Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

I’ve been away for a long time. It feels like I’ve been lost in the wilderness. A desolate, empty place. Ok only figuratively of course. But to me it felt so devastating.

I discovered that I had carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand. My drawing hand. This all happened around summer last year. Eventually it became so painful to draw that I decided to stop. I think the final straw when I was going down to London for a job. I would lose sensation in my hand whilst driving along the motorway. I packed away all my drawing kit and thought that was the end of that.

It was so hard because I enjoyed drawing so much and I’d thought I was getting so much out of sharing my drawings on Twitter.

Towards the end of the year I decided to look into surgery for my hand. I thought I’d take any improvement from surgery in place of the status quo. I was also concerned reading that my condition would get progressively worse without any kind of intervention.

So I found myself going under the knife late last year. And this is the result:

scar two months after carpal tunnel release
My scar

I finally think I’m at a stage where I want to get some drawing kit out again and see how it goes.

TheAnatomyst Design By Humans Store

I’ve finally got my act together and got my store at DesignByHumans up and running. It’s taken me a long while after initially trying to sell my design “You Don’t Own Me” over at Cotton Bureau to decide how to try to get my work selling. I had initially gone with the plan of Cotton Bureau because I had been set on having my t-shirts screenprinted rather than using direct-to-garment printing, but unfortunately I didn’t get enough pre-orders to make screenprinting a viable option.

Thankfully the feedback from people on Twitter has been really positive towards the quality of prints from Design By Humans so I’m glad to have a home for my work there.

And so here it is: my first design up for sale at Design By Humans! “You Don’t Own Me” by The Anatomyst.

TheAnatomyst t-shirt at DesignByHumans "You Don't Own Me"
My design “You Don’t Own Me” – up for sale at DesignByHumans

This is up for sale on a wide range of different garments: t-shirts, tanktops and kids clothing. TheAnatomyst “You Don’t Own Me” t-shirt design for sale at DesignByHumans.

“You Don’t Own Me” Taking Pre-orders Now

Hey everyone, I just wanted to follow up from my last post where I announced that my “You Don’t Own Me” t-shirt design would be coming to Cotton Bureau soon. The design is now up and taking pre-orders!

"You Don't Own Me" T-shirt on 100% cotton T-shirt at Cotton Bureau
“You Don’t Own Me” T-shirt on 100% cotton T-shirt at Cotton Bureau

I’ve tweeted out about my design and so far it has sold three times. OK to be fair I’ve pre-ordered one for myself, but many thanks to the other people who’ve placed orders so far!

At the moment, the pre-order period has a little over 11 days to go, but don’t delay and get your orders in now. Also please share this with your friends, neighbours, neighbourhood cats… anyone who might be interested in owning and wearing this amazing piece of typography illustration.

OK perhaps cats might have trouble with ordering and putting on a t-shirt, but who knows! Many thanks all and have an amazing weekend.

“You Don’t Own Me” T-shirt at Cotton Bureau

I’ve been really busy recently trying to keep up with daily sketches and testing out the Back Pocket Notebook whilst at the same time working on a number of t-shirt designs to practise and promote my illustration work. (Hey I’m always open to discuss commissions if you’re interested! You can contact me on Twitter @TheAnatomyst or through my Contact page.) So this is my latest design: “You Don’t Own Me”. This T-shirt is going to be up for pre-orders at Cotton Bureau very soon. Don’t worry though, I’ll be blogging and tweeting like crazy when it’s there so you’ll know when to get your orders in.

I do have a number of other designs in the pipeline, but this was my favourite. The text is from the song “You Don’t Own Me” sung by Grace ft. G-Eazy. And well, I like drawing hands. I think it ties together nicely!

