Making a Design More Awesome (Tips for self- critique)

This is actually something I drew up aaaaaaages ago and I thought I had finished it. Then I thought it might look good printed out and framed. So I printed it out. It was only then that I saw that it actually wasn’t quite finished. Here it is:

This is an example of why self-critiquing artwork is a good idea, even though I’m not sure I’m keen on calling it ‘self-critique’ because it sounds like it could be misunderstood for criticism in a not so good way… actual design self-critique is meant to be a positive way to look at your art work and find areas that you can tweak to make it even more awesome that it already is. I thought I had finished this but after reviewing it more closely I realised I could improve it so much more.

The big space around the edge of my Hello Pumpkin is intentional – the design is intended for a tea towel and space is needed so when it’s sewn into a tea towel then none of the design gets lost in the hem.

Questions to keep in mind

  • Does it meet the intention – go back to the brief and check that it still fits with the brief and that you haven’t gone off on a tangent too much (easy to do when you get going with a creative flow)
  • Would it look just as good in other colours? Or monochrome?

How to spot areas to improve

  • Turn it upside down
  • Look at it up close
  • Look at it from far away

Things you’re trying to spot

  • Look at the balance/spacing between the design elements – are there random busy patches and then random spaced out areas that need balancing out?
  • Layout – ok this is similar to balance, check if the balance is neat and in proportion
  • Typography/lettering – if this needs to be readable, is it? Check on things like kerning and font size as well as font type, would it look better in script, or serif, or sans-serif?
  • Focus area – is there a part of your design that needs to ‘pop’ and if there is, then does it stand out enough (in a good way). Maybe you need to tone some things down in the background

Self-critique might sound like a bit of designer jargon but it’s a really great way improve your art work.

After I had looked at my Hello Pumpkin in this way I made a few changes.

Spot the difference! 🙂 ok so I didn’t make huuuuge changes but the gentle and subtle tweaks to the lettering on ‘hello’ (well I re-wrote it but in a similar style) and balancing out the hearts and flowers in between ‘hello’ and ‘Pumpkin’ makes a big difference.

I’m still no expert but getting better 😃 I’ll be ordering a tea towel sized piece of fabric from Spoonflower and when it’s all made up into a tea-towel I’ll share the picture of the finished product 😃

Bounce Lettering! Loveleigh Loops – Online Lettering Learnings

Over the last couple of weeks I have been learning how to bounce! By this I mean how to ‘bounce’ my letters. So before I tell you about my adventures in bounceland I’ll tell you what that means.

Bounce lettering is kinda what it says on the tin – it literally looks bouncy, like the letters in your word have jumped on to a trampoline and just jumped around a bit. Okay… a bit of a vague description… this picture will explain it better 🙂

There you go, I hope that helped clear things up 🙂

So a couple of weeks ago the lovely ladies of Loveleigh Loops (Jillian and Jordan) contacted me to ask if I could be a test student for their new bounce lettering course, in exchange for some feedback (technically everything was smooth as silk – unlike my novice brush lettering but I’ll get to that later). I jumped at the chance (or should I say bounced) as I had seen bounce lettering on Instagram and think it looks awesome.

Image from Loveleigh Loops Instagram

I went on to the Loveleigh Loops teachables website where they list their courses and enrolled on to the Bounce Lettering one (this usually costs $39US) taking note that they also offer Brush Lettering, Faux Calligraphy (that ones free btw), and will be doing a Live Flourishes workshop on Saturday afternoon (Dec 2nd at 2pm EST).

They have PDFs of the guidelines in 3 different sizes – just print out a load because they’ll always come in handy for lettering practice. Don’t forget that paper makes a big difference though – cheap printer paper could very likely result in bleeding ink and less attractive results but it’ll be okay for a bit of fun practice before you move on to the good paper. They also have a PDF of the bounce lettering worksheets – you could get away without printing these if you really wanted – just follow along the videos or if you have two devices (e.g. an iPad and a laptop) you could just load it up on your screen.

There is a section where they recommend supplies, noting that you can use pretty much any kind of pen – fine tipped pens, brush pens, waterbrush pens etc. So if you don’t have a particular type of pen, you can still just get started! Saying that, I have just bought a Tombow Fudenosuke and I really love it – it feels like an absolute dream to write with. However the first attempt I did was using a fine tipped pen and I used a faux calligraphy style. This worked just fine and I was really happy with the results.

