Itching for More


My goal this week: stepping up my background game.

I’ve chosen a Simpsons character this week that lends itself well to a detailed background. Itchy and Scratchy is a cartoon show within The Simpsons that parodies classic cartoons such as Wile-E-Coyote and the Road Runner. The catch is that the mouse is trying to catch the cat and most of the time, he succeeds.

This week, I painted Itchy (the mouse) and used the props from his plans to capture Scratchy. In Looney Tunes, you’d often see Acme products, whereas in The Simpsons, Itchy uses more realistic means.

To draw the TNT box that Itchy is coming out of, I used the following video:

This box was my own addition to the painting and was not included in my reference image. I also chose to include a wooden background. I used this YouTube video to help me with that pattern:

YouTube videos are always great for my original sketches. I often choose the shortest ones, however, as I sometimes feel that they are too slow. In an article with pictures, I can work at my own pace, whereas a YouTube video limits me to working at someone else’s pace. In the above videos, I found that I skipped ahead quite often.


In terms of the actual painting, I have definitely found my groove in terms of the characters (colour, proportions, etc). I have also become quite fast. My first painting of Marge took me 3 and a half hours from start to finish and did not include a background. This one took me about 2 hours, background included. Little points of progress such as this definitely help to build my confidence and encourage me to continue taking more risks. The documentation of progress through blog posts has allowed me to visually see my progress, which allows me to see that I am not standing still. I am moving forward every week.


Next week, I will be wrapping up my learning project by exploring various options for my artwork (other than cluttering the walls of my apartment). Stay “tooned!”

Painting over mistakes is like sweeping dirt under the rug. No one will know unless you want them to.

Having finished my third The Simpsons painting (Milhouse Van Houten), I definitely feel as though I’ve hit my stride/found my groove in terms of style. This is where I belong: painting the Simpsons, one character at a time.

This being said, however, even the smoothest of grooves contain a few bumps here and there. The final result is perhaps one of my best (stay tuned to later in the post), however, it wasn’t easy getting there. Normally when I draw my characters, it goes pretty flawlessly. This time was different.

I, for whatever reason, struggled with Milhouse’s proportions and erased and redrew at least 10 times. Each time I erased, my new lines were harder to see so I had to press more firmly with my pencil, creating darker and darker lines. Then when I erased those lines, I had to go even darker the next time. Long story short… I made a mess.

Normally my sketch is just a bunch of dotted lines as you can see from my Squidward sketch.
This week, I had to use actual lines. Compared to the Squidward above, these lines are much darker and harder to paint over.

My plan was to simply paint over the pencil lines over and over again until they went away. This would have been difficult considering the yellow I use is fairly light (I mix it with white). Luckily, I found the following video that seemed to save several layers of paint, a few hours of repainting, and the piece in general.


This site, as well as (which has become one of my go-to sites) also offered some great solutions. It was, however, much easier to watch the video on YouTube. The Internet has many articles that are super informative, but in this particular scenario, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

So here is my final product. You can see that this character is much more detailed compared to my previous characters. In particular, the glasses were quite complex. I also painted his entire body instead of just his head.


Lastly, I’m quite proud of his facial expression and the background that enhances the character’s mood. I’ve found that my best work comes from bringing the characters to life, and this one in particular seems to portray a sense of emotion. I consider this a victory.

Paint Time with Finn and Jake

This week, I branched out into painting characters from a third television show: Adventure Time.

My goal this week was to really up the ante, step out of my comfort zone, push the envelope, and any other generic cliché that you can think of. Here are a few challenges I set out for myself:

  • Putting 2 characters on the same canvas instead of only one
  • Using the canvas landscape style, not portrait
  • Experimenting with different colours for these different characters (not just Simpsons yellow)
  • Using darker background colours (black) instead of softer, lighter tones
  • Working with 3D effects
  • Using water colour
  • Using black paint for important outlines and features instead of black marker
  • Not copying an image directly from my computer and taking more creative liberties
  • Incorporating a video into my blog post

For this Adventure Time piece, I first consulted the  YouTube video below to learn how to draw Finn and Jake. This site was also helpful with drawing Finn and his features.

With their sketches done, the painting was underway. Unlike my The Simpsons characters, I did not use the darker and lighter tones effect. I kept their colours solid, much like in the actual show (Adventure Time).


In this picture above, you can see I used red water colour paints instead of acrylic. Like the name suggests, the water colour paints are much wetter and runnier than the acrylic. This made it more challenging to stay within the lines I had set out for myself. This type of paint also didn’t cover my pencil lines as well as the acrylic, so I had to go over it several times. This site was very helpful and had a lot of good tips for working with water colours.

