Putting Pencil to Paper: October 2018

Paper by FiftyThree is a drawing and sketching app for iPad and iPhone, and one of my great loves in this life. Each month, I start a new Sketchbook in Paper and set its title as the current month. At the end of each month, I’ll post a retrospective here of everything I drew!

Back again! This time, I actually managed to post within a few weeks of the month ending. I’m an absolute dynamo. Fewer sketches this month, but still going strong!

I’m writing to you this month from a coffee shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn. My sister is once again undertaking the challenge of National Novel Writing Month, so my girlfriend and myself are accompanying her around the city to various coffee shops to get some work done as well.

Also of note, I’ve crafted everything in this particular post entirely on my iPad, which is rather exciting! I of course drew everything in Paper, but I also exported the video of my sketchbook to Adobe Premiere Rush for editing, then to a browser-based GIF creation tool to bring you the image you see above, and I’m writing the whole thing in Squarespace’s surprisingly robust blogging app!

Alright, let’s get to it!

First up: Color! A very simple composition. Partially, I wanted to crack the seal on a new month without worrying about creating something “special” or terribly incredible. But I also wanted to play around with just blocking out some color and seeing how colors from this tool, a kind of paint roller, would interact with each other. I like it for its simplicity!

This one’s a pretty rough sketch of an incredible Boston Cream Pie I got at a hotel in Boston while I was traveling for work. My company put me up at this cute little hotel near our Boston office for a few days, and when I saw Boston Cream Pie on the menu, I just had to try it out. This sketch was the product of a wonderfully peaceful evening spent alone in the hotel restaurant, and in my room upstairs afterwards. I got off work, put on my coziest sweater, grabbed my iPad, and strolled down to the restaurant to read for a bit, and later make this sketch! It was quite nice.

This is my attempt at capturing the scene of that peaceful evening in the hotel restaurant. I don’t usually love hotel restaurants, but this place was so cute, and I was immediately comforted by the restaurant’s warmth and quiet ambiance.

If you ever have a chance to stay at the Kendall Hotel in Cambridge, I highly recommend it.

On the train back from Boston, I wanted to try and roughly capture some of the sights going by. Firstly, the tight weave of trees rushing by, colors slowly changing in the early October night.

Another train sketch! This one isn’t based on anything I saw, it’s actually the result of fooling around with some of Paper’s tools. I was layering those blue and red and purple colors together, and noticed that when I erased a certain way, it created this sort of kite/bird shape! So I decided to turn it into a little landscape scene!

This one, I’m very happy with. As it got later on my train journey home, the sky over the woods speeding by turned into this incredible fiery dance that I just had to try and recreate. This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s what art is for sometimes. Besides, I think this best communicates the beauty of the scene outside. It’s so much fun to play with colors and borders and blending in Paper.

Ah, so this…this is a special one. I drew this to commemorate the day FiftyThree, the company that created Paper, sent me one of their old Pencils for free! See, a few years ago (and before Apple ever had the idea), FiftyThree put out this incredible stylus called, simply, Pencil. It has this beautiful wooden body, with a shape like a carpenter’s pencil. And Pencil’s most impressive feature — one that no stylus before or since has managed to nail — was that you could flip it over to erase. No need to switch tools, no need for an awkward gesture, just flip the thing over and do what you’ve been trained to do your entire life.

Anyhow, I contacted FiftyThree on Twitter at one point, one thing led to another, and they ended up sending me a Pencil for free! In the original packaging and everything! The same old thing I’d been lusting after since I was a broke college kid watching tech reviews on The Verge. What a bunch of lovely folks ❤️

This is……I mean, it’s my October sketchbook, so. This is pretty self-explanatory, I feel.

This one is less self-explanatory. In fact, I’m not even sure how to explain it. It’s really just a doodle of a…vehicle? Machine? Beak Monster? Who knows! Sometimes you just want to draw something and all you have in mind is a general vibe or scene you’d like to get down, and that’s okay too!

This here is a sketch from a coffee shop local to our particular neighborhood of Brooklyn. I believe this was the day we went to meet my girlfriend to hang out for a bit and read/draw at this coffee shop, before heading home to make some kind of food. I thought we made cocoa, but Lauren disagrees, and we can’t remember what we actually did. But it was a good day! Among the coffee cups on the table, you’ll also notice my tote bag from Signal Problems, the best weekly newsletter about the NYC subway.

Ohhhhhh yes. Here we are. My best sketch of the month. Ever since I got my iPad and Paper, I’ve wanted to recreate this, my favorite view in New York City: riding the Q over the Manhattan Bridge. You get it all here: a view of the Brooklyn Bridge, views of both Brooklyn and Manhattan, a view over the water, and if you come at the right time of day (usually around rush hour), a beautiful sunset. I did my best here to capture it from memory.

I also employed a technique that ended up working as well as I could’ve hoped — I used the blend technique that Paper has built in to blur the foreground and create a kind of depth-of-field effect, something I’m familiar with from my usual artistic outlet. I love this sketch very much.

Hey I also really love this one! This month’s sketchbook really closes out strong 💪

This is just a simple scene from a night at home after work. A mug of tea, the TV remote, and two beautiful neon Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons. The hardest thing about this sketch was all the buttons on the remote. Not only the act of drawing them all, that was actually the easy part, but because of the way Paper handles some colors and creates an artificial layer system based on luminance or something; I’m still not sure how this works. I wasn’t able to just draw the outlines and then add color below. The only color that will show up on top of black like this is a solid white, which also shows up over top of any outlines you’ve drawn, effectively erasing them. It’s just a quirk of a purposely limited tool. But it turned out really great! I’m glad I put in the extra effort to add color to those buttons!

Were you getting nervous, getting all the way through my sketchbook and not seeing any incredible art from Lauren in there? Well here it is! The closer! This ended up being the perfect, natural cover for the month’s sketchbook. It’s gorgeous! So much detail! The second “o” in October is an apple!

Once again, Lauren’s art is a gift and a blessing, and you can find more of it on her instagram, @laurenheathart

And so, dear reader, we come to the end of another monthly Paper sketchbook retrospective! A fair bit shorter than September, but there’s nothing wrong with that! September was a long one!

Thanks very much for reading, and I hope that anything and everything you’ve seen here inspires you to, if not pick up Paper, then at least to pick up a pen or pencil or other tool or implement and get creative! Everyone has it in them. We don’t all have to be spreadsheets and numbers and words. We can be beautiful, too.

Until next month!

– Mike

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