I’ve been creating a lot of little bits of art that I just don’t know what to do with. They’re often little experiments. Sometimes I mount them as greeting cards, other times they end up in a drawer.
This morning, I woke with an idea to start a sketchbook-come-journal as a place to keep safely and annotate some of these artworks. The annotation is important; it’s lots of notes to myself about the techniques and materials I used to create a specific type of effect, thoughts, ideas for the future, inspirations.
I dug out an A4 Goldline sketchbook to use for this. The white pages just looked uninteresting and stark to me. So, I added some colour using a piece of Cut and Dry foam and Distress Inks followed by a quick spritz of water. A blast from a heat gun, and the pages were ready.
I did prepare a couple more spreads with colour. I realised that if I did this after I’d attached my art to the pages I’d get all kinds of lines and marks that I wouldn’t want. So, I need to make sure I add coloured pages each time I add work to the journal.
I adhered the artwork to the pages using Tombow Mono liquid glue, outlines them with either a metallic or plain black pen, and then set to annotations and notes.
It also gives me a chance to practice my hand-lettering and to use design elements used in bullet journals or planners. I have to say that my handwriting appeared far more than hand-lettering. I used the hand-lettering for headings though.
I also let some of the design elements from the artworks to spill onto the page. I have a problem with leaving white space! This gave me a chance to remember media I have in my stash, such as the Chameleon fineliner pens, which I haven’t used much.
Some dangle designs appeared in one of the drawings, so I redrew them above it. And, of course, metallic gold gel pens add a touch of sparkle.
One thing I ‘discovered’ (maybe rediscovered) is how fab Copic Markers work to add colour and shadow to the Distress backgrounds. White gel pen adds bright highlights.
One thing I wanted to do was add notes about my digital art. I’d like to add prints of my art, but I only have a black and white laser printer. So, I’m going to see if I can have sheets of images printed via the web and posted to me so I can then use them in my journal too.
Part of me knows I could do this via One Note or similar, but there’s something lovely about having a physical record of the art completed and with notes to reflect on or get inspiration from in the future.
I am sure this is something I did in the past, but it’s time to do this again. It’ll be fun to add journal elements to the pages, like envelopes or pouches for notes.
I’ll have to be less of a perfectionist, something I still struggle with. I’m hoping it will help me me to recognise the value of work I’ve done that I may not be happy with, but can learn from and make notes about this, and ideas that arise, for future reference.
Today, I have a dangle design card along with a coordinating envelope for you. I’ve kept the construction of the card simple with just one layer on the card blank. The dangle design and hand lettering are also quite simple as well as whimsical in character.
If you’d like to find out more about drawing dangle designs, then A Dangle A Dayis my book about dangle designs with plenty of inspiration and suggestions.
Materials and dimensions of the card and envelope
The yellow card blank is 5½” x 4″ in size with a top fold. So, I started with a piece of card measuring 11″ x 4″.
I also cut a piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol board to 5″ x 3½” for the top panel.
Next, I used some thick printer paper to make an envelope. I used the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board. The size of paper needed and the position of the first score line are printed on the board. This tool from WRMK makes it so easy to create custom envelopes.
To make an envelope to fit a 5½” x 4″ card I needed to cut a piece of paper measuring 7⅞” x 7⅞”. I used 120gsm white printer paper for the envelope.
Before I started, I used a ruler and pencil to draw in some faint guide-lines for the banner ribbon and the hand lettering on the top layer. I also pencilled in the hand lettering.
On the envelope, I added some guide-lines on the left and bottom to give me a border.
Hand-lettering and drawing the design
I started by hand-lettering the sentiment, then I drew the ribbon banner around it.
My next task was to draw the dangle comprising of beads and hearts.
Finally, for the top layer, I drew in the arrangement of plants and added some shells and butterflies.
I didn’t use a pencil to sketch the design before I drew it in ink simply because I’m confident in drawing these kinds of designs. However, it is a good idea to do so if you’re less than confident. I started with the central flower pot and let the design grow out from there.
I then took my attention to the envelope. I started by drawing in the ledge on the bottom. Next, I added the plants, flowers, shells and butterflies. I then drew a black border around the envelope, just inside the edge. This line gave me something to hang the dangle from; I added a dangle similar to the one on the card.
With all the drawing complete, it was time to add some colour.
I’d received my Chameleon fineliners yesterday, so I thought I’d try them out as there are lots of small areas in this design. I love my Chameleon markers, but using them to add colour to tiny spaces can be a little tricksy.
