WIP Wednesday

Just a quick post to share what I'm currently trying to finish. It's the end of the school year for my daughter so it's been pretty busy. I dunno, but when I was going to school I don't remember so much fanfare or my mom scrambling to get stuff ready (like goody bags) for my classes but times have changed I guess. Anywho, I've been trying to finish up these fun sassy cats. I envision this as a pattern but I figure you could use the individual cats for different things like a magnet set or in a stripe around a mug.  They are all fleshed out in Illustrator and I'm currently adding more textures and such in Photoshop.  I had fun drawing pen and ink textures to overlay on the flat faces.

cute cats in bows and glasses

Here are the textures I will soon add:

hand drawn textures

For these I drew with pen and ink and pencil and then scanned in. I then did an auto trace in Illustrator (more time consuming than it's worth I think) and I plan to overlay in Photoshop.  It's something new that I'm trying. I haven't really customized a hand drawn texture to really fit into a certain shape.  Usually I'll just create a pattern or texture and just use a clipping mask in Photoshop which pretty much just cuts it into the shape it's laying on.  We'll see if I like the effect of the texture fitting perfectly onto the shape.

And finally, here is my original sketch.  As you can see there were also "boy" cats with mustaches but I decided to keep the girls with the girls and will do the boys separately later.  I figure for licensing, they don't really mix the gendered stuff when it comes to kids.  Also, I changed some of the "grumpy" looking cats to more "smirky" or happy since I felt that it would be more appealing for kids. I dunno I think the grumpy cats are cute but that's just me. ;)

original sketches

Net Picks - Pens

I love pens! I'm a pen addict. I'm also very finicky when it comes to the pens I use. My go to site for buying Japanese pens is Jetpens! Uni Style-fit multipens (and singles) and a Pentel brush pen

I love the multi pen system and my go to brand is the Uni Style-fit. My personal favorite is the gel ink line and nib size 0.28 which is super fine and gives a clean line. I also love the color options. I used different colors in my planner to list different people's tasks.

For outlining in a thicker stroke, I like the Staedtler Fineliner.  I use this pen to go over and outline over my Uni Style-fit pens. I use the black and brown versions (they match the Uni Style-fit colors perfectly).

I have recently tried out brush pens for drawing. The two I currently use are the Pentel Brush Pen and the Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen (hard). I actually like both and although they are both brush pens, the results are very different.

The Pentel Brush Pen is very much like drawing with a brush and ink. You can get very thin lines and with more pressure get nice thick lines. The ink is very dark too. The one drawback is that this is not an easy pen to get the hang of, you need to practice. The control isn't as tight as the Tombow. Another thing to note is that this pen is refillable and the refills are really affordable.

The Tombow Fudenosuke (hard version) has a much firmer nib than the Pentel. It actually seems more like a pointed felt nib but I'm not sure. You can achieve a brush-like stroke but it's tighter and you need to press harder to get a thick line. The nib is shorter than the Pentel so ultimately the thickness of the line you can get is much thinner than the Pentel. The good thing about the Fudenosuke is that it is easier to control you line widths seeing that the nib is much more firmer.    These are non-refillable but fairly cheap. This pen also comes in a soft and grey version (grey version has dual ends, one end black and one end grey ink).

Jetpens is not just a source for pens, they also have an array of other items like notebooks, bags and office and craft supplies. The prices are really reasonable for specialty items from Japan and they offer free shipping for orders over $25.

Here are more examples of work I've done with my pens:

*update - Sorry I forgot to mention all the brush pen sketches below were done with my Pentel Brush pen. Haven't had the time to scan in any of my Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen drawings yet.

Sketch done with brush pen and grey felt marker

Original sketch done in pen

Brush pen sketches


* please note that the written comments and opinions are my own and not paid or solicited. 

Work in Progress- Owls

Hello, it's been a very busy month!  I wish I could spend more time on my artwork but the holiday season is always extremely busy (and seems to start earlier and earlier each year)!  Although I have a lot of ideas sketched out in my notebooks, getting them scanned and into the computer takes time. Currently I'm working on digitizing some owl sketches I had done. They don't all match up stylistically but I figure I can use the ones that do in different projects (patterns, illustrations, etc).  Here is a sneak peek on how they are coming along in Adobe Illustrator.

Owl sketches being digitized

I'm taking care to add textures and using custom brushes that I've created or modified from Illustrator's set of Artistic brushes.  Later I will add some watercolor overlays I recently purchased.

In case you may be interested, I've been purchasing great bundled sets off of DesignCuts. The bundles usually have tons of great stuff at a really spectacular deal.  An example of one I bought is their current deal. This one includes the watercolor overlays I had previously mentioned.  I'm really excited because these overlays are repeating patterns in Illustrator. Some other great includes are: fonts, vintage/retro photoshop actions, watercolor and paintbrush photoshop brushes, and vector illustrations.  I've also bought other bundles in the past.  Even though I may not have a current project or need I still buy them because I can tell they will be useful one day.

I'll try to post progress shots and highlight when I do use any of the elements I have purchased.

Another site that I've also used recently is  I found many of their classes really interesting and motivating.  Although I don't have the time to spend on the actual assignments I was still able to learn a number of new things.  Also, you can try if for free.  I really enjoyed Lydia Nichols class really neat. Her class was about using both Illustrator and Photoshop to create illustrations.  Her tips on creating custom brushes in illustrator and using scanned textures in Photoshop were really well explained and demonstrated.

Other Skillshare classes I enjoyed were Mary Kate McDevitt's intro to hand lettering and Molly Jacques' class on modern calligraphy.  There is a really nice diversity of creative classes on

*My reviews of these sites were both initiated without any form of compensation.  I just thought I'd pass on my honest opinion.

WIP Wednesday

For this piece I started with a sketch (in ink) I liked. I took a photo of it (since I didn't have access to a scanner) and started inking it in Photoshop. I then proceeded to block in the skin and other large flat areas of color. I finished up with some simple blending and shading. It's not nearly as complete as I'd like but it was a fun exercise to get my feet back into digital painting.

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Hula Girls

Hula Girls

really liked how these looked like as a sketch so I did a trace in Illustrator then added color and texture (in Photoshop). I wanted to try something different so I used triangles to give it texture. I like the effect but maybe I should have been more subtle. I may revisit these later. I feel like I want to give it a similar treatment as my other mini geisha illustrations.

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