I Got Distracted

I do that a lot. It’s a big, fascinating world with lots to get distracted by. And I, myself, am a big, less-fascinating microcosm with an internal ecology to get distracted by, too.

I’ll bet you might be the same.

So, I’ve been stretching my problem solving skills and debating about how certain I should be before blogging about a questionable fix I’m employing for a no-good, frustrating, disturbing health problem for which I do not want to undergo the prescribed diagnostic procedures, never mind one particular potential treatment.

I’ve written and scrapped the post explaining the whole mess too many times. It’s amazing how something fairly simple and direct can take far too much back story to clarify, and how much anxiety doing so can provoke.

I’ve yet to reach a conclusion on how much I’m willing to share.

So, what does this have to do with illustration?

Well, that’s one of the things I’ve been distracted from. I still haven’t finished designing the iMessage sticker pack I started working on back in March1. I have a couple of potential illustrations done for the second triad (there’s something to be said for working in threes; it’s the number of signs in an element2, after all, and an easy grouping for getting to 12), but can’t quite get my head around how I want to complete that mini-set.

In the meantime, I’ve discovered Concepts by TopHatch3.

Orange squid drawn in Concepts. Work in progress, likely to never be finished. I was playing with Concepts’ shape guides and stroke smoothing at this point, and obviously using layers, but otherwise drawing like I would on actual paper.

Concepts is described as “An advanced, natural design tool for the mobile professional.”4 I’m not a professional, and no more mobile than most other homebodies I know. I actually found Concepts during a quest for a simple-to-use architecture app while I was distracted by the notion of re-designing Angel Stadium5 with a more neck-friendly layout. Alas, that ambitious bit of inspiration never came to fruition, but Concepts was love at first draw, and so, I’ve been busy learning to use, and slowly creating with, my new fave drawing app.

Concepts comes with an infinite canvas; optional, adjustable grids (including dotted and isometric grids); snapping options; shape guides; ways to measure your work; and a decent set of brushes. (My favorite of these is the fill brush. It’s totally changing the way that I work, and doing so in a good, time-saving, error-reducing way. Maybe that’s not unique to this app. Maybe it’s just the first time I’ve actually used that sort of tool with an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro. Don’t know. Don’t care. If this app is the first to get me to effectively use a fill brush, then kudos to TopHatch for getting through my thick skull.)

In-progess dragon drawing in Concepts. I’m now uitilizing the fill brush, selection tools, duplicating and mirroring, in addition to infinite layers, stroke smoothing, snap, and shape guides.

If you like to draw, and like doing so on an iPad, I encourage you to give Concepts a trial run.

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying drawing with it.

And, hopefully, I’ll come to a decision regarding how transparent I want to be about what I’m now referring to as “Sam’s DIY Hormone Fix” (or, “You Too Can Regulate Your Own Estrogen—But You Might Not Like How”)6.



  1. Light That Monsoon Up! Samusumi. Accessed 3 May 2018. https://samusumi.com/2018/03/21/light-that-monsoon-up/
  2. A Brief Introduction to Astrology: The four Elements. Astrodienst. Accessed 3 May 2018. http://www.astro.com/astrology/in_elements_e.htm
  3. Concepts: Smarter Sketching (iOS). TopHatch. Accessed 3 May 2018. http://concepts.tophatch.com/
  4. Concepts: Smarter Sketching (iOS). TopHatch. Accessed 3 May 2018. http://concepts.tophatch.com/
  5. Angel Stadium. Samusumi. Accessed 3 May 2018. https://samusumi.com/tag/angel-stadium/
  6. Psst. It has nothing to do with astrology. Evidence-based medicine FTW.

Light that Monsoon Up!

Taosbound iMessage Sticker Pack, Part One: Good Morning Mountain, Prairie Rattler Love, and Prickly Heat

For the past few days, I’ve been working in Procreate1 on my iPad Pro2, getting the hang of drawing with an Apple Pencil3. I’m very late to the game. I’m sure I’ve even missed the seventh-inning stretch. I’m arriving as people are leaving their seats, heading to their cars to avoid the inevitable rush and jam once the game is actually over.

