Inktober 2017 – My Submissions

If you haven’t heard of Inktober, it’s a fun challenge started by Jake Parker, where you try to draw everyday in the month of October using ink!

I decided to join in on the fun even though I’m most comfortable working with graphite. And I encourage you to join in as well! I think a great way to grow any skill is to constantly challenge yourself by stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Anyway… drawing is drawing – it doesn’t matter what medium you use!

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With my current work schedule, I decided to make a drawing every other day. You can follow me on Twitter to catch me when I post the next one all the way up until Oct 31st! Tweet at me if you’re participating as well! I’d love to see your submissions!!

The most challenging thing about Inktober is that there’s no ERASING! So to up the game even more, I’ll try NOT to use pencil for under layers/rough drafts, etc. Just plain ink on paper.

Here are my submissions so far!

October 1: Robert Downey Jr.

Time: 46 mins

Did this on the Wacom Intuos Pro Paper tablet. It was so fun!! It was a bit of a challenge coloring the portrait because the pen has a 0.4mm fine tip. I got the proportions all wrong and couldn’t erase anything, but still proud that I got my first one done!

October 3: Iron Man & Pepper Potts

Time: 1 hr 10 mins

Huge obsession with Iron Man…

I used Pigma Sensei Pens for this one. The most difficult thing was shading Pepper’s skin, although I think it turned out okay in the end. In areas where I messed up, I used a thick 0.6mm pen to outline it so the mistakes would disappear.


October 5: Drogon Wight

Time: 40 mins

Inspired by Ertaç Altınöz’s digital drawing.

October 7: Bran (Three Eyed Raven)

Time: 45 mins


October 9: Arya Stark

Time: 39 mins

This one was really fun because of the greasy hair. Shading is awful though…


October 11: Hodor Hodoring

Time: 1 hr 20 mins

So frustrated with myself because the drawing didn’t turn out the way I wanted, but I decided to post it anyway… gotta show my fails too!

October 13: Tyrion Lannister

Time: 2 hrs 23 mins


UPDATE: This is where I stopped. I was staying up past 2am to do these and it turns out that was really bad for my health. I got really painful stomach aches which didn’t go away until after a week and other health issues started to resurface, so I decided to not to continue. It was fun, but I just didn’t have time for it!



Here’s my entire list of ideas:

1.) Robert Downey Jr.
2.) Iron Man
3.) RDJ and Miss Potts
4.) Wolverine
5.) Wonder Woman
6.) Lara Croft
7.) Indiana Jones
8.) Khaleesi
9.) Jon Snow
10.) Tyrion Lannister
11.) Arya Stark
12.) Sansa Stark
13.) Jaime Lannister
14.) Jora Mormont
15.) Samwell Tarly
16.) Dragon
17.) GOT Sword Throne
18.) The Mountain
19.) Jaqen H’ghar
20.) Hodor
21.) Bran Stark
22.) 3 Eyed Raven
23.) Brienne of Tarth
24.) Magneto (X-Men)

If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments down below! And don’t forget to follow me on twitter where I’ll be posting a drawing every other day.

Do you want to do a month of pencil sketching with me? Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll organize something fun for us :)


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Beginner’s guide to graphite drawing pencils

beginners guide to graphite drawing pencilsIf you’re new to drawing with graphite and wondering what are the best drawing pencils you should be using, this guide is for you!

In this guide, you will learn:

  • What the numbers and letters on a pencil mean
  • Which pencils you should use
  • Which pencils are best for drawing portraits and pencils for sketching
  • The reason why there are so many pencil grades
  • How the quality of a pencil can affect your artwork


Pencil Grades

pencil graphite value scale H to 9B RFA 4

The letters on a pencil will tell you its level of hardness or softness. For example:

H: Hard
F: Fine Point
HB: Hard Black
B: Black

Hard pencils produce light lines while soft pencils produce dark lines. Why? Because soft pencils deposit more graphite onto your drawing surface. The softer the pencil, the smoother the graphite.

The number beside each letter represents the level of hardness or softness. So a 9B pencil is softer/darker than a 2B, while an 8H will be harder/lighter than a 3H.

Here’s a list of pencil grades in order from lightest to darkest or hardest to softest.

9H, 8H, 7H, 6H, 5H, 4H, 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9B

Value Range

Each pencil is capable of covering a wide range of values. If you look at the first image, there are some gradients under each square. This shows you how flexible each grade of pencil is. Even though 9B is the softest pencil, you can still use it to draw an entire portrait with values ranging from medium grey to black. Although, it would be a big challenge since it would require a lot of effort to keep from shading your drawing too dark.


