An ‘A’ Dangle Mandala…

©Angela Porter 2019

I’m definitely on a mandala kick at the moment! This one, though, includes some dangle designs!

A Dangle A Day’ is released on 15th January 2019, and I just wanted to get yet another dangle design out in the interwebs to inspire you.

While checking out the release date (which I’ve been getting a tad wrong, oops!) I noticed there were some reviews of the book. I’d like to say thank you to all the reviewers who wrote such lovely words about the book! It’s filled me with a bit more confidence and belief in myself as this is my very first art tutorial book.

There’s some hand lettering with the letter A. The letter A has dangles forming the inner part of the mandala. Then, the outer ring has simple and cutely whimsical doodle designs and yet another dangle forming it.

Of course, hearts and stars had to appear; they are my favourite design elements for many of my projects. I also like beads and gems too. Flowers and foliage are also favourite motifs, as are spirals.

I decided the ring of A’s need to be in a rainbow colour scheme and I chose a bright colour scheme for the design elements.

It looks complicated, but if you look at just one A and follow the dangle towards the centre and the design out to the outer rim you’ll see that it really isn’t all that complex.

Of course, drawing mandalas on paper can be time consuming. I usually draw mine digitally.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is now free and it’s my drawing software of choice. It has a symmetry tool that is really easy to use. You only draw one segment of the mandala which is then automatically repeated around the circle. I find Autodesk Sketchbook intuitive to use, and it’s easy to use almost straight away. It also has some rather sophisticated features on it and it does all that I need it to do, and more. I use a Microsoft Surface Pen along with Microsoft Surface Studio to draw and colour digitally, and they work wonderfully with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

I do colour my designs digitally. However, sometimes I will print out the black line art and then use traditional media (often Chameleon markers) to bring the line art to life with colour.

I do hope you will have a go at creating your own dangle designs. They look complicated, but they really aren’t! If you do have a go, then please share your designs with me on any of my social media homes – facebook, instagram, twitter or here!

Monogram B Dangle Design

©Angela Porter 2019

Originally, I drew the original version of this design with pen and ink on paper. I wanted to edit the design and add a dangle to it, so decided to work digitally (Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro).

By working digitally, I could edit and amend the design easily, using the original sketch as a guide. You can see that I made quite a few changes. I’m much, much happier with the blue version. The pink one is pretty and a good start, a way to experiment, but the blue one is the more polished, finished version, and not just because it’s been drawn digitally!

For the original sketch, I used a copic marker to draw out the basic letter shape and then used Unipin and Pigma Sensei pens to add the lie details. The copic is patchy, but that’s because it was a quick sketch.

I like the increased amount of white space in the new version – it does add a bit of a stained glass look to the design. I also like the stylised roses inside the ‘B’ in the revised version; adding the patterns inside the rose rather than on the edge helps the rose to stand out from the coloured section by giving a mostly white border.

Once I’d thickened the main beams of the letter, I added dots to carry the lines on. Then, I decided it could be fun to echo these dots by carving out dots in the flared ends of these lines. These dots have lightened those lines up, adding some airiness as well as interest.

Oddly, as I look at them I am minded of a very Old  Bridge here in my home town. The bridge was built by William Edwards in 1756. When it was built it was the longest single span bridge in the world. The addition of 3 holes at each end of the bridge allowed it to bear the weight of the stone and not collapse. It is these holes, the lightness they gave to the design that I recalled when I was thinking about those ‘holes’ in my blue B.

I really wanted to add a simple dangle to this monogram – the letter is ornate enough that it could be too fussy if I’d added more than one dangle, or made the dangle ornate. Of course one of the charms had to be a heart! Simple beads and a diamond charm complete the dangle. My dangles often remind me of jewellery!

It’s not very often I show any kind of editing or reworking of my artwork, that’s because I do tend to work very intuitively and don’t really draft my work. Sometimes, I may do a pencil or pen sketch for an illustration for one of my colouring books, especially if it’s a kind of ‘scene’.

