D is for … A monogram dangle design

It’s Friday, so it’s also #dangleday.

Today, I’ve continued with my series of kitty monograms with the letter D – die, domino, daffodil, doughnut are the design elements I chose.

I started by sketching the design on paper, scanning it in, drawing it digitally then colouring it all in using a marker ‘brush’ and a blending tool.

So, I made use of my Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Oh, my tutorial book about drawing and creating dangle designs – A Dangle A Day – is available for pre-order.

Oh, it’s also #furbabyfriday over on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. We’d love to see your furbabies there.

A busy couple of days

It’s been a nice way to spend a couple of hours this morning. A relatively easy and relaxing couple of hours too. I really need a day of self-care after a couple of crazy days for me.

Wednesday I had a very anxious kind of day. Anxious in a good way but it was also very emotionally draining. I spent the day on a media training course with Sarah Hibbert at the Mind Cymru offices in Cardiff. The day was all about learning how to be effectively interviewed by the media in reference to Time to Change Wales and it’s campaign to end stigma and discrimination around mental ill-health. A large part of the day was spent being interviewed and recorded on video camera then watching ourselves back and having feedback about how well we did and how we could improve.

It’s horrible seeing myself on video. I cringe so much. It provokes the inner critic so it rises up and attacks me, noticing every little flaw, mark, error, how the camera exaggerates features and so on.

It was a good day, the training was really excellent and gave lots of things to consider going forward.

I came home exhausted, barely able to string two words together. Having to travel in the rush hour so it took me nearly an hour and a half to get home, a journey that is usually less than half an hour, didn’t help at all.

I then tried to get to sleep early as I had to be up and into the shower at 5:15am so I could be dressed and ready to leave home around 6:10am to head out to Pembrokeshire College in Haverfordwest for around 8:30am, picking the lovely Russell up on my way.

The staff at the college had a wellbeing day and Russell and I were both involved for Time to Change Wales, with me giving two anti-stigma talks in the morning.

The day was lovely, the people were friendly and welcoming and some told me my talk was inspirational and I was brave for telling my story. The receptionist was an absolute darling; when I handed in my visitors badge she handed me a roll of papers saying ‘This is for you’. I had no idea what it was, thinking it may be a certificate for taking part in the day. When we had a look she’d gone online and found and printed loads of memes with wonderful words on that she thought would help me. I was really, really touched by her gesture.

The journey there and back again, a 200 mile round trip, went quickly as Russell and I chattered about all kinds of things. Russell did amazingly during the day as well, as he always does.

When I got home, I managed to empty the remains of the mocha in my travel mug over my handbag, and inside it. There’s no way I can salvage/clean the bag. It also went over my bullet journal, so I’ve ordered a new one as this one is wrecked. So today is a bujo-less day for me as the new one won’t arrive until tomorrow.

I had a very quiet evening, retired to bed earlier than usual and had a good 8 or 9 hours or so sleep. This is unusual for me, and I must’ve needed it.

I missed doing art over the last couple of days, but it’s been nice meeting new people, even though it does exhaust me, me being an introvert.

Digital or traditional art? My perspective.

Today, as I’ve said, it’s a self-care day, so art is definitely on the cards, as well as some flute practice I think.

I also have to think about, and ask for opinions on, digital drawing vs traditional drawing.

I love doing both. They both have their pros and cons.

I use a Surface Pen on the Surface Studio screen in just the same way I would use a pen or pencil on paper. I hold the pen the same way, I make lines and marks the same way. The only difference is that the paper is virtual and doesn’t exist unless I print it out.

With digital drawing I can make use of tools such as mirror and symmetry to help me with some elements of my art, particularly mandalas.

I rarely use tools like line smoothing and predictive lines (if anything predictive lines annoy me, they never end up as I want them). I do use line smoothing if I’m drawing a long straight-ish or curved line, but I still end up with wibbly bits.

I like to have the wibby bits, and I’ve carefully set up the pen ‘brushes’ I use so that they mimic Sakura Pigma Micron pens or Uniball Unipin pens in how the edge of the line is uneven due to ink bleeding.