The Best Pencils For Drawing

Don’t be intimidated by the number of pencils I listed up there! Most likely, you’ll only need to use 3-5 of them. The pencils you need will depend on the type of drawings you do.

Architectural / Product Sketches / Technical Sketches

If you’re into drawing buildings, cars or technical sketches, a set of hard pencils will suit you well. Hard pencils don’t smudge easily, so your drawings will always be sharp and clean. You won’t need to sharpen your pencils too often because the graphite is hard enough to hold a sharp tip longer than any B graded pencil.

If you want to add dark shading to your drawing, pick up a few soft pencils so you can make your drawings pop out of the page.


Portraiture /  Animals / Realism

guide to graphite pencilsIn order to achieve realistic textures such as fur, skin or fabrics, you’ll need pencils that blend well and are flexible enough to reach the darkest of tones in order to convey a realistic sense of depth. A set of soft pencils will fit the job perfectly. If you don’t want to buy a full set, you can get a few individual pencils. When it comes to portraiture, my most frequently used pencils are HB, 4B, 6B and 8B.


Why You Should Use More Than 1 Pencil

Each pencil has its benefits and can help you get the job done faster! I could use a monkey wrench to drive 1000 nails into my patio deck, but it wasn’t designed for that job. A hammer is so much more efficient!

Here’s how each pencil below helps me get the job done faster and more efficiently:

HB: This pencil helps me shade the lightest areas of my portrait such as eyeballs and highlights without having to spend too much time focusing on the amount of pressure I’m putting on the paper and worrying if I’m shading to dark.

6B: Without any effort at all, I can easily shade large areas of a portrait or background with a smooth dark layer of graphite.

If you feel really strained after you finish a drawing, you might need to add a few more pencil grades to your toolbox, or learn how to use them more efficiently.


Graphite Quality

Graphite pencils are typically mixed with varying amounts of clay. Which means that a low quality pencil could contain many sand-like bits that feel scratchy and can damage your artwork.

If you can’t test a pencil before buying it and you want to be sure it won’t be scratchy, check to see that the packaging says it’s mixed with high quality, pure or smooth clay. Keep in mind that no matter how high the quality, you’re not going to get a 100% pure pencil.

Pencils that I’ve used and recommend are Derwent Graphic and Daler Rowney Graphic (not sketch).

Have a question? Leave it in the comments!

If you enjoyed this guide and know someone that would benefit from it, use the social sharing buttons below to share it with them :)


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8 unique gifts for artists

Need some art gift ideas for the visual artist in your life? Here’s my top 12 list of affordable, awesome and unique gifts for adult artists. Some of these things I have and love, while others are on my personal wishlist.

1. Wacom Bamboo Spark

Transform any doodle or masterpiece from paper to digital ink like magic. The Bamboo Spark Pen is perfect for any artist that loves drawing on the go or simply loves working with pen and paper. It eliminates the need for a scanner because the artwork can be saved and uploaded to any device with bluetooth capabilities.

best-gifts-for-artists2. Monthly Art Subscription Box

Websites like SketchBox, ArtSnacks, Cratejoy and SmartArt offer monthly subscriptions on cool art-themed goody boxes delivered straight to your door every month. A great way to discover new art supplies and get those creative juices flowing!


3. Tracing Light Board

This is seriously one of the coolest things ever! If you know someone who likes drawing comics or manga, this light board is a clear winner! It has multiple brightness settings so you can trace almost anything you want. I don’t draw comics, but I’ve always wanted one!



4. Smudge Guard by Jeannie Lit

For graphic designers and the like, a smudge guard will help your hand glide smoothly across the the surface of your wacom tablet. Never worry about sweaty hands again!

For traditional artists who work with pencil and paper, it prevents the skin’s natural oils from transferring to your artwork. I use my smudge guard all the time and LOVE it! It reduces smudges significantly!


5. Adjustable Desktop Easel

Adjustable drawing boards are great for posture. Every artist needs one!

This one comes with a painting palette and a built in storage box for easy access to drawing or painting tools. It has a convenient handle on the side, so you can easily store it away when not in use or carry it outside for a day of landscape drawing or painting in the park.



6. Nomad FleX Paintbrush Stylus

The Nomad FleX is a flexible and soft stylus for tablets and smart phones designed to feel like a real paintbrush so you can paint without all the mess. Its fine tip prevents it from spreading out and gives you precision with each stroke.



8. Art Mannequins and Models

Adjustable mannequins are great study subjects for new artists to practice drawing different poses, and learn about proportions and shading. Aspiring comic or manga artists can use mannequins to model a wide array of poses for their characters.



