The making of my Photoshop painting “Moose Crossing”

Oh hai!

Sorry for my absence, usually I don’t have any good excuses other than life. I haven’t been slacking, I promise ;)

Been busy at my daytime job at King, writing articles for Shutterstock (which I’m really excited about! I’ll keep you updated :) ), planning new videos, and having a toe surgery(ouch). I’m slowly getting back on track.

I just finished another painting, I’m really into the Scandinavian theme at the moment. I live in a big city, so I don’t have much access to deep forests and all the magic that comes with them. I’ll just have to try and paint it instead ♡

Some close ups:

It’s based on one of my ink sketches that I made during Inktober 2016

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Juanbi flipped through my sketchbook, and commented on this page with the moose. He really liked the little thumbnail with the fox sitting on top of his back. So I thought “Yeah, what the heck” and made an illustration based on it :)

Made a few iterations before settling with a design. The final sketch ended up like this:

The more I look at the final painting, the stronger urge I get to go further and develop a story around these two little foxes.

What’s their journey?
Where are they going?
Why are they crossing the lake?

Ghah. So many ideas, so little time. Wish I could just sit here all day, develop my own stories and make art along with them. Do it full-time. You gotta dream big :P Maybe one day…

The making of my Photoshop painting “Moose Crossing” in photoshop

I did myself the favor to record a time lapse of this illustration, as a reminder to my future self during the days when I’ll forget how to paint ;) Hope you appreciate it too, and find it helpful! I used the same approach as before: Starting with grayscale, adding a gradient map as an under painting and then started coloring. Gosh, I’m still so happy with how things have finally clicked! :D

Hope you liked this little post :)

Got some more stuff in the loop, such as some thoughts on art vs life that I’ve been thinking about recently, a post about my Photoshop brushes as requested and some life updates. Stay tuned, amigos. If there’s anything else you’d like me to write about, let me know. I’m doing this for You.

Thanks for viewing! 

A guide on how to color a black and white sketch in Photoshop

My lovely amigos!

I’m so excited! Painted this shiba-wolf-fox wannabe the other day and had a minor break through, I must say. Been making several attempts through the years but whenever I’ve tried it, the colors always seem muddy and boring.

Not this time!

No seriously, I’m so excited. I actually managed to save the steps of this painting so I though that I might share it with you ◠◡◠

I gave this method another shot, after ranting a bit about my recent struggle with one of my latest paintings. And I’ll be damned, it worked this time! Now I wanna tell the whole world what I’ve learned, haha.

How to color a black and white sketch in Photoshop

Shibafoxwolf steps in Photoshop

This painting consists of 8 steps, feel free to try it out:

 1. Line Drawing
Pretty self-explanatory, I would say ◠◡◠ I start with a white background, then create an empty layer on top and draw a little sketch.

2. Black and white sketch
Then I create another layer underneath, block in a huge shape, lock the transparency of the layer and start fleshing it out using dark and light values. Feels so good to be able to focus on one thing at a time!

3. Gradient map
Oh, this was one of the tricks I learned! Create an adjustment layer set to Gradient Map, and create a clipping mask. Pick a suitable color scheme. This will then serve as an underpainting and prevent the colors to seem dirty. Wohoo! Picked it up from one of Stanley Lau’s videos(also known as Artgerm), so creds to him!

4. Color
Now create another layer on top, and add to the clipping mask. Start coloring. Double click the layer and adjust the underlying layer. Make a smoother transition by holding down alt.

Shibafoxwolf steps in Photoshop

5. Overlay
Same thing here. Paint, paint, paint and adjust underlying layer if you want. This layer helps to make your colors even richer.

6. Shadows
When you’re happy with the colors, move on to the shadows. Create another layer, and add to the clipping mask. Set it to “Multiply”. Pick colors and paint them in, on the entire subject(I picked light blue/violet for the white areas and local colors for the rest). Create a mask and start erasing parts where the light is hitting your object or character.

7. Bounce light
Create one more layer set to “Screen” and add to the clipping mask. Pick a dark blue/grey color add it where you think the lights will bounce. I imagined the blue sky to bounce off this little pooch, hence the blue tone.

