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.

December 2018 BuJo Monthly Cover Page

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. 

December Dangle Design for BuJo

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.

I’m going to make this available as a coloring template in the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. So, if you’d like to download and print the template, pop along to the group and join in!

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.

E is for … Dangle design

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.

If you like dangle designs and would like to try your hand at drawing your own then my upcoming book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is available to preorder ahead of it’s release in January 2019. In the book I take you through drawing monograms and dangle designs in easy steps. The book includes lots and lots of examples and ideas for designs too.

It’s also #furbabyfriday across the interwebs, including on Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. Why not pop over and share pictures of your fur babies with the group members.

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.

B is for … a dangle design

Angela Porter 7 Nov 2018 B is for

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!

 

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!