Aby-a-Day – 2 Juni 2020: “Face masks in public spaces do not provide any greater protection to the population” (Cartoon Tuesday)

I have been very frustrated at the fact that Sweden doesn’t think masks work to control Covid-19. The State Epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, has said repeatedly that “masks don’t make sense” and has literally scoffed at the very idea of wearing a mask in pubic.

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So, since I have been using my Izaak Baby Yoda and Zak Toothless as my Facebook userpic and cover photos…I took out a little of that frustration by putting masks on their faces.

Didn’t work. I am still frustrated. And I am still wearing my mask.

Aby-a-Day – 13 Mars 2020: Coronavirus 1, St. Patrick 0 (Fashion Friday Flashback)

Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has been cancelled out of concern for COVID-19. This is the first time in 26 years the parade has been cancelled. The city of Boston is also postponing the Boston Marathon next month and even the Red Sox spring training and regular season will be delayed.

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I went to my first parade when I moved to Boston in 2000, and stood in front of what at the time was a vacant building. Little did I know that I would eventually live in that very building!

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Naturally, St. Patrick’s Day and the parade was a big part of Jacoby’s life. Our apartment overlooked one of the staging areas, and Jake loved to watch the activity below. His first St. Patrick’s Day, I got him a T-shirt from a shop in Faneuil Hall. What could be more Boston than that?

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Later on, Jake added a shamrock tie and a Celtics jersey to his holiday wardrobe.

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I had actually forgotten about this shamrock sun-hat. I think he only wore it that one time, just for photos.

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He also had his shamrock patterned walking harness. When we lived on the 5th floor, we didn’t face West Broadway, so Jake and I would go downstairs to see the parade in person.

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Angel, on the other hand, was content to watch the parade on television.

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When we moved to the new apartment on the 4th floor, we could just watch the parade from our windows. I think Jake kind of missed going outside to experience it; Angel, meanwhile, was perfectly content watching the parade from our windows.

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It’s a little surreal to think of the parade just not happening. I mean, they even held it the year we had the record snowfall! Okay, it wasn’t as bad as in my cartoon, but it did snow on the day of the parade!

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The last year we lived in Boston, we just watched it from the windows again. Now, though, I kind of wish we’d gone downstairs.

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I’m pretty sure Angel wishes we’d gone downstairs, too.

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In a way, it feels a little bit right, not having the parade the first year Jake isn’t alive for it.

Aby-a-Day – 10 Mars 2020: The Northuldra (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, I posted Izaak as Olaf the snowman from the Frozen movies. But there are some new characters in Frozen 2, and I had two cats who hadn’t been cast yet. Lorelai and Alfred are perfect as the Northuldrian brother and sister Honeymaren and Ryder. As always, I started with a sketch in Procreate.

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Then I did a preliminary ink outline. I had a LOT of fun with this, because, unlike Zakolaf, I got to draw clothing, too. The Northuldra were based on the Sami people of Northern Scandinavia, and I have long had an interest in them from my SCA days (in fact, that was one of the reasons Björn and I became penpals). Drawing their clothing, and especially the knives (I have a collection of Puukkot, the traditional Finnish utility knife), was awesome.

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And then, the clean ink layer. More fun refining the clothing.

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Switching to the laptop and Photoshop, I did a flat colour layer.

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This was done underneath the clean ink layer.

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Then the ticking, and texture on the clothing. This took a long time, because I needed to experiment with fabric textures. For some parts, such as the trim on the neck and shoulders, and the puukkot, I found photos of actual Samí trim and knives, and overlaid and blended them into my drawing.

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You can see how the puukkot are slightly photographic.

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Then I switched to the background. As with Zakolaf and the Zakdalorian, I took a generic Frozen 2 background and painted over it.

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As always, on a separate layer, I added the whiskers and eyeshine.

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And then, their shadows and the obiquitous leaf swirl.

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And here’s the final version. As with Zakolaf, I find it a bit dark…but the Enchanted Forest was shrouded in fog and mist, so it’s kind of supposed to be dark.

Aby-a-Day – 3 Mars 2020: Catatonic 2 (Cartoon Tuesday)

You may remember, six years ago, I made this wonderful cartoon with Jacoby, Angel, Kylie and Tessie as Kristoff, Anna, Elsa and Sven the reindeer from Frozen.

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Well, of course, Frozen 2 came out last November, which made me revisit my original cartoon. Of course, Kylie and Tessie still live in Boston, and Dashiell can take Jake’s place as Kristoff…but it occurred to me that I now have the perfect cat to play Olaf! Izaak! Of course, Olaf should be a Singapura! I started with a sketch and then a rough ink on my iPad in ProCreate.

