Butterflies

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I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my Microsoft Surface Book along with my Surface Pen to add patterns and shading to two of the butterfly outline designs I drew yesterday.  I’m happy with the results.

Today I’ve also created two more dot mandalas, each around 5″ in diameter.  I added some gems to those, as well as to the small dot mandalas I created over the last couple of days.  The sparkle really adds something special to them, and helps to emphasise the circularity of mandala designs.

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Artistic journeys…

Mixed media

IMG_0650My previous blog post about a mixed media work in progress is still on hold, although I have added a crackle paint to it in places, which has added some texture to it.  I’m pleased with the result, but I still am not sure what else to do to complete it.

I have completed a very textured background for some mixed media work; you can see it above.  What I’m going to do with it I’m not quite sure, but I’m sure it will all come together at the right time.

Abstract Line Art

I’ve been drawing more ‘Doodle Worlds’ images from time to time and now need to gather them together to see if there’s enough for another ‘book’ for the Colorist app.

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I also turned my attention to colour and pattern and the two images above are the results of around three to four days work.

I used A4 300g/m² smooth watercolour paper and applied distress inks to create the coloured areas.  I wanted to create the illusion of shadow and light in these areas.  Next, I used various drawing pens to add the patterns.  On the green piece, I’ve added copper and gold coloured metallic highlights.  The pink one isn’t quite finished yet.

Sketchbooks and my artistic journey

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As the days are becoming lighter and warmer, my thoughts are going to getting out to visit places and to do some sketching/drawing (intense anxiety and intense self-consciousness allowing).

With this in mind, I’ve prepared pages in an A5 and an A4 sketchbook.  I’ve used Distress and Distress Oxide Inks.

The image above shows the first page in my A4 sketchbook, a page full of daisies, worked using different media, trying out different styles and degrees of detail.

I like to work on a coloured background, I don’t know why, I just do.  I think it may be that I like to add shadows and highlights to create and image from the colour on the page.

I’ve not done much in the way of sketchbook work for a long while, but the need to revisit and to continue to explore different ways of expressing myself artistically has surfaced.  I think this is a much over-due response to the surfeit of work on colouring books in the past three or so years, as well as the struggle I’ve had with my mental health.

My energy, when mentally able, has been focused on completing the work I was contracted for with various publishers.  I enjoyed the work, the subject matter pushed my boundaries in the subjects I tackled.  I’m so grateful for that work as well as it allowed me to make changes in my working life that helps me to take care of my mental health.  It was/is also an activity that helps me manage my mood.  I lose myself in drawing/creating, finding myself ‘in the flow’ where my mind stills, or, rather, where I no longer pay attention to the inner critic.

However, the colouring book work was the focus of my artistic energies for much of that time, and I had little energy left to explore other areas of artistic expression.  I didn’t mind that at all, as I’ve said, I enjoyed all the work I did, and I will continue to create templates.  However, that is not all I want to do or to create.

I now have time to revisit ways of artistic expression I put to one side in my focus on the work for publishers, and I have the chance to see how my skills and expression have developed/changed.  I also get the chance to explore and discover new ways of expressing myself, using new media.

In this way I can continue to discover, practice and refine my artistic voice and vocabulary.  I still feel like a toddler in the world of art.  I wonder if I’ll ever progress from that state.

The biggest obstacle to me doing this is the lack of belief and confidence I have in myself and my artistic abilities.  I also have a problem in deciding on what to draw.  Then, there’s also the issue of finding themes/styles/media to explore that will challenge me just enough that I feel I can make a good attempt at them and gain confidence in them, but not so much that it overwhelms me and I fail before even trying.

The most important thing for me, however, is to enjoy my artistic journey, no matter where it leads me.  The pleasure and peace I get from creating will be something that will serve me extremely well throughout the rest of my days on this planet.

 

Another fantasy fungus mixed media – work in progress

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The last couple or so days I’ve been working on stuff in preparation for this, though I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to work out, if at all.

The background I made earlier today just wasn’t the right thing…so had to re-do that. I’m happier with this one, and the first background has been consigned to patterned, coloured, embossed papers for future projects.

There’s still a fair amount of work to do on this one, and I think it’ll work out OK in the end.

