Graphics Apps I LURVE! Pixite Assembly

I made a cute thing in Pixite’s Assmebly app. I’m calling these guys “Shroomies,” because they’re squishie and they’re sitting on mushrooms.

Shroomies art

Aren’t they cute?!


If you haven’t used Assembly, it’s really nice and fun. The app gives you a blank art board and a library of shapes to create artwork with. You don’t draw in the traditional sense. Instead, you assemble the shapes like collage pieces to make an image. Assembly lets you set the color, transparency and outline of each shape, and you can also add shadows. You can group multiple shapes together, as well as combine or cut out shapes from each other. And, best of all, if you make a custom shape, or group of shapes (like my little Shroomie creatures above), you can save them in a custom sticker library to use again and again!

Assembly does have a couple limitations. First, it only offers flat colors, not gradients.  To get the gradient effects above, I exported my original artwork as a PNG, and then brought it into Shift, another Pixite app, to touch up the colors and add some scratchy, old-photo texture.

A second issue is the lack of layers. While you can group shapes, the app doesn’t offer layers to make organizing parts of your artwork easier. In other graphics apps, I like to use layers to separate my background, foreground, and mid ground elements, but that’s not an option in Assmbly.

Still, I love Assembly by Pixite! I’ve made some really great artwork in it, and I can always export artwork from Assembly as an SVG, if I want to bring it into Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator, or another vector graphics app. Assembly is pretty simple to use, and I can do a lot of cool things with it.

Messy Monday – Painted Skulls and a Broken Nose

I had an epic fail on Friday.

Pixie and I were jogging on a local trail, anways behind Princess’ cross country team. The trail in question is steep, with lots of big tree roots crossing it, along with the occasional heavy wooden beam to shore up the steeper parts. Pixie was jogging with the coach’s dog, while I jogged along behind her with Gibbie. I was doing pretty good, jogging faster than I have in a while. I was feeling pretty good.

Then I caught my foot on a tree root and slammed face first into the ground.

The good news is that I did not plant my face into a wooden beam. I hit that with my ribs, instead. The bad news is that I hit the ground HARD, and I knew that as soon as I hit, I had broken my nose.

Apparently, my crash landing was so tremendous it scared the young lady running ahead of me. After checking to see if I was okay (I was laughing as I sat up, despite my smashed nose), she ran off to get Pixie and the team coach. I told the coach I was fine and sent her off to keep track of the girls still running. Pixie stayed with me. According to her, I walked over to a nearby bench, sat down, then tumbled over ass-over-tea-kettle as Inpassed out. I don’t remember doing that, but I do remember having a very brief, pleasant dream that ended with me waking up staring at the grass and Pixie asking me if I was okay.

“Uh, yeah. I’m fine. But why is the world sideways?”

I was able to pull myself together after a few more minutes, and Pixie and I walked a mile back to our car. My nose bled the entire way. As soon as the cross country team came in, I grabbed Princess and we drove home. It took me an hour to clean up. I was covered from head to toe in dirt and dead leaves, along with blood, bruises and scrapes. But I was still laughing, so I was okay.

Later that day, Princess and Pixie asked why I had laughed through all this. I was a real mess. In addition to breaking my nose, I also tore up both knees and one elbow and I broke the big toe on my right foot. Why would I laugh when I did all that? Good question. I’m not really sure of the answer, but I hope it’s because I chose to laugh instead of cry. Yes, it all hurt like hell, but I think crying or even just complaining would have made it much worse. Laughing as soon as I got up seemed to make it feel better. And I think I chose to laugh because I knew that, but I knocked myself so silly, I can’t be sure I actually made that choice.

In any event, I have a couple of photos of the skulls I’ve been painting. I’ve gotten farther along, adding dots of white paint to make patterns. Over the white, I’m adding a bit of metallic paint, and then I plan to add some jewel-tone paints on top of that. What do you think?

Blue skull

I tried making the dots with a paint brush, but found a stylus works better.

Pink skull

This one is my favorite so far!

Yellow skull

This one’s a bit messy, but I’ve gotten farther along with it.

 

And there you have it! This week’s mess. Yay!

The Black Thumb Rides Again

If there were a world court of crimes against gardening, I would be tried and convicted of murder.

I have a perpetual black thumb. If there is a way to kill a plant, I will find it. Even silk florals have died at my hands. But every year, I still keep trying to establish a garden.

