I’M THINKING about setting the scene in my latest comic strip course exercise, putting figures, in this case a mountaineering version of my Jack and Jill characters, into a panel which has a foreground, middle ground and background.

There’s also a section in this chapter in Drawing Words & Writing Pictures which offers advice on devising figures. I’ve long used what the authors Abel and Madden refer to as figurettes to set a scene, drawing rough figures, similar to a wooden lay figure, consisting of ovals and sausage-shapes to work out action poses.

They ask you to try the technique on figures standing, walking . . .

. . . running and kneeling.

Then to trace figures from a book or magazine using the same ovals and sausage-shapes (the light pencil lines in my sketches, left) then, using these ‘figurettes’ as a basis, to draw a different character in the same pose (dark lines).

As I was saying the other day, this way of a constructing a drawing is the opposite of the process that I’m familiar with in my sketchbook work where careful observation of a figure, animal or building should result in the underlying structure looking convincing.

North America

ON OUR walk around Langsett Reservoir on Monday we took a break at the ruined farm marked on the map as North America. Remote farms and fields were sometimes named after remote locations. Red Grouse were calling on the moor, joining each other on some crest amongst the heather and bilberry before hurtling off elsewhere.

Several flocks of thrushes, fieldfares we think, flew over, all heading west, up the valley of the Little Don.

These days we can’t get my mum to such isolated spots but at least Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour, where we headed for coffee and scones, overlooks a broad curve of the Calder Valley, the tops of the Pennines dissolving into the mist in the background. Not the ideal subject for pen and ink but I don’t pack my watercolours in my ‘urban’ art bag.

In this bag for errands around town I keep a variety of pen, most of which, I now realise, need refilling. As my favourite Lamy Safari needs refill I started drawing Tilly at the bookshop in ArtPen but then, when the ink ran out, switched to Pentel BrushPen.