Aby-a-Day – 30 Juni 2020: Hall of fame (Cartoon Tuesday)

I was so proud of my portrait of the Maltese Dashiell, I wanted to get an art print made with it. So, I went to Japan Photo‘s website (they’re a Swedish photo printing company, like Shutterfly) website and ordered something. I had to do it in Swedish, but I managed all right. One nifty feature they have is allowing you to see your artwork on a wall in a virtual room. That really helped me figure out what size to get. I thought about getting it printed on canvas, but ended up getting it printed on a metal plate.

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Today, Björn and I hung it in our entryhall, above the mirror.

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It works really well there, I think. It’s next to the 1965 print of an Abyssinian that bears a striking resemblance to Alfred.

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Finally, my vintage Australian Cat From Outer Space movie poster (that…apparently I have never posted about. Oops) completes our entry hall. I think Lorelai approves of our arrangement.

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I almost forgot! On the opposite wall, above the keybox, we have this small Abyssinian print I picked up years ago; it was done by Braldt Bralds, a Dutch artist. I’ve also seen this print as a greeting card.

I guess now I need to find a Singapura print to really complete the ensemble.

Aby-a-Day – 26 Maj 2020: Prints and sketches for the ‘rents (Cartoon Tuesday)

I had intended a better post for today, but we’re all well knackered from the trip to the vet…wrangling five cats on the bus is exhausting! But I had ordered some prints of my recent art projects to send to my mom and dad in the States, and they came today, so I got them ready to mail them tomorrow. My mom hasn’t got a computer (well, she has, but it’s on dial-up and is still running Netscape, so…), and I don’t know if my dad still has his since he’s in assisted living.

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Anyway, I put each set into a greeting card, and as always, I did a little cat sketch in each card. I had a certain cat in mind on each sketch…can you tell who I drew?

Aby-a-Day – 8 Maj 2020: *Tips hat* M’leggie (Photoshop Friday Flashback)

10 years ago today, I posted this photo of Jacoby’s amusing leggie pose.

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But what I never posted was a Picasso-inspired artistic version of this photo. So, here it is.

Aby-a-Day – 10 April 2020: More PHOTOSHOPPED cats (Photoshop Friday)

Continuing last week’s Photoshop Friday, I did some more Photoshop challenges on the Facebook group This Cat is PHOTOSHOPPED. I also posted the meme about the green screen dress Queen Elizabeth wore when she gave her COVID-19 speech last Sunday.

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And, of course, I had to give Her Majesty a Three Jake Moon shirt.

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When I saw this photo of Mya the Sphynx, I had only one thought and one thought only. Isn’t she precious?

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Jezebel’s original photo had her on her scratching post. I thought she needed a real tree.

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THIS is one of my favourites from this week. When I saw this chonky girl, my brain instantly went to…well, Manchester Township, New Jersey. One member said that it should be a poster. It’s always interesting to work in greyscale.

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Athletic Yoda reminded me of a trapeze artist.

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This face! I had to do this.

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This cat’s name is Chandler, so I had to do this…

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I didn’t think that sofa looked “Central Perk” enough, so I used this one instead. Much better!

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Then Björn made a comment…eh, it was inevitable.

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Harley and Powder’s human wanted them ‘Shopped onto a rock album. Hey, no problem.

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I had saved this photo of the bear and was waiting for a cat to fill it. I thought it was Mia…but I wasn’t so sure after I finished it. But her human loved it, so that’s good enough for me.

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Peso is a semi-celebrity in the group – I mean, look at those eyes! Behold, the majestic Peso Owl in flight.

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Willie’s human wanted him Photoshopped riding something “bad ass”…well, what’s more bad ass than Joust? This was a lot of fun…I learned how to pixilate photos with this one. It’s always nice when one of these challenges teaches me a new trick.

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Then, someone in the comments posted a photo of Putin, shirtless, riding a horse, and said, “Someone please put him on the horse with Putin!” Challenge accepted.

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Gilligan reminded me of an ancient Egyptian cat, so I put him in the temple at Abydos. Not super happy with how it turned out…but Gillgan’s human loved it. Again, that’s kind of the point.

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This is Colonel Gentleman. His original photo looked like he was sitting behind a desk, so… Fun fact: the base I used was a photo of Socks sitting behind Bill Clinton’s Resolute Desk.

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Another person posted her adorable foster kittens Meeps, Sully and Toque….it was the obvious choice. I wish Toque’s photo had been larger, though.

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Another obvious choice. I had fun with the bubbles.

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Daniel had to have his back leg shaved for an operation, and his owner wanted us to cover it up. I used a photo of a peacock I took at Borås Djurpark last summer, and used feather brushes to fill in spots.

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This is today’s project. Bailey’s human wanted him to turn his blep against evil. This was the most evil I could think of.

