Polishing up those Roughs

cravat rough

throwing away the cravatAs so often happens, I feel this rough drawing of Charles Waterton for the comic project is more lively than my finished, cross-hatched illustrations. I hope that I can bring a bit of this freedom into my finished work.

When I think of roughs I think of layout paper, pencil and shorthand sketches but it’s a big jump from those to the final artwork. You can easily lose the initial spontaneity.

At college our tutor Quentin Blake said that he preferred to get away from pencil on layout paper roughs as soon as possible and start working on whatever paper and in whatever medium he was going to use for the final artwork.

In two revised roughs for my poachers page, I decided to draw in pen and watercolour so that I can drop scans of these roughs into the almost finished page. It gives me and my writer a much better idea of how the finished page might look.

poacher page


As you can see from the drawing of the park gates, layout paper soon cockles under a watercolour wash, so I might start using cartridge paper for this kind of halfway to finished rough.

I often find myself thinking of my comic strip when I draw from life, for instance the lime trees foliage today had me thinking of how I might make the backgrounds to the scenes in Waterton’s park look convincing but not overworked.

lime leaves

Song Thrush Anting


8.30 p.m. The brown ants that nest under the paving stones at the end of the drive are running around excitedly on this still, warm summer evening, as they do when the flying ants (the queens and the males) are preparing to take off on their nuptial flights. This activity has attracted a song thrush which is sitting with its tail bent beneath it, enjoying an anting session.


With all the recent ant activity, I was thinking the other day that it’s a long time since I saw this behaviour; in fact this might be the first time that I’ve actually seen it in real life, rather than in a wildlife documentary.

After the song thrush had finished, I went out to take a closer look at the ants and there were no winged ants amongst them. Perhaps they took flight earlier in the day, or perhaps this was a false alarm from overexcited worker ants.

When I first uploaded this post, I identified it as a mistle thrush but the arrow-shaped spots show that it’s a song thrush.