What a bright, sunshiny morning it is here in South Wales in the UK. The first sunshine of the new calendar!
I’ve been up for around 3 hours and have had a fairly artsy time.
My first job was to print out the lineart for this dangle design, which is one of many in my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ which is due for release on 8 January 2019 – just a week away!
In the book, I take you through how to draw this design, one step at a time. Not only this design, but well over 100 more – designs for all seasons and many, many celebrations and occasions.
This design I drew in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Book. For the book, I coloured it digitally. Today, I printed out my black and white lineart and then coloured it using Chameleon Color Tones and Color Tops marker pens. I also added some details to some elements of the design using a 08 Uniball Unipin pen and a white Sakura Gelly Roll Pen.
Yesterday, I said I need to to spelunking through my stash of mixed media and cardmaking supplies to find forgotten supplies I could use to embellish my designs.
This dangle design would make a lovely monthly cover page for a BuJo (bullet journal), planner, diary or journal. It would also make a pretty greetings card or notecard to drop a line to a friend wishing them a wonderful January. Change the words and colours to suit the occasion or recipient! It would also be a lovely, whimsical, cute design for a winter party invitation.
I realised then that my old watermark wouldn’t do for this year. So I hand lettered a new one. I made my symbol, the one I hide away in my artwork, part of the design, along with a little intricate but simple geometric pattern around it. A little touch of the uncials for my blog address, along with a typed copyright statement and it’s done and saved! I may end up changing it a little, or having variations on the theme, as time goes on. But I’m fairly happy with it.
So, I’ve already had a productive morning! It may be a Bank Holiday in the UK, but I really do need to focus on those templates that need colouring for Entangled Forests…and I may venture forth into the peopley world later on today, maybe.
A quiet start to Monday morning here with a spot of hand lettering and dangle drawing.
This is my first draft of a design, which is a bit wobbly in places and there are some ink smudges too.
I pencilled in the basic shapes of the letters, inked in the outlines and then added the inner decoration.
The dangles were drawn with pen directly on paper. The use of dot grid paper helps to keep things vaguely level usually, but this morning that’s not quite gone to plan. Of course as it’s December I’ve gone with December themed charms and a Moon for Moonday Monday!
I have a few tasks to do and then I may just re-draw this, or at least colour it in. Colour makes all the difference.
This could be a bit of a big dangle design to use in a BuJo, but just the word with one dangle to the left would make a charming header with dangle for a day. The beauty of dangles is that you can just add to them as you go through the day. If the charms are small enough you could even add ones that will go with your BuJo entries – event, note, task and so on.
I think that would work well for a big and busy day.
I did go away and create this sample BuJo page showing the kind of thing I meant above. The hand lettering has worked out a lot better. I also like the blue gradient I’ve used to colour the letters with. A grey shadow was added to the left and bottom of the letters too. I also like the cute little date box. The ornate ends on the bar through it give it a ‘feel’ that goes with the lettering.
I did have fun doing this. It’s maybe not something I’d do everyday in my BuJo. My BuJo is very much a working one, with lots of mistakes and rubbishy writing going on as I scribble down things. However, I do enjoy hand lettering, especially more so as I’m beginning to accept that I have to accept my own way of forming letters is perfectly acceptable and that I can work with that.
I have to remember that others don’t see my hand lettering (or art) as I do. They see it with fresh eyes, without the close up work that goes into it, without the small flaws that I see and are magnified by my inner critic into hideous blemishes and fatal errors in the work.
I can quieten the crtiic when it comes to my drawings/art, mostly. Except on any bad days I have in terms of my mental and emotional health. Because hand lettering is something that is a new focus for me, the inner critic feels it’s empowered to be hypercritical of anything I do. It’s only by doing, by doing what I can not to ignore the critic, but to check what it’s telling me as being valid or invalid and learning what I can from the valid points to improve in the future.
It’s Friday so it’s #dangleday. Today, I wanted to share a Christmas Dangle with you from my book ‘A Dangle A Day’. In the book I show how this design was drawn, step by step.
When I created this design, I first drew it in pencil on dot grid paper. The next step for me was to scan it in to the computer and then re-draw it step-by-step, saving each step as I went. For the book, the final step was to colour the design and then write the instructions to go with the images. My tools for this were a Microsoft Surface Book, a Microsoft Surface Pen and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
I wanted to include as many Christmas-themed charms to create the dangles as I could and still keep the design balanced. I also kept the length of the dangles uneven. The waviness in the ends of the dangles echoes the waviness of the fairy lights above the hand lettered word ‘Christmas’.
What I did this morning was to print the black and white line art design on an A4 sheet of paper. Then I used Chameleon Duo Tones and Color Tops markers to colour it in.
