Aby-a-Day – 15 Juni: Complete this cat for the laughs (Cartoon Tuesday)

There’s a fun meme going around that involves a simple line drawing of a cat’s head and four paws, captioned “Complete this cat for the laughs.” Well. I like cats, and laughing, so sure!

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As a warm-up, I did this silly sketch of two cats dancing.

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Then, I decided to play with colours and brushes, so I drew Jacoby in his parka.

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Painting fur was fun, so I decided to paint some feathers. I also made the kitty a little happier. Silly, maybe…but any excuse to draw, right?

Aby-a-Day – 29 December 2020: Not throwing away his shot (Cartoon Tuesday)

It’s finished! I finally finished Dashiell Hamilton! It was a real process, too. But as I mentioned last week, I got a new Paperlike screen protector for my iPad, and it makes drawing on the screen so much more natural and organic. In fact, I did most of this in Procreate. Only the last few bits were done in Photoshop.

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And the very first bit. I started with a photo of the suit and a photo of Dash in Photoshop. Then I went to Procreate and did the sketches.

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Getting the suit just right was my biggest challenge. It took five layers to make it look the way I wanted it to. I did two base colour layers in Procreate, and a low-opacity layer of the actual suit (done in Photoshop) to add the sheen and texture. Then the ink layer was moved above the colour layers. Finally, I discovered a lace brush in Procreate, which was perfect for his sleeves and cravat.

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Dash himself was a little easier, because…well, I’ve done more ruddy Abyssinians than I’ve done 18th century emerald-green silk suits. All layers except the top fur texture layer were done on the iPad.

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Put all the layers together, along with the whiskers and a little shadow, and put him onstage…and, finally, history has its eyes on Dash!

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And, just because I can, I saved the video of the whole Procreate process for anyone who’s interested. Click on the above image to watch the magic happen in Flickr.

Aby-a-Day – 22 December 2020: Catty Christmas cards (Not Really Cartoon Tuesday)

Okay. Now, I know these aren’t cartoons. But I have been working on colouring Dashiell Hamilton every day. I want to get the green of his suit just right, and it’s taking a lot longer than I thought…and I haven’t even started on colouring Dash himself! I am trying to do as much as I can in Procreate…but yesterday I got a new Paperlike screen protector, and let me tell you, it is a game changer! It really feels like I’m drawing on real paper, and it is so much better than drawing on glass. Even though it’s digital, it still feels organic. I’ve also ordered a set of Pen Tips, which should also improve the drawing experience. While Paperlike and Pen Tips ship worldwide, they are based in Germany and the Netherlands respectfully, so I don’t have to pay any import taxes!

Since Dash-Ham isn’t finished enough to post an update, I’m sharing some Christmas cards I’ve received. The above card arrived today from my Sverak club AbSolut Kattklubb. That is one lovely blue Somali.

This card came a couple of days ago from my friend Donna in Massachussetts. I think these Birmans are adorable. At least, I think they’re Birmans…hard to tell when you can’t see their feet!

This cute little Siamese postcard came today, also from Donna. I love that she keeps sending me postcards…it’s nice to have physical notes from friends sometimes, especially during a pandemic.

Aby-a-Day – 16 Juni 2020: Clan of Cats (Cartoon Tuesday)

When I woke up this morning, I had every intention of working on either my drawing of Kiipi and her kitten, or my drawing of Alfred the Cat Burglar.

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But instead of that, do you know what I did? I played a game

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I downloaded the game Clan of Cats years ago, but I never played it. Until today. For some reason, I randomly decided to give it a spin. And it’s actually a lot of fun. You’re a cat, and you gather your clanmembers, build your home base (apparently these cats use fire and build log forts, but okay), fight creatures to get magic, fight bosses and conquer other clans.

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It could be so much more; you could be able to interact with other players, you could be able to play it on a Mac or a PC, you could be able to really customise your cat…but hey. You can fight alligators in water and kill them with fireballs.

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See all the dead alligators? Good times.

