Just to say hello…

©Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
©Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

I’m not a brilliant card maker, but I do like to have a go from time to time. Cards are quick, simple projects for me. They’re also a way to practice hand lettering.

I did have fun creating this design and also decorating the envelope. I used Faber Castell Pitt artist pens to draw the black and white line work. I added colour with Copic markers. I used a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen, a blue Sakura Glaze pen and a silver Uniball Signo pen to add the details on the card. I also used a mini blending tool and Mermaid Lagoon Distress Ink to edge the paper. For the envelope I used a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen.

I lifted the card design up using adhesive foam squares. However, I think it would’ve looked better if I’d attached the design to some white card, maybe some silver card and didn’t put the silver border lines on the design. Maybe some ink blending around the design would’ve added interest instead of the blue and silver dots – the blue are a bit heavy handed.

Always easy to be wise in hindsight. However, I don’t want to rework the design just now. I also think it’s useful that I share when I get things not right and how I would change things if I did this again.

Art doesn’t always work out right the first time. I always try my best to review why I’m not happy with something and what I could do the next time to improve things. There’s always something to learn and consider, and there’s always something good in each design.

I’m actually really quite happy with the snowdrops – the copic colouring worked out quite well on the leaves/stems particularly. I like the cat too, but I’m not too sure about the spiral embellishments. My hand lettering worked out ok this time too.

I know from personal experience that when I’m finding life a struggle as my mental wellbeing deteriorates from time to time I tend to withdraw from people. It’s weird as I want to be with people but I also don’t want to as I don’t want my Eeyore-ness to be a burden or a bother to them. It can be too much to deal with social media too.

However, a little piece of happy mail in the form of a whimsically cute card would be welcomed. Happy mail may not be quite the right term for this, caring mail maybe. Thoughtful mail perhaps. No matter what it’s called, it would be something I could accept to know that someone was thinking about me.

At the worst times of my depression/anxiety it may have taken me a long time to contact the sender and say ‘thank you’. I really would have appreciated the gesture.

Even more, it’s a physical, constant reminder that someone, somewhere is thinking of you. It’s something I would now put into a ‘self-care box’ to use when I am having a struggle with my mental and emotional health.

I have enjoyed making personalised cards to send to people for their birthdays and other celebrations. I can be really dim, but I’ve just realised here and now that it would be lovely to send cards or bookmarks to people to just say hello, to let them know they’re being thought of, something tangible that can be a constant reminder that they are important to me at least.

Talking is good. But sometimes it’s too much to talk, to leave the house, to use social media. A little something in the post though … especially something handmade, personalised … that’s something that speaks more loudly than words at times when spoken words don’t make sense.

‘Hello Friend’ – A Dangle Design Card

‘Hello Friend’ ©Angela Porter 2019

‘A Dangle A Day’ is released on 15 Jan 2019. I show you how, in easy steps, you too can draw your own dangle designs!

A couple of days ago I was musing about using a photograph instead of a monogram in a dangle design. That idea stuck with me and so I set out to make a card.

I had seen somewhere the Photobooth Ephemera by Tim Holtz and I was able to source a set at a sensible price. This pack contains thirty strips of three passport-sized, vintage, copyright free photos. Perfect for me as I have very few photos and none are a small enough size to be used in this way. Also, the photos are printed on fairly sturdy card.

I first started by trimming the photo and then tracing around it on a sheet of thick white printer paper. It was then easy to draw pencil lines to give a border or two around the photo as well as a pencil guide line for a central dangle.

My next job was to draw the flowers at the top of the design. I started with the big central blue flower and worked my way out, adding leaves and swirls as I went. The design here is symmetrical, but not perfectly so. I had to add some butterflies to finish this part of the design off.

My next steps involved drawing the borders. I wanted a black and white chequerboard pattern around the photo. I also added a thinner border around it.

My next step was to create a ribbon for the hand lettered sentiment ‘Hello friend’. I drew a pencil box, added some pencil guidelines for the height of the letters, then wrote the greeting in pencil so I could get the placement of the letters good enough.

