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Marvel ‘Fleer Ultra Spider-Man’ Sketchcards Aprroved



Marvel ‘Fleer Ultra Spider-Man’ Approved Cards


As a lifelong Marvel fan, this was a very big deal for me and I am super proud of the work I did on this set. I had a bit of a stressful start to this year, with a lot of things happening in my personal life that started to effect my work. This was one of those jobs that I knew I had to finish no matter what was happening in my life, and I am so happy that I had it to concentrate on. I cannot wait to work with Upper Deck and Marvel again in the future.

I used this set as an excuse to re-work an old puzzle piece I did many years ago, of the film versions of the Avengers. This was one of my first major sketchcard commissions and I sold it at Bristol Comic Con (only my second comic con that I had exhibited at). It was also my first project working with Copic Markers (which have since become a staple of my sketchcard work).


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The original piece was a whole card bigger than the newer ‘official’ piece, so it’s awesome to see what I can do with the small space now considering how daunting I remember it once being. I also added in a few new Avengers to have it keep with the flow of the Spider-verse as well as a little bit more up-to-date with the films (though I kept a traditional comic book line up).A lot of things have changed since those first cards and I am pretty happy with how far my art has come in that time. Can’t wait to see where I go next and here’s to more improvements!

You can see a few of my favourite sketchcards from the set below, or check out the gallery to view all of my contributions to the set. Hope you enjoy them! 



Where’s Trump Release and Giveaway!


Where’s Trump Release and Giveaway!


To celebrate the release of ‘Where’s Trump?: Find Donald Trump in his Race to the White House’ I am giving away a free signed copy to one lucky reader! All you have to do is use the Raffelcopter Widget below and follow the simple instructions to enter the raffle.

The giveaway runs until the 9th August at 12am GMT. You can enter multiple times using some of the options below, so get tweeting and generally commenting. If you already have a copy or a digital Kindle copy of the book, please consider leaving a review for it on Amazon.


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Perna Studios’ ‘Spellcasters 2’ Sketchcard Set


Perna Studios’ ‘Spellcasters 2’ Sketchcard Set


As Perna Studios have started shipping out orders of Spellcasters 2, the artists are now allowed to reveal their contributions to the set. I always absolutely love working with Perna Studios. The subjects they deal with are always very fun and speak a lot to my own favourite subject matter, from Hallowe’en to Classic Fairy Tales and now enchanted creatures (which, as you know, I have a colouring book full of!). For this particular set, artists were asked to draw specifically examples of unicorns, faeries, mermaids, dragons and elves. I had so much fun working on different styles of unicorn and mermaid and may even consider a sketch book of mermaid designs in the future.

The mermaids I drew were lion fish, koi, octopus and flame angel inspired and I had so many more ideas that I would have liked to have played with. I also love my tropical zebra unicorn as I thought that would be a bit different and of course, the Hell/Demon-hybrid unicorn. I hope you like the cards. I contributed 20 to the set altogether, which you can see in the gallery below or on my portfolio page.




Be a Superhero For Babies


Sketchcards


Be A Superhero for Babies


A few months ago I was approached by a lovely gent named Steve Frank who is fundraising for March of Dimes ‘March For Babies’ campaign. He was asking around the sketchcard community to see if any of us had the time to spare a few PSCs which he would then auction off to raise money for this deserving charity.

The March of Dimes helps to fund research into premature birth and the complications that may arise from it; it also helps by supporting families with premature newborns and those in intensive care. Steve is also fundraising via his personal Fundraising Page which you can find here.

I managed to draw up five PSCs altogether which I hope will go someway to helping him raise his fundraising goal and, more importantly, help this worthwhile charity and their cause. I drew up some characters who I know tend to be quite popular at auction (Black Cat, Captain Marvel, Harley Quinn and Spider Gwen) and I threw in an illustration of Sadness, a character from one of my favourite recent children’s films ‘Inside Out’.

Thanks to my awesome supporters on Patreon: Mike, Phill, Paddy, Jeff, Kath, Effy, Dave, Chris, Gav, Elaine, Katie, Michelle and Laura for helping me out by supporting me throughout May and giving me the time to work on more charity work and increase my portfolio. You guys rock!