8. Final touch ups
Create a final layer and finish the painting by adding some details where needed.

And it’s done ◠◡◠

That’s it! Compared to earlier, I managed to slap this together in no time. I’m blown away by how efficient this method is when one has figured it out. Helps you work smarter and not harder. I love it.

Then of course, you still need to know the fundamentals, in order to put down as much information as possible in a short amount of time. I have many miles of brush strokes behind me, hard(and smart) work and repetition pays off in the long run!

One more thing! I’ll post a time lapse video next Tuesday where I use the same approach for that painting I talked about. Stay tuned!



Tip on how to get inspired by your “bad” drawings


So far I’ve kept up my promise to publish new videos on a weekly basis, woop woop! I’m so glad that I started doing this, now I’m definitely a few steps closer to beat my stage fear for good. Can’t wait until I feel completely relaxed and confident!

This time it’s about bad drawing days, since I’ve been struggling a bit with a current painting that I plan to show a screen recording of next week. It went all nice and smooth in the sketch phase, but then when starting coloring… It went bleh.

Things just felt harder than it has to be, and I felt that I was missing some significant steps towards working as efficient as possible.

I got really discouraged when it got to this stage:

Now what?!

Well, I had a typical bad drawing day. When everything you draw just turns out “ugly”. Well, that’s how it felt anyway. 

Sure, it looks ok, but I just didn’t feel that my approach was efficient enough. I’m always looking for smarter ways to work, since it’s nice when arting  feels effective and relaxing, instead of being painful. I’ll show you an update and talk more about this next week.

Made me think of something though, recording your struggles might actually work as inspiration next time you feel stuck. And that’s what I’m covering in this video below, that also happened to be a painting of a tiger. I’m definitely turning into a crazy cat lady for real!

This painting, as I mention in the video, is definitely one of my all time favorite paintings. It would be awesome to come up with something as fun again. I love silliness!

Oh, and here are some of the drawings that I also talk about:


I’m such a jerk.


Do you have any tips on how to handle “bad” drawings?


Time to turn it up a notch with 100 cats


I got some new exciting ideas that involves cats. But one thing bugs me. I’m quite ok at drawing them, but I still feel that hmm.. They’re not quite there yet. I’m especially uncomfortable with my own style. Painted a cat a while back, my kitteh Zimba to be exact. It looked like this:

Oh my gawd. Disaster. I’m uncomfortable as hell when it comes to drawing and painting cats. I think that this one looks like.. A bad Disney imitation? Not sure. Nothing wrong with Disney though! I love Disney. But I’m currently striving for a different, more personal, mature art style as well, if you know what I mean? Combining cute and bubbly with seriousness.  And to widen my artistic library, so I don’t draw them the same way over and over again. But this painting above, ghah. Just nope.

Getting back to basics with 100 cats

In order to solve this minor issue of mine, I’ll have to step up my game big time.

I love setting up personal goals, especially measurable ones. As you may know, it’s not enough to just set “Getting better at blablabla” as a goal. Regarding art, a popular way to get better is to draw 100. Works the same way as putting 10.000 hours into something you want to become good at. So yeah you guessed it! I’m gonna draw 100 cats.

I’ve already started! On my 28th cat so far. At first I thought that could draw 10 cats a day but ehehehehm… Nah. It will take longer than 10 days to finish this challenge. But I’m determent to make it.

Quality over quantity. Gonna be SO worth it!

Some kittehs that I’ve done so far:


I’ll do a follow up as soon as I’m done with all 100 ◠◡◠

Here’s a little video that goes along with this post, with some extended talking. Managed to record a time lapse of one of the cats, ha! Tigers count, mjehe. It’s been a while since my latest video, so glad I’m slowly getting back on track with that as well.

What are your current artistic struggles?

My 5 scary goals in 2017 and tips on how to accomplish yours


When I’m writing this, I’m lying on the couch plotting some plans for 2017. Haven’t left the apartment for two days. Couldn’t care less.


I made a short summary of 2016, so now it’s time to reveal my goals and hopes for 2017! They’re kinda scary, so I hope that I can overcome them. I don’t have any of these as resolutions set in stone, since those are most often are doomed to failure. Nah, instead, I rather see these as guidelines and suggestions ◠◡◠ 

My goals for 2017

Speak in public in front of a big audience(about 200 people)

Whoah, aiming high aren’t we. It seems like a lot, honestly it scares me shitless. BUT. If others can do it, then why can’t I? I want this year to be the one when I kill my stage fear for good.

