Smart Art DIY Subscription: Creating An Illustration Review + Coupon
Smart Art is a fine arts subscription service that sends a curated box of supplies for a new project theme and featured artist every month. I enjoy doing art projects in my free time, so I’m excited for this subscription!
This box was sent to us at no cost to review. (Check out the review processes post to learn more about how we review boxes).
About Smart Art
The Subscription Box: Smart Art
The Cost: $49.95 per month with free shipping (save with longer commitments!)
The Products: Art supplies are provided to create a unique project
Ships to: U.S. only
Good to know: It’s a different project in a different media every month, using different techniques!
Smart Art Illustrations Review
This month’s project was blending colors together using watercolor brush pens. I’ve recently started exploring watercolor, especially finely detailed botanical paintings and watery landscapes, so I was excited for the project!
This is a booklet that Smart Art sends every month. It includes information about the featured project and artist, a list of descriptions of the included supplies, and project steps and illustrations. Subscribers can upload a picture of their finished projects to Smart Art’s Facebook page for a chance to win a free box, which is really cool!
Page 2! This month’s art history section is about illustrations, which range from commercial art, fine arts, and graphic designs. Below, there’s a list of project pointers that help you out to begin your project.
This month featured an assortment of markers to help explore the growing medium of markers in art. Right below is a detailed list of the project tools, which include pencils, pens, sketchbook, and a watercolor brush.
The last page of the booklet shows some basic steps and hints for the month’s project.
Here are the products included for this month:
Metropolitan Set: black, gentian, light blue, aqua green, tangerine, light gray
Skyline Set: ruby red, ultramarine blue, dark green, black
Strathmore Visual Mixed Media Journal 5.5” x 8” – Retail Value $10.72
General’s Sketch and Wash Pencil Kit #525BP – Retail Value $3.50
Royal Langnickel Zen Watercolor Brush Series 83 Round 2 – Retail Value $2.40
*Please note that the values listed here are listed prices. Most of the supplies can be found for less at most online discount art supply stores.
Here, I tried to show the brush tip size and blending of the aqua pens, which are watercolor pens with vibrant, odorless, and water-soluble colors. They start with a concentrated, dark color, which can be easily blended or diluted for paler hues and shading. I started with a small stroke of the marker, then used the watercolor brush (beautiful, sleek design, and fits perfectly in my hand!) to spread the color. I then used the fine tip end, which is essentially a thick felt-tip pen.
(Note: I have not figured out how to use the end of the brush, which is a scraper for highlighting?!)
Here, I wanted to show the colors of the fineliner pens. These pens are a class of plastic tip or fine fiber pens with a classically long metal tip to prevent blunt ends. This series is water-soluble inks (and they very easily bleed on wet paper) and can be blended if needed (but not recommended, because the thin point is for sketching or accent marks).
I also included a gradient per three pencils given, 2H (sketching), HB (regular #2 standardized), and 2B (sketching + shading), to show the softness and darkness of each lead level. Personally, I do not enjoy using the 2H because of its often scratchy texture and have been taught to use the 2B for sketching, which helps you gain more control when doing pencil drawings.
The sketchbook paper is of a favorite brand of mine—Strathmore makes affordable high-quality paper with a variety of thickness and styles. I was impressed by the thick cardboard covers that protected the paper very well and the thick, heavy watercolor paper. Occasionally in watercolor, you ‘erase’ a color by diluting the pigment already on the paper, which often causes pilling of the paper. I am happy to report this paper does not pill easily (as expected from Strathmore!).
For some reason, I have been fascinated in eyes lately! So for this month, I decided to use part of the girl’s face to draw from the aqua pen packaging 😊 I first used a mechanical pencil 0.5mm with 2B lead to sketch.
I then used the aqua pens to color the base skin color yellow, then added green blue accents when needed. Because the fineliner is water-soluble, I waited for the drawing to completely dry before adding the thick black accents and thin lines. I finished by using the light gray as a blending pen to bleed out the black lines. I really enjoyed this last technique, it was so much fun!
Here is my final project! Though it’s quite simple, I love the vibrant colors, there’s something about the slight messiness that makes the eye pop even more!
The Verdict: Smart Art won me over from the beginning with the lovely color set of aqua pens I could use to practice my watercolor with, along with my favorite paper brand! Even if you’re not experienced with watercolor, I think the instructions provided break down steps of blending the pens very well, and the pens are a lot easier to manipulate than real paints.
I estimated a retail value of $45.10, which is pretty close to the original cost of the box at $49.95. I consider a large part of the box’s value as the experience of creating the project, as well as being able to keep supplies you can reuse (especially that beautiful sketchbook!), but that is just my personal opinion!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, you will receive the March box. You must sign up by the last day of the month to get the following month’s curation!
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
What did you think of Smart Art’s February project?