 

DC Justice League Approved Cards



DC Justice League Approved Cards


Only the other week I shared with you the preview that  George Nadeau posted of my upcoming contribution to the DC/Cryptozoic Sketchcard set Justice League. Well, I am happy to announce that not only did all of my cards get approved by DC and Cryptozoic, but I am now able to show you each and every one of them. The set is due for release in 4 weeks (June 29th) and features some absolutely amazing artists that I am very proud to be counted among. Thanks again to Cryptozoic for the opportunity and I cannot wait to work with you again.

You can see the full range of 56 (!) cards I contributed in my Portfollio here. But below are a few of my favourites. I also did a little rainbow theme of one of the most popular versions of the JL team. Who is your favourite?


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DC Justice League Preview


Justice League Preview


DC Justice League Preview

I am extremely proud to announce my involvement in the upcoming Cryptozoic trading card set, Justice League, in association with DC Comics. You can find more information on the trading card set, including what other amazing inserts each of the packs will contain, here. Thank you to George Nadeau for allowing me to show these three cards as previews of the work I did on this set.

Featured in this image are Swamp Thing (New 52 Justice League Dark), Katana (New 52 Justice League of America) and Firestorm (New 52 Justice League). You can also expect characters from a wide variety of other Justice League titles throughout the ages. Really hope you like them and I honestly cannot wait for this set to be released later in the year.

Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog via e-mail to be kept up to date with further announcements, including all the contributed images from this set when Cryptozoic allows. 


 

 

Dementia Awareness Week


Dementia Awareness Week #DAW2016

Writing this post is actually pretty difficult for me, I’m not going to lie.

On one hand, I want to help raise awareness for Dementia Awareness Week, the awareness-raising brain-child of The Alzheimer’s Society UKan organisation which pledges to help lead the fight against Dementia. And I don’t want to do that in a somber way. I want to give you free art and ask you to help me raise money for them by auctioning off some beautiful books. This requires excitement and happiness and general celebration of life and the lives we are trying to help make better; not sobering facts and statistics, or in my case heavy personal experiences.

But, on the other hand, there are those heavy personal experiences which make it difficult for me to talk about Dementia without wanting to punch that disease* square in the face! (*Technically Dementia is a series of brain damaging symptoms of other diseases, including Alzheimers, or brought on by a series of strokes, or any number of other factors which you can learn more about here. But for the purpose of this narrative, let’s pretend it is a disease and that diseases have faces).


I’ve tried about three times to write something about my experiences with Dementia in this post, each time I have deleted them and started from scratch. In all honesty, it’s really difficult to write about. I lost my Nan a few years ago to the disease (technically, she was lost to other things physically, but we lost her to dementia a little while before she passed) and it was a very hard time with some not very pleasant experiences. Maybe I will talk more freely about them throughout the week.

But for now I am going to concentrate on the pleasant experiences. Her nurses. Her nurses were amazing. She was in a Catholic care home run by the Church and there were several Nuns on the staff , but one of the nurses who stood out was the most accepting and caring of people. On the night my Nan passed, despite never having known her without the disease (so only knowing the frustrated woman who would lash out and didn’t speak much sense), she stayed after her shift had ended and sat with her all night, praying with her and holding her hand.

The nurses also allowed me and my younger brother, my cousins, auntie and uncle, mum and dad, my Nan’s sister and so many others to sleep at the nursing home in the conservatory and on sofas in the hall, or in Nan’s room with her, for the whole week when we had been told she was going to pass soon. At one point there were so many of us in her little room that there was no room for us to sit. We were sat on the floor eating sandwiches from the 24 hour Tesco down the road, just talking all through the night and day. It was a little like the family parties that Nan would have loved.

And singing. Despite everything, Nan still sang, right up until she started to get very ill. She couldn’t always remember our names, or got our faces mixed up, but she probably still knew the words to every song she ever loved. We always knew that no matter how horrible it got, if we started humming something, she would most likely pick it up and begin to sing along.


Dementia is horrible.  It steals a person away and leaves behind some one who is so frustrated with their own mind. They still know us. They still love us. It just takes so much time for them to find us in their disease ravaged brains that they sometimes lose their way. And that is so hard to watch.

But thanks to charities like The Alzheimer’s Society there are new treatments being researched every day. New wonderful nurses and carers and support systems being trained to help us to give them a map and find their way back to us. Even if only briefly. Because, honestly, those brief moments mean the world.

So… I’m going to stop writing now. If anything because just writing this has taken me far too long as I keep on having to go back over it and re-write things. I tried very hard to keep to the happy stuff. The celebration. The stuff that we should all remember about a person’s final days rather than the bad stuff… And even that made me cry a bit which is why I think I’m going to stop now.


