Aby-a-Day – 4 Maj: Isle of Dogs WIP (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last weekend, we watched an amazing movie called Isle of Dogs. It’s a Wes Anderson film, which I find rather hit-or-miss, but I did like his first stop-motion animated feature, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and it looked intriguing, so we gave it a shot. And, oh, was it worth it!

For a movie with the word “dog” in the title, it was actually, surprisingly, quite focused on cats. It’s an interesting Japanese pastiche in which the cat-loving Mayor Kobayashi has banished all dogs to Trash Island. In the introduction to the film this is all explained with some beautiful illustrations and scenes. My favourite, which is only seen for a minute or so, is the incredibly elaborate Cat Temple (seriously, look at that link; they did an incredible amount of work to create something that’s basically only one scene)! Of course, I instantly noticed the five cat statues to the right of the temple doors…one large, one tiny, two medium-sized and one small. I had to pause it and point out how the five cats matched our own five!

IOD-templeSketch

And then…I had to draw it. This is the sketch…

IOD-templeInk

And here’s the ink. Covid aftereffects have really been kicking my butt this week, so it took me a while. I know where I want to go with this, and how I want the colouring to look, but it’s taking me longer to actually do it than I planned.

IOD-temple

If you want to see the time lapse video of the work in progress, click the image to open it in another window.

Aby-a-Day – 30 Mars: Happy Birthday to my sister, Karen! (Cartoon Tuesday)

My sister’s birthday is tomorrow. I got her a card, but things being what they are, I didn’t mail it in time. So, I reckoned I’d just sent it to her electronically. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I always draw a little cartoon in the cards I send people. But if I’m Messaging my sister her card, what’s the best way to add my traditional drawing?

KB Birthday Sketch

With Procreate and Photoshop, of course! And this card drawing is better than most, because I was actually able to do a sketch beforehand. Usually, I just freehand the drawing in ink.

KB Birthday Ink

This is the ink version, done in Procreate.

KB Birthday

If you’re interested, you can watch the Procreate time-lapse video of the sketch and ink on Flickr. Click the image to view the video in another tab.

KB Birthday Card Inside

And here is the inside of the card that my sister will get tomorrow. The Swedish translates to: “If you were a cat, you’d be turning a hundred and eleventy-twelve years! Congratulations on your Birthday!”

Aby-a-Day – 5 Januari: Izaak the Üumlaut (Cartoon Tuesday)

One of the bright spots of quarantining has been Disney+. I’ve been watching all sorts of movies and shorts, one of which was Tangled: The Series. It’s set between the events of the original Tangled movie and the short Tangled Ever After. I had no idea this series existed, and binge-watched it over the last few weeks. I was intrigued with the art style in the series. And then, I saw the episode The Way of the Willow…featuring an odd little creature called Üumlaut. Well…when I saw Üumlaut and her rattle, I knew what had to be done. So here is Üumzak.

ZakUumlaut

And, because I know some of you like to watch the process, here’s the Procreate video (click on the image to view it in Flickr). The only things I did in Photoshop were straightening the Üumzak and creating the shadow on the rattle. This was actually more of a challenge than it looks; borderless characters are harder to do than you’d think, and I learned how to do a couple of new things in Photoshop. Still, I think I captured the style of the series pretty well.

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.

DashHamiltonBase

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.

SuitLayers

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.

DashLayers

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.

DashHamilton+Shadow

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!

DashHamilton

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 – 15 December 2020: Dashiell Hamilton inked (Cartoon Tuesday)

I finally got the ink layer done on my Dashiell Hamilton drawing.

DashHamiltonInkStroke

But, since I wanted a thin ink line, it’s not very visible, so in Photoshop, I added a stroke to the lines to make it more visible. Now it’s time for colours and textures!