Depending on what I’m doing, I do make sketches in pencil or pen on paper, scan that in and use it as a guide for my digital drawing.

The big advantage to working digitally, however, is the ease with which corrections and adjustments can be made.

I have, on very, very, very rare occasions, ‘copied and pasted’ a design element to create a design; so rare that I think I’ve done that once, maybe twice in the three years or so that I’ve been working digitally.

I love to draw traditionally too, with pen on paper. It’s a different kind of sensory experience, no better or worse than digital drawing. Just different.

It can be frustrating when an error is made or ink is smudged or the pencil line won’t erase properly. I then can use my digital tools to clean up the scanned in image, sometimes seamlessly erasing and re-drawing the area that needs correcting. No one notices when I do this as I’ve honed my skills and my pen ‘brushes’ so that they are as near the drawing pens I use on paper.

What can cause me problems digitally is that I lose sense of the scale of the patterns/designs I’m drawing and I can get way too intricate for traditional colorists to add colour to them. That’s why I often sketch at least an outline of the design out and scan it in draw the finished line work digitally. This is all because of the ability to zoom in to the area I’m working on. So, I often need that pencil/pen on paper guide to keep my drawing at the right kind of complexity.

Before I worked digitally, I thought that it would be easier, simpler than working traditionally, that the skill level would be lower, that anyone could achieve fantastic results.

However, I’ve found that opinion is completely false.

Yes, digital tools make certain aspects of drawing a bit easier, such as symmetry. However, it’s just as difficult to draw digitally as it is traditionally. It’s taken me a long time to get my pen ‘brushes’ set up so they mimic my traditional pens. It’s taken me a long time to be able to draw on the screen with the same precision and smoothness of lines as I can on paper. It’s been like learning to write and draw again.

I’ve had to learn, and continue to learn, a whole new skill set that you don’t need with traditional pen and paper.

I can do things digitally that I could never do with traditional media.

Digital drawing, digital art is NOT traditional art’s poor cousin. Drawing digitally, as well as coloring digitally, does not mean I’ve gone over to the dark side at all.

I’ve had comments made about mandalas I’ve drawn digitally, taking as much time over them as if I’d drawn them traditionally, that it’s a pity that they’re digital, as if my skill, my creativity is less because I use the digital tools. That made me feel pretty worthless at the time, to be honest, and comments like that say a lot either about the tastes or prejudices of the person making the comment.

They liked the mandala until they saw it was digitally created, which meant they no longer liked it.

More recently someone showed me a comment about one of my coloring books where the person didn’t like it because I’d drawn the images digitally so I’d sold out and gone to the dark side. There was none of the human touches or faint lines where pencil had been erased (erm, there’s never any of that in my work as I’m asked to clean it all up!), that the lines are too perfect, too much copying and pasting was used (never – except in one template) and so on.

Again, this said a lot about their prejudices. I work hard to keep the human touches in my art work – the wibbly lines, the imperfect circles and so on. The pens that have the irregular edges.

It’s almost like those who choose to do digital art are somehow less than traditional artists – less skilled, less hardworking, less human, less creative, less talented.

I don’t think I am. I think I do a fairly good job with digital and traditional media, often mixing the two together such as when I digitally color a traditionally drawn design.

I don’t think I’m lazy by drawing digitally – it takes me longer, even when I use the symmetry tool for mandalas, to create a mandala as I’m able to add more details.

I like to think I have a good level of skill in traditional art and that I’m getting better with the digital art.

I’m sure I don’t take full advantage of the digital medium as I seem to try to work in it as I would as a traditional artist! I just treat it as a different brand of pen, a different kind of paper, and a different kind of coloring medium, with the ability to layer and use a huge color palette.

I work hard to keep my style of drawing quintessentially ‘Angela Porter’ no matter whether I draw traditionally or digitally.

In my next book for Creative Haven, Entangled Forests (available for pre-order), I actually have a mixture of digitally drawn and traditionally drawn templates in there.

That’s a reflection of me, how I like to work, and how I can get the effects that I want in the drawing.

