Frequently asked questions:

Are you Copic Certified?

Yes. I am Copic Certified, Standard level. I had to take a full three years of Marker Indication classes to earn a BFA, Illustration, so I've never seen the point in attending Intermediate level certification.

 

How long have you been coloring?

In third grade, I drew a St. Bernard for my father. He's a draftsman and assumed that I had traced a photo. A poodle, a dachshund, and a bulldog later, he finally decided that I needed art classes immediately.

I've been making art ever since. I'm an illustrator by training, technical drawings which emphasize extreme accuracy. I've dabbled in glass blowing, formal portraiture, and botanical watercolor too. My primary medium has always been colored pencil (I was one of only three pencil specialists in art school).

Markers were a required subject for illustration students. I've used artist-grade markers since 1989.

 

Do you teach live classes in my area?

Currently, I only teach local classes- Macomb Township and Oxford, Michigan. I'd love to guest teach if my schedule allows. Contact me at amy@vanillaarts.com to discuss.

 

I swear that I saw a cat in one of your videos, yet you only mention dogs. What gives?

I'm amazed at how many people ask me this!

Blue the cat is seriously antisocial but for some reason, she comes out of hiding when the camera is on. Because I enjoy having 10 fingers, it's best not to debate with her over desktop transit rights.

My dogs are all over 70 pounds and don't usually walk across my desk. At least not while filming.

 

What's the difference between a starter and a beginner?

A starter is someone who has barely uncapped their markers. Starter status has nothing to do with skill level; it's simply someone has very little marker experience.

Beginner is an actual skill designation. Beginners are still learning to blend and are not very successful at independent coloring. There is no time frame for beginnerhood. I've seen people pick up their first marker and color like a pro. I've also met people who have colored for years and are still beginners. Time does not equal skill.

 

Can I take your classes using a different brand of alcohol marker?

It doesn't have to be Copic but you do need a flexible and juicy brush nib. Copic Classic (the square barrel style) markers don't work with my methods either, so you can't just go by brand.

The nib should be a long-ish and juicy felt tipped brush nib. Zig Clean Color markers have the wrong kind of brush nib, it must be a felt nib. I also have not been impressed by the Spectrum Noir brush nib- it's too firm and still too dry.

The ink must be alcohol based. Water-based markers are not suitable for my classes.

 

Why do you combine markers with colored pencils?

All markers have limitations. Most nibs are quite large and hard for students to control in tight areas. Copic Super Brush nibs are also very juicy which makes adding precision details difficult and realistic texture is also a challenge.

No one cringes when I ask them to hold a pencil; you've been doing it since kindergarten. The simple act of writing your name requires a great level of dexterity. So when we move to controlled detail work, we switch to colored pencils.

Plus, colored pencils add richness and color complexity that markers alone can not provide.

 

Do you sell the class digital stamps separately?

Most stamps are reserved exclusively for class use. My stamp shop is here with many of my previous class images. If you don't find the image you're looking for, email me at amy@vanillaarts.com and ask. If it's not reserved for classes only, I can usually pop it into the shop within 24 hours.

 

What colored pencils do you recommend?

For absolute beginners who have never worked with colored pencils, I recommend Prismacolor Premier pencils. Of all the artist grade pencils available, Prismacolor Premier is the least expensive. Artist grade is very important. Artist grade products make learning easier.

A lot of people recommend ultra-premium artist grade pencils such as Luminance and Polychromos. For beginners who are not sure they're going to stick with this hobby, the extra expense hard to justify. 

I know people worry about Prismacolor quality. For thoughts on the subject, see my article here.

I do not recommend Polychromos pencils for use on my preferred brand of marker cardstock (XPress-It). The two are not very compatible.

There is no point in investing in lightfast pencils for use with Copic Markers. Copics are not lightfast either.

In my own personal artwork, I use about 90% Luminance pencils with a few Polychromos, a few Prismacolors, and many Cretacolor pencils in the mix. I do not use Copics in my personal artwork, so markers and marker paper are not a factor in my fine-art pencil choices.

 

What paper do you recommend?