Shading is a tricky skill to master and it really helps to study it using a tangible 3D object instead of a flat image on a computer screen. With a realistic model, you can study and practice your shading to perfection by applying various lighting angles and intensity levels.



I hope this list gave you some good present ideas! If you’re an artist and you own any of the items listed above, let us know what you think about it. Also, what’s on your wishlist?

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How to make an artist website in 5 EASY steps

How to make an artist website in 5 stepsWant to set up an artist website without the headache?

Follow my step by step guide and get your website up and running today!

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to sign up to a hosting provider and get your website up and running. I’m going to use tons of pictures for each step so the task is painless. It was a big headache for me when I first started out!

I will take you from zero to having a website that’s ready to work on in no time!

Step #1: Choose your Website Platform

A website platform or content management system (CMS) makes it easy even for non technical people to build a website. It requires little to no coding or design skills.

The most popular platform is WordPress, which is what I use for all my sites and sites I build for other people. It’s very beginner friendly and that’s why I’m recommending it to you. Also, it’s FREE!

You can access thousands of free website designs to create the website you want with just the click of a button. Here are just a few examples of the free designs you can download for your site:

how to start an art website

One of my favorite things about WordPress is how easy it is to install new designs and plugins. It’s like playing with lego – you can remove a piece just as easily as you attached it.

Plugins are add-ons to your site like slideshows, galleries, social share buttons and more. Currently, the WordPress plugin directory contains more than 46,000 plugins and the number grows every day. Whenever I look for a specific plugin, I’ll have at least 15 free plugin options to choose from.

For a non-techie person like myself, WordPress makes building websites fun! Plus, there’s a huge community of developers and free how-to guides and videos everywhere on the web.

If you’re not interested in WordPress, here are some other popular platforms you can check out:


This step by step tutorial is specific to WordPress. So you may want to find another tutorial if WordPress isn’t the CMS of your choice :)

Step #2: Choose your Web Host and Domain Name

Selecting a platform is only the beginning, you also need to have a web host and domain name for everything to work. Since this guide is on how to build a professional artist website, I’m suggesting a paid host.

There are free options out there, but I highly discourage using them because your site will have a low bandwidth limit, load slowly especially for portfolio sites, rank lower in search engines, have limited design and customization options and be hosted on a sub-domain which looks unprofessional to prospective clients (Eg:

I Recommend – it’s Cheap and Great for Beginners


Bluehost is a very popular web host for beginners and a great option to start your art website. BlueHost’s prices are very affordable, with their basic hosting package priced at only $3.45/month. When you register, they even give you a FREE domain. I usually purchase my domains from, so this offer saved me $14 right off the bat!

BlueHost’s control panel is friendly for non-techie people, you can create professional business emails with them (eg:, their bandwidth is unmetered and they offer one click wordpress installs so you can start designing your website in minutes! (I’m going to take you through the entire process later).


Select a Domain Name for Your Site

This part is fun! Get your pen and paper out and start brainstorming!

  • If you’re like me and you want to create a brand for your website, choose a name that is easy to remember, easy to spell and is short. Avoid using hyphens and make sure your domain name looks good without spaces. Eg: instead of
  • If you’re creating an art portfolio or personal website, it’s a good idea to use your name. It looks great on a business card and is easy to remember (unless your name is Eedara Veera Venkata Satyanarayana). In that case, it may be better to stick to your initials.

I always choose a .com address because it’s easy for people (such as clients) to remember, it looks more professional and I strongly believe Google prefers it over .club, .online, .design and even the popular .net.

I can never remember if a domain ends in anything other than .com. If that applies to you too, you can be sure that your clients are the same as well.

You can use the search box below to check if your domain name is already taken:

Step #3: Purchase Hosting and Get Your Free Domain

If you want to host your art website with BlueHost (which I personally suggest and trust), go to and select a package that best fits your needs. If you want to create multiple sites, the second plan offers you the ability to host an unlimited amount of websites (please note that when you sign up, you only get 1 domain for free).



After you select the package you need, you’ll be able to enter your desired domain name:


Next, you’ll need to create an account. At the bottom of the page, you’ll be asked to select a few package add-ons before checking out.

The most important ones to me are Site Backup Pro and SiteLock Domain Security. But you can easily backup your website and protect it from malware using free plugins.

If you want to sell products/services on your website, having a SiteLock certified site will be a good idea. I personally do not check any of the add-ons.

Once you go through the payment system, continue to step #4.

Step #4: Install WordPress

Once you’re signed in, you will land on your BlueHost dashboard. From there, scroll down to the tab labelled ‘Website’ and click ‘Install WordPress’.



You’ll be asked to do the installation yourself or with the help of a pro. To install it yourself, select the domain you want to install WordPress on. I leave the directory field blank (this will install WP in your website’s root folder).



