The Best Online Tools, Tutorials & Resources For Artists – Part 2

In my last blog post, I started listing some of the most interesting and beneficial digital art tools and resources that all artists should know about. Let’s continue with that exploration:


PaintTool SAI – Tool

mark litzler paint tool sai

PaintTool SAI is a downloadable paint tool program. It isn’t as advanced of some of the other tools listed, but it is very user friendly, and great for those who don’t require a highly sophisticated program. The program offers countless paint options and does have the option to incorporate multiple layers and different canvases. It’s simple interface is both a pro and a con in my opinion. A plain UI means it’s simple to use and very user friendly, but for some the plainness may come across as outdated.

Protip: This is a free, downloadable program, but there will be prompts for you to upgrade to paid services. My suggestion is to try out the free version before committing to anything more serious.

Image via: WikiCommons


Artsy Shark – Resource

mark litzler artsy shark

Artsy Shark is completely different than the other tools and resources I’ve listed so far. Artsy Shark is a website that was created by art business extraordinaire, Carolyn Edlund. The website is dedicated to helping artists create a business out of their art. Carolyn has a unique perspective and unmatchable experience from her work as the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute. Artsy Shark offers business consulting and website review services for artists, while simultaneously offering a platform to be discovered on their Featured Artists Gallery page.


Artists Inspire Artists – Resource

mark litzler artists inspire artists

Artists Inspire Artists is an online space for artists to come together to exchange inspiration and support. It’s a blog “founded on the idea that the greatest forms of creativity are often sparked by sharing in the creativity of others”. Artists Inspire Artists has grown and developed into a community of artists that blog about what inspires them, their art, and everything in between. The entire project is submission based, so this resource is almost like an art project in and of itself. It’s a space where artists are coming together to create something beautiful.

The Best Online Tools, Tutorials & Resources For Artists- Part 1

As an artist in the digital age, there are a plethora of options to use to create your art. If you feel as though you want to stretch beyond the standard physical mediums like pencil, ink, charcoal, etc, you have far more opportunities to do so than artists had in the past. With everything being digitized, we have an entire realm of art related tools available online. Here are some of the best tools that I’ve come across during my exploration of online tools:


DrawPj Art Education – Tutorial/Course

mark litzler DrawPj Art Education

DrawPj started out in the late 1990s, so it’s been around for a few decades. It’s a drawing and painting course that was developed on the notion that people with busy lives who still want to develop their art skills should have the resources to do so. DrawPj is an online course that provides a solid foundation of the “fundamentals”, and is really open to all skill levels. It can help beginners grow overall as well as help more experienced artists develop their weak spots.



mark litzler inkscape

This is one of the more comprehensive vector graphics based tools I’ve come across. It’s available for free download (but you should always throw a bit of a donation their way). If you’re not outwardly familiar with what can be done with vector graphic software, Inkscape houses high tech drawing tools, the ability to export a variety of file formats (pdf, ps, png, etc). It is used by artists to create logos, illustrations, graphics, and any number of other art projects. Think Photoshop….but free!


The Gnomon Workshop – Tutorial

mark litzler The Gnomon Workshop


The Gnomon Workshop is serious business. They’ve provide professional level instruction and training within the arts & entertainment industry. If you’re someone who is looking to seriously pursue a career in art (but maybe art school isn’t feasible right now), this would be a fantastic place to start building up your skillset.

Their library of tutorials is extensive, and definitely not for the faint of heart. The Gnomon Workshop’s vast array of tutorial topics covers everything from drawing to animation, so you can really flex your artistic muscles.


Check back soon for more great artistic resources!


Cartoonists You Should Know – Part 2

Last month, I started a mini series featuring a few cartoonists that I believe everyone should know. The realm of cartooning is so interesting not only because the artists themselves are often pushed out of the spotlight by their creations, but also because of the way that cartoons are used within society. Cartoons are often fun, and lighthearted (and used for youthful entertainment). But, that easy-going, fun vibe that people associate with cartoons can also be used as a cover to strong political criticisms and satirical views of society. Cartooning is complex and provocative, and the cartoonists listed below are a few more artists who deserve to be household names.