I highly recommend XPress It Blending Card. If that isn't available, Cryogen Curious Metallic in white is my second choice. Both are heavy cardstocks, not paper. Both brands are super slick papers with a low absorption rate. This allows your Copic ink to stay wet longer and that facilitates easier blending. Students report noticeable improvement when they switch to XPI or Cryogen.

I know that some will protest that they are beginners and therefore, expensive marker card is a waste of money. I highly disagree. Learning is hard enough without complicating the process with terrible paper. For more thoughts, read my article here.

Marker Paper, Marker Blending Paper, and Layout/Design Paper are not recommended for this class. These are thin papers used by architects, landscape designers, fashion designers, and animators for quick, disposable artwork. They are not designed to handle the large volume of ink used in the blending process!

 

I'm trying to decide between taking the 12 week Foundations or the monthly Basics course. Which do you recommend?

How quickly you want to learn? How intense do you want your classes to be? How much you do you value class flow?

Both classes teach roughly the same skills.

Basics is designed to be slow learning. With 12 classes over the course of a year, your growth will be slower. Note that the topics for Basics lessons are not sequential which means we hit a topic one month and may not revisit it until 6 months later. If you are starting from scratch and favor the Basics structure, I highly recommend upgrading to the "Serious Student" level. This upper level of the class offers a lot of feedback and attention through the Serious Student discussion board. Feedback is essential to learning marker technique online.

Foundations is regimental learning. We spend the first 6 weeks focused solely on blending techniques. The second half of the course focuses on artistry. It is very planned and very structured. The lessons build upon each other and you're encouraged to double back when you hit difficult patches. Every project gets personalized evaluation and feedback, so we can tailor the homework to meet your individual needs. Foundations also has an active discussion board filled with amazing students who offer support and encouragement.

I have heard from some Foundations students that they didn't fully understand the Basics classes until they finished the first half of Foundations. It's anecdotal; take from that what you will. I did design Foundations to fill the holes I saw in the Basics system. Personally, I think of Foundations as the pre-quel to Basics.

 

Can I take Foundations and Basics at the same time?

Absolutely! As of May 2017, about 60% of Foundations students are dual enrolled.

I haven't heard anyone complain about being overwhelmed by taking both courses together. If anything, Foundations students seem to appreciate using their Basics projects as extra practice material.

 

Can I purchase just one of the weekly lessons from Marker Painting Foundations? I saw the _____ project and I'd love to take just that class!

I'm sorry, the Foundations videos do not work as individual classes. Each project builds upon previous week and the videos frequently refer back to prior concepts and discussions. Selling you access to a single lesson would be like handing you half a banana bread recipe, you might make something out of it but it'd be hard.

 

I'd like to purchase this month's Basics lesson. Can I buy just one Basics class without subscribing?

Patreon actually makes it pretty easy to subscribe and unsubscribe at will. The easiest and fastest way to access the class is to join and then unsubscribe after you've completed your project. Note though that the classes are only open for 60 days from their launch date NOT from your join date, so if you join late in the class run, you won't get the full 60 days of access.

If you have some patience, wait for the class to be uploaded to the Workshop. Retired classes will be placed there for sale as a single class with forever access. I have two retired classes in the workshop now and will spend the summer of 2017 uploading my backlog of retired classes.

Email me at amy@vanillaarts.com to place a request for a particular class, I have moved a few retired classes higher on my to-do list based upon student interest.

 

I'm taking Basics now but life is getting busy. If I unsubscribe, can I come back later?

You sure can! Ease of joining and re-joining are a large part of why I house the Basics class on Patreon.

Here's a tutorial on how to end your subscription (they call it "deleting a pledge"). Note that this does not delete your entire Patreon account which makes it easy to rejoin later. Pledge again and you're back in as if nothing ever happened.

BTW, several people have done this. Don't worry about it seeming strange. Life gets in the way sometimes. It happens. Go do what you have to do!

 

What is your refund policy?

Sorry, but there are no refunds on the Basics class, Patreon simply does not have a method for offering refunds. Unsubscribe before the 1st day of the month to stop further charges from accruing.

For the Foundations course and other classes in the Workshop, the 30 day refund policy begins the day you enroll in the class. Note that if you purchase during a pre-sale, your 30 days starts with the purchase date, not the class start date.