Weekly videos on Youtube

YAAS! I’m currently working on new videos, and I feel excited. And scared. But mostly excited haha. Got such an itch at the moment, and since video seems to be the new big thing – then why not? I’ll try to see this as an opportunity to grow, and a way to get rid of my stage fear. I wanna make tutorials, motivational videos and other artsy stuff. The first upload is due to next week…. Yikes.

Drive anywhere, anytime

Yes like I mentioned previously, I finally got my drivings license last February. I’m still a very insecure driver, and in order to get better, I’ve set up goals for myself and made sure to drive on my own regularly. This is something I wanna maintain all through 2017, until I can drive in my sleep, more or less. Hehe. Already ticked a few boxes on my destination list, it’s going forward baby.

 Write and draw my first comic short story

Another bold goal. I’ve got an outline for two ideas. High expectations. Zero experience. Excitement!? How cool would it be to actually have something that you’ve done all by yourself? In your own style, exactly the way you like it? Sounds awesome, right??? I’ve been analyzing other comic artists works, read some stories to figure out what I like, and I think I’m ready to learn for realz. What am I waiting for?

Paint 5 pieces done in traditional media

Yay! Oh I so wanna do this. I just rediscovered watercolors, and remembered how much I love traditional paint. So it’s time to get back to it. Setting a fixed amount will help me keep momentum. I need a topic though! What should I paint??? Hmm.


That’s all for this year I think. Beside maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life. Gotta remember to look up and LIVE once in a while. And oh, I’m gonna stay unplugged during weekends, because life is way more than likes and fb updates, hehehe…

Here’s a few tips on how to set reachable goals:

Remember, make it measureable

Do a measureable list. As guideline. Having an overview is better than doing things to the teeth. Don’t just have “get better at drawing x” as a resolution. Rephrase it and put down “Make 1 drawing of x per week” instead. That’s a lot easier to accomplish!

Stay realistic

Be kind to yourself, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t achieve everything. Gals can change and you may have different priorities at the end of the year compared to now!

Write it down

A physical note works a lot better for me than having it digitally where it’s harder to get reminded. Try it if you tend to forget about your goals ◠◡◠


Well yeah that’s pretty much it. I think. Hopefully I can continue blogging through out the year this time. Let’s aim for that too, so that I can make an update on how things went!

What are your goals for 2017?

Some of my highlights and lessons learned in 2016

My lovely amigos. Happy New Year, and Flappy New EAR! (Haha, I’m abusing that pun)

Hope your winter holidays have been fantastic so far. That you’re getting high on yummy food, christmas candles, purring cats and much more.

This year’s just flown by, kinda scary how fast time goes the older you grow. SLOW DOWN DAMN IT! I would barely remember what I’ve done, if I wouldn’t keep track of everything. Feck yeah, Bullet Journals!

Here are some my highlights of 2016

Driving License

Oh yeah, I’m probably most proud of this one. Worked my butt off to pass the damn tests. Also promised myself to get it before 30 and BOOM. I made it. Had it since february, and I proudly flash my little plastic card whenever I’m asked to show my ID. Hohoho, proud and loud. The entire world needs to know that NOUKAH CAN NOW DRIVE ON HER OWN! Booyaaa!

Bullet journal

Earlier in May, I discovered rapid journals, also called the Bullet Journal which has blown my mind. I’m obsessed with lists, and a hopeless control freak, so this method has been like a cozy blanket for my soul. I’m finally at peace. I’ll talk more about this later own, because it deserves a separate post. THE HYPE IS REAL!

Inspiration is back

YES!!! Finally! Some of you may know that I got depressed as hell back in 2014. As one of the side effects(beside wanting to die. Yeah really, I didn’t want to exist anymore) I stopped drawing completely. Everything felt meaningless, just the thought of art-related stuff left me paralyzed.

Well, I can announce that I’m officially back! After years of constipation and anxiety, I finally rediscovered the love and curiosity of creating art. I thought that I’ve lost it completely, but nope. I was strong enough. Thank fecking god.