Aby-a-Day – 14 & 15 November 2020: Learning curve (Serious Saturday and Sunday)

Okay, so the new laptop arrived on Friday. I spent the rest of the day and part of yesterday transferring data from the old MacBook Pro to the new one.

boys_1836

Problem is, I had to upgrade the system. I don’t have a choice; there’s a Magic Keyboard that I don’t think will work with the older software. However, I must say, the thing is wicked cool. The functions you have change depending on which application you’re using. In Facebook, you get predictive text like on the iPhone. Listening to music on iTunes, you have the play, pause and skip functions. And in photo apps, you get controls for whatever you’re doing.

boys_1837

Also, no need for passwords; there’s a Touch ID button so you can log into everything with your index finger.

boys_1843

However…I am absolutely bereft without Photoshop. I did everything I could find to work around it…to no avail. I have been using Photoshop since…1997, I think. I can do everything so reflexively…Why, Adobe, why?!

boys_1844

Well, I absolutely do NOT want to pay $20.99 a month for a subscription. So I’ve been investigating other apps that have very high ratings. I’ve downloaded a couple of trial apps. The first one I tried was Acorn. It is highly rated, especially for Macs, and it’s only $29.99. It’s pretty nice…but I couldn’t figure out how to do simple tone, colour and contrast corrections (the things that are so easy to do in Photoshop). I’ll go back later and play with it. The other one I am trying is Affinity Photo, which is a LOT easier to figure out. It’s much more similar to Photoshop, and it can open .psd files. I can also import all my special brushes into both Acorn and Affinity, which is awesome. It’s $49.99…but it seems worth it (and, okay, it’s a lot less expensive than Photoshop was).

girls_1830

As a bonus, in learning about these two apps (and another one, Affinity Designer, which looks interesting), I discovered I can also import my brushes into Procreate. That means no more having to finish drawings in Photoshop…I may just be able to do everything on the iPad now.

girls_1832

Still, I really want Photoshop back. I have a lot of work and research to do in the next ten days.

Aby-a-Day – 10 November 2020: Izaak and Major (Cartoon Tuesday)

Just an idea that popped into my head this morning…Izaak as Pixie, and Joe Biden’s Shepherd Major as Brutus. I used a Pixie and Brutus fan art by DiviantArt user Space Meme Stardust as my reference for the first rough sketch.

ZakMajor2

Because my new MacBook Pro hasn’t arrived yet, and because I hated the hand-drawn speech bubbles, I turned on my laptop for a few minutes just to add them (and my signature) in Photoshop.

ZakMajor

I also saved the video of my drawing process, just for fun (ie, because Procreate lets me). Click on the image to watch it on Flickr.

Aby-a-Day – 3 November 2020: “There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait” (Cartoon Tuesday)

Today’s post is very much a rough work in progress, because I only thought of it yesterday. Because, yesterday, I finally watched Hamilton on Disney+. And it was amazing. One thing that particularly caught my eye was one of the outfits Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) wears. It’s a stunning emerald green silk suit.

DashHamilton2ndSketch

That green…is perfectly suited to be worn by either Jacoby or Dashiell, so I chose Dash. I did both the first and second sketches today, and whilst I am still working out the shapes and proportions and still have a lot more to do with this…I like the direction it’s going.

Aby-a-Day – 6 Oktober 2020: Paws Across the Sea (Cartoon Tuesday)

I know, I know…I dropped off the face of the world for a week. Part of that was due to me getting a new medication that was kicking my butt until I got used to it. The other part is that last Monday I got this email from Iris:

Your former region (Region 1) and your adopted region (Region 9) are joining forces for a virtual qualifier show for the CFA International Top Cat Challenge, and Sharon asked me to help with promotional copy and/or a theme. What I came up with is really crying out for some kind of sketch that we can use on the flyer and platform. It’s “Paws Across the Sea.” I don’t have any visual ideas other than two paws reaching toward each other with an ocean in between, but I thought maybe you could come up with something better. Please let me know if you’d be willing to work on this. The time frame is short but not an emergency. . . If you could do something by the weekend I think that would work.

