Dragonfly mandala

DragonflyMandalaWatermarked_AngelaPorter_19June2017

Over the last couple of days, my focus has been on designing mandalas.  I also have been learning a little more about Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and how I can import images, cut them and have them as an opaque image that ‘floats’ on top of other layers or designs.  The image above is an example of the work I’ve done.

My only issue with it is that I’ve used too thick a pen for the mandala. Now I know how to do this, I can always re-do the mandala part, or the dragonfly!

I also spent a fair part of yesterday doing some mixed media work.  A friend of mine asked if I’d do something with her wedding speech for one of her family so it’d become a keepsake for them.

I’d been puzzling about how to do it, when inspiration struck with the colours I needed to use, and off I went!  I’ll post a photo of it once the wedding is all done!

One dragonfly

Dragonfly13patterned_AngelaPorter_17June2017

Seeing as I’ve focused on butterflies over the past few days, I didn’t want to have dragonflies feeling they’ve been overlooked.  So, I have a few templates done and saved, and so far I’ve added patterns and shading to one.

Oh, I’ve also worked out how to add a watermark to my art to try to protect its copyright…just have to remember to add a watermark to every image of my art I upload now…

Of course, I’ve been drawing on my Surface book in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro…no better way to get to work out how the software works for me and with me!

Dot Mandala Cards, Butterflies and Fungi

Digital drawings

ButterfliesForMixedMedia_15June2017_AngelaPorter

FungiForMixedMedia_15June2017_AngelaPorter

Over the past couple of days I’ve continued working on my Microsoft Surface Book using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create digital images for used in card making and mixed media projects.  IFungi and butterflies have been my chosen subjects, and you can see some of them in the images above.  They’ve also been digitally coloured, though I’ve still got dots and lines to add to them to give more depth and dimension to them.

They’re all now cut out and sitting waiting to be used in various projects.  There’s still more drawings carefully filed away on the Surface Book for future uses…

Dot Mandala Cards

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DotMandalaCards_15June2017_AngelaPorter

I’ve also have a bit of fun creating some teeny-tiny dot mandalas.  Each card base is just 3″ x 3″ (approx. 7.5cm x 7.5cm).  The black card I used as the substrate is 2½” square (approx. 6.25cm).

The acrylic paints I used are either metallic or pearlescent, so they do catch the light rather nicely.

Intricately Yours-Mandalas now on Colorist

coloristIntricatelyYoursMandalas_AngelaPorter_1

I have a new book of coloring templates available on Colorist from Faction Apps.  This one is called Intricately Yours – Mandalas, and the image above is one of the mandalas partly coloured.

I used the flood fill to add base colours to the patterns, and then added shading/highlights with the pencil tool.  The patterns in the bottom were drawn using the gel pen tool.

Updates to Colorist

While test driving one of my templates on the Colorist app, I discovered a new feature, which I love – pre-set color palettes.  I used the Easter palette to colour the above mandala.

I may be an artist, but I do sometimes get overly fussy with my colour choices, so being able to use a pleasing and limited colour palette makes life a bit easy for me!

I also discovered settings that allow you to turn touch colouring off, which is great for me as I use my surface pen, and a setting that keeps you automatically inside the lines, or not.

 

Drawing on the surface

 

Pastel fungi2

Over the past few days, I’ve been spending a lot of time exploring Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my Microsoft Surface Book.

I’ve been playing with colouring things, mostly in a very ‘flat’, almost marker-like kind of way, but also trying out different digital mediums and textures.

In the last hour or two, I thought I’d give drawing with pencil and pastel a go, something I’ve not been happy working with in the digital environment.  This is partly due, I think, to me not being familiar with working with the Surface Pen and becoming comfortable with drawing where I don’t rest my hand on the substrate I’m working on.  It’s only through working and working with the Surface and Surface Pen have I achieved this, and unconsciously so.  Perseverance really does pay off.

This is my first drawing with pencil and pastel on the Surface … and I’m quite happy with it.  It’s certainly something I’m going to work at a lot more.

Mandalas, Mia Chambers and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro musings

Mandala B1_Small_AngelaPorter_15May2016Mandala B2_small_AngelaPorter_15May2017

This morning, I’ve drawn the two mandalas above.  I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my Microsoft Surface Book to do this.

I’m gradually exploring the features of Sketchbook Pro, and the more I use it, the more I like it, though making the transition from paper to digital drawing isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  This is mainly because I find it hard to work at a detail level that doesn’t require a magnifying glass to see the detail or to add colour – particularly important when I’m doing work for colouring books.

This is partly because of the ability to zoom in so much on the artwork, and partly due to the screen size on my Surface Book being a little smaller than A4.

I have considered getting a Surface Studio, but that’s on hold until I’m sure I really want to go down the digital drawing route.  Having such a big screen is an alluring prospect, being able to work on the paper size at it’s actual size…but I’m still thinking about it.  Maybe when I find out my tax bill for the previous financial year I’ll make my mind up.

Now, these aren’t the first mandalas I’ve drawn using Sketchbook Pro.  In the past three or four days I’ve some some small ones (approx 3″x3″) to print out, colour and mount on blank greeting cards to be sold to raise money for Mia Chambers, Rainbow Warrior Princess to get her to America for experimental cancer treatment not available in the UK.

What I’ve always found tedious as well as a tad challenging mathematically, is setting out the angles and so on for a symmetrical mandala.  Sketchbook pro makes that easy for sure, as well as saving on the time in creating symmetry.

