Category: Arts and Crafts

Puppetry Tips and Tricks


If you joined us for our puppet making event, you’re now the proud owner of a unique, handmade puppet. If you didn’t, you may still have a random puppet lurking around your house somewhere. Or maybe you’re looking at that sock that doesn’t seem to match any of the others in the laundry basket and wondering if it’s meant for better things. Wherever you are in the puppet making process, it’s important to remember that building the puppet is only part of the experience. Here are some ideas for what to do with your newly made felted friend.

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Smalerie Attempts Nail Art

If you follow any of the Ladies on social media, you’ll notice that we are having our second View and Chew event coming up in a couple of weeks.  This event is going to be even more crazy than our last as we prepare to celebrate all things Supernatural.  As part of our preparations, we have been making prizes, choosing the perfect plaid clothing items to wear, and having extremely detailed conversations about the best way to paint demon traps on everything from our toilets to our own finger nails.  As someone who really likes to theme her nails in line with various Comicazi and Ladies’ events, it seems only natural that I am not only prepping special nails for our event, but have been experimenting with the best way to create theme-appropriate nails for future events as well. And as I suffer from all this trial and error (and acetone fumes), I am going to share with you what I have learned.  PS –  If you are dying to see the finished product, you should really get your tickets to our event, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram (Krebstar5) if you are not local.

The Goods – Believe it or not, I don’t feel like I have enough nail supplies.  As soon as I hit a stride with something, I discover something else that I REALLY want.  Also, I never seem to have enough colors and random things to glue to my nails.  My last practice session looked like this:


And I still want more!!!!

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Pretty Pretty Pancakes

Pancakes have been on my mind a lot lately.  Part of it was looking over some of my past posts in search of motivation, but the larger part of it was probably the epic Facebook debate Tiny Doom and I had over the superiority of pancakes or waffles.  I am staunchly on Team Pancake.

And so I wanted to prove the versatility and superiority of pancakes in a very Ladies of Comicazi kind of way.  And so help me, that way is going to be fancy!  It’s time to do some Pancake Art. *cue awesome power ballad


I have become an immortal pancake!

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Cartoon Sara Draws Stuff – Smalerie’s Birthday Card 2015

I haven’t done an art process post since the Usagi Yojimbo one almost two years ago. My output remains sporadic, but I did just undertake a project where I’m pretty pleased with the results. So it’s time for round two.


Not much has changed since the Usagi pic. I still work almost exclusively digitally on my Cintiq monitor, and I still use Pixelmator. My Mac Mini remains fairly functional and my desk is still a mess.


I sometimes draw digital birthday cards for people I like, including the other Ladies. I had an idea for a Labyrinth themed one for Smalerie kicking around for a while. So when February rolled around and her birthday was approaching, it was time to get to work.



Sir Didymus movie reference

I have never drawn any of the characters from Labyrinth before, so reference was essential. I quickly discovered that the internet does not have sufficient Sir Didymus and Ambrosius reference. Most of the image from the film I found were on the small side, fanart is of questionable accuracy, and – as Smalerie pointed out when we visited the Center for Puppetry Arts – the remaining puppets are not all in the best condition. So I had to dig out my DVD and get some screencaps of my own to sort out what Didymus’s hat looks like or how his knee guards are attached to his legs. (They really aren’t.) Continue reading

Halloween 2013 – The Magic Continues

Last year at this very time, Tiny Doom wrote a post that, when I look back at it, marked an historical moment for this little blog: it was the first time the Ladies had ever revealed our faces! Of course, there were only three of us – our mighty quartet only became complete in the new year. And some of the faces (okay, mostly mine) were rather obscured by the costumes we chose. But still, it was a milestone, and here we are a year later, still keeping this blog chugging along, bigger and better than ever!

And yes, we still really love Halloween.


L-R: Cartoon Sara as Sally, The Red Menace as Starman, Tiny Doom as Speedy, Smalerie as Louise

Our love, perhaps, has different depths and comes from different places, so I won’t speak for all of the ladies in this post. (I’m pretty sure Tiny Doom loves Halloween WAY more than I do.) But however we got there, we’ve all embraced the holiday.

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Peanut Butter Fozzies: Soul Sucking Snacks of Anguish and Doom

See these guys?


Notice how they are innocently looking away in an attempt to avoid my angry gaze…

Pretty effing cute huh?  How creative and filled with all-american “can do” spirit, right?