If you would like to help The Alzheimer’s Society spread awareness of Dementia and #DAW2016, please consider checking out my current eBay Auction (Link here) for three copies of ‘Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain’, or visit The Alzheimer’s Society and donate to a brilliant cause. You can also tweet your message about Dementia using the hashtag #DAW2016.

Here is a little giveaway for an original page of artwork from ‘Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain’ to help you spread the word about the cause and the auction. The blog comment is only a way for me to track the entries, please check the other options available once you have commented, in the RaffleCopter widget. 


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Patreon Launch and Giveaway!


If you follow my Twitter or Facebook you may have seen the exciting rumblings lately regarding my upcoming Patreon Campaign. Well… IT’S FINALLY HERE!

This is a brand new venture for me and a very exciting one. I have been following and supporting a number of my friends over on Patreon for quite a while now* and have always wanted to start one of my very own, now I have!

One of the serious benefits from Patreon, for me, is that it will help me create a more structured schedule for my work. Working as a freelance illustrator is an extremely time consuming job and I spend so much time hunting down new work, sending out speculation emails**, marketing and advertising my work and, of course, working on commercial art; that I very rarely have time to myself to work on my own projects.

With the financial help that Patreon can hopefully provide, I will be able to spend more time drawing things that I am passionate about and less time hunting down commercial work to pay the bills.

This does not mean that I will not still be working for awesome companies like DC, Dynamite and IDW, as well as publishing books. In fact, it means that I will be able to afford more time to work on my portfolio pieces so that I can improve my standing with these companies as well as work on my own self-published books.


So… How Can You Help Launch My Patreon?

Well, firstly, being here and reading this is a huge help, so thank you! But there are lots of other ways you can help too. My Patreon launches on Tuesday 10th May (Today… unless you are reading this in the future in which case it WAS Tuesday 10th May, but you can still help out! Just keep reading…) and here are a few ways you can help make the first day a huge success:

  • Share the link to my Patreon on your Facebook wall, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Patreon or to your Kickstarter/IndieGoGo friends (here is the link for you www.patreon.com/AnastasiaCatris )
  • Visit the Patreon Page and watch the video.
  • Like the video on YouTube, comment on it and/or share it around. (here is the link for the video www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xWQnQBQSPQ )
  • Share this blog post, or re-blog it on your own blog.
  • Like this blog post, comment and generally help raise it’s search engine optimization by being awesome.
  • Pledge to the Patreon. I mean, this would be amazing, it really would be going above and beyond. I’m sure you will see something you like on the pledge list.
  • And finally – enter the Raffle Copter Giveaway below! I mean, if you’re doing all of these awesome things anyway, you may as well get the chance to win some awesome goodies out of it right?

If you are reading in the future, you can still do all of the above things, you may just not be eligible to win anything in return. But if you back the Patreon, you get a whole host of awesome pledge rewards anyway!


Giveaway Time!

Well, I’m pretty sure this is what you’ve been waiting for, am I right? As part of the awesome, exciting, super launch day, I am also giving away some goodie bags full of fun amazing things, including:

  • Copies of Colour Me Mindful, Draw Your Way to a Younger Brain or Cirque Du Mort.
  • Sketch Cards.
  • Prints.
  • Original Artwork.
  • Pin Badges, Bookmarks, Post Cards and much, much more!

Each goodie bag contains a selection of the above and is a surprise. The more people who enter, the more goodie bags I will be giving out, so be sure to spread the word to all of your friends to be in with a chance of winning more.

The competition will end on Friday 13th May, when winners will be contacted via e-mail. So you will have 3 whole days to complete as many RaffleCopter tasks as you can to gain your entry tickets. Good luck everyone! And thank you so much for taking part!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


* Seriously guys, check out Al Davison, Reaperfox, Wolfskulljack, Kat Nicholson and Emma Vieceli who are all creating amazing work and tell them I said Hi!

** Speculation work or ‘Spec’ work is when you draw something as an ‘audition’ for a company and send it to them in the hopes of getting work with them.