I’m still struggling with the idea that I may be ‘cheating’ by doing this.  However, I can logically accept that the tools available in Sketchbook Pro allow me to focus on my creativity far more.  Also, the ability to zoom in means I can add details and so on I couldn’t do easily when working on paper.

I have used mandala templates I’ve drawn on paper and scanned in Sketchbook pro to draw mandalas, as well as using sketched out designs so I can neaten up the sketch and add details (it saves erasing pencil lines and the mess and wrinkled paper and smudged in that can result).  I don’t really need to mention how easy it is to undo mistakes.

Certainly, the symmetry option makes creating these mandalas a lot quicker, and because I don’t strive for total perfection in the hand-drawn lines or added patterns, then even though the mandalas are drawn in a digital environment, they still have that feeling of being drawn by hand, which makes me happy – they’re still ‘perfectly imperfect’!

Of course, I’ve not really got to grips with colouring the designs in Sketchbook Pro, so printing them out and adding colour using a chosen medium is still my favoured way of working.  Also, I can add things like metallic highlights and sparkly gems to the mandalas, plenty of which appears on the cards I’ve made as well as the mandalas I’ve framed in order to raise money for little Mia.

Microsoft Surface Book, a dead printer and other stuff

angela-porter-colouredonehalloween-2016

My first digitally coloured and drawn line art created using my Surface Book.

The image to the left is my first digitally coloured drawing I’ve done with the Surface, but not the first drawing I’ve done with it.

The image to the left is my first digitally coloured drawing I’ve done with the Surface, but not the first drawing I’ve done with it.

I went and did it.  I really did.  I thought long and hard about it, I considered my various options, but after a lot of help and a play with a Microsoft Surface I decided that I was going to get one so I could explore the world of drawing digitally and digital art.

So, I ordered a Surface Book, it arrived and I picked it up from the shop at a time when the young chap who helped me with information about them was there so he could see it and try it out – my thank you to him. Apparently it caused a ‘nerdgasm’ as a fair few of the assistants came over to have a look and lust over the Surface.

That was around 3 weeks ago and I’ve certainly been giving it a good try out, and learning as I go, and I really do have a lot to learn! I will learn too, as and when I need to simply by exploring and playing.

One awkward task has been finding a program/app that will let me draw on the surface almost as if it is pen on paper.  So far, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is my most used app.  I’m having to learn about using layers, the type of ‘brush type’ and thickness and the other settings to get my drawings to look the way they do.

One little tool that has been invaluable has been the ‘smooth’ function; the Surface screen is so sensitive to movement and there is such little friction between the SurfacePen and the screen that my usually smooth lines were all over the place!  This has solved it though, without making my drawings look like they’ve been computer generated.  I’d like some choices of amount of smoothing applied, however, and maybe that’ll be something the app designers will add to it in future updates.

I have already found it of great help as I had some small amendments to make to a couple of images for Color Me Grateful.  It was so easy to do these, once I’d worked out how to make the texture/randomness/spacing of the line drawn mimic the lines drawn with the pen I’d used on paper.  No messy white-out liquid, no dusty eraser mess, no awkward editing to do with a mouse.  I can do the editing and tidy up of lines as I work, easily erase ‘mistakes’ or alter elements wholesale.  That alone makes the Surface worth it’s weight in platinum!

Add to that that if I am going to do all my future drawings on the beauty then I’ll not need to do the rather tedious task of scanning in and then cleaning up the images laboriously, then it’s worth double its weight in gold-pressed latinum!

Oh, I know I’ll still have to scan in a few images – ones I’ve printed out and coloured using traditional media – but they will be far fewer than the numbers I’ve had to do.

I did consider a Wacom Cintiq, however I couldn’t find anywhere to have a ‘test drive’ of one, and that I really wanted to do before I bought one.  I was able to play with Surface and work out quite quickly that it would work for me, especially as there was software loaded on it that would do what I wanted to do with one.

Of course, it will lead me to exploring the world of digital art and how it will work for me and my style of art, but I also know it will open up new ways of working, new techniques and effects for me.

Printing

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Playing with the Surface

I have a fair few drawings I want to print out to colour in traditional media, and also to check the line thicknesses and detail of the drawings as I’m still in the process of getting used to drawing on a screen that is smaller than A4 paper, and a lot smaller than A3.  However, the more I use it, the easier it is becoming for me to adjust to this way of working.

So, I went to print out some art yesterday, to find my printer had died on me.  I can’t even get it to turn on!

The hunt for a new printer began, and I chose an Epson printer that uses the DuraBrite Ultra ink as it’s supposed to be at least water resistant and someone has posted somewhere that it isn’t affected by alcohol markers such as Promarkers or Copics.  That would be great if that’s the case!  I also understand that the printer will take fairly hefty papers/cards too, which is even better considering I’ll want to put watercolour paper and mixed media paper through it.  My dead Brother printer coped well with both of these, though the watercolour paper had to be fairly lightweight in comparison to some I have in my stash.

The new printer should be with me the middle of next week…

Other things…

I have a break for a while from working for publishers.  I’m using the time to explore the Surface book, to visit places to gain inspiration, and to get my head around ideas I have for books and illustrations and so on.  I also need a break from the wonderful, crazy but overly busy time drawing for so many publishers and books.

Crazily busy, yes, but something I’m so grateful for as it’s all allowed me to leave teaching and become self-employed.