Hand Drawing Made Simple: Key Techniques for Confident Results

Drawing hands is one of the most popular topics learning artists ask about. That’s because knowing how to draw hands is essential if you are drawing the figure. But it can also be intimidating. That’s why I want to share with you this article on hand drawing made simple from one of our favorite instructors, Brent Eviston.

The tutorial breaks down the essential steps without overwhelming you! If you have an “ah-ha!” moment, that’s to be expected! And if you want more of them, definitely consider Brent’s Figure Drawing Essentials Kit (also available as a Digital Kit) where he covers anatomy, gesture, shape and more. All the essentials an artist needs, delivered in a way that is simple and straightforward.




My Approach to Hand Drawings

Drawing the human hand takes almost as much knowledge, skill and experience as drawing the entire rest of the figure. However, when drawing the hand, you can adapt many of the same tools and techniques you’re already using to draw the rest of the figure.

In this article, I will walk you through a few key ways to approach hand drawing so you can enhance your skill set and create more confident drawings.

Gesture Drawings of the Hand

Gesture drawing is a foundational figure drawing skill. Although you can approach gesture drawings in many ways, most strategies involve doing quick drawings (anywhere from 10 seconds to five minutes) that simplify the subject into as few strokes as possible, as well as favor dynamism over accuracy and large, general forms over small details.

When doing gesture drawings of the full figure, axis lines are used to capture the angle between a pair of landmarks on the body, most often of the hips or shoulders.

In the drawing below you’ll see how you can use a combination of dynamic directional marks and axis lines to capture the angle of the wrist as well as the line of the knuckles. This is an excellent way to quickly capture the most prominent forms and proportions of the hand. Remember, your gesture drawing will lay a light foundation upon which you’ll build the rest of your drawing, so start off as lightly as you can.

Hand Drawing, Figure Drawing Techniques, Brent Eviston, Artist's Network, Figure 1

Fig. 1: Demonstration on drawing hands, directional marks and axis lines, Brent Eviston

The Radius Line

When beginning a gesture drawing, start with the radius side of the wrist (the side with the thumb). In the drawing on the left (fig. 1), a line moves from the radial side of the wrist all the way up to to the tip of the pointer finger, ignoring the thumb. If the radial side of the wrist and the pointer finger aren’t easily visible, you can switch to drawing the ulnar side of the wrist to the pinky finger. Pay particular attention to where this line changes direction.

Axis Lines

When gesturing the hands, axis lines can be used in two different ways. The first point is at the wrist. In the middle drawing (fig. 1), I’ve drawn a line from the ulna to the radius. With this angle in place, you can then “square up” the wrist, communicating to the viewer the spatial orientation of the box of the wrist.

Next, just how as you would use an axis line to capture the angle between pairs of skeletal landmarks of the body, you can draw a single line to capture the position of all four knuckles of the fingers. Ask yourself if the knuckle line appears closer to the tip of the pointer finger or closer to the wrist. I recommend taking a proportional measurement and then comparing the distances while placing the knuckle line.

Active vs. Passive

Finally, in the drawing on the right (fig. 1), I’ve gestured each of the fingers and thumb. In this early gestural stage, instead of drawing both sides of the contour of each finger, focus solely on the active side (the outside of the bend) rather than the passive side where the flesh collapses to accommodate the bend when drawing.

Pay particular attention to where on the knuckle line each finger projects from. Also, consider the length of each finger in relationship to the rest of the hand, as well as to the other fingers and thumb.

Keep it Simple

Gesture drawing allows you to capture the most prominent directions, forms and relationships of the hand without getting prematurely mired in details. It’s important to remember: In drawing there are no silver bullets.

Drawing the hand is a challenge, and you should expect to make several attempts and revisions. If done with care, this technique allows you to capture the basic forms of the hand in proper proportion and will provide you with a solid foundation so you can build the rest of your drawing before moving forward with more detail.

Here are a few three-minute hand gestures (fig. 2) relying heavily on the method just described. Remember, there’s not only one right way to do a gesture drawing, so experiment to find a process that works for you.

