Tuesday, 6 June 2017

June Desktop Calendar

Hello my lovelies!

This month's calendar was inspired by a wonderful coastal scene, snapped whilst holidaying on the island of Lanzarote last week.

I've used a doodle from my #100daysofditsydoodles - granted I was a bit previous in posting it in May, but it has come in very handy for this calendar.

I hope you like this happy, tranquil scene...it was only once I'd completed the design, that I spotted the white chair by the side of the house on the left. Just take a moment to imagine yourself sitting there, sun on your face, fresh sea air in your lungs, nothing troubling your mind. And breathe...

click on this image to go to the download :)

Have a wonderful and fruitful June, full of sunshine - be it in your heart or in the sky ☀️

Much love until next time,


Monday, 8 May 2017

100 days of Ditsy doodles

What's this? A post...an actual post not involving desktop calendars? Well heck!

That's right, today I thought I'd share a creative challenge that I set myself. I'm drawing 100 days of Ditsy doodles, and sharing them on my Instagram account with the hashtag #100daysofditsydoodles.

I've seen a lot of these on Instagram where, for a set number of days, you commit to creating/doing something every day, and sharing it on your feed with your followers.

I've a track record of being horrendous at sticking with challenges (through self sabotage, usually) but thought, what the hey, I've nothing to lose, and only good things to gain.

Good things? Why yes :)
- regular material to post (sometimes finding something to share is like walking into a brick wall)
- the satisfying feeling of sticking with something for a set period of time (I have never given anything up for Lent/dry January etc)
- seeing how I fare when faced with self inflicted deadlines and guidelines
- improving my motivation to create, post, share and inspire
- seeing whether my style develops over the 100 days; whether themes appear (the first 15 days have been firmly based in the realm of botanicals and florals!)
- finding out what gives me joy to draw, and what leaves me flat and a smidge curmudgeonly (the flower for 14/100...ugh! A lesson in not over working and over thinking, and relaxing into the flow of mindless - ooh a little controversial perhaps - drawing and mark making)
- playing with different tools/materials/pens - using colour rather than purely black ink on white*
* read, 'Sarah's happy safe comfort zone and favourite place to play'

So here's a little round up of 1 - 10 and I'll share 11- 20 once I've passed that point.

If you'd like to see the doodles as they are posted, you can find me on Instagram as @ditsybird...do say hi if you pop over!

If you've got any questions about the doodles/sketches - eg pens/sketchbook etc, do please ask.

Cheerio for now,


Sunday, 30 April 2017

May Desktop Calendar

Well hello, and check me out being ON TIME with this month's calendar!
I know, I can barely believe it myself ;)

This month's challenge to myself, was to create a pattern brush in Adobe Illustrator using one of my own doodles, and to then use that to write May using the brush.

Above is a scan of the original drawings from my sketchbook - after these were scanned, the one top left was brought into Illustrator to be turned into a vector image to be edited and used to create a seamless pattern brush.
I used this course from Skillshare, which is so good - really clear and thorough, and easy to follow.

I was watching and working simultaneously - with the course open in Chrome, and Ai open at the same time - after each section, I then put what I'd learned into practice, rewinding and referencing the course as needed.

Anyhoo, a little playing around with the design later, and I created the pattern brush and then used it to write the word May for the calendar - another trick learned!

I added a few berries with the blob brush tool, a light coloured background, and the calendar itself - it's a clean and simple design this month, a rather calming change from the bright colour that was the April one :)

Simply click on the image below to download the calendar for your desktop.

Have a super May!!

Cheerio for now,


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!


Thursday, 2 February 2017

February Desktop Calendar

Good morning!

I realise I'm a couple of days late, but this month's desktop calendar is now ready to download...
simply click on the image below :)

Wishing you a fruitful month full of love, fun and laughter!


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

New Year, New Challenge

Hello, and a very happy new year to you!

I do hope you've had a wonderful festive time of it, over the holidays?
Ours was fun, quiet and relaxed...and I woke up today, raring to get back into my normal routine (with a few tweaks for the new year).

One of the tweaks, is a new monthly challenge that I have set myself.
I want to test myself creatively, and also keep practicing my digital design skills...there is loads of room for improvement so the more practice the better!

My first challenge for this year, is to create a monthly desktop calendar, that can be downloaded and used by my online friends and followers.

I realise I'm a little late for January's but that's okay.

It's also not the best effort I think I could have made - but then hindsight is often 20:20.

Unsurprisingly, it took way longer than I expected...but isn't that the way when you're trying new things? I did learn a few 'what not to dos' for next month's calendar:

1. I was happier working in Illustrator than Photoshop for this exercise
2. I really need to create the numbers and punctuation for the font I was working on, at the end of last year.
3. It's quite tricky to find a photo with the right dimensions, and good areas of interest in exactly the right places - so you've ended up with a Wintery scene overlooking the Aire Valley where we live.
4. A bit more prep time would have been a wonderful thing - I will make sure I make time for this for February's, and it might not feel quite so 'chucked together' ;)

You can download the January desktop calendar by clicking here

Have a lovely day,