custom sketchbook

Creating a Custom Sketchbook


custom sketchbook
I began a new sketchbook recently, starting by creating a custom fabric cover for it. I found a really great set of visual instructions on  creating fabric book covers here on this awesome guy’s youtube page (The Post Apoc).

The instructions say it better than I can, but if you’re too lazy to watch the video then I’ll say it’s much like wrapping a gift, where you lay your shirt out, cutting it into a rectangle, leaving a few extra inches on each side to fold in.

For my cover, I went a bit of a different route, using a thicker t-shirt than the one in the video (this definitely adds a challenge). I used an old favorite, a Cramps t-shirt that sadly didn’t fit anymore. I loved The Post Apoc’s suggestion to use a ribbon to create a book-marker. This is especially handy for anyone using their covered book as a sketchbook or writing journal. In addition I decided to add a little flair with a piece of scrap leather I had lying around. I used this to cover the spine. Pieces of leather can be found at a craft store like Michael’s or AC Moore or probably a fabric store like JoAnn’s or maybe your local mom and pop shop.

I also included some studs I had in my stash as well (it pays to never throw anything out) these are the very same as the kind you buy for leather jackets and such. If you don’t have a local source I recommend this store, I have history there, Angry, Young and Poor.  The studs were a real mess and a half to get in, but if you’re careful it’s do-able. Use a hammer, a steady hand and some patience. And something to hold your book in place, I used my legs but a vice may have worked too however I didn’t want to risk compromise  to the book in any way.

Mine isn’t perfect by any means. It’s a bit crooked in spaces (because I’m impatient and do things in a rush) and the corners were pretty tough to tuck in and glue in place. That’s what happens when you use a thick, cotton shirt – but I wouldn’t let that deter you. I wound up just making a few slits and cutting the extra material out. Honestly, if you use the first page of your book and the last page of your book to create ‘end papers‘ by gluing them to the inside front cover and inside back cover, you won’t see any corner folding imperfections anyway.
custom sketchbook end papers
The end papers are a great place to get really creative. I decided to draw on mine – ’cause I’m an artist. But you could decoupage on yours, scrapbook, or write messages. On my back end papers I pasted in some funky fortunes I’ve collected from Chinese cookies over the years.
Have fun and enjoy your own project!

fortune cookie sketchbook endpapers

custom sketchbook cover custom sketchbook cover custom sketchbook cover

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Making a Pinup Girl – Sketch to Final Painting

• Victorian to Rockabilly - Art & Gifts, Sketchbook

Getting ready to get down to work!

Here’s a little look into my world of illustration.

Click images to enlarge.

This is a pictorial view of my process of painting.

The subject is one of my most recent pinup girls, who is now available in 5×7 prints and as note cards.

I have always found that people enjoy seeing an artists work in process. In 2012 I had a gallery exhibition which was entirely based upon that theme. That show was centered around my children’s book portfolio, but it’s the same idea, same process, same technique.

Initial sketches composite.

This pinup was a lot of fun to do. She started as a doodle one night in bed. I did a quick sketch of a plush shark. He came out so cute I thought he needed a little girl friend so next I designed the mermaid to go with him. I wanted it to be tongue in cheek. An “odd couple.”

After a few initial thumbnails (actually, the shark needed only one thumbnail. He went straight from  thumbnail to final, with no alterations, which is unusual) I get to work on the sketches. I rough it out a few times to get anatomy and facial features right.

I liked the idea of her fishtail having VonDutch style flames, sort of a shout out to my artist father but also to the Rockabilly/Hot Rod/Pinup/Kustom culture scene in general.  

The inking stage.


Once I felt confident about the sketches I scanned the shark and the mermaid in to my computer. This allowed me to reduce or enlarge their size as needed. This step was necessary because they were drawn, as sketches are very random creations, at different sizes, not suited to be next to one another. By scanning them and playing with them digitally I could manipulate their sizes and rotate as needed.   When they looked nice together I made a print of them and took that to my light table.

The light table and using the computer as stated above are tricks to keeping your project flow moving fast. I don’t have months to paint one image so I utilize my tools to the best of my advantage. If my sketch looks exactly the way it needs to, why draw it again to make it larger, etc?  There are always refinements that happen on the final paper, but it is quicker this way and less hassle.

When transferred to the final paper in pencil, I then added the background. Naughty, naughty me – I had no plans whatsoever for this environment except that it would obviously be under water. I think about composition and kind of just let my imagination take over at that stage of the game. After pencil sketches are done, the whole thing gets ink.

Beginning, laying out background color with the masking fluid over the main design.

By the way – that artist’s tape in these pictures is pretty awful. I think it was a Michael’s off brand. I got it because I had a gift card and I thought it should be the same quality as my usual Artists Pro tape seeing as how it was the same price. No, no and more no. You’ve been warned.

It was a last minute conversation with a Facebook friend (I often post my images to my Facebook while I work to get opinions from friends) that inspired the leopard print tail and the fiery red hair.

The next images show the progression of painting. I think I paint with watercolor ‘wrong’. At least based on what I was taught, but it works for me. I was told once by a professor that I hold my paintbrush like a pencil, and it’s true. I don’t really care. I do sort of ‘draw’ with the brush. Well, anyway, I block in major areas of color first. Like the sky or in this case, water. I use a colorless masking fluid  to block out areas which I don’t want to get any paint on yet by accident. It’s fun to peel off. If you were one of those odd children of the eighties who peeled Elmer’s glue off your hands to see your fingerprints, you’ll get the idea of fun I’m talking about. I’m weird.

Background pretty well laid in.

Continuing the layering of paint process, I add light layers to build up light and shadow. I think a lot about my light source and where it is coming from. Somewhere once I read a quote from Trina Schart Hyman  that helped me:

“Illustrator Garth Williams inspired me to think about light. I was illustrating Snow White when he came to Lyme for a visit. During his stay, he would often look over my shoulder while I worked. ‘You must think more about and in terms of light and light source,’ he told me one day. ‘Light can create drama—light means everything in illustration.’ He was right. I began to open my eyes, and study light.”

When the image is finished it gets scanned once again and I really do very little digital editing, only what is necessary as there is always a small amount of quality loss when digitizing art. Levels are adjusted and

More details get filled in.

sharpness corrected but usually little more.
Once it’s digitized I can get it ready for print!

So there you have it, folks!

Take care,
— Deanna Meyer at Grease and Grace Art Designs

The final product.






Mermaid is now filled in.

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Fashion Sketching – Old School


I have always had an interest in fashion/history/boudoir/burlesque so this is just a simple sketch of that variety.

Simple sketch – about fifteen minutes. Micron pen.


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