Practice Drawing – Cats, Part Deux

When last we talked about drawing practice, our intrepid artist (i.e. Me) was struggling to doodle the purrfect cat! Ha ha! I’m so funny!

But seriously, I was not happy after my first attempt at doodling a cat. It was supposed to be a simple doodle exercise, and I couldn’t do it. My first thought was that the apps I was using to doodle were not adequate to the job, but these were apps designed for doodling! So I got to thinking, maybe the problem wasn’t the apps. Maybe the problem was that I was overthinking the doodle. I wanted something that looked like a cat, but maybe I was trying to hard too draw a cat, an actual cat as I would see it in my mind.  Maybe I just needed to really get back to the basics.

So that’s what I did. The Paper app actually has a tool that changes my squiggly lines into nice shapes. It’s cheating in a way, because I’m relying on the tool to make the shape rather than my own skill, but drawing precise shapes on an iPad can be tricky, so let’s just acknowledge that I took the best approach to the problem and move on. With the shape tool selected, I started drawing basic shapes – ovals, circles, triangles – and used those to make a few cats.  Here are the results.


I really like these cats! Even though they’re simple shapes, they have personality. And look at their expressions! They’re so cute and goofy! These are the cats that exemplify the simpilicy that I think was the point of the the doodle exercise in Craft-A-Doodle

So I got that exercise done and then I tried the next – making a flag with my doodled pet. Again, the exercise in Craft-A-Doodle suggested drawing a pug, but I love cats, so I drew a cat flag, again using the simple shapes tool in the Paper app on my iPad.


Yep, I even managed to make this kitty a Siamese!

However, I still wanted to see if I could draw cats free-form, without relying on the shape tool in Paper. So I took another stab at it and here’s what I came up with:


These cats are a little different, but they still rely on basic shapes. This time, though, the whole body is a basic shape – rectangle, triangle, oval. And finally, finally, I feel like I really got the point of the exercise. Stick to the basics. Don’t overthink things. Don’t try to hard. And that’s a lesson I think I really need to learn.

Alternate Mii-ality 02 – Ta-Daaah!

After my first attempt at making a Miifoto on Miitomo, I quickly realized there were ways to make it better. For example, tapping on a sticker, character, or other element while setting up a Miifoto, allowed me to layer things in the order I wanted them. That meant I could put effects stickers and word balloowns behind my Mii, instead of blotting her out. It’s a primitive layering system, but it works!

Of course, Miifotos aren’t about the stickers. They’re about the clothes! Yes, the virtual wardrobe you can collect for your virtual character. I quickly became obsessed with putting together the perfect outfits for my Mii. However, my options are limited to what I can pay for with participation coins, any freebies that Nintendo chose to give away, or by what I can win in the Mii-drop games.  This has led to some… Interesting outfits. Like this one.


The only part of this outfit I bought was the shoes. The hat was a freebie from Miitomo during the launch of the app, and rest of it was won in a food themed Mii-drop game. I honestly had no idea what the games were about initially. I just gave them a spin to see what would happen and all of a sudden I had a bunch of weird, food-themed clothing in my virtual closet. The sandwich shirt and skirt do go well together, but I’m not sure if I would wear this outfit in real life…

Oh, who the hell am I kidding?! You know I’d totally wear this! Somebody get me this outfit in real life, STAT!

Practice Drawing – Cats, cats, and more cats!

I am slowly working my way through the book Craft-a-Doodle, playing with the tutorials for drawing fun little doodles. I got stalled on the exercises in the second chapter though, which was about drawing pugs. The tutorial is very straightforward. The problem is, I didn’t want to draw pugs. To me, pugs seemed to be the signature motif of the artist who wrote the tutorials for that chapter – Gemma Correl. Her pugs are adorable, but they’re also her pugs, and I’m not doing this drawing practice so that I can perfectly imitate anotehr artists.

I opted therefor, to draw cats instead. I know nothing about pugs, but I’ve lived with cats all my life. We have three prime specimens in the house right now, in fact! So, after reading through Gemma Correl’s pug-drawing tutorial, I set baout drawing cats.

