Putting Pencil to Paper: September

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!

 All of September’s sketches in a very compressed GIF!

All of September’s sketches in a very compressed GIF!

Hello and welcome to the first edition of my monthly sketchbook retrospective! I’ve been pining after Paper, FiftyThree’s gorgeous sketching app for AGES. Just recently, I realized I have a good job and have money, and so I bought myself an iPad and installed Paper immediately!

I’ll be honest, as much as I wanted an iPad for Paper, there was still that little voice of doubt at the back of my mind: “Are you really going to draw more because of this?”

I’m happy to report that, YES, I was going to draw more because of this, and that little voice can eat crow.

Without further ado, let’s hop into some sketches!

 The hottest of dawgs.

The hottest of dawgs.

Here it is, Paper sketch number one. You only get one chance at firsts in this life, and…well…I know. I nailed it.

Look, it’s important to pick something simple when you’re just starting something new! It’s all part of learning the new tools and such! It’s also pretty wild that my first sketch was made on the 19th, and there are 27 more of these!

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This one’s also very simple. Just a swooshy line with a cityscape on top. It’s close to some of the cool city drawings I’d seen in Paper’s promotional videos a few years ago, and I really wanted to feel like I was reaching back and touching that moment.

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Number 3, and we’ve already reached a sketch not done by me! This is the first of a few sketches for which my girlfriend Lauren, who is an illustrator by trade, graced my canvas with her incredible talents. You can see her signature just there, LTH. The T stands for Talent.

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Ooooooh brother, here we are! My absolute favorite sketch in my sketchbook. This one was also done by my girlfriend, and it’s the first in a series of mountain sketches she’s done since. I love everything about this. This colors, the composition, the shapes, the soft, cartoony feel. It’s extremely good.

In fact, I love it so much, It’s currently my wallpaper on just about every electronic device I own!

If you want to see more of Lauren’s art (including more mountains!) check her out on Instagram @laurenheathart!

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This was the first thing I made on the train to work, to get over the awkward feeling of drawing in public during a bunch of other people’s commutes. It’s not great! But I made it!

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My girlfriend introduced me to the concept of “blind contours,” which I where you draw something by looking only at your subject, never your drawing, and never lifting your pen. It’s a fun exercise! This particular blind contour is of my sister sitting across from me in one of our favorite pizza places.

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And this is where I handed my iPad over for my sister to try. Truly the digital equivalent of that page in your notebook you use to test pens, in the best way. As you can see, she really felt out the breadth of options Paper’s tools afford you, yet stuck to a very purposeful color scheme.

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Here, my sister, who shares my initials, tried for something more recognizable. See if you can guess what it is! What would Magritte have said?

 “She’s Done.” Mary Egan. Digital, 2018.

“She’s Done.” Mary Egan. Digital, 2018.

This piece, titled “She’s Done,” was started by the artist as another test page, trying out these new digital tools. You’ll be surprised to learn, then, that it’s now worth over a billion million dollars.

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Here’s a sketch I made of the stage at a Neko Case show at the Beacon Theater while we were waiting for the show to start. As I was finishing my drawing, my neighboring seat’s occupant, a middle-aged man in a sweater, arrived and complimented my efforts very highly.

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Another mountain from Lauren! She drew this one on the subway, making it even more impressive.

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The second of Lauren’s subway drawings. And a classic goof from My Brother, My Brother, and Me, a good good podcast.

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Yeah, you guessed it, this is another one of my messes! Look, I like it. It reminds me of that thing we all did the first time we used Microsoft Paint, y’know? Where you draw a bunch of shapes with the shape tool and color them in with the paint bucket? Good times.

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Okay. So. Lauren bought this tiny little plush penguin at the American Museum of Natural History. And she’s incredibly good at naming things. So she named this little guy Cashew. PERFECT. I looked after Cashew when Lauren was out of town one weekend, and I made this drawing to send to remind her of her sweet son 😊

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The note at the bottom of this drawing reads, “Explaining football to Mary,” because I drew it to help explain football to Mary as I was explaining football to Mary.

This was my first attempt at recreating a photo I’ve taken. I took this photo (right) was taken at a nearby park in Brooklyn. I think I did…fine? Mostly I just wanted to play around and try some new techniques, like using the blend feature to create a cloudy sky. It kind of worked!

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Remember Cashew? The little penguin from before? Yeah. So. While I was watching him for Lauren, I kind of decided he needed his own adventure comic. So this is that. He sets off on an adventure and takes a hot air balloon to NYC. Like a penguin do.

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If you’re unfamiliar with It’s Alive, the video series from Bon Appetit magazine starring Test Kitchen Manager Brad Leone, you’re missing out. He makes a bunch of fermented stuff, hence the title…it’s all alive. He says “Who’s better than us?” all the time…he’s quite the character. You gotta watch this thing.

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The subway! My first subway sketch! This is the interior of a car on the R train, the line I ride to and from work every day, recreated to the best of my artistic ability and memory (it’s actually slightly different, I messed up a few points, but that’s neither here nor there, this is ART, MAN).

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I bought a big chunky stylus called the Cosmonaut from Studio Neat. So there you go.

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I’m extremely proud of how everything in this drawing came out! I love the little ghost, I think that’s a damn fine recreation of a pedestal, and the apple is, well hey, it’s an apple. Drawn in preparation for the Spooky Apple Time™ in which we now find ourselves (or which is now ending, this post is super late whoops).

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It’s my name. Not much else to say about this one. The fountain pen tool is fun to play with, alright?

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Another blind contour! This time of Lauren, while we sat waiting for some takeout. I think this one’s pretty good! I looked at it to add the color, but everything else is above board!

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I’m pretty fond of this one! This is a rendering of our entertainment center in our apartment. Some of the shading could use some work, but hey I’m no professional, this is all for fun. Can you spot the sad, dethroned WiiU, seated beneath its usurper?

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Nintendo Switch! Everyone’s favorite console, and a great love of mine to be sure. I very much love this drawing as well, particularly, though it has nothing to do with the focal point of the piece, the way the white dots peek out of the yellow background. It’s big, colorful, chunky, and fun. A good time.

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And finally, drawing number 26! This is a simple one, but the meaning behind it is mushy and gross! I was in Boston for work for a few days, and I drew this for Lauren after a video call one night. I know. Yeah. Okay, you can stop retching, it’s not that bad.


That does it for this month’s works! Hoo boy did this post go up late! I need to get started on the next one like now if I want it to go up before Christmas, I guess. Thanks for reading through all of these if that’s what you did! I enjoyed sharing my month of creativity, I think it’ll be a great way to keep me drawing in my free time. And I’m so so glad to finally be able to use Paper, that wonderful app that inspired so much creative excitement in me years and years ago.

See you next month!

~ Mike