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Well, either that, or this. Potato, potahto.

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 – 23 Juli: Louis Wain (Cartoon Tuesday)

In London, we spent a good bit of time looking for treasures in second-hand shops. I was on the hunt for anything regarding the early Abyssinians, and I figured England might be the place to find it. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any Victorian-era cat breeding books, but I did find a print by the pre-eminent cat artist Louis Wain. There were a couple of different ones, actually, but I thought the limerick was charming:

A girl, who was dreadfully flustered,
Helped Ma-in-law to a spoonful of mustard!
Her Ma-in-Law stared,
Asked how she dared!
But she told her she thought it was custard.

The print was marked as being from 1910.

When I got it home and framed it, however, I discovered it wasn’t just a print…it was a page from a book! And the other side was also very cute…but there’s a mark on it that I Photoshopped out when I scanned it, so I kept the limerick side out. Louis Wain is known for more than just his drawing…he also had some sort of mental issues (possibly dementia or schizophrenia; mental illness wasn’t as sophisticated 100 years ago), and, even though he was put in an asylum, he kept drawing cats that became more and more psychedelic as his illness progressed. In the filigree decoration on the back of page seems to presage his future drawings.

He was an incredibly prolific cat artist, and his work was published in books and as postcards. I found this very Aby-looking fellow online as a part of series of postcards celebrating “taking the waters” at Harrogate, one of the first ever “spas” where people went every summer for sulphur treatments. The treatments involved both drinking and soaking in the water, and Wain did four series of six cards each as souvenir/advertising. After finding the Abyssinian “sulphurer,” I became fascinated by these little glimpses into history…probably because, as a kid my dad tricked me into drinking sulphur water from the Lithia water fountain in Ashland, Oregon. I know what it tastes like!

In researching Louis Wain’s work (I was unable to find my images online anywhere, believe it or not, so I don’t know what book my page came from), I also came across this happy little guy. I know know much about him…but doesn’t he look like Izaak!? It actually kind of reminds me of that sketch of Zak I did back in March.

Aby-a-Day – 9 Juli: Art in Camdentown (Cartoon Tuesday)

Our first full day in London, we went to the Camden Market. Neither Björn nor I had even managed to make it there on our previous visits to the city. But one booth in particular caught my attention: An artist, Carlotta Mascolo. She said she would do a drawing upon request.

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Well, how could I resist? I showed her this photo of Jacoby wearing his Red Sox gear after Game 6 of the 2013 World Series. Since we were in London to see the Red Sox, it seemed appropriate.

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This is the drawing Carlotta did of Jake. I absolutely love it. It’s perfect, especially the expression on his face.

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I also bought a couple of her printed cards as well. I mean, how could I resist this illustration of a “cat show”? I’m pretty sure the bottom left cat is an Abyssinian.

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And this one of a dad-cat carrying his kittens up to bed…so sweet. I am so glad we noticed this little booth amongst all the shops in Camden Market!

Aby-a-Day – 2 Juli: Sketches in London (Cartoon Tuesday)

Even though the posts have been coming regularly every day, Björn and I have been in London since last Thursday evening. We came mainly because I got tickets for both games of the two-game series of MLB games between the Yankees and the Yankees, the first time major league baseball has been played in Europe. Even though Boston was the official home team for both games, and despite there being more Red Sox fans in attendance than there were Yankees fans…the Evil Empire ended up winning both games. But it’s been a lot of fun, and we’ll be home Thursday afternoon.

When we weren’t at the games, of course, we have been doing a lot of sightseeing and shopping. One necessary stop, of course, was Harrod’s. Whilst in the souvenir shop, there was a display of pens, 3 for the price of 2. Whilst Björn hunted for pens, I decided to test them out on the provided pads.

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First, I drew Jacoby…but I didn’t like the way it turned out; the ears were too small. So I tried again, with Izaak. This one turned out much better. Still not as good as I’d have liked…but then, the pen I was using wasn’t the best.

Harrod’s is known for its souvenir shopping bags. I bought a rather generic one back in 2002 the last time I visited…but this time I found something much, much better! And, not to mention, Cartoon Tuesday-appropriate.

One last thing: at the first baseball game, we were sitting just in front of a Red Sox fan, Charles, from Connecticut who had come all the way to London to see a game. After the first inning, he started sketching, saying he was “a bit bored.” He was a wonderful artist! Here is the drawing he did of the game; Björn is in it, but I am not…the lines to buy merchandise were insane, so I sucked it up and went to stand in those. For four innings! If you ever happen upon this post, Charles…it was great to meet you!

