Friday, 9 December 2016

Spoonflower Contest - Ditsy Mistletoe

This week I had fun creating a festive, mistletoe inspired design for Spoonflower's 'Ditsy Mistletoe' contest.  I was also more than a little excited to have learnt a different way of designing patterns (more on that below!).
Of course one of the first things to come to mind when you think of mistletoe is the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, but Spoonflower's brief for the contest also talked about the plant being a symbol of peace in Scandinavia, under which enemies would declare a truce.  So my design is inspired by love and peace and incorporates mistletoe with doves and hearts.

Spoonflower Ditsy Mistletoe design challenge - my Mistletoe and Dove design by Hazel Fisher Creations
As usual, my design started off life in my sketchbook, with sketches of mistletoe and ideas of how I could make it into a pattern.  I then made some pen line drawings to scan into the computer.  I added some details onto the dove, inspired by Scandinavian patterns, and the heart shapes are based on the mistletoe leaves.

Spoonflower Ditsy Mistletoe design challenge - my Mistletoe and Dove design, work in progress vector pattern design made in Serif Drawplus by Hazel Fisher Creations
Usually I would then work in Photoplus to create my pattern.  I wanted to use my pen drawings, to keep a hand drawn feel to the design, but I didn't want the black outlines, so decided to work in Drawplus and convert the drawings to vectors.  I have worked this way a bit before, but usually end up taking the pattern into Photoplus to create the repeating pattern.  After a quick bit of research online and some experimentation I found out how to create the whole pattern in Drawplus!

Spoonflower Ditsy Mistletoe design challenge - my Mistletoe and Dove design, work in progress vector pattern design made in Serif Drawplus by Hazel Fisher Creations
After converting the drawings to vectors and colouring them, I arranged the elements to create a pattern ready to repeat.  I then selected these elements and created a 'Vector Fill'.  Next, I drew a rectangle shape and filled it with the 'Vector Fill' I had just made. The 'Fill' tool then has options which allow you to adjust the spacing and alignment of the repeat.  I loved this part because it quickly allows you to see how your repeat is working and where any gaps might be.  With a bit of backwards and forwards, filling in the gaps I made new 'Vector Fills' until the pattern worked seamlessly.  I'm looking forward to trying out this technique again for other patterns!

Spoonflower Ditsy Mistletoe design challenge - my Mistletoe and Dove design, work in progress vector pattern design made in Serif Drawplus by Hazel Fisher Creations
For the Spoonflower contest I entered the version of my design with a blue/grey background.  I also really like how it looks with a dark grey background, so once I have test swatches printed, I will make both available to buy in my Spoonflower shop.

If you like this design I would really appreciate your vote in the contest! (If the design makes it into the top 25 it will be available for sale as soon as the results are announced!) There are also lots of other lovely mistletoe designs to see - view all the designs, and vote for your favourites here: http://www.spoonflower.com/contests/ditsy-mistletoe

Monday, 5 December 2016

Inktober 2016 Round-up of my Drawings

This year I decided to join in with Inktober for the first time - Inktober is a drawing challenge started by Jake Parker to make one ink drawing a day for the whole month of October. (You can find out more about Inktober and see Jake's fantastic artwork on his website).
I wanted to join in with the challenge to practise my own ink drawing and to have some fun drawing different subjects. It was also great to see what other people were drawing each day.  I started the challenge with good intentions to draw every day, however, I did fall behind and ended up continuing the challenge into November. I have been posting pictures of my drawings onto my facebook and instagram pages but thought it would also be good to share a round-up of them all here...

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Inktober 2016 drawing challenge. My sketchbook pages - days 1 to 9 by Hazel Fisher Creations(Days 1 - 9)

At the same time as drawing for Inktober I was also working on other projects, so I found it difficult to keep up with the daily drawings. I still think that I got a lot out of the challenge though. I loved drawing some different subjects, like people and buildings which I used to draw more often but haven't drawn so much recently.  The project has inspired me to want to draw more of these.  I've also been thinking about the way I use ink differently and having a bit more variety in the thickness of my lines.

