Night blogging?

I swear to you, I have been trying to get back  into the habit of regular blogging. I get all sorts of ideas for blogging late at night when I’m lying in bed, but then by the morning, these ideas have evaporated, or else I’ve lost the interest in writing about them.

I set aside the morings for working on the webcomic and for other drawing projects, which is partly why I don’t have the enthusiasm to blog in the morning. All my brain power has gone into drawing for a couple hours at that point, so the well is kind of dry by then. I can usually refresh myself with exercise, but by the time I’m done with that, it’s time to eat lunch and then it’s time to pick up the kids and then I have to deal with homework and chores and dinner, etc. I’m brain-dead once again by the time 8PM rolls around, which means I’d rather watch TV and crochet than write.

But once I get into bed, my brain once again starts to rev up, like it has now. I always read the news before I sleep (bad habit, I know), and usually after doing that, I’ve got ideas for a blog post I’d really like to write, and I know exactly what I’d say…

Except that it’s bedtime, and the lights are already out and Hubster is sound asleep beside me.

So right now, I’m experimenting. I have a wireless keyboard set up with my iPad, and I have a reading light clipped to the iPad/keyboard case. It gives me just enough light to see by. Hubster isn’t in bed yet – he always stays up later than me – so I’ve got a few quick minutes to write this post. I don’t know if I’ll be able to write like this on a regular basis, but it’s worth trying. I’m saving this as a draft tonight, and will post it in the morning. Then I’ll see if I can start other articles this week.

Maybe I’ll even be able to post some artwork from the iPad?



Test artwork for night time posting

Yerp! That seems to work!

ACW Episode 272 – Hello, dolly!


Click the image to see it full-sized.

When my girls were toddlers, my mother started buying them Barbie dolls. All kinds of Barbie dolls, but mostly princess dolls. At the same time, my mother was also buying the girls a LOT of pink dresses. We had one year where the mailman brought us a new package every week, and it always had a new pink dress and a new princess doll, and the girls just ate it up!!!

A few years later, my kids now like Goth fashion, Minecraft (and video games in general), steampunk, cartoons, and comic books. Pixie still wears pink on occasion, but her dolls are more often painted bright green, with splatters of red for that “zombie” effect.

It’s nice to know I have some influence on my kids :)

ACW Episode 271 – Don’t drink and craft


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Yes, this actually happened. I was working on a display for a Girl Scout recruiting event and thought it would be fun to make a camping diorama with needlefelted Girl Scouts. And I thought it would be even more fun to enjoy a glass of wine while I did this. Then I discovered a few weeks later that there are actually thimbles I could have used instead of bleeding to death for my art. Ouch.

“Orange You Glad to  See Me?!” One drawing, three apps

I do a lot of artwork on my iPad, so I’m always on the lookout for new drawing and painting apps. I downloaded one last week that I thought looked promising – Tayasui Sketches. It had a lot of the same tools I see in other drawing apps, but there was something about the texture of the sample artwork that made me want to try it out. The basic app is free and allows you to sample the full version for an hour. The full version costs $4.99. Now $4.99 isn’t a lot, but I do prefer to try before I buy, so I did the one-hour trial and drew this quick image to test out all the tools:

Tayasui Sketches

Test drawing done in Tayasui Sketches

I really liked the paper grain texture on this. Tayasui Sketches is one of the few apps I’ve seen that includes the option of adjusting the background for paper grain as well as color. However, I did NOT like the way the text tool worked and I didn’t care at all for the way the app handles zooming and panning in the image. The tools had a nice texture (I especially loved the rough edge on the orange), but I knew some of the apps I already owned could produce similar results.

So I decided to draw the same image again in a couple of other apps I have. I tried Procreate first:

Procreate Orange

Same drawing recreated in Procreate


The biggest difference I noticed was the lack of paper texture. I don’t know if there’s a simple way to add a paper texture to artwork done in Procreate. I could always scan in a textured image and add it as an overlay layer, but I would prefer to have the option to add texture right there in the app. Also, Procreate doesn’t have a text tool, so I had to handwrite the text. On the plus side, I still get a lot of nice textured tools (again, I got that slightly rough edge around the orange) in Procreate and I found it much easier to adjust the brushes to get the effects I wanted. I can also create and save custom color palettes in Procreate, and it’s easier to pan and zoom artwork. Plus I can ROTATE the artwork on the fly, something Sketches doesn’t do.

For the last trial, I decided to do this drawing in SketchClub.

SketchClub Orange

And finally, done in SketchClub

SketchClub is one of my favorite drawing and painting apps on the iPad. I have a lot of control over the brushes and other tools, and can download or create new brushes. Procreate  will let me create new brushes, but doesn’t have the option to download brushes from a community of users. It also has a text tool, but since SketchClub didn’t seem to have access to the same fonts that Sketches does, I decided to handwrite the text again. And like Procreate, I can zoom, pan, and rotate the screen with ease.

One of the biggest differences I noticed between SketchClub and the other apps is the lack of an actual water color brush. In Sketches, there is a water color brush tool. In Procreate, there’s a setting for the brush tool that gives it a water color look. But I think if I played with some settings in SketchClub, I might be able to achieve a similar effect.