Standing up for myself

This has been a big deal for me. It’s the first time ever that I’ve finally started to stand my ground. You have no idea how much I’ve learned about myself this year. Like why I react and feel a certain way in different situations, and I can finally pinpoint my personal weaknesses so I get work on them. This is probably my biggest challenge ever, it’s been a very turbulent yet interesting time of my life. I’ll definitely get back to this. Stay tuned.

Hm, what else?

Oh! I also had the opportunity to make a workshop for ImagineFX, which I’m very proud of ◠◡◠

And my favorite illustration of 2016 is probably this one:

And this one:

Browsed through the stuff I’ve made through out this year, and I still feel very proud of these two! Had such an awesome time working on it, and I learned a lot. They were both for a short story in Kamratposten.

Last but not least I wanna thank you all for the love and support. You are the reason that I share my work and keep going. Wishing you all a fantastic 2017, may all your dreams come true with rainbows and unicorn-cats.

Feel free to share your own highlights of 2016! I’d love to know ◠◡◠

Feeling like a misfit, and that’s ok

Oh hai self doubt! Why, here we go.


Things can turn around so fast. From feeling pumped and motivated to mjeh. I’m currently sitting here feelig sorry for myself. Doubting and stuff.

Picture this. Once again you reflect over your life and wonder why you feel like such a misfit. Why you’re such a bad friend. Why it’s so hard for you to get new friends. Why you can’t function properly with others, or work in a team. The list goes on. Doesn’t matter how hard you try, you just keep failing. You just want to hibernate on the couch and stuff yourself with cheap cookies. You don’t even like those cookies but you’ll eat them anyway!

Self esteem. Why are you so damn fragile?


This is exactly why I blog actually.

I’m not afraid of feeling vulnerable. I wanna write about setbacks, not just rainbows and happy unicorns. Try to figure out how to slay them. The setbacks, not the unicorns ◠◡◠

No but really. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit weird. I’ve tried to force myself to change and become someone that others expect me to be. I can’t give them what they want. It will never be me. I feel so wrong. Where do I belong?

Hahaha did it rhime again? Maybe I should get into poetry if everything elsOh STOP IT ALREADY, ANDREHA!

You so silly.

Sorry if I’m a bit vague. Can’t be too personal here, since I’m in the middle of this. Things are complex. Bleh.

Well. I’m gonna allow myself to feel crappy today. I know that it will pass. It goes up and down, up and dooooown… Break down, accept, get up and soldier on. Then start all over again.

Everyone feels worthless sometimes, and that’s OK.

I’m ok.

You’re ok.


Feel free to join my self-pity party today. Just make sure you forgive yourself afterwards. I’m gonna have to remind myself of that part.



The mighty tribute – when I truly painted from the heart

Can you remember a specific year, where things were really awesome most of the time? I have quite a few, but this time I wanna highlight 2010. The year I rediscovered how madly in love I am with creating art. That’s when I got laid off at my first job, which was probably the best thing happening to me at that time. I was completely free the months after that, as I’ve managed to save enough to get by for a while and to try my wings to freelance.

It was also the beginning of the Chiustreams, and the Sketchoholic group. Wow, you have no idea how much that community fueled my creativity and urge to paint. The timing was just perfect. Life was a blast.

I can’t really explain it or where it came from. For some strange reason, I just felt more passionate than ever. Don’t really like the word “passionate”… So, “High” perhaps? It was pretty much like falling in love, you barely sleep and you obsess over something until nearly losing your mind. You catch yourself smiling like a fool, and others notice it too.

The Mighty Tribute

I painted a few pieces at the time that I, to this day, am very proud of. Like the Mooster and Caterpillar. Haha, these were hilarious to work on!

But my most favorite piece from that time was probably my tribute to Freak The Mighty. A novel written by Rodman Philbrick.

Ohh this painting is so outdated. I love it though, despite all the flaws. They’re just beauty marks.

Do you know that story? It’s probably my favorite. Especially the movie based on the book. If you haven’t watched “The Mighty”, then you have to! It’s heartbreakingly beautiful! Don’t forget the tissues.

I’m suprised that it’s not become a well known classic around here. I’ve introduced the story to quite a few friends, since none of them knew about it. Think that students read this book during English class in the US? Seems to be more or less unknown to most Swedes though. I came across this movie when I was 14, the only time I saw it air on TV over here. I’m so glad that I own the DVD these days. It’s gold to me.

