IN A STRIP in one of the raised beds we planted a row of leeks in the spring; flimsy grass-like seedlings from a punnet we’d bought in the garden centre. This morning I dug out one from the end of the row and it’s now so large that this one leek gave Barbara enough to make a large pan of leek and potato soup. It’s one of our most trouble-free crops. They were watered a few times when they first went in, weeded two or three times since and that’s it. An impressive crop from an area the size of four or five sheets of A4 paper.

And talking of leaks, the pond is still a disaster area, damaged, we guess, by rodent activity beneath the liner. There’s still some water and some pondweed in the deeper section, so hopefully the pond life can survive until we can find a solution to the problem.

The whole garden is in need of attention after the distractions of selling Barbara’s mum’s house this summer, followed by me working on my book. The wood chippings on the paths are in need of freshening up. In the shade of the hedge near the plastic compost bins by the shed, honey fungus and another variety that I’ve forgotten the name of are sprouting luxuriantly.

Victorian Fair

This morning I enjoyed a rather light-hearted piece of graphic design, using Microsoft Publisher; designing a poster for the launch of my book (so please do look out for me if you’re at the Victorian Fair). It’s in the style of a Victorian playbill rather than trying to be a facsimile, an excuse to use some of the hundred plus fonts that I’ve accumulated over the years.

Correction, that’s, well over a hundred; my font folder contains 1626 items!

Well, you can never have too many fonts can you? I remember my college days when the typography department was limited to little more than Times New Roman and Univers, while Letraset offered exotic possibilities such as Carousel and Bookman Bold Italic. But on my limited budget I’d be just as likely to put the Letraset catalogue in the Grant Enlarger and trace my text letter by letter. I couldn’t have dreamt of having access to a thousand fonts via my desk top at home.

But even with so much choice, I still feel that sometimes hand lettering works best with my sketch maps and drawings.

Line versus Half Tone

I’ve been using Microsoft Publisher 2010 for the layout of my book and it’s been working well but I decided to take the opportunity of giving Serif’s PagePlus X5 a try when they rang me with a special offer. I used a previous version of PagePlus for my colour walks booklets but it proved to be unsuitable for my new paperback format. Unfortunately the same applies to the new version, which I tried on my computer this morning.

Line art in Publisher 2010, magnified about ten times.
I’ve enjoyed the discipline of working in black and white for the new book and that’s how I want the drawings to be seen on paper; in crisp black and white.
That’s the result that I get with Publisher (left) when I scan my drawing at 1200 dots per inch. Any pixel has to be either black or white so the image is made up from a mosaic of tiny black and white rectangles. This gives a stepped appearance to a line, particularly a diagonal line.
This close up is from a PDF of a page produced in Publisher and printed on my laser printer. You can’t tell what the paper output will be like simply by looking at the artwork on-screen.
Line artwork in PagePlus X5; where did those half-tone dots come from?

Unfortunately that’s not what I get with PagePlus (right). Dots appear around my pen lines showing that a half tone screen has been added. This softens the appearance of those stepped lines but the effect is almost imperceptible unless you look at the drawing through a hand lens. A halo of half tone around lines is something to be avoided if your work is intended to be printed professionally as line artwork as those dots can clog up with unpredictable consequences.

 You might think that I’m being over fussy but, after the weeks that I’ve spent preparing and scanning my drawings and designing my pages, I want everything to turn out just as I’ve planned it.

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  1. Hi Richard!

    I really enjoy your postings.
    On your 1,000+ fonts – some say less is more, 7 fonts in the playbill possibly might look better with just three?

    Kind regards,


    1. I hope I can find some excuse for another attempt at a playbill. Scanning down my list of fonts in alphabetical order I soon came to Bondini Poster, Compressed and Bold which offer a good compromise between evoking the period and legibility so I didn’ t get much further down the list. What you don’t get with computer setting is the slightly battered look of well-used metal type, or the dodgy spacing of hand leading. A bit of work in Photoshop would be worthwhile. If it hadn’t been right at the end of the list I would have included Woodcut Medium; that would have been spot on for my Victorian Fair theme.

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