My mind instantly went to vintage Disney “It’s a Small World” art. I made a globe/earth that featured the US Northeast and Europe and then made the quick sketch above to map out the international breed representatives. I had many ideas, but finally decided on featuring a Siamese, a Russian Blue, a Maine Coon (Marlin, the NEMO mascot), a Scottish Fold, and a Singapura. I had wanted to include a Japanese Bobtail, but I realised that if you couldn’t see the tail, it might not be clear what breed it was.

PawsAcrossSeaGeneric

I started by making a generic cat sketch. I enlarged it for Marlin, made it smaller for the Singapura, and stretched it out for the Siamese.

PawsAcrossSeaAll5

I made sketches for all five breeds, and combined them on one layer.

PawsAcrossSeaInk

Then I did the ink outline in Procreate.

PawsAcrossSeaUndercolour

I did the undercolour layer beneath the ink layer in Procreate as well. Colouring tortoiseshell-and-white cats is difficult, but fun!

PawsAcrossSeaTexture

My best fur brushes are in Photoshop, so I moved to that to work on the texture layer.

PawsAcrossSeaColourinktex

Here are all three layers combined.

PawsAcrossSea

Then I add the whiskers, eyeshine and shadow, and voilá: a graphic for an international virtual cat show!

PawsAcrossSeaAbypaw

A slight postscript: I couldn’t fit an Abyssinian into the graphic…but who’s that holding the Siamese’s other paw?

Aby-a-Day – 15 September 2020: Cat Petting Preference Chart (Cartoon Tuesday)

There’s a meme going around involving the above image created by Darien McSweeney. Apparently, it started in 2018, and seems to have been resurrected. So of course I had to do it for our lot. And it was harder than you’d think, for the most part.

catpettingchartAngel

Angel, despite still being a bit skittish, is mostly happy to be petted anywhere…except her mouth. Because of her past history with Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions and bad teeth, even though the pain is gone, she still doesn’t like to have her muzzle touched.

catpettingchartZak

Izaak is pretty easy-going, but he does not like it when I try to wipe his eyes!

catpettingchartRory

Lorelai is equally compliant, but she hates to have her claws trimmed.

catpettingchartDash

Dashiell, on the other hand, loves to have his paws played with. Not a big fan of having his ears touched, though.

catpettingchartFreddy

And then there’s Alfred.

Aby-a-Day – 18 Augusti 2020: Seasonal Abyssinians (Cartoon Tuesday)

I was reminded of the two Abyssinian drawings I did for the Fall and Spring issues of the Abyssinian Cat Club of America. I made some marble magnetswith the images and just noticed them again the other day.

springsketch1

When I drew my cartoons before getting the iPad, I would do the sketches, trace them in ink, and then scan them and put them together in Photoshop.

springsketch2

I also had some inkbrush pens that I was experimenting with. Since the cover of the newsletter was printed in black and white, I wanted to do a different sort of springtime drawing. Plus, the snowdrops coming up through the snow is one of my favourite signs of spring. On the final version, I added the shadows and added an “icy” filter to the background.

fallsketch2

I immediately knew what I wanted to do for the fall cover. Sometimes I would do several versions of a face or other parts to get the best drawing assembled.

fallsketch1

I remember drawing these leaves. I sketched a few different styles and then traced them over and over again to get the look I wanted. It’s so much easier now that I have leaf brushes in Procreate and Photoshop! Even so, there’s something satisfying about drawing on paper…Someday I should finish the series with summer and winter.

Aby-a-Day – 4 Augusti 2020: Marlin recycled (Cartoon Tuesday)

On Saturday, I got an email from Iris asking for a picture of Marlin on a laptop for the flyer for NEMO’s upcoming virtual online show. She needed it, like, yesterday. I knew I didn’t have time to make a new Marlin from scratch…but I had an idea.