Aby-a-Day – 4 December: Falukorv (Cartoon Tuesday)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about how, when Logan was the same age as Izaak, he was acting more like a tomcat – peeing, yowling, pacing – whereas all Izaak has done is just gotten tomcatly bulk. I also mentioned that I call him “my little sausage”.

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Specifically, a Falukorv, a Swedish sausage made of pork and either beef or veal, with potato starch and spices which originated in Falun, about 330km North-Northeast from Skövde.

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Relax, Zak…It’s kind of like baloney. Different, but…that sort of taste.

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But as he’s been bulking up, I’ve been calling him my Falukorv more and more. And today, I did a little sketch…

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…Which turned a little whimsical. I may need to finish this one up.

Aby-a-Day – 31 July: You’re never done learning (Cartoon Tuesday)

I am endlessly amazed at how popular the Warriors series is in Germany and Holland. I mean, it’s way more popular than it is in the UK or the States. If you search Amazon.de, you can find all sorts of Warriors merchandise.

Look at all this! Sticky notes, badges, notebooks, gloves…I have the laptop stickers and I love them. You can’t get any of this on the other Amazons (.com and .uk.co), trust me. I looked.

Because I order my (English) Warriors books from Amazon.de, they send me emails when new Warriors items are released. Usually, they’re translations of the series books in German, but a few weeks ago they sent me an email about an interesting book entitled Warrior Cats – Katzenzeichnen: Von den Grundformen bis zur Clankatze (Warrior Cats – Cat Drawing: From Basic to Clan Cat).

Now, I have been drawing cats for over 50 years, and apparently I’m pretty good at it, since people like the drawings I do. But this book is amazing, even for someone like me. Because you can always learn more drawing techniques. Look at the instruction on drawing paws (well, hands, if you’re doing Abys).

The book goes into great detail about all aspects of cat life, and it even has blank pages for you to practice on. Unfortunately for me, it’s in German, and it’s a translation of the original publication…in Dutch. So there is no English edition of this book yet. Considering that the original books were English, it’s a bit interesting that the Germans and Dutch have taken to the cats so much that they’re coming up with all kinds of original items and books that aren’t available in English!

Izaak Sketch

Using some of the book’s recommendations, I did this sketch of Izaak. What do you think?

Aby-a-Day – 24 July: Showtime! (Cartoon Tuesday)

The other day, we were talking about Lorelai being “our little showgirl.” Next thing I knew, I couldn’t get the image of her as a classic Las Vegas showgirl out of my head. I recently discovered an awesome application for drawing on the iPad called Procreate. It’s meant to work with Pencil, and while it takes a little getting used to, it works incredibly well. Most importantly (to me, anyway), it uses layers. I need to have layers to draw the way I want to.

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First, I need to do a pencil sketch. I sketched this over the reference I found online.

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Then I hide the reference and ink over the sketch. When the sketch layer is hidden, the ink looks like this.

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Then, using various brushes, I colour Rory in underneath the ink layer. This is important to preserve the outline. The colouring was actually done on three layers and merged. As I colour, I go back to the ink layer and erase bits and redraw them as needed.

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Finally, I add a top layer with a little sparkle and flash…and whiskers. I always do my whiskers on a top layer. The finished Procreate drawing is at the top of this post.

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The only thing is, I have some amazing feather and fur brushes in Photoshop. So when the drawing was finished on the iPad, I exported it to my Mac. Now, what’s really cool about Procreate is, you can export drawings as .PSD files, which preserves all the layers. So I worked with my fur and feather brushes and touched up the colouring a bit…

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…and, then, just for fun, gave her a Vegas show stage as a background.

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Finally, because the red in her outfit blends in with the red curtains onstage, I modified the layer style, adding some glow and a little drop shadow, and this is the final result.

