2020 Word for the Year

It’s been a few years since I picked a word to focus on for the year. After everything we’ve endured the last two years, the loss, the trauma and the grief, it felt like the time to pick a word again. When I first did it many years ago, we’d had a rough year with some serious health issues with our son, I was in a very fearful place and it took picking a word to really propel me out of that darkness.

I find myself in a similar place again. Feeling the weight of the difficulties we’ve had and needing very much to find a source of light.

My word for 2020 is Simplify.

For many this word would signify a shrinking and weeding out and there may be some of that for me, but really simplify means focusing my energy on the things that matter. It means taking this time with our 19 year old daughter (who may not be under our roof much longer) and our 17 year old son as they transition into adulthood. It means redefining my career and letting go of the “should do’s” and giving myself permission to speak my voice. Grief in many ways takes away your voice and this year, it’s my hope, I find mine again.

What about you? Have you picked a word for the year? I’d love to hear what it is and why you chose it.

Adobe Fresco – Illustrate with Layer Masks

I’m so excited about my new Skillshare class…Create Illustrations using Layer Masks in Adobe Fresco!!

Adobe came out with a new drawing app called Fresco. I wasn’t a big fan of the other drawing apps they had, but this one has a lot of pluses. I am a Procreate fan, so I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about Fresco.

You can download Fresco at no cost if you have an Adobe CC subscription. Otherwise, you can download and pay for the app monthly.

My favorite part of Fresco is their Live Brushes, that mimic actual watercolor and oil paint.

After playing with the software a ton I created some fun layer masks techniques that I use daily in my illustrations and decided to create a class sharing all those tips and tricks.

About the class

Learn to use layer masks to create illustrations in Adobe’s new drawing app Fresco.

I’ll be using the live oil brushes and layer masks to create 3 different illustrations. 

In lesson 1 we’ll create a background then add a line art illustration on top. Then we’ll use layer masks to block out a portion of the background.

Lesson 2 will show how to use the selection tool with layer mask to create a floral illustration.

Finally in Lesson 3 we’ll use the brush tool and layer mask to draw our illustration into the background.

By the end of this class you’ll be comfortable using layer masks when creating your illustrations.

So grab your iPad and let’s get started!

What is Skillshare?
Skillshare is an online learning community. When you join and become a premium member on Skillshare, you get instant access to thousands of classes…including ALL of mine! You have access to these unlimited classes as long as you’re a premium member!

Follow this link to get 2 free months of Skillshare premium if you’re a new student!

Illustrated Letter / Envelope

I truly believe letter writing is a lost art. Doesn’t everyone love to receive letters in the mail? So I’ve started creating illustrated envelopes that can be folded and mailed to my family and friends.

Materials you will need:

I pulled out all my Tombow products for this project.

  • Mixed Media or Watercolor Paper
  • Pencil
  • Tombow Dual Brush Pen
  • Water brush
  • Eraser
  • Scissors
  • White gel pens
  • Ruler
  • Washi tape or stickers
  • Blending Palette
  • Envelope Stencil (I use an old envelope…just unfold it and trace it)

Step 1

Trace the envelope stencil onto your paper and then cut it out. Fold your envelope so you know where your fold lines will be.

I’m going to be using my dual brush pens as watercolors today so I’m using mixed media paper. I love to use mixed media paper with dual brush pens, but you can also use watercolor or Bristol paper.

Step 2

Sketch your illustrations onto the inside of your envelope.

Step 3

Rub markers on the blending palette.

With the water brush I begin to add color like I do watercolor paint.

Step 4

You can write in text with pencils and then trace with pen…or you can write directly with pen. I like to start with pencil so I can reposition any text that isn’t fitting the way I want. Then I erase all the pencil lines.

Step 5

I like to add washi tape and stickers to close and seal my envelopes.

Getting Started with Digital Illustration – Suggested Resources

A couple of years ago I wanted to add digital illustration to my portfolio. I was working in mostly watercolor and ink, and using Photoshop to edit my work. I could navigate Photoshop well enough to do what I didn’t to, but it seems overwhelming.

