First Impressions of Sketching on the iPad with Brushes

The “Yosemite Ukulele Rangers” Dancing Bear Mascot (iPad Brushes Sketch)

Yosemite Ukulele Rangers, preliminary Brushes iPad sketch

In the car, driving up to Yosemite National Park, I started playing with Brushes, a nifty iPad sketching app (OK, Ludlow drove, I fiddled with the radio, strummed the uke, and made annoying and quite rude noises at passing cows). Anyhow, my official review: super happy camper am I!

Here’s my first effort — a mascot for the “Yosemite Ukulele Rangers” (yeah, I was a bit unsure what a real park ranger’s hat looked like — fortunately the ranger at the park’s gate happily modeled hers for me).

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A Journey Through Personality & The Psychology of Obsession

“The Id and the Ukulele” Mock Textbook


Recently I’ve been attempting the paperless switch, moving all of my ukulele songs onto the iPad. But, alas, that iBook bookshelf was fairly dull, far too many text-only PDFs — what was needed was variety, better still some classic book covers.  Recalling the fun Ben and I had last year doing alternate dust covers for his novel “Rise Again” (“Advanced Zombology, 2nd Edition” was my contribution) I decided to go for a retro-60’s textbook look.

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Updating that creepy airborne, weaponized juvenile delinquent

Cupid Joins Ukulele Craze!

By request: an old timey silhouette of Cupid playing a uke — which, to my mind at least, makes considerably more sense for a matchmaker than the traditional version — that a flying toddler, naked save for a quiver of magic love arrows, stalks singles before firing one of said arrows into them (particularly the reluctant ones) who then — usually against their will, mind you — suddenly become quite smitten. That Cupid’s a little shit. A kid serenading two lovers with a ukulele? That tale’s at least 60% less disturbed.

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Glue stick your way into that pseudo-musician's heart. Build this...

Ukulele Valentine Heart Box Papercraft

Ukulele Valentine Heart Box

“Moderation” — it isn’t in the ukulele player’s vocabulary, so why are you hesitating? You actually believe there are limits to the uke obsession? Puh-shah!! No way! Enjoy a stress-free Valentine’s Day: build your uke-crazed sweetie this heart-shaped ukulele box then fill it with See’s candies, jelly beans, an engagement ring, or Jake Shimabukuro tickets — whatever you do rest assured that ya done good.

Download “Ukulele Valentine Heart Box” template (532kB PDF)

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On Rainy Day Play LOUD! Ukulele Sketch

On Rainy Day Play LOUD-ukulele-cartoon

Love rainy Fall days in LA — snow-capped mountains, clean air, and guilt-free excuse to hang indoors reading and doodle. Such was Sunday afternoon, and after downing a cup over at Jones Coffee Roasters, I wound up playing uke under the eaves of the South Pas Library, enjoying the crashing drum roll of water spilling from its gutters. While there I got this great advice from an elderly Japanese neighbor, a longtime ukester himself — from the 50’s: “On rainy day… play LOUD!!”.

Don't "Ring" In The Season! Pluck 'n Strum It Properly...

Ukulele “Old West” Holiday iPad & iPhone Wallpapers

Ukulele Holiday iPad Wallpaper

Mele Kalikimaka! Joyeux Noël! メリークリスマス Froehliche Weihnachten! Maligayang Pasko!

I enjoy noodling with the oh-so-sexy uke’s shape, ’tis quite pleasing to draw. And within the ukulele family nothing tops the “pocket” ukulele’s exaggerated, peanut perfect proportions, besting even its more popular big brother, the soprano, for pure ukie-ness. Anyway, with the holidays upon us it’s time to post more uke love.

Choose between iPhone or iPad versions, as well as a 5 x 7 inch size suitable for printing as your Holiday card (so please put away that soggy Santa hat your dog’s been teething on for the past year and tell the neighbor you won’t need to borrow his chocolate Labrador this afternoon for your Christmas card photo). All formats available in Hawaiian, English, French, German, Tagalog and Japanese.

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A Halloween Freebie for Photography Perfectionists

Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Cutaway Stock Photo

Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Cutaway

Ever wonder what it’s like inside your Jack o’Lantern? No? Really? Oh…

OK, did you just take a great shot of your prize winning pumpkin carving — Dr.Who on one side and Cthulhu on the other, but the exposure of its interior is blown out? This bother you… lots? Really? You, my friend, are truly obsessive — and my kind of Halloween geek.

