Today, I thought I’d digitally colour one of my recent drawings. I thought it would be nice to compare and contrast digital colouring with traditional colouring.
It’s been a while since I did much art digitally, I’ve been lost in traditional media this week as I slowly heal from some emotional wounds. Art helps with healing. Meditation helps too. But time is still needed for the healing to take place, and for rest to relieve the exhaustion that lingers still.
Any kind of art, digital or traditional, soothes my mind, emotions and body.
What I like about digital art is the way I can get such high contrast in colours to enhance the sense of volume the design elements have. I also like the vibrancy of colours. I also like the ability to add texture to the colour in so many different ways.
Of course, I like the ability to alter colours when they don’t work, without having to start over. I’m not sure if those leaves are going to stay that particular green-ish colour. Nor am I sure about the background colour.
As is my wont, I’ve used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to add the colour and textures. My hardware is a Microsoft Surface Studio and Surface Slim Pen.
Last weekend, I made a small sketchbook that would hold approx 4″ x 4″ pieces of paper that was held together by book binding rings. I thought this would be a good idea as I like to work on small pieces of paper.
Then, last night I tried taking some prints from alcohol ink designs on A5 paper. I really didn’t want to cut them up to fit into the smaller custom sketchbook. I also didn’t want to use the metal binding rings again.
I woke this morning with the idea to use a disc binding system to create a custom sketchbook-come-art-journal.
I have been using an A5 Arteza mixed-media sketchbook for this, but it has rapidly become very, very wedge-shaped. I also realised that I want something where I can add a variety of sizes and types of paper, as well as move them around to suit my needs. A disc bound system seems to be the best way for me to do this.
I’ve yet to work out a way to make a hard cover for the sketchbook. For now, I made each cover from two sheets of A4 pearlescent card glued together. They’ll be sturdy enough until I work out how to reinforce them in some way.
I decided to place the disc binding on the landscape edge, just for a bit of a change, no other reason. I’ll be able to take the paper out of the binding to work on. This actually suits me just fine as the spines of sketchbooks really irk me when I work in them, be they sewn or spiral bound.
What I also like about the disc binding system compared to the book binding ring is that the holes in the paper are much closer to the edge. It’ll be much easier to leave a ‘margin’ on the paper.
Of course, there’ll be plenty of times when I’ll work in a commercially produced sketchbook still, especially as I’ve now rediscovered the joy of using one again. However, the ability to colour paper, use different kinds of paper and sizes of paper really appeals to me as a variation on the sketchbook theme.
The different sizes of papers also add a bit of intrigue to the sketchbook. There are glimpses of other designs and backgrounds further on that add to curiosity.
I can choose to add notes either to the back of the work or on sheets of dot-grid or squared paper I’ve added.
Nor am I precluded from adding journaling elements such as envelopes and pages with pockets, for instance.
The top page is an abstract drawing I completed this morning. The colour and pattern on the paper (a piece of ClaireFontaine Paint-On mixed media paper) was added by taking a print from alcohol inks on Yupo paper.
I spent some time yesterday evening experimenting with alcohol inks on Yupo paper (a synthetic paper). Once I was happy with what I’d made, I added some Alcohol Lift-Ink and used a brayer to spread it over the design. Quickly, I placed a sheet of mixed-media paper on top and allowed the alcohol inks to be transferred. If you’d like to know more about this technique, pop over to the Lavinia Stamps YouTube channel; they have lots of videos showing how this is done.
The inks lose their vibrance and become more muted when this is done, but it means it’s much easier to draw on the design without wrecking pens in the process.
I used Pitt Artist Pens by Faber-Castell to draw the abstract design on the paper. Once I was happy with the design, I added some metallic/pearlescent paints in shades of orange and yellow to some of the white/pale circles in the design. Sadly, the photograph hasn’t picked this up.
I decided to not to cover the whole paper with the drawn design. I wanted to leave some areas of the background as they were.
I really enjoy working like this – creating a colourful, textured background which I then use as inspiration for the line-work. It is, for me, a very meditative process. Of course, patterns and forms appear that I can then use in future artwork.
Of course, I could choose to intensify the colours in select places using any variety of media. Today, I have chosen to leave this as it is. I may scan it in and try this out digitally at another time.
Digital or Traditional Art?
Both! For me anyway. I do love working in both ways, and using them in concert too.
I love the portability and smaller scale of paper and pen/pencil, as well as using other traditional art and craft media.
I also love creating art digitally, sometimes using backgrounds I’ve created using traditional media or pen and ink drawings.
Each has their pros and cons. Each allows me to do things that the other can’t.
One thing I do know, however, is it takes time to become skillful in each and also to find your own artistic voice (or voices) for each medium used.
