I’m not dead yet!

And no, I won’t soon will be.

I apologize for being quiet for so long. This year has been overwhelming, between volunteer work and taking care of my parents after my dad’s heart attack. However, I am working on getting back into the swing of things.

I’ve gotten back to work on the webcomic, writing scripts and pencilling comics. I’ll probably start inking the first new comic later today. I’ve also been doing a lot of other drawing, so you should be seeing that soon as well.

So I’m coming back! I’m dragging myself back out of the grave and into the light. I hope we’re all prepared for this 🙂

Three quick sketches of me

Three quick sketches

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.

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!

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!

 

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.

Krampus Challenge – Day 20, Three Elf Heads Are Better Than One!

 

Shrunken Elf Heads!

Ta-daa! A trio of shrunken elf heads!

 
I managed to get these three finished today. I’m very pleased with how they turned out. They’re a very simple project, but even simple projects take a bit of planning and thought.  I experimented a bit with each elf hat to determine exactly how I wanted to make it. Small things – like crocheting in the front loop only on the bottom row – make it easier to assemble the final product.

I also noticed a few things about the yarn I used for these. For the most part, I went with Red Heart. Red Heart has plenty of shades of green and red, and some of the greens are perfect for making zombies. However, some of these yarns were more difficult to work with than others. Some of the reds had a stiffer feel to them, making them harder to stitch. One of the heads I made with Vanna’s Choice, which is one of my favorite yarns to make toys and amigurumi with. The difference between your basic Red Heart and Vanna’s Choice is very noticeable. Vanna’s Choice is much softer and easier to use. But it’s also more expensive, so there’s that to take into account.

I also did a little sketch today of my little shrunken elf heads.

 

Elf Heads Sketch!

This is exactly what our tree looks like right now.

 
I drew this in a book called “Never Quit Drawing,” by Laura Simms, illustrated by Kerby Rosanes. The little duck and snail critters at the lower left of this sketch are Rosanes’ work, as is the pencil at the top of the page. The rest of the artwork is all mine. The idea behind “Never Quit Drawing” is to establish a daily drawing habit. The book guides you through the process of developing habits in general, and looking at how drawing habits affect an artists work in particular. After each chapter, there are pages for the reader to draw on, with a spot to write down the time of day the drawing was done, and the mood/energy level of the artist. Obviously, i wasn’t feeling my best this morning (see the note on “tired, joint pain’). But i did get my drawing done for today.

TTomorrow, I hope to finish off the second Krampus Raven and maybe get started on a Ginger-Dead Man ornament. We’ll see how it goes.

November Drawing – Day 04, Mushrooms and Mermaids

I spent this morning working in two different vector drawing apps, seeing what results I could get. I went back to work on the mermaid image first, working in InkPad.

 

Mermaid tentacles!

My mermaids tend to be more Ursula than Ariel…

 
In addition to working on the ink lines (which are actually made by using the brush tool to trace shapes instead of lines over the pencil drawing), I did a bit more work on the colors.

 

Mermaid colors!

Colors with shading andhighlights.

 
I’ve added some highlights and started work on the hair. I like how I can control the shapes of both the colors and the lines. I also like that I have a dropper to pick up the colors I’ve used so I don’t have to keep hunting for them in a color palette as I work.

After working in InkPad for a while, I switched over to Concepts to play for a bit, to see if I can get some results that I like. Here are the results.

 

Mushroom!

The Fungus among us!

 
To get a line with variable width in Concepts, I have to set the pen tools to the smallest line width setting. Unfortunately, this doesn’t look very good on large images (at least to my eyes), so I drew a small box on the canvas and zoomed in to do this drawing. Now this is a style I like – shaky, creepy lines that aren’t too big and aren’t too small, that have a nice amount of line width variation. And best of all, I get to color this image the way I like, because Concepts doesn’t let me draw a shape for the fill or let me use a fill bucket. I get to color my drawing like it’s a digital coloring book page! 

(And yes, I love coloring, but I would prefer to color my own artwork as opposed to buying a coloring book. Nobody draws the kind of creepy stuff I love to work on. Perhpas I should make my own freaky coloring pages to share with everyone?)

So that’s the results from today. I’m very happily coloring and drawing away!

November Drawing – Day 02, Skull in Concepts

 

Sugar Skull

Suguar Skull, by Helen Madden

 
I spent some time this morning experimenting with Concepts for the iPad, looking at how the different tools worked with various settings. Concepts offers vector versions of markers and various types of pens. The problem I have is getting the line widths to vary the way I want it to. There are also options for smoothing the lines, but I don’t really have the hang of that yet.

I do have a pressure sensative stylus for the iPad, so I will try that next.

November Drawing – Robots and Vampires

So I spent all day thinking about what I want to do for November’s creative challenge (because I did a creative challenge in October, so why not do another one in November?) and I decided this month’s challenge would be ART.

Or doodling, at least.

The idea for this month is for me to get back to a regular drawing schedule. I love to draw, but like a lot of other things I love to do, when life gets really, painfully hectic, I jettison just about all but the essentials from my schedule.

I am hoping that this month will not be nearly as painful as last month. October just about did me in with all the events and volunteer work and making costumes I had to do. I’ll get into all that later this week when I do a final review of the whole October Crochet thing.

But for now, the plan is to draw every day. Just like with October Crochet, I do not plan to finish a drawing a day, but I do plan to complete more than one drawing this month. AND I plan to get back to a regular schedule for the webcomic as well. Assuming this month’s schedule goes as planned.

For my first entry this month, I present to you two quick doodles I did this evening on my iPad. First we have robots…

 

Robots!

“We are robots! We are handsome!”


And then we have a Vampire!

 Vampire!
Both of these drawings were done in Concepts, a vector drawing app. Concepts is similar to the old Adobe Ideas app that I used to use a lot, but it handles a little differntly, so I’m still working on how I want to use it and what kind of drawings I can make with it.

Unfortunately for me, Adobe Ideas was “retired” and replaced with Adobe Draw. Adobe Draw works just like Adobe Ideas used to, except for one very important little details. It will NOT let me export my artwork in SVG format. It will let me export my work directly to Adobe Creative Suite, but I don’t own a copy of Adobe Creative Suite because it’s TOO FUCKING EXPENSIVE! The only other option Adobe Draw gives me is to export my artwork as a PNG of suck low quality that I cannot then trace and convert to vector format in any graphics program I have. So I have pretty much quit using Adobe Draw.

So I’m making the switch to Concepts. And I’m hoping that if I spend a lot of time working with it this month, I’ll get pretty good with Concepts.

So that’s what’s up for this month! More drawings tomorrow!