I did try the Chameleon fineliners out yesterday for drawing lines and hand lettering. I found that they give a very long gradient, even with the shortest of touches of the cap to the pen. I thought this might work well in colouring the flowers in. I achieved a pleasing change of colour of the petals on each bloom from just one blending process. This blending also worked well for the butterflies.
What I did notice is that the fineliners moved some of the black pigment from the Uniball Unipin pens that I used to draw the design with. That was a bit disappointing. It may be that in the future I will need to draw, scan and then laser print the design out. That’s a bit of a faff, but it’s doable.
I’ve never been a fan of fineliners for colouring; I find they leave lines and tend to pill the paper. This is just a personal gripe about all fineliners.
The Chameleon fineliners are pleasant and comfortable to write with – comparable to other fineliners. So, unless I want to add colour using lines and cross-hatching, writing is going to be my primary use for these pens.
To colour the pots, banner, leaves, cacti, shells and ledge, I used some of my Copic Ciao markers. I chose to use these as the brush nib lets me colour tiny areas. Also, I wanted to use pastel-ish colours to tone in with the colouring from the Chameleon fineliners.
I did add some very simple Copic shading to the design.
The Chameleon fineliners had spread the black dots I’d added to the flower centres. So, I broke out a gold Uniball Signo pen to colour in the centres of all the flowers. I also used it to add a sprinkling of little dots around the design.
I enjoyed creating this card and envelope. It was a quick, simple project. I also do enjoy drawing whimsical designs.
I like the sunshiny yellow card blank; it makes me smile, especially as it is currenty a grey and rainy day here in the valleys of Welsh Wales.
I think the card may benefit from the use of a bit of Wink of Stella to add some shimmer and shine to the wings of the butterflies and maybe the hearts.
I could’ve ink blended a background to the design using Distress Inks. I also could’ve added a drop shadow around the design to give it some dimension. Today, I chose not to do these things to keep the card relatively simple.
I also only added one layer to the card. I could’ve cut a piece of contrasting colour to go beneath the top layer to give a bit more of a layer. Alternatively, I could’ve used amarker to colour the edge of the layer to give a border, or ink blended some distress ink around the edge. Again, I chose not to do so; I wanted to keep the card simple and easy to do.
I think the result is cute and whimsical. I now have to find someone to send it to! I think that I’ll use some Distress Micro Glaze to protect the artwork on the envelope before posting it though.
I agree that handwriting does matter. Handwriting is as unique and individual as the person creating it. It’s also a much more personal way to communicate with others. It takes longer to handwrite a letter, note or memo and then deliver it either to the person or the post office.
It’s always nice to receive chatty, friendly emails from friends, and of course this is a quick and instant communication. However, there’s something to be said about the slower nature of communication by traditional post and that personal touch that handwriting gives.
I make these cards but rarely send them to another person, let alone include a handwritten note or letter. The cards sit around my home and never get shared with another person.
I think that needs to change, don’t you?
Not sure how to go about it, but if anyone who reads this would like to receive one of my cards and maybe a letter then leave a comment or contact me via social media or email.
I actually do love to hand-write; I always have and I’ve always taken a lot of pride in my handwriting. I remember making a huge effort to change it when I realised it was looking like my mother’s writing.
My preferred way of learning was to write and re-write my notes, condensing them into just a few lines of ‘memory joggers’. If my notes in lessons or lectures were messy, I would make it my task to tidy them up as soon as I could, which was also a way for me to review, consolidate and learn.
I have the facilities to hand-write digitally. I could keep a journal by writing on the screen. However, such activities frustrate me as I can’t turn the writing area to the angle I like to write at!
Also, as much as I love working digitally in so many artistic pursuits, there’s nothing quite like the feel of pen on paper, and I do love pens! I have a bit of an obsession with stationery, even though much of my work is digital these days.
Handwriting and therapy
Nowadays most of my handwriting is in my journals. It’s not as neat as I’d like it to be. I make mistakes. I like to hand-write my journals as the process of putting pen to paper slows my mind down. It gives me a chance to reflect and review what’s been going on in my life and also with my emotions.
Of course, reflecting on my thoughts and emotions, catching them in action is important to me as I continue with my journey to recovery from CPTSD. It also helps me to record events, emotions and thoughts that need to be discussed in EMDR therapy.