"You Don't Own Me" T-shirt at Cotton Bureau by TheAnatomyst
“You Don’t Own Me” T-shirt coming soon to Cotton Bureau for pre-orders


The “You Don’t Own Me” T-shirt design will be available on 100% cotton natural/ivory t-shirts, a vintage turquoise tri-blend t-shirt and a white fleck tank top. If you’ve not come across Cotton Bureau before, they’re a curated t-shirt design community so not all submissions get picked. And unlike many of the other t-shirt companies out there, they screen-print their t-shirts. Screen-printing offers better quality than can be achieved by the inkjet-style direct-to-garment printers. They work a little like Kickstarter so only designs that get a minimum of 12 pre-orders will get printed…. So I’m trying to get the word out about my design with this pre-pre-order message!

I will let you all know again when it’s up for pre-orders. In the meantime remember if you’re interested in custom work just get in touch @TheAnatomyst.

Follow-up on the Back Pocket Notebook

It’s now a little over two weeks since I started trying out the Back Pocket Notebook so I wanted to give a review of all the drawings I’ve been doing in it, which I’ve been posting on Twitter @TheAnatomyst, as well as giving some thoughts about how the Back Pocket Notebook is performing under real world conditions.

To recap, I’ve been trying out the Plain Kraft Back Pocket Notebook. This has 36 cross grid 120gsm Conqueror Brilliant White pages measuring 140 x 90mm within a 350gsm Nomad Kraft cover.

Dip Pen, School G nib and Sumi Ink

TheAnatomyst dip pen sumi ink sketch
Trying out a dip pen with sumi ink

I had a lot of fun with this one. As I’d already seen, the paper in the Back Pocket notebook is lovely and smooth, which is perfect when you’re starting out trying a dip pen. I use Japanese sumi ink, which is rich and dark with a slight shine to it. I have a little portable ink well so I can have this as a perfect little outdoor drawing set. On the other side I’ve just got some sketches of forearm anatomy.

The Pilot Parallel Pen

Next I decided to try out my Pilot Parallel Pen. This is a really popular pen for lettering, calligraphy and drawing. I have the 3.8mm wide nib so it can draw lines up to that width. This pen can drink ink if you let it so I’ve refilled the proprietary cartridge with De Atramentis Archive ink, which is permanent, waterproof and archival quality.

TheAnatomyst Pilot Parallel Pen drawing
Lettering and drawing using the Pilot Parallel Pen

This is another great test of a notebook; using the pen on its edge to get a fine line can be scratchy and on its wider side it lays down wet lines. I didn’t encounter any problems with the paper fibres clogging the nib or the ink showing through the pages.

Urban Sketching in the Back Pocket Notebook

Being able to carry a notebook in your back pocket means you can capture a scene when you’re sat in a cafe if you’ve got a spare moment.

TheAnatomyst Back Pocket Notebook Urban Sketching - Sheffield
Urban Sketching in the Back Pocket Notebook – Sheffield using the Tachikawa Manga Fountain pen

The sketch above was drawn using my favourite Tachikawa Manga fountain pen with a School G nib. I liked the strong lines and overlapping nature of the buildings.

Below is another opportunistic sketch capturing a tray of biscuits as we were eating them. I can get a good amount of detail in my work using a fine nib.

TheAnatomyst sketch biscuits Tachikawa Manga fountain pen, Back Pocket Notebook
Sketch of a pack of biscuits. Sketching these meant I had less time for eating them!

It was around this time when I began struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome; there’s a difference in the quality of the linework between my Sheffield sketch and the biscuits.

Dip Pen and Rotring Isograph

I wanted to use pens that would need zero pressure to lay down good inky lines since I was having trouble with my wrist. I have a tendency to press too hard even when using a fountain pen so I brought out the dip pen again.

TheAnatomyst dip pen sketches in Back Pocket Notebook
Dip pen and sumi ink sketch of a “Powerball” – lots of ink but little bleed through

In the sketches above I loaded up the Nikko School G nib with plenty of ink compared to my earlier piece using the dip pen hence the thicker lines and more variation in width. The Back Pocket Notebook did really well showing little sign of ink bleeding through the pages. I also found the sumi inked dried quickly enough so as not to smear.