However, even with the traditionally drawn images there’s some digital ‘art’ going on as I have to scan them in, clean up smudges and errors and make corrections based on suggestions from the editorial team at Dover Publications Inc, and you’d be hard pressed to find these corrections and clean ups, though you may work out which is drawn digitally and which is drawn traditionally if you look hard.

One of the things on my list of things to do is to start a YouTube channel where I can show how I create my art. Perhaps that will help to end the stigma and discrimination that exists around digital artists, so that I, and others don’t get comments such as ‘ I liked it until I saw it was digital’ or ‘I used to like them until they sold out and gone to the dark side of digital drawing’.

A couple of years ago this would get to me. I’d lose my confidence in myself, I’d doubt myself, I’d want to give up. But not now. I take it in my stride. You can’t please all people all the time, especially as art is such a personal kind of thing.

However, comments such these say far more about the person making them and their likes/dislikes than they do about my art. On the back of a comment about me having sold out, it turns out that my newest book ‘Entangled Butterflies’ was fully stocked in a Walmart on Monday; by Thursday it had sold out, and one of the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group had let me know they’d had the last copy.

That puts it all into perspective I think.

C is for … dangle design

Angela Porter C is for 10 Nov 2018

I don’t know what’s occurring with WordPress, but the colours of this particular dangle design aren’t quite so grey and dull. I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks that when I upload an image the colours change. Never used to do that…

Anyways, today’s dangle design was fun to draw and I chose to use a different color palette than is usually for me. It’s not more pastel, it’s more subdued perhaps. I actually quite like it, which has surprised me!

I do tend towards bright colour palettes, bright and vibrant. For me to choose a more subdued one is very unusual, but it’s something I think I may work with more now as I rather like this one.

Also, I’ve chosen just  7 colors that I’ve used tones/shades of – cool grey, cool violet, antique pink, a blue-green, a yellow-green, soft blue-grey and old gold tones.

Again, using just a few base colors rather than a whole host of different colours is not my usual way of working. What I’m beginning to realise about this is that it gives a much more cohesive look to the finished design. With the colours being more subtle, it also gives a much more grown-up even, dare I say it, more sophisticated look to what is a rather simple and whimsical kind of design. It particularly works well with the monogram ‘C’.

In fact, the cute kitty is really the only whimsical element of this design. The others are simple, yes, but not quite so cute and whimsical. However, I wouldn’t remove the kitty-cat as cats are the theme of this series of monogram dangle designs.

I’ve said it before that I really struggle with seeing my art as others see it. I often think my art, like this, is rather childish, simple, unsophisticated, naive with no real artistic value at all.

This is part of how I think of myself and it’s part of my CPTSD. I’m working on it. For me to recognise that I’ve done nice things, things I feel proud of is a step or two forwards. However, there’s that nasty inner critic that does its best to derail any positive thoughts I may have about myself or the things I do.

Anyways, onto the nitty gritty of how I created this dangle design.

The steps I took were:

  1. sketched out the design on dot grid paper
  2. scanned the sketch into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
  3. used a technical pen ‘brush’ to ink in the design
  4. worked out the color palette I wanted to use
  5. coloured the design, in this case using gradient fills for speed
  6. added shadows to the design
  7. created a drop shadow
  8. created a coloured background
  9. added texture to both the design and background

I sketched the design out last night, and it took me between 2 and 3 hours to complete the steps above as this is a relatively small design.

If you’d like to learn how to create your own dangle designs, then my upcoming book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is a good place to start. You can pre-order it so it’s arrives on it’s release date in January 2019.

A is for … Angel Kitty. A monogram dangle design.

Angela Porter 3 Nov 2018 A is for

I got lost in drawing and coloring this dangle design this morning!

I had it in the back of my mind that I’d like to do a series of monogram dangle designs with a kitty or critter theme along with following the letters of the alphabet.

For A it just had to be an angel kitty!

I started with a pencil sketch, then, after scanning the sketch in, I inked it in using my trusty tool trio – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. Colour and texture was added and a lot of use of layers has been made and a couple of new ‘tricks’ for my digital art spellbook have been learned.

