My morning warm up art session today was this little bit of hand lettering. I had a completely different idea in mind when I started this off but, as often happens, the creative energy flowed in a different direction.
I had wanted to do a monogram, perhaps with a dangle or maybe one set into a pattern border as a drop capital to a quote.
As I worked on first the pencil outline of the A, and then inking it in using fine and extra fine fountain pens filled with black ink, the lines that flowed out dictated the form of the letter rather than me consciously trying to force it into what I thought I wanted to create.
I think I’ve over patterned the inner space of the monogram, or not used the right kind of patterns there. However, it’ll do.
I wanted to use some birdwing copper FW Pearlescent ink from Daler-Rowney to add metallic highlights with a dip pen. I soon found out that dip pens and parchment paper that has been coloured with black ink don’t work well together. So, I ended up with the copper highlights at the bottom of the letters that fade up naturally. Adding dots of metallic colour to the monogram was easier on the unworked parchment. Over the black ink dots it wasn’t so easy. I’m also not sure that the ‘string of beads’ in the monogram actually works but I know it’s missing something. I need some time to reflect on this. As I do about adding any more copper highlights to it. I may yet decide to add some dangles to the word.
On the whole, I’m quite happy with how this turned out. I could add ‘You are’ in small letters above the letters. Either way, I think this would make a lovely notecard. I also think it could be used in a bujo, planner, journal, scrapbook or as framed art. I think I need to review the card making and mixed media techniques I once knew and have sidelined to focus on other aspects of art and adapt them to my current needs/ideas.
A knock at the door, a Fed-Ex delivery driver asking me for a signature before handing over a parcel. I saw it was from Lydia at Quarto so knew it would be a copy of ‘A Dangle A Day’. So excited to open the package and see the book in a solid, tangible form.
I’ve seen the pdf versions of the book as it was put together before going to print. But, it’s never, ever the same as having that book in my hands.
Even more so today as this is my first book with words and art done by myself. I trust it won’t be the last.
About the book
I had a lot of fun creating this book. I’m so excited about helping others to create their own dangle designs and to gain confidence that they, too, can create lovely designs for use in all kinds of ways – BuJo pages and spreads, greetings cards, note cards, framed pictures, scrapbooks, planners, journals, bookmarks, place cards, and more.
I’ve done my best to show you how to create monograms and dangle designs in easy steps both visually and with some supporting words.
Suggestions about how to approach hand lettering is scattered throughout the step by step instructions for the dangle designs.
Examples of dangle designs in use in bullet journals and more are included – with all their imperfections. Remember, work created by each of us will be perfectly imperfect. It’s those imperfections that make it uniquely ‘you’.
There’s lots and lots of examples of designs and dangles and charms that you can use as they are or as inspiration for other designs. There are designs for all seasons and many, many different events throughout the year.
I’ve included suggestions for color palettes, media to use.
A short primer for bullet journals is included; I’m no expert on bullet journaling but I do make use of one and find it very useful not just in organising my tasks for the day but in recording ideas, reflections, memories and more.
This has put a big smile on my face this morning, and that smile will continue for a long while. I never thought I’d write and illustrate an art tutorial book. I’d thought I’d like to, but didn’t have the confidence to think it would be so.
Why I chose to use digital tools
I made great use of my Microsoft Surface Book and Microsoft Surface Studio along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to draw many of the designs. Working digitally made editing designs, breaking the design process down into simple steps so easy.
I used to think, as many do, that digital art is simpler, easier than traditional forms of art.
The skill set required is different. I wanted my digital drawing and coloring to look like I’d done it with traditional media.
Digital drawing is no easier than drawing on paper.
What is easier is correcting mistakes, smudges and removing pencil lines. It removes the frustration I experience in scanning images in and spending a lot of time cleaning the image up for the publishers. Scanning can be a frustration for me too, which would’ve been worse if I’d had to scan in step after step after step. And having to re-draw if I’d missed a step out, or re-scan would’ve driven me nuts.
What I didn’t want was artwork that looked too perfect, too inhuman. I wanted digital drawings that looked like I’d drawn them on paper. So, I worked hard to set up pen ‘brushes’ that would mimic how my favoured drawing pens would look when drawn on paper.
