Gouache for Illustrators - 3 different styles | Sandra Mejia | Skillshare

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Gouache for Illustrators - 3 different styles

teacher avatar Sandra Mejia, Illustrator + Pattern Designer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Supplies + Class Project


    • 3.

      Gouache - The Basics


    • 4.

      Basic Techniques


    • 5.

      Color Palette


    • 6.

      Watercolor Style


    • 7.

      Graphic Vector Style


    • 8.

      Blended Oil-like Style


    • 9.

      Developing your Own Style + Conclusions


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About This Class

In this class I will teach you everything I know about gouache.  I'll walk you through different exercises to practice water control and handling the thickness of the paint, special effects, different ways to blend colors and more. Then we will paint the same illustration three ways to create totally different styles that will help you not only understand the characteristics of this amazing paint but also inform your decisions when creating future pieces of artwork to start developing your own unique style and voice. 

This class is for beginners or even more experienced users that want to explore different ways to use the paint just by changing the amount of water you use.


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Meet Your Teacher

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Sandra Mejia

Illustrator + Pattern Designer

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Hello! I'm a Freelance Illustrator and Pattern Designer. I was born in Medellin, Colombia (puedes escribirme en Espanol!). I create detailed, stylized, playful illustrations, patterns and characters from my studio in Ottawa, Canada.

I have very big eyes and I love animals. Most of my inspiration comes from nature and animals.

My art has been licensed by companies around the world for use in: Fabrics, Stationery, Kids, Editorial, Greeting Cards, Fashion, Puzzles, Gift and Home Decor.

Sign up to my email newsletter to get news and freebies: -> https://www.artbysandramejia.com/freebies

