Time-lapse Video: Making of a Comic Panel

When I first started drawing, I was just using pen and paper. Now I have a tablet, a stylus pen, and Procreate, which has streamlined my work immensely. I can also do time-lapse videos of my work to show people the process of creating cartoons.

Take a look at one of my recent comics about my dog, Leeloo, and her inability to make decisions.

Creating Your Own Cartoon Character


Drawing by Heather Ledbetter

One of the hardest things to do when you want to create your own comic series is to come up with the character (or characters). The possibilities are endless, which means your journey is often going to be a long one to discover your perfect character design.

To begin, I recommend creating a folder or portfolio of characters that you love from popular cartoons, comic strips, and books. Ask yourself what features draw you to those characters? Is it the way the eyes are drawn, or is it the silly proportions? Start to compile a list of character styles that you enjoy looking at.

Next comes the sketchbook. Start drawing! Compile sketches of different feature combinations like big hands on skinny arms, small eyes set in a big head, realistic versus plain eyes. Doing a variety of combinations will help you start to eliminate the things that don’t work for you.

Once you come up with the basic concept for your character, start doing sketches of the character in different poses and positions. When drawing a comic you have to be able to give your character some amount of movement and expression, so practice creating movement and different angles of your character.

When you’re confident in your ability to “animate” your character, you can start doing the detail work. Smooth out your lines and decide on your final color palette. You can also decide on the environment your character will live in and how much effort you want to put into the surroundings.

Once your character comes to life, the only thing left to do is start telling their story!

Creating Comics

34686097_1313113698821367_4922289330195529728_oLately I’ve been focusing on creating more of my comics. I find that when I think too hard about it, I struggle to come up with content for my cartoons. I’m trying to balance creating illustrative comics for my book and just comics for the fun of it. I think focusing too much on the book illustrations will suck all the fun out of the process. I’m trying to temper fun with serious, nose-to-the-grindstone kind of work.

For kicks and giggles I sent a query letter and some of my work to a publisher in the off chance that it wont be thrown out immediately. Luckily I’m in no hurry to get a publisher, but I have to start somewhere. Worst case scenario is I self-publish. As long as my book gets out there so people can enjoy it, I’ll be happy.

I’ve thought about sending in some of my comic panels for syndication, but I need to do some grooming with those if I want to stand a chance at that happening. Illustrative comics that tell a story are different than your Sunday newspaper type comic panels. There should be solid characters and or a specific theme, like political or sports comic artists. Thanks to the internet though, many artists have an equal chance to get their stuff out there, even if it doesn’t follow the old school guidelines for syndication through a traditional publisher. You can create a website or use social media to get your work seen. A lot of self-made greatness is possible thanks to technology.


First Show of the Season: Going for a Buckle (Also I fell off my horse)


I had a fun time this past weekend at the first English and Western Pleasure horse show of the season. My mare did pretty well for her first go, winning a 5th and 6th place ribbon in an English Pleasure and Equitation class. I need to make some adjustments and work on conditioning her to maintain a canter, but hey! Placing at all among tough competition at her first show was awesome!


Now for the less than positive part of our day. There is a trail/obstacle course that you can ride for extra points and as a tie breaker in the buckle series. I thought we would have a few issues, but overall I thought my horse was ready for the obstacles. I was incorrect.

I should have known it wasn’t going to go well when she refused the rope gate (which I had been working with her on gates, but this gate was different to her), so I finally moved on to the next obstacle. She struggled with that. So I moved to the third obstacle. She was ok, but not great. Then it came to the fourth obstacle which was backing through three cones in a “zigzag” pattern. I thought she would be able to handle that since we had been backing a lot and she was ok with it. She started to dance around when I asked her to back around the first cone, so I tried to work with her and get her to understand what I was asking her to do. After only a few seconds or so of me trying to get her through the obstacle, she worked herself into a tizzy and before I knew what hit me she reared up and almost over backwards and I fell off of her. Thankfully I was well out of the way and was unhurt, but still! Holy crap!

I got up, grabbed the reins and told the judge she didn’t seem to be in a good head space for that today and we’d try again at next months show. I walked her to the mounting block, got back on her and we waited quietly for the next class to start. No one besides the judge and his assistant saw the incident, and my friends were all mortified when I told them. My horse just stood there, looking like she was asleep and nothing had happened. So needless to say I will be working on obstacles with her so we can at least make it through the next trail class in a month. Don’t really want to get squished.


After the fourth class my mare started to feel like I was lugging around a bag of bricks beneath me. She didn’t have any energy left so she went to the trailer to rest and I took my friend’s horse into the ring for his first ever day of being ridden English. He did great for his first time! The picture above was my first time ever riding him. He’s going to be a fun horse to show this year!

