A simple mandala for the change in astronomical season. Drawn and coloured digitally using Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
Can you believe there are just a few hours of February left and March is nigh? Time seems to be just flying by for me.
I’ve spent the last 4 hours or so sketching then drawing this design. It’s yet to be coloured. I need to get some other stuff done first.
I sketched the dragon loosely out on paper, scanned the sketch in, then digitally inked it in using various thicknesses of drawing pen brushes.
I just felt some giant daffodils were needed behind the dragon. Or is it a miniature dragon lounging beneath some daffodils?
It’s been a long, long time since I’ve drawn any dragon. At one time, many years ago, I used to draw them a lot. Often it was a sign that something wasn’t right with my mental or emotional health. As I’m getting better and better thanks to EMDR and some effort on my part, I draw dragons and other fantasical things less and less. Though I guess you could argue that a lot of my art is rather abstract and not realistic.
It’s going to be interesting colouring this one in. Of course the dragon has to be red as tomorrow is St David’s Day. The red Welsh dragon is iconic of Wales. Daffodils are too.
As I’ve said, I need to do some other things for a while. Not just because the other things need doing but because I need a break from this. I may very well add some more elements to the design before I get around to adding colour. I think I’d like the colour to bring up the feel of stained glass or perhaps a lino or wood cut. I’ll see when I do it. I may also use this design and add dangles to it too, as Fridays are when I do tend to post a dangle design (A Dangle A Day is now published and available – my tutorial book on how to draw dangle designs).
Tools used – Pencil and Rhodia dot grid paper. Microsoft Surface Pen. Microsoft Surface Studio. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Backgrounds purchased via Creative Market.
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.
Yesterday was the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The first day of spring, astronomically speaking. I decided I’d do a little BuJo page about the equinox, and after spelunking through my memory, books and the world weird web, I pulled together some ideas about it, as well as a little illustration.
For the first time I can remember, I sketched out the flowers and leaves in pencil before colouring the shapes in. Then I added outlines and details to the colour. I think I got a bit heavy handed with the outlines, but it’s all learning for me, expanding my artistic ‘tool-box’.