This year, I’m having a bit of success, though not the success I was expecting. The tomato plants I started indoors sprouted up beautifully at first then died before I could get them into the ground outside. The herb seeds I buried in pots never even tried to grow, so I’ve got four empty pots sitting out in the yard right now. I don’t know why I keep watering them.

But I have had some successes. First, the melon and pumpkin seeds I started have really taken off. Crazy person that I am, I’m growing these in a couple of 4×4 foot plots. I know, that’s not a lot of room for melons and pumpkins, but careful research has led me to believe that I can grow these vining plants on a TRELLIS! So, we’re trying that…

Trellises

My crazy trellised garden!

As you can see, I’ve already set up slings for a couple of the melons that have started growing. I’m going to have to get more cheese cloth, and probably something stronger than that, as these babies grow, but right now things look promising.

Melons!

Melons in slings! When they get bigger, I’ll train them to walk on the high wire!

The pumpkins will be put in slings too. The type of pumpkin I’m growing is supposed to turn out blue when they’re full grown, so I’m looking forward to having pumpkins that match my hair!

Pumpkin!

One day, this will be a lovely blue pumpkin!

Other than that, I’ve had some success with radishes and turnips (making me feel like I’m participating in a real-life version of Rune Factory). And the zucchini has finally started growing too. Now if I can just keep up with harvesting and cooking what I grow, things will be great!

Zucchini

I have grown a loverly zucchini!

And if it all goes south… well, I need a place to set up a graveyard in October anyway. What better than a plot of land filled with the remains of all my latest victims?

Messy Monday – life is messy and so is my drawing but I love it!

I am doing my best to blog two to three times a week, but things are pretty crazy, as usual. Both girls are home all day, and we’re working all day long to train the puppy. On top of that, Princess has cross country practice Monday through Friday, at 7AM, at a different location every day. Our schedule is such a MESS!

But life is always messy, so I am doing my best to draw everyday and to get at least two blog posts out every week. And they may get posted a little late, but that’s better than not at all!

For this week’s Messy Monday, I thought I’d share a drawing I’m working on. 


It’s a mermaid! I’m drawing this one in Concepts on my iPad Pro. I decided to do this drawing in a deliberately messy style, using Concepts’ filled area tool to draw all the lines as well as other shapes, because I get the best results in Concepts when I draw that way rather than try to create very controlled lines and shapes. I started out using my Apple Pencil when I began working on this piece, but I wasn’t happy with how the Pencil was handling. The tip of the Pencil is so slick, it was just skidding across the screen of my iPad, causing me all sorts of problems, especially lots of stray marks. I mean, I wanted a sort of messy style, but not that messy! 

Desperate to get some sort of control over my stylus, I put my Pencil away and pulled out my old Wacom Creative stylus. Yes, it’s older. Yes, it has the fatter tip. But that tip is made of rubber, and it grips the screen so much better! So I decided to keep working with the Creative stylus.

Then, one evening, when I posted an earlier version of this drawing to Twitter, I happened to mention I was drawing it in Concepts and using my old Wacom stylus to do it. And you know what? The folks over at Concepts saw that tweet and asked me which old stylus I was using. After a bit of conversation about my old Creative stylus and the problems I was having with my Apple Pencil, they asked me if I might be interested in getting the newer Wacom Bamboo Sketch stylus. Uh, yeah I would! And that led to Concepts talking to Wacom, who just happened to be looking to give the new Sketch stylus to a few folks, and whaddya know?! Less than a week later (today, as a matter of fact), a brand new Wacom Bamboo Sketch stylus showed up in the mail!

I’ve been working with the Sketch this afternoon, and used it today on the mermaid drawing above. I like how it handles! The tip is definitely smaller than my old Creative stylus, but it still has a nice feel to it, gripping the screen of my iPad just enough to keep from skidding erratically all over my artwork.

I will post an actual review of the new Sketch stylus sometime in the next week. For now though, I just want to play with it for a while. I have a little free time tonight, which I’m going to take advantage of right now. Because with my messy schedule, you grab that free time whenever you get a chance!

ACW Episode 304 – Keeping the beat

Webcomic!

Click on the image to see it full-sized!