There are a few videos where they talk you through each type of stroke and several different ways to bounce each letter (all minuscules i.e. lower case letters). The video quality is great and its really easy to follow (I’m quite slow so I paused regularly and repeated bits). After this you’ll end up with a nice load of practice letters and can then start on some awesome words.

Thoughtfully, Jillian and Jordan have also provided a list of suggested words – easier words to bounce, and slightly trickier ones – so you can start gentle and then do the harder words when you’re more confident. Or if, like me, you like to just dive right into the hard stuff before you have the skill to do so, you can start with the tricky word ‘umbrella’ and end up with a really werid ‘m’… hmmm… You can see in the picture above that I also had a go at a few other words and they turned out okay 😀

They showed me a better way to write Lauren in a little message to me which is lovely and I’m definitely going to practice it that way!

The Bounce Lettering Tool

As well as the guidelines, worksheets and never ending access to the videos the course also includes a free downloadable ‘tool’ which comes in an excel spreadsheet. Jillian and Jordan have given each letter a ‘bounciness’ score so when you type in your words onto the spreadsheet it’ll give you a score of how well each of the letters will bounce! Awesome!!

A note about brush lettering

I hinted up there somewhere about my novice brush lettering being a bit… well… not so good. I have a colourful set of brush dual ended brush pens (thin tip on one side and thick on the other) and I just dived right into the deep end and started trying to bounce letters with these pens despite the fact that I’ve never really done brush lettering before. It’s fine to do this (I would say that because I did do it). It is fun and it’s a good way to just practice but before you do this be aware of a few things because I got quite disheartened at first:

  1. Brush lettering isn’t necessarily as easy as it looks – it takes practice to get the hang of the thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes and at first you’ll probably get a few strokes wrong…
  2. Using cheap pens on cheap paper = you won’t get the same finish as the things you see on Instagram or Pinterest, so don’t expect to blast something out that insta-worthy, cheap pens and cheap paper is good for practice but you won’t necessarily get a beautiful finish…
  3. Bounce lettering isn’t easy until you know what you’re doing, try drawing words in pencil first and then you can stop and think about how each letter joins up. Then go over it in pen.

Here are a couple things you can do to make it easier for yourself and more beautiful:

  1. Pay attention to the recommended pens. If you don’t have any, order something online now and use what you’ve got in the meantime, until it arrives. I have bought a Tombow Fudenosuke (as I said above) and I love it – having a decent brush pen makes soooo much difference. I also have my eye on a set of Artline Stix after seeing them in action on a few videos online.
  2. Paper – cheap paper is fine to begin with but when you’ve had your ‘starting’ practice and you’re ready for nice paper I recommend getting a Rhodia dotpad. The paper is decent and the dots are helpful (they’re also very reasonably priced). I also like to draw guidelines in them for the bouncing and use the dots to measure the guidelines (if you see my doodle posts you’ll see I use my A5 dotpad for doodles).
  3. Just enjoy it! It’s fun and the more you do it, just better you’ll get 😀

100 days of Doodles: Week 7

Wowwww I can’t believe I’m now over halfway through my 100 days of doodles already! Where has that time gone?! I’m really proud of this week though (do I say that every week?this time I really really mean it). I had a couple of little attempts at bounce lettering although I am just learning that (thanks to a short online course I took this week – a review of that is to follow 😁). Also, I’ve very delicately experimented with a touch of colour (!). Only a tiny bit though – there’s yellow in the ‘You are my Sunshine’ day. As always I LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear your thoughts, what’s your favourite? What do you think of the yellow? Do you have any doodle ideas? Or if you don’t really know, then just say ‘hello’ 😆

Enough about that, here they are! Days 43 – 49

43 – Houses

44 – Wreaths

45 – You are my Sunshine

46 – Foxy

47 – Owls

48 – Pattern

49 – What is the time?

100 Days of Doodles: Week 6

Days 36 – 42

This week of Doodles started off with an awesome Movember doodle. For those who do not know what Movember is I’ll try and explain… Movember is when, during the month of November, a large number of guys embrace their facial hair and ‘grow a mo’ for the entire month (mo = moustache).