Ugggghhhhhh…..  *thud

Believe it or not, from start to finish, these guys took six hours.  SIX HOURS!!!  And during those six hours of blood, sweat, and (mostly) tears, I learned a few things I would love to share with our dear readers.

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Cartoon Sara Draws Stuff – Usagi Yojimbo

I draw semi-professionally, which means I make prints sometimes and people buy them sometimes. So for today’s post, I’ll be talking a little about my process on a piece I did about a month ago. What I’ll be describing here is the method that works for me, which may not be the best method for everyone else of the best one out there. If you’re looking for advice on making your own digital art, I suggest you peruse the many tutorials available on the web and find one that suits you.


I switched over to drawing entirely on the computer a couple of years ago. I have a Cintiq monitor, which lets me draw directly on the screen with a stylus. I use a program called Pixelmator that’s a lot like Photoshop but several hundred dollars cheaper. My computer is a Mac Mini. My workspace is cluttered.


Shortly after seeing Stan Sakai talk on my husband’s birthday, I decided I wanted to do a Usagi Yojimbo drawing. I’d sketched some of the characters before, back when I first read the first few books, and they were really fun to draw. This time around, I wanted to do a more finished illustration, just for fun.


Rough Sketch


I usually start with a very rough sketch. I knew I wanted the Usagi drawing be a standoff between Usagi and another samurai with a composition reminiscent of classic samurai films. I hadn’t decided what to do with the other samurai at this point, so he’s just a loose doodle to give Usagi something to look at. As you’ll see in some of the later drawings, he went through a lot of changes.

The blue color I sketch in is a throwback to the non-photo blue pencils that animators and other artists sometimes use. It also helps me remember which lines are the rough sketch when I start adding in new layers.

Background Colors


I didn’t plan on showing my whole process when I drew this. So this is a recreation of the background colors I dropped in before I put in the details. I wanted to have a rough idea of the background colors so that I could make sure the colors on the characters with them once I started adding those. Plus it’s super easy to hide any layer that’s getting in the way if I need to see the sketch more clearly or something.

If you find this interesting and want to see more in the future, dear readers, I’ll take some in-process screenshots of whatever I work on next.


Usagi lines

Usagi was already fairly tight in the sketch, so I went straight ahead to final linework without any intermediate sketches. I did still make some changes between the sketch and the final drawing, but it’s mostly the same. I didn’t bother fixing the mistake near the bottom right edge because the area ended up colored in black. I took some liberties with Usagi’s profile, but I think what I ended up with looks good and he’s still recognizable as Usagi. Drawing such a well designed character was an absolute joy.

usagi-sword sketch

I did end up doing a second sketch of one of the swords (which I forgot about until I made the layer visible again) because I needed to change the position from the original sketch to make with work with the pose. I also completely fudged the hand on the rough sketch, so they didn’t really work until I got the position of the sword right.



I actually like to start dropping in the colors before I finalize the linework. It usually means I have to go back and move the colors around if I make major changes to the linework, but it also helps me see mistakes in the drawing and gives me a better idea of how the whole thing is coming along. The colors are on a layer under the linework so I can color away and not worry about accidentally covering up a line.

This is also where the background color become important. I’d normally make Usagi’s colors brighter, but since this scene has an overcast sky/ham-handed metaphor for impending conflict, everything’s going to be darker.

Dot Hell

Usagi Dots

Usagi’s shirt is covered in little dots, probably to add texture and visual interest. This particular detail was the least enjoyable part of drawing Usagi. I made the wise decision to put the dots on a separate layer so I didn’t have to worry about messing up the linework. Plus, it let me lower the opacity, since the dots struck me as too distracting at full strength. However, I also made the stupid decision to draw just a few dots and use the clone stamp tool to replicate them over and over. In theory this should have saved me time and work, but in practice, it just meant that I had to go back in and fix a bunch of partial dots by hand.

Shadows and Highlights

Usagi shadows

Yet another layer for the highlights and shadows, over the colors, but under the linework and the dots. Nothing fancy here, just enough to add some dimension and drama.

I think I dropped the gold detail at the base of the sheath on the other sword because it ended up being covered up by grass, which you’ll see later.