George Herriman


Famed for his newspaper comic strip Krazy Kat, George Herriman was one of those cartoonists that was revered within the art & intellectual community. Herriman is often praised not only for its “gorgeously scratchy line work”, but also for the writing and storylines that were poetic in nature.   colors and Krazy Kat was listed as one of the greatest comic strips of the 20th century by The Comics Journal, and other artists loved Herriman’s work for its subtle surrealism. Krazy Kat never reached high levels of popularity with general public, but all of Herriman’s catalogue continues to be acknowledged and praised by artists and cartoonists to this day.


Bianca Bagnarelli

Bagnarelli is definitely the most contemporary cartoonist on this list so far, and she has a cartooning style that I deeply admire. Located in Bologna, Italy, Bianca Bagnarelli founded the publishing imprint Debelie and was awarded a gold medal by the Society of Illustrators for her comic Fish (a beautiful story of grief). Bianca is famed for her impeccable understanding of color and her use of clean, vivid lines in her work.


Bernard “Hap” Kliban (B. Kliban)


Klinan’s claim(s) to fame were his cats. As Chris Madden said,

“I came across a book by B. Kliban: Cat Dreams. I’m not sure what they’re about. I’m not even sure if they’re funny (do cartoons actually have to be funny?) But they’re brilliant. Apparently he grew to detest drawing cats in the end, but they were what everybody wanted. Beware success.”

Bernard Kliban briefly studied at Pratt Institute before he dropped out to travel and paint in Europe. He started drawing cartoons for Playboy as a means of income to support his family. His style was very strange, and most of his work contained bizarre scenarios. But, his cat cartoons drew quite a following, and were/are featured on all sorts of novelty items.


Entering The World of Cartooning

Joe Vanilla by Mark Litzler

Joe Vanilla by Mark Litzler

Drawing has always been a passion of mine, and cartoons have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have memories of running outside on Sunday mornings to make sure that I got the comic section of the paper before anyone else could spoil it. But it wasn’t until college that my interest in cartooning became a more serious hobby, and I started to develop my own style of drawing. The more I practiced, the more passionate I became and I quickly began to aspire to have my work published. I now create work regularly, and have a deep interest in becoming a syndicated cartoonist at some point in the future.

I’ve been doing my research and networking with other cartoonists to find the best plan of action to enter the “professional” world of cartooning.  I’ve consolidated the tips and recommendations that I’ve gathered here as a “how-to” for other aspiring cartoonists.


Build Up Your Skillset
It’s important to acknowledge that although you may already be a great artist, you must continue to practice and improve your craft. The world of cartooning is more than just pen(or pencil) and paper these days. It would be advantageous for you to learn some of the major cartooning and animation software.

Keep up with Current Events
If you are looking to do enter the world of editorial cartooning, make sure that stay abreast of what’s going on the world. Your cartoons are required to not only be witty and well drawn, but they need to be relevant also.

Work on Your Portfolio
While professional training and work experience are always important to those in charge of hiring cartoonists, nothing is more important than building up a portfolio. Make sure that you have a wide variety of work that shows the development of your style and the range of work that you are capable of. One tip that I’ve continued to hear over and over is to look for freelance work. Do one-off jobs that will allow you to prove that you can work based on the specifications of multiple publications.

Know the Business
Terry LaBan, an accomplished cartoonist made this excellent point in his article here. “Time and time again, I’ve seen cartoonists with mediocre creative abilities and excellent business skills do far better than those who were merely artistic geniuses.” We’ve all seen it happening; people aren’t buying newspapers like they used to and there are less and less opportunities for syndicated strips. Being a cartoonist these days is undoubtedly an entrepreneurial lifestyle and being able to negotiate and act as a business person as well as an artist will often times take you so much farther than just artistic abilities on their own.