files, images and such – and did this shadow cut. This is something I’d like to do with my own art in the future, so I was eager to give it a go. Again, it’s not perfect. Mostly with the way I stuck it together, but it looks pretty good for a first attempt.
I’ve done lots more playing around and experimenting, but I won’t bore you too much. Yet.
Last week I introduced a new series based on an idea I had and implemented years ago. You should go back and read that, but the upshot is that I did a bunch of shopping on both Wish and AliExpress.
And here’s the haul post. First, the obligatory picture of the pile of packages.
So many packages! Lots of fun. I did open them to check what they were, but I didn’t take anything out or have a proper look until I had all of them. Now let’s go in the same order as the shopping haul.
Item 1: pencils
Wish is on the left, and AliExpress is on the right.
The AliExpress pencils feel a little nicer in the hand, but they’re all pretty similar. They’re pencils. The Wish set had 2 labelled 2H, but we’ll wait for the swatching post before I decide if it’s a dupe or not.
Item 2: erasers
Again, Wish on the left and AliExpress on the right.
There is literally nothing to say about these. They are exactly the same product.
Item 3: sharpeners
The one from Wish doesn’t look like the ones in the listing, but it is the same shape so I’m not too bothered.
Item 4: pens
Like the pencils, the AliExpress ones feel ever so slightly nicer in the hand.
Item 5: colouring pencils
Neither of these packages did well in transit.
But the pencils themselves appeared to be undamaged. They might have shattered leads, but I wouldn’t find out about that until swatching time. There was a pencil missing from the Wish packet too.
That’s it for the haul post. Next week is the post you all really care about – the swatching 🙂
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away, a girl had an idea for a blog post. Fast forward a couple of years and she’s finally getting around to writing it. It’s even going to be a series! In order to combat my apparent ineptitude at blogging I’m not going to schedule any of them for publication until they’re all written. So if you’re reading this, be assured that the follow up posts will go live each Wednesday for the next few weeks.
So.. what was the idea? As if you couldn’t guess from the title. Wish is a shopping website that has been the feature of a LOT of YouTube videos. The site sells all sorts of things for very cheap prices, and many creators like to do hauls and see what they get, what the quality is like and so on. I like Wish. You can find all sorts of things for very good prices. Some things are even free. Except that each and every item has it’s own shipping cost. There is no combined shipping for your whole basket, which can seriously up the total price. And of course, with all such websites, these things come from places such as China, so there’s a lengthy shipping time. But I don’t mind that so much.
However, I don’t tend to use Wish very much. I have found an alternative. AliExpress is a similar website. It sells items from every category you can imagine, with some lengthy shipping times, for very cheap. However, nearly everything on AliExpress is cheaper. Plus, the shipping is mostly either very low, or free. I’ve taken to screenshotting things I want from Wish and searching for them on AliExpress where I will usually find them for much cheaper. Which is where the idea for the blog series comes in.
Aside from sometimes being cheaper, is AliExpress actually better? I would do a test. I would get everything I need for a project: paper, pencil, eraser, sharpener, inking pen, colouring implements. I would get identical – as much as possible – items from both Wish and AliExpress and compare them.
First step? Shopping.
Item 1: pencils.
I was looking for a set of pencils, with varying lead softnesses. At the time (back in 2018) the only set of plain pencils I could find on Wish was these “Sell Well Beautiful Painting Tool 6H-12B Professinal Sketch Art Drawing Pencil Sketching Pencils” – the typo is theirs, not mine. The listing was for 5 random pencils in that range, and the item was free, with £2 shipping.
For AliExpress I don’t seem to have a screenshot, or a listing name. You can rest assured that it was probably as lengthy and keywordy as the Wish version. But my notes tell me that I got a set of 3 pencils, and I could pick which grades I wanted. They cost £1.45 with £0.14 shipping.
Item 2: erasers.
My criteria for this was a proper eraser, not a novelty colour/shape or anything. Again, I could only find one listing on Wish. It’s very hard to get accurate search results. You find all kinds of things popping up for no apparent reason. The only listing I found was this one. £2 plus £1 shipping for a set of three.
I learned from this listing that erasers can have a softness grade, so I made sure to find the same thing on AliExpress. These were £0.50 plus £0.10 shipping for a set of five.
Item 3: sharpener.
The only criteria for this was one that had a collection part so I could sharpen on the go and not leave a trail of sharpenings behind me. Wish produced this “1 Pcs Safe and Cute High Quality Pencil Sharpener O578 Sacapuntas School Stationary Sacapuntas Lapiceros” for £1.00 plus £1.00 shipping.
And on AliExpress I found this one. £0.45 with free shipping.
Item 4: pens.
I wanted fineliner inking pens, and I wanted them in black. Wish has a lot of these, but they’re all brands like UniPin or Pigma – or they claim to be at least. I searched for a non-brand set and found these. “9pcs Black Pigment Liner Drawing Pens,Sketch Pen,Needle Pen,Signing Pen,Comic Pen,Student School Office Stationery.” A pack of 9 in various thicknesses for £6 plus £2 shipping.