The first was about making solid areas without the black lines by using the fill tool, first in white to block out the sections, then using it as transparent to remove the black.

The second was figuring out how to use layers so I could use a natural blend brush on these sections without messing up bits I was happy with. This may seem an easy thing to those of you who are digital art experts, but I’m slowly learning what I need as I need to learn it!

Finally, I explored the use of a natural blend brush and really enjoyed working with it, once I’d figured out how it works.

I really, really enjoyed doing this one. Cats as a subject for my more whimsical, doodley type art are something I want to do more of. Maybe other critters too; I also have a soft spot in my heart for ravens, koalas, badgers, and many others!

I wonder what B is for… will turn out to be? Birthday Badger? Bookworm Kitty? Baker koala? Any suggestions? Leave me a comment here, or on facebook, on twitter (@artwyrd), or on instagram (@angela_porter_illustrator). I’d welcome suggestions and maybe I’ll draw your particular one, not just for the letter B, but for any other letter of the alphabet.

Of course this is a dangle design, and monograms, handlettering and dangle designs are some of the topics I cover in my tutorial book ‘ A Dangle A Day ‘ which is published in January 2019, but can be pre-ordered now.

 

Second version of my BuJo Monthly Cover page for November

Angela Porter November Bujo 2018 v2

Ah! That’s better!

I wasn’t happy with my first version, so I thought I’d use it as a start to create a digital version of my November BuJo page.

Done with the magic of my Microsoft Surface Pen and Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

The only place I made use of gradient fills were the hearts, the rest was coloured as if I was using marker pens, with the use of a blending tool.

A couple of simple dangles add some interest to the space below the wreath of poppies, foliage and berries.

I kept the colour scheme really simple to the reds, greens and dark greys so that the design is much more cohesive. The use of a texture brush makes the colouring a little less perfect, as it does on the background too.

I also added a drop shadow to give the illusion that the design is floating a little bit above the page.

My current thoughts on BuJo-ing

My current BuJo is a very minimalist one, though I enjoy designing pages like this. I found I was spending more time on my BuJo in terms of prettying it up rather than using it in a functional way. I do add dangles to the daily logs, when I feel the urge to.

This means I’m making far more use of my BuJo than I was when it was just an artistic/creative endeavour.

Not that there is anything wrong in that. It’s just that I wanted to immerse myself in bullet journaling in a way that it could help me with memories, thoughts, tasks and so on, in a way that I wasn’t doing previously.

And, not worrying if it’s not perfectly written/drawn/recorded is quite liberating actually! It takes a lot of pressure off BuJo-ing.

If I’d thought about it, I could’ve left a page blank at the start of the November logs for a pretty page like this. However, everything is getting rather more mixed up in my BuJo than when it was in my first versions of BuJos, and that makes me feel it’s working more for me as a record of my life, as well as planning a little more, though I don’t over-work that. Keeping track of ideas and notes and events is far more important to me, a more reflective kind of BuJo.

What I love about the BuJo system is it evolves as you need it to. You’re not limited by someone else’s structure, such as in a planner or diary. As your needs for it change, it changes.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t make use of colour. Of course I do! That helps in the index to pick out different kinds of contents and helps me separate tasks from events from notes – the symbols are great, but colour really helps me see them. That is a personal preference.

Collections, as always, are really important, and after reading a fair amount of Ryder Carroll’s book on the Bullet Journal Method the idea of threading and indexing back to earlier BuJos actually makes sense to me and seems to be a really valuable thing for me to do as I move forward with this.

As I’m typing away my mind is working on how I could work pretty pages into my working BuJo. I don’t think it’s working pages I need, more like book marks or maybe a postcard or a print out of my design I can use as a book mark …

Oh, the one thing I do pretty up a little bit are my monthly logs, with a pretty border next to the name of the month and year. At present they’re just black and white linework and I rather like the graphic nature of them.