The basic idea behind Correl’s pug drawings is that they’re very simple and very cute. Everything is composed of basic shapes, mainly circles and triangles. So I tried to stick to that idea when I drew my cats. However, things didn’t quite workout the way I wanted…

I drew my first cat in Paper on my iPad and immediately ran into problems. Paper doesn’t give me a lot of control over how the tools work. I can pick a tool and I can pick the color to draw or paint with, but I can’t make any adjustments beyond that.  And there’s a definite limit to how far I can zoom in. In some ways, that makes Paper the perfect app for doodling, but in others, I feel crippled by the app. I can’t draw as smoothly as I can in other, more sophisticated apps, nor do I have the tactile advantage of working with more traditional media, like markers and card stock. Anyway, I drew the first cat, and here’s how he turned out.


Okay, he’s not bad, but I wanted to draw him with a thicker line and I didn’t have the option to do that. The result was a scratchy little drawing that just disappeared on the page. Since the lines were so thin, I thought maybe coloring him would help him pop out more. I opted to give him Siamese coloring, and discovered that the watercolor brush in paper has some quirks when it comes to blending and layering colors. Frustrated, I decided to redraw my cat in another app.

Here’s cat number two, drawn in Tayasui Sketches. Again, I did a simple pen drawing with watercolor.


To me, this was even worse. The water color blended better, but I had such limited control over the size of the brush that colors were constantly bleeding into areas where I didn’t want them. Keep in mind, I wasn’t using the pro version, of Sketches, although I did pay to unlock all the features in the version I am using, so I’m not sure what the differences is between the two apps. I also don’t know if the pro version would allow me more control over the brush size. That’s something I’m going to ave to investigate. But the biggest problem I had with Sketches was that it worked sooooooooo slooooooowly on my iPad. There was a definite lag between when I drew a line and when it actually appeared. I don’t know what the problem was, but that’s something else I’ll have to look into.

Anyway, frustrated with both Paper and Sketches, I finally opened up my favorite drawing app, Sketchclub, and drew a cat in that. Sketchclub has a pen tool, excelelnt zooming, panning and rotating capabilities, layers, and shape drawing tools. It doesn’t have water color brushes, but it does have plenty of other tools that I think make up for that. And since at this point I was damned and determined to draw a cat the way I wanted to draw one, I ditched the whole idea of a simple doodle and pulled out all the stops to draw a Siamese cat. And here it is!


Again, not a doodle at all, and the complete opposite of the point I think Gemma Correll was trying to make, but this was the one cat drawing I was happy with, so there you go.

This is not the end of the cat saga, of course. I had not accomplished the goal of the tutorial, and I refused to be beaten by this, but I did set the tutorial aside for a while. I’ll show you the results of round two next week!

Practice Drawing – Landscapes in Manga Studio 5 EX

I’m still doodling away with Craft-a-Doodle, but I’ve also been playing with something else on the side that I thought I’d share this week. I have always loved to draw, but I struggle with drawing backgrounds and landscapes, especially when I need to create them from scratch. This can be a problem for someone who’s supposed to be a webcomic artist. While I can usually get away with nothing more than a colored gradient in the background, sometimes I need to actually set the scene. If we’re outside, where are we? At the pool? In the park? On the moon?

After years of avoiding the problem as much as I could, I finally decided I needed to learn how to make landscapes. I started simply at first, working with basic foreground, mid-ground, and background layers. For a lot of this, I used Pixite’s Assembly app on my iPad, because it gave me pre-made shapes (trees, mountains, clouds, etc.) that I could layer over and under each other to get what I wanted. Then I started to get a little more ambitious, creating my own vector shapes in Pixite, making more complex trees, fancier mountains, and so on. And once I felt confident enough working with a library of pre-made shapes, I moved on to drawing things from scratch in other vector-based apps like Concepts or Inkpad on my iPad.

Today, however, I decided it was time to move from my iPad to my Surface, to see if I could take things a bit further. I love having a library of pre-made objects to pull from when I’m working on a more complex landscape, but I also want to be able to easily create organic shapes on the fly. My iPad apps let me do one or the other, but I haven’t found an app that lets me do both, so I pulled out my Surface Pro to see what I could do there.