Colorist app update

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I was pleased to be told by Shelly and Kelly at Faction Apps that there’s been an update to the Colorist app.  That means I had to have another play!

The image above is one from my first book for the Colorist app – Doodle Worlds.  Many areas have been filled in using the original pencil tool, which is great as it allows for overlaying of colours as well as being pressure sensitive if your device allows for that (my Microsoft Surface Book certainly does!).

It took me a while to get used to how the pencil works in the app, but that’s not a problem as either the undo or eraser tools allow you to completely remove anything you’re not happy with.  (The eraser is also useful for removing colour to create a highlight!).

Bucket Tool

One of the new tools is a bucket-fill, which is great for filling areas with flat, solid colour.  I used this tool for the pink monster.  The pencil tool can then be used to add shading/highlights over the base colour.

A useful tool is the bucket tool as it allows for quickly filling areas with a solid colour, even teeny-tiny areas thanks to the ability to zoom in on the image! This saves some time and effort, which can then be spent on carefully adding the shading and highlights to the area.

Marker Tool

This is my favourite addition to the tool box in the Colorist app!  I love the solid colour it lays down. The colours aren’t transparent, however, so blending isn’t yet possible with them ( perhaps that’ll appear in a future update of the app).  Markers (especially Chameleon pens) are my favourite way of adding colour to drawings like this on paper, so I look forward to this tool being developed more in the future (fingers crossed and maybe a bit of pleading from me!).

What I love most about this tool is that I can draw and doodle and add texture and pattern to the image with the solid lines that I prefer in my art. I did this with ease on the flower next to the orange and white stripey twisty thing.

The wide range of colours available in the colour palette mean that highlights and shadows can be achieved, so long as a subtle blend from one colour to another isn’t required.  However, I’ve just thought that a clever use of the pencil tool may allow this to happen.  I’ll have to try that out!

Eyedropper tool

I didn’t make any use of this tool, but I’m likely to in the future as it means that you can easily select a colour you’ve previously used in the image being coloured without going to the palette and ttrying to remember just which shade of, say, blue it was you used.

Sketching in the Colorist App

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The ability to sketch within the app, and save the drawings too, is the fab new feature.  I really like this, especially with the marker pen tool.

Usually, I use Autodesk Sketchbook  for drawing on my Surface book.  One of the weird things about drawing on the Surface with the pen is that there always seems to be some wobble in the line, even if the line drawn is smooth.  Autodesk has a smoothing tool, which in the Pro version you can set to a level that suits the art  you are doing at the time.

Although the Sketch function in Colorist doesn’t have the smoothing tool (yet?) it works just as well as Sketchbook for the kind of doodly, abstract, whimsical art I do.  The image above is a drawing I did in Colorist last night, it took an hour or so to achieve.

I enjoyed using this function, though not being able to rotate the digi-paper meant it was a tad awkward for me to draw certain things.  However, Colorist isn’t designed as a  dedicated drawing/art app, but I do wonder if a ‘pro’ version could be developed where a small fee is paid for such a functionality. The latest updates certainly suggest to me that there’s a possibility that this could be a direction the app could take in the future.

My verdict

I really like the updates, especially the marker and the sketch function. Congratulations to all at Faction Apps!

The suggestions I’ve made above for extending the additions in the future are not criticisms of the great updates made, but they would take this app beyond that of being just a colouring app, so I’m well aware they may not happen.

However, I do believe this app could evolve from being a colouring app into something more…

Colorist Windows App – announcement and review

Colorist

First, the announcement!  I’m doing some coloring templates for the Colorist App, and my first book of ten pages – called DoodleWorlds – is now available for it!

 

Review of Colorist

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Colorist is the only app that lets you color with exactly the same feel as coloring pencils! Relax on the couch and enjoy coloring a complex design, a vacation spot, or a crazy cartoon cat – tons of pages to choose from. Even color the same picture more than once, to see what else you can do with it. No need to worry about losing your coloring pencils in the couch anymore!

I have tried the Colorist app out, and here’s an honest review of it.

I had a quick look at the app before I agreed to do any design work for Faction Apps as I’d not want to have my artwork on any platform that I didn’t think was a good thing.