For most of my drawings I used black Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens (Super Fine and Extra Super Fine). I've been using these pens for years.  I like the drawing tips - especially for drawing small details.  The ink is water proof too, so can be used with watercolours.  I also like that they're not too expensive!

On day 8 I used some black Quink ink. I used to draw with this a lot, but haven't for ages, so it was fun to play with it again. The Quink is really nice diluted with water because it separates into different colours, which adds a bit more interest to the image.  (It reminds me of chromatography experiments in chemistry lessons - did you do that? - where you see what colours things like felt tip pen ink, or Smarties sweets, separates into?)
I also reversed the way I would normally work for this sketch - starting with washes then adding in details with the PITT Artist pens afterwards instead of starting with the line work.

Inktober 2016 drawing challenge. My sketchbook pages - days 10 to 18 by Hazel Fisher Creations
(Days 10 - 18)

I would definitely like to take part in the Inktober challenge again next year - maybe I should mix in some more quick 5 minute drawings with the more time consuming ones so I can keep up with 1 a day! In the mean time, I plan to keep up with doing more drawing just for fun, and seeing what happens in my sketchbook.  I've found a drawing challenge on Instagram #IFDrawAWeek, which has a different theme each week - one drawing a week sounds like it could be more manageable!

Have you taken part in any drawing challenges? What have your experiences of them been like?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Printable Christmas Church

Christmas Church and Advent Calendar Village - printable boxes to colour in a make up yourself - available from hfcSupplies on Etsy. Hazel Fisher Creations
Tomorrow is 1st December and Christmas is approaching fast (I'm sure time starts to speed up towards the end of the year!). It also means that it's time to get your Advent calendars out - do you have one? My Advent calendar village will be displayed in my home again this year and filled with sweets!  It has been lovely to hear how much fun my customers have had colouring and making up their own villages too.  I know one customer is also using the little houses as gift boxes rather than as an Advent calendar.  If you don't have one of your own, you can still buy one from my Etsy shop - they're available as Instant Download, so you can start downloading and printing the sheets as soon as your payment clears.
Christmas Church - printable box to colour in a make up yourself - available from hfcSupplies on Etsy. Hazel Fisher Creations
This year I have also made a new addition to the village - a church! Designed to fit in with the rest of the village, it has snow on the roof, a wreath on the front door and a Christmas tree on the tower. Like the village, it is also a colour in design - so you can make it any colour you like.  The finished church is slightly larger than the houses and is made from 2 pieces (the main church building and a tower) which are glued together to form one building.  It comes as 2 printable sheets; to make the church and a tree background.  Instructions are also included on the sheets.
Christmas Church and Advent Calendar Village - printable boxes to colour in a make up yourself - available from hfcSupplies on Etsy. Hazel Fisher Creations

Friday, 11 November 2016

5 Things to Love About Autumn

Things to Love About Autumn, sketchbook drawing inspired by Autumn by Hazel Fisher Creations
Autumn isn't my favourite time of year, as soon as summer starts to fade and the days begin to get shorter, colder and wetter I start to feel a bit sad at the thought of next spring being so far away. However, rather than dwelling on the negative, I thought I would come up with a list of things to love about Autumn. I actually do really love having 4 different seasons with all the changes in weather that brings.  I think I would get bored pretty quickly if everyday was the same!

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves photography by Hazel Fisher Creations
1. The Changing Colours
The best thing about Autumn is seeing the changing colours in nature.  All the shades of red, orange and yellow are beautiful!  The Schumach tree in our garden has a lovely range of colours, it's one of the first trees with leaves to change and fall but is over so quickly, so I wanted to capture some of their beauty with some photos.