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1. Introduction: Hello. Welcome to gouache for illustrators. In this class, I will show you everything I know about gouache. Even if you don't know what gouache is, even if you've been painting with it for a long time, or maybe you're just curious and want to start painting with it. This is the class you need to watch because I will be showing you the magic of these little tubes. This paint is amazing, you can achieve totally different effects depending only on how much water you put on it. You can have a very watercolor look. Or you can have a very graphic look that looks almost like petals. Or you could have a very blended style, almost like oils or acrylics. That's just with these little paint tubes. You only need these and then you can achieve these three different styles. If you do the exercises I'm going to show you by the end of the class, you'll understand what this is, how it works, and you'll be able to create three different illustrations. Well, the same illustration three different times, and start getting little elements from each of them to compose an image that is your style, your unique style, and your way to use this paint. I'm super excited about this class, I'm super excited about what this paint can achieve. Since this paint dries so much, the colors are so vibrant. This is an awesome paint for a graphic artist and illustrators that need to scan their artwork, but you could also create final artwork with it. Join me and let's explore these very versatile medium. I hope you'll love it as much as I do. 2. Supplies + Class Project: For this class, you'll need a paper towel, some water color paper, gouache. You might also want to have one or two colors of acrylic wash, some brushes to paint with gouache. I have my color chips here to choose my colors. I'll explain about that later and I already have my sketch transferred onto my watercolor paper. I have a palette here and some water. For the class project, you should select one subject that you really like. I have chosen my little Chihuahua and flowers and select the technique that you liked them most to paint it with, or try the full exercise where you paint it in three different ways. That way you will learn much more and remember to share your project in the project gallery. If you have questions or comments or reviews, you can also post them there. I'll be happy to help you if you get stuck or just see what you've done. I cut mine now out to see how they would look as stickers. That'll be fun too if you'd like to do that. You can copy my illustrations for yourself and to practice in your own home and to see how I've done things. But please don't share them online as yours. It is always better if you do your own thing and do something you really love. This is the way that your style is going to shine too and you're going to be your unique self and that's the coolest thing about being an artist. Showing the world how you see things with your own eyes and your own voice. Now let's start the class. 3. Gouache - The Basics: The first thing is to understand the paint. What is Gouache? These paint is so versatile, it's so much fun. The colors are so vibrant and it dries smart. It's the illustrators dream. It's just a little bit tricky to learn. At first I had a hard time and I didn't understand, but I figure out some exercises that will help you learn the characteristics of the paint, and once you understand it, you'll see how much better it is to use. It is a very interesting paint and I think you'll fall in love with it by the end of the class, and I hope you can use all these techniques and combine them or use a once you like, do something that suits your art work, and the way you like to paint. Gouache is sort of an opaque watercolor. It's water-based, if it dries in your palette, you can re-wet it, just as watercolors. The thing is that the pigments have bigger particles than in watercolor, so it's more opaque. The watercolor is very transparent and the Gouache dries flat and opaque. There's also Acrylic Gouache, which is a Gouache, but this one is an Acrylic polymer emulsion, which is opaque, but it behaves more like acrylics. When this one dries on your paper, you cannot re-wet it, it won't move. It behaves more like acrylics to me, the only difference is that it dries with that flat finish, very matte. Why is it so great? It's great if you're a graphic artist because once we are going to scan these or take a picture of it, since it's so matte and flat, it won't be reflecting light. So the image will look better than when it's shiny or paint. Some people create greenish artworks with Gouache. You have to be careful to see the light fastness of the pigment. It usually leads to light fastness either on the package or on the website. So make sure you get light fast colors and you protect that, it should be framed with glass because it might crack if you apply too many layers, and the surface is flexible. I don't paid my finished paintings that I'm going to sell in Gouache. I paint those either in acrylics or watercolors. But I do paint things that I'm going to scan for my fabric collections, or surface patterns, or if I'm going to make into print, I like painting those with Gouache. This is a painting I just made quickly. It's not my style usually, but I wanted to show you in a bigger painting, how Gouache looks. It is very opaque. It does not reflect light at all. You can paint light colors over darker colors and they will show up. You cannot do that with water colors. If you were going to paint these with watercolor, you'd have to plan the lights in advance. Here I didn't paint is white flowers before the green. I painted them on top, and I like that you can see some transparencies of the green from behind. This is something great about Gouache, that you don't have to plan as much as in watercolor. The other thing about Gouache is that I didn't apply it very thick here. But if you had a very thick layer and you where the move this surface around, because its paper, it my crack. This ones not cracking. This is very good paint. I always use Designers paint. Some colors are I get in Winsor & Newton and some colors I get in Holbein Artist Gouache. I paint this on watercolor papers, so the heavier the paper, the less it will curl. Since these doesn't have as much water as watercolor, it usually doesn't curl as much. But if you're using really thin paper, you can tape it down to your surface. Now let's go to the next video and I'll show you some basic techniques. 