NEMOvirtualMarlinArms

I started with the Jackpot Marlin from last year’s show program cover…and removed his celebratory arms. I then drew laptop-typing arms in Procreate.

NEMOvirtualMarlinFur

Transferring the image back to Photoshop, I added the fur layer. I also touched up bits of the base Marlin’s fur.

NEMOvirtualMarlinlaptop

I used the laptop from this cartoon and cleaned it up a bit.

NEMOvirtualMarlinLaptopAby

Then I put the Abyssinian that was on the original flyer on the laptop’s screen and gave it a little drop shadow…

NEMOvirtualMarlin

…Add the new arms to Jackpot Marlin, find a photo of a plain table (in Nemo’s signature orange, even!)…and here’s the final image. Considering how quickly I put it together, I am pretty pleased with it; Iris likes it, which is the important thing.

Aby-a-Day – 28 Juli 2020: Isn’t it romantic? (Cartoon Tuesday)

This weekend I finished that romantic sketch I did of Lorelai and Io after their (hopefully) romantic weekend.

Rory_&_Io Frame

First I made the heart-shaped art-deco frame using elements I found online. I checked it against the coloured sketch to make sure it was the right proportions, as you can see above. On the frame, I added a glow and a metallic gradient to make the different pieces I used coherent.

Rory_&_IoInk

I wanted to keep the style very 1920’s and simple. This is the ink.

Rory_&_IoInkColour

Then I coloured in the outline.

Rory_&_IoSparkle

You may remember from the drawing I did of Rory as a Vegas showgirl that Procreate has some really fun sparkly brushes. I thought this portrait could use a little sparkle.

Rory_&_IoComplete

After the sparkle was added, I took it to Photoshop and added the red background.

Rory_&_Io glow

I decided not to use my regular fur brushes, because I wasn’t necessarily going for realism on this drawing. I left the colouration flat instead.

Rory_&_IoOilpaint

I then added a pink glow around the happy couple, and applied the oil paint filter.

Rory_&_IoFinal

I’m not 100% happy with it…but I do like it.

Rory_&_IoInk&Colour

As always, I saved the video Procreate saves. I also discovered that it can make a gif of your drawing. I am not sure what I’m going to do with that, but it’ll be a fun thing to play with in the future.

Aby-a-Day – 14 Juli 2020: Just a quick little romantic sketch (Cartoon Tuesday)

Based on the events of this weekend, I wanted to do a romantic bride and groom drawing of Lorelai and Io.

Rory_&_IoBasesketch

So I did a quick 1920’s theme (being that we are now in the new Roaring Twenties), and then changed its colour and lightened it.

Rory_&_Io2ndsketch

Then I did a second sketch.

Rory_&_IoRed

I knew I wanted the heart and Rory’s flower to be red, so I made a “red layer.”

Rory_&_IoColour

Then I coloured the sketch in.

Rory_&_IoHighlights

Finally, a few highlghts, and…voilá: a finished sketch. I may come back and finish this, but at least the idea is out of my head.

And…because I can, here’s a video of the drawing in progress.

Aby-a-Day – 23 Juni 2020: A quick editorial sketch (Cartoon Tuesday)

Chatting with a group of friends yesterday evening, I had a sudden thought that I needed to draw immediately, because I knew it would amuse them. I drew this in almost exactly an hour; I asked for a breed suggestion at 19:33 and shared it with my friends at 20:31. I am not going to explain it here…if you get it, you get it. That’s the nature of editorial cartoons.

MCGA

I also exported the drawing stream, because they are so much fun to watch. Remember that this is all one hour, and you can see my idea evolving as I draw it (Click on the image to watch it in Flickr).