Hand Drawing, Figure Drawing Techniques, Brent Eviston, Artist's Network, Figure 2

Fig. 2: Demonstration of three-minute drawings, hand gestures, Brent Eviston

The Basic Volumes of the Hand

Another fundamental strategy of figure drawing is to simplify the body into its most basic volumes. Although there is no single way to do this (and it changes depending on the body of the model, the pose and the conception of the artist), it is usually a combination of boxes, spheres and cylinders.

Work Largest to Smallest

When drawing, you should always try and start with the largest forms first and work your way down to smaller forms. The largest volume of the hand is the box-like form that the fingers and thumb connect to. You can think of this box as beginning at the wrist and ending at the knuckle line (once again, ignoring the thumb).

Finding the placement, proportions and spatial orientation of this box is one of the most powerful ways to begin a hand drawing.

Establish Cylindrical Segments

The fingers and thumb can be simplified into a series of cylinders with the finger tips being rounded off at the ends. Each finger has three cylindrical segments while the thumb only has two.

In the drawings below (fig. 3 & 4), I began with the gesture process described above before first drawing the large box of the hand and then drawing the fingers and thumb as a series of cylindrical segments. I’ve paid particularly close attention to the ellipses of each cylinder because ellipses are what show the spatial orientation of the form.

Hand Drawing, Figure Drawing Techniques, Brent Eviston, Artist's Network, Figure 3

Fig. 3: Demonstration on drawing hands, using boxes and a series of cylinders, Brent Eviston

Hand Drawing, Figure Drawing Techniques, Brent Eviston, Artist's Network, Figure 4

Fig. 4: Demonstration on drawing hands detail of boxes and cylindrical forms (notice the prominent ellipses which help show the form’s spatial orientation), Brent Eviston

It’s important to note that the box of the hand may change shape, particularly when viewed from the palm side where the bending of the fingers may appear to alter the knuckle line.

Once the size and placement of the various cylindrical segments are drawn you can gesture in any remaining details, such as the connection of thumb to the box of the hand.

Light Logic

Simplifying the forms of the hand down to their foundational volumes not only helps you orient them effectively in space, but it also helps you understand the overall lighting scheme. Light interacts with basic volumes in a predictable and logical way. Once you understand the basic volumes of a subject, you understand how light falls over them.

Capture Light and Shadow

It’s important to remember that as you add details, and the light and shadow patterns become more complex, you keep the overall lighting scheme intact. For example, if you look at the tendons of the fingers, you can see that although they break up the large flat expanse of tieback of the hand, the larger lighting scheme is still dominant.

Hand Drawing, Figure Drawing Techniques, Brent Eviston, Artist's Network, Figure 5

Fig. 5: Demonstration on drawing hands, applying lighting scheme, Brent Eviston

In the drawing on the left (fig. 5), the basic volumes of the hand are drawn using the strategies shared in this article. I’ve also drawn in the basic lighting scheme of these volumes. The large, flat plane of the box of the hand is getting a lot of light with the side plane going into shadow, which casts a shadow over the volumes of the thumb. Each of the finger’s cylinders has light on its left side and goes into shadow on the right.

Take some time to compare these two drawings. Hopefully, you can see that even though the more finished drawing on the right contains far more detail, it still retains the same overall lighting scheme shown in the drawing on the left.

Keep Learning New Hand Drawing Techniques

Although studying the musculoskeletal anatomy of the hand is essential for successful hand drawing, the techniques you’ve just learned will get you started and ensure that, when you do add anatomical details later on, they’ll be organized with a believable framework.

With numerous ways to approach hand drawing, I encourage you to learn as many as you can. I tell my students that, whenever possible, it’s best to simplify their drawing process and master the foundational skills, which include gesture drawing, volumetric drawing and light logic. Learning to adapt these familiar strategies to new drawing challenges is an excellent way to streamline your drawing process and distil complex subjects down to accessible and drawable forms.

Meet Brent Eviston

For Brent, drawing has always been his passion and primary medium of expression. After attending Otis College of Art and Design, he has continued to study many forms of drawing, including traditional master draftsmanship, architectural drafting and illustration, anatomical drawing and conceptual drawing.