It turns out that with a bit of fiddling, Manga Studio 5 EX is perfect for what I want. I was able to create a vector drawing tool that allows me to draw organic shapes, AND I can then save those shapes to Manga Studio’s “materials” library to use again later. The vector drawing tool I came up with is basically a dialogue pen balloon tool. I turned out off the outline, using only the background color to fill the shapes I draw. I set the correction for the pen stroke very low, since I want my shapes to be complex and not over-simplified. And then I just started drawing with it.

Because I’m using a tool meant for dialogue balloons, I can set the tool to either draw on a new layer or on a pre-selected layer. This way I can sort the pieces I draw in an organized fashion. And even if I do draw multiple shapes on the same layer, each shape retains  its own vector path instead of merging into other vector objects on that layer. So I can still select each individual object to edit it as I need to.

I realize all this sounds very technical, but if you’ve ever worked with vector drawing programs, you probably have some idea of what I’m talking about here. And if you’ve ever worked with Manga Studio and are looking for a way to play with it, this is a pretty good option!

Anyway, here’s the current landscape that I’m working on. It’s inspired by a postcard I have of Sequoia National Park. The postcard was painted in the style of the old WPA posters, perfect for vector graphics. The original was painted by Doug Leen and Brian Maebius. They did an entire series of postcards for the national parks, and you can find out more at www.rangerdoug.com.

In the meantime, here’s my version of their postcard 🙂

Vector landscape

Manga Stuio 5 EX vector landscape in progress

Like I said, this is a work in progress. You can see that so far I’ve done the trees in the background and in the foreground. I’ve only just started working on the mid-ground. But what’s nice is that I’ve been able to save pieces of this as objects in the Materials library, so now I can reuse them again if I need to. For example, those big trees in the background could come in handy later on! And they’re saved as vector objects so I can easily adjust their size, color, opacity, etc., as needed.

Anyway, that’s it for this week’s drawing practice. I’m working on doodles of cats this week, so that will show up in next week’s blog post!

Alternate Mii-ality 01 – Introduction

I may have mentioned a week or two ago that I had an idea for a sorta-kinda webcomic. I say “sorta-kinda” because it’s not a webcomic in the traditional sense. You see, I joined Nintendo’s Miitomo when it first came out and I immediately became addicted to it. Specifically, I became addicted to what Miitomo calls “Miifotos.” If you haven’t played Miitomo, here’s an explanation.  

Miitomo is a social media app that allows you to create a digital mini-version of yourself called a Mii. Miitomo asks your Mii questions – what’s your favorite bread; what are your hobbies; would you rather be invisible or have the power of flight. You answer the questions, and then you can see how other people answered them and comment on what they said. You can also visit other people’s Miis for a question and answer session. Your Mii earns virtual coins for answering questinos and for commenting on other folks answers. There are also mini-games to play, and a shop where you can spend your virtual coins on virtual outfits for your virtual Mii. And once you change into a new outfit, Miitomo asks if you want to take a Miifoto!

I don’t know why I’m addicted to the Miifotos, but I am. When you enter the Miifoto portion of the app, you can set the background, the pose and expression of your Mii, and add little extras like stickers and word balloons to turn your Miifoto into a CARTOON. Okay, so maybe that’s why I’m addicted to Miifotos.

I play Miitomo daily, so I very quickly accrued a bunch of Miifotos. I share each day’s Miifoto on Twitter, but I thought I could start running them here as well. You might get a kick out of them. Or you might decided I’ve finally gone round the bend. Either way, here’s the very first Miifoto I made!

Miifoto

My very first Miifoto!


Yeah, it’s not the most amazing thing in the world. The background, outfit, wings and sparkles all came from Miitomo, as did the Mii itself, plus its pose and that weird cat face 🙂 But the moment I made this, I immediately knew, I wanted to make another one, and I wanted to make it BETTER. So over the next few months, you’ll see a slow evolution from half-assed snapshots to some images that I think are very cool!

