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Yellow-Throated Warbler

Since people are asking, I'll explain the technique here for posterity!

I like journals, I like the way they look, I like how useful they are, but I can't keep the physical kind myself. My sketching style doesn't lend to it at all--I cover a page in tiny little doodles--and my handwriting is...dismal, to say the least. Also, I literally taught myself to type at the age of seven, so writing by hand feels abysmally slow and also weirdly uneditable.

I've tried. I briefly managed pretty good sketchbooks with words that were sort of journal like, but it was mostly because I had a job that was really boring and had a lot of downtime. Now, if I am that bored, I go pull weeds.

But I love the aesthetic. I love the idea. My mother keeps these massive sketchbook journals that are works of art all on their own, and she draws elaborate scenes and writes philosophical thoughts and natural observations and a few of them have been in galleries because dude. I kinda want to do that, except that I'm not as meticulous as my mother, and she enjoys drawing much more than I do. (I like painting. I can take or leave drawing.)

And there are a lot of things, particularly in the garden, that I would like to record that are weightier than merely writing something down on an LJ entry, or going "Yaaay!" on Twitter. (I quite enjoy both those media, of course, but they don't feel as permanent as doing one of these.)

So I started fooling around with journal pages like this.

These are completely digital. A few of the pre-Africa-trip ones had hand-drawn sketches that I scanned, but lately I've been doodling mostly in Painter and then transferring to Photoshop. (Believe it or not, I am far more comfortable sketching digitally than physically--life and workflow have trained me to be a primarily digital artist. The day will come when I can do this on an iPad, and we are getting ever closer, but it's not quite there yet for me. I do need to spend more time when I'm sitting on the porch sketching on the iPad and see if ArtStudio or whatever will bridge the gap.)

In Photoshop, I have a blank pale paper page, at 8 x 10, 300dpi (print size, should I get ambitious) and layer everything into that. The primary handwriting font is "Sweet Home Oklahoma" and the date caption on the last two is "Little Bird." The big "Yellow Throated Warbler" line here is "Rose Tattoo."*

The photos I take with my phone and e-mail to myself. I have a Really Good Camera that I could probably be using, but part of the fun of these is that they are fast and easy and require minimal time investment.

All the little extraneous doodles and scribbles on the sides are done in Photoshop. I make a new layer and doodle on it. It's pretty easy to do, it's basically the same way I have doodled on post-it notes and the margins of papers since I was a kid. I make the same shapes and wiggly bits and crosshatching and rectangles and chickens. I think those are what actually make these look hand-drawn instead of entirely digital.

I hope that explains things! If not, feel free to ask!

*All free for personal use, most of which I will probably have to license for the Kickstarter Africa journals, if I decide they're what I'm going with. Still fooling with fonts at the moment.

On sketching with an iPad ...

I found "Paper" by 53 to be nice, especially with their "Pencil" USB err ... pencil.

Here's a link:


Re: On sketching with an iPad ...

I really like ASketch, but mostly because it's the only one I've ever tried that gets charcoal close to right, and smudginess is next to godliness. (your mileage probably varies.) The "Pencil" is really intriguing, though, they didn't have that the last time I toured drawing apps. Bit beyond my current budget, though I've been considering the Sensu Brush.

I have had Red Winged Blackbirds two years in a row at my feeders. They tend to go for the finch feeders rather than the big bird feeders.

(Deleted comment)

On sketching with an iPad ...

I found "Paper" by 53 to be nice, especially with their "Pencil" USB err ... pencil.

Here's a link:


Thanks for the process neepery. These pages are real treats - I keep looking forward to the next one.

Foamflower… is that the same as Meadowfoam?
Bees make honey from meadowfoam and it tastes like marshmellow.

Had to look that one up! No, Foamflower is Tiarella, rather resembles coral bells. An unobjectionable little shade plant that is starting to get more love.

My chives are just budding, no flowers yet. At least they survived the winter. Sadly the hardy hibiscus didn't. Not so hardy was it?

While they are quite an investment, if using a tablet to draw is something you are very interested in doing, you might look into getting a Microsoft Surface Pro. They are much beefier than you average tablet, and run windows (at least, the pro models do), so can run the programs you are used to using. If you are interested, I know Mike Krahulik, who illustrates Penny Arcade, has written a few posts about his experiences using them. They haven't replaced his desktop yet, I don't think, but they are not a chore to use the way an ipad or android tablet might be.

I love the warbler. Typing is always much quicker than writing as you don't even have to think how to shape the letters. This is an interesting style and layout that looks hand done even if it is not.

Is it possible that the trip journal might become available for purchase by people who somehow missed the kickstarter campaign?

I'm going to try to arrange to order an extra fifty or a hundred copies for myself, so that I can sell them in case people want one, so--hopefully!

I am delighted by your digi-journal entries! If digital is what you need to do them, by all means do so! I think that's the point of a journal - that it be easy to do.

I've started using a fountain pen at work and not too long ago wound up actually writing to a friend of mine - actual handwritten words on paper that got snail-mailed! It felt very strange, and kind of pleasing too. But if your handwriting is more chore than pleasure, by all means, type it - and play with the font(s)

I enjoy reading your gardening entries. I'll never be able to match the enthusiasm, but I appreciate that you share yours with folks like me who people have learned not to ask to water their plants when away.

Also, I may be down in Greensboro in September, working on the National Folk Festival. I don't know how far away that is for you, but if you do choose to come out to the festival, it would be lovely to see you again.

I confess I have a deep and abiding love for your chicken doodles.