Brent, who founded Evolution Academy for the Arts in October 2015, has taught and held exhibitions for traditional and contemporary drawing through arts institutions and organizations across the state. He also is an Artists Network Universty instructor for the popular course, Figure Drawing Essentials, which “lays the foundation for masterful figure drawing by introducing multiple methods for approaching the subject and how to improvise with these tools for maximum effect.”

Click here to enroll in this course and start enhancing your figure drawing skill set today. You can also learn more about Brent by visiting his website, BrentEviston.com.

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Pastel Portraits 101 | 11 Steps To Your Next Masterpiece

A truly great pastel portrait is more than a likeness; it expresses something beyond a superficial appearance, encouraging the viewer to contemplate what it means to be human.

This is true of classically trained artist Gwenneth Barth-White’s stunning paintings. They’re skillful, accurate portrayals of her sitters. But even more, they suggest what’s beneath the surface.

She captures emotion and likeness in a pastel portrait in just 11 steps, demonstrated below.

Step 1: Starting Out

To situate the figure on Canson Mi-Teintes paper, I use the edge of a Rembrandt burnt umber pastel stick loosely and lightly to get a feel for the shapes and space.

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Step 1

Step 2 (enlarged): Finding The Anchor

I determine the placement of the triangle between the eyebrows and the nose, which serves as the anchor. I can then work outward in sections.

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Step 2

Step 3 (enlarged): Reference Section and Vertical Division of Thirds

I sketch the nose; its dimensions will be used as a comparative measure to establish the other dimensions.

To find the vertical proportions of the model’s face, I consider that it’s divided into three equal sections. I measure with a plumb line from the top of the forehead to the top of the eyebrows; from the top of the eyebrows to the bottom of the nose; and from the bottom of the nose to the bottom of the chin.

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Step 3

Step 4: Finding the Light Source

We don’t paint objects or people; we paint the light that flows over them. The direction and the hierarchy of the light are all-important: strongest nearest the source and digressing from there; strongest on the planes that are perpendicular to the light; and digressing on the planes that aren’t perpendicular.

To begin, I need to see the subject in blocks of dark and light. Here I have two light sources.
I choose the strongest one, and ignore the second. Careful of the axis of the head, I develop the drawing, chiseling with straight lines that are easily comparable. I’m using Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils No. 635 and 640.

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Step 4

Step 5: Finding the Darkest Dark and Lightest Light

To be used as a reference throughout the portrait, nothing should be lighter and nothing should be darker than these two points. The terminal line between the light and the shadow tends to be the most interesting area; the darks, overall, will be darkest there.

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Step 5

Step 6: Establishing the Darks

I block in the darks with Rembrandt burnt umber and pay attention to the weak second light. Before starting with color, I need to establish a strong value base.

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Step 6

Step 7: Adding Color

I place the color, keeping the planes alive by chopping the sections in “tiles” of varying warm and cool tones.

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Step 7

Step 8: Adding Complementary Colors

Having arranged the lighting with a strong warm source and a weaker cool one, I contrast the hot yellow-oranges with cool purple-blues, as well as some pinkish skin tones with greens.

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Step 8

Step 9: Adding and Enriching Colors

With the secondary cool light now in place, I progressively thicken and enrich the texture with softer pastels (Girault) into the first harder pastel layer (Rembrandt).

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Step 9

Step 10 (detail): Softening the Edges

Because the face is the center of interest, I find simplifying the clothing and the hat, and softening those edges, brings the eye to what’s important.

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Step 10

Step 11 (detail): Final Touches to Your Pastel Portrait

While adding the textures in the face, I refine the transitions between planes while deliberately keeping the overall effect loose and impressionistic in Been Such a Long Day (19×15).

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Step 11

Finished Artwork

Now it’s time for the big reveal of the completed pastel portrait:

Pastel Portrait | Gwenneth Barth-White | Artists Network

Been Such a Long Day by Gwenneth Barth-White, pastel

See more of Barth-White’s process and portraits in the December 2017 issue of Pastel Journal.