4. Basic Techniques: In this video, we'll start practicing with the gouache, I will show you all its properties that we already talked about. This is the tree styles, I'm going to show you how to make. This is vague watery, so it ends up looking like watercolors, it's very light wash is transparent. These you would basically paint like you paint watercolors, lights to darks. The other way to use is vectors, I like to think of it as vectors because we are creating a solid shape, then you are not shading anything, you maybe adding more shapes on top, or solid shapes and it creates a very graphic bold loop. Finally, this technique where you blend colors and then you can also add shapes on top like you did in the graphic one and little details. I'm going to show you all the techniques that we need to paint in these three ways and then we're going to experiment with them. The most important thing you need to learn when using gouache is how to control the water amount in the paint, this was the hardest for me, and the only way you're going to learn it is by doing it, so get your gouache out and start practicing. I'm going to get my brush and dry it really well, you can see the consistency out of the two. See, it's very thick, if I paint with it on my paper, it covers really well but if I'm making shapes, it starts leaving these dry brush mark strokes. That is a technique you can use in gouache and it's very pretty, especially to add textures, but it's not what you want all the time. Start adding a little tiny bit of water, these will also change depending on what brand of gouache you're using. These is a Holbein, Prussian blue, I've added a tiny bit of water, it stills covers pretty well, if I'm making a shape, it's creating a bit less of that dry brush effect. Still want a tiny bit more water, that's pretty cool, setup a bit more water. See that the coverage is still good even if you're adding more water. Right here, your lines are squeezed and it doesn't create that dry brush effect. That's the point where you want it, if you're going to create thick, bold graphic lines. If you want to create more of a water color effect, and you would add even more water, you'll see that the color starts being more transparent, its way easier to create straight lines because the brush is very wet. You could even add way more water to create super transparent gouaches. You should get your paints out and practice these until you figure out the way that best suits your style. Here I'm using a turquoise green and on this side I'm going to have a yellow, you see soft primary yellow. We're going to blend those two colors together, make sure your brush is clean and add a bit of water to this green and I'm going to paint a shape here. I'll wash my brush add a bit of water to the yellow paint this other side of this shape. I'm going to clean my brush and I'm going to start going back and forth to blend them. First to the side then clean your brush then to the side. For the yellow, you should clean your brush and start bringing from the yellow [inaudible] , you create a translation between the colors. You can also just add one base color. Clean your brush a bit and add another color on top and blend them right on the paper. You can always add more paint on top especially of the light ones. That'll help to smooth it out, so you have a smoother gradation. You can also grab both colors on your paint brush at the same time, and then add the shapes like this. That creates really interesting effects. Try not to over brush it so you keep these mixtures. This is really great for creating leaves in one brush stroke. You can do it dryer and then you'll get these very pretty dry strokes. This is very interesting in brushes were you can create leaves, for example. This is a dagger, one-eighth. See that the shape ends up in a point. I'm going to load it with yellow here, and just dab in the green ones. Then you put it on a paper, you press, and then you lift and it creates the most gorgeous leaves. I like leaves like these that are not all exactly the same shape. They're all not perfect. This is one of my favorite techniques to create foliage. That's another way to blend different colors. I'm going to use a burnt sienna here. For example, if you had the head of your character here, this little fox, you can start shading like watercolors. See, I made it very watery. I'm going to mix a little bit of blue with my sienna here, to make it darker. Make sure it's watery too. I'm going to start darkening some places. I'm drawing my brush and lightly dab it. Here I'm using the same technique I used to paint watercolors. The only difference I find is that sometimes by adding so much water, these color changes are not so subtle as the watercolors so I prefer thicker uses of paint for the Gouache. I can start adding more paint, and I'll start creating shadows by varying the thicknesses of the paint I'm using. Here I'm going even thicker. I can even add a little bit of white, and start shading with it. It's a bit too dry so I'll add more water. Here I have a very light color, here I have the darker, and here I have an intermediate. I can start using all those colors to create a smooth transition. Then I can even create a darker color, to add deeper shadows to some areas and even lead it with details. In Gouache, you use a lot of white to blend your colors because you see that the colors are very strong out of the tube. There's two types of white, and I'll show you the difference. Here we have this Zinc white, and here we have the Titanium white. There's not too much of a difference, but the Zinc white being a bit more transparent, keeps the colors a little