Aby-a-Day – 25 Juni: Dashiell and Taz (Cartoon Tuesday)

This isn’t really a cartoon, but today Meg sent me the most wonderful photo of Dashiell interacting with a portrait of Taz, painted by her friend Rose Gates. It’s so very sweet, the way Dash is touching Taz’s face. I think he really will be a special cat indeed…Meg’s comment: “Dash is awed by Rose Gates’ Taz portrait. ‘I want to grow up to be a star like this guy!'” I hope he will.

Also, whilst cleaning my clothing cupboard the other day, I also found this charming birthday card Meg sent me.

I think it was last year, before Taz died. It’s perfect…and it does look a bit like a fawn silver Aby…

Aby-a-Day – 4 Juni: “Forget about style; worry about results” (Cartoon Tuesday)

Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals was yesterday, and the series is split 2-2, with Boston and St. Louis winning a game each home and away. Last week, I posted a drawing of Jacoby as the iconic “flying Bobby Orr”. This week, it’s finished!

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But apart from sharing the final drawing, I thought I would also share the layers that create it. This is the “Uniform” layer, which I coloured using the incredibly useful NHL Uniform Database to make certain I got the colours and stripes right.

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This is Jake’s colouring. It’s actually three different layers merged together to get the depth of colour in his fur. The whiskers and eyeshine are on a separate layer.

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This is the finished Jake and his shadow. Then, for the background, I ran the original photo of Bobby Orr through the “cutout” filter.

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I am particularly proud of the way his head turned out. Aby markings are deceptively complex to render realistically.

Hopefully this will give Boston a little luck in the next two or three games…GO BRUINS!

Aby-a-Day – 1 Juni: A birthday frame-up (Swedish Saturday)

Today is my birthday! Not a very eventful one (that’s next year), but a birthday nonetheless.

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Most of the “celebrating” will be done next week, as Björn has to work this weekend, but next weekend we’ll be at a cat show. But I did get a gift: Björn had my magpie print framed! It’s an unusual size, so he had to have it done custom.

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A bit of backstory, now, since apparently I never really posted about the magpie tattoo that was my introduction to my fabulous artist Linus. When I went in for the very first consultation, I was hopeful that the person I met with could really do magpies with Japanese maple leaves really well. Well, walking up to the house, the first thing I saw was a gorgeous red Japanese maple tree planted in the yard. Then, I went inside, and saw a trio of gorgeous prints, including the magpie at the top of this post. Then I met Linus, and when I mentioned that I loved the magpie print, he proudly told me that he had drawn it!

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Well, needless to say, I knew I had found my artist! Here is the finished tattoo…these are actually Yellow-Billed Magpies, which are only found in the Sacramento/San Joaquin valley of Northern California, where I grew up. Everywhere else, magpies have black beaks. This is similar to my Western Grey Fox tattoo, which is also a native California species.

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Whilst trying to capture my newly-framed print, of course somecat had to come investigate…

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Okay, I think the frame is Singapura approved!

Aby-a-Day – 21 Maj: Singapura Stinkeye, Pixie-style (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, I did some sketches of Izaak in the style of Pixie from the webcomic Pixie and Brutus. There is one particular cartoon that really inspired me to do a Singapura Stinkeye PixieZak. So…here it is.

I tried to do this entirely in Procreate on my iPad Pro, but I had to do a couple of things in Photoshop after I had finished. One, Björn thought Zak’s eye was too big, so I made it a little smaller…and two, I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to paste my signature into the drawing on Procreate.

However, whilst Procreate may be lacking in layer-pasting abilities, it does have a very nifty feature: it records your drawing, which you can then export as a video! So…here is me drawing Zak as Pixie.

Aby-a-Day – 26 Februari: Fox finished…plus a little extra (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, Linus finished up my fox tattoo. I really love the way it turned out.

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Here is a close up, showing where the snake used to be.

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I am so glad to be rid of that snake! Even though I adore Barnaby, the artist who did it (and who did my Octopus, Koi and Tiger tattoos)…but it was a mistake.

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Whilst I was there, Linus also touched up the memorial tattoo of Gun-Hee and Logan (Logan’s eyes were made greener, and the background was touched up.

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But best of all, he also touched up my very first tattoo, which I got on my first trip to New York City at the end of 1995. Naturally, being almost 25 years old (Day-uuuuuuummmmm!), poor Harri has faded quite a lot.

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Now he looks like he did when I first got him! Thank you, Linus!

Aby-a-Day – 12 Februari: Till Koshka att måla (Cartoon Tuesday)

Along with the thank you note Emma drew for Björn, there was something for me, too. I have given Emma a couple of Top Model kitten colouring/sticker books, and she sent me one of the pages to colour in myself.

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I decided to scan it and colour it on my laptop. The kitten she sent me kind of looked like a Singapura, so that determined my colour scheme.

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The only problem was that, when I was finished, the eyes looked…wrong. Not very Singapura-y…basically, they were just too small. So, I enlarged them. Not quite sure I like the way they look, but they bother me less than the original.