Anyway, that’s the same drawing done in three different apps. I still haven’t decided if I want to buy Sketches or not. The biggest drawback is the way it handles zooming and panning, and the inability to rotate the artwork. That makes a huge difference to me.

So what do you think?

The Art Of Doodling

last weekend, our Girl Scout troop worked on the art badge. Some of the girls were worried that they couldn’t draw, so I thought we would try doodling instead. I’ve recently picked up a bunch of books on doodling, Zen Tangles (TM), etc. I love to doodle, and I’ve been spending a lot of time doodling lately. I also picked up a bunch of blank cards with envelops for a really good price, so I spent an afternoon working with the girls on making greeting cards as part of their art badge activities. And I enjoyed that so much, that I decided to finish my card up and send it to mym mom for her birthday. Here are some pics of the artwork in progress.



ACW Episode 270 – My Sick Valentine


Click on the image to view it full-size!

I have spent FOREVER working on this one simple comic. And yet it isn’t so simple. I decided to try a different pen for inking this one, a brush style pen with a rougher edge. It seemed appropriate for an image of Hubster and I feeling a bit “rough around the edges.” And once I had the image inked and colored, I decided that a bit of rough shading would look nice too, as well as some touches of texture, etc., etc., etc. The hard part was figuring out how to make a brush style balloon pen for the text box in the back. I must have spent two hours today playing with settings and searching on the internet for information on how to make a custom brush tip and assign it to the balloon tool.

But, it’s all done now, and I’m very happy with the end result. I think it very accurately depicts how Hubster and I felt on Valentine’s Day this year, which is to say absolutely AWFUL.

Sick with the flu

Hello all. I was midway through the website update when I came down with the flu. Pixie had it first, then Princess, now me. I’m trying to do a little work at a time between bouts of passing out in bed, but there are still some things that aren’t quite right with the website. I’ll fix these things as soon as I recover from the flu. But even so, I think the site looks a bazillion times better,

Anyway, now you know what’s going on.

ACW Episode 269 – Sleeping Beauty


Click on the webcomic above to see it larger!

Kids are so much fun to draw comics about. And so easy. They offer so many real-life instances for inspiration.

Princess does not wake up easy. Even as a toddler, she would sleep hard for hours at nap time (ah, those were the days) and then wake up all bleary-eyed and groggy. Not much has changed now that she’s a pre-teen.

When I started work on this cartoon, it immediately reminded me of some of my favorite “Bloom County” comic strips. Nobody draws groggy, sleep-deprived people like Berke Breathed does. I even pulled out some of my “Bloom County” books for inspiration and spent all day reading comics. That was not a waste of time at all. Nope, no-siree-Bob.

Professional Education for Artists AKA Boondoggle Time!

I recently made the switch from Adobe graphics software to Corel. Or rather, the switch back. The first graphics software package I owned was an early version of Corel, and I kept using Corel for years. But after a number of years, I began to notice that there were fewer and fewer tutorials and how-to books for Corel Draw and Photopaint, but there was plenty of material out there for Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

So I decided to make the switch over to Adobe. It was more expensive (a LOT more expensive),  but Adobe was the industry standard, and there was plenty of learning material out there to help me make the switch.

That was maybe five years ago. And everything was going just fine… on the Photoshop side of things. I love Photoshop. The mask layers, the customizable brushes, blend modes. It was FANTASTIC.

Adobe Illustrator, though? Not so much.

I was using CS3, and I discovered that things that had been easy to do in Corel Draw, like setting up transparency and gradient fills, were not so easy in Illustrator. The fact that I had to create a layer mask to create a transparency for an object drove me crazy. And I never could seem to get the hang of selecting objects in layers. These were things that were much more intuitive in Corel, I thought.

Then to top things off, Adobe switched from selling software in actual boxes to a subscription only mode, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I simply cannot afford to pay for the subscription model. When I buy graphics software, I usually upgrade maybe every other version, sometimes less frequently than that. It’s what I can afford.

Corel still sells its software in physical boxes as well as in download format, for far less than what I paid for Adobe CS3. And on top of that, I was able to find the most recent version of the Corel Draw suite on sale! The switch back was a no-brainer.

There are plenty of new features in both Corel Draw and Photopaint, so I have some catching up to do, and while there still aren’t as many tutorials for Corel as there are for Adobe, now that I’ve been on both sides of the fence, I’m better at translating Adobe tutorials into Corel. In fact, that’s what I spent most of the day yesterday doing.

I found this tutorial over at TutsPlusDesign. There were a few steps I decided to handle differently. I prefer to weld and trim shapes rather than use a clipping mask (called Power Clip in Corel). But the end result was the same!

Cool sword!

Drawn in Corel Draw 7!!

I’m pretty happy with how this turned out, and I look forward to spending more time working through tutorials for Corel. Yesterday was a very nice, relaxing day, spent focused only on artwork, with no time whatsoever spent on Girl Scouts (thus my reason for calling this a “boondoggle” day). Still, even for a boondoggle, I think it was time very well spent.

So what do you think? If you know of any resources for Corel Draw or Photopaint tutorials, let me know. I’m thinking of taking one day a week and devoting it to working through tutorials, just to improve my professional skills… and maybe enjoy a little boondoggle in the process.