Also, I rarely used any line smoothing tools for any of the work so it has that slightly ‘wobbly’ line appearance that my pen and ink linework has. I also kept the design elements, called charms, imperfect just as they would be if I’d drawn them with pen on paper.
In fact, each and every design started out as either a pen or pen drawing on paper which was scanned in so I could re-create it, step by step, digitally, saving a file for each step to the computer.
There were plenty of revisions/edits required and colour changes. Again, working digitally make this a less onerous task than if I’d had to do everything with pen and ink on paper, scanning in each step all the while worrying I hadn’t missed a step as I got engrossed in the process of drawing.
Working digitally did not make the drawing any easier or simpler, what it did was allow me a different way to draw the steps.
Coloring the designs digitally was no quicker than with traditional media, in fact it took me longer! I learned a lot about this process by doing this book, and I think it was the book that allowed me to become more comfortable with digital art and how to make it look like I’d drawn with pen on paper, in my own style.
Of course, I can print out the line art and colour it with any media I choose. I also can redraw any using traditional media. And of course, adjusting the size is so easy.
A simple, elegant design with a sweet sentiment for this week’s dangle design. I like the symmetrical nature of the dangles.
I did sketch the design out in pencil on dot grid paper which I scanned in to ink in digitally and make use of the symmetry tool in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I also coloured and added texture with various brushes in Sketchbook. Naturally, I made use of a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to do this.
I kept to a really simple colour scheme, using just one pink, golden, blue and green colour gradient for the design, with the exception of the rainbow beads in the central dangle.
It would be really easy to put a different sentiment or greeting in the box, but I like this one.
A different colour scheme, of course, would result in a very different ‘feel’ to the card, matching all kinds of seasons and occasions.
This would make a lovely greetings card or note card. I think I’d like to use it for the beginning of each month in a BuJo, planner or diary, changing the colour scheme as appropriate for that month. I do like playing with themes for my BuJo, but there’s something in me that likes a cohesiveness in design/style.
What would you do with this design? Let me know by leaving a comment.
Of course, I could print the uncoloured version out and colour with different media. It would be no great chore to re-draw the design on paper more suitable for, say, watercolours, where my printer doesn’t cope with decent quality watercolour paper.
Here’s two dangle designs for dangle day Friday. Simple designs, perfect for getting into the weekend vibe.
These are both experiments where I’ve worked on vellum/parchment, the kind that is used for Pergamano.
The one on the left – the monogram A – is nowhere near as garish in colour in real-life; I really don’t know what the scanner has done to the colours. I drew the design with a metallic gold Sakura Gellyroll pen. I then used Tombow Dual brush pens to colour the design on the reverse. I used shades of yellow, orange, red and magenta, but the scanner seems to have removed much of the red. I also managed to smudge the colours too. I don’t think I’ll be using Tombows on Vellum again.
I do like the gold linework and I think I’ll draw this design out again and colour on the reverse with coloured pencils, like in the dangle design on the right.
You may recognise the design on the right as last weeks dangle design. I traced that design onto vellum using a white Uniball Signo pen. I altered some of the details and the style of lettering.
Next, I did a little bit of ‘whitework’ on the reverse. This gave the highlights on the design that help to give the illusion of dimension as well as some texture. I let the design rest under a heavy book for an hour or so.
Finally, I used my Chameleon coloured pencils to colour the design in, again doing this on the reverse.
I like the colours on this one. The vellum mutes the colours somewhat, but it also softens any imperfections in the colouring.
I’m not sure about the white lines though. I need to try this one with some coloured paper underneath to help the lines stand out a bit more. I’ll post an image of it if it works.
I’d like to draw this design in gold and see how that looks. I may try black too. As well as using coloured pencils, I want to try using Copic or Chameleon markers to colour the designs in, to see how they work on vellum.
These certainly were experiments, which I’ve learned from. Not only that, I’ve got some ideas to try out the next time I use vellum. I’m trusting I’ll find the combination of line colour and colouring medium that works for me and my style of working.
What would I do with these designs? Well, they would both work really well as spreads in Bujos, planners, journals and scrapbooks. I also think the monogram would make a lovely bookmark. They’d both make nice greetings cards or notecards. I’m sure there’s lots of other things they could be used for, such as framed pictures.
If you have any suggestions for how they could be used, leave a comment.