These pens make it easy to create gradations of colour, such as on the hand lettering. These gradations add ‘dimension’ to the charms and dangles. I keep the darker shades to the left and bottom of the designs so that there’s a consistency across the whole image. I also used a pale grey marker to add drop shadows to the left and bottom of the design elements; again this helps to add dimension to the design.
Finally, I added some highlights with a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen. I also added some sparkles around the fairy lights and individual stars with a gold glitter Uniball Signo gel pen. After all, it wouldn’t be Christmas without some sparkle!
Used individually with a monogram or Christmassy image the dangles would make lovely book marks. Printed at A5 in size, the design would make a fabulous BuJo page for the big day itself. It would also make a lovely design for greetings cards or note cards.
Of course, it would be easy to change the word at the top to, perhaps, Winter or Yule and use fewer dangles to suit the length of the word. Personally, I like to use an odd number of dangles wherever possible – it gives a more balanced design.
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.
I don’t know what’s occurring with WordPress, but the colours of this particular dangle design aren’t quite so grey and dull. I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks that when I upload an image the colours change. Never used to do that…
Anyways, today’s dangle design was fun to draw and I chose to use a different color palette than is usually for me. It’s not more pastel, it’s more subdued perhaps. I actually quite like it, which has surprised me!
I do tend towards bright colour palettes, bright and vibrant. For me to choose a more subdued one is very unusual, but it’s something I think I may work with more now as I rather like this one.
Also, I’ve chosen just 7 colors that I’ve used tones/shades of – cool grey, cool violet, antique pink, a blue-green, a yellow-green, soft blue-grey and old gold tones.
Again, using just a few base colors rather than a whole host of different colours is not my usual way of working. What I’m beginning to realise about this is that it gives a much more cohesive look to the finished design. With the colours being more subtle, it also gives a much more grown-up even, dare I say it, more sophisticated look to what is a rather simple and whimsical kind of design. It particularly works well with the monogram ‘C’.
In fact, the cute kitty is really the only whimsical element of this design. The others are simple, yes, but not quite so cute and whimsical. However, I wouldn’t remove the kitty-cat as cats are the theme of this series of monogram dangle designs.
I’ve said it before that I really struggle with seeing my art as others see it. I often think my art, like this, is rather childish, simple, unsophisticated, naive with no real artistic value at all.
This is part of how I think of myself and it’s part of my CPTSD. I’m working on it. For me to recognise that I’ve done nice things, things I feel proud of is a step or two forwards. However, there’s that nasty inner critic that does its best to derail any positive thoughts I may have about myself or the things I do.
Anyways, onto the nitty gritty of how I created this dangle design.
The steps I took were:
sketched out the design on dot grid paper
scanned the sketch into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
used a technical pen ‘brush’ to ink in the design
worked out the color palette I wanted to use
coloured the design, in this case using gradient fills for speed
added shadows to the design
created a drop shadow
created a coloured background
added texture to both the design and background
I sketched the design out last night, and it took me between 2 and 3 hours to complete the steps above as this is a relatively small design.
If you’d like to learn how to create your own dangle designs, then my upcoming book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is a good place to start. You can pre-orderit so it’s arrives on it’s release date in January 2019.
B is for birthday balloons, birthday cupcakes, birthday gifts…baking … beads …beautiful cats, beautiful flowers…bullet journal (BuJo)…
It’s Friday and it’s taken me a couple or three days to get this monogram dangle design finished, mainly because yesterday was another jolly jaunty day with Liz (more of that on my other blog – Curious Stops and Tea Shops – when I get to write it, that is).
Today’s dangle design features some cute kitties, as is the theme of my current series of monogram dangle designs.
I started by sketching out my ideas in pencil on dot grid paper then scanning it into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. The next step was digitally inking in and adjusting the design. Finally, colour and texture was added to the design before adding my watermarks. My digital tools were my trusty Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
I like the design, not so sure about the colour choices though. I also got a bit heavy handed with the added textures in some places.
After I’ve got my other tasks done today, I think I may print this design out and colour it with my Chameleon markers and see the difference. It looks like we’re going to have some heavy rain and some strong winds here today, so cwtching up indoors with some nice arty stuff to do could be the way to spend some of the day.
Friday means it’s #dangleday. My tutorial book about designing dangles, called ‘A Dangle A Day’ is available to preorder. In it I take you step by step through simple hand lettering, monogram dangle designs, and other kinds of dangle designs, showing how you too can draw and design your own. There’s lots and lots of examples in the book as well as suggestions of how to use them as greeting cards, notecards, bookmarks and framed pictures, as well as in BuJos, planners, diaries, scrapbooks…how to use them is limited only by your creativity!
