Thursday, 6 April 2017

April's desktop calendar

hello to you!

I set myself a bit of challenge this month - I wanted to design the calendar digitally, creating it all in Illustrator and/or Photoshop.

I'd already doodled the lettering for April, in my sketchbook, so it made sense to use that as a starting point.

I scanned the doodle and then pulled it into Illustrator to clean it up and make it usable as a digital design element.

I then set to, recolouring it, working out to add texture to it, and adding the chicks and butterflies. These last two were done in different way - the chick was on the same sketchbook page as 'April', so that was scanned, traced and recoloured...then copied and pasted in different sizes around the page. The butterflies were drawn by hand directly in Illustrator - not something I've done very often but it was fun, and a good way to practice using the program. I drew one butterfly, and then copied it to create a second one, and recoloured that one so they looked slightly different.

Confession - AI crashed on me...twice!...but I refused to give in, as each time it had crashed, I'd learned how not to do something immediately before the crash. This way I got to redo the work, taking into account what I'd learned and how to do it better the second time around.

There is so much more I could have done with this, but honestly it took me hours! and at some point, you have to just go with what you have.

So, here it is, this month's desktop calendar...

I hope April is a good month for you!

Until next time...


Friday, 10 March 2017


I'm right in the middle of parcelling up a few packs of undies, and sending them off to a charity called Smalls for All, and thought I'd share the link with you in case you wanted to help out.

You can read all about this wonderful charity here.

Could you donate some knickers or pants?

Until next time

Friday, 3 March 2017

Black Paper Sketchbook

...well, scrapbook actually, but hey!

Hello there, and how are you today?

I thought I'd share some pics from inside my black paper sketchbook. As in this post, this is actually Paperchase scrapbook which I bought in the sale last year, and decided to use as a play place for my coloured pens. I was going to use it as a photo album but the pens won!

Scattered Flower design using metallic pens

Metallic and fluorescent pens are brilliant fun, and look amazing on a dark background - as do white pens (white on black is a massive love of mine). The metallics in the Sakura set flow like a dream...I find them gorgeous to work with.

Last night's sofa doodle session - white Gelly Roll seed heads and flowers

I own these pens, and have used them on the pages shown throughout this post:

I've had a lot of these pens for a few years now, and still work as well as they did when I first bought them.

This one was drawn using the Moonlight pens by Sakura, and reminds me of my old Spirograph set, I had as a kid!

Another Moonlight design, even though I've called them Moonstone on the page ;) Love this pink! The photo doesn't capture half of its essence - it really pops off the page.

More Moonlight play - the ink is beautifully opaque from these pens, and flows so well. I do find I have to wipe the nib occasionally, as the ink kind of dries a little bit like paint around the tip. It doesn't spoil the fun of using them in anyway though.

Words to live by, and another gorgeous Moonlight colour! This is a vivid yellow in real life...totally lush!

The only slight issue with these types of pen, is that they can rub off a little on the page that sits on top of them, a little like chalk does - remember me saying that I tend to use just one side of the paper in the book for this reason? Well there you go - you can see what I mean in the image above.

Top Tip:
Scrap packaging card is great for practising with these kinds of pens...especially the kraft type card that you get with Amazon parcels. I've used this a few times now for collage and gouache work, and the colours sit really well on the card, and show up beautifully.
Perhaps I'll do a post on that at a later date :)

I hope this has inspired you to play with coloured papers, and different pen types!

If you have anything you'd like me to talk about, share my process about etc, do please let me know...I'm happy to help and inspire.

Cheerio for now,

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

March desktop calendar download

Hello and happy new month!

I had a wonderful sunny walk around the village this morning, and managed to get through the front door, just before the rain came.
It was such a treat to see the new season's lambs in the field - so tiny and fragile looking, but they are hardy little babes.
I also saw my first curlew of the year, and heard it's call...Spring is coming lovely people!!
I'd been struggling with inspiration for March's desktop calendar design, until I got home, looked through the photos I'd taken, and fell in love with this scene!

So there you have it...this month's calendar :)
Simply click on the image above, and that will take you where you need to go to download it.

Until next time,

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Snatched moments of creativity

Recently I've found myself spending more time on the behind the scenes areas of Ditsy Bird, than on the actual creative side - developing my tech skills; scanning in designs; planning; organising my storage and filing of my digital designs; working on streamlining processes and so on.
This has meant that I'm spending less time drawing and painting than I would like, and have been finding ways to snatch back some time to get creative.

Sofa doodling is an absolute favourite of mine!
I have a lap tray that lives under the end of the sofa nearest to the lamp, and you will often find me sat there late in the evening, cross legged, sketchbook on tray and pen in hand.

It's not brilliant for my posture, but is wholly necessary for my mind - a little art therapy goes a long way to relaxing the shoulders, unclenching my jaw, and silencing the brain chatter.
I tend to do this when we're watching (I use this term loosely as far as what I'm doing is concerned) something that doesn't require my full attention...what I like to call soufflé telly - looks good but is mostly wind and puff.

