What a difference it makes both to the atmosphere of the page and in colour coding the characters so that in the tangle of battling bodies you’ve got a chance of distinguishing which arm and leg belongs to which character.
For sketching I always use a water-brush but with such a large area to fill I took a number 11, and later a number 7, sable brush from the drawer and for the first time in months took out my large box of Winsor and Newton artists’ watercolours.
I opted for the large box because I wanted to run the colours into each other so I needed several separate divisions in the palette (my regular bijou box has only two divisions). To give an impression of a rainy evening, I stuck to a limited palette of cobalt blue, yellow ochre and sepia with just a touch of nickel titanium yellow (a lemon yellow) for the lightest areas of the grass and a hint of scarlet lake for the lips.
This page has been so different to the Soap Works confrontation because there’s so much action going on. My new broad-nibbed Lamy Safari pen (filled with Noodler’s black) has been a catalyst for me to rethink my approach and I’ve come up with what I’d call a loose Victorian engraving style which I think suits the subject but, more importantly, which I feel more at ease with it, so I should be able to work more quickly from now on and enjoy what I’m doing.
There’s no rule that you shouldn’t enjoy artwork, even when you’re working on an important commission.
What you’re not seeing here are the speech balloons although in this frame I think all that Waterton would be able to say in this stranglehold would be ‘Arrgh!’ The ruled borders to the frames, which I’ll add in Manga Studio, will cut off the ragged edges of the rectangular panels, giving the strip a crisper feel. I made an exception and drew the frame for this central scene, using a compass with a ruling pen attachment that I bought when I was working on my first book A Sketchbook of the Natural History of the Country Round Wakefield, which coincidently features a short Waterton comic strip.
I’m glad that as I went on through the frames on this page I became more relaxed in my drawing. My favourite panel is the close-up of the poacher being forced to drop the knife but this panel of Waterton making a rally and with one last effort kicking the poacher away, is the most lively looking of the bunch and a good example of how I’d be able to use a bit of hatching in any scene, not just a night scene like this one.
By the way, this cut-to-white illustration of battling figures won’t have a ruled border.
This last frame of Waterton seeing off the poacher is one of the most awkward, as I was experimenting with the woodcut technique of shading. I don’t rule out doing it again, if it appears totally out of context with the rest of the page but I’ll wait until I’ve seen it in with ruled edges and with no less than three speech bubbles. Those formalities should tie it in with the rest of the artwork.