36. Movember

37. A shortcut to what? The mushrooms

38. Hello Autumn

39. Cozy Socks

40. Winter Warmers

41. Hiking

42. Botanical Lines

Also, some of you may also recognise the subtle Lord of the Rings quote on day 2 this week (but do you which LOTR film exactly?). I’m thinking that the cozy socks might be my favourite but it’s a tough one to decide! What do you think?

Hope you have enjoyed these doodles this week – I have just ordered a set of colourful brush pens from Amazon so next week I may be brave enough to introduce a little bit of colour! 🙂 🙂

A Few Awesome Lettering Instagram Accounts

Finding inspiration for hand lettering projects is key to developing your own awesome ideas and turning them into reality. As a keen hand letter-er and newbie designer, I absolutely love to follow others and I’m constantly filling my head with ideas. I can’t possibly choose favourites but here’s a few awesome ones that I follow and I think I’ve chosen ones here that all have unique characteristics and interesting differences about them.

Before we get to the awesome Instagram accounts I’ve promised you, I’m going to start by giving you a link to my own Instagram (thepeacheytree) but it comes with a warning – I feel that my Instagram game is currently a tad ‘weak’ (some instas have such beautiful photos and I haven’t figured out quite how they manage it) so please venture to it only if you have low expectations 😂. I’m working on improving it (!). Here’s what you can expect to see on my Instagram…

Now on to the actual lovely instas 😍

Blossoms and Ink – My favourite thing about this Instagram account is that Erica (the hand lettering artist) has a lot of chalkboard posts with single letters. Her other posts with complete words are still beautifully presented, but these single letter posts are quite unique to Blossoms and Ink and allows me to really focus on the shape of the single letter. If you’ve seen my previous post ‘What is a Hand Lettering Anyway?’ then you might recognise this one 😃

Here’s a taster of what you can expect from Blossoms and Ink:

Alliras_inklings – Allira (Canberra, Australia) provides hand lettering services and posts her creations on her Instagram. As well as the hand lettering posts which are super pretty there are also pretty wedding photos, table decorations and cakes which is a lovely mix of beautiful insta images.

Here’s a taster of what you can see on her account:

Inspiredbyemelia – This is kind of what I wish my Instagram looked like, Carrie Sorrell began hand lettering in January 2017 and her Instagram account is a mix of hand lettering and iPad illustration. One of the reasons I love this insta is because Carrie hasn’t even been Hand Lettering for a year but because she’s really keen and puts the work in, you’d think she had been doing it for much longer. Being a newbie, I find this really encouraging. Here’s a few images you will find on her page:

Lepunktnoir – This is another mix of hand lettering on paper and hand lettering on an iPad. It’s a fairly new Instagram compared to some of the others I follow and so there’s only about 78 images so far. What I especially like about this Instagram account is the variety of styles – from white pencil lettering to retro style iPad lettering.

Ohaicrystal – I promise it’s not just the casual Harry Potter reference in the top right image in the layout below that has me totally in love with Crystal’s Instagram page. There’s loads of inspiration to be found here, and I especially love the iPad lettering practice videos. The only thing I don’t like about it is how much it makes me want an iPad Pro… 😆 Here’s why:

YLimeDesigns – Colourful lettering done on the iPad and with pens and paper. It’s not just the cheery colours that I love about this one though, it’s the actual choice of words again which put a smile on my face. There’s also some videos of the work in progress which I love to watch.

Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect to see on this Instagram account:

These are just a few of the Instagrams I follow that I find particularly inspiring. I could go on for ages as I follow loads of awesome Instagram accounts! Saying that, as far as I’m concerned you can never have too many decent Instagrams to follow so if you got a lettering (or illustration) Instagram drop me a comment with a link to your page – I’d love to check it out!

