How to start sketching more

A few tips for those interested in picking up a sketching habit:

  1. Pick a notebook that you enjoy using, one that you really want to use. I mainly use a Moleskine pocket sketchbook. I have notebooks with better quality paper, but this is  one is just a pure joy for me to use. It’s nice but not so nice that I’m scared of “ruining” it, it’s light and pocketable so I have no excuse not to carry it, and it’s good enough for all the media that I sketch with – pencils, coloured pencils, pens and brush pens.
  2. The medium you use doesn’t really matter, so start with something simple that works with the notebook you picked:
    • Pencil
    • Fineliner
    • Ballpoint pen
    • Brush pen
  3. It doesn’t matter what you draw so long as you draw it.Don’t wait for inspiration or a lofty subject.
    • Every line you draw is already a personal and meaningful thing. Remember that when you feel like giving yourself a hard time.
    • If you’re trying to accurately document something for posterity – take a picture with your smartphone. Sketching and drawing is about making a moment, person, object your own.
    • That being said, give yourself a break and start with the simple – objects without too many finicky details that will stay still while you draw it.
  4. You’re going for quantity first, then quality, as you are trying to build up a habit. Draw a cup of coffee, your midmorning snack, things on your desk, etc.
  5. Challenge yourself to keep it up daily for a month. You can use Streaks to help you keep up the habit.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others, ever. You don’t know:
    1. How long they’ve been at it.
    2. What training they’ve had.
    3. How many “failures” they didn’t post.
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How to start sketching more

Field Notes Signature Plain Paper Sketch Book review

I just received a pack of the Field Notes Signature blank page edition and noticed that on the front of the band it said,”Sketch Book” right below the “Plain Paper”. I opened it up and saw that unlike my beloved Dime Novel edition, these notebooks had no page numbers (a plus for me) and their pages were white and not cream coloured. That made me decide to break them out for a very quick sketching opportunity, to see how well they faired.

The notebook doesn’t open flat, and it tends to want to close on itself, so I used a clip to keep it open when I was sketching. Ideally you’ll need two clips and maybe a backboard of some kind to use it comfortably. The paper, as is normal with sketching paper, doesn’t take washes too well. It’s relatively thin and it buckles pretty easily, so only the lightest of washes should be attempted with it.

The drum set above was sketched with a Sanford No-Blot Pencil. You can see the paper buckling even though very little water was applied with a water brush.

The paper fared better with fine brush pens:

A tiny bit of spread when you lay down the ink too thickly:

Zero complaints when it comes to pencil sketches:

As is to be expected with this kind of paper, it works well with pencils and coloured pencils, having just enough tooth to make it work well with them, but not so great with fine and extra fine fountain pens and thin technical pens.

As you can see above, the Extra Fine Waterman Phileas (with Colorverse Selectron pigment ink) stuttered on the page.

The Signature also suffers from being an awkward size for a sketchbook: too large to be truly pocketable, too small to allow for anything more than tiny, quick sketches.

As a sketchbook, I’d not recommend it. There are better options in the market, ones that open flat, in better sizes, with hardcovers (a plus when sketching on the go), that take washes a bit better than the Signature does.

That being said, it’s a fountain pen friendly Field Notes, and so long as you’re not set on using nibs that in the extra fine realm or using this notebook as your main sketchbook, it’s a nice little thing to carry around and play with. There’s nothing wrong with a notebook that can take a little doodle next to your todo list…

 

Field Notes Signature Plain Paper Sketch Book review

Moleskine Star Wars Lightsaber Duel Review and My Journaling Habit

Yesterday I finished a Moleskine Limited Edition “This is London” notebook. It took me a little less than 2 months to fill its 240 pages.

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My journal is a personal, private thing that I create for myself, both to log each an every day and to process things — from various frustrations to purchasing decisions. It’s a brain outside my brain and it can take a lot more than my brain can oftentimes handle.

This is my second journaling notebook filled for 2018. My first was a Moleskine Limited Edition Denim “Hand Wash Only”. It took me a little over two months to fill (I started in the end of 2017). The Denim Moleskines are probably my favourites ever, which is why I have four more lined up on my shelves. The texture of the cover and the design is just stunning.

And here they are stacked:

I wasn’t sure which Moleskine to use next, so I listed them all and just rolled a dice to see.  The Star Wars “Lightsaber Duel” came up, and it’s a lovely edition as well. Here they are old and new:

I love Moleskine’s new use of the flip side of their wrapping bands. The “This is London” band had lovely illustrations and instructions on how to make tea (this was an exclusive edition for Moleskine London stores).  The Star Wars Lightsaber Duel has illustrations and the Pantone colours of the various lightsabers used in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Look at those endpapers!

And of course Star Wars stickers. One can never have too many Star Wars stickers.

I use a Ti Arto pen with a Uni-ball Signo UMR-85 gel refill, and I fill four pages a day every day. When I started out I filled a half-page, page a day and gradually worked up as I started to get more out of the journaling experience. I write for myself only, I glue various bits and pieces inside my journal (business cards, cool wrappers or fliers, stickers), and sketch in it sometimes, even though it’s lined and not my main sketchbook by far. I use it to plan things, from my running goals to my writing goals, but I don’t try to make it bullet journal/Instagram pretty. It’s a working journal, and it’s first and foremost meant to be a tool, not a museum piece.

I use Moleskines because I enjoy using them and because for some reason beyond me these are the only notebooks that I’ve managed to consistently journal in. I tried Baron Fig, Rhodia Webnotebooks, Leuchtturm, Exacompta, Field Notes, and others and I haven’t been able to stick with them, even though some of them allow me to use my beloved fountain pens. There is just something about these notebooks that makes it a joy for me to use them (and at least when it comes to the LE lined versions, Moleskine has improved its paper stock). I pick up the regular black notebooks for work, but I love a lot of their stunning LE designs, so I splurge on those for my journaling needs.