bit more pure when mixing. You should use that one for mixing and then use the Titanium white for highlights. Even with Gouache we've managed to get my hands all painted, this is why i wear gloves most of the time, but it washes off very easily so its not that big of a problem. One of the super cool things about Gouache is that you can layer it. In watercolors, you cannot layer whites over darks, but in Gouache, you can. I'm going use this little blue squares here to show you. Lets Say we have these light pink and we wanted to paint over these. If you rub it too much it'll start lift pink the bottom layer. If you're going to layer, I suggest you use your paint very thick and you don't rub it too much. That way you can create clean colors that don't lift the under paint pink. You still have to be very careful. What I like to do is this. I like to get out my acrylic wash. If I'm going to use a dark background on my painting, I will just create it with acrylic wash. Dry it, and then I can use my lighter colors on top of it. I don't have to worry about lifting them. Pressing really hard and dragging and everything. That blue is not going anywhere. If am going to create an illustration like this, I would not use regular brush for the back. You can, in a lot of people do, but I think it's just giving yourself more problems and more hustle. So maybe buy some to serve acrylic gouache, of the darker colors or the colors you like using for the background. I'm going to show you some techniques for using it as watercolors, this is wet and wet. If you drop it in it will move around as watercolors. You can also just paint with it as you would watercolors. Then start shading by adding layers and layers of darker colors. Can lift by adding water. This is a super cool trick thinking works even better than watercolors here we have 99 Isopropil. I hope that's how you say that alcohol and I'm just going to drop some tiny bits and as it's wet, I'm going to add some blue here and then add more alcohol, and you'll see how pretty that is when it dries. You can add more colors if you want to, but we'll leave it there. When I painted the Leto Fox head I told you I would go a bit more into shading that way. Let's grab the same color of burnt sienna and some white. So let's say you have a circle here, we're going to say the light is coming from here and there's a table here. So you'll basically start adding some light colors here. Then start adding a bit more of the dark, and then start adding a bit more dark, as you go. Until you reach the darkest dark. You can clean your brush and then go back to the light. You can add as many layers to this as you like. If you want to make it blend more seamlessly, you would keep adding layers and layers. Just sort of blend softly. You can add a strong highlight or you can blend that into. So I'm just softly stroking with my brush, like barely touching the surface. You can have that as smooth as you want. Here, I'm going to darken my Sienna with the blue. I'll create this shadow and I can add a bit of that dark see am drying my brush and cleaning it up a bit. Then I can go in and sort of blend that in with the rest. You can add more brown, and again, you can have that gradation as soft as you want. The more layers you add, the more blended it'll be, or you can decide to create something in which the gradations are a bit rougher. I think that looks really nice to hear you layer it and layer it. Here you just sort of added the darks and the light and that the brushstrokes show through. This is dry now, so see how cool that effect, is I really love that. You'll see how the colors mix. Here see that you can see that pigments group or the water mixes. I think it creates really nice textures. So if you want to use it as water colors like these, you can do that too. Before we move on to the next lesson, I'm going to show you a little trick. If you have never tried gouache before, but you have watercolors, you can try this just buy one tube of gouache, a white one. I would choose this sink white in that case and mix them. This way all your colors will be light because they will be mixed with the white but you will get a chance to try gouache without having to buy all the colors. See it's not transparent like the watercolor. It's opaque like the gouache. It has the same coverage. So this is also a cool trick in case you do have a bunch of colors of gouache, but you're missing one color you need and you have a bunch of water colored tubes laying around. You can just create that color with the white and that way you can have even more colors ink wash done, you're ready. [inaudible] So now that you know all about gouache you should practice these exercises. Start with practicing with the water control. Start with the heaviest paints straight from the tube and start adding water, see where you feel more comfortable. See which effects you like. So take note of that, practice these and if you master these part, you will be able to paint with gouache and not hating. Then practice the layering. Practice mixing your colors. If you like this technique, which I love and look at those effects, you can't even plan for that. Practice these grabbing with your brush, scrubbing on one end one color, the other, another color you can make straight colors in their practice with different types of brushes. You can practice creating straight lines. Here you'll see that the wetter, the paints is the easier it is create lines so for details, you should have these in mind and try some watercolor effects if you like that. so some, why don't we get some special effects? You can try salt, you can try alcohol, see what you can achieve. Then try these two shading exercises and see which one suits your style the best as motor gradient or more artistic look. Now you're ready to go to the next lesson where we'll talk a bit about the color palette. 