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves photography by Hazel Fisher Creations
2. Autumnal Collections
It's fun to collect leaves, acorns and chestnuts in Autumn.  I also use the things I collect as inspiration for drawing and new designs.

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves and Chestnuts photography by Hazel Fisher Creations
3. Harvest Time
We had a bumper crop of pears from our garden this year.  I don't know whether my tastes have changed, or we just had nicer pears, because I don't usually really like them that much but this year I've liked them more!  I've had pear cooked with my porridge for breakfast and we have made pear crumble for dessert.  We like to mix a little ginger and cinnamon with the pears in the crumble for added flavour.  We've been sharing our harvest with our neighbours (there are only so many pears you can eat!!) and our neighbours have shared theirs with us too.  I helped my sister bake this delicious apple pie with our neighbour's apples.

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves and Chestnuts photography by Hazel Fisher Creations
4. Cosy Blankets
My favourite thing to do in the dark evenings is curl up on the sofa, under a cosy blanket, and watch a DVD.  I have a tradition of watching an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer at Halloween (I have box sets for all 7 series), I think having some more Buffy evenings this Autumn are a good idea!

5. Watching Fireworks on Bonfire Night
Last Saturday was Bonfire Night and we saw plenty of fireworks! From our house we can see some of the display from the big village show and several neighbours had fireworks too.

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves and Chestnuts photography by Hazel Fisher Creations

While I'm writing about Autumn I thought I'd also share an interesting fact I found out recently!
I was wondering why we call the season 'Autumn' here in the UK but in North America it's called 'Fall', so I looked it up.  Apparently the season was usually called harvest before the 16th century, but as more people began to live in towns rather than the country the words 'autumn' (from the Latin autumnus) and 'fall' (a short version of 'fall of the leaf' or 'fall of the year') became more common.  British settlers to North America took both words with them, but over time Fall became the common term in North America while in Britain we now use Autumn.  Interesting how language evolves!

Whether you call the season Autumn or Fall, do you love it or wish it would pass more quickly?  Share your favourite things about the season in the comments below!

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves photography by Hazel Fisher Creations

Friday, 28 October 2016

My Entry to Spoonflower's 'Lace Gift Wrap' Design Contest

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you will already have seen a peek at my design for this week's Spoonflower contest: Lace Gift Wrap. Inspired by images of vintage lace, which I found on Pinterest, I created a detailed, floral and leaf pattern.  Everything in this design was hand drawn in black pen (I like to use Faber Castell PITT artist pens), before being scanned and assembled into the finished pattern digitally.  As the design was too large to fit on 1 sheet of A4 I had to draw it on several sheets of paper...

Spoonflower Contest - Lace Gift Wrap, finished White on Charcoal hand drawn surface pattern designs by Hazel Fisher Creations
My original idea was to create a full lacy pattern, like in the version on the right below.  It took much longer than I expected to draw out though (hours!), so I didn't have time to draw all the fill in lines between the main flower and leaf elements before the contest deadline.  I really wanted to enter the contest though, so decided to finish the design in a simpler way and entered the version on the left.  I like this design too, it's just not as much like lace as the one on the right.  Which one do you prefer?

Spoonflower Contest - Lace Gift Wrap, black and white finished hand drawn surface pattern designs by Hazel Fisher Creations
Once I have ordered some samples, both of the versions above will be available to buy from my Spoonflower shop.  I'm also enjoying playing around with different colours, so I'll be test printing a few other versions too.  For the design below I inverted the original, to make the drawing white and layered it on a charcoal (dark grey) background.

Spoonflower Contest - Lace Gift Wrap, finished White on Charcoal hand drawn surface pattern designs by Hazel Fisher Creations
You can see all of the other entries in the contest, and vote for your favourites, here:

PS Thank you if you voted for my design in last week's contest! (Toucan Tea Towel Calendar) My design came 92nd out of 209 entries (places 90, 91 and 92 all had 70 votes).  As I mentioned in my blog post last week, there were so many lovely designs - I was pleased to spot that several of the designs I voted for made it into the top 10 and top 25! You can see the winning entry on Spoonflower's blog.