Anatomyst sketch of a window, Rotring Isograph, Back Pocket Notebook
Trying out a Rotring Isograph technical pen in the Back Pocket Notebook

The piece above was drawn using a Rotring Isograph technical pen with a 0.7mm nib and the Rotring ink. Not so commonly used these days as fibre-tipped drawing pens and computer-aided design have taken over but I still like this. It uses a weighted needle to open and close the feed so just needs the lightest touch against the paper to get ink flowing. Again I had no issues with using this for my daily sketch.

Wrap Up

I’ve been using the Back Pocket Notebook for a little over two weeks now and found that it has worked well with whatever pen and ink I’ve thrown at it so it’s ideal for everyday sketching. Over and above the ability to use any sort of pen, I think the slightly unexpected benefit has been the change in attitude you get from being able to carry a notebook everywhere. I’ve definitely drawn more opportunistically. The Back Pocket Notebook has been perfect for this as it’s not too big or too thick and the cover is still holding out well. The other plus point is that it folds open completely flat so it’s great for scanning.

I want to finish off by getting a few more standard pens out. I doubt many people have a manga fountain pen or a Rotring Isograph as part of their Everyday Carry! I also want to see what would happen if I try to add watercolour.

Pentel Fude Brush Pen Sketch

I’d actually wanted to try out the Pilot Parallel pen for this next test but found out it had no ink in it. Luckily I found I had a long forgotten brush pen in my case – the Pentel GFKP brush pen. I think I’d put it to one side because I’d never really gotten to grips with it. This pen has a tip of synthetic bristles and uses a fade resistant, waterproof pigment ink leaving a really wet line.

I did this quick sketch in the Back Pocket Notebook.

Sketch with the Pentel GFKP Brush Pen
This was a quick 10-minute sketch testing out the Back Pocket Notebook with a Pentel Brush Pen

I thought this would be a good test. The pen didn’t bleed through the pages and dried quickly enough so as not to smudge. I’m quite tempted to keep this pen in regular rotation now so that I might use it more for inking sketches. It’s actually good to know that I can work in pencil, fountain pen and a brush pen here without any issues .

A Quick Bonus Pencil Sketch

Just as a bonus I did this sketch whilst waiting for my bus to leave. It’s actually one of the advantages of being able to carry a notebook around everywhere and fits into the whole philosophy of Urban Sketching and “art before breakfast” as I wrote about when I first started building drawing into my daily routine.

Pencil sketch of bars and seating in a bus
Waiting for my bus to leave at work I was sat at the back sketching away

Back Pocket Notebook

A little while back, or perhaps a long while back now, I can’t quite exactly remember when, I was approached to try out a new brand of notebook – the Back Pocket Notebook.

I’m something of a self-confessed pen and paper geek having tried out so many notebooks over the years. Now I don’t just mean your run-of-the-mill Moleskines. I’ve had everything from Field Notes to Clairefontaine and the Alwych Notebook (actually used by Michael Palin unlike the really shaky link between Hemwingway and the modern Moleskine). I’ve tried notebooks from Paperchase and the local supermarket and different papers ranging from 50gsm layout paper, which I love by the way, through to Bristol board.

I promised to thoroughly test out the Back Pocket Notebook with as many of my pens that I’d care to ink. I have fountain pens, technical pens, dip pens… You name it. If I’ve got one then I intend to ink it and try it out in the pages of my Back Pocket Notebook.

About the Back Pocket Notebooks

The notebooks are 140 x 90mm in size and have 36 inner cross grid 120gsm pages. They come with a 300gsm cover either printed with cover art or in the case of my sample set a 350gsm Kraft card cover, which is perfect if you want to design your own cover.

The sets of notebooks with cover art are based around different themes such as responsive web design, the Space X programme or different guitars and chords so you’re encouraged to learn a bit more about a topic or have a notebook to add your own notes when you’re learning to play the guitar (for example).

First Impressions of the Back Pocket Notebook

Back Pocket Notebook with Kraft Cover
Back Pocket Kraft Cover Notebooks

I’ve got to share my wife’s comment when she first saw it because it really made me laugh: “Oh no! Not another brown book!” Yeah ok I have a bit of a thing for brown notebooks. This is a well thought out notebook. The cover is made from a stiff, yet flexible brown card so it fits the spec for a notebook to stick in your back pocket and take everywhere. It’s also the perfect size for this.