Since I’ve been working digitally, however, I do seem to be doing a lot more of the sketching out or working more roughly and using this as the sketch for the digital art.

An added advantage is that this satisfies my need to work with traditional media. Also, by working on paper I get a better idea of the scale of the finished artwork.

I think I’ve said it before that I do struggle with a sense of scale when working on a screen due to the ease of zooming in and out. Paper is a fixed size so I can appreciate the scale far more, and it seems easier for my brain to get a better idea of the whole design.

It’s all part and parcel of my artsy journey, figuring out what is best for me and not trying to work like others or being worried about how others judge me and my process. More than anything though, it’s about me learning not to be such a harsh judge and critic of myself. One negative review, and my inner critic gives itself a rocket boost and any belief in myself is kicked to the outer edges of the known universe. That’s why I don’t read reviews – I struggle enough with my own inner critic without battling others’ opinions.

I’m learning it’s far more important that I appreciate my own work rather than looking to others for approval. It’s always wonderful when people tell me they love my work. It’s always valuable when people, particularly my editors, give me honest feedback on what needs to be changed to improve things – they see things I miss by working all too close to the artwork.

I’m learning that it’s more important for me recognise that what I create is mostly good enough, sometimes I’m really pleased with what I’ve done, sometimes I can see something is truly awful or that there is room for improvement.

Reflection on my work is important as it helps me to learn, grow and develop, and helpful input is always welcome.

When I look at this blue B monogram dangle design, I can honestly say I smile. It’s an example of a design I am pleased with. It’s intricate, but not overly so. There’s empty space within the design

Less than a week now until ‘A Dangle A Day’ is released – my book showing how you too can create dangle designs, one step at a time!

Hello January! A Dangle Design

©Angela Porter 2019

What a bright, sunshiny morning it is here in South Wales in the UK. The first sunshine of the new calendar!

I’ve been up for around 3 hours and have had a fairly artsy time.

My first job was to print out the lineart for this dangle design, which is one of many in my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ which is due for release on 8 January 2019 – just a week away!

In the book, I take you through how to draw this design, one step at a time. Not only this design, but well over 100 more – designs for all seasons and many, many celebrations and occasions.

This design I drew in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Book. For the book, I coloured it digitally. Today, I printed out my black and white lineart and then coloured it using Chameleon Color Tones and Color Tops marker pens. I also added some details to some elements of the design using a 08 Uniball Unipin pen and a white Sakura Gelly Roll Pen.

Yesterday, I said I need to to spelunking through my stash of mixed media and cardmaking supplies to find forgotten supplies I could use to embellish my designs.

This dangle design would make a lovely monthly cover page for a BuJo (bullet journal), planner, diary or journal. It would also make a pretty greetings card or notecard to drop a line to a friend wishing them a wonderful January. Change the words and colours to suit the occasion or recipient! It would also be a lovely, whimsical, cute design for a winter party invitation.

I realised then that my old watermark wouldn’t do for this year. So I hand lettered a new one. I made my symbol, the one I hide away in my artwork, part of the design, along with a little intricate but simple geometric pattern around it. A little touch of the uncials for my blog address, along with a typed copyright statement and it’s done and saved! I may end up changing it a little, or having variations on the theme, as time goes on. But I’m fairly happy with it.

So, I’ve already had a productive morning! It may be a Bank Holiday in the UK, but I really do need to focus on those templates that need colouring for Entangled Forests…and I may venture forth into the peopley world later on today, maybe.

Monogram ‘C’ with a dangle

© Angela Porter 2018

I was browsing through ‘Decorated Lettering’ by Jan Pickett yesterda and came across something I thought I’d like to try. This something involved drawing a letter using coloured pencils or watercolour pencils then adding patterns and embellishments afterwards.

I usually do the patterns and embellishments first, then add the colour. But I also know that if I were to use coloured pencils, watercolour pencils or other media over my line art (traditional art time here!) then the black lines can become masked a little by the colours.

So, I had to try this out.