Practicing Drawing – Flower Power

Yay! Another blog post! As promised, I have done more practice drawing and I’m ready to share some of the results with you all. Again, I’m working my way through Craft-a-Doodle by Jenny Doh. There is a list of 75 exercises and drawing prompts in this book, gathered from 18 artists. No two artists draw exactly alike, but everyone is focusing on the doodle style of drawing, which I enjoy. Why, you may ask? I’ve always loved to doodle. Doodles are fun little drawings of little or no consequence that I can do any time, on any handy scrap of paper. And because they’re of little or no consequence (i.e. I’m not making art to sell), I don’t feel a lot of pressure when I scribble away at them. I don’t need to carefully pencil my doodles, I can just go straight to ink (always my favorite part of drawing comics). I can use any colors without worrying about the overall color scheme of an entire comic strip. I don’t have to worry about scripting anything, and I don’t even have to think about whether what I’m drawing makes any sense. So doodling is a judgement-free zome for me!!!

Or at least it should be. The one thing I find my self struggling with as I go through these exercises is to not use the undo button. Again, I’m drawing these using Paper 53 on my iPad. Paper is a pretty basic drawing app with some decent natural media style tools, but they’re not the most precise tools, and I have no control over the size of the brush tips, the opacity of the color I lay down, or much of anything else. I can zoom in to work on something, but not as far as I’m used to doing in a drawing app. So, I’m using some pretty basic tools with very limited control, and I am making a lot of mistakes as I draw, which I hate. And what happens every time I make a mistake? I hit the undo button, which goes entirely against what I’m trying to accomplish with my practice drawing.

I don’t want to be perfect when I draw. I want to be good, and I want to get faster, which means learning to deal with mistakes and accept them as they happen, instead of bogging down the whole drawing process by constantly undoing my work in an attempt to make it perfect. I’m having to fight with myself not to hit the undo button, and even then, sometimes I can’t live with the line I’ve just drawn or the color I just put down, and instead of just making it work, or accepting it and moving on, I undo and undo and undo and undo…

Ugh. It’s infuriating. But one habit I need to break is hitting that undo button, so that’s why I’m doing this drawing practice.

Okay, enough yakking. Time for a couple of pics. The exercises I worked on this week had me making  sprays of flowers and drawing more elaborate stylized flowers. I love drawing flowers, so I enjoyed this week. Here are two of the drawings I produced.

Floral Spray

BeeYOUtiful Roses


Fancy Flower

Fancy Flower


I did take a little time with the second one to pick out the colors I wanted to use. I’m fussy about colors and I wanted colors for this that would contrast well but still work together. I like the final product. It reminds me of 1970s kitchen wall paper for some reason. That or Pennsylvania Dutch decor.

After playing around with flowers on the iPad, I decided to try drawing on ACTUAL PAPER with ACTUAL PENS AND MARKERS. Here’s how that turned out!

Floral Card

It”s a greeting card!


I have so much more control over actual paper and pen, and I had no problems not undoing anything I did on this card because THERE WASN’T ANY UNDO BUTTON!!!

Anyway, that’s this week’s drawing practice. I hope you like it. If you’re curious about the book Craft-a-Doodle, you can get it here.

Practicing Drawing – Lovely Ladies

So I mentioned the other day that I was going to start blogging about my drawing practice. I honestly don't believe I do enough drawing, and I want to change that. I have several books in my library that offer exercises for drawing and doodling, and so I've decided to work through at least part of each book and share the results here.

The book I'm starting with is Craft-a-Doodle by Jenny Doh. I love doodling. It's a painless way to practice drawing because I don't feel so emotionally invested in the process of drawing, yet once it's done, I'm usually pretty happy with the end results. I think it's that idea that “it's just a doodle” that allows me to relax and draw. Unlike when I'm working on the webcomic. I tend to get way too tense and judgemental then.

I've worked my way through the first chapter in Craft-a-Doodle. Each chapter is made up of prompts and exercises by a different artist. Chapter one offers exercises by Cori Dantini, including drawing faces, owls, and flowers. The exercises are pretty straight-forward, but the results are great! Here the doodles I did for this chapter:

Lovely Ladies

Lovely Ladies

 

Owls

Owls

 

Flowers

Flowers

I drew these on my iPad, using Paper51. It's a nice app with some decent natural media tools. It's not the best app for drawing, but it does have the advantage of a notebook format, allowing me to keep a group of drawings together.