IDW’s ‘Ghostbusters’ Sketchcards by Cryptozoic

by Anastasia Catris in Artwork Comments: 6 tags: art, cryptozoic, ghostbusters, idw, sketchcards

IDW’s ‘Ghostbusters’ Sketchcards by Cryptozoic


I am super excited to reveal my contributions to IDW’s ‘Ghostbusters‘ Sketchcards by Cryptozoic. I have been waiting for over a year to be able to show you these cards! Sadly, due to rights negotiations within the company, this set had to be delayed a number of times (probably due to the new film coming out this year), but it was part of the huge 30th anniversary  celebration of the original films. Considering I am myself turning thirty this year, it actually seems pretty appropriate.

You may not realize this, but I am ever so slightly… okay, over-the-top-obsessed with Ghostbusters. I have been since I was about three. If you don’t believe me, here is an adorable video of me in 1989 opening a Christmas present… (most people would think that sharing a video of me as a child would be embarrassing, but no – I am a Ghostbuster for life!)

I have even been fortunate enough to meet the amazing Ernie Hudson and Dan Aykroyd in person over the years. I met Ernie at a convention and he was just the loveliest person. He always seems so happy to talk to fans. I met Dan Aykroyd when I was a student in The Kubert School and myself and Anthony Marques skipped class to go queue outside a Bottle King to buy his (then) brand new vodka ‘Crystal Head’.

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As Ray was always my favourite Ghostbuster (he was the expert in the occult after all), this was probably one of the best moments of my life! (As you can probably see from the goofy smile in the photo above!) I actually made my own proton pack (only papier mache – I will make one with lights and all the trimmings one day!) for my 18th birthday which I wore with my own handmade suit. My best friend and I went as Egon and Ray and needless to say, we were awesome. I wore that same jumpsuit years later to go to the 30th anniversary screening of the first film in Cineworld…

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So, I think it’s pretty safe to say that when I got asked to be involved on this sketchcard set, I was a bit excited!

Sadly I could only contribute a small amount of cards, but I loved working on each and every one of them. I only hope there is another set in the works in the future considering that Cryptozoic are soon to be bringing out the Ghostbusters II Board Game.

Here are few of my favourite cards and you can check out the rest of my contributions in the GalleryYou can also check them out on my Facebook and my Instagram @AnastasiaCatris.


Chameleon Markers


I was sent a set of Chameleon Markers (22 Pen Set) in exchange for an honest review. Other pens and materials were also used to create the final image, these will be listed accordingly. You can find more about Chameleon Markers via www.chameleonpens.com


If you are artistically minded then chances are that you have heard of Chameleon Pens. With targeted advertising being the way it is on Instagram, Facebook and almost everywhere else, it was inevitable that I would be hankering after a set of these pens. For those of you who don’t know, Chameleon Pens are a new art innovation which claim to “create stunning 3D effects, smooth transitions, highlighting, shading, gradations and blending, ALL WITH ONE PEN!” Now, as I am sure any artist would attest, the idea of only using one pen to create a whole range of colours is an incredibly economical, useful and efficient innovation, that I for one was very excited to try out.

Before I begin to talk about the pens themselves, first allow me to talk about the packaging (because first impressions are important). The box itself is made of a sturdy black cardboard which I personally prefer to the usual plastic/acrylic pen boxes simply down to the fact that it will not crack during transport. As you know, I go to a lot of conventions and my plastic carry cases for other marker pens have seen some battering over the years which can often lead to nasty little plastic shards getting loose and occasionally scratching my bags interior (luckily I have not lost any artwork to them as yet). The case also works as a work station, with the lid folding underneath the box to allow the pens to lift off the desk and all lids/colours to be easily accessible. It also comes with an instruction manual teaching you some of the basic techniques and, of course, how to use the blending system, which is what we all came for.


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Using the pens may seem complicated at first, but once you get into the rhythm of placing the nib of the colour you have chosen into the mixing chamber and waiting for the toning medium to seep into the pen, it is just a case of rinse and repeat (or tone and repeat). This may seem like a bit of a chore, but when you count this against the amount of different pens you would have to de-cap use, cap, replace, in order to get the same effect, it works out to be much more time efficient than you would think (and even more so after practice I would imagine).

I decided to conduct my first run with the markers on a previously inked up sketch card of Glaceon from Pokemon (it being Pokemon’s 20th Birthday after all). This was inked up using Uni Pin Fine Liners on 3.5″ x 2.5″ Bristol card stock.


Picture 1


I will not lie, the technique of shading from light to dark took a bit of getting used to. I generally work from dark to light when shading and tend to fill in my shadows first, so working in reverse was a bit of a learning curve. It also took me a while to get a steady and fluid gradient when working over larger areas, but this is down to my being unfamiliar with the technique than the pens themselves. Using only one pen (BL3 Sky Blue) I was able to get the wash you see above.


