Snowflake Mandala – WIP

This one is very much a work in progress. Drawn using a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio, I made good use of the symmetry tools in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

When ice crystals form they have a symmetry based on hexagonal shapes, so my mandala is separated into 12 sections, though I’m choosing to bring out the six-pointed patterns in different colour schemes.

I’m not sure if that makes sense – I know what I mean!

Of course, there’s only so much pointy-ness I can have in anything I draw, so curves have to make an appearance. And this is very much apparent in the fine detailed patterns within each section. Here I’ve used simple line patterns to more complex pattern fills using spirals and swirls. I’ve played around with adding a drop shadow and a highlight to these patterns to add a sense of dimension, not that it’s easy to see in a low-resolution image for the web.

I do like my colour choices of cool purples, blues and aquas so far. I think I’ll go with a more blue-purple to complement the purple in the design so far.

I do have an idea or two as to what I can do about the black lines as well, though they may not work out. As I’ve said often before, I do like black lines in my art; I like the way they define spaces and patterns and often give that feel of ‘stained glass’ to my work. However, sometimes I think they look a tad childish too, but that’s mostly on days where I doubt myself an awful lot, rather than the usual little to a lot.

The design isn’t quite as open as perhaps a snowflake is considered to be, but I rather like filling spaces in, though I may leave some of these spaces open so the background, when I add one, can shine through. That means I may end up erasing some of the colour I’ve added already to created a more open feel to the design.

It’s a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning, especially now I’ve finished downloading all the Amazon invoiced for the last financial year in preparation to getting my accounts to my lovely accountant, Leah.

Noel – Entangled Design

©Angela Porter, Artwyrd.com

I always have fun when drawing and creating, including this design. In it I’ve combined some of my entangled design elements along with winter/Christmas doodles. 

To start, I hand lettered ‘Noel’ using a guide for the shape of the lettering I wanted. Then, I printed it out so I could add the black and white line art using a 0.8 Uniball Unipin pen.

Once that was done, the finished lineart was scanned back into the Microsoft Surface Studio, a transparent background created and some smudges cleaned up. 

Finally, I could colour it. Today, I chose to use the color gradient tools, which does make the job of colouring a bit quicker, but it also results in a rather ‘shiny’ look too. Or perhaps that’s simply due to the colours I choose for the gradients.

I had fun adding the glowing stars and sparkles to this one, though I’m not sure I’ve got that right.A nice way to spend the morning and early afternoon as the weather has been wet and very windy at times here. 

Wednesday Work In Progress

©Angela Porter 2018

Wednesday is #wipwednesday around the interwebs and sometimes it manifests itself on this blog.

This is my current work in progress, well just a part of it. I drew the design using various pens on paper and then scanned it in. I’m part way through colouring the image. It’s going to take me many hours to finish it, but that won’t be today. I have appointments this afternoon.

I am coloring it digitally with the usual tools – Microsoft Surface Studio, Microsoft Surface Pen and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I’m trying to keep to a winter/yule/christmas kind of colour scheme. That means the purple coloured ‘berries’ may have to be changed, but that’s easy enough to alter when working digitally.

#createdonsurface #quartoknows #autodesksketchbook

Another December Dangle Design

As one of my current goals is to improve my hand lettering I thought it would be fun to practice it with another dangle design.

For this one, I used some dangles from my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ to build the dangle designs with a wintry, Christmassy vibe to the finished design, thanks to the traditional Christmas colours of red, green and gold, along with with some blues, purples and cool pinks thrown in.

Of course, I could’ve chosen a non-traditional series of colours too, for fun. For example, the baubles on the dangles and the wreath could be done in pink, purple and blue. Whatever your decor at this time of the year it can be reflected in your colour scheme for your dangle design.

From the initial sketch to posting it on this blog it’s taken me around 6 hours to complete. 

Yes, I started with a sketch and then inked it in traditionally, pen on paper. I scanned that drawing into GiMP so I could remove the dot grid and the faint echoes of erased pencil lines. This was followed by coloring the image. For this I used marker and blender brushes . The last steps were to add texture to the design, a coloured background, a drop shadow and then the watermarks.

I used a Microsoft Surface Pen, a Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to complete the digital colouring and so on.

The charms on the dangles are a lot easier to draw than they appear, it’s the colour that really brings them to life and gives them dimension.

It’s always fun to string charms together to make these dangles. I often tend towards more symmetrical designs, but ones like this are good to do too. They all have their own charm, pardon the dreadful pun there.

I take you designing dangles step by easy step in my book ‘A Dangle A Day‘. There are lots of examples of dangle designs in the book that are ready to use, but it’s easy to rearrange things to suit your particular needs. The release date is 8 January 2019, a new style of creativity to start in the New Year, and throughout the year as all the seasons and many different celebrations are covered in the book, along with suggestions for projects using dangle designs.

Inspire – hand lettering

©Angela Porter 2018

Yesterday, after completing the basic hand-lettering reference sheet and my blog musings about believing in myself, I was inspired to hand letter something. So the natural choice was the word inspire. I also added a little dangle to the initial letter.

I used dot grid paper to help me keep the letter sizes and heights consistent, though I can see there are places where the width of the letters has varied. I’m working on telling myself that is fine, that it is all part of my hand lettering style and journey, that it adds that ‘human’ quality of perfectly imperfect to the design.

I scanned the design into the computer and used GiMP to remove the dot grids and then create a transparent background.

I could’ve printed the word out and used traditional media to colour it, but I decided to use Autodesk Sketchbook pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio to digitally add colour, a drop shadow for the image and a colourful background. Today, I chose to use the gradient tools as I have a limited amount of time before I head out for an appointment.

Colour certainly brings the lettering to life!

Happy Thanksgiving 2018 – the coloured template

I thought I’d colour today’s template in. I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with my Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to colour in the hand-drawn pen and ink template.

If you’d like to colour this template, it’s available for free to members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. Why not pop along and get your copy of it?

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.