I got lost in drawing and coloring this dangle design this morning!
I had it in the back of my mind that I’d like to do a series of monogram dangle designs with a kitty or critter theme along with following the letters of the alphabet.
For A it just had to be an angel kitty!
I started with a pencil sketch, then, after scanning the sketch in, I inked it in using my trusty tool trio – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. Colour and texture was added and a lot of use of layers has been made and a couple of new ‘tricks’ for my digital art spellbook have been learned.
The first was about making solid areas without the black lines by using the fill tool, first in white to block out the sections, then using it as transparent to remove the black.
The second was figuring out how to use layers so I could use a natural blend brush on these sections without messing up bits I was happy with. This may seem an easy thing to those of you who are digital art experts, but I’m slowly learning what I need as I need to learn it!
Finally, I explored the use of a natural blend brush and really enjoyed working with it, once I’d figured out how it works.
I really, really enjoyed doing this one. Cats as a subject for my more whimsical, doodley type art are something I want to do more of. Maybe other critters too; I also have a soft spot in my heart for ravens, koalas, badgers, and many others!
I wonder what B is for… will turn out to be? Birthday Badger? Bookworm Kitty? Baker koala? Any suggestions? Leave me a comment here, or on facebook, on twitter (@artwyrd), or on instagram (@angela_porter_illustrator). I’d welcome suggestions and maybe I’ll draw your particular one, not just for the letter B, but for any other letter of the alphabet.
Of course this is a dangle design, and monograms, handlettering and dangle designs are some of the topics I cover in my tutorial book ‘ A Dangle A Day ‘ which is published in January 2019, but can be pre-ordered now.
I wasn’t happy with my first version, so I thought I’d use it as a start to create a digital version of my November BuJo page.
Done with the magic of my Microsoft Surface Pen and Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
The only place I made use of gradient fills were the hearts, the rest was coloured as if I was using marker pens, with the use of a blending tool.
A couple of simple dangles add some interest to the space below the wreath of poppies, foliage and berries.
I kept the colour scheme really simple to the reds, greens and dark greys so that the design is much more cohesive. The use of a texture brush makes the colouring a little less perfect, as it does on the background too.
I also added a drop shadow to give the illusion that the design is floating a little bit above the page.
My current thoughts on BuJo-ing
My current BuJo is a very minimalist one, though I enjoy designing pages like this. I found I was spending more time on my BuJo in terms of prettying it up rather than using it in a functional way. I do add dangles to the daily logs, when I feel the urge to.
This means I’m making far more use of my BuJo than I was when it was just an artistic/creative endeavour.
Not that there is anything wrong in that. It’s just that I wanted to immerse myself in bullet journaling in a way that it could help me with memories, thoughts, tasks and so on, in a way that I wasn’t doing previously.
And, not worrying if it’s not perfectly written/drawn/recorded is quite liberating actually! It takes a lot of pressure off BuJo-ing.
If I’d thought about it, I could’ve left a page blank at the start of the November logs for a pretty page like this. However, everything is getting rather more mixed up in my BuJo than when it was in my first versions of BuJos, and that makes me feel it’s working more for me as a record of my life, as well as planning a little more, though I don’t over-work that. Keeping track of ideas and notes and events is far more important to me, a more reflective kind of BuJo.
What I love about the BuJo system is it evolves as you need it to. You’re not limited by someone else’s structure, such as in a planner or diary. As your needs for it change, it changes.
Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t make use of colour. Of course I do! That helps in the index to pick out different kinds of contents and helps me separate tasks from events from notes – the symbols are great, but colour really helps me see them. That is a personal preference.
Collections, as always, are really important, and after reading a fair amount of Ryder Carroll’s book on the Bullet Journal Method the idea of threading and indexing back to earlier BuJos actually makes sense to me and seems to be a really valuable thing for me to do as I move forward with this.
As I’m typing away my mind is working on how I could work pretty pages into my working BuJo. I don’t think it’s working pages I need, more like book marks or maybe a postcard or a print out of my design I can use as a book mark …
Oh, the one thing I do pretty up a little bit are my monthly logs, with a pretty border next to the name of the month and year. At present they’re just black and white linework and I rather like the graphic nature of them.
What’s surprised me is how I’ve gone with this more minimal way of doing it. I mean, I love to see how people organise their BuJos ahead of time and so on and the beautiful things they create and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this and if it’s someone’s way to express themselves and/or be creative then I’m definitely all for it!
However, for me I’ve found that setting my daily logs up ahead of time can be a problem as some days I need a LOT more space than I’ve allowed for, and I do like to to make notes in the daily log.