Use this photo to fix your sad pumpkin photography mishaps. Just mask out your lost eyes and mouth(s) and use this cut-away pumpkin interior stock photo and all’s betterest (higher resolution up on Flickr).

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In case your ukulele club isn't quite nerdy enough...

A Halloween “Spookulele”: Your Friendly Vampire Bat Uke

Halloween vampire bat ukulele

A while back Ben and I bought a couple ukulele kits from Grizzly Industrial (kits include cheap, unfinished plywood body, neck, fretboard, and a bag of gear & crap strings). With typically high hopes we set about designing — and lo, did the summer quickly pass. It’s Fall, Halloween’s just around the corner, and I’d like to knock mine out, so I’d thought this vampire bat ukulele would look great. Ben, ever the stick in the mud, thinks picking bat wing splinters out of your armpit (or crotch) just might interfere with playing. A fair point.

So instead I’ll be printing some of these out, double sided, and hanging them around my cube, perhaps fashioning a mobile. If you or your uke end up using this let me know.

Show Your Ukulele Play'n Pride!

Bruddah Iz Ukulele Merit Badge

Bruddah Iz (Isreal Ka'ano'i Kamakawiwo'ole) ukulele merit badge

This “ukulele merit badge” sporting Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole, better known as Bruddah Iz, is only a test/rough-draft, the first from a set of about 30 badges that’ll appear on a site targeting novice to “advanced beginner” uke players (I’m more toward the low-end of that talent scale myself). The site’s gist is offering guidance — lesson plans and skill challenges to keep learning fresh and avoid burnout or that frustration from “getting stuck” or not knowing what to try next.

Though he passed some years ago Iz remains incredibly beloved in his Hawai’i and you’ll no doubt recognize his Over The Rainbow/What a Wonderful World cover. Checkout NPR’s profile of Iz on their “50 Great Voices” series. So familiar to the ukulele community is this song that… well:

Q: How many ukulele players does it take to cover a Bruddah Iz song?

A: Apparently all of them.

Oh, tip of the hat to Mayang’s Free Textures for the free hi-res cloth texture.

Hey, Valentine... STOP RUNNING!!!

“I Crave Your Brains” Zombie Valentine’s Day Card

Zombie Valentine's Day Card
This year’s card almost didn’t happen — not through a lack of ideas, but somehow, after a dozen rough sketches and a color study or two, still didn’t feel ready. But, as they say, nothing like a deadline to focus the mind. So here ya go. As usual the larger version’s available on Flickr.

“I Crave Your Brains
But Will Settle For Your Heart!

P.S. Yes, I know, grammatically it’s “brain” , but everyone knows a singular v. plural argument with a charging zombie is pointless at best and quite ill timed at worst.

Frost Your Holiday Windows With Undead Tidings

Zombie Snowflake Papercraft Pattern

Zombie Snowflake Pattern (example)
A few weeks ago Ludlow suggested several Zombie Christmas items (for Ben’s novel, Rise Again), this Zombie Snowflake being among them. My first attempt mistakenly began by folding the paper in successive halves — yielding an 8-pointed Zombie Hawai’ian quilt pattern — lovely, but a fairly unconvincing snowflake. So, it sat fallow, until last weekend when I did this 6-pointed version. (BTW, if you do make a zombie Hawai’ian quilt, please let me know — it’d be awesome!)

Download Zombie Snowflake Papercraft Pattern (87KB PDF)

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A Musical Christmas Freebie

Ukulele Holiday Gift Tags

Recently, while Ben Tripp (also a ukulele player) and I were adding zombie holiday gift tags to his book’s website (where, incidentally, you can download tons of other great zombie-inspired freebies, we realized, in a moment of complete dimwitted obviousness, that the world desperately needs more free uke goodies. So here ya go, a set of twelve DIY gift tags. Enjoy!

Download Ukulele “DIY” Holiday Gift Tags (205KB PDF)

Also available from my Flickr stream:
Papercraft Ukulele Gift Tags

Oh, the notorious “Zombie Papercraft Nativity Set” is not longer available on his site (long story, apparently), but someone has kindly reposted it on