I was amazed how quickly I remembered how to draw mazes after a 40-year break! Since my last post, I’ve explored a few new mazes that I’m excited to share.

I thought a self-portrait would be a fun maze for me to tackle. I wanted to include my guitar and after sorting through lots of photos, I found one that looked like it would work. My first step was to isolate it into black and white areas. The next step was to draw my template outline using Photoshop.

Using a stylus to draw smooth curved lines was challenging. I continually backtracked and erased. And then my stylus lost control. I thought it was the tablet, so I bought a used version of the same one I had. But the problems continued.

It was time for me to upgrade to a newer tablet and pen. It turned out that this was a huge improvement. My set-back ended up becoming an opportunity for me to gain even more skill. I loved how much better the new pen worked.

At this point, my process was to print the outline and render the maze with an ink pen.

But for this maze, the areas were far to small for me to render on my usual 11×17 page. I went for a bigger print of 16×20. However, the copy store printed it on blueprint paper. It looked similar, but it handled quite differently.

This paper did not work well with my pens. Rapidograph pens were out of the question, because they blotted up on the paper right at the start. I had to enlist white-out, which drove the perfectionist in me crazy. Then my pens kept going dry and when I bought new ones – they didn’t match.

Although there were certainly alternatives, I was determined to finish the maze I had started. I patiently worked on it for two weeks. My dry pens could work for 15 minutes at a time, so I just went with that.

The finished pen-drawn Judy maze

Although I eventually finished the maze, I didn’t enjoy the process. I decided to take a break from mazes for a while.

When my new pen and tablet arrived, I was determined to redo my Judy maze. This time, it would be completely drawn on my computer.

Initially, the biggest reason was due to the quality of lines. When I compared scans of my pen work with digital lines – the difference was striking. Even though the naked eye might not notice the difference, I sure did.

Now was the time to make improvements on my Judy maze. It seemed like it would be better to crop off some of the bottom. I had the maze exit from the guitar head, instead of my elbow.

The computer had some challenges, though. I worked without “turning the paper,” which was something I always did while using a pen. I had to create interesting lines in directions that weren’t as comfortable for me with a stylus. But I had the advantage of erasing and redoing any lines I wasn’t satisfied with. I always kept the outline as a separate layer, which made erasing easier.

Staring at the screen for hours wasn’t relaxing either. I had to make sure to blink often, or my eyes really dried out.

When I finished my second guitar maze, there was a big issue. I had gotten too tight and dark in some areas, especially on my face. This would be an impossible maze for anyone to solve, unless it was blown up to poster size. But since it was on the computer, I was able to redo those areas.

These are my first maze lines that were too small on my face.

I had to make the maze larger in order for it to be workable.

This is my final corrected digital version of Judy and her guitar. It actually does work and has a solution.

This shows the approximate solution, which I followed while drawing this maze.

After finishing my ambitious self-portrait, I went ahead and quickly picked another subject. I looked for an image that I’d already illustrated, because I thought it would make it easier.

My earlier mazes (drawn as a teenager) used different maze tones, but on my self-portrait maze, there were no gradations. This time, I would try it with the rose. As I went along, I kept tones behind the maze to guide me.

Creating those tones were complicated. I wasn’t sure about the darkness of the maze size as I worked. It was only by zooming out that I could see the full effect.

This shows my maze in progress, before I made a few changes.

My completed “Rose with Thorns” maze.

Once again, it was hard to declare my maze finished. The hours added up. 

I took a break from mazes to work on some new paintings. Painting with color again was a treat. Finally, I was ready to tackle another maze with renewed energy. My next project was to create a gift for a dear friend whose dog had recently passed away.

Her dog was named Zoey and she was a white standard poodle. This maze would definitely be a challenge.

When I created the tonal breakdown, it almost seemed like leaving areas white would be the way to go. It was a tough choice for me.

I looked through many photos and chose my favorite. I ended up using two photos, one had a nicer tail and face, and the other had a nicer body structure.

In the end, I decided to fill it all in. The gradations were dizzying, but I had a lot of fun when they worked.

Unfortunately, the digital process allows for unlimited fixes. My maze was never done. No sooner would I look at it blown up, then I would see an area that needed a better tonal transition. I would erase the maze in a section and then reconnect it. It was incredibly tedious and I finally had to force myself to stop.

Leaving those areas white certainly seemed intriguing. I left the lighter areas for last to decide.

The finished maze of Zoey, forever memorialized.

This amazing journey will continue. I’m not exactly sure where it’s going, but I’m sure enjoying it. Perhaps I’ll publish another book of mazes, or end up being commissioned again to create mazes as gifts. I’m not sure.

I believe the most important part is my gratitude for exploring my creativity. That is truly freedom and joy for me.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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16 Responses to #69 MY AMAZING JOURNEY, PART 3

  1. Judy says:

    Reblogged this on myjourneysinsight and commented:

    I continue to share my maze journey, which reminds me of how I’ve rediscovered another pursuit I loved during my youth!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joni Lautman says:

    Great reporting and such detail!! Thank you for sharing how you put it all together, what I learned was, “ I could never do it.” So glad to hear how much you love your process!! Keep up the excellent work, mmwha

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Tali Gorelik says:

    Oh Judy, I am left speechless by your unlimited talent and gifts of creativity and the innate knowledge of how to do it and improve your craft … You are incredible and I’m so blessed to be in your life ♥️🌟🦋💕

    Liked by 2 people

    • Judy says:

      What a lovely message, dear Tali! Thank you so much for your words that buoy my heart and soul. I put a lot of time and energy into writing this post and didn’t even expect anyone to see it. I just love to document my amazing journey. When i saw your comment, it just made me cry. I am really blessed to have you in my life!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Judy,

    Your mazes of yourself, the rose and your friend’s recently deceased dog Zoey are so impressive that I consider drawing mazes to be a wonderful conduit for your patience and creativity.

    In rendering those images into mazes, is it possible to retain their colours rather than converting them to monochrome with only black and white areas?

    Happy New Year to you!

    Yours sincerely,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ann Coleman says:

    I love your maze drawings! Honestly, I am in awe of your talent. You really do have a gift for drawing…not to mention singing. Happy New Year, Judy!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Awww! Thank you so much, Ann! I don’t remember ever singing to you – but I would in a heartbeat! It’s truly my therapy. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ann Coleman says:

        Well, you know how my brain works….I’m good with ideas, not so good with details. But I thought for sure you’ve included music in your blogs? Playing the guitar and singing? Although I could be confusing you with someone else, and if so, I’m really sorry. I do know there was a post with your son’s photo in it that was particularly touching.


      • Judy says:

        I don’t think you confused anything, Ann. I am a passionate singer songwriter. I just don’t share vocals too often. But the fact that you remembered is very touching!! So thank you again!


        Liked by 1 person

  6. kegarland says:

    This is amazing, really, it shows the pros and cons of using technology ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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