Which brings me to the bottom line:

Use the notebook that you enjoy using, without giving a damn what other people say, so that you can journal for yourself.

That’s really all there is to it.

Moleskine Star Wars Lightsaber Duel Review and My Journaling Habit

Review: Parker Jotter London Architecture

Before I got into fountain pens and gel ink pens became available in the market, I used to use ballpoint pens for taking notes, and the Parker Jotter was my favourite. It was the first pen I invested “real money” into when I was still in high school, and I still have that purple pen knocking about somewhere in the house. The refills were always a problem, with blobbing, streaking and hard starts something common to all ballpoints, even the Jotter with its “Quinkflow” refills, but you could shade with the pen, which meant that you could doodle in your notebook while bored — a big plus for me.

I switched to fountain pens when I started my BA and my wrist pains got worst than ever, because I was practically carving the words into the page. Since then, gel pens and fountain pens have ruled the roost on my desk, with only a Kara’s Kustoms Render K with a Schmidt easyflow 9000 M in black filling my few ballpoint needs. When they don’t blob, ballpoints are great after all, especially if you want to jot something down and not have to wait for the ink to dry.

But when Jet Pens added four limited edition Parker Jotters, each one celebrating a different London architectural icon (Bronze for Big Ben, Red for Buckingham Palace, Sky Blue for the Shard, and Black for the Gherkin), I knew I had to reopen the ballpoint chapter in my life.

The packaging is stunning, as you can see for yourself:

Not many pens at this price level come in such nice boxes, which makes them perfect gifts (I bought all four pens and intend to give away three of them as gifts).

Ballpoints aren’t much fun for me to write with, because I have RSI problems and they require pressure to use, but they are fun to sketch and doodle with. So much shading with one pen:

The etching on the pen makes it very easy to grip once you start writing or sketching, but it does feel a bit rough on the fingers when you just pick the pen up or fiddle with it. The click mechanism and clip are Parker solid, and colours and design of these pens are fantastic:

The minus is of course the refill, which is smooth with no railroading, but does blob a bit, mostly when you sketch, not so much when you just write with it.

The funniest thing about these pens that celebrate such very British icons, is that they are made in France (until 2011 Parker pens were made in the UK).

If you enjoy ballpoint pens and don’t have a Parker Jotter or like the look of these pens, I recommend these. They are tough workhorses and good looking pens.

If you love London as much as I do, I recommend these.

If you’re looking for a nice gift for someone, particularly an architecture or design student, I recommend these.

For me personally, gel pens and fountain pens will continue to rule the roost.

Review: Parker Jotter London Architecture

Three Good Things

After reading the great “How to Be Miserable” I decided to start keeping a “three good things” journal at my bedside and write in it every night, right before I go to bed.

The idea is to write three good things that happened to you today, and if possible attribute them. It breaks off the habit of always remembering the bad, upsetting or embarrassing parts of your day, and I also found that it helps me (together with regular journaling) clear my mind and fall asleep sooner.

The good things don’t have to be large, sometimes they’re just a nice meal that I shared with someone, or something good that I read or watched, or just a friendly exchange with a friend or someone at work. The thing is, once you start doing it you:

  1. Realize that even in the shittiest of days there is something good to remember.
  2. Train your brain to look for those things throughout the day, so that you can have something to write down at night.

I’ve been using the Field Notes Resolution weekly planner for that, but you might want to use something larger. I just chose the Resolution because it gave me a reason to use the notebook, and it’s small enough that I’m sure that I will have something to write in it every day.

Three Good Things

Sketchlog January 6, 2018

  • Really glad that I snagged one of Adjiashvili’s charcoal drawings.
  • Yoga is turning out to be more enjoyable than I thought. The new yoga workouts in the NTC app are really good.
  • Wrote a good deal today and going to write some more.
  • 2nd day of the 30 day plank challenge was OK. Yesterday was test day – I can hold a plank in good form for 1min. We’ll see where I end up.
  • Not pictured: I saw “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure”. There’s a reason it’s not pictured.
  • This made me laugh, because it’s true…

Sketchlog January 6, 2018

General update

  • My to do list today is 45 items long. It’s 10AM and I still have 33 items to go.

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  • I’ve been using the Forest app for the past week to cut down on my phone time, and especially my twitter time. It’s a fun take on the Pomodoro technique that basically lets you set a timer to plan trees in your forest. The tree grows when you finish your timer without touching your phone (you can have the phone play music or a podcast while your tree is growing, you just can’t fiddle with your phone). You can also accept calls while the tree is growing, but you can’t make calls/text/check apps etc. It’s a good gamification of the Pomodoro technique, and a beautiful app.
  • I’ve finished rewriting chapter 2 and am back to rewriting large swaths of chapter 7. Forcing myself to cut ruthlessly cut things down.
  • Reading John Scalzi’s “The Human Division” and thoroughly enjoying it. Also indulging in M.C. Beaton’s “Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House,” because I can.
  • Started working on my 2018 resolutions. It’s the fourth year that I’m doing
  • My (mechanical) keyboard is creaking. It’s time to swap out the keycaps and lubricate the switches a bit.
  • Cutting down on Apple technology podcasts. Getting a bit fed up with them and more interested in podcasts with more interesting content than “guess how much I love my iPhone X”.
  • That being said, I upgraded to an iPhone 8 (not a Plus or a X on purpose), and I’m OK with it. Still frustrated that it doesn’t have a headphone jack.
  • Ran a game of Parsley that I wrote for a group of friends using Discord, and it was a roaring success. Planning on running another game like that soon.
General update