It’s Friday so it’s #dangleday. Today, I wanted to share a Christmas Dangle with you from my book ‘A Dangle A Day’. In the book I show how this design was drawn, step by step.
When I created this design, I first drew it in pencil on dot grid paper. The next step for me was to scan it in to the computer and then re-draw it step-by-step, saving each step as I went. For the book, the final step was to colour the design and then write the instructions to go with the images. My tools for this were a Microsoft Surface Book, a Microsoft Surface Pen and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
I wanted to include as many Christmas-themed charms to create the dangles as I could and still keep the design balanced. I also kept the length of the dangles uneven. The waviness in the ends of the dangles echoes the waviness of the fairy lights above the hand lettered word ‘Christmas’.
What I did this morning was to print the black and white line art design on an A4 sheet of paper. Then I used Chameleon Duo Tones and Color Tops markers to colour it in.
These pens make it easy to create gradations of colour, such as on the hand lettering. These gradations add ‘dimension’ to the charms and dangles. I keep the darker shades to the left and bottom of the designs so that there’s a consistency across the whole image. I also used a pale grey marker to add drop shadows to the left and bottom of the design elements; again this helps to add dimension to the design.
Finally, I added some highlights with a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen. I also added some sparkles around the fairy lights and individual stars with a gold glitter Uniball Signo gel pen. After all, it wouldn’t be Christmas without some sparkle!
Used individually with a monogram or Christmassy image the dangles would make lovely book marks. Printed at A5 in size, the design would make a fabulous BuJo page for the big day itself. It would also make a lovely design for greetings cards or note cards.
Of course, it would be easy to change the word at the top to, perhaps, Winter or Yule and use fewer dangles to suit the length of the word. Personally, I like to use an odd number of dangles wherever possible – it gives a more balanced design.
A knock at the door, a Fed-Ex delivery driver asking me for a signature before handing over a parcel. I saw it was from Lydia at Quarto so knew it would be a copy of ‘A Dangle A Day’. So excited to open the package and see the book in a solid, tangible form.
I’ve seen the pdf versions of the book as it was put together before going to print. But, it’s never, ever the same as having that book in my hands.
Even more so today as this is my first book with words and art done by myself. I trust it won’t be the last.
About the book
I had a lot of fun creating this book. I’m so excited about helping others to create their own dangle designs and to gain confidence that they, too, can create lovely designs for use in all kinds of ways – BuJo pages and spreads, greetings cards, note cards, framed pictures, scrapbooks, planners, journals, bookmarks, place cards, and more.
I’ve done my best to show you how to create monograms and dangle designs in easy steps both visually and with some supporting words.
Suggestions about how to approach hand lettering is scattered throughout the step by step instructions for the dangle designs.
Examples of dangle designs in use in bullet journals and more are included – with all their imperfections. Remember, work created by each of us will be perfectly imperfect. It’s those imperfections that make it uniquely ‘you’.
There’s lots and lots of examples of designs and dangles and charms that you can use as they are or as inspiration for other designs. There are designs for all seasons and many, many different events throughout the year.
I’ve included suggestions for color palettes, media to use.
A short primer for bullet journals is included; I’m no expert on bullet journaling but I do make use of one and find it very useful not just in organising my tasks for the day but in recording ideas, reflections, memories and more.
This has put a big smile on my face this morning, and that smile will continue for a long while. I never thought I’d write and illustrate an art tutorial book. I’d thought I’d like to, but didn’t have the confidence to think it would be so.
Why I chose to use digital tools
I made great use of my Microsoft Surface Book and Microsoft Surface Studio along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to draw many of the designs. Working digitally made editing designs, breaking the design process down into simple steps so easy.
I used to think, as many do, that digital art is simpler, easier than traditional forms of art.
The skill set required is different. I wanted my digital drawing and coloring to look like I’d done it with traditional media.
Digital drawing is no easier than drawing on paper.
What is easier is correcting mistakes, smudges and removing pencil lines. It removes the frustration I experience in scanning images in and spending a lot of time cleaning the image up for the publishers. Scanning can be a frustration for me too, which would’ve been worse if I’d had to scan in step after step after step. And having to re-draw if I’d missed a step out, or re-scan would’ve driven me nuts.
What I didn’t want was artwork that looked too perfect, too inhuman. I wanted digital drawings that looked like I’d drawn them on paper. So, I worked hard to set up pen ‘brushes’ that would mimic how my favoured drawing pens would look when drawn on paper.
Also, I rarely used any line smoothing tools for any of the work so it has that slightly ‘wobbly’ line appearance that my pen and ink linework has. I also kept the design elements, called charms, imperfect just as they would be if I’d drawn them with pen on paper.