What’s surprised me is how I’ve gone with this more minimal way of doing it. I mean, I love to see how people organise their BuJos ahead of time and so on and the beautiful things they create and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this and if it’s someone’s way to express themselves and/or be creative then I’m definitely all for it!

However, for me I’ve found that setting my daily logs up ahead of time can be a problem as some days I need a LOT more space than I’ve allowed for, and I do like to to make notes in the daily log.

What I have to do is work out if I’m going to do more than the monthly cover and monthly logs for my BuJo or whether I’m still going to come up with ideas for the weekly/daily logs or trackers and collections just for fun.

I don’t know the answer to that rhetorical question at the moment. It will work itself out over time I’m sure.

I have wondered about making some of my monthly cover designs and others available as digital downloads so people can print and add them to their BuJo’s, or use as greetings cards or note cards or or or … leave me a comment with your ideas!

Inktober 2018 Day 28 ‘Gift’

Angela Porter Inktober 2018 Day 28 Gift small

Day 28 of the Inktober challenge and I’ve done another kitty dangle design, with a rather surprised looking kitty in a gift box with a party hat on.

How cute would this be as a greetings card for the human of a kitty?

I sketched the design in pencil on dot grid paper then scanned it into my Surface Studio. I then drew the design using a pen brush and the symmetry tool in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. After drawing, I added colour and texture as well as a bit of a drop shadow.

This image makes me smile just a bit. It was a nice thing to do this morning. I’m tired today.

Yesterday, I was absolutely shattered after the Hallowe’en Coffee Morning and being in charge of the craft corner. The little monsters (read little darlings dressed up in their Hallowe’en finery) kept me nicely busy and they seemed to have a lot of fun making pumpkins on glow sticks and paper pumpkins and other things. I had a lot of fun too.

At the end of the morning, it was lovely to have some help to clear up; thankfully my plans on using glue dots and double sided sticky tape and paper fasteners and staples rather than glue sticks helped greatly with this. As did the washable marker pens and the like.

I came home and had some lunch and then slept. On waking I had time to have more tea, shower and get ready to pop out in the evening.

As lovely as my couple of hours out were, I was glad to get home. It was really chilly last night here in South Wales. The cold got into me even in my short journeys; I chilled right off in the morning too. So, today my hands and feet are a tad achy and stiff with arthritis.

Using the Microsoft Surface Pen on the Surface Studio certainly helps my finger joints – so little pressure is needed. The pen is a tad weighty, but it’s rather well balanced so I can cope. On days like today I could do with a slightly thicker barrel, so I need to find some grippy things that I could slide on my pen for days like this.

I do want to work on my sketch of the viking kitty that I did for yesterdays’ Inktober prompt. I need a quiet day of self-care today. Not only was yesterday a busy one for me in terms of interacting with people it was also the end of British Summer Time and the clocks went back by an hour some time during the night. This means we got an extra hour of sleep, in theory. In practice I slept the same amount of time! The change in the clocks will cause confusion for a while I think.

I am an introvert, though people seem to assume I’m an extrovert. I learned at a young age that I had to be loud and seemingly outward going like my very loud brothers to have even a chance of being noticed or listened to (that didn’t happen often). I have a fairly extrovert mask I wear when out and about and with people, until I get to know them and then the introvert can relax and come out. I like people, but I also recognise that I need alone time to recharge my batteries. Being with people both lifts me and drains me. So, today is a day for some quiet time, before I have to head out this evening for a couple of hours to be with people again.

 

Inktober 2018 Day 26 ‘Stretch’

Angela Porter Inktober 2018 Day 26 Stretch

If there’s one thing that kitties know how to do extraordinarily well it’s stretch. So, that just had to be the drawing that went with todays Inktober Prompt!

And as it’s Friday, that drawing had to be a dangle design too.

I really do need to work on my kitties in different poses – this one’s head looks a little strange, a little flat.

But, part of the inktober challenge is to draw without editing.

I did use a pencil to sketch the dangle design out on dot grid paper from Clairefontaine. After inking it in and erasing what I could of the pencil lines it was scanned into GiMP. I use gimp to remove the dots of the dot grid and then produce a transparent background.

