Publishing with Pages

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.

I’ll post a link to the finished eBook.

Link

Pages by Apple

iPad Landscape

I’ve taken my iPad Pro on location for the first time and drawn this view over the Calder Valley around Mirfield from the shelter of Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour, Whitley.

As usual, I used an Apple Pencil and the iPad version of Clip Studio Paint.

I started with the Transparent Watercolour brush then used the Uneven Layering Brush for the wet-on-wet blotches on the clouds.

On a new layer I used the pen tool with the G-pen nib to add the white patches were distant snow on the moors between Brighouse and Haworth.

I used mainly paint swatches directly from the standard palette but decided that the brown that I’d used to suggest trees and field boundaries was too dark, so I gently rubbed over it with the Soft Eraser tool.

Feet

More practice in drawing on my iPad with an Apple pencil and, as I’m using Clip Studio Paint, I’ve got the option of framing the drawing in a ruled border.

I had intended to add an ink layer but decided that pencil was more appropriate for the relaxed subject matter.

There are so many options available to create different effects when using a digital brush but, until I’ve got more familiar with the process, I’m keeping things simple, using the standard settings for the entire drawing.

Desk Top

It’s been a month since we had a weekend at home and my desk top is in need of sorting out but how could I resist drawing these tottering piles of books and magazines?

I’ve drawn it with an Apple Pencil on my iPad Pro. I’m using is Clip Studio Paint EX on my iMac, which is connected to the iPad by wifi through the program Astropad 3. Sometimes pen and sketchbook just isn’t enough!

I like trying to learn new programs and I thought that the best way was just to launch into it and do the simplest of drawings. I say ‘new’ programs but I’ve been trying to get proficient in Clip Studio Paint, formerly Manga Studio for the last five years.

Links

Clip Studio Paint EX

Astropad

Scanning the Horizon

Great Shunner Fell and Abbotside, drawn last week from a picnic table at the Wensleydale Creamery, Hawes; my first scan using SilverFast SE Plus software.

It’s that time of year again: Apple have updated their operating system – from Sierra to High Sierra – which is great except that my scanner, a CanoScan 8800F, won’t work with the new system, not surprisingly because it’s four years since Canon updated the driver. Luckily, I’ve come up with a solution . . . Continue reading “Scanning the Horizon”

Digital Mapping Pen

Imagine a mapping pen nib that doesn’t splay and twist if you press too hard or being able to splash on India ink without getting the odd drop on your fingers and desk top: welcome to the world of digital pen and ink.

This drawing of my trainers took about forty minutes, drawing in Clip Studio Paint using the pen tool with the mapping nib selected and the paintbrush with the India ink, darker bleed option.

Like the hand I drew the other day, it’s drawn with an Apple Pencil on my iPad Pro which was linked by a USB cable to my iMac, using the Astropad program.

I hope that as well as getting more familiar with the basics of drawing in Clip Studio Paint that I’ll also learn to free up my regular pen on paper drawings.

Back to Basics Booklets

Placeholder image for my speed test booklet.

It’s frustrating at times, but I have to admit that I’m enjoying going back to basics with my printed booklets, doing a bit of detective work to see where the hold up in printing speed is creeping in. So far, so good: this ultra-simple booklet with placeholder text prints out in a couple of minutes and it makes no difference if I use GIF images or larger format TIFs, which are about twice the size.

It’s such a pleasure to construct a really simple booklet, dropping little rough sketches in wherever I please, that it makes me want to design another booklet for real, perhaps taking a sketchbook and scanning the illustrations separately then typing up my handwritten notes.

I’m using Adobe InDesign CC 2017, a program which seems to have its quirks if, like me, you’re more used to Microsoft Publisher or Serif PagePlus.

Image manipulation and booklet printing get me every time: I always grab the frame rather than the image itself when I want to change its size, but surely by now I’ve learnt that you don’t select ‘Print’ if you want to print a booklet!

I’m steadily getting there.

From Sketchbook to Finished Article

Scarborough Castle, October 2015.
Scarborough Castle, October 2015.

I write my Wild Yorkshire nature diary for the Dalesman magazine five or six weeks ahead of publication so in the past week I’ve turned my attention to the October article, which really makes me feel as if summer is coming to a close!

Usually I have plenty of material to sift through but last October we’d only just got over selling my late mother’s house and we had so much on that Barbara and I managed only a book delivery excursion to the Peak District and a couple of days in Scarborough.

Moleskine sketchbook page, October 2015.
Moleskine sketchbook page, October 2015.

juvenile heronWith such a short time on the coast, I tried to draw whenever I got the opportunity but that meant that I didn’t get around to writing many notes, certainly not enough for my 800 word Dalesman article.

Barbar's notebook.
Barbara’s notebook.

Luckily while I was perching on the sea wall at North Bay sketching rocks and birds, Barbara was sitting on a bench nearby writing in a pocket notebook, so I’ve filled in the blanks in my article from her observations.

rocksIt reminds me of Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy: she wrote meticulous descriptions of the scenery and natural history that they’d encountered on their walks and he’d put them into verse, implying that he’d been wandering ‘lonely as a cloud’ (except for Dorothy following him and scribbling in her notebook).

Scrivener

In Scrivener you can easily move around the sections of the article you're writing using the virtual corkboard.
In Scrivener you can rearrange the sections of the article you’re writing using a virtual corkboard.

seaweedI’ve got the chance to be more productive than Wordsworth: I don’t have to lie on my couch ‘in vacant or in pensive mood’ because I can get my ideas together using my favourite writing program Scrivener, which is set up so writers can drop rough drafts in, rearrange them on a virtual corkboard and then go into a full screen, distraction-free writing mode (that’ll be the day, when I don’t get distracted!).

Even so it took me a couple of sessions to polish up the article so that it flows but, even using Barbara’s notes, I’d only got to 500 words. Having set the scene on the coast I didn’t want to change the location to the Peak District or to our home patch to finish off the article.

Halcyon Days

kingfisherAs I drew last October I’d been amazed to see a kingfisher fishing in the sea, diving in from a concrete post, so I decided to write a little more about that. I looked up the kingfisher in Birds of the Western Palearctic but even in the twelve pages of closely written notes of this nine volume handbook I couldn’t spot a suitably fascinating fact that would draw my article to a close.

the white goddessBrewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable and Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology weren’t all that helpful either but then I remembered my favourite study of the roots of classical mythology, The White Goddess by Robert Graves. I’ve still got the copy that I bought as a student. His explanation of the myth of the kingfisher mentions the account written by Pliny the Elder, the Roman naturalist, which I was able to track down via Google. Pliny describes the floating nest that kingfishers were believed to make at sea during the calm halcyon days of December:

“Their nests are truly wonderful; they are of the shape of a ball slightly elongated, have a very narrow mouth, and bear a strong resemblance to a large sponge. It has never yet been discovered of what material they are made; some persons think that they are formed of sharp fish-bones, as it is on fish that these birds live.”

That struck me as the perfect way to round off my article.

Links

Scrivener writing software.

Dalesman Yorkshire magazine and visitor guides.