Luckily inspiration struck in 2010 and I felt that I just had to make some fanart, and paint Max and Kevin. I put the movie on to play in the background. Had a hard time drawing at first, because I was literary crying my eyes out. Silliness! I get so emotional just by hearing the movie soundtrack! Ask my friends. God, now I’m tearing up again just by thinking about the story… I know what you’re thinking, I’m going mental like that viral catlady on youtube”I can’t hug every cat…” Hahaha.

No but really. What’s not to love about these two underdogs sticking together in a cruel world?!

Allright Andrea, we get it. Calm down.

Clearly, I was truly painting from the heart. I’ve never felt that emotional. Fun times! Strangely, things went smooth. I’m  mercilessly critical, so it was unusual that things just fell into place.

When I finished it, I suddenly got this crazy idea that I should try to approach the author. For thanking him and to send him a fine art print as a gift. I mean, you’re allowed to wish, right? ◠◡◠

I tried to find his adress, but failed. Only managing to find contact details to publishers and whatnot. Frustrating, yet not suprising. Well at least I tried! So I forgot about it, and just posted the artwork on my good old blog and social media platforms.

Then a few months later, the craziest thing happens. GUESS WHO CONTACTS ME DIRECTLY?


He did.

That e-mail made my day. Week. Or month even. Haha. Such an honor. He asked if he could buy a print of my fanart. But of course, I could never charge him for that, so we made a “fair trade” instead. I got a copy of some of his novels, including Freak the Mighty of course ◠◡◠  and he got a fine art print on the nicest paper I could find. I don’t wanna sound like a crazy fangirl, but I get all giggly when I think of the fact that my painting reached Rodman Philbrick himself. What a bonus.

Freak The Mighty

Enjoying art without the need of others validation

I realized that this anecdote could be a good personal reminder. During times when making art feels more stressful than fun. I didn’t paint the piece for the validation of others, like I often do. I did it out of love. Yes it’s cheezy, but screw it! This is a soft spot for me, I can’t explain it. I just remember how emotional I felt, and that’s how I wish I could feel more often while creating. Worrying less of what others like and don’t like. Because this time, it felt like I was the only one who knew about this story. Since it didn’t seem to have blown up here in Sweden.

It was my secret treasure. So it was easy to just let go and create without feeling some sort of pressure. Wait, did that rhime? Haha!

So yeah. Note to self: Give yourself time to once in a while remember what’s truly meaningful to YOU.

Paint that.

The story of my nickname “Noukah” and why I picked it

I get this question from time to time, so I thought I’d share the ancient story of the nickname Noukah and how I came up with it. I’ve used it for so long now, since the infamous teenage era. It has a little story to it ◠◡◠

Ready? Ready. Allright.

I was twelve first time I heard the name “Noukah”, or “Nuka” to be exact. Which was while watching… Duh duh DUUUN. Lion King 2. One of the lions in that movie just got stuck with me. I don’t know why, I just thought his name sounded nice. Like wow, “Nuka”.

During the same time, when MTV was big, I came across some commercial that showcased Suzanne Vega’s song “Luka”, which I also liked! You know “My name is Luka, I live on the second floor…” Yeah, that song  ◠◡◠

Didn’t do much about it at that time though. Didn’t come up with any fictive character, named my hamster “Noukah”, or did anything else clever. I was too busy thinking about horses at the time… It just got planted as a small seed at the back of my mind.Noukah

Fast forward to like… 3 years later. 

I was 15 and sat in front of my family’s computer, about to open an account on Lunarstorm. Ooh, feeling all nostalgic now. To my foreign readers: Lunarstorm was our Swedish version of a similar community like Myspace, all the cool kids hung out there(It closed down ages ago, but they actually rebooted it quite recently!). I wanted something short and catchy and got to think of “Nuka” that I subconsciously bookmarked years earlier. Felt like coming up with my own spelling and tadaa! “Noukah” was born. It’s been with me since then. Like my very own online comfort blanket. Mmmm.

I try to use that nickname everywhere I can. If you search for it, chances are high that you’ll find me, or my art.