Aby-a-Day – 10 July: The Girl with the Aby and Singa Tattoo (Cartoon Tuesday)

You might recall a few weeks ago I was about to go in and get a magpie tattoo on my arm and plan my next tattoo with Linus, my new tattoo artist here in Slövde. Linus is amazing, and tomorrow I am going to get it coloured in. I can’t wait! Since the 21st, I’ve had a half-done, just black lines and shading. It’s going to be amazing to finally have it finished.

In the meantime, I have worked up two better-coloured versions of my original sketch. The one above was coloured in on my iPad Pro using pencil and an incredible app called Art Set which works well…except it hasn’t got layers. So I did more colouring using Photoshop…and the result is above.

Then I thought my rough-sketched maple leaves, pussy willows and cherry blossoms were kind of…lazy. So I found some Photoshop brushes and line art and created a better background. At least I have something to show Linus tomorrow during my appointment.

Aby-a-Day – 8 May: First sketches of Lorelai

Dammit, I am going to start drawing more on my iPad Pro. So I started today. Here are some doodles of Lorelai, trying to nail down her cartoon form.

Aby-a-Day – 10 April: A sketchy packing job (Cartoon Tuesday)

While I was at the Winners Show, I found this sketch I had done on my (then new) iPad Pro with the coordinated Apple Pencil. I am not sure where I was going with this, but it had something to do with packing to move to Sweden. I wish I had put in the conversation Angel and Jacoby are having.

Aby-a-Day – 19 April: Sketches on a train (Cartoon Tuesday)

I drew this on the train back from Washington DC last Wednesday after my residency permit interview at the Swedish Embassy. I used Adobe Sketch…it’s actually rather a frustrating program! I used my iPad Pro and Pencil…which should have been like drawing on paper. Not so much.

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It does have different media, though. I started out with a pencil…then I inked it in.

I also drew this whole thing, from scratch, TWICE because somehow I managed to delete the first one. Seems there are sketches and projects in Sketch, and once you delete a project – a whole set of sketches – there is no way to get it back! Arrrrrgh…

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However, it was definitely easier than drawing on a Wacom tablet and having to look at a screen away from where you’re drawing to see what you’re doing. I just need more practice. Anyway…here’s a little doodle of what poor Jacoby must be thinking since I couldn’t bring him to our wedding in Manchester yesterday. Don’t worry, Jakey! You’ll be Best Cat at our Swedish wedding!

Aby-a-Day – 15 March: Playing with Pencil (Cartoon Tuesday)

So I broke down and bought myself an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil to go with it. I haven’t had much time to play with it yet, but I did do this quick sketch of Jacoby.

jakePSsketch

It’s so much better than trying to draw on my Wacom tablet, but I still need some practice…

Aby-a-Day – 1 March: Zen Brush (Cartoon Tuesday)

At the Apple Store this past Sunday, I played around with Zen Brush with an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro.

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It’s pretty nifty…but you can only draw in black or red.

Aby-a-Day – 5 January: He shoots, he scores! (Cartoon Tuesday)

The 2016 World Youth Hockey Tournament just ended tonight. We spent a good part of New Year’s Eve watching Sweden beat Canada, but last night there was a pretty rousing game last night between Sweden and Finland.

So, today’s cartoon was drawn on my iPad while on the train from Skövde to Stockholm today, because our friend Sanna-Leena posted about her litter of half-Swedish kittens cheering for Team Finland last night…including an Instagram video!

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This is what Jacoby has to say about the game.

(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Aby-a-Day – December 29: Snö! (Cartoon Tuesday)

It finally snowed here in Skövde yesterday! Not quite a white Christmas, but close.

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I’ve been drawing on my iPad again, using both Paper by 53 and Photoshop Sketch. This picture of Jacoby is actually based on the view of the first snow from Björn’s living room window. I’m pretty proud of it, since I haven’t been drawing that much lately.

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Of course, I also drew this picture of Lutfisk after a traditional Christmas day dinner at Björn’s parents’ house…so don’t expect a brilliant comeback of my cartoons anytime soon…

Aby-a-Day – December 27: Reverse FaceTime Date (Selfie Sunday)

While I’ve been in Sweden, Jacoby has been moping.