Handwriting vs Hand Lettering
Handwriting is that almost unconscious way we write things down – thoughts, notes, memos, to-do lists etc, as well as our signatures.
Hand lettering is a much more deliberate activity. It is like drawing the shapes of letters, not writing the whole word in one go. It’s consciously deciding what the shape, size and embellishments of a letter should be.
I enjoy hand lettering and I do tend to use the shapes of letters that I use in my handwriting. But that’s where the similarities end for me.
Do you still hand-write? How do you make use of handwriting? Do you think it’s still an important skill?
Leave a comment, I’d be really interested to hear what you think?
Another bit of hand lettering or hand writing along with my particular style of entangled design.
This is very much a work in progress. I’m just laying down the ‘skeleton’ of the design before I add colour and pattern. you can see the dotgrid ‘paper’ I use as a guide for the size of the elements of the design.
Not sure I’m at all happy with the writing, but I do like the bit of wisdom for a Wednesday.
All drawn using a Surface Pen on my Surface Studio in Autodesk Sketchbook.
My #tuesdaytips are all to do with hand lettering this week, but taken generally, the advice applies to any skill, artistic, creative, practical or otherwise I’m sure.
Lots of people aren’t happy with their handwriting, for many reasons.
I actually am, when I don’t rush any ways. I worked hard on my handwriting when I was in school; I didn’t like my writing (it was too much like my mother’s), so I worked to change and develop it. It did take time and conscious effort on my part, but I enjoyed writing, I always did. Doing all my homework and re-writing and re-organising my notes in school and in University gave me plenty of practice in honing my handwriting skills.
However, handwriting and hand lettering are not the same thing.
Handwriting is something we do without a lot of thought about how we form the letters, it is a practiced, automatic skill.
Hand lettering involves drawing the letter shapes; it’s more of an artistic skill.
I’m working on my hand lettering skills. I’m happy with my handwriting, generally, but my writing is naturally very small. To write big, bold quotes and sentiments is a challenge for me, one that I had to face during my work on A Dangle A Day.
My first and most important tip about hand lettering is practice, practice and more practice.
Here are some of the pages from my hand lettering collection in my BuJo. The pens are a Uniball UniPin, a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen and a Lamy fountain pen with a fine nib.
The more you practice, the more you develop ‘muscle memory’ which makes it easier to be consistent in your lettering in terms of shape and so on. It also helps it feel more natural and for you to speed up.
You can’t become an expert without first being a beginner.
My second tip is to start by practicing your natural writing style, your printing. In these days of fonts by the million and perfect replication by computer and printing, I like to see the unique style that only your hand can bring to your hand lettering.
Practice your own printing until you are happy with the shape and style of your lettering, keeping it simple for now. These letters will form the foundation of every other style you develop.
It’s easy to vary the style of your lettering by making simple changes to the letter height, width, line weight and so on. However, you need foundation letters you are happy with. So focus on this first and foremost.
My third tip is don’t compare your own writing to others’ or give up because you can’t seem to write as beautifully as you think they do. Practice, practice, practice and work towards becoming the best you can be; it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a lot of time.
“Daily learning of your craft makes you a master of your craft.” – Seema Brain Openers
“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” – Michaelangelo
My fourth tip is to practice daily, or as often as you can. In my BuJo (bullet journal) I have a section on my monthly tracker for hand lettering practice. Keeping a BuJo means I do get daily hand lettering practice, but it’s still not enough for me to keep developing the skill.
There’s plenty of advice out there and practice sheets and exercises for hand lettering, calligraphy, faux calligraphy, brush lettering. What I like to do, however, is to write, using just my basic hand lettering ‘font’.
Writing out the alphabet again and again is productive, but not always enjoyable. It doesn’t help you with putting the letters together in terms of words.
One of my happy memories is of English lessons when I was in primary school (aged 7 to 11) where we used a book called ‘A New First Aid in English’ to learn about nouns, similes, verbs, plurals and so on. I enjoyed learning, but I enjoyed writing lists and answers down a lot too. It so happens I have a copy of this book, one of the few remaining books from my days as a science teacher, and so I dip into this as a source of material to practice my writing.
Of course, you can use anything you like – quotes, names, lyrics, poems, anything that you enjoy but won’t distract from the focus of drawing the letters.
The last tip I will give is to use paper with guide lines on. I printed paper out to suit my needs; I created it in Microsoft Publisher. Dot grid or squared (graph) grid paper works well too.