Not long after I got back from taking care of my parents last winter, this happened. Princess was having trouble sleeping, and she was worried about her heart stopping. She said she felt really anxious and kept getting a tightness in her chest, and said she could feel her heart skip a beat every now and then. We had it looked into. She’s fine. The anxiety is most likely a result of teen hormones flooding her system. The tightness is due to the anxiety, and the occasional skipped beat looks to be a premature ventricular contraction, which is perfectly normal. Still, it was a couple months before Princess’ anxiety subsided, and while she was anxious, so was I.

To paraphrase Elizabeth Stone, having a child is like watching your heart walk around outside your chest. And that’s just as amazing to see as it is terrifying.

Messy Mondays – An experiment with skulls

So, I’ve decided to start adding some new topics to post about. One of these is something I’m calling “Messy Mondays.” This is a chance for me to show off stuff that I’m currently working on. The idea is that I make a big mess, get my hands dirty making art, and you get to see what I’m doing and maybe how I’m doing it, if I get my act together enough.

For this Monday, I’ve got a trio of skulls that I’m working on!

Messy Monday Skulls

Lovely skulls, yeah?

These are paper-mache skulls that I bought back in October. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them at the time, but I figured it would be something fun. Naturally, the skulls ended up just sitting in a bag tucked away in my stash of art supplies.

But a couple weeks ago, I pulled these babies out and started playing with them! Remember, the idea is for me to make a mess, so I don’t really have a firm idea of what I’m doing, no plan at all. I just picked out some of my fluid acrylic paints and some gel medium and I started brushing on some color. So far, I like what I’ve got.

However, these are far from done. I also have some gel pens, some acrylic inks, and I bought some metallic paints as well, so I plan to keep messing with these skulls for a while longer. I’ll post more pictures as I go, so you’ll get to see how…if… I make any further progress 🙂

My dog Gibno!

Soooooooooo…

I got a dog.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know this. I’m eventually going to get around to introducing him in the cartoon, as soon as I get a few other things drawn and posted first. But yeah, I got me a dog!

My dog

Hello cutie!

This is Gibno, or Gibbie for short. Yeah, it’s not really shorter, in fact it’s more letters, but Gibbie rolls off the tongue easier than Gibno. But his name is actually Gibno. I decided to call him that because of something my dad used to sing when I was a kid. You remember that song about the farmer who had a dog? And the dog’s name was Bingo? And do you remember how you had to spell out the dog’s name as part of the song? Well, my dad would never spell “Bingo.” He always spelled the dog’s name as “Gibno,” “Ognib,” or “Bongi,” but never “Bingo.” “Gibno” was always his first choice for the dog’s name, and so when I saw this furry bundle of joy, I knew I had to call him “Gibno.” But a few days later I realized that it’s actually easier to say Gibbie, so that’s what we call him.

The picture above is Gibbie at about 10 weeks old. He’s now almost four months old, and he’s nearly four times the size he was then!

Gibno, at 4 months old

Wow, did he get big!

As you can see, he has lots of spots. He’s got both blue and red tick marks on him. He’s mostly American Fox Hound, with a little bonus DNA thrown into the mix. He’s a rescue pup, and I absolutely adore him.

I’ll post more about Gibbie later on, but for now, here he is!

ACW Episode 303 – Finally!

Webcomic!

Click on the image above to view the webcomic full-size!

Finally, I am back to work. At least I hope so. My schedule keeps going crazy, and I have not been the best about sitting down to work on the webcomic. I am trying to get back to regular updates. I’m even looking at posting things other than just the webcomic! But we’ve had a LOT going on, and so I am struggling right now to get back in the saddle again.

This week’s episode happened a couple months ago, not long after I got back from taking care of my parents after my dad’s heart attack. For whatever reason, Princess suddenly needed me to be “Mommy” again, and I was more than happy to oblige. But Princess is now an inch taller than I am, and I really, REALLY, shouldn’t be trying to pick her up. My back, like the rest of me, is forty-eight years old.

I already have the next episode pencilled, so here’s hoping I get to work on inking it tomorrow! You may see some style changes in how I draw the webcomic. I got a new Surface and I’ve been uploading and updating all my software on it. I haven’t managed to migrate all my original brushes and preferences from the old Surface yet, but I decided I needed to get back to posting rather than worry about little things like that. Plus, I kind of want to experiment with the look of the webcomic, see if I find a new way to handle inking and pencilling and such.

Anyhoo, that’s all for today! Enjoy!