I’m trying to get more of a rhythm going by drawing the outline of my lettering first, then going back to fill the gaps. I noticed when I took a close look at a Georgian print recently that hand-lettered headings don’t have to be drawn with pixel-perfect precision.
As A.F. Stuart and Quentin Crisp wrote in Lettering for Brush & Pen (Frederick Warne, 1939):
“The outlining should be done boldly, and not in a painstaking manner, a certain amount of irregularity being permissible owing to the individual effect of the style.”
They were talking about medieval Versal Letters, but the same thing applies to the sketchbook headings that I’m drawing for my July Dalesman article. Hopefully the more lettering that I do, the bolder I’ll get.
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.
9.45 am, looking east, wind from south-west, 19°C: This altocumulus cloud has formed as a layer, so it is classified as stratiformis. The ripples mean that it’s also undulatus and, finally, because the sun is visible through the cloud, it’s translucidus.
10.30 am: Three-quarters of an hour later the sky has filled with stratocumulus. We don’t get thunderstorms but there are a few rain showers later in the day.
As you might have guessed, my current bedtime reading is Clouds by Eric M. Wilcox.
I’ve got a strong idea in my mind of what the historical Robert Adam would have looked like, but this is a comic strip, not a dramatised documentary, and I’m going for a pantomime version of the character. I’ve pared down the drawing to a cartoony style, which I think should work much better.
I’ve delved into the colour wheel rather than sticking to a standard set of swatches as I previously did but this is just a start. I would probably also add some texture, for instance on the gargoyle, the original of which, at Nostell, has a scaly texture.
I can’t take full credit for this piece of land art. The pheasants, up to twelve of them at a time, worked hard over our long drawn-out winter circling the bird feeding pole, pouncing on any fragment of sunflower heart dropped by the goldfinches, bullfinches and others, gradually trampling away the grass and compacting the clayey soil.
Taking a tip from Nick Bailey on last week’s Gardener’s World, I sharpened my spade and half-moon turf cutter before starting to dig over the resulting bare patch. I went around the trampled area with the turf cutter first then dug spade-width sections.
A sharpened spade made it so much easier but, even so, I’m taking a break before forking it over, adding a bit of gravel and sowing it with grass seed.
I’m struggling to get into gear with my comic strip. On the one hand, I’m grateful that it’s not a commission, so there’s no deadline looming, but on the other hand, I only pick it up for odd moments in the evening, so it lacks the momentum you’d get from a freelance job.
I tried to get away from frames full of talking heads by adding a more dramatic first frame to this 4-panel comic strip by having the conversation taking place up on the scaffolding of Robert Adam’s edifice but then realised that I needed to focus on the relationship between my two characters, rather than the setting. My aim is to get a conversation going in the strip; action and reaction.
So glad that I haven’t got a client who needs the finished artwork in a hurry!
Yes, I admit it; it would be easier for me to create characters by doodling away, pen on paper, but getting familiar with the feel of Apple Pencil on iPad screen, is really the point of the project for me, that and learning Clip Art Studio.
With a low over the North Atlantic, we’ve got the prospect of warm winds coming up from France and Spain but this morning it’s blowing so cold that, by the time I’ve drawn the ewe, my eyes are watering so much that I can hardly focus on the twin lambs which are following her.
Time to go indoors here at Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour for coffee and scones and to draw the view looking up the Calder Valley to the moors.
Can I ever draw bottles without thinking of Morandi? Certainly not when I’m drawing the stoneware bottles they keep lined up on the window sills at Filmore & Union in the Redbrick Mill in Batley.
My first commission after leaving college was to spend a weekend drawing at a house, a Victorian vicarage, not far from Oxford. I took down my Natural History Illustration degree show at the Royal College of Art, got on the train to Oxford and enjoyed drawing for a long weekend. My favourite subject was the interior of the potting shed, which included a wooden wheelbarrow, tools, a trug and, of course, stacks of assorted terra cotta plant pots. That pen drawing became the centre spread of the small sketchbook that I produced, which consisted of eight or perhaps as many as a dozen pages, carefully extracted from my Bushey foolscap sketchbook, which they had bound as a slim hardback.
I remember thinking that if this was life after college, I could get used to it, as it was basically a continuation of what I’d done at college, just draw, draw, draw, day in day out, except that now someone was willing to pay me to do it!
The man who I was working for had been in the British Army in Bologna during World War II, and had befriended Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) and, I think, helped him out during a difficult time. Morandi presented him with (or more probably, he bought from Morandi) a small sketchbook of drawings – of bottles, naturally. Morandi had used whatever had come to hand and my memory is that at least some of the drawings were in ballpoint pen on cheap paper.
Morandi’s bottles were never as standoffish as the bottles in Filmore & Union, but I guess that’s the reserved character of British bottles compared with Morandi’s highly sociable Italian bottiglie, which were always getting together with boxes, jars, jugs and vases.
When I was a student, my favourite painting in the National Gallery was Vuillard’s La Cheminée but probably, if I had the choice today, the painting that I’d most like to live with would be a small Morandi.
Now that I’ve steadily gone through the basics of Clip Studio Paint EX, I’m ready to get the program working for me and to use its features to speed up my workflow.
As I’m sticking with the same layout for the whole series of Gargoyle comic strips, I’ve saved the four-frame layout as a template, which is simply the blank comic strip before I’ve added any drawings or text.
All I have to do next time is open the template and get straight on with the drawing.
The title of the strip goes in a fifth frame; the only difference is that this one has no border around it.
Frame & Paper
What once seemed obscure has now become second nature to me. For instance, when using the pen or pencil tool, I was often baffled when the mouse-pointer changed to a ‘No Entry’ sign and I was unable to draw. Now if that happens, I head straight for the Frames palette as it usually turns out that I’m attempting to draw on the ‘Frame’ rather than on the virtual ‘paper’ (my layers for roughs, pencils, pen and paint) inside that frame.
Colour Set & Colour Wheel
For my first Adam & the Gargoyle comic strip I kept the process as simple as possible by accepting all the defaults. I chose colours from the Default color set but I’m now starting to use the Colour Wheel, which gives an almost infinitely varied choice of colours.
Borders and Balloons
I’m now able to adjust the widthof the border around each frame and of the border around the speech bubbles.
The latter isn’t that obvious, as you need to select the bubble with the Object Selector(left), not the Text Tool and you then have to delve down into the Tool Property [Object] Sub-tool Palette.
Clip Paint Studio EX: the iPad version is currently free for the first six months, if you want to try it.