Which I use at any given time depends on the style of art I need to do, what kind of ‘finish’ I want with it, and also what my arty heart and soul requires at the time to be content and happy.
No matter which I use, I’m constantly trying new things out, or revisiting old techniques with fresh eyes and ideas. Of course, changing media and methods also freshens up my art and recharges my motivation when it’s in ebb rather than flow.
Stress, motivation and inspiration
This week has been dominated by stress from venturing forth from my home for the first time since March. When I’m anxious/stressed it can be incredibly difficult to settle to anything. Also, I can easily feel overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks. Activities that usually soothe me can irritate me. My ability to focus on anything approaches a vanishing point rather rapidly.
Working in a sketchbook has helped; there is then no pressure to create a finished piece of work, or even to finish any sketch or artwork. It’s just about doing and enjoying and exploring. I let go of my expectations of artistic success and replace them with expectations of finding some peace and contentment in the whirl of emotions I experience at times like this.
I find it hard to be motivated to create, and even more difficult to find inspiration. I tend to slip back into old, familiar and self-comforting styles of creating art.
Hence this style of abstract art.
Even when I do slip into a familiar style, the art produced may be familiar, but it’s moved along, altered either subtly or more noticeably showing the progress I’m making artistically. It also reflects the current variations in the particular fugue that my artistic voice wants to sing to satisfy it. My artistic voice, song, doesn’t have one tune, it has many, plenty of which are yet to be discovered.
I really needed to do something creative today to sooth my mind, emotions and soul.
I tried digital art and I just couldn’t settle to it, so I thought a spot of traditional pen and paper drawing in an entangled or zentangle style might just fit the bill.
So, I cut some Claire Fontaine mixed media paper into 4″ x 4″ ’tiles’ and used some Uniball Unipin and Sakura Pigma Micron pens to draw the lineart.
I worked intuitively, not really thinking about what I was doing, just trying to lose myself in the flow so I could find my inner contentment and some peace.
I did scan my drawing in and digitally added a background and shading to the drawing, which really helps to lift it and bring it to life. If you’d like to see the black and white version, then pay a visit to my Instagram account – @angela_porter_illustrator.
Instagram is really irking me at the moment. I can no longer upload images or videos from my PC, only from my phone. I really loathe using the silly little keyboard on a phone to add the blurb that needs to go with the image. I may either reduce my posting to Instagram, or give up on Instagram completely.
Anyway, drawing in this style is something I’ve done for a long time. The familiarity of the process, patterns and motifs is a comfort to my troubled emotions and mind. It has helped to settle me down somewhat, though I’m still exhausted after a poor night’s sleep.
I managed to get a fair bit of colouring done yesterday and this morning. It never ceases to amaze me how colour can add so much dimension to the design, particularly as I use quite high contrast. It’s possible to see the dimension in the line art, but colour really brings it out.
There are areas that look a little flat, but I can sort those out later on by adding more shadow and highlight.
So far, I am pleased with how it’s working out. I’m also enjoying the hybrid art that results from traditional drawing and then the application of colour digitally.
Hello to November, and farewell Inktober. My blog post today looks a bit bare compared to my Inktober creations. However, I have neglected my dangle designs during October, so now’s the time to get back on track with them
Today, I’ve created a simple and elegant dangle design with an autumn colour scheme that could be used in so many different ways. I’ve also put together a step by step set of instructions how you too can create this design (and hoping that it’s not so simple that I come across as patronising).
This is my first time posting a set of instructions – post a comment to let me know what you think of them and if you’d like to see more of them in the future.
I’ve put the dangle design on one side of a slip of paper that would make a perfect compliment slip or a note to slip in with a gift, or just as a short letter to a friend. It would also be perfect for a coordinating piece of envelope art!
This dangle design would be absolutely charming as an embellishment in a BuJo, planner, scrapbook or art journal. It would also make a darling bookmark.
It would be easy to turn this design into a greeting card as well.
So many possible uses for such a simple design.
I do hope that you will give drawing dangles a go – no matter whether you think you’re good at drawing or not! This design is made out of just simple shapes; it’s the colour that brings it to life and masks all kinds of imperfections.
If you’d like more ideas for dangle designs, then please take a look at my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ – it’s filled with examples of dangle designs with step by step instructions and helpful and encouraging words of advice.
One step at a time to a dangle design.
Step 1 Draw a square in the top left corner of a piece of paper. I used a piece of paper measuring approx 8.25″ x 3.5″. I used a Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen to draw the box, and outline it. I deliberately made the squares less than perfect to give that human touch as well as a uniquely ‘me’ way of drawing boxes. The Fudenosuke pen allows me to draw lines of variable width quite easily, which adds to the charm of the box. The ink in the pen is also alcohol marker friendly. Letting your drawings be less than perfect is what makes them uniquely yours.