😃 😃

Ps. If you’ve got any tips for how exactly I can improve the awesome of my insta – don’t be shy, help a girl out and comment a few tips for me, I reaaaally want to up my instagame 😁

100 Days of Doodles – Week 5

Days 29 -35

There’s a little bit of a Halloween theme going on for a couple of days this, because it was Halloween! As usual, I have continued to practice my hand lettering, trying to be open minded and do a different font for each day (rather than just sticking to my favourite). Trick or Treat was a good hand lettering practice and check out my Happy Halloween post for a bit of extra hand lettering practice 🙂 🙂

29 – Hot Air Balloon

30 – Cats

31 – Halloween

32 – Trick or Treat

33 – Spiderwebs

34 – Keys

35 – Baking

What’s your favourite this week? Have you done any doodles? 😁😁😁

Picture Tutorial – Drawing a Flower

This is a 9 step picture tutorial on how to draw a simple tropical flower which is a tutorial inspired by my latest design. This was done in my Paintstorm app, you can get a ‘lite’ version for free on the App Store or pay £13 for the full version. For this drawing, the free one is just fine. Or you could do it using paper, pencil and/or a pen. Just make sure to let any ink dry properly before you erase the pencil lines. This flower is the same as some of the ones on the featured image for this post and the image at the bottom of this post (please check it out😄).

Step 1. In your first layer use the ellipse tool (at the top of the screen, see image below). Then choose whatever colour makes you happy and draw two circles, like the ones in the first image above. These are used as a guide for your petals.

Steps 2 – 5. Unselect the ellipse tool, you don’t need it any more. In a new layer draw the first petal. Then draw the petals like I have in the image above.

Step 6. In the image above I’ve squiggled over a bit that needs erasing. And draw the final petal.

Step 7. Add the extra petal at the top. Check that you’re happy with it before moving to…

Step 8. Clear the layer with the circles.

Step 9. Add the extra details.

I hope you found that picture tutorial helpful – please let me know if you have any questions in the comments 🙂

A couple of weeks ago I doodled a page of tropical plants. It was the first time I had drawn tropical flowers and it wasn’t great quality, but it did help inspire my most recent Spoonflower contest entry. The contest is to create a repeating design which can be used for the Lake Colouring App but it’s also important that it looks good on a piece of fabric.

You can see the page of doodles here in Week 2. I’m also fond of dreamcatchers and I wanted to have a quote in my design (as I’m all excited about my fairly new hobby – Hand Lettering) so I chose the quote ‘never stop dreaming’.

Here is the finished version:

Voting is open on Spoonflower from 2nd November to the 7th November. Please check it out and cast a few votes! You don’t have to join Spoonflower to vote and you can vote for as many or as few as you like 🙂

Happy Halloween!!

Well I don’t know about you, but I have spent my halloween writing ‘Happy Halloween’ in my dotpad. It was a fun project for an hour or so 😃

This is a post just to say ‘Happy Halloween’ to you all and show you how a piece of hand lettering work can move through various stages.

I started by sketching an idea in pencil…

hen I was pretty much happy with it I started to carefully draw over the lines using a black 0.5mm nib (basically a black pen that’s not too thick or too thin). When I came to a letter that I felt like I could improve, I would pick up my pencil again and tweak the drawing slightly. You can see the difference between the Y in the first image and the Y in the image below.

fter I had completed the outline, I started filling it in. Leaving some white within the lines to add a bit more interest to the letters. Then on the spiders web I drew extra lines so they would fit with the style. Then I waited for a while to let the ink dry and erased the pencil.

And here is the finished piece:

'm pretty happy with the finished result… although I am tempted to add a few more swirlygigs (yes it’s the ‘technical’ word😂) around the top of the writing! What do you think? If anyone has a go at doing this let me know how it goes!

Ps. Here is a verymessy ‘Boo’ which took all of about ten minutes 😂😂

100 Days of Doodles- Week 4

This was an excellent week of doodles, I had lots of fun drawing these. The stick figure day was inspired by some comments on my previous doodles post 😃 (because stick people are awesome). Using my daily doodles as a way to practice my hand lettering as well, trying out new fonts from my new book – Hand Lettering: Creative Alphabets for Any Occasion . For my US friends, I’ve checked online and you can buy the same book on :). And I have a new book to draw in which is very exciting. Annnnnd me and my boyfriend went up the hill to have a picnic and take photos so some of these are taken in nice bright sunshine which looks loooads better. Let me know which your favourites! If you have any suggestions for doodles put them in the comments 🙂

22. Bee My Honey

23. Make my Page Look Pretty

24. Pens and Paper

25. Stick Figures

26. Hearts

27. Crystals

28. Flowers