Need More Inspiration Creating a Portrait?

Below, artist Alain Picard unmasks the mysteries of rendering facial features in this preview trailer of Learn to Draw with Alain Picard.

Learn more of Picard’s tips and techniques by streaming the entire video workshop at ArtistsNetwork.tv.

The post Pastel Portraits 101 | 11 Steps To Your Next Masterpiece appeared first on Artist's Network.

How This Artist Found Herself in Her Colored Pencil Portraits

Colored pencil portrait artist Diane Edison dipped her brush into pastel before she found her way to the drawing medium. Once she started, she couldn’t stop.

Artists Magazine editor, Austin Williams, sat down for a conversation with the artist to discuss her interest in the medium and in her subjects. Below is what she shared with him. Enjoy!


Colored Pencil Portraits | Diane Edison | Artists Network

My Brother Gary Edison by Diane Edison, colored pencil on black paper

From Paint to Colored Pencil Portraits

I’ve worked in pastel. And at some point, I started working just with pencil. One day I was on a plane and read in a magazine that designers liked to use colored pencil on black paper. I tried that out, and I liked it so much I never went back to painting.

I love the look of black paper. It’s not blank, whereas white paper feels blank to me. I also like black paper because I get to do the usual process in reverse.


Colored Pencil Portraits | Diane Edison | Artists Network

Daphne by Diane Edison, colored pencil on black paper


I can’t go for the darkest mark. I work up slowly, keeping it dark, keeping just the ghost of the image as long as I can. Then I gradually fill in some areas. Then the areas next to those need to be lightened. I go back and forth, back and forth.

I worked with color on black paper for several years. Then 10 years ago, my gallery asked its artists to each do a tribute piece to an artist who had influenced us. I chose Chuck Close.

I wanted to do my portrait the way he did his. I traced it out, drew it very exactly, and then used white colored pencil. I’ve been working in grayscale ever since.


Colored Pencil Portraits | Diane Edison | Artists Network

Luis Cruz Azaceta by Diane Edison (colored pencil on black paper

Finding Myself in Other People

I came around to the idea of painting portraits as a way of finding myself. I started doing portraits in 1986, and I’ve been doing them ever since.

I want to draw someone I can be honest with. It’s not just about the likeness — I feel the likeness is the last thing.

Colored Pencil Portraits | Diane Edison | Artists Network

Margaret by Diane Edison, colored pencil on black paper


To me, it’s all about the face. You’re making eye contact, and there’s something so real about it, so intimate, that anything else is a distraction. I just want that close-up of a person. I want the viewer to lock eyes with the portrait and stay with it. What you see is what you get.


I’ve been working with Prismacolor pencils for years. I work with about six pencils as my grayscale. I try to keep the colors rather cool, not too warm. I always keep a very sharp pencil. I’ll work with one, put it aside, then pick up another.

I draw on black sheets of Arches cover, which is the only paper I’ve found that accepts those pencils. They sell 44 by 30 sheets, which is what I work on. They used to sell larger rolls; I once did an 8-foot drawing of myself.


Colored Pencil Portraits | Diane Edison | Artists Network

Radcliffe Bailey by Diane Edison, colored pencil on black paper

Her Advice to Students

I teach both undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Georgia. Mostly, I teach painting, not drawing. Every semester I like to teach a beginning class and an advanced class. I love the beginning students, especially, because they’re so open. I get some of my best work from beginning painting students.

“From the general to the specific.” Those are words I’m always saying. I’ll tell students I’m zeroing in on fine details in their work. In a group critique, students will often say they really like part of a painting, meaning it as a compliment. But I say that if you really like one part, then the whole thing isn’t working. It has to be holistic.

With my advanced students, I don’t tell them what to do in their subject matter, but I help them with what they choose. Whatever they decide to do, I’ll walk that road with them.




Colored Pencil Portraits | Diane Edison | Artists Network

Mary’s Baby, Mommy’s Daughter by Diane Edison, colored pencil on black paper


You can read the full interview in Artists Magazine‘s December issue, coming soon. In the meantime, peruse through past issues for more great artist interviews, tips and techniques, and demonstrations here.