My next step was to ink in the letters using a black Sakura Pigma PN pen, which I used for the rest of the drawing. I wasn’t concerned about perfection here. I wanted a kind of cutely whimsical feel to the lettering. For some reason, I always think adding wonky and uneven serifs to the letters helps a little with this. The final job was to draw the ribbon box with the cute ends.

I then needed to decide on the charms I’d use to build the dangle. Hearts are a foregone conclusion. When I think of time I spend with friends, tea and cake are often involved, so adding a coffee/tea cup along with a cupcake (or fairy cake as we used to call them here in the UK) was perfect. I joined the charms with small beads and a circular charm containing another heart.

To colour the dangle design I used copic markers. I did use two shades of pink for the greeting and the cupcake case. Everywhere else I used just one flat colour.

I used a fine brush and some black ink to fill in the square at the centre of the design. Next, I trimmed the paper around the design. I then used a foam ink applicator with Vintage Photo Distress Ink to edge the paper. I always feel that edging paper in this way not only gives a little bit of a vintage feel to it, which is in keeping with the photo, but it also gives a finished edge to the paper.

To mount the photo here I used some adhesive foam squares. These lift the photo above the paper, adding a little bit of dimension to the card. The photo was a little bit smaller than the square I’d drawn and so the black background gave black border around the photo. I then used a golden yellow copic marker to colour some clear adhesive gems and I attached three of them to the photo, just to add a bit more sparkle.

I used Chameleon duotone pencils to add shadow to the design elements. I also used a dip pen and gold FW ink to add some little dots here and there around the design as well as on the photo. Not sure that on the photo was such a great idea though. But once the dots were there, they had to stay there. The gold dots, however, did match the gold gems I’d added to the photo.

The final step was to affix the design to a blank card. I didn’t think to cut my paper to the size of blank cards I had in my stash before I started to work on the dangle design. I found that my design was too long. So, I just took a piece of A4 bristol board, folded it in half along the short edge. I burnished the fold and then attached the dangle design to the paper using strong double sided sticky tape.

To add a bit more dimension to the card, I could’ve used foam squares or a piece of fun foam cut to a little smaller than the paper the design is on. Fun foam would support the paper better, especially as I had a relatively weighty photo adhered to the paper already.

Instead of foam, I could’ve cut a piece of metallic card a little bigger than the design to give a metallic edge to it.

I decided, though, that there was enough dimension on the card with the photo.

I also could have used a Wink of Stella brush pen or a Spectrum Noir sparkle pen to add some shimmer to the design elements, but I decided that the gold dots were enough. However, I may go back and add some to the butterfly wings; butterflies should always shimmer and shine wherever possible as far as I’m concerned!

The only other thing I’d need to do is to make a custom envelope to fit the card.

I enjoyed making the card. My card making skills aren’t brilliant, but I kept it fairly simple, as I did for the dangle design itself and the colouring.

Oh, the patterned background for the photo is one I created from one of my mandala designs using Repper Pro, just in case you were curious! I thought it’s vintage feel would go nicely with the card.

On the whole, I’m quite happy with this card. I had serious doubts that it wouldn’t work out. It has, better than I thought it would. I think I need to make more of these in the future!

Monogram ‘Q’ dangle designs

Monogram ‘Q’ Dangle Designs – ©Angela Porter 2019

Following on from yesterday’s blog post (One dangle design, four colourways) I thought I’d do another monogram dangle design, but this time adding some embellishments.

The design for the Q monogram comes from my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ (published on 15 Jan 2019). I printed the design out on heavyweight printer paper and used a combination of Chameleon markers, Copic Markers and Chameleon pencils to colour the designs. The original drawing was hand drawn using a Microsoft Surface Pen on a Microsoft Surface Studio using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Once I’d finished the colouring, I then added some embellishments. I’m not a good photographer and sparkly and shiny elements are not easy to photograph, and even worse to scan!