I took a chance and purchased a cheap drawing tablet with stylus ($55) and began the long process of learning not only Photoshop but what my style of digital art would look like.

I would sketch everything with paper and pencil, scan it in and then use the drawing tablet to trace the lines of my sketch. There wasn’t much life to my drawings at that point, but I was still learning the whole “hand-eye coordination” thing.

I started reading books on Photoshop and watching tons of YouTube videos. I was totally overwhelmed and feared my digital art would never be as good as these amazing artists. But I never gave up!

Now, I work mostly digital and rarely bring out my paints and brushes. I have two setups now. My laptop has a “new” drawing tablet and stylus whebore I use Photoshop and Illustrator. On my Ipad Pro I use mostly Procreate, but I also am known to use Adobe Draw and Adobe Sketch.

If you are an Ipad user, I encourage you to get the Procreate App. It’s extremely user friendly and way less intimidating then Photoshop. But Photoshop is the big daddy software that I couldn’t live without. Both are amazing!!

If you are just getting started here are my suggestions for classes, books, magazines.

Resource Suggestions

Skillshare – has the best classes and for a very affordable monthly rate you can watch all the classes you want. The classes are short and teach some amazing tried and true techniques.

ImagineFX – is an amazing art magazine. It focuses mainly on digital art (for many softwares, not just Photoshop), although there are occasionally articles on painting and drawing techniques. This is my all time favorite!!

Digital Art Technique Manual for Illustrators and Artists – book

Any book by 3dTotalPublishing. I particularly like their Digital Painting Technique Volumes. They put one out each year and they are amazing. I also really like their Beginner’s Guide to Digital Painting: Characters.

YouTube – this is a no-brainer! It’s truly unlimited access, so watch as many as you can. Watch videos by artists you wouldn’t normally follow. Watch videos painting things you would never want to paint yourself. If you are a sci-fi artist, watch children’s illustration videos. If you are a children’s illustrator, watch videos about portrait painting. Watch basic Photoshop tutorials. Seriously, you’ll have a full education if you just take the time to watch all that’s been put up there.

Last piece of advice…Enjoy yourself!!

1,000 Tangles, Patterns and Doodled Designs – New Book

1,000 Tangles, Patterns & Doodled Designs combines hundreds of tangling, illustration, and doodling patterns and designs into one all-encompassing guidebook. Filled with inspirational designs, patterns, borders, flourishes, doodles, tangles, and more, this creative resource explores hundreds of ideas for tangling and doodling enthusiasts to learn and model. From basic tangles to stylized letters and numbers, the variety of patterns and designs seems virtually endless. Throughout the book, practical tips and step-by-step lessons help artists perfect their skills, while blank templates can be copied or scanned to use over and over again. A nonstop compendium of doodling tips and tangling techniques, 1,000 Tangles, Patterns & Doodled Designs is a complete resource for doodling enthusiasts and a tangler’s dream come true.

Buy on Amazon

6 Must Have Supplies You Need to Create Doodle Art

Zentangle / Doodle art is all the rage, but what supplies do you really need to turn simple doodles into beautiful works of art?

Here are my 6 must have supplies…

  1. Mechanical Pencils – Because I’m drawing people, faces, and clothing, it’s not easy to get it right the first time, so I always start with a light pencil sketch. I prefer lead sizes 0.5 and 0.3
    Mechanical Pencils
  2. Black Permanent Pens – I use both Micron and Faber-Castell and have collected all different size tips. If you are just starting out, I’d recommend purchasing .01 and .03 pens.Micron & Faber-Castell Pens
  3. Erasers – Kneaded and white erasers are the only erasers I ever recommend using. Colored erasers can leave marks on your paper.
    Best erasers for doodle art
  4. Paper that can handle pens – Sketch, marker, bristol, and printer paper are all good choices. I typically use Bristol paper.
    Favorite paper for doodle art
  5. Ruler/Stencils/Compass – These are just options if you like to have really straight lines or consistent shapes like circles or squares.
    Rulers, stencils and compass
  6. Blending Stubs –
    Blending Stubs