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He’s been hanging out in the bedroom. He’s started building a mancave in the comforter on the bed.

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He goes into a fold and then scoops out a tunnel by rolling in place. And then he just sleeps there. All. Day. Long.

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So, I decided to FaceTime with him.

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At first, he didn’t react much. I’d woken him up and he was a bit groggy.

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Jake just wanted to sleep until I come back, I guess.

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But hearing my voice seemed to perk him up.

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He reached his paw out to touch the phone.

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And then, he rolled over!

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He actually left his quilt fort and sat up.

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He gave me his opinion on my being away…

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…but then he really perked up.

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Jake does understand the concept of FaceTime.

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He knows it’s me, and my voice.

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It might be better if he’d been “talking” to me over an iPad or a Mac, something with a larger screen than just an iPhone 6…but it worked pretty well. He seemed to be much happier after our call.

Aby-a-Day – August 12: “What’s in a name?” (Cartoon Tuesday)

This week’s cartoon will need some explanation…

You see, on Saturday morning, right when I starting to work on the cartoon, this happened:

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I have a 15-inch early 2011 MacBookPro, and all of a sudden the screen split. Then the display developed a lot of lines. And then it crashed. And when I restarted, I could only work for about 5 minutes before it would do it again. So, off to the Apple Genius Bar I went…where they told me it was either the logic board, or the display, or both, and I could either have it fixed in 3-5 days in-house for at least $500…or, they could keep it up to a week, send it out, and no matter what was wrong with it, it would “only” cost a flat repair fee of $310 (plus tax, of course). Needless to say, I went with the “keep-it-a-week” option…

…which meant I was left with no way to do my cartoon this week. So I improvised. Using my iPad, I found an old cartoon idea I’d sketched using 53’s Paper app. It wasn’t a great idea, but it was an idea that could be drawn without Photoshop. All the same…I can’t wait to get my laptop back…

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This is the sketch I’d done a while back. Not the best idea I’ve ever had…but it’s an idea.

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Paper is a more painterly app, with more of an ink and watercolour feel to it. I fleshed out my sketches…

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…And added one for the punchline frame. To make the actual comic frame itself, I used Strip Designer, which actually works really well for this sort of thing. It even comes with the same font, Noteworthy, that I use for the speech bubbles in Photoshop. I hadn’t used it before this weekend, and I didn’t have much time to really play around with it.

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Still…I managed to create a reasonable cartoon for this week. The joke (which may not be clear to anyone outside of New England) is that when Jacoby Ellsbury was on the Red Sox, the local announcers and sports reporters would refer to him by his first name, but now that he plays for the Yankees (Boston’s bitter rivals in pretty much everything), they only call him by his last name. It’s the modern update to this cartoon

(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Aby-a-Day – October 13: Apps for Cats

Recently, I got myself an iPad.

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I’m an Apple person from way back; my dad bought a Mac Classic back in 1987.

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My sister’s an Apple person too; I’m convinced it’s part of our DNA.

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The iPad I got is an old first generation one: it’s thicker and less flashy, but it has 64 gigs and it’s perfect for reading books or doing things away from home you don’t need an actual computer for.

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Of course, in line with the whole “internet belongs to cats” thing, there are a lot of Apps for Cats on the iPhone.

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Of course, anything on an iPhone is way better on an iPad.Except maybe an actual phone conversation.

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So, I got the infamous app, Paint for Cats and tried it out on the cats.

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Kylie could not care less about two-dimensional moving mice, but Angel and Tessie were mesmerised.

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(Actually, Jacoby wanted to be mesmerised, too…

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…but Angel didn’t want him to be…

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…So, he wasn’t. But he wanted to be.)

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It looks like a really fun app, and you get to save the art the cats make. Look at this masterpiece Angel and Tessie came up with (and yes, Tessie and Angel played with this! Together)! Of course, the iPad is still better for reading books than cat toys, but still…