Here’s the details of the embellishments I added:

  1. Aqua coloured Nuvo Glitter drops can be seen dotted around and within the design. These really sparkle and catch the light; they also dry raised, like a sparkly water drop. I also used a Wink of Stella brush pen to add subtle sparkle to the hearts and flower. Then, I realised that the Q was lost in the blue background which was similar in tonal value to the letter. So, I used an extra fine fountain pen to add a pattern made of various sizes of tiny circles to the background.
  2. I just used gold Nuvo drops to embellish the design as well as Wink of Stella to add some subtle shimmer to the hearts and flower.
  3. I used a Spectrum Noir clear sparkle pen to add shimmer and shine to the letter and the hearts. Dots of silver Nuvo glitter drops were added around the design. I also used a gold glitter Uniball Signo pen to add dots to the letter and the centre of the flower. Finally, I used an extra fine fountain pen with black ink to add the patterns in the frame. This helps the letter to stand out in the design. I also used Sakura Stardust Gelly Roll pens to colour in the arrow feathers. These pens allow the underlying colour to show through in a subtle way.
  4. Orange-gold Nuvo glitter drops were added around the design. The clear Spectrum Noir sparkle pen was used to add shimmer and shine to the letter and the dark blue ‘bars’ in the frames around the Q. Finally, I used the extra fine fountain pen with black ink to add patterns to the bars and the letter as well as a solid drop shadow to the left and bottom of the design elements to help them stand out.

These designs could be used for note cards or greetings cards, bookmarks and more. However, they’d make a beautiful ‘drop capital’ at the start of a quote or message.

Of course, it would be easy to substitute the Q for another letter or numeral, or even a cute doodle drawing. Instead of a drawing, you could affix an object such as a dried flower, a metal charm, a dimensional sticker, an inchie, or anything else you can think of. You could even put a small photograph in the frame instead of the letter, and this would make a unique, charming card or feature on a scrapbook, journal or bujo page.

Your options are only limited by your imagination and creativity!

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!

‘J’ Monograms

©Angela Porter 2018

What a troublesome letter J is! Well, as far as creating a monogram. Early sketches showed me that if I add too much fanciness outside of the letter, the letter gets lost in the embellishments! So, here are a few that I’m vaguely pleased with.

I used Daler Rowney Marker Paper to draw these letters on, with a mixture of black pens. I used Copic Markers to colour some of the letters. Others I used to experiment with Tombow Dual brush pens and a blender pen. Chameleon Color Tones pencils were used on a couple more.

The Copics work really well on the marker paper – no surprises there!

The Tombows tend to cause the pen I use to draw the designs with – Uniball Unipin and Sakura Pigma Sensei pens – to smear. I keep forgetting the Tombows do that. So, I tried drawing a J with the Tombow Dual Brush pen and then add the lines and patterns after it had dried. That worked. But white space needs to be created outside of the letter, and again, if I got too intricate, entangled, ornate with the embellishments I would’ve lost the letter. Or perhaps not if it was only the letter that was coloured in.

I was surprised at how easily colour from the Chameleon Color Tones coloured pencils laid down on the marker paper. Surprised because I’d forgotten how nice it is to colour on the marker paper! I did need a good layer of padding paper beneath the 70g/m² or 48lb marker paper.

I foresee similar problems with the letters I, L, and S. Not sure about the other letters I’ve not tried this kind of decorating with yet. Time will show!

What I can see here is that the style of embellishment I’ve used, while not always successful, such as the heart and arrow one (where did that idea come from? Sheesh!), it is different to the previous letters I’ve played around with. That is all down to the shape of the letter and the edges I have to play around with, while keeping clarity of the letter too.

What to do today? Well, I do have the 2019 template to colour for the colour explosion over on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group set to run through New Year’s Day. I’m also aware that I haven’t done a cutely whimsical cat monogram dangle design for a few weeks. I also have three templates to colour for ‘Entangled Forests’ so that book can be put to rest ready for publication, before I start on the next one.

