Colour Profile

colour workshopIT SEEMS such a simple thing to do a drawing, scan it same size and print it in a book but mysterious things happen in the process – such as a bright blue line suddenly turning to indigo as it goes from screen to paper.

Before conversion to CMYK . . .
Before conversion to CMYK . . .
. . . and after.
. . . and after.

I’m reading Louis Benjamin’s Photoshop CS5 in Simple Steps to get to know more about the process. But reading isn’t enough for me, I need to go through some of the processes to take them on board but then, if I don’t happen to need to use a particular technique for a while, it can slip from my mind.

Online Notebook

colour profile

I’ve tried making notes as I go but they end up on scraps of paper or in various notebooks so today I’ve started an online notebook.

I won’t need to go rootling through a draw to refresh my memory. My experiments and notes will be beautifully organised in a mini-website. Well that’s the theory.

Link: Colour Profiles, my experiments in Photoshop.

Coca Cola

Coca Cola siteI’VE BEEN getting a new edition of Walks in the Rhubarb Triangle off to the printers today. I checked out all the routes and was delighted that there was hardly anything that needed changing and all those changes were for the better, for example some of the wobbly old stiles had been replaced by new metal kissing gates.

But I thought the new building – I think it’s the distribution centre – at the Coca Cola Enterprises site at Lawns village, Wakefield, should go in, so I redrew that corner of my picture map and managed to included a few facts about this ‘largest soft drinks plant by volume in Europe’.

Coca Cola plantFrom miles away it can look surprisingly conspicuous but strangely when you get nearer to on those leafy footpaths it often disappears altogether.

It sits pretty much in the centre of the Rhubarb Triangle, but as far as I know it doesn’t manufacture a rhubarb beverage. Dandelion & burdock perhaps but I can’t think of a rhubarb drink that they might try. Rabarbaro Zucca, an Italian aperitif, is alcoholic.

Link; Coca Cola, Wakefield

A 1960s European Vacation

St Gothard PassmotorcyclistI’VE BEEN scanning some old 35mm colour slides for a friend and I’m fascinated as always by the period detail. The motorcyclist in the plus-fours at the St Gothard Pass for example.

My friend’s father, Jack, was an engineer and as a young man between the wars he’d got a secondhand sports car into reliable working order and set off and toured the continent so, after World War II he set off again with his young family.

By this time he was running a garage and he’d become a dealer for Standard Vanguard cars. This appears to be a 1956 Standard Vanguard III

St Gothard Pass
St Gothard Pass

You get a sense of it still being quite an adventure to tour the continent from his Agfacolor transparencies. St Marks in Venice and the Forum in Rome look amazingly quiet.

This slide is captioned 'On the road' - one of the Italian lakes perhaps?
This slide is captioned ‘On the road’ – one of the Italian lakes perhaps?

The little coach conjures up another era of travel. It wouldn’t look out of place in a Fellini film. Or The Italian Job.

German newsagents

 This shop – a photographer’s and newsagents? – appears in the foreground of an Austrian or German painted house which Jack had photographed.

The row of potted geraniums on the windowsill, the portrait in the shop window, the bicycle, the lettering over the shop and the mystery man in grey are the kind of plain, literal details that you might meet in a Tintin story of the same vintage.

I’ve used the poster edges filter in Photoshop to flatten the colour but I’d really like to try redrawing some of these scenes in comic book format.

Comet Hunting

before dawnI’D HEARD that not much of Comet ISON had survived its close encounter with the sun but I took a quick look out of the studio window just before dawn just in case.

Even scanning with binoculars, I couldn’t see any traces but conditions weren’t ideal as there was a glow of streetlights over in the direction of Wakefield and a low bank of cloud was beginning to form in the east.

Juvenile Gull

herring juvenileAfter a couple of sessions sketching from hides I thought I’d take the opportunity to work in more detail from a photograph on my iPad as we sat in a waiting room yesterday, which probably explains why the proportion of head to body has gone awry. Colour added later.

The juvenile herring gull, photographed in September, was swimming along on Peasholm Park lake, Scarborough, looking rather worried as we passed by in our dragon-boat pedalo.

Herring gulls don’t moult into their full adult plumage until their fourth year.

Finishing off

treeHAVING GOT to the end of one sketchbook with a short burst of drawing on reserves and in the farm park, I thought now would be a good time to set about bringing my other current sketchbooks to a close so that I can make a fresh start in the new year.

In compiling my Wild Yorkshire nature diary articles for the Dalesman magazine, I’ve realised how useful it is to have a straightforward chronological run of sketchbooks if you ever want to retrieve a particular drawing for later publication.


cushionsIf you’re doing what I’ve been doing for the last year, keeping five sketchbooks in assorted sizes going at once, six if you include the large format sketchbook that I keep for book illustration in the studio, it gets very difficult to search for a drawing made on a particular date.

Perhaps I’ll rationalise this a bit in the new year and concentrate on a particular size.

Square versus Landscape

orchidHigh StreetThe A5 landscape Pink Pig spiral bound sketchbook that I’ve just completed seems a good compromise between portability and page size, but the 8 inch square of A5 format that I used at the weekend proved good for wildlife as there’s more space on a deeper page to add quick notes.

M62 bankingI find that anything that I write on location – about colour, incident or atmosphere, for example – is more precise than my later memories. But I’m reluctant to write when I’m out there because I love to spend as much time as I can drawing.

Wainwright Sketchbook

Wainwright sketchbookAll these sketches are from an A5 sketchbook that fits neatly in the little grey bag that goes with me on everyday errands. The spiral binding on a regular A5 sketchbook won’t quite squeeze in.

Great binding, shame about the paper; fountain pen ink goes straight through it, watercolour soaks in instantly but blotchily.

I might try crayons until I finish the book but it’s a shame that it’s not more sympathetic for fountain pen drawing because when I’m grabbing the odd moment to draw it flows better than any fibre tip.

Jack Snipe

jack snipe

Reedbed Hide, RSPB Old Moor, 10.30 a.m.

jack snipes

Six jack snipe, bills tucked in, are resting right by the water’s edge, blending in perfectly with the dry reeds. They appear to be about the size of a starling.

It’s a good example of how useful it can be to have other birdwatchers about as we would never have picked them out and our binoculars don’t bring out the detail that the telescope, set up and trained on them, gives.

gadwallWhat I could see of the eyestripe doesn’t look very conspicuous but the stripes on the back showed up well, even through my binoculars. They’re white beneath with a dull brown breast that I’d describe as mottled rather than speckled like a thrush.

Jack snipe breed in northern Europe and join us in the winter.

Two pairs of gadwall are dabbling nearby.

golden plovers

golden ploversA large flock of lapwings and two hundred or more golden plover wheel around. A marsh harrier has been hunting over the reedbeds but we don’t catch sight of one today.

The golden plover do their own version of the famous murmurations performed by flocks of starlings, though not in such tight formation. As the flock decides on what direction it will head, a V-shaped chevron forms along its margins.

They pass directly overhead, filling my field of vision as I look up.

teal drake

wigeonTeal are dabbling around a little island.

Wigeon have come ashore to graze on a spit of land that divides the lakes.

wigeons grazing


We’re surprised to see a pair of shelduck upending on the wader scrape lagoon. In the background there’s a smaller, squatter drake shoveller, which sits lower in the water, so we have a chance to compare these two conspicuous ducks.