And yet—having missed out on the national anthem, six and a half innings of disputed calls, plays at the plate, and waiting for the pitcher to throw the damned ball somewhere other than at first base—I am instantly engaged. This is the best, easiest, loosest and most natural drawing experience I’ve enjoyed since liquid ink rolling ball pens4 on printer paper or a Rapidosketch5 on index cards.

I’m working on a series of images, with simple lines and simple color (far less purple than this prose), based on my experience of the high dessert—the American Southwest—from a Greyhound6 trip I made to Taos, New Mexico7, in 2007. That was a long time ago, and Taos is the sleepiest place I’ve ever visited, having drawn a dark veil over my mind, eyes, and heart for the duration of my time there. But there are still pieces of it stuck, like worn-down shards in my head, pressing against a compulsive neuron, firing up synapses which have had eleven years to recover from being drenched by their first monsoon8.

When the medium is good, or good enough, inspiration flows, and ideas crash in like those quick, clean rains, washing away roads built wrong and lighting up sand-strewn corners obscured in darkness and in dust.

Which is my purplest way of saying “Southwestern symbolism is great for drawing cheesy cartoons. Yes, even the one drawn in the bathroom. Yes, even the single-stroker drawn with the previously-broken, dysfunctional pinky finger that never quite healed correctly. Inspiration hits when it wants to.”

That leaves me with the problem of what to actually do with the series once it’s drawn. I’ve had a solid ten years to learn to hate creating designs for print-on-demand. Desktop icons—a contender for my all-time favorite art form—aren’t really a thing, anymore. Web icons tend toward the uniform, the generic, the instantly-recognizable-yet-unobtrusive, and the no-damned-fun-at-all.

So… sticker packs. Stickers for iMessage9. I really only use the ones that came with my favorite notes app, Bear10, in part out of fondness for the app, but also because they’re adorable. Most of the time, I just type what I want to say. But my lovely wife likes iMessage stickers, and getting to spend my time cartooning while simultaneously working toward something that makes my spouse happy?

I see that as pretty awesome.

Because I’m smart like that.

I hope I’m smart enough to turn these simple, fun-to-draw, cartoons—and the ones I’ll draw to complete the set—into something useful to someone, so that I can justify my time spent drawing them.

I also hope that, by the time late September rolls around, and the 2018 season is rolling up its grass, this new little hobby, Albert Pujols11 and Shohei Ohtani12 will all have exceeded my expectations, even if all three wind up only playing DH.


  1. Procreate for iPad. Accessed March 21, 2018. https://procreate.art/
  2. iPad Pro – Apple. Accessed March 21, 2018. https://www.apple.com/ipad-pro/
  3. Apple Pencil – Apple. Accessed March 21, 2018. https://www.apple.com/apple-pencil/
  4. Precise V5/V7: Pilot Pen. Accessed March 21, 2018. http://pilotpen.us/brands/precise/precise-v5-v7/
  5. Rapidosketch. Welcome to Koh-I-Noor USA! Accessed March 21, 2018. http://kohinoorusa.com/products/pens/rapidosketch/index.php
  6. Greyhound. Accessed March 21, 2018. https://www.greyhound.com/
  7. “Taos, New Mexico”. Wikipedia. Accessed March 21, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taos,_New_Mexico
  8. “Monsoon”. Wikipedia. Accessed March 21, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsoon
  9. Creating Stickers for iMessage – Apple Developer. Accessed March 21, 2018. https://developer.apple.com/stickers/
  10. Bear – Notes for iPad, iPhone and Mac. Accessed March 21, 2018. http://www.bear-writer.com/
  11. “Albert Pujols”. Wikipedia. Accessed March 21, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Pujols
  12. “Shohei Ohtani”. Wikipedia. Accessed March 21, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shohei_Ohtani