Are you a colored pencil artist? Comment below with your advice for artists looking to get into this medium!


The post How This Artist Found Herself in Her Colored Pencil Portraits appeared first on Artist's Network.

12 Ways to Maintain Great Relationships in the Art Market


Art World Rules for Creating Positive Connections

Alfred la Guigne by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, oil painting

Alfred la Guigne by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, oil painting

Building and maintaining strong relationships in the art market can be complicated. You may be friendly with a fellow painter and simultaneously quite envious of her. You may dislike a gallery owner or a collector on a personal level but decide that the connection is too valuable to abandon, perhaps because he’s your sole advocate or only customer in your art business.

No matter how faceted these relationships are, they definitely matter. That is why I want to explore the top guidelines and recommendations on how to maintain good, thriving relationships in the art market with you from creative coach Eric Maisel, who is teacher, therapist and artist guide with more than 40 books under his belt, all linked to performers, relationships and the creative through-line.

Don’t take Maisel’s word for it though–try any of these pointers out and see where it takes you and report back! Can’t wait to hear how it goes,


It’s Your World

1. You can make art as if you were on an island, but as soon as you want to share your creative efforts with others, you’re embroiled in a world of others—there’s no getting around that. Accept that reality.

2. You get to decide how you want to be in your relationships, even if you feel pressured to be someone else.

3. You don’t have to reveal your true feelings in all of your relationship dealings. Maybe you might act friendlier than you actually feel, or maybe not let people know of your reservations about your work. Create a professional persona that serves you.

4. Know your intentions and choose them wisely. Do you want to blow up your relationship with your gallery owner because you’re embarrassed to tell him that you don’t have paintings ready for your show, or do you want to do the right thing and make your confession early on in the conversation?


Dance at the Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Dance at the Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, oil painting

Expectations and Actions

5. Expect people to come with shadows. Everyone you’ll deal with is a human being with all of the baggage that human beings acquire along the way, including hidden agendas, thin skins, passive-aggressive tendencies, self-interestedness and so on.

6. Be strong when you need to be strong. It may be smart and strategic to be pleasant and low maintenance in most interactions, but you also need to be assertive when necessary.

7. Ask questions. Marketplace players have plenty of reasons for not always being clear. Ask, even if you feel embarrassed or aren’t sure that the questions really need asking.

8. Ask for help. If you want to make contact with a journalist but you think that the contact ought to be made by your gallery, ask your gallery owner to reach out to the journalist. Request what you need.

9. Negotiate. We tend to avoid using this skill with marketplace players because sometimes they intimidate us. We fear that if we ask for anything, the deal will vanish. Get used to negotiating politely, carefully and matter-of-factly.

Time and Talents

10. Be careful with your time. If someone you know in an arts organization asks you to volunteer to support something they’re doing, think twice before agreeing. Make sure that you don’t give away your time, talent and energy cavalierly.

11. Try to make your personal relationships support your art intentions. Let everyone in your house know that you’re an artist and that you need a certain amount of time and space in which to work—and their unconditional support.

12. Don’t burn bridges unnecessarily. If a gallery owner rejects your current paintings, thank her politely and keep her in mind for the future. If you haven’t yet honed and mastered these skills, the time is now.

Insights and Access for Artists

If you want art career advice and input right now, get the latest Artists Market. The book has up-to-date contact information for more than 1,800 art market resources including galleries, magazines, book publishers, greeting card companies, ad agencies, syndicates, art fairs, and more. You get a jump start on the career you want in the field you are meant for. Enjoy!


Eric Maisel’s list was featured in the December 2016 issue of Pastel Journal. This article also had contributions from Jessica Canterbury.


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Protected: Paint Along 40: Enhance Your Paintings with Texture with Johannes Vloothuis | Resources and Recordings

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DEADLINE: February 1, 2018

Winning art will be featured in North Light Books’ hardbound showcase of the best in contemporary acrylic. North Light Books will showcase the best of the best in a variety of styles and subjects.

Already Entered?
You can edit or manage your entry HERE


All winners will appear in the sixth edition of AcrylicWorks .