In fact, each and every design started out as either a pen or pen drawing on paper which was scanned in so I could re-create it, step by step, digitally, saving a file for each step to the computer.
There were plenty of revisions/edits required and colour changes. Again, working digitally make this a less onerous task than if I’d had to do everything with pen and ink on paper, scanning in each step all the while worrying I hadn’t missed a step as I got engrossed in the process of drawing.
Working digitally did not make the drawing any easier or simpler, what it did was allow me a different way to draw the steps.
Coloring the designs digitally was no quicker than with traditional media, in fact it took me longer! I learned a lot about this process by doing this book, and I think it was the book that allowed me to become more comfortable with digital art and how to make it look like I’d drawn with pen on paper, in my own style.
Of course, I can print out the line art and colour it with any media I choose. I also can redraw any using traditional media. And of course, adjusting the size is so easy.
I did use some circle, oval and hexagon templates to help me design the wreaths and snowflakes. The dot grid paper helped me draw mostly straight lines for the dangles.
I did sketch them in pencil first before inking them in with a Uniball Unipin pen. Colouring was done with various Tombow dual brush pen markers and some sparkly elements added with Uniball signo sparkle gel pens.
These would look lovely as greetings cards. In fact, I’m thinking of redrawing them digitally and using them to make my own christmas cards this year. Printing out the black line work and then colouring them with traditional media. In the past couple of years I’ve designed my christmas/winter/yule cards digitally and had them printed professionally. This year, I think I’ll do it the way I suggest in my book ‘A Dangle A Day’.
They’d also look great as note cards or as pages in a BuJo, planner, scrapboook or journal. They’d lend themselves to cute bookmarks too.
These relatively simple and small dangle designs are perfect for practicing hand lettering too. And in these four dangles I’ve used four different lettering styles.
I’ve also kept the finished designs simple by not adding any drop shadows, except around the ‘HO! HO! HO!’. Not only that, a lot of the colouring is very simple too.
I do hope you’ll have a go at designing your own, maybe using these as a bit of a guide. If you do, I’d love to see what you’ve created.
As one of my current goals is to improve my hand lettering I thought it would be fun to practice it with another dangle design.
For this one, I used some dangles from my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ to build the dangle designs with a wintry, Christmassy vibe to the finished design, thanks to the traditional Christmas colours of red, green and gold, along with with some blues, purples and cool pinks thrown in.
Of course, I could’ve chosen a non-traditional series of colours too, for fun. For example, the baubles on the dangles and the wreath could be done in pink, purple and blue. Whatever your decor at this time of the year it can be reflected in your colour scheme for your dangle design.
From the initial sketch to posting it on this blog it’s taken me around 6 hours to complete.
Yes, I started with a sketch and then inked it in traditionally, pen on paper. I scanned that drawing into GiMP so I could remove the dot grid and the faint echoes of erased pencil lines. This was followed by coloring the image. For this I used marker and blender brushes . The last steps were to add texture to the design, a coloured background, a drop shadow and then the watermarks.
I used a Microsoft Surface Pen, a Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to complete the digital colouring and so on.
The charms on the dangles are a lot easier to draw than they appear, it’s the colour that really brings them to life and gives them dimension.
It’s always fun to string charms together to make these dangles. I often tend towards more symmetrical designs, but ones like this are good to do too. They all have their own charm, pardon the dreadful pun there.
I take you designing dangles step by easy step in my book ‘A Dangle A Day‘. There are lots of examples of dangle designs in the book that are ready to use, but it’s easy to rearrange things to suit your particular needs. The release date is 8 January 2019, a new style of creativity to start in the New Year, and throughout the year as all the seasons and many different celebrations are covered in the book, along with suggestions for projects using dangle designs.
I’m absolutely dreadful at taking photographs! However, here is my coloured version of the dangle design I posted earlier today, all glued into my BuJo ready for the start of a new month tomorrow.
This is likely to be the only artsy stuff I do in my BuJo as the rest of my bujo is rather minimal – it’s functional and I can lose way too much time prettying it up. For instance, sketching, inking in the design and then colouring it has taken me most of my day! It’s been fun though, and a much needed ‘quiet’ day after a hectic week.
I realised after coloring the hand lettered December in that I’d messed up the letter M. The second vertical line should’ve been like the first one to give balance to it.
I also forgot that when I printed out the A4 sized design as an A5 that the lines would be reduced in thickness. So, I had to invest time in going over them with a thicker pen after I’d finished the coloring. Mind you, this helped to make the lines nice and bold again.