And on AliExpress I got a set of 10 for £6.77 with free shipping.
Item 5: colouring pencils.
Again, I looked for a non-branded set, with 24 pencils. Wish has a lot of colouring supplies. The pencils are usually bigger sets, and there are TONS of sets of gel pens and alcohol markers. But I found this set: “24 colors Wooden Pencil Colorful Drawing Painting Pencils for Secret Garden Coloring Books (17.5cm ).” They were £3 plus £1 shipping.
On AliExpress I found these. The 24 set was £3.38 with free shipping.
Item 6: paper.
I didn’t mind what GSM (weight) the paper was, as long as it was the same from both websites. But there was very little plain paper – either loose or in book form – on Wish. And after hours of searching I found only 1 that listed GSM at all. So I decided to just use my own paper for this one.
Last year for my birthday, Hobbycraft sent me a £5 voucher in an email. Everyone who signs up to their Hobbycraft Club gets this. It’s a decent deal – no minimum spend, no restrictions or anything.
After much scrolling on the website I settled on these Colour In Canvases. We stopped at the store on the way to my birthday dinner, but I couldn’t decide which one of two I wanted. So my boyfriend bought me the other one.
And then, in my bag of presents from one of my sisters were these two small versions.
Obviously, this had to be turned into a blog post.
I did some swatching on the back of one of the small canvases, to see what would happen. Would they draw at all? Would they bleed? Would they smudge?
I tried a bunch of different pen types. I was plesantly surprised by the alcohol marker (Ohuhu in this case). But this particular image had lots of tiny parts so I went with two pen sets from AliExpress.
Time to swatch out the whole set. Lots of pretty colours. The thin set felt a bit scratchier, but at least they had a yellow. The other set are nice and juicy.
As you can see in the swatch sheet, I tested each colour in each set against each other (I don’t think that made sense) and figured out what I was gonna use on the canvas.
I settled in with an audio book – Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth for those interested. Not on Audible though, but if they wanna sponsor me I’ll happily start listening to them. And I got to colouring.
I did the red, I did the orange, I did the yellow.
Then I turned on the torch on my phone cos it was getting a little dark in the room I was in and it was hard to see the yellow. Which is when I noticed that the red and the orange were fairly spotty.
So I used the phone torch to colour in the rest of it too.
I’m really pleased with it. It’s bright and cute. In certain lights and at certain angles it has a kinda sparkly quality to it. I couldn’t capture it on camera though.
I put the photos and my notes in a folder ready to write a blog post when I’d finished the other three canvases.
And then 9 months went by. At which point I decided to just write the blog post for the one canvas. When/if I do the others I’ll post about them too.
If you tune in to her Twitch stream on Sunday September 20th you’ll find her running a paint-a-long to paint that adorable little bird. I don’t really have a realistic style like that, so it’ll be interesting to see what I come up with.
I believe the time translates to 5pm GMT, but don’t hold me to that.
Sam has also released a list of the minimal materials you’ll need to join in.
Paint in red, yellow, blue, and grey or black. Pencil, brush/es, paper.
Additionally you might also want green paint, white paint, masking tape and some tissue.
Sam says not to forget your postivie attitude too 🙂
As I mentioned in my Artfight blog, I won’t be participating next year. Which is a real shame, because I loved the concept. Essentially people submit their art for other people to draw in their styles.
#DrawThisInYourStyle and #DTIYS is a popular art trend, and it’s something I really enjoy doing. I did a blog post about it last year. At the time I thought it was a one off trend, but since it seems to be a recurring one, I’ve done some more.
And this character by Sparkiiro that you might have seen in my FaeBruary post earlier this year.
I haven’t done any – apart from ArtFight – in a while. I want to do more. There are a lot of characters that I bookmarked on ArtFight that I want to draw. I may message the artists and see if I can draw them anyway. Stay tuned.
I used to be really in to colouring books. I had a very very big collection of them. And I really enjoyed using them. I coloured dozens and dozens of pages. Here’s just a sample.
But since I started drawing and doing my own art, I haven’t really done any other colouring.
Early in 2019 I had a massive sort of everything I owned and culled my collection, keeping only about 50% of the books/magazines.
And in the last few weeks I’ve been sorting my things again. Culling the extra stuff I don’t need, and condensing how I store what’s left. I’ve halved my collection of colouring books again, keeping around 20. There’s some Harry Potter ones, some Doctor Who ones, some Dungeons & Dragons ones. Things like that. Then there’s also some generic colouring books for adults.
While sorting I remembered that there were a few pages that I’d started and never got around to finishing. So I finished one.
It doesn’t look too bad at first glance, but I made a real mess of it. I can not keep gel pens within thin lines apparently.