Oh, another fun fact! I later learned that people named “Anouk” tend to go by the nickname “Noukah”. So nope, the way I spelled it turned out not to be that unique after all, haha! And that “Nuka” means “Younger sibling” in Greenlandic. The name is also used in Native American. So technically… Have I actually named myself “Little Sister?” Hm. Who knew!

Now you know too  ◠◡◠

Do you have a special nickname? Online or IRL?

Why we hate successful artists and what we can do about it

I used to be a very narcissistic kid. It’s not even funny. I had no serious competition, and others kept telling me how awesome I was at drawing. I’ve always been known as “Andrea, the girl who draws well“, got accused by older kids for tracing my own drawings, and teachers favored me. In elementary school the principal even officially announced me as “The best artist during his entire carreer“. So flattering but ghah, the cringes. Damn, you can’t imagine what all this did to my ego. 

Oh, and it got worse.

I felt unstoppable when growing up. I’m gonna get rich and famous, I won’t even have to work for it, cause I was born perfect! I’m gonna rule the world MUHAHAHAHAH!!

Then I discovered internet. And the early art communities. Crash and burn, baby. Many awesome artists there were extremely skilled, and many were even younger than me. This messed with my head, because believe it or not, I honestly thought for so long that I was a prodigy. World peace will be because of me and Oprah was gonna call me any day.


I don’t even know what to say about that. Oh god I wanna go hide somewhere.. Well, reality proved me wrong of course. Luckily…

Compared to those who never drew, I was way ahead. Technically. Since I “had no life” and drew every day, haha. But seeing other serious artists and their technical skills, I was barely average. Suddenly I felt small, and for the first time I felt defeated. I’ve never really felt that way before about my art. I started to shift. Developed a huge complex, and along came…

Competitive mindset.
Constantly comparing myself to others.
Creative constipation.

Since the age of 13, I’ve suffered heavily because of my faulty elitist mindset when it came to art. I would never feel the same joy for drawing again.

Maybe you can relate to my story, maybe you’ve even had the same experience like me? Either way, I’m pretty sure that all of us will experience this at some time. Feeling intimidated and discouraged.

What a destructive way of thinking! Sure, a bit of competition may be helpful sometimes, but it’s very easy to tip over into that downwards spiral. I envied the ones who were younger, more experienced, skilled and seemed more successful than me. I hated them, and I hated myself because of it.

Tiger sketch by Noukah

Can we change this?

Not until these past years have I somehow begun to overcome this. And you can too! I know you may not feel like that right now, but here’s the thing: It’s such a cliché but a way to change this is to realize that you are unique. Your stories are unique, and there’s only one of YOU in the entire world. Nobody can replace you, and you can’t replace someone else. There’s plenty of room for everyone. It is possible to find that healthy balance that instead of holding us back, actually motivates us.

Checklist to practice a healthier mindset about your own and others art

  1. Dare to praise those awesome artists
    We need to keep getting something into our twisted heads: we won’t look bad just because we praise or mention those successful artists. It’s a myth! Others success is not your setback. I’m using this as my mantra nowadays to remind me of that simple fact.
  2. See others art as inspiration rather than competition
    Oh, this is a tough one. We get bombarded by tons of awesome art as soon as we browse online. We need to remember that those pieces are most often their best work, and we don’t get to see the “failed” ones. Some days you just want to quit all together, because it’s so discouraging… How can we avoid this?  Instead, view others art as inspiration and guidelines. You may actually have found a shortcut, right there. They already invented the wheel, and that’s to your advantage. If they could do it, then you can too! Try to figure out their approach.
  3. Learn to know the person behind the art
    Yes. even successful artists eat, sleep and poop like everyone else. Having their own background, personal stories and struggles. I’ve learned that somehow, back when I barely knew any other artist in person. Only looking at others awesome art, I took for granted that they all live this perfect life. Everything comes easy for them, and they are probably all cocky and self-centered and.. Yeah your mind wanders off very easily, doesn’t it. Snap yourslelf out of it! Nobody is perfect, and behind that awesome art there’s an actual person with interesting thoughts and concerns. Focus on that first. Who are they, really? If you meet them, try to talk about other things as well than just their art. Not only will you see an actual person, but your main focus will slowly shift as well. Empathy might eventually silence that competitive mindset for good.

Hope this helped a bit for you likeminded out there!
How do you deal with envy?