Step 2 I used Chameleon marker pens (BR3 “Cinnamon” and YO3 “Warm Sunset”) to colour the inner box. Autumn is definitely here in the UK, and the combination of these colours reminded me of the leaves. However, you could use any colour combination you like and any medium you prefer to use. Chameleon pens make it so easy to create a colour gradient – I prefer them to other alcohol marker pens, even Copics.
Step 3 I added a simple leaf pattern to the coloured box using a Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 pen.
Step 4 Add the dangle! For this dangle I used the same kind of leaves as in the box for a consistent design. I added some round beads as ‘spacers’. Finally, I added my ‘symbol’ to the end of the dangle. Also, I did draw a faint pencil line with a ruler to help me keep my dangle hanging straight, more or less!
Step 5 I coloured the beads and leaves in using the same colours of Chameleon Markers. I then decided I needed to add some shimmer and shine; I used a Uniball Signo gold glitter gel pen to colour in the border of the box and to add some dot highlights here and there. The Chameleons caused the Sakura Pigma Micron ink to smear a little – I always forget that happens! I should’ve used the Tombow pen again. Oh well, you live and learn, eventually!
This morning has been getting the day 15 of Inktober 2019 drawings done, but also catching up on those I didn’t get done yesterday.
I’ve gone, yet again, for a sketchbook style montage; focusing on line and pattern is something I enjoy. I’ve even managed to create a stylised motif from the cap of Lactarius resimus.
As before, I drew the mushrooms and tangle patterns on Rhodia dot grid paper with a Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 pen. After I’d scanned the page, I increased the contrast to remove the dot grid.
I drew and coloured the cat skull digitally in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I just copied my illustration and made it greyscale for the smaller drawing. I thought purple would be a fun way to colour the skull in; cats are my favourite animal and purple is my favourite colour.
I’ve also included a little more hand lettering on this page than in the past. I know my hand lettering needs regular practice, and I do tend to neglect it. I’m using Inktober 2019 prompts from three Instagrammers:
Animal skulls from @book_polygamist
Mushrooms from @nyan_sun
Tangle patterns from @havepen_willdraw
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
Today I’m feeling tired and have a rather tender digestive system. I had a really upset stomach yesterday afternoon and through the night, which disturbed my sleep.
Yesterday I was really upbeat, ebullient even. However, that drifted away as I drove home, my head full of the thoughts that I’ll soon be finishing therapy. Today, I feel content, a bit weepy, but the dull grey, dampness of the weather is having its effect. I really do need to get one of the SAD therapy lamps to help me on gloomy days.
I had therapy yesterday, but no EMDR. Instead, I talked about my trip to Llandudno last week and how proud I was of myself for walking in a strange town and going out for a meal by myself.
I also needed to talk about the flash of anger that rose up in me when I saw my narcissistic mother at a family thing on Friday. My therapist was pleased when I told her I felt anger; that is a perfectly healthy response to someone who has abused and neglected you. That I didn’t express that anger in a negative manner, such as screaming, shouting, abusiveness, was also a healthy thing to do.
My therapist was also pleased that I was self-aware enough to recognise this. We had a conversation about how far I had come since I started seeing her over six years ago.
Then, I talked about how I thought it would soon be time for me to end therapy, for now. I got all emotional and tearful about that. I still am as I type it.
I’m working on one trauma in EMDR at the moment, so I’d like to finish that. Also, a couple more have come to mind that need processing. Still, it won’t be long until I leave therapy.
First, I need to complete processing the trauma I’ve been working on, and there are another two that I need to process. But shortly I will be leaving therapy feeling I am good enough for now.
I need to continue with the positive steps made in being out and about by myself with some confidence and not much in the way of fear/anxiety, particularly when I am at home. I am, however, going to plan a short trip away over one or two nights in November, most probably to West Wales. I first need to finish my contracts and commissions.
I need to remember that I can always return to Linda should I have problems in the future. I don’t know what my life is going to bring me and what interactions with people there will be that may bring up a trauma response. Linda will always be there for me to go back to help process the traumas.
I’m a day late posting this Inktober drawing. My plans for yesterday went somewhat awry as I went to help out a friend in need. So, no beating myself up for the tardiness!
The prompts of the day were a snake skull, the Schizophyllum commune fungus and the Floo tangle pattern (from Instagrammers @book_polygamist, @nyan_sun and @havepen_willdraw respectively).
I started with the fungus as I really wasn’t really enthused by snake skulls. The caps and gills of the Schizophyllum c. formed lovely shapes and lines, and so I focused on areas of them to do some small drawings using a Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 pen on dotgrid paper. All I wanted to do was capture the flow of the lines and the interesting shapes and patterns too. I wanted to keep it simple, so no shading or highlights – just pure pattern.