As mentioned earlier, in addition to the water colour challenge, I attempted to use black paint for outlining the majority of the characters’ features. I used marker for the explosion effect in the background, simply because it lends itself well to the 3D effect I was going for, however, the rest is mostly done with a thin, stiff brush, black acrylic paint, and a steady hand.

Below you can see the characters with the background coloured in, the final product for this week, and finally, my updated collection to date. Again, I feel like I have made a lot of progress, but there are still many things that I would like to improve upon. Stay tuned to more of my blog posts on this page to see what I mean.

I used darker colours for my background this time. I find it really makes the characters “pop”.
My final product.

Next week, I make a return to what interests me the most and attempt to recreate an iconic character that I have been eyeing up since this project began. See you then.

My updated collection. Still figuring out how I’m going to sign the latest piece. Please leave suggestions in the comments section below.


Mr. Ingola Paints Mr. Burns

For this next piece, I worked on incorporating a more elaborate background. Since Mr. Burns works at the nuclear power plant and is often seen polluting Springfield’s air, I included a billow of smoke. This is in addition to the dollar signs, which are a symbol of his wealth. I quite enjoyed painting a “villain” or antagonist this time around, as I could experiment with slightly darker colours. I am also very pleased with my incorporation of more background elements without taking away from the character as the actual focus of the painting.


I used the sponge brush to create the smoke effect. In researching the sponge brush, however, I discovered that it is actually called a foam brush. According to, one of the negatives of using the foam brush is that it leaves a ridge of paint on both sides of the paint stroke. I used this to my advantage as it created a texture within the smoke and gave the illusion that the smoke was thicker in some places.


While incredibly happy with the stylistic advantages of the foam brush, the cleanup afterward was not the best. Unfortunately, the foam absorbs a lot of paint and, compared to the standard brush head, requires a lot more work to get the paint out (in my experience, anyway). I developed a technique of letting the foam brush soak in the water, and then ringing it out like a regular hand sponge. This seemed to work.


I had originally wanted to use a silver colour for the smoke, however, the acrylic paint that I had purchased at Dollarama was very hard and would not come out of the bottle. It was unusable. For this reason, I had to mix black and white together to make my own sort of grey. This disappointed me, as I had initially envisioned a more metallic silver. My disappointment lead me to doing a bit of research.

This site offered many great solutions for thinning hardened acrylic paint, including a product called the “Acrylic Flow Improver.” I also read a great WikiHow that offered solutions that could be reached by using simple household products. Chipping the paint out with the end of your paintbrush and then grinding it up and adding water to it seemed to work for me, however, my painting was already finished at this point. I also noted that doing this to the acrylic paint turned it into more of a water colour, which gave me a great challenge for my next painting: using water colours. Stay tuned.

My first three attempts at becoming a fan art artist. I challenged myself by going a little bit bigger with the canvas size each time. 

Blank Canvas No More

I pulled up my chosen picture of Marge Simpson on my Macbook Pro and began mixing my colours. I had already sketched her figure onto the canvas, so now it was time to fill her in. I started with her yellow skin, the tone of which I was able to find online (see my last blog post).

As I looked at her picture online, I took note of lighter and darker tones, particularly in her hair. When I mixed my colours, I had one light, one medium, and one darker tone. On the right side of her body, I used the dark tones. On the left, I used the lighter tones. It created a really cool effect. I did this with her green dress, her yellow skin, and her blue hair. She was composed of just those three colours, plus her red/orange necklace.


While using the brushes, some of the bristles were very hard and coarse, while others were soft and thin. I had no clue when to use which brush, so I simply Googled it. I was brought to, which outlined the different types of brushes and what they are used for. It was very helpful, particularly in realizing that I had really “cheaped out” when buying my supplies. It was very clear to me that I did not have the appropriate brushes. But I kept on painting anyway. It was too late in the game.


After I had finished colouring her in, I gave her a pink background colour, which is a colour quite commonly used on The Simpsons. I then took out my thick Sharpie marker and began to trace out her eyes, her dress, her hand. As I did this, she began to “pop” – she started looking like a real cartoon character. I’d love to say this idea came to me from research, however, while I was in Dollarama, I saw the biggest Sharpie I had ever seen in my life and stopped to look at it. When I did, I thought it would be perfect for my project, rather than unsteadily tracing Marge out with black paint (which was my original game plan). I was more confident with the marker. Perhaps in other blog posts, I will teach myself how to successfully outline with black paint instead. Time will tell.


All in all, I am happy with my final product and am actually very excited to continue working on my style and technique. I’d also like to incorporate a more complex background to accompany my chosen character. Next week’s challenge: Squidward Tentacles from Spongebob Squarepants.