I plan to work through the next chapter over the course of the week, and have another update next Tuesday!

 

Bring Out Your Dead – 6 April, Greeting Cards for Goths

A miracle has occurred. I’ve managed to squeeze in about 6 hours of work in the last 3 days! That’s the “might possibly earn me some money” kind of work, not the “I sold my soul to Girl Scouts” kind of work.

I’ve also managed to do some yard work, clean the house a bit, cook a few meals and exercise 3 days in a row! So many miracles! And I am soooooooooooooooooooo tired right now.

But it’s a good kind of tired, because I made a choice about how I wanted to spend my time and I didn’t let myself get derailed by what other folks wanted. Did I mention that I even played video games with the kids this week? Far out, dude!

But back to resurrecting my dead career. My current goals are:

A) Get back on a regular schedule with the webcomic, so that I’m back to putting out a new strip every week.

2) Draw and publish one or two new greeting cards (or mug designs, t-shirts, etc.) each month.

Which brings us to the topic in the headline – Greeting Cards for Goths.

I do not consider myself to be a Goth, though I love to wear black and I celebrate Halloween all year long. I’m more of a general geek, with a sort of minor in punk, zombie, kawaii and Goth interests. In other words, I enjoy lots of different things. One thing I especially enjoy is drawing beautiful but creepy ladies. I get a lot of inspiration for Edward Gorey (who doesn’t?) and Aubrey Beardsley. Combine that with my fondess for twisted humor and you get some very interesting ideas for greeting cards. Like greeting cards you can send to people you don’t like. Greeting cards made for people who despise the mundane world. Greeting cars for people who live in Night Vale. Greeting cards for people who like their humor the way they like their coffee – sweetened with the blood of innocents and the tears of the wretched. In other words, greeting cards for people just like you and me!

So I’ve been working on drawings for these cards. I do this at the local library, where I have the perfect excuse to turn off my phone (if I don’t, the librarians will sacrifice me to their dark gods). I find a nice comfy chair, spend an hour working on the webcomic, and then spend another hour working on the greeting cards. Here’s a peek at what I’ve managed to produce so far this week:  

Cool sketch!

“I’m so gloomily beautiful, I may faint!”

 Isn’t she lovely?!

I’m doing the sketch in SketchClub on my iPad. Once I’ve got both the inside and outside artwork sketched out, I’ll import the images into Concepts to ink and color them. Final clean-up and formatting will be done in Corel Draw on my desktop.

I’m very happy with this piece so far. Like I said, I feel like miracles are happening this week. Just making the decision to reduce my volunteer hours has given me a real boost. Hopefully, I’ll get my boundaries between volunteering and work firmly established by the time cookie season comes around again. Because I do not want to get sucked into a black hole of unending burn-out ever again!

I’ll post another update later this week. Until then, have fun!

Creature Comforts – Day 27 & 28, Sick Days

Yesterday afternoon (Day 27 of Creature Comforts), I started to feel a little less than stellar. By evening I had a pounding headache, aches and pains, and an upset stomach. I managed to do the bare minimum of work – crocheting together another strip of granny squares for the monstrous blanket of doom. 

Kittens and blanket

The kittens did their best to make me feel better.

 

I decided to sleep late – very late – this morning, and spend the rest of the day doing as little as possible. So I curled up on my beloved couch and did a little more work on the blanket. Then I decided that was too hard so I switched to drawing instead.

 

Sick Day Drawing

She looks better than I feel.

 
Really, this is more tracing and coloring than drawing at this point, and since I find those to be comforting activities, I’m including this drawing in Creature Comforts. I did the pencil work on this earlier in the week then transfered it over to Concepts on my iPad. I think I’m going to spend more time mindlessing coloring in tomorrow, since that’s about all I feel like doing. I’m still not 100% today, and I have a ton of volunteer work to do this weekend, so I’m taking another sick day to recover and I will get done whatever I get done. I’ll try to show the results tomorrow, if I’m feeling well enough. Good night for now.