Aby-a-Day – 9 Juni 2020: Freddy the cat burglar (Cartoon Tuesday)

I had an idea today that I just had to sketch out. I was musing that I draw a lot of cartoons witch feature Lorelai and Izaak (especially Zak), but not so many starring Alfred. And I had a lightbulb go off in my head. I started out with the above sketch and a sneaky walk animation sequence I found online.

secondsketch

This is my final sketch. Freddy the cat burglar! He’s got keys and a crowbar because his specialty is breaking and entering.

Fredburglar Sketch

Because Procreate has a recording feature, and I did all this work on my iPad (unlike some other drawings that go back and forth between Procreate and Photoshop), I also have a video of the drawing developing. Click on the image to watch it in a new tab/window on Flickr.

Aby-a-Day – 28 April 2020: The Maltese Dashiell (Cartoon Tuesday)

Today I finished that special portrait of Dashiell I started almost a month ago. Because Dash is named after the author Dashiell Hammett, who wrote The Maltese Falcon famously portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in the film version, I had an idea I wanted to make real. Above is the fur texture layer along with a neutral grey background.

DashHamFalconShadow

Then I added a shadow of the Maltese Falcon based on one of the two photos of Bogie I used as reference.

DashHamHat

Of course, Sam Spade needs a dashing fedora.

DashHamTrench

And a trench coat.

DashHamFinal

Then the final touch, to give the portrait a real Film Noir feel…the shadows.

DashHamFinalFinal

But something was bothering me. I went back to my other Bogie reference photo and realised what was missing: There is a dark shadow of his hat, and the original background had a shadowy texture. I went back and fixed those two things and…voilà!

DashHamFullsize

However, I generally crop my drawings to a standard size, but I draw on a larger canvas. This is the full-size version. Not really different, apart from the proportioning. It’s such a great feeling to finally get the image out of your head so others can see it.

Aby-a-Day – 21 April 2020: Dash’s portrait project, the colour layers (Cartoon Tuesday)

I’m still working on that special portrait of Dashiell I shared two weeks ago. While it isn’t finished, I have actually got more done that I am posting today. Above is the colour layer, ink layer and whiskers layer.

<DashHamJustColourWIP

This is the only the colour layer, which is underneath the ink layer. Instead of painting inside the lines, I painted under them. It’s a neat technique. This was all done in Procreate using what fur brushes I have there; now I need to add a texture layer (for his ear furnishings and ticking) with my fur brushes in Photoshop, but I think I got his base colouring pretty well. As someone commented last week, getting the markings and colours right on an Aby is not easy!

And, of course is just the Dash part…there’s still the background and the other details to be finished.

Aby-a-Day – 7 April 2020: Dash’s portrait project, a work in progress (Cartoon Tuesday)

I’m working on a special portrait of Dashiell. I don’t want to give away what it is, but I can share these early sketches. I’m actually using a different method of sketching on this drawing, because I want to capture all of his colours. The head model I am using is this photo of Dash that was taken on his first ferry trip from Finland to Sweden. The body will be different.

DashHamColourInk

This is the ink outline (using brown, not black) and the “map” I will use to paint his base colours. I know, it doesn’t look much different from the sketch layers, but trust me, it is.

This is just the Dash part…there’s still the background and the other details to be finished.

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.

toothless-zak-undercolour1

toothless-zak-undercolour2

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.

toothless-zak-undercolour3

toothless-zak-undercolour+Ink

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

toothless-zak-colourInk+wings

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!

toothless-zak-originalbackground

toothless-zak-paintbackground

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.

toothless-zak-finalbackground

Then I combined those and ran a few filters.

toothless-zak-transparency

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

toothless-zak-transparencyClose

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.

toothless-zak-opaque

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.

toothless-zak-pretexture

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

toothless-zak-collartex

toothless-zak-collartex-close

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.

toothless-zak-tailscales

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.

toothless-zak-furtex+whiskers

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

toothless-zak-texture+background

And here he is with the background.

toothless-zak-final

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!

toothless-zak-final-final

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!

toothless-zak-final-finalclose

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.