Going to Your First Horse Show: What to Wear?!

Going to compete in your first horse show is so exciting! If you’re like I was getting ready for my first show, you maybe don’t know what all you’re expected to wear.

Obviously certain disciplines require different attire, but I’m going to go over what you will typically need if you’re riding in an English class. Here’s a list of what you’ll want to have in order to impress the judges and be “up to code” for the show.

Your Outfit:

Tan, or light colored breeches: For pretty much all English pleasure/flat classes you will need light colored breeches. If you are a jumper, you can do a wider variety of colors since Jumper events are more about speed and a clean round than what the rider looks like, but tan is a good, safe option.

Black/navy/dark grey/dark green show coat: A dark, more neutral shade is best when competing in English Pleasure classes. It’s also important to consider what environment you’ll be showing in when making your coat decision. If you’re showing outside in the summer, a heavier coat fabric might be too hot, so it might be better to get a lightweight coat.

Light colored show shirt: You can typically wear any kind of undershirt (long or short sleeve), as long as it has a closed collar/collar piece. If you look up “English show shirt”, you’ll see what that looks like.

Field Boots (black or brown): This is usually the most expensive part of the outfit, but you can get synthetic leather that looks classy and wont break the bank. That is currently what I have since I only show once a month, about 5 times a year. If you’re showing on a more regular basis, you might go for the real leather. You’ll also want boot socks to wear with those.

Black or brown show helmet. There are several good brands of helmets out there, but I would avoid anything too inexpensive for safety reasons. You get what you pay for and when it comes to a helmet, you don’t want to go too cheap and have inferior protection in the event of a bad fall.

Black or brown riding gloves: These are optional in most cases, but they definitely help to complete your look if you choose to add them.

Black or Brown belt: You will want to have a belt that matches your boots since you will be expected to have your undershirt tucked into your breeches. This is really important if it’s too hot out for your show coat and you are permitted to just go without your coat.

The last part of your look will be the hair. You’ll want to have a nice, clean, pulled back look that’s held together with a hairnet that matches your natural hair color as much as possible. Just make sure you style your hair low on your head so your helmet fits properly. If you have very short hair, just keep it clean and loose hairs out of your face as much as you can if it’s way too short to pull it all back. Guys obviously don’t have to worry so much about their hair if it’s short.

Your Horse

It goes without saying that your horse should be well groomed and their mane and tail should be clean and combed out. It’s usually good to at least braid the mane if you really want to gain points with the judge.

English Saddle: A basic, all-purpose English saddle in black or brown is preferred for the show ring. Depending on where you show, you may even be allowed to show English Pleasure in a dressage saddle. Obviously the cleaner you can get your saddle, the better.

English Bridle: There are a lot of different styles of bridles out there, but if you are showing in a pleasure class, you just need a basic leather bridle and bit. Anything in addition to a basic headstall, bit, and reins is considered “schooling equipment” (such as martingales and draw reins) and is not allowed in most classes (unless stated otherwise).

White saddle pad: You can go with a couple different styles of English saddle pad, but make sure whichever one you choose, it’s bright white. That’s just sort of the show standard for English disciplines.

Most English pleasure/flat classes don’t allow your horse to have any wraps or boots on their legs, so if you typically train in front or overreach boots, skip them during your class.

Some other little things that are helpful to have on hand:

Hay and a hay net for your horse while they are being groomed and tacked up, as well as for post-showing so they have a snack after all their hard work. This wont be a concern if you are stalling your horse at a show, but if you’re just testing the waters, it might be best to just trailer in for a day. This will also save you a ton of money.

Water and a bucket. This depends on the location of the show, but having some water is always a good idea, especially if it’s going to be a few hours of showing.

Lint roller to keep your coat clean looking and free of hair

Braiding bands in case your horse loses a band in their braids mid-show

Washcloth and some water to keep your horse and tack dirt-free between classes

Sunscreen if you’re showing outside

Water bottle and a snack or two for you! You’re going to be sweating and working hard to look your best out there, so don’t forget that you need to hydrate and eat a little something throughout the day to keep your energy and morale up.

I hope this helps you to prepare for your first show! Remember that the best thing you can bring with you is a smile. Have fun!

Giving up on my garden this year

So it’s nearly June and I still have done nothing to prep my garden and no seeds have been planted. I hate to admit it, but a garden might not happen this year.