As I was drawing the squares filled with line and pattern I was reminded of how I used to create sketchbooks while doing my AS and A level Art exams around 15 or so years ago. I used to colour the pages or use interesting paper to draw on and collect the patterns and shapes that really interested me. I often focused on small areas of the object of interest and drew the details in squares and rectangles. I added an example of the Floo tangle pattern to a rectangle, just to make sure I’d included that challenge for the day.
So, it was a natural segue for me to add the grungy, vintage paper to the background as I turned Inktober Day 12 into more of a sketchbook page.
I was also reminded of how I used to use charcoal and white pastel or chalk to draw on coloured papers, and I thought I’d do that with the skull, but with my signature black outlines. I drew this digitally, and mimicked the process of laying down charcoal and chalk and blending the colours. I think I’ve managed to do that quite successfully digitally, though, yet again, I could have done with a bit more contrast in places.
So, rather than an illustration that combines all three prompts for the day, I’ve ended up with an interesting melange of images.
If I were to spend more time on this page, I’d add some highlights/shadows and maybe colour to some of the drawings of fungi. I’d also overlay some dot grid paper to the background. I’d also add some hand-lettered information and commentary on the drawings.
However, if I did that it would eat into my time to take on Day 13 of Inktober today, as well as get some work done for commissions/contracts.
Today I thought you’d like to see my current work in progress, including the tools I’m using for it – Unipin Pens from Uniball and a mechanical pencil.
The pencil was only used for drawing the margins delineating the space within which I’m working. This helps stop me run off the page as well as keeping my mind’s desire for straight-ish edges happy.
This has already taken some hours to complete; I’m not sure how many as I don’t really keep track of my time. I know that I may get it finished at some point this evening (I’m writing this mid-morning UK time) if I manage to get all my errands and other tasks done in a timely fashion.
My process is quite simple really. I start with a motif somewhere on the page, a simple outline shape. I then add detail to this shape. I then let shapes flow out from this point, first drawing the foundation lines, then adding the detail.
Finally, I’ll decide if I’m going to add shadows/shading and with what medium I’ll do that. Sometimes I may decide to colour the image, or digitally alter the colours of the lines or background.
If I decided to draw digitally, my steps are the same, though I may start with a sketch on paper of the main lines in the design so I can make sure I have some reference to the actual scale of the design.
Oh, and I rarely draw in pencil first when I work directly on paper. The only times I do is when I may use circle stencils or french curves to add a large curve/shape. Mostly, it’s pen without any pencil guides.
I work very intuitively; I just let the lines and patterns flow in a way that is pleasing to my eye and mind at the time I draw designs such as these.
It’s a lovely, sunny late summer morning here in the UK and it’s been a perfect time to finish this design off.
Yes, it’s another abstract, zentangly, entangled botanical design, which seems to be my signature style of art, though I do dabble in other styles, as you know, particularly my kind of dangle designs.
This one, like many of my previous ones, was completed in these stages:
Draw the black and white line art on Rhodia dot grid paper using a black 08 Sakura Pigma Micron pen.
Scan the drawing into GiMP. Use tools to remove the dot grid and remove the noise. Save with a transparent background.
Import the image into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Any edits to lines can be made here using a pen ‘brush’ that mimics the texture of the Micron pen on the dot grid paper. Then layers are used to create the background, add colour to the design before adding texture and highlights.
It takes a day or more to create a piece of art like this. The drawing of the design alone can take anywhere from 2 to 10 hours, depending on the intricacy and size. This one was A4 in size and isn’t very detailed; I let the colour and texture add details to the design in this instance. I want the colours to shine. The colouring etc. has taken a few hours to do.
It takes me at least as long to create a piece of digital mixed media art as it does to draw and colour the design using traditional methods such as Chameleon markers or Inktense pencils.
What I love about working digitally is the ability to change the colours I use for the elements, and then being able to add texture and highlights/shadows. I can see where I need to go back to the image and add or deepen shadows to increase the sense of depth in the design. A drop shadow on the background isn’t really needed as I think the background is like a sunset sky or alien sea.
The other thing about digital work, is the ability to use the black and white outline to re-work the design using a different colour palette, different textures. I also have the option to print the design out and colour using other media, such as marker pens, perhaps changing the size of the image so that I can create, say, a greetings card or note card, or even a page for my BuJo.
I spent some time on Monday playing with Repper Pro and had some fun creating repeating patterns using the last couple of abstract botanical images. Just from a couple of artworks, I have more than a hundred seamless tiles for patterns; it’s just sorting through them and working out which are the best. I may post some of the best ones later today or tomorrow, and maybe create some based on today’s art above too.
I actually think some of the tiles would, with a border, make amazing patterns for square cushions/pillows worked in tapestry, canvaswork, cross-stitch or similar. You can decide for yourselves when I post them.