Printing booklets has been a cottage industry for me for the last twenty years. It took me all day to print a hundred copies of various walks and local guides, so it’s very labour intensive, however it’s satisfying to turn sheets of laser paper and card into A5- and A4-size booklets.
Surprisingly, there were no serious hiccups, other than the printer running out of paper and on one occasion running out of toner.
If you’re trying to track down one of my books, this bookshop on Horbury High Street is a good place to start. In addition to my local booklets, walks guides and sketchbooks, bookseller Richard Knowles often has copies of my long out-of-print titles such as my first, A Sketchbook of the Natural History of the Country Round Wakefield; I spotted two copies of the paperback version on his shelves recently.
This is the first time that I’ve tried the Adobe Illustrator trace option on a colour photograph. The results remind me of the British Library’s reprints of vintage detective fiction, which often have a period travel poster or similar artwork on the cover, hence my book cover design (all I’ve got to do now is write the mystery novel to go with it).
I could learn something from Illustrator when it comes to being bold and confident in the use of colour. In comparison with this posterised effect, my watercolour is soft and tentative. Not always a bad thing but bold and confident would be good from time to time.
I’ve been trying to get around to publishing an eBook for years but it’s taken a short break in the Lake District and the latest version of Apple’s Pages desktop publishing software to get me started.
As you can see from the cover, I’ve been drawing from cafes again; the Lakeside Cafe attached to the theatre at Keswick gave us a view across the top end of Derwentwater to Cat Bells.
I managed only half a dozen sketches as we spent most of our days walking but I made efforts in the evening to write up notes about the day. With those, the sketches and a selection of my photographs, I’ve got the basis of a short eBook; an extended blog post.
The main purpose is to get familiar with the e-publishing process. Pages is a great starting point but, to keep things really simple, I’m sticking with a ready-made template, one was designed for a novel. I’ve got two other programs, Adobe InDesign CC2018 and Apple’s iBooks Author, which give more possibilities for tweaking the design and adding interactive features but Pages brings the process closer to using a regular word-processing program.
There’s a twinkle in bookseller Thomas Gent’s eye, As he sits by the fire with his port and mince pie: “I shall go down in history in Old Ripon Town; With my red Russian hat and my long college gown:
“On this fine Christmas Eve in the snow-covered square By the Old Obelisk with my books, I’ll be there! When the Wakeman of Ripon blows thrice on his horn I’ll take up my sack and be busy til dawn.
“With six fine stags from Studley all yoked to my sleigh With novels and poems, it’s up and away! Now, Defoe! now, Dryden! now Shakespeare and Swift! There’s nothing like books to give spirits a lift!”
Thomas Gent, Bookseller
When I saw Nathan Drake’s portrait of Thomas Gent(1693-1798), the Yorkshire historian and bookseller, I couldn’t help thinking that, popping up in that hearth-like alcove, sporting those luxuriant side whiskers and with his right hand extended, offering us a copy of his ‘quaint’ and ‘charming’ History of Ripon, he’d make a great Santa.
With a little Photoshopping, I was soon able to make a Fake or Fortune-style restoration of the painting and I felt that he also deserved a verse or two to hint that even an Ebenezer Scrooge lookalike might have had a hidden, softer side.
If you’d like to know more about the real Thomas Gent, you’re in luck because, just published this month, there’s The Autobiography of Thomas Gent, Printer of York, edited by his descendant, Frank Gent.
‘The name of Thomas Gent has obtained a wider celebrity than that of any other York typographer. Author, printer, and artist, his labours extended over more than half a century, and during that period many of the numerous productions of his pen, both in prose and verse, were printed at his own press, and embellished with engravings executed by his own hand. His works are, for the most part, below mediocrity, yet they possess a certain quaintness and eccentricity of character which are not without their charm’
Robert Davies, 1868
The Autobiography of Thomas Gent, Printer of York is available from Rickaro Bookshop, Horbury, where you can view the portrait by Nathan Drake.
(So far there’s no evidence that Gent ever acted as Santa Claus to the townsfolk of Ripon).
Drawing all those frames for my flick-book cartoons has helped me to feel at ease using Clip Studio Paint on the iPad. One advantage the iPad is that you can zoom in to work on details with a pinching movement of two fingers and you can rotate the whole drawing, simply by rotating two fingers. These two actions were useful when it came to writing in all the titles of the books.
Once the iPad knows that you’re drawing with an Apple Pencil, it rejects any finger movements it detects as drawing but still responds to any gestures, such as rotation and zooming in.
Paper, Pen & Pencil
There are four layers in my original Clip Studio file: the default paper background (plain white); pencil, for my initial drawing; colour, using the watercolour brush and pen, using the ‘real G-pen’.
To make it more like a real sketchbook drawing, I left my original pencil lines visible. If I’d been aiming for finished-looking illustration, I could have removed all the pencil work with a single click of the mouse: no meticulous rubbing out with a soft art eraser.
It’s our great nephew Henry Roman’s christening today and I’ve been collared by Oliver, aged eight, and Ted, aged six. Oliver asks me to draw a snake – I’m going to need a bit more practice with that – and Ted requests a husky, which again I struggle to draw from memory; I definitely wouldn’t trust that character to pull my sleigh.
Oliver, who has been reading my Deep in the Wood, which he claims is his favourite book, asks me which was my favourite out of all the books that I’ve written. The Britain sketchbook, I guess.
“Did you write all the books in the world?” asks Ted.
“There are a few that I didn’t write.” I explain.
He’s asks me to draw a Dalmatian (and also could I write a book, just about dogs for him).
“What’s it’s name?” I ask him, having been slightly more successful than I was with my drawing of the husky.
Drawing maps for my booklets makes me want to go out and walk the route again. After nine years it’s time to revise my Walks around Newmillerdam, not just because there will have been a few changes to the footpaths but also because the Friends of Newmillerdam and Wakefield Tree Wardens have been making all kinds of improvements to the country park. Continue reading “One Step at a Time”