To colour I used Tombow Dual Tip Brush Markers along with glitter Signo gel pens from Uniball. I also used some Chameleon coloured pencils to add a bit of shading here and there and to add the shadow around the design.
I left the background white. I realised that I could’ve coloured it with Distress Inks and then coloured over them. So, instead of messing up the background by trying to colour it I elected to use silver and gold glitter gel pens to create patterns of ‘sparkles’.
Yes, glitter! I rarely get to add glitter or metallics to my work, especially if it’s for publishers as it really doesn’t photography or scan at all well. But as this is a personal project I did add a fair amount of sparkly highlights and elements.
I think this one may be my favourite BuJo monthly cover so far.
I must admit if I had time or desire to colour it again I’d not use the Tombows. I managed to smear the colours lightly here and there so I haven’t got a ‘clean’ coloured illustration.
I think I’d go with alcohol markers such as my Chameleon Color Tones along with the Color Tops.
However, I think I may find it difficult to colour the tiny spaces with the Chameleons. That’s the problem with printing the design smaller than the original.
It’s Friday, so that means it’s #dangleday! As it’s the last day of November it seems appropriate that I design a dangle design that would look fantastic as the monthly title page for a BuJO, journal, planner or just a fun design to color and frame or, printed out smaller, used on a greetings card.
As usual these days, I sketched the design out on dot grid paper and then scanned it in. I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and a technical drawing pen ‘brush’ to ink the design, as well as make adjustments to the design.
The final steps were to add a background colour and watermark it for sharing on the internet.
Naturally, I used my Microsoft Surface Pen along with my Microsoft Surface Studio to do the digital drawing. I think I’m going to print this design out so it will fit in my BuJo and colour it with traditional media.
This is quite a complex dangle design to look at, but it’s not that complex to create. In my book ‘A Dangle A Day’, released on 8 January 2019, I take you step by step through the process with loads and loads of examples of monograms and dangle designs for all seasons and all occasions, along with ideas of how to use them. There’s also a fair number of tips and encouraging words within the book.
If you do download, print and colour this design, I’d love to see how you’ve coloured and used it! You can find me on twitter, Instagram and facebook.
It’s Friday so it’s #dangleday! E is for … echinacea (cone flower), envelope, earphones, Earth, eight (or eleven, or eighteen or eighty – you get the idea), eight-sided octagon, eighth-notes (semiquavers).
Purple and gold are complementary colours so I chose them for the pusscat, the monogram and the octagon with my initials in it. I chose silver as the colour for the frame around the monogram simply because it’s my favourite metal and I fancied a change from gold beads and so on. Pink hearts and earphone accents. Yes, the headphones had to have cat ears on them, and yes, I have a pair like this, but the ears are blue.
Cute kitties, cute charms and letters. Looking at the monogram now, the letter could do with a shadow around it, but it’ll do as is.
I sketched the design on dot grid paper. After scanning the sketch in, I inked it in using a Microsoft Surface Pen on my Microsoft Surface Studio screen. When I was happy with the line art, I added colour and texture to the dangle design. The final steps were to create a coloured and textured background and a drop shadow for the design.
A nice way to spend a couple of hours on a cool, grey, damp Friday morning.
B is for birthday balloons, birthday cupcakes, birthday gifts…baking … beads …beautiful cats, beautiful flowers…bullet journal (BuJo)…
It’s Friday and it’s taken me a couple or three days to get this monogram dangle design finished, mainly because yesterday was another jolly jaunty day with Liz (more of that on my other blog – Curious Stops and Tea Shops – when I get to write it, that is).
Today’s dangle design features some cute kitties, as is the theme of my current series of monogram dangle designs.
I started by sketching out my ideas in pencil on dot grid paper then scanning it into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. The next step was digitally inking in and adjusting the design. Finally, colour and texture was added to the design before adding my watermarks. My digital tools were my trusty Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
I like the design, not so sure about the colour choices though. I also got a bit heavy handed with the added textures in some places.
After I’ve got my other tasks done today, I think I may print this design out and colour it with my Chameleon markers and see the difference. It looks like we’re going to have some heavy rain and some strong winds here today, so cwtching up indoors with some nice arty stuff to do could be the way to spend some of the day.
Friday means it’s #dangleday. My tutorial book about designing dangles, called ‘A Dangle A Day’ is available to preorder. In it I take you step by step through simple hand lettering, monogram dangle designs, and other kinds of dangle designs, showing how you too can draw and design your own. There’s lots and lots of examples in the book as well as suggestions of how to use them as greeting cards, notecards, bookmarks and framed pictures, as well as in BuJos, planners, diaries, scrapbooks…how to use them is limited only by your creativity!
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!
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‘.