The paper also seems like a good choice for a take-everywhere notebook. It has a subtle grey dot-grid so would make an ideal bullet journal book but is equally suited to sketching and doodling. I don’t think the grid will detract from sketches here.

Next up… Daily Illustrations with Different Pens

So now I’m going to put the Back Pocket Notebook through its paces. At the risk of getting an angry group of Moleskine fanatics hunting me down, I have to say when I tried out a Moleskine I was less than impressed by the performance with fountain pens, which are my preferred tool. I’m going to try out the Back Pocket Notebook with different pens to give an idea of how this performs under real-world conditions.

Pen and ink drawing by The Anatomyst. Quorate... Concluded
Quorate… Concluded – Tachikawa Manga Fountain pen with School G nib

For a first test I tried my trusty Tachikawa Manga fountain pen with a School G nib and black ink. This has a fine nib (think Japanese nib sizing rather than European nibs) and although I’ve been using it a while so it’s not scratchy, it can still catch on paper. It doesn’t leave a wet line though.

So this should be an easy test – no risk of ink bleeding through but just a little possibility of the nib catching if the paper doesn’t have a very fine tooth*. The Back Pocket Notebook does a great job here. The paper is smooth and the dot grid is unobtrusive but I found it useful for getting straight lines. The ink didn’t smudge and didn’t come through the other side.

All-in-all I’m impressed with the notebook and could definitely see myself sticking one in my back pocket to take wherever I go for daily drawings whenever I get an opportunity. I’m going to give this a go over the next month to thoroughly test the Back Pocket Notebook. Check back for more tests with different pens here and on my Twitter @TheAnatomyst.


* Feel I’ve got to clarify here. Paper characteristics change how a piece of work looks – sometimes you need smooth Bristol board and for other pieces textured watercolour paper is a better fit.

Pen and Ink Drawing: Exercise Contraption

For today’s post – a pen and ink drawing of a long-forgotten exercise machine that’s been shifted through most of the rooms of our house and ended up sat in the corner of our bedroom. I’ll give a prize to the first person in the comments below who can identify this particular exercise product – I’ll send out this original drawing signed by me!

Exercise Contraption - pen and ink drawing by Anatomyst
Exercise Contraption. Pen and ink – Tachikawa Manga fountain pen and layout paper.


I’ve had a busy week at work last week preparing for an appraisal (this stuff never ends!) so not had much chance to work on drawings. So it’s somewhat appropriate that my first drawing back is of a forgotten exercise machine. Drawing is definitely an exercise that needs constant practice to train the hands and eyes to work together. For me, drawing is more fun than physical exercise, but I’m starting to understand the need to keep fit now that this is affecting my drawing and other work – back pain and joint pains are really no fun at all! Hopefully more drawings from now on and maybe a little more exercise… who knows!

ps. Don’t forget – if you know what I’ve drawn up there, maybe you have one of these machines yourself, then leave a comment with your email address or DM me on Twitter @TheAnatomyst and I’ll send out this original drawing.

Creme Egg on a Spoon

Today’s is just a random drawing. I found a Creme Egg at the bottom of my bag and thought it would be a nice treat for after lunch. It wasn’t in the best of states having been carried round in my bag for months. Let that be a lesson for us all. Chocolate is best eaten immediately. At least I have a drawing of the Creme Egg on a spoon as a reminder of this.

Creme Egg drawing by TheAnatomyst
Egg and Spoon – 2B pencil and inked using my Pilot parallel pen


In other news, I just wanted to share with you that I’ve been working on some really exciting designs for T-shirts and prints. Now I’m still deciding whether to set up my own store here or go with another site but the aim is really for own webshop right here at I will try to get designs up on other sites too as I know sometimes you have accounts all set at your favourite stores. Probably easiest to keep an eye on my Twitter @TheAnatomyst for more updates.

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