This is depressing because I love my garden. I’ve had a veggie garden in my backyard almost every year since we bought our house 4 years ago. It brings me a lot of joy being able to go out and see all the green and taste all the little things as they grow. The problem is that this year my motivation to garden is just not showing up. Another issue is that I don’t have a good place to put my pumpkins this year and those are really the things I look forward to planting the most. I’ve been battling powder mildew the last couple of years, so the soil in the area I have been planting is currently no good. Very frustrating.

It’s been a crazy time for me between taking care of my friend’s baby, working, blogging, working on my book, and getting ready for horse show season. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to rest the garden and pick up again next year when I have more time on my hands (hopefully).


For the past 8ish months, I’ve been watching my friend’s baby a few days a week in exchange for keeping my horse on her property. It isn’t always the easiest job taking care of an infant, but thanks to some imagination and excellent social media image filters, I’m managing.

Face-swap goodness

“You’re a wazard!”

We created some sick alter-egos. Meet “Mildred and Ethel”. They enjoy gossiping, pointy edged glasses, and silently judging you.

Working on her RBF

“Unlimited power!!”

This is just my son being…my son.

My Book Writing Journey: Leaving a Legacy of Laughter

toddler wearing purple sweatshirt

The recent death that has hit my circle of friends and acquaintances got me really thinking about several things. One of them is the idea of leaving a legacy.

I guess we don’t often think about our legacy or what we’ll leave behind when we’re gone from this life. We’re focused on the here and now. Nothing wrong with that. Here and now is where we live, so it’s good to pay attention to it. When death happens close to you, you consider what things would be like if you yourself passed on unexpectedly. What will you have left behind to benefit humanity?

I’m a strong believer in laughter. It has the ability to flood in and replace things like sadness or anger. In the worst of times laughter can lift us up, even if just for a moment. Besides love, laughter has the most power in this world for good I think.

As I’m writing my book and drawing illustrations for it, my thought is “What is going to make people genuinely laugh out loud? How can I make this drawing even more funny?”. It’s a desire to bring positivity into a world that can never have enough positivity injected into it. Funny trumps a bad day and it can rejuvenate a tired, bitter soul in a very unique way.

I’ve always looked up to the people who’s biggest ambition in life has been to make people laugh (Red Skelton, Carol Burnett, Mel Brooks, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Ellen DeGeneres, etc.). While not everyone understands every joke, laughter is universal.

I think that’s what I love about comic art, you can create something that transcends any language barrier. It’s the expression on the character’s faces, the movement you create in the image that everyone can understand, because most body language and expression is universal.

This is what I hope to create with my book. A legacy of laughter. Something that will inject that positivity into the world long after I’m gone. Fingers crossed.

It’s Almost Summer?!

Untitled_Artwork (3)The sun is shining, and for the moment my kids are in school, but not for long! They only have a few more days of school left and then it’s summer break 2018.

I personally have a love/hate relationship with summer. I love that I get to be outside in the sunshine riding my horse, or out in the kayak, or camping. I also love not having to wake up early to get the kids ready for school (that’s always a marathon in itself). It’s just awesome.

On the other hand, summer means lots of heat and sun exposure. I am a very pale person that doesn’t tan, I burn. No matter how much sunscreen I dowse myself in, I always feel like i’m burning/melting. If you’ve never experienced that feeling because you have gorgeous, not mega-ultra-pasty skin, I probably hate you.

The other reason I tend to dis-like summer is because after the summer break “honeymoon” period is over, there always comes a time when I realize my kids are home for the next couple of months. With me. Every day. That realization tends to make me a little sad. Not because I don’t love my kids, it’s because their bickering and constantly injuring each other really starts to grind on me after a short period of time.

So whether I’m ready for it or not, summer is nearly here. Fingers crossed for good times and no trips to the emergency room because one of my kids seriously injures the other one with all that time they’re going to be spending together.

Illustrator’s Block

pexels-photo-1076339.jpegI’m an artist. Not really a writer. So the fact that lately I’ve been having an easier time writing than I have been coming up with ideas for illustrations is just silly to me. It’s just silly.

As I mentioned previously, this book is all about the journey, rather than the destination. So this must be the silly part of the journey. I basically have to just keep writing until the writer’s block kicks in and the illustrator’s block eases up. That’s totally how that all works I’m sure. It’s just going to be a wild game of “red light. green light” with the writing and illustrating for however long this takes me.

Another thing that I’m trying to do with this book is ask for my husband’s opinion and actually use his advice to some degree. After all, I’m no ask-hole. The thing is that he’s not a writer or an illustrator. So why bother with his opinion? Because he knows funny. He’s also just one of those generally intelligent people, so that’s gotta count for something.

Fingers crossed that I survive this whole process.