I’ve given it a test run using my Surface book and the Surface pen.  I haven’t tried it out in touch mode with my finger. You can see what I did in the image above, which is one of the free downloads as my own weren’t available at the time I did this test.

Here’s a close up of the section I coloured in.

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The colour palette

There’s a large number of colours available in the palette, and the bar that appears beside the image retains the last eight colours you’ve used, which is really useful and makes colouring in areas you want in the same colours easy to do.  It also means it’s easy to use many colours to get a smooth colour gradation, something that you can’t do with other colouring apps I’ve seen.

The pencil tool

There’s a slider bar with the tool so you can select the width of the pencil stroke, which is great.  The finest settings allowed me to add patterns to the image.  This is something that sets the app apart from others I’ve seen, which only allow a flood fill.

The finer lines and the ability to zoom in to the area you’re colouring mean you can get into the tiniest areas to colour, which at the original image size may have been a challenge, especially when printed on paper and coloured using coloured pencils.

The line isn’t a solid line, it has texture to it just as if you’re colouring on paper with a ‘tooth’ (texture).  This means that optical mixing of colours is possible, as well as adding texture to that mixing.  It also means that a smooth blend of colours is achievable.

The colours lay nicely on top of each other, thanks to that bitty texture; one colour doesn’t obsure the other, unless you use a lot of pressure and it’s what you want.

Oh, the colours don’t obscure the black outlines of the colouring page, no matter how hard you press.

My surface pen is pressure sensitive, and that makes the colouring experience a lot more comparable to colouring on paper with pencils, but without the mess!  I don’t know what it’s like on a screen that isn’t pressure sensitive, or how it works if I use my finger instead of the pen.

I am really impressed with the results and how the pencil tool works.

Also, I can get a bit irritated when I’m colouring with physical pencils; they often make my arthritic joints ache.  No such problem here; indeed, I wanted to carry on colouring but had to put it aside so I could get on with other things.

Eraser tool and Undo Button

It works!  However, I preferred to use the white from the palette to erase small areas to add highlights as I could control the thickness of the line being used to remove colour.

The undo button would be really useful too.

Together, they are things you can’t do when you’re colouring on paper, well not easily.

Saving your art

You can save your work at any time by using the save button on the app. You can also colour each page in as many times as you like in as many different colour schemes as you like too.

Final thoughts

I like this app, very, very much.  I found it easy to use, quick to master, and it gives really lovely results.  It’s a well thought through app, it does what it says it does, and the experience and results are a lot like using coloured pencils on paper!

I just want to repeat that although I have done some artwork for the app, these views are my own and not influenced by me working for them; if hadn’t htought the app was a good product I wouldn’t have agreed to do work for them!

More mixed media

I’m really enjoying this, perhaps a bit too much as I’m not focusing on what, perhaps, needs focusing on. However, it is true that a change is as good as a rest!

It’s a nightmare trying to photograph these pieces of artwork as they are so metallic and iridescent, but hopefully you’ll get a fairly good idea.  I’ve tried to scan them, and for the ATCs it’s a no go, and the scan of the other image isn’t any better than the photo.

The ATCs have been so much fun to do, especially as I’ve been collaging and playing with texture, and gears…gotta try a little steampunk-ish type stuff every now and again!

Media used :

  • Distress oxide inks
  • Die cuts of gears and snowflakes
  • Ranger Gloss Multi-medium
  • Tim Holtz’s collage medium, matte
  • Perfect pearls
  • Imagination Crafts Rusty Patina
  • PaperArtsy Fresco paints
  • Posca paint pens
  • Liquitex and Pebeo iridescent and metallic paints
  • Various gems, glues, papers

Blooming rain

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Another mixed media piece just finished, I think. I may add glossy accents or 3D crystal lacquer to the bubbles/drops and parts of the flowers, or maybe not.

The image has been scanned so the iridescence and glimmer doesn’t show up, sadly.  Also, I’ve been a bit heavy handed with the shadows around the flowers and bubbles/raindrops.

Here’s the list of media I used:

  • PaperArtsy Fresco paints
  • Distress Oxide inks
  • Liquitex and Pebeo iridescent and metallic acrylic paints
  • Perfect Pearl spray in gold
  • Posca pens in black and white
  • Derwent’s Inktense pencils
  • Uniball Signo white gel pen