Creative energy is the driving force of what it means to be an artist, and how an artist chooses to use that energy is what sets one apart from the others. Some may choose energetic brush strokes creating movement that seems to dance across the canvas. Others may select colors that represent a feeling behind their emotional energy for a particular work. For others still, the creative energy may take a more behind-the-scenes role, one in which perhaps the artist is the only person who can truly know the source of inspiration.

AcrylicWorks 6 will celebrate creative energy and excellence in acrylic painting. We welcome a variety of styles and subjects, along with mixed-media art in which acrylic paint plays a key role. If selected, you will be asked to describe how your painting demonstrates or embodies the theme of “Creative Energy.” This includes but is not limited to your creative or technical process, materials and/or artistic inspiration

How to Enter

  • You must enter online. All entries must be submitted as digital files. There is no limit to the number of entries you may submit.
  • Image requirements for entries: JPG files (Please try to keep the file size under 5 MB to ensure proper uploading). The viewing screen & thumbnail which you will see during the entry process is for general reference only and does not reflect the image quality that will be viewed by jurors. The file that you attach is exactly as it will appear to the jurors.
  • All entrants should be prepared to be able to send a hi-resolution print-quality replacement file should their entry be among those selected as a winner. For publication these files should be 300 dpi when saved at approximately 8×10 inches (2400×3600 pixels), ideally, and 5×7 inches (1500×2100 pixels) at minimum. Winners will be asked to provide specific written information about their selected piece(s). This written information, in order to be accepted, will have to be provided electronically via e-mail. Winners will also be required to submit a high-resolution TIFF or JPG file (CMYK format/300dpi) for the work(s) to be published.
  • The competition is open to artists anywhere in the world. All works must be original. Compositions based on published material or other artists’ work are NOT considered original and are not eligible. Employees of F+W, a Content and eCommerce Company, and their immediate families, are not eligible. North Light reserves the right to reject work deemed unsuitable for publication or that does not meet above criteria.
  • Due to SEC restrictions we are unable to accept entries from Syria, Iran, or North Korea.
  • For more information visit our Preparing Your Entry Page or our FAQ page.

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Adobe’s New Color Picker is Made Just for Artists

A Playful Palette Brought to You by Adobe

adobe palette artistsnetwork masha shugrina

Masha Shugrina demonstrates “painting recoloring” by editing each painting’s palette history and applying the color changes to the strokes. This will also change related palettes. For example, changing the castle’s color will also change its reflection, because these palettes are linked.

Digital palettes always sound promising in theory. However, three Adobe researchers — Masha Shugrina, Jingwan Lu and Stephen DiVerdi — aren’t impressed by previous efforts. Instead, they made their own version, which imitates a watercolor palette.

The product would replace Adobe’s traditional color picker. Called Playful Palette, it simulates the results possible with a real paint palette and provides beneficial digital effects. These include the ability to save infinite palettes for future use. Artists can also go back in time to edit a previous color choice.

Check out a quick demonstration of the new tool, below, and read on for more advantages of digital painting. Enjoy!

Perks of Digital

“As the artist paints, we see not only the history of colors used but also the palette-mixing dishes used to create each color,” says Shugrina.

She continues, “As the artist creates new mixing dishes or edits existing ones, the history is updated automatically. We index each mixing dish by the colors used to create it. The artist jumps to the relevant dish via the history wheel or by clicking colors directly on the painting.”

adobe colorpicker artistsnetwork masha shugrina

While practical, the new color picker is also beautiful. The artist places “color blobs” on the palette. As they puddle together, the artists blend or push them into varying values of the hue.

These techniques make it easy to
 create reflections and shadows.
 But they’re also an indication of the real research that went into the product. The group spent time with working artists in a pilot study, both before and after creating Playful Palette, and their attention and 
dedication to the project shows.

See You can peruse through more of the digital art from this article in Watercolor Artist‘s December issue.

Have you experimented with the Playful Palette from Adobe? If so, do you have any tips to share? Tell us in the comments!

The post Adobe’s New Color Picker is Made Just for Artists appeared first on Artist's Network.