I suppose I use the film or whatever is on, more as an audiobook than for watching, and it is good company for the evenings when I'm home alone - plus it gets me out of My Room, and my head out of Ditsy mode.

Other creative opportunities are the times when I take George to his piano lessons, or to the gym, and there isn't enough time to go home and back during the lesson. Piano isn't brilliant as it's only 30 minutes - and honestly, by the time I've replied to IG comments, I barely get chance to get my pad and pen out.

Gym time however, is most excellent!
I park in Aldi car park for this, as the gym is on a main road, and I usually go in and do a shop whilst George is getting fit on the treadmill. This week though, we'd already done a food shop so I stayed in the car and had a wonderful, uninterrupted hour of fountain pen doodling. Though for a moment there I sat staring at the blank page, pen in hand, and with zero inspiration to draw.

I went with the fallback of 'draw an old favourite', and was soon lost in the process of slowly doodling seedheads, breath slowing, shoulders falling, completely in the moment, and oblivious the cars pulling in and out around me.

I'd love to know how you make sure you find time to do the thing you love?

Until next time,

Thursday, 23 February 2017

A free printable for subscribers

Hello there!

I have had plans for years, to set up a mailing list of subscribers, with the intention of sending out a monthly newsletter to those lovely people who sign up.

I'm still working on what to put in said newsletter, but if you want to be on the list for when I launch it, then do please head over here and sign up!

One of the things I intend to do, is to send occasional little treats to my subscribers, and I'm kicking this off with a free printable...

The printable comprises two A4 pages - one with gift tags and one with bookmarks (these could be used as larger gift tags) in four exclusive, Ditsy Bird designs.

If you'd like to get your hands on these, simply head over to the Newsletter page on the website, and enter your details. Once you've confirmed your subscription, you'll be given a link to click, which will take you to the document. You can then print from there, or download it to your computer to print at a later date.

If you share images of the tags and bookmarks, do please tag them with #dbdsubscribers, as I'd love to see what you do with them!

If you have any thoughts on what you would like to receive as a subscriber gift, I'd love to know - either leave a comment below, drop me a line, or leave me a comment on IG.


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Scrapbooks as sketchbooks


I bought a new scrap book at the weekend, which I wanted to try out as a sketchbook - the paper inside is so beautifully smooth, that I find it perfect for pencil sketches, dip pen and fountain pen drawing.

There is no texture to the paper - which is something I would normally actively seek when creating products - but I love the smoothness of this thick paper/thin card for when I'm doing carefree doodling, in order to wind down of an evening, or to warm up my hands before working on a commission.

The other joy of this particular book, is that it is so very beautiful!
Just look at the cut out detail on the cover! And birds! I do love a bird or two.

The pencil sketches were drawn with my Pentel 120 A3DX propelling pencil, using 0.3mm lead. I love how delicate the lines look, and how much detail you can get with such a fine line.

The fabulous turquoise pencil is just there to look pretty ;)

I also wanted to test how well the paper would stand up to ink, so I got out all my pink inks (acrylic and bombay) and had a play - not one came through the back of the paper - and I also tested liquid watercolours as well as high flow acrylics. Same result.

Now I'm not suggesting we all ditch our traditional sketchbooks, I'm just saying that it's worth keeping an eye out for scrap books and photo albums in the sales, as often they have really good quality paper/card in them, which is perfect for doodling on.

This bird design was purchased from a Paperchase outlet shop for £5 - half it's original price of £10 -but it is available HERE on the Paperchase site for £7.50 in the sale.
The hard back cover is very sturdy (and gorgeous) and made up of the deep turquoise hard back inner, sandwiched between two layers of kraft card.
Spiral bound, so I can work on it with the spirals at the top, which stops them getting in the way whilst I draw.

It also has a beautiful ribbon to tie it up, which protects the inner sheets from getting marked or damaged.
There are 40 sheets to work on, and honestly, the paper is of such good quality that I could work on both sides if I so wished - I tend not to do this though, as you can get pencil and pen marks rubbing off on to the page below if you do that.

I've been using scrapbooks as sketchbooks for a while now - my first one had black paper pages inside it, and is fantastic for practicing with all sorts of different pens to get new, fun results. But that's a post for another day!

Materials used:
Vintage dip pen - these can be found quite easily on eBay
Birds scrapbook
Pentel pencil
FW ink pearlescent pink
FW ink fluorescent pink
Liquitex acrylic ink magenta
Dr.PH Martins Hydrus watercolours magenta
Golden High Flow Acrylics magenta
Dr PH Martin's Bombay inks
Caran D'ache Grafik HB pencil
The links are just for reference, so that you can have a look at the materials online...they will be available from other shops, so it's always worth looking around to find a price that suits!