Friday, 21 October 2016

My Entry to Spoonflower's Annual Tea Towel Calendar Contest - 2017 Tropical Toucan

It's that time of year again - time for Spoonflower's annual tea towel calendar contest!  This year I decided to go for a tropical theme and created a design featuring a colourful toucan surrounded by leaves (I love to draw birds!).  Here's what the finished design looks like...

Spoonflower Contest entry - Toucan Tea Towel Calendar design by Hazel Fisher CreationsThis design started off as sketches in my sketchbook, I then made a rough drawing with pencil on paper of the toucan bird and individual leaves.  Next, I used pen to create a neat line drawing...

Spoonflower Contest entry - Toucan Tea Towel Calendar design in progress by Hazel Fisher CreationsI then scanned my line drawings and arranged them into the design I wanted for the tea towel.  I also added the calendar dates and moved everything around until I was happy with the overall layout.  The final step was to digitally colour everything - starting with flat colours, then adding some shading...

Spoonflower Contest entry - Toucan Tea Towel Calendar design in progress by Hazel Fisher Creations
As always, there are lots of lovely designs entered into the contest - you can see them all here, and vote for your favourties too!
Spoonflower 2017 Tea Towel Calendar contest

My design isn't available to buy yet, but will be once I have had a proof print made - I'll post an update when it is ready for sale!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Printables Basics - File Types and Which Programs to Use With Them

This post is part of my Printables Basics series, where I share tips, advice and tutorials on downloading and using printables.  If you missed my previous posts you can find them here:


In this post I will be covering the file types I use for my printables and some programs you can open them with.

You will find most printables are available in one of these file types: PDF or JPG.  I use both of these, but prefer to use JPG for most of my printable designs as they are image based and I prefer the way colours are saved in this format.

I won't go into the finer details of the file types here (although if you want more info you can find it here for PDF and JPG), but will focus on what programs you can use to open them.

Opening PDF printable sheet - Printables Basics, File Types and Programs to Use - Hazel Fisher Creations
PDF files can be opened with Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you probably already have on your computer but if you don't you can download it for free here. One advantage of the PDF over JPG is that you can have multiple pages in one document - so I have used this for my Rainbow Watercolour Spots Calendar printable, which has 12 pages; one for each month.

Opening Printable Sheet in Serif Photoplus - Printables Basics, File Types and Programs to Use - Hazel Fisher Creations
JPG files can be opened by most imaging software.  For most of my designs a really basic photo viewing program is all you need to open, view and print the sheets.  For some designs though, like my digital stamps, you may want to resize the images before printing.  You can do this in word processing or image editing software.  Image editing software will give you far more options and control with creating and editing images - as well as resizing you can colour, layer images and lots more.  I use Serif PhotoPlus - a photo editing software similar to Photoshop (but much more affordable)! Other alternatives include Adobe Photoshop Elements, GIMP or PicMonkey.
If you simply want to resize and print then you can use word processing software like Microsoft Word.

To open an image in Microsoft Word:
First, create a new document.
Then from the menu select: Insert > Picture and choose the name of the file you want to open. The picture will then be pasted onto your document, where you can resize and print it.

Opening Digital Stamp in Microsoft Word - Printables Basics, File Types and Programs to Use - Hazel Fisher Creations
Next time I will be sharing some tips on printing!


Where to find my printables
I have a wide range of craft papers and party printables for sale in my Etsy shop; hfcSupplies.
You can also try some of my printables for free!  I have a selection available to access through my blog, which you can find here. If you sign up to my newsletter you will be able to gain access to some free printables available exclusively to subscribers!
Sign up to my newsletter here.

Printables Basics - How to Download digital items. Free printables from Hazel Fisher Creations