Aby-a-Day – 2 Februari: “We build statues out of snow, and weep to see them melt” (Swedish Sunday)

Today we had a day outside, playing in the snow. As I posted yesterday, we finally got a bit of snow.

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So today, Lorelai and I built a snowcat!

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(Okay, it was mostly me. Rory just ran around in the snow most of the time.)

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I haven’t made a snow-thing in forever. I think it was when I was living in Somerville in the early 2000’s.

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It’s harder to do than I remembered!

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Especially the muzzle with whiskers. It’s hard to put sticks into snow!

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All in all, though, I was pleased with my sculpture. Several neighbours complimented it.

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Before I got the gravel eyes set, Rory came to assess my work.

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Not sure she approved…

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…But hey, it looks like a cat, and that’s what’s important!

Aby-a-Day – 11 November: On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month…(Serious Sunday)

Today is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of the Great War To End All Wars. As I recalled a few years ago, this holiday is observed somewhat differently in Canada than it is in the United States.

Apparently, the 100th anniversary observance of this occasion is handled VERY differently by Canada and the US, as evidenced by the two countries’ respective leaders. I’ve never been prouder to hold Canadian citizenship.

Aby-a-Day – 16 October: “People are proud of their tattoos. It’s like a modern coat of arms” (Cartoon Tuesday)

On Friday, Linus finished my tattoo honouring Gun-Hee and Logan

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This is just after the shading on Logan was finished. Linus worked hard to find just the exact right shades of brown.

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He really captured Logan’s expression and cute slight underbite.

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Here we are checking it out in the mirror.

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The green in Logan’s eyes should deepen as the tattoo heals.

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Because it’s hard to get the whole tattoo in one photo, Linus made a short video as well. I asked him to take one with my phone, so you can see it “live” by clicking on the image above.

Aby-a-Day – 28 September: Behind the artwork (Photoshop Friday)

I thought you might be interested in how I create a cartoon. I only rarely ever draw a complete drawing in one go. At least not when I am drawing on paper and scanning the the result.

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When I draw on paper, I do a sketch and then trace the sketches in ink. I sometimes do more than one trace of the sketch on the inking sheet.

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Then I assemble the best parts and start colouring.

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Other bits, like the BBQ grill and the apron, are drawn and assembled on separate layers. But when it’s all assembled, it looks like the image at the top.

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The next year, I added Dory. While Marlin is a cream Maine Coon, Dory is a blue Oriental Shorthair. I actually did draw Dory in one go, so her layer is not as exciting.

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For the newest NEMO iteration of Marlin, I realised I didn’t need to redraw all of Marlin, but only certain parts. Just his head, both arms, and some whiskers. But it worked. And it was so much easier than reinventing the wheel. Thanks to Photoshop, I didn’t have to.

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The Singapuras were a bit more tricky.

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I drew each one separately and three of them are complete, stand-alone cats. Only the one in the very back is a partial Singapura.

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The whiskers were done separately.

Aby-a-Day – 25 September: My new tattoo (Cartoon Tuesday)

Today we started work on my memorial tattoo of Gun-Hee and Logan. Yesterday, Linus, my artist, sent me the above outline drawing…

…and this complete drawing- I was blown away. Linus thought that just their heads worked better as a tattoo than showing their whole bodies…and he was right.

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These are the photos Linus used as a reference.

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Here is the tattoo after the lines were done.

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Linus working. He wanted to make sure he looked “ugly” before I took the photo.

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Here is Gun-Hee and his leaves coloured in.

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And here is Gun-Hee’s part done completely with blue shading. On 10 October, Logan will get coloured in and it will be finished.

Aby-a-Day – 13 July: Life imitates art (Fashion Friday Flashback)

An unsung hero of cat art history is Girard “Gig” Goodenow. I can’t even find a biography of him online, but a Google search of his name will give you plenty images of his art. I had a set of four of his “Pity Kitties” with huge, sad eyes in my bedroom when I was four years old. But a few years ago I found a print of one of the series of cat prints he did for Women’s Day…the Abyssinian, of course.

Well, I finally got around to finding a frame for it, and, after I unrolled it to look at it after years of it being packed away, both Björn and I were struck by how much it looked like a portrait of…Alfred. Eerily so, considering the print is 53 years old.

So we got Freddy to pose next to his two-dimensional doppleganger.

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Or, rather, I should say we tried to get him to pose. It didn’t start off well…

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This is one of the best photos of them together!

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At last Freddy took a good look at the portrait.

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“Wow! That really kinda does look like me!”

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“This is amazing..! It’s like looking in a mirror!”

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I think Freddy has a new-found appreciation for vintage cat art. I wonder if this Abyssinian was based on one of Freddy’s ancestors?