I grabbed a pad of Daler-Rowney Mixed Media paper along with my Inktense pencils and a fine water brush and began the process of creating the design in colour.

I did use a pencil to sketch out the shapes very lightly, even using an eraser to make them lighter still. Pencil can become trapped under colours and become difficult to erase.

As I knew I’d be posting it on Christmas Eve, I thought a monogram C along with a simple Christmas themed dangle would do the job just nicely. Red, green and gold had to be the colours used too.

For each part of the design I used two or three different colours to achieve the colour gradients. Once I’d finished this step I scanned the drawing/painting/design in and you can see it on the left. Scanning does tend to wash out the colours a little – they are a little more saturated, honest, but not much more.

Then the fun begins. I decided to use a 0.7 Copic Multiliner outline the design elements and add some of the patterns and lines. I then used a 0.25 Copic Multiliner to add some of the finer lines, particularly around the dangles.

I was toying with the idea of using a dip pen or brush and gold ink, but thought I’d play it safe this time and go with rather graphic black lines.

My final steps included using green and gold metallic Sakura Gelly Roll pens to fill in small sections and add dots. I regret the outlines around the stars.It’s made them way too heavy and cumbersome I think. However, as this was an experiment, was me trying something a bit different, it’ll do.

Although I carefully drew out the design elements and added the colour to ensure that the shape was maintained, adding water to activate the Inktense colours meant there were places where I didn’t keep to the shape exactly. I used the finest water brush that I have, but I really could’ve done with not being so lazy and grabbing a fine brush and a pot of water. However, as this was just a bit of a play the waterbrush worked.

Also, I realised that I could fix any wobbly edges with the black lines and any overspill could be incorporated into the embellishment lines/patterns quite happily.

So, I didn’t start over. I went with the imperfections in the ‘just colours’ version.

Next, it was the fun bit – adding lines and patterns. My favourite thing! This time it was adding them to the shapes formed by colour, which is backwards to how I usually work.

There were times when I was getting a little stressed about the lines not looking right or I was making a mess of it all and I’d have to start again.

However, I reminded myself it’s an experiment, it’s trying something new to me and I just need to trust myself and go with it. Which I did. After all, working directly with black pen with no pencil lines, as I mostly do when I draw, means that what you put down stays down!

Adding metallic colours to these patterns as well as the dots around the lines meant that I became happy with what I’d done.

What I could’ve kicked myself for, however, was using the mixed media paper. This has a grainy texture to it and the pens just didn’t want to leave clean lines on it. I do have smooth watercolour paper lurking in my stash, but the mixed media paper came first to hand. Also, some of the smooth watercolour papers – the hot pressed ones – aren’t as white as the mixed media paper and I didn’t want the vibrant colours of the Inktense pencils to be dulled. Mind you, a watercolour paper would’ve helped the colours to flow and not be quite so patchy I think.

Overall, I’m fairly happy with this. It is ‘perfectly imperfect’ in its own way. Learned from the process. Enjoyed challenging myself to do something a little different. It’s certainly something I’ll be doing again, perhaps with different media. Copics or Chameleon markers spring to mind, as do Tombow Dual Brush pens and the Kuretake Clean Colour Real Brush pens, though not exclusively these. I do have watercolour pencils here somewhere, and Distress Ink pads and refils so they’re a possibility too. And, of course, I have plenty of coloured pencils.

I definitely have a love affair with digital art these days, but I also love using traditional media. They’re both important to me and allow me to express my creativity in different ways, that are really the same in so many ways.

Traditional media really makes me have to accept imperfections in colouring and line work as I create. Digital art means it’s easier for me to create those perfect colour gradations and to blend colour and add texture and so on. Also, it’s so easy to have really vibrant colours with digital art, something I really struggle with when using traditional media. I do love vibrant colours, if you hadn’t noticed!

‘A Dangle A Day’ is being published 8 January 2019.

Christmas Dangle Design

©Angela Porter
Design from ‘A Dangle A Day’, authored and illustrated by Angela Porter

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 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.