5. Color Palette: We're going talk about color palettes. Now, I suggest that if you're starting out with guoache, you get a limited color palette. It will be much easier for you if you don't have to be thinking about so many colors, and you can just concentrate on using the paint up first. Even if you just select one color and white at the beginning and make some illustrations that are like monoton, that would really help you concentrate on the technique and not so much on the color palette. For these color palette, I used my color palette technique. I have a class on this on Skillshare. In this case I'm using the prussian blue, turquoise green, permanent yellow deep. Those are all Holbein. This is Winsor Newton, primary red and sync white. 6. Watercolor Style: These paints are magic, just with these paints you can create three totally different styles of painting. From very subtle, soft, watercolor-y, washes, to a very graphic look that looks like vectors, to a blended style that looks like you painted this with oils or acrylics. There is my inspiration for chihuahua paintings in this class and hear is the inspiration for the little flowers, I hope you have as much fun painting these as I do and let's do it. For this lesson, I'm going to use my dagger brush to make the leaves and I'm going to use a filbert brush to paint the rest and these liner, will add some little details. I'm going to set up my colors here, I'm going to make a blob of white here because I wanted to create an ivory color, I don't like using straight white. A little bit of white or each of these, so I'm just going to grab a tiny bit of yellow, a tiny bit of vert sienna and mix some with my white here and just paint filling the whole shape. As it sweat, you can drop in a little bit of watercolors just letting those blend. This is like a wet on wet technique. That is dry now, so I'm going to start painting the flowers. Remember, since you are using a watercolor technique, you're not suppose to paint things that are patching or the paint will bleed into them, so I don't want anything blending into the little chihuahua so I have to wait for that to dry. I'm going to grab some of these pink, some yellow and mix them to create an orange. We'll just paint the petals and then drop in some color to the base and I will wash my brush and grab different colors. This why everything will blend into each other and I will create interesting effects, I can also add a large amount of water and dropping paint and that will create even more texture. I don't want all of them blending into each other, so I'm going to start painting these flower. I'll do exactly the same thing, I can add bits of white to create other colors. When I add white, it becomes more opaque, so have that in mind if you want the real transparent watercolor effect. If you don't like something you can just add more water on top and blend it. A good thing here is, since it's squash, you see I want the inner blending to this here and I wasn't planning on doing that. I can wait for this to dry and then I can go in and fix it, I'll show you how once it's dry. I'm using the dagger brush for the leaves, I'm mixing in different colors, I wasn't planning on turning my page but its very difficult to use this brush without turning it. I'll grab my ivory, I will make it thick. It's fixed and you can't even see it. Now I'm going to use my liner and I'm going to grab a bit of blue and sienna to make a very dark neutral color. I'm going to paint the details. Make sure it's wet enough so that your brush collides on the paper and doesn't create these dry strokes and I'm just going to go around adding some tiny details, same with the flowers. 7. Graphic Vector Style: Now we're going to create these one to look like vectors. We'll be using the paint pretty much straight out of the tube, very thick. Here, I'm going to start with the flowers and the last thing I'm going to paint is the Chihuahua. My logic is start with the back elements and finish with the ones that are on top, because that way I can overlap light lines on top of the dark colors. Here I'm just filling in the shapes as flat colors. I'm using a bit more of orange for this one. Even if I'm using flat colors, I like to vary the colors so it doesn't look too artificial. This part of the paint touched green, so it became muddy. Be careful with that. I'm going to clean my brush. Use this side that hasn't touched green, move it here. I'm adding a tiny bit of water just to make it easily spreadable on my page. The cylinder could be thick so if it overlaps, the darker colors I've put down underneath, it can cover them. I'm mixing a bit of white, these colors are getting too dark. Even though I'm using the same colors as up here, you can start seeing the differences, especially if you don't mix your colors with white. I like these soft colors much better. Now, the leaves. We want the colors on your palette, but they will never be as juicy as when you just got them out of the tube. You could basically create a palette with your gouache like you do with watercolors where you put them in little pans and you leave them to dry, but it won't be as fun. When you're covering your pencil lines with gouache, You're not going to be able to erase them. Make sure you either make them very light, you don't cover them with the paint, or you make the paint really thick, and that way you can cover them all. We're done with our basic shapes and we're going to let that dry. I'm going to use my shader brush to add some details. When I'm working on vectors in the computer, I'm just overlapping shapes. I'm basically going to do exactly the same thing. Remember your paint needs to be thick, especially if it's lighter than the color you're going to make the shapes on. I'm going to use the liner, add some details to the leaves. Here, the paint it doesn't have to be so thick because it's dark over light. I can make it more watery and it'll be easier to paint with it. Add some details to the little Chihuahua, remember to use thick paint and not scrape it too much, a little bit. Bottom layer is light so you won't see it too much if you lift it and it mixes with the pink, but just so you get used to the layering. 