After you hit the ‘next’ button you’ll be prompted to enter the name/title of your site, username and password. Your username cannot be changed easily, so choose a good one.



After you hit the ‘install’ button, your installation will start. It should take less than a minute. Then click the ‘here’ button.




On the next page, you’ll be given your site login link, username and password. Click on the link and enter your login credentials to sign into your art website.


If you click on the link and land on a page that looks something like this. Don’t panic. Refresh the page in 30 or 60 minutes until you get the WordPress login page.



After you login, you’ll be introduced to your WordPress dashboard. When you try to access your site in a new browser (where you’re not logged in), it should display a “Coming Soon” page. You can launch your website by clicking “launch” from the dashboard when you’re ready to publish it to the world!

Before you launch your art site, you’ll want to install a WP theme.



Step #5: Choose and Install a WP Theme for Artists

If you’re creating a portfolio website, here are a few free and premium WP portfolio themes you may like:

Magnetic – Free HTML5 Responsive WP Template

Simple and clean design with easy left sidebar navigation. Responsive template adjusts well to desktop, tablet and smartphones.
Demo      Download



Heat – Premium Responsive Portfolio Theme

Create multiple grid, masonry and even video galleries for your artwork and display as many images as you want in each. Responsive design looks and behaves well on desktop, tablet and smartphone.
Demo      Download



Ad Hoc – Responsive Portfolio

Design your own galleries using various grid style layouts. This theme features cool transitions and animations when switching between pages and scrolling.
Demo      Download



PILE – Responsive Unique Portfolio Theme

Simple drag-and-drop interface with a minimalistic, sophisticated and slick design. Enjoy smooth scrolling and unique transitions between pages. Arrange your pages into a grid style gallery or break it up with a dynamic flowing layout.
Demo     Download



Mentas – Responsive Elegant Multipurpose Art Portfolio Theme

Choose from 4 different gallery styles: masonry grid, grid view, expanding grid and pinterest style. Comes with Visual Composer, the #1 most popular drag-and-drop page builder (value of $34).
Demo     Download



Do you like the theme I use on RapidFireArt? You can get it here. It’s called Newspaper – my favorite theme of all time because of how customizable it is (I’ve tried more than 20 different free and premium themes and was never satisfied until I got this one). You can check out the different layouts using the preview button on the sales page.

Note: This theme is not a portfolio theme! It’s great for blogging though :)

Newspaper – Responsive Magazine Theme with Visual Composer Drag-and-Drop Builder



Installing Your Theme

After you download your theme, it should show up as a zip file. If you purchased a premium theme through ThemeForest, make sure you select the download option of ‘Installable WordPress File Only’.

Now go back to your WP dashboard and click ‘Appearance‘ and then ‘Themes‘.



On the next page click ‘upload‘.



Then click ‘upload theme



Select your theme’s zip file and hit ‘install now‘.



When the upload is complete, you’ll get a screen that looks like this. You can choose to preview the theme or activate it. The preview option is good for when you already have your website fully setup and want to test out other themes without actually changing how your site appears to clients or readers.

Hit ‘activate’ and wait for the next page to load.



Your theme installation is now complete! Depending on the theme you installed, you may be recommended some additional installations (plugins) which compliment your theme.



Once you’ve installed the necessary plugins, it’s time to customize your website. For the newspaper theme in this example, customizations such as site colors, page layouts, fonts, etc can be made in the ‘theme panel’ under the ‘Newspaper’ tab. If you can’t find the tab for your theme, go to ‘appearance’ > ‘customize’.



If your theme has a drag-and-drop builder like visual composer, you can design the layout of a page or post by selecting the backend editor when creating/editing a page or post.



Once your gallery or blog post is up, launch it so you can share your artwork with the world!


Now you’re on your own! That wasn’t so bad, was it?


Before you go, let me leave you with a list of free and premium plugins I use on my websites like the one you’re on right now:

Google XML Sitemaps – Help search engines better index your pages
Wp Smush It – Minimize the weight of your images to increase your website’s speed
All in One SEO Pack – Optimize your art website for search engines
Easy Social Share Buttons – Beautiful share buttons with endless customization options to help increase your web traffic
Social Locker – Increase your social media shares by locking things like premium content, guides, etc.
Mail Munch – Collect emails and grow your list of subscribers
Aweber Autoresponder – Send automated emails to your subscribers so you can keep them engaged with your business

I hope this tutorial on how to make an art website was helpful to you and wish you the best of luck with your brand new site! I’m no tech wiz, but if you need any help or have any questions, let me know! I’ll try my best to help you out :)


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