Aby-a-Day – 31 Mars 2020: How to Train Your Singapura…finished! (Cartoon Tuesday)

As you remember from last week’s post, I started working on a drawing of Izaak as Toothless the Night Fury from the How to Train Your Dragon films. The first step was the second, clean ink layer. I did something a little different than I usually do, though; I only used black for the outline on his eyes and his tail attachment. On the rest of his outline, I used dark brown, and on his collar, I used blues and silvers. And I finally worked out how the eyedropper tool works in Procreate! You’ll notice I didn’t outline the bones on the wings. I actually did, but then copied them to their own layer. I had an idea.

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I did the undercolouring in two layers: one of the basic shades, and another on top of that with the eyes and collar colour and the wings and prosthetic tail. I found a marvellous texture brush in Procreate that was perfect for the wings and the tail attachment.

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Here are the two undercolour layers combined…and then with the ink layer.

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Then I worked on the wing details. These are the outlines from the inking…with some transparency, layer enhancements, and…finally, a use for the plastic wrap filter!

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Then I switched to the background. I found a blank background from the movie art and deleted the bits in the scene I didn’t want. Then I added a paint layer to adapt the scene to what I wanted.

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Then I combined those and ran a few filters.

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But…when I switched from Procreate to Photoshop and put “Zakless” on the background, I discovered there was a transparency problem.

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You can’t always see the gaps in colour when you’re working in Procreate on a white background. But I came up with an easy fix.

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I made a quick solid, opaque figure on a separate layer between the background and the colour layers. This would actually turn out to save me time later on.

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Problem solved! Now it’s time for the collar and fur texture.

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I did the collar first. I actually used a photo of Alfred’s collar and changed the hue and lightness to get Zak’s blues and lightened the opacity to get the braid pattern. This is on a layer between the second ink and the undercolour. I could have done a similar thing with his tags…but I liked the way I drew them.

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Next, the fur texture. You’ve all seen my fur brushes, and I didn’t do anything new or unusual…except this: I found a wicked cool scale brush along with my feather and fur brushes. Never needed to use a scale brush before, and I really like the effect.

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Here’s the finished Zakless, including whiskers and eyeshine.

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And here he is with the background.

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Add his shadow (made using a copy of the opaque layer I had already made, just black, distorted, translucent and blurred)…and voilà! Here is the finished Zakless!

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Or is it? After I thought I’d finished him, I got a brainwave on how to improve the eyeshine…with the plastic wrap filter!

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I think it looks more realistic. I also added a tiny drop shadow to the collar. It’s barely noticeable, but it adds a bit of depth, which I like. Yes…I think he’s finished now.

Aby-a-Day – 30 Mars 2020: Shelter in place (Hipstamatic Monday)

In a lot of places (that don’t include Sweden at the moment), people have been told to “shelter in place” to avoid spreading Covid-19. Despite the Swedish government not yet ordering a lockdown, I have been staying inside as much as possible. So I thought I’d show the places the cats have been sheltering in today.

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This was what Izaak and Alfred were doing before I got up to take photos.

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I love the way this shot of Lorelai! Part of the fun of Hipstamatic is it’s random, like a slot machine. And this photo is one of the jackpots!

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And this one isn’t bad either.

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Here’s Dashiell on Pyret’s chair.

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And here’s Dash channeling 1967.

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One of Angel’s napping spots is on a dining table chair. That’s where I found her today.

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And, as napping places go, the kitchen tables are a pretty good place to nap.

Aby-a-Day – 29 Mars 2020: Izaak and Angel outside (Cinema Sunday)

It seems like an odd pairing, but when we go outside, Izaak and Angel pair up together.

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It’s actually pretty adorable, because they generally weigh almost exactly the same, around 3.4kg (7.5lbs), which makes them roughly the same size. Alfred and Dashiell are the big boys, and Lorelai is our tiny little girl.

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You can see how much bigger Dash is compared to the two of them.

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But look how cute this is! They’re almost holding tails!

Here’s a video of the two of them. It’s accidentally slow motion, but you can see how they make a sweet, if strange, couple.

Aby-a-Day – 28 Mars 2020: TImeshare cats (Swedish Saturday)

I’m always amused at how popular napping spots go in and out of style amongst our cats. As an example, for months, nobody regularly slept on this cushion at Björn’s end of the sofa.

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Then Lorelai adopted it and naps there every evening. She’s so cute when she does that, curled up in a tight little ball.

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But what’s even funnier is, during the day, when Rory naps, it’s in other places nowhere near that corner. During the day, that’s Angel’s napping spot! I’ve read that cats timeshare places in the house, and apparently, our cats are big believers in that!

Aby-a-Day – 27 Mars 2020: “You have to stop the Q-Tip when there’s resistance!”

I don’t remember exactly where I came across these (I think it was probably Kickstarter), but the idea of a reusable Q-Tip was very appealing to me. So when I discovered LastSwab, I had to try it.

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Originally, I was intrigued on my own behalf, because I use a Q-Tip every time I take a shower (full disclosure: They clean well, but they don’t soak up the water I get in my ears, so not perfect). But then I realised they would be awesome to use on the cats’ ears when I do their biweekly grooming (claw clipping, toothbrushing, ears, anal glands and combing). Depending on the cat, I use two to three Q-Tips per ear! So I got a LastSwab for each cat.

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Each cat has varying degrees of waxy build-up. Alfred, like Jacoby, has the dirtiest ears. Lorelai and Dashiell are next, then Angel and finally Izaak. So I used Freddy as my model.

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They are a little more “grabby” than cotton swabs, with those little nubs.

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Look how much wax they collect! Jake had chronic yeast infections in his ears, and I suspect Freddy has the same; problem is, Freddy’s insanely hard to give drops to. So I usually do an extra cleaning on his ears on the off weekends.

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On Freddy and Jake, I could use three or four swabs in a go. Add in the other cats’ ears…that’s a lot of swabs. I can get all of Freddy’s wax in one go with these. They clean easily with just soap and water, and if you think about it, it’s not much different from having a toothbrush.

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There you go, Freddy…all clean!

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Okay, Freddy…that’s a little too much enthusiasm.

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Postscript…Rory’s LastSwab case suffered a broken clip the first time I used it. I reached out to the company…and they are sending me a whole new LastSwab! All I wanted was a new case. That’s pretty great customer service!

Aby-a-Day – 26 Mars 2020: Reach out and touch someone (Thursday Things)

The other day, we were watching YouTube videos on the television, and I wanted to show Björn the video of Lorelai stalking the geese, which he hadn’t seen yet.

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After that, YouTube autoplayed the next video, which was the one of Izaak sitting on top of Dashiell.

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Dash was intensely interested in seeing him and his buddy on TV. And then the cutest thing happened.

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He reached his paw out and touched Zak! It was so sweet, so tentative…but he definitely recognised his friend.

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Then a different video autoplayed, one of Angel and Zak outside. And Dash patted Zak’s image again! I have never seen a cat do this before. I have seen them play with images on screen, but not recognise another cat that they know.

I made a little video of him…but he went behind the screen looking for the cats. I did finally capture him patting Zak.

Aby-a-Day – 25 Mars 2020: Wordless Wednesday (Two sides of the same cat)

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