Picture 2


After completing the initial wash of the torso, I went in with two more colours, BL6 Royal Blue and BG4 Aquamarine. I found working on the details a little more difficult due to the fact I was, again, adjusting to shading in a different direction. I am so used to directing my pen upwards (from dark to light) when I shade, that going from side to side with my pen to achieve a light-dark gradient was very strange. But, as you can see (while a bit haphazard due to it being my first run) the variations in tone are brilliant and would usually take the mixing of quite a few different pens with other alcohol based markers. I used the CB Colorless Blender to go in afterwards and clear up some of my more blotchy errors and make the gradients smoother. This added to an almost watercolour effect.


Picture 3


The background (BV4 Blue Violet) was where I ran into some trouble. I originally wanted a dark base leading up to a lighter top, but this was quite difficult to achieve on a first run as larger areas seemed to be a bit more difficult to navigate. Again, this is something that I know will come with practice and more knowledge of the timings of the pens (how long to leave the pen nibs in the mixing chamber). Once again I used the colourless blender to wash the gradient afterwards and this helped rectify a few mistakes without leaving any unsightly ‘bald’ areas as some correction pens might.

From my experience of using these pens so far, I would probably say they were best used over smaller areas, which makes them perfect for sketch cards or modern adult colouring books (due to the intricate nature of the images). However as they are alcohol based and often require repeating a wash over an image a number of times, they would not be suitable for double sided pages such as those in Colour Me Mindful or Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain, as they would bleed over to the next page. So I would stick to single page colouring books or photocopies with these pens if I were you.


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I went in with the RD4 Crimson Red Chameleon pen to finish the small details on the mouth and found the bullet nib to be very accurate. I also did not encounter any bleeding despite having just saturated the page with the blue tones. While the brush pen went over my line art quite a bit (due to the nib slowly being ‘broken in’) it was easily cleaned using the colourless blender and did not have the tie die effect of bursting out into the other colours that many alcohol based markers do when you are working on a quick piece that you do not leave to dry.

At first I was a bit worried that the brush pen nibs were crushing too quickly and thought it might have been my own technique, or me being too forceful when pushing them in the mixing chamber, but the instructions state that this is all part of the natural ‘breaking in process’ and that nibs are “inexpensive and easy to replace” with the intention being that the fibers will separate and “perform more like a paintbrush”.


Picture 5


Above shows my final piece before going in with my Uni-Posca White Paint Pen and thickening up the holding lines with the Chameleon 0.6mm Detail Pen. I ended up adding some highlights and cell shading using my Copic Ciao Markers as well as blending in a few hues that I wanted, to make the colouring of the character a bit more accurate. The one criticism I do have of the Chameleon Pens would be that although in only 20 colour pens there are over 100 tones and hues, there is something to be said for having a pen or two that are the one colour you are looking for. If the base colour of the Chameleon Pen is not the colour you are imagining, then any tonal variation of that will not be sufficient.

The bonus of the pens’ mixing chamber technology, however, is that you can use them with your existing alcohol marker collection to create new variations of those colour tones, so it essentially amplifies your current collection.


Picture 6


Finally I used the Chameleon Detail Pen to outline Glaceon and add some shadows. I then used the Uni-Posca White Paint Pen to create a thick white holding line (no real reason except I love that style), highlights, snow effects and an icy sheen. Overall this piece took me about an hour due to having to figure out the mechanics and techniques of the Chameleon Pens, but that is something that will improve with practice.

Not including the other types of pens that I listed in my descriptions, the tones on the final piece were created using only 5 pens(!) from the 20 colours as well as the colourless blender and detail pen. The quality of the final image is one which I am incredibly happy with and the idea of taking the one set of only 22 pens to a convention, rather than the far larger amount of other alcohol based markers it would take to achieve this image, is definitely a huge selling point for a commercial artist.

I am looking forward to experimenting more with these pens in the future, especially for images where subtle gradients would be a highlight of the image (seascapes or skyscapes for example). I am also curious how well the pens work with varying skin tones and blending with each other (which I only slightly touched on with Glaceon’s eyes which are a mixture of Aqua Marine and Royal Blue). Until then, be sure to check out the final image on my Instagram and visit the Chameleon Pens website for more information. They have a bunch of useful tutorials and videos which explain how the pens work.