Monogram ‘R’ – with colour

©Angela Porter 2018

Yesterday’s black and white, graphic monograms of the letter R now coloured, with added lines and metallic highlights.

For all of the letters I used a combination of Copic markers and Chameleon Color Tones colored pencils to add the colours.

I chose Copics over Chameleon Markers as I really wanted soft, gentle, almost pastel colours for these letters. The only way to get these with the Chameleon markers is through gradients with the colourless blending chambers. I wasn’t at all confident I could get the soft, gentle colours with slight blending. So, I went with something I knew that would work for me – Copic Markers with Chameleon Color Blends pencils .

I think I got way too fancy with the added lines on the lower letter R, but it’s all a learning process.

I am really pleased with the others. The colours I chose or, rather, the pastel nature of the the colours, isn’t characteristic of me, but I think they work really well here.

Of course I had to add some metallic highlights. For the smaller Rs I used Uniball Signo metallic gold and silver gel pens.

On to my next letter…

Some L monograms

©Angela Porter 2018

Three variations on a theme! All hand lettered and hand drawn on Daler-Rowney Bristol board (A4 in size).

For each I used black 08 Uniball Unipin and 04 Sakura Pigma Sensei pens. Here’s the other media I used for each monogram:

  • Top – Copic markers, Herbin Copper ink with a glass pen.
  • Bottom left – Copic Markers for the base colour, Chameleon color tone pencils for added depth of colour, gold metallic Sakura Gelly Roll pen.
  • Bottom right – Chameleon color tone pencils for the colour and a silver Uniball Signo pen for the metallic highlights.

It’s taken me around 5 hours or so to complete the set of three. I’m still feeling my way with this style of hand lettering.

For the monograms coloured with Copic markers I started by drawing the letter with the Copic markers and then added the black line work before adding the metallic highlights and Chameleon pencil shadows. I love having a solid shape to embellish with line, pattern and metallics. However, white space is only possible by adding lines outside of the main shape. Which is fine. I could add white space inside the letters either by leaving some in the design before coloring, or using white ink to cover up the copic colours. These two letters look a lot more solid and heavy.

For the L coloured with the Chameleon pencils I drew the black line work first. The advantage of this is that I can leave white space within the letter. this gives a bit of a lighter, airier feel to the letter, which is helped with the less dense colour of the Chameleon coloured pencils.

I’m not sure if I like the metallic petals in the top monogram; the ink spilled over the black lines and I tried to add them back in to define the petals but it just seemed to sink beneath the metallic pigments.

Also, the glass pen with copper ink that I used to add the metallic highlights to the top monogram was a lot finer than the Sakura gelly roll so it was easy for me to add tiny patterns and shapes. The Uniball Signo silver pen gave a much finer line than the Sakura Gelly Roll so it was easier to add highlights to the bottom left monogram, but I knew I’d not be able to get as much fine details or patterning with it as with the glass pen.

Overall, I’m fairly pleased with the finished results. I’ve learned that I’d like to leave white space in my monograms when I’m hand lettering them in this way. Maybe if I want to use Copics in future I should use a pale colour to draw the shape of the letter and then use darker tones to add dimension and depth to the design, allowing the lighter colour to act a bit more like white space. Of course, I can always draw the design with black lines first and then add the colour. Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

I’m not sure which is my favourite. I rather like the one on the bottom right. As it’s smaller in size I’ve not quite managed to go over the top with the embellishment. I like the white space within the letter. I also like the more subtle colours I’ve used.

I think I’ll take my attention to a different letter now, another I’ve not done a monogram for before, well not outside of my soon to be released book ‘A Dangle A Day‘. Of course, the monograms in the book are all dangle designs too. It would be easy enough to add dangles to these designs for sure, well it would be if I’d left enough space for them!

However, my reason for doing these monograms is to add to my repertoire of hand lettering styles. These may not be entirely unique in the realms of hand lettering, but I do want to work with them and find my own way through this to something that people can look at and say ‘that’s Angela Porter’s work that is’ in the same way they do when they’re familiar with my coloring books and my style of drawing there.