What I have to do is work out if I’m going to do more than the monthly cover and monthly logs for my BuJo or whether I’m still going to come up with ideas for the weekly/daily logs or trackers and collections just for fun.
I don’t know the answer to that rhetorical question at the moment. It will work itself out over time I’m sure.
I have wondered about making some of my monthly cover designs and others available as digital downloads so people can print and add them to their BuJo’s, or use as greetings cards or note cards or or or … leave me a comment with your ideas!
I’m a tad late with the design for the November cover page for my BuJo. It’s very sketchy and rough and the scan has missed the edge of the page to the left. I used Crayola Supertips for the colours and a variety of black drawing pens, a white gel pen and a gold Sakura gelly roll pen for the outlines and highlights. Of course it’s a dangle design too – but a very simple dangle design with just hearts dangling from the wreath. No one ever said that dangle designs themselves have to be complicated, but dangles can add fun little embellishments to other things, such as this wreath.
November to me always means poppies. My dad passed away 10 years ago on the 10th November. He was nearly 87 and a veteran of WWII, Korea and Burma. He saw the effects of fascist Nazi Germany on the everyday citizens there. He was at the opening of a concentration camp. He never spoke of what he saw. In fact, he only mentioned it once when he was very, very drunk after celebrating Hogmany here in the Valleys of South Wales. As soon as he realised what he’d said, he refused to say any more about it and you could see the pain of the memory etched on his face and in his eyes. He joined the British Army to bring an end to the hate and the genocide and the desire for the end of freedom of speech and beliefs and human rights.
He was a kind, caring man who would do his best to help anyone, no matter of their religious or political persuasion. He did so without any expectation of anything in return. He loved to make wine and would share bottles of it around the community. Even when he couldn’t drink much anymore, he would still make wine and would give it away. He enjoyed the process of making it and he enjoyed seeing other people have the pleasure of drinking the wine. This is a quality I only recently recognised in myself.
Last weekend, I took my amigurumi monsters and knitted pumpkins to the hallowe’en coffee morning. All the pumpkins had new homes with people asking me ‘are you sure you want to give them away after the time you’ve put into making them?’
My answer was that I enjoy making them and if I can find new homes for them, my home would be too full for me to make any more. I added that it’s lovely to see other people enjoy them. At a meeting last night I was told some of the boys at a youth club were fighting over the pumpkins and the lady who’d taken them said ‘I’m sorry, I had to give them to the boys’. My reply was, ‘It’s ok, I’ll make some more for you and them. I enjoy making them and that others enjoy having them warms my heart too’.
Something else I realised about my dad as I’m writing this is that he loved the old war films – John Wayne’s films, Dambusters, 633 squadron and the like. I think they gave him an alternative narrative, something less painful for him to remember about the wars he was involved in. I remember him just throwing his medals back into their box dismissively. He didn’t think he was brave. He didn’t think he was a hero. I think they just reminded him of the horrors he must’ve seen. I do know he wanted me to have his medals when he passed away, he said I would understand what they meant to him. I think I do.
His medals didn’t come to me, as my mother decided she knew better than he did about where his medals and other belongings should go. I’m not bitter or upset about that, as the words my dad said in the hope I’d get him and understand him one day were the real legacy from him, not objects.
We used to have long conversations when he followed me out to my car when I left after a visit to the family home. I always knew I’d need to leave an hour before I needed to so we could have these long chats without my mother talking over him or telling him to shut up or making fun of him. I think he and I are a lot like each other in many ways.
He developed Alzheimer’s a few years before his passing. He caught pneumonia, was admitted to hospital and they found he had a tumour in one of his lungs. Eight months later he passed away. At first I’d sit with him and he’d talk to me about his younger days, his childhood, things he’d never told me before. But as the days and weeks went on his memories faded away until he was unaware he was in a hospital.
I visited him as often as I could as even though he didn’t know who I was consciously, having someone with him would calm him and he’d be more settled.
I was with him when he passed away, and even then he helped me to learn and understand various things.
These are just a few things I remember about my Dad. He wasn’t perfect, no person is. But, he was the person who took me to music lessons and choir practice and came to the concerts I was involved in. He took a genuine interest in what I was doing and he features in many of the very few pleasant memories I have from childhood and beyond.
So, forgive me my indulgence writing about things not related to arty things. Except that in many ways they are.
My art isn’t full of profound meaning and commentary on society and so on. I make art that is pretty, colourful, often abstract, sometimes whimsical. What I hope is that it makes people smile, gives them some pleasure, some joy in looking at it. By sharing it I share my pleasure, my joy, the peace that I find in doing art with others. As I do in making knitted pumpkins and amigurumi monsters and other things and gifting them to others. Just as my dad enjoyed making wine and also enjoyed the pleasure it brought to other people.