8. Blended Oil-like Style: Here we'll be applying the paint in a thickness sort of like this. Where it's thick enough, not watercoloring. But it's thick enough to create nice lines. We're going to start with the flowers. What I'm going to do on each petal is to take paint from different size and colors. We're not looking for a perfect blend. I like it when you see the different colors. But if you wanted to blend it out perfectly, you can just start adding layers and touching with your brush really softly. See that way you create a smoother plant. Notice that I'm not cleaning my brush in different petals. That's because I find it really interesting when all these colors start to mix on your brush. Only time I will clean my brush is if i want to go to a lighter color like here. I want this yellow to show, so I need my brush to be clean for it not blend in with the pink immediately. If it's still wet, just dry your brush. Remember that the yellow is going to be light. Have that in mind and don't put color that's too light here. I will create some contrast here. I'm going to dry my brush and blend this a bit. I'm cleaning my brush to add some yellow. If it's too dark just dry your brush. Add another layer right on top. To clean my brush so this one is yellow. I'm going to create leaves the same paint. I'm going to use the green and this yellow. I'm going to use my brush with both colors and blue. I'll do the same with the blue, so its blue there and green here. Add a little bit of water. I have sped up the two first techniques a bit because one is painting like watercolors and it's basically just adding lots of water through your paint, and the same thing with the second technique where it's just basically filling in shapes with your flat color. That doesn't require anything more than just knowing how to control the water in your paint, not putting too much so it's not too transparent. This one I have not sped up because this is the one that I always had more trouble understanding how it's done. The blending, it's a bit more complicated, so I have kept it all pretty much at a normal speed I created the art in so you can follow along. Now finally I'm going to paint the yellow. Don't worry if it looks a bit straight here at first because we're going to add more layers. I'll add the darker color here and then I add lighter one. I'll start blending them. I'll dry my brush. Having these light color, let's start pulling on it. You are going to hold this so I can make sure to wash your brush. I wanted the flower to be planted a bit softly, so it's why I'm working on it more than flowers. I have a bit less paint than a bit of water. You move the brush really softly on the surface, you can make it smoother. I am just going to add the paint here, and now I can start detailing. The brush is not super wet so, you can paint some extra. The cool thing is, if you don't like something like these hairs there, you just go back in. I'm going to add the final details to the flower, I'm changing the pressure on the lines. Thicken up the letter walls, I'm going to get some new white oak, and with very thick paint. Just a little diluting it with whatever water was on my brush already. I'm going to let this dry, I'm going to raise the pencil mark. I'll be using this Tombow Mono Zero Eraser. It's great because it is so thin, so you can really get in there and erase as much as you can. It's very precise. Here they are. I am going to erase all the lines, and then in the next lesson we're going to analyze them and see what the Princess are and you can take a close look at them, and decide which things you like and adapt them to your style. 9. Developing your Own Style + Conclusions: Here we have our three illustrations, It's the same illustration, I only change the position of the leaves. Here it's using the Gouache's watercolors, so very light with a lot of water. Here it's using it really bold, almost straight out of the tube, like a vector look or a very graphic look and here it's using it more like an acrylic paint or oils where you blend the colors in and mix them softly. I personally like these to the best. I like the flowers in these one and I like the leaves and that you align these one. But by doing this exercise, I can now combine a lemons from all of them. By doing these, you're going to start developing your style, seeing what you like, what you don't like. You can see what colors you gravitate to. When you're done with your tree paintings, sit down, look at them. You can even write down what you like and don't like about each of them and then you can create outer illustrations with those things in mind and you'll be able to feel better with the medium because you'll be able to understand it and see what it can do. Will also talk about the color palette and limited colors and you see that with just the colors we have looked at all the colors you can create. You really don't need many paints, hopefully you can now get a sense of what the spin can do if you don't have it just by some tubes and experiment. Finally, a little beat on preservation of the gouache paintings. If you are going to create original gouache paintings again, look for paints that are light fast. That means that they are not going to be fugitive or disappear with the light and the sun. You can also spray them with a UV protective spray, just be careful because they are water soluble so they will lift, you cannot varnish them with a brush. It would have to be a fixed at the Venus spray and then a UV spray. If you're an illustrator or a surface pattern designer a graphic designer and you need to take these into the computer and either scan it or take a picture and erase the white background. You will see how much easier it is with these downwind watercolors, because the edges are very defined and because of how flat it is. This is it, I hope you love gouache as much as I do and I hope you had a lot of fun in this class. I can't wait to see your projects in the project gallery. You can also share your projects with me on Instagram at Sandra Bowers art and if you have any questions or comments, if you have any reviews, leave them here. I always loved reading those. I hope you have fun and join me my next class. Bye.