Archive | April 2011

A Vector Cat

Cat (vector image)

Cat drawn in Inkscape by Ulla Hennig

As I mentioned in one post, Friday is the day when I present some of my digital design work (which more or less is the result of something worked on with Inkscape and then with Photoshop and then used to put it on mugs, mousepads or cards in my zazzle store.

There has been an older version of the cat above which I “used” for Zazzle products. You can see it here.

On my way home from work today I thought about working on it a bit more, making it a bit more realistic. It took me about an hour until I could upload the version you can see here to my flickr gallery. I am not very happy with the head (the cat definitely needs some whiskers!), but I think the rest of the body is not too bad.

Lilacs in Spring 2011

Lilacs in Spring 2011

Lilacs in Spring 2011

The lilacs are blooming again. I’ve got two lilac bushes beneath the cherry blossom tree in front of the house I live in. The cherry blossoms have gone now, and the lilacs have taken over.

Berlin is full of lilacs – white ones, pink ones, purple ones. It is mid spring now, and the fruit trees are blooming. Nature is very early this year, and I hope that we won’t get temperatures much below freezing point. That could be very dangerous for the development of cherries, pears, apples then.

But is no use worrying about that – I rather enjoy sitting outside, slowly sipping a cup of delicious capuccino!

Watercolour Pencils

Man standing - Watercolour pencils

Man standing - Watercolour pencils. Painted by Ulla Hennig

This time it is not copics, it is watercolour pencils. There is a great website called, and I took one of the poses there as a reference.

In the beginning it was a bit strange to use the watercolour pencils again, but then it was fun. I did not use watercolour paper, I used my nice little sketchpad. The water made the paper a bit bumpy, and I haven’t got a scanner and had to take a photo of the painting/drawing, so the background looks a bit uneven.

By the way: You may have noticed that Monday is drawing/painting day on my blog. I decided to publish drawings and paintings on a Monday, photos on a Wednesday and everything design-y on a Friday. Doing it this way helps me to practice all these three creative activities.

Blue Roundie in Love

Blue Roundie

Blue Roundie in Love. Done in Inkscape by Ulla Hennig

It has been so much fun creating that cute little character. Actually he’s the second one of the Roundie family, the first one was a red one. As spring is the season of love I wanted this blue one to be in love and to show it.

I must say that I am rather proud of having been able to create something I had seen before my eyes, to realize it with the new program I am working with – Inkscape. What I am dreaming about at the moment is to give more individuality to my roundie characters, to make them stand out from the others not only because of their different colours.

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Cherry Blossoms. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Whenever I see the cherry tree blooming in front of the house where I live I know that we are now in the middle of spring. And I run and grab my camera and take photos, because I know that all too soon the blossoms will be lying down on the earth. It is the same with the lilacs – I’ve already noticed the first signs of lilacs blossoms, and I hope I will be there to take photos of them, too.

Spring is one of the seasons I love; I love the fresh green, the blooming trees, the explosion of nature. People are now sitting in front of the numerous little cafes Berlin has got, enjoying their cups of coffee, their cappuccinos and lattes. The atmosphere seems to be full of happiness – something the French call joie de vivre – the joy of living.

Weather fore

Rearing Horse

Rearing horse, drawn with copic markers

Rearing horse. Drawn with ink, coloured with copic markers

I’ve got a reference photo for the drawing, but I decided to differ from the original horse’s colour. I tried to work out the muscles of the horse and his (I think it is a stallion!) aggressive attitude.

Easter Rabbits and Eggs

Vector Rabbit (Inkscape)

Vector Rabbit, created in Inkscape

I am still experimenting with Inkscape, the free alternative to Adobe Illustrator. One thing I learnt so far: Think in simple objects if you want to design a cartoon character. The rabbit above was created with circles and ellipses and then given a nice gradient brown.

The advantage of vector files is, that you can transform them without data loss: You can scale them, downsize or enlarge them in Photoshop.

In the example below I duplicated the brown rabbit, added a nice set of colourful Easter eggs and then put on the words in a suitable font. I added a style to the layer with the words on it, too. I didn’t chose a background, though, because I wanted to offer the opportunity to possible customers to select their own background.on Zazzle.

An alternative to this would be to provide a gradient background and to do the card without any words. That would make it possible for people interested in the card to add their own words, provided I would give them the opportunity to do so by inserting a textfield while creating the product online on the Zazzle platform.

Having created a rabbit in Inkscape gives me the opportunity to use the design on cards like this one, stickers, mugs or ornaments. I can combine rabbit(s) and eggs, or just take the rabbit as a cute cartoon on a t-shirt for toddlers for example.

Off I go now – Photoshop here I come!

Wheel of an old Watermill

Wheel of a watermill in Buckow

Wheel of a watermill in Buckow

Buckow is a little town in the Mark Brandenburg. Bertold Brecht, the famous German author had lived there,

This wooden wheel once belonged to a water mill. The mill doesn’t exist any more, but the wooden wheel still moves.

I took the photo more than one week ago, and as you can see the branches of the trees still are bare. Now, as I am writing this blogpost, almost all of the trees have shades of green. Nature has exploded during the last week!

Wooden Branches

Wooden Branches

Wooden Branches. Drawn and painted by Ulla Hennig

Here I tried to create the textures and colours of some wooden branches. I had a photo for reference, but in the middle of the painting process I decided not to follow it too closely.

I am really enjoying my copic markers. They are rather known in the Manga artist world – which is a style I don’t feel very much drawn to. But it is written nowhere that you cannot use them for a different kind of art, and for them moment I think I have found a way which suits me best – using them for colouring my ink drawings.

Three Birds

Filters in Inkscape

What you can do with filters in Inkscape

This week you’ve seen me as an artist, a photographer and now I share my design workflow with you.

Usually I begin with doodling around in Inkscape. Inkscape is the open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. It took me some time to get used to it and to find my way through it.

Inkscape has got a number of interesting filters with which you can produce awesome results. The 3 D looking bird was just a black form until I applied the filter. I am still not decided yet whether to use it for a Zazzle design or not or just leave it as a black form.

In the next step I save the image file in an eps format which makes it possible to change the size and form without loss of data.

Then I open a new file in Photoshop and the eps file also. I can now copy and paste either the single bird or the whole group.

And here is one result of this process: