Cushions in Colour

I drew these cushions in pen and ink at Barbara’s brother’s the other day but left the colouring for later, to give me some practice with the Clip Studio Paint watercolor brush tool, in this case set to opacity watercolor. As usual, the pen layer stays on top, in crisp monochrome.

In keeping with my current interest in comics, I’ve included a hand-drawn border. Any detail in a comic should help to tell the story, so I tried to bring out the character of these cushions, as if they were set dressing in a scene.

As characters, I’d say these cushions are laid back but a little rumpled and worn at the seams. Perhaps they’re the louche, laid back, Lotharios of the cushion world, slouching suspiciously in the corner as they hatch their next scheme.

Or perhaps they’re just ordinary cushions but guilty of a bit of overacting.

A Lot of Duckweed

I haven’t turned on the hose pipe during this long dry spell but this weekend the pond had got so low that I felt I had to. The surface was entirely covered with duckweed, so I put on my arm-length waterproof gloves and pulled it out around the edges, then used a pond net to scoop up the remaining clumps in the middle.

A A Milne’s poem Bad Sir Brian Botany came to mind. The bit where Sir Brian gets his comeuppance from the villagers:

“Sir Brian went a journey, and he found a lot of duckweed . . . “

I left the piles of duckweed at the water’s edge to give the pond life a chance to find its way back and gave a helping hand to a few ramshorn snails, dragonfly larvae and black water beetles that I spotted struggling.

I didn’t see any frogs or newts but I was skimming the surface layers and they were probably lying low. Continue reading “A Lot of Duckweed”

Clip Studio Sketch

After a bit of a break, I’ve gone back to Clip Studio Paint on the iPad Pro, drawing with an Apple Pencil. Struggling to draw from memory on the iPad (see below), I decided to re-familiarise myself with the process by drawing three India ink bottles that happened to be sitting on my desk.

As usual, I started with a pencil layer, which proved useful because I made the third bottle that I drew a bit too small compared with the others. I realised that it wasn’t going to work as I inked it in (below) so it was easy to go back to the pencil outline, to correct the proportions (right). Virtual erasers don’t chew up the virtual paper.

I created a new layer labelled ‘pen’ and drew with a G-pen, one of the standard pens in the Clip Studio toolbox.

I added a ‘paint’ layer and painted with some of the watercolour brushes but then felt that I needed some darker areas, so added another layer for different ink brushes.

I decided on a tonal background rather than the white of the virtual paper, so used the rectangle tool to draw a box around the subject which I then followed on one final layer, using the pen tool to trace around the box, so that the line matched the drawing.

Teacher in Tweed

This is the drawing from memory that I was struggling  with. It was supposed to be one of my teachers but I haven’t caught his character as I remember him. After a bit of drawing from life, I’m ready to try drawing from memory again.

Links

Clip Studio Paint

iPad Pro

Framing Up

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.

Initial rough for the first frame.

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.

 

Comic Template

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.

Clip Studio Paint EX, iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Frame & Paper

If the Frame as a whole is selected, you won’t be able to draw on any of the layers within that frame.

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 width of the border around each frame and of the border around the speech bubbles.

That elusive balloon-editing palette. I don’t normally keeping it floating in the workspace.

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.

Link

Clip Paint Studio EX: the iPad version is currently free for the first six months, if you want to try it.

The Rudiments of Comics

I’ve enjoyed drawing this comic strip in Clip Studio Paint EX as it’s been such a learning experience. Every aspect of the strip could do with some tweaking to get it as I want but at least I’ve gone through every stage involved in producing a comic.

I’ve often thought how much quicker it would have been to draw it by hand, and, to be honest, I’d probably have preferred a hand-drawn, watercolour approach, but that wasn’t the point of the exercise for me; the main aim was to get to know the software and to shake my ideas up a bit by tackling an illustration project from a different perspective.

Hand-drawn Fonts

The hand-lettered font  used in the speech bubbles is CC Joe Kubert, a tribute to the DC Comics artist.

The bold face used for the ‘HEY! YOU!’ speech bubble is BadaBoom Pro BB Italic.

My own wobbly hand-lettering would have given the strip a gentler look but I love the way these bolder typefaces give the strip pace; the reader isn’t going linger, admiring the typefaces, as they might pause to admire the copperplate calligraphy that would be one approach to an a strip set in the eighteenth century.

The typeface for the main title was added in Photoshop CS5, as my iPad only carries a limited number of fonts. This is a typeface called Trattatello, which is the Italian for ‘tract’. It’s perfect for my strip as one of the characters, Robert Adam, has been on the Grand Tour to Rome and is determined to use the true Classical style in his architecture and interior design. In fact he’s written a tract about it, well a bit more than that; a lavishly illustrated coffee table book of his designs.

You can imagine that he’s not exactly going to hit it off with the gargoyle.

Character & Storyline

After the learning curve that I’ve been on in getting familiar with Clip Studio’s tools and palettes, the end result seems ridiculously simple. As you can probably see from the more involved drawing in this last frame, I’m now keen to get into developing characters and storylines.

The four-panel strip format is a great way to concentrate my ideas and I’ve got plenty of scenarios in mind, in fact I keep waking up in the middle of the night with some bright idea or another. It’s also inspiring walking around Nostell Priory Park, where the strip is set.

Hopefully I’ll speed up production and be able to work through a lot of these storylines. I feel that drawing comic strips is something which requires a feedback loop; by which I mean it’s no use planning your project to the nth degree, you need to see something on paper (or in this case, on screen) and react to and build on that.

First Frame

There’s only one way to get into Clip Paint Studio and that’s to dive in and have a go. This is far from the look that I’ve envisaged for my Adam & the Gargoyle comic strip but I realise that – as happened with the scans of colour slides I’ve been doing recently – the way to get familiar with the process is to keep going through it, again and again, building from the bits that I can do now to the more subtle tweaks that should enable me to get things looking just as I want them to.

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.

Newsagents in Colour

Here’s the coloured version of Kershaw’s Newsagents, now no. 7, Queen Street, Horbury.

I’ve been able to narrow down the dates of the postcard that I drew this detail from to 1938-1939, so immediately before World War II.

The Savoy Cinema

It was the cinema poster than gave me my first clue. The Savoy was an out-of-town cinema, latterly a bingo hall, next to the Whinney Moor Hotel on Horbury Road, Wakefield.

I walked past it on what turned out to be its last night, walking back from an evening class in Wakefield. It burnt down that night and was eventually replaced by the Lupset Medical Centre. My evening class ran from September 1990 to June 1991, but I can’t remember the date of the fire.

Anyway, getting back to dating that poster:

Bank Holiday was a British drama film directed by Carol Reed and starring John Lodge and Margaret Lockwood. It was released 27 January, 1938. Being out-of-town, I suspect that the Savoy showed movies a week or two after their initial release.

Love Under Fire must have been showing well after its first screening on 20 August, 1937. An American drama, set during the Spanish Civil War, it starred Loretta Young and Don Ameche. Don Ameche had a long film career; he starred in Cocoon: The Return in 1988.

Radio Times

Despite being able to browse through every copy of The Radio Times for that period (see link below), I haven’t been able to spot a specific issue which featured the first broadcast of Elizabeth, the Queen Consort, (better remembered by my generation as The Queen Mother).

There was a lot of coverage of various royal visits in the Radio Times during 1938. This was probably due to the Government and Buckingham Palace trying to undo the potential damage caused by the recently abdicated Edward VIII and his wife (Wallis Simpson, as was), visiting the German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, and his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, in October 1937.

If you do take a look through the Radio Times for that period and you spot a broadcast billed as Elizabeth’s first, please let me know.

Pearson’s Magazine

I can only decipher the title of one of the periodicals on display, Pearson’s, a magazine of speculative fiction and predominantly left wing political comment, which at that time was edited by John Reed Wade, who had been in charge since 1920. W.E. Johns, author of the Biggles stories, took over as editor in May the following year but the magazine ceased publication in November, which confirms that the photograph must have been taken pre-war.

The magazine or poster to the left of the news-rack, in the doorway, which is also visible in the window, shows a large ship with a crane in the background, so I’d guess that this is a feature about the building of the liner RMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched by Elizabeth, the Queen Consort, at Clydebank, Scotland, on 27 September, 1938.

There’s what could be a comic in the middle of window. The Beano was already established at the time (although Leo Baxendale’s Bash Street Kids wouldn’t appear for another fifteen years, so probably not worth bothering with).

Queen Street Today


The Kershaw’s Newsagents is now Bike Medic, but there’s still a barber’s, Mister Lister’s next door. The shop fronts have changed a little but the drain pipe – and its top funnel – is still the original!

Before taking the photograph, Barbara and I had called for coffee and freshly baked scones (cherry, this morning) at the Rich & Fancy cafe, three doors up from the bike repair shop.

Local Colour

I couldn’t find any colour reference so I decided to try a bottle green for the newsagent’s, which I believe was a popular colour at that time.

For me it doesn’t ring true, even though I’ve faded it out a bit in my colour image (top), however the advantage of having drawn it as a digital image is that I could change the colours on the paint layer if I wished, without damaging my line drawing in any way.

I can also easily output the drawing in line, black and white half-tone or sepia.

I like the sepia but it does make the scene look too cosily Victorian, rather than Britain on the eve of war.

Links

Savoy Cinema

Bank Holiday, film, 1938.

Love Under Fire, film, 1937

Radio Times, the 1930s

Pearson’s Magazine

Newsagents in Pen

I’ve used the pen tool with the G-pen nib in Clip Studio Paint in this drawing of  Kershaw’s Newsagents, Horbury, in 1938. The effect is very similar to my regular pen and ink drawings, although bringing the whole drawing together wasn’t so straightforward; although I appreciated being able to zoom in on the different sections of the drawing as I worked, this did mean that it felt a bit like working on a jigsaw: I’d concentrate on one area, such as an edge, but I’d lose sight of the picture of a whole as I did that.

Adding colour was also unfamiliar to me, compared with using my watercolours. I’ve stuck to one brush to get the feel for that particular setting, but the result feels like colouring using a felt-tip pen.

The whole exercise has been useful for getting used to the range of marks that I can produce with pen and brush in the program. I’m sure that I’ll find it useful.