The drawing with a transparent background and no dot grid I then plonked into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and added some colour and texture as well as a drop shadow.

I kept the colour palette fairly simple so I had a more cohesive look to the design.

Even with the problems with the cat’s head, I think this is cute – I couldn’t resist adding a sleeping mousie on the kitty’s tummy.

Of course, Friday is #dangleday and my book about drawing dangle designs, monograms and more is available for preorder. It’s called ‘A Dangle A Day‘.

Inktober 2018 Day 24 ‘Chop’ and Day 25 ‘Prickly’

Angela Porter Inktober 2018 Day 24 Chop and Day 25 Prickly watermarked

Catching up time today for Inktober 2018!

Yesterday I was shattered both from the trip to Worcester the day before and by giving and anti-stigma talk for Time To Change Wales. The talk left me very emotionally exhausted and I was good for nothing the rest of the day.

This morning when I thought of the prompt for yesterday – Chop – I just had this vision of a cute Viking kitten with a big axe (the chop!). It seemed quite natural I should turn that little image into a bit of a dangle design. I tried to draw a round shield beneath the Viking kittie, not sure that’s worked out at all. I like the way the ears poking out of the helmet have ended up looking like horns with some protection around the ears!

In keeping with the theme, I did a prickly looking-cat along with a bunch of cacti. Again another dangle design.

I drew these, with some rough pencil sketchlines, on Clairefaintaine Graf it dotgrid paper using Uniball Unipin pens.

I’ve not cleaned the images up or removed the dot grid. I’ve just left them black and white line art.

Of course, these are quite simple dangle designs in terms of the dangles used. If you’d like to learn more about dangle designs and get loads of ideas on how to draw your own and designs and dangles and charms you can use, you’ll find my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ most helpful. It’s available for preorder and is due out early in 2019.

I know that colour would bring them to life; maybe I’ll do that later on.

It’s not often I get ideas for funny cats to draw. Or funny critters and so on – ones that relate to a particular theme like these. They’re actually fun to draw, give me a smile. and perhaps it’s something I can work on developing as time goes on.

I think everyone knows I love cats and I still miss my companion of over 16 years – the white purrfurrball called Cuffs. I’m not ready to let another pusscat into my life for many reasons, but I do donate the money I would’ve spent on Cuffs’ food, kitty-litter, medication and regular vets bills to the Cats Protection League so that I help other kitties to be looked after until they find their forever homes. It’s the best I can do at this time.

Dear goodness, I’m crying about that now. I’m still emotionally tired out after yesterday and so today is likely to be a day of some self-care.

Bullet Journals

Earlier this week, I had Ryder Carroll’s book ‘The Bullet Journal Method’ –  delivered to my Kindle on it’s release day. I’ve spent some time reading it and have found it a really interesting read so far, not just about bullet journalling.

As I’d started a new bullet journal at the weekend, I thought I’d try out some things, particularly the daily log and the system of symbols used for notes, events and tasks. It all finally makes sense to me, well the daily logs do and seem to be something that will be useful.

I’ve also worked out that dividing pages for the daily logs up into pretty sections and so on isn’t going to work well for me if I use a bullet journal as it’s meant to be used by me. The sections limit the space available for daily notes etc – Some days I need to jot down a lot, other days not so much.

I’m certainly still going to pretty up the Monthly logs and the future log for sure, as well as any collections I create. But the daily logs are going to be far more basic, though I suspect colour will become involved at some point!

I finally get the idea of ‘threading’ after seeing examples in the book.

I certainly can recommend this book (it’s available in other formats) – not just for people wanting to learn about bullet journalling for the first time, but for more seasoned/experience bullet journallers.

I can also see my viking kittie being redrawn in my bullet journal as a cute page I can look at to make me smile. The same for any other cute kitties I have – and I do have a few drawn already! Mind you, they’d be quite nice printed out, coloured and used as markers/inserts in the BuJo too. But I’d like them as greetings cards and notes cards.

Ooooh… I need to make some notes about these ideas in my BuJo!