So now Uasgi’s done, but someone’s still missing…

Samurai Porcupine


I was thinking about having Usagi’s opponent be an existing character, but I decided to design my own instead. I went with a porcupine because I don’t believe Stan Sakai has ever drawn a porcupine character (though I could be wrong), I liked the design possibilities for a porcupine – particularly putting his quills up in a topknot, and “samurai porcupine” has a nice ring to it.

To my surprise, his design turned out to be really tough to nail down. Above is my initial sketch. My first though was that he would be really big, but I felt like the pose looked stiff and uninteresting. The shape of his head was giving me a lot of trouble.


I probably went through a dozen or so sketches that I didn’t like and deleted most of them. This guy probably had linework at some point before I decided that it wasn’t working. This is further proof that I like to color before the linework is finished. He’s getting a bit smaller and more upright here. I think I was still having trouble with the position of the sword.


The final sketch, sans background because the linework is very light for some reason. I still kind of miss the idea of a huge, hulking porcupine with quills all the way down his back. But at this point, I was getting frustrated and this pose worked.


The final linework, probably moved over after I drew over the sketch for better composition. Very close to the sketch expect for the addition of his sheath and second sword. I am pleased with how his head turned out and the pose, if not the most dynamic, is at least believable.


The colors, highlights, and shadows are all on the same level here, either because I just did it that way or because I merged the layers after the fact for some reason. The colors are pretty much the same as those in the abandoned sketch above. I wanted colors that would contrast with Usagi, so I went with warmer colors: a pinkish-purple for his body and a maroon shirt. The highlight on the blade was useful for making it visible against the sky.


The two of them together on the dummy background.



And the finished background, with a few layers of grass in front of the characters. The sky was done with a softer brush tool, a few different grays, and possibly a blur filter. I’ll take better notes if I do this again.

I had considered doing a second version with a tokagé between Usagi and the porcupine poking its head up out of the grass and freaking out, but I never got around to it.

So that’s how I draw, minus a few additional abandoned sketches, erased mistakes, breaks to play with dogs, and curses directed at dots.

How to: Makin’ Candy Lego Mini-Figures

My recent obsession with Lego was pretty clear in this previous post.  Since that first bigger build, I have continued to make things and have also since moved on the next Iron Man set, which I have dubbed “Tony Stark’s Malibu Dream House”-There was a helicopter too, but the house portion is much more interesting.  Look how awesome this is?!!?  It comes with a Dummy (at the ready with a fire extinguisher), and a drink dispenser (that I think is filled with Tang).


Pepper- “Tony, I am getting very concerned about your Tang intake.”

Ok, but as cool as that is, that’s not what this post is about.  Rather it’s about how the perfect storm of a Lego mini-figure obsession, and extreme curiosity about those multi-color candy melts I always see in the craft store come together to make an adorable (if not slightly labor intensive) snack.

How to: Makin’ Candy Lego Mini-Figures


  • various color candy melts (These all basically taste the same, though the dark ones claim to be “dark cocoa”)
  • cheapy paint brushes
  • microwave safe bowls
  • a silicon mold (like the kind sold for making ice cubes)- obviously I am using a mold that looks like Lego mini-figures, but you can pick what you like.
Candy melts

The Candy Melts and silicon mold

Cheap brushes

The aforementioned cheapy paint brushes

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Crafternoon: Snowglobes and Ornaments (or “How not to get glitter-lung”)

It all started with a trip to The Museum of the Modern Snowglobe. Yes this is a real place, with an actual physical location. You visit by appointment and get to take a look at some of the wonderful and weird curated lovelies donated by travelers and displayed on a long shelf circling the display room. Do not miss the Hatfield and McCoy snowglobe (see bottom left) or the Liberace snowglobe (center square!). The snowglobes exhibited rotate, so perhaps you will want to go back more than once! We left with a fever for these tchotchkes and plans to make some globes of our own.


Some selections from the Museum of the Modern Snowglobe.

Well that was 2 years ago now. Time flies when you are doing things, and sometimes other things you meant to do get pushed to the wayside. Sometimes you start saving jars and little figures and start to wonder if you are showing weird hoarder tendencies. Sometimes you go ask for glycerin at a pharmacy and are full on shocked by the product you are handed (pro tip: if you want liquid glycerin, just get it online and save yourself a lot of embarrassment). But I digress. A crafternoon was planned and snow globes were finally made.

There are plenty of tutorials for this out on the interwebs, most notably some appropriately seasonal ones from Martha Stewart. Those are nice, but I think ours are better. Here’s what we did:

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