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Then I did a clean ink outline.

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Switching to the laptop and Photoshop, I did a flat colour layer.

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On a separate layer, I added the whiskers and eyeshine.

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Then I switched to the background. I took a generic Frozen 2 background (there are plenty of wallpapers available online) and painted over it, the same way I created the background of the Zakdalorian.

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Then I added a swirl of windblown leaves, to give it the feel of the film.

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Then I painted the ticking and Zak’s other markings with my fur brushes.

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Finally, I gave Zakolaf a little shadow, to ground him in the scene. I wish this was a little brighter, but that’s just the way this scene is; it’s not as bright as the snow scenes, because it’s autumn. Can’t do much about that.

Oh, and don’t worry…I have characters for Lorelai and Alfred to play. Stay tuned…

Aby-a-Day – 25 Februari 2020: The Zakdalorian again (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, I posted a sketch and a preliminary inking of Izaak as The Child (aka Baby Yoda)

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Starting with the shaded ink layer I did last week, I changed it from black to blue-green and did a second, cleaner ink layer.

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The whiskers and eyeshine are actually on their own layer. I really like having the whiskers as a separate layer from the rest of the drawing. There’s also a slight outer glow on this layer.

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Using the clean ink version, I made a flat colour layer. This layer is about 70% opaque.

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Using the same colours, and following the shading done on the first ink, I added a texture layer, with the fur and ticking and the rough cloth of the robe.

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The background is a combination of the original screenshot I based my drawing on, and a painted background using bark and grass brushes, run through the oil painting filter.

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I also added a shadow and backlighting, to capture the feel of the original scene.

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One final, tiny touch: I have a set of steam/smoke brushes. One little stamp at 60% opacity, and…the bone broth is hot!

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And here is the final, complete drawing. I am pretty proud of this one!

Aby-a-Day – 13 Februari: Like human, like cat (Thursday Things)

Last week, I heard a cat let out a loud YOWL, and when I went to see who it was and what was going on, I discovered Alfred collapsed in our bedroom doorway.

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I found him collapsed and floppy, drooling and gasping for breath with his eyes locked in a thousand yard stare.

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It may seem silly, but one of the first things I did was make a short video of him. I sent it to Meg, Molly and Anne, and also to Freddy’s breeder, to see if they had any idea what could be causing it. I also rang our local vet (and was lucky to speak to our regular vet, because this happened at 16:16 and they close at 17:00) and also the emergency vet in Jönköping.

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The emergency vet was prepared for us if we decided to drive there that evening (Björn didn’t get home until 19:00), and I made an appointment for Freddy for the next day at Min Vetrinär.

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I didn’t know what to do apart from just being with him.

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After a little while, I got him to sit up again.

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I made a box for Freddy so I could move him – and take him to the emergency vet if necessary. Of course, Izaak jumped right in with him.

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When Björn got home, Freddy was doing a bit better, so we decided he’d be okay until the local vet appointment (those are the photos you saw yesterday). We kept an eye on him all night, and this is how he looked in the morning. When we got to the clinic, they tested Freddy’s blood, and we took chest Xrays (Unfortunately, I was unable to get photos of those). Turns out, the video I made was very useful for the vet to see. She diagnosed him with pneumonia and prescribed Amoxycillin. Which is ironic…since I was also diagnosed with pneumonia and prescribed Amoxycillin. We even started our meds on the same day, and we have the same schedule, one pill three times a day. It’s actually kind of great having a medicine buddy: It helps me remember when to take my pill, and when to give Freddy his – because it’s the same time!

Aby-a-Day – 3 Januari 2020: Using the tools you have to get the results you want (Photoshop Friday)

The ferry boarding photos I posted yesterday were not, exactly, the photos I originally purchased on the boat. We did get a photo of Izaak and Lorelai, but it was the close-up above. I had wanted one of them together in a photo with one of the special frames (I really like those because they have the date and the ship we were on). The photographer told me she couldn’t get that photo to fit the frame, and she had only gotten one shot of just the cats.

I asked if I could have the digital photos with my purchase, and she emailed them to me. I assured her that I could fix it.

Then too, that nice photo of Björn and me boarding together with the cats? Yeah, that also wasn’t exactly the perfect shot. They got one of me…with a cheesy Minnie Mouse suitcase behind me. And they got a decent one of Björn, dragging our crippled suitcase onto the boat